Nemorino und das Bündel des Narren
(Nemorino and the Fool's Bundle)
Written By Gion Mathias Cavelty and Illustrated by Chrigel Farner
(With English Translation by Steve Ghilardi)
Published in 2012 by Salis Verlag of Germany & Switzerland

Cover I peered pensively outside on this rather gloomy morning and to my surprise spied a package on the porch with international postage. With great anticipation I tore open the large padded envelop and discovered a wonderfully illustrated storybook from Germany! Salis Verlag, the publisher kindly enclosed a beautifully written English translation of the entire text and a thoughtful personal note including warm regards from the well known satirical writer (and Tarot collector) Gion Mathias Cavelty. The publisher generously sent this book on the off chance that I might know an American publisher who may be interested. I would love to see this book available here for children intrigued by Tarot and the mystical realms or for parents who may be Tarot readers or collectors that long for an enjoyable, adventurous tale to share with their children. We Tarotists belong to a very niche subculture and it is a rare thrill to find our obscure medium represented in an unexpected format such as a full length storybook for kids.

Tarot cards revealed This is a wildly imaginative Tarot-inspired tale meant for children and the big people that grow them (code for grown-ups). It has twenty-two chapters each a page long. The charming humor will not be lost on perceptive kids (or their parents). It’s about a young lad (with the unfortunate name) Nemorino who goes off to visit his grandmother in the forest. The grandmother (aside from being as old as the hills) turns out to be a Tarot reader during the bewitching hours and also possibly the guardian of dark secrets in the magical forest. Our adventurous hero is soon called to action by the Fool’s dog who begs assistance in saving her foolish master from the clutches of Death. And so together they travel in a strange contraption concocted from the boy’s imagination and meet many of the Major Arcana personalities who come to life along the way. With the magic bag the Fool unwittingly left behind Nemorino is able to avoid danger or being led down the wrong path by giving each archetypal adversary not what they demand; but rather what they need (from a child’s point of view). So for example the Hermit receives instead of his lost lantern; some deodorant so that he may meet a nice girl in town and overcome his antisocial inclinations. Or the threatening Magician pulls a frightening white rabbit out of the magic bag instead of the powerful wand he expects. Even the Fool, for whom his dog and Nemorino go through so much trouble rescuing, is not what we expect. And neither is Death for that matter... Each turn in the story does not go as anticipated and in this way (I believe) the author conveys to his gentle readers that when life does not go exactly as planned it is still safe and even encouraged to forge ahead as surprises await and all turns out in the end.

The Fool's Bundle in the Garden The writing is clever, cheeky and completely enthralling and reminds me a bit of favorite books by Roald Dahl who also dreamed up bizarre adventures in whimsical, unusual and satirical ways. The artwork is fantastic and in a few instances is even reminiscent of Bosch (that dark master of eerie paintings of the underworld). This is a beautifully produced hardcover book approximately 8 1/2 w by 12 inches long (21.6 by 30.5 cm) which has the traditional bookmark ribbon sewn into the binding. Including all the artwork it is around 60 pages long.

This is exactly the kind of book I would have treasured as a child of reading age; a bit spooky and suspenseful but with humor, comradery and insanely imaginative illustrations to go along with a magical journey. The corresponding drawings are incredibly detailed and one could find new secrets in them with each visit. Let's hope it gets published in English!

Nemorino and the Fool's Bundle
Gion Mathias Cavelty and Chrigel Farner (along with the Sun, Moon and Stars)
Gion Mathias Cavelty Star,Sun & Moon Chrigel Farner

Arnell Ando