pt | en
Graphic design
Kiko Farkas / Máquina Estúdio e Mateus Valadares / Máquina Estúdio
22.50 x 15.50 cm, 128 pp.
ISBN 9788574063423
The Swallow and the Tom Cat
Children’s book, 1976 | Afterword by Tatiana Belinky e João Jorge Amado
     The Dappled Cat’s temperament was not the best in the world. Such was his notoriety as a trouble-maker that everyone fled as soon as he appeared: the leghorn hen, the reverend parrot, the black drake and the white duck, mother thrush, the pigeons and the dogs. Even the flowers closed up when he passed. When he discovered that all the other creatures were scared of him, the cat was crushed, but his usual indifference soon came back to him, as he didn’t care what others thought.
     What he didn’t know was that there was one animal that was not at all scared of him: the lady Swallow. One Spring Day, the cat noticed that she was the only critter that didn’t run away as soon as he appeared. The Swallow was quick to explain her courage: she could fly, he could not. From that day on, the two became inseparable friends, so that by the time Autumn came around, the rest of the animals had come to see the cat in a new light; maybe he wasn’t that bad after all, having gone a whole Spring and Summer without causing a ruckus.
     During these two seasons, the cat had even taken to composing sonnets. He confessed to the Swallow: “Were I not a cat, I would ask for your hand in marriage…”. But theirs is a forbidden love, not just because the cat is looked on with distrust, but because the Swallow is betrothed to rouxinol.
     With wonderful lyricism, the love story between a bad cat and an adorable swallow takes on the fable-like tone of children’s tales. In addition to becoming a most unlikely story of passion, the narrative shows us how different creatures can not only live together in peace, but even change the way we see the world.
Illustration by Carybé

Bilingual edition Guarani/Spanish

     Jorge Amado wrote THe Swallow and the Tom Cat in Paris in 1948. It was not written as a book, but as a birthday present for his one year-old son, João Jorge. Stowed away among the boy’s things, the story was only rediscovered in 1976.
     João Jorge handed the story over to Carybé, and the artist illustrated the typewritten pages. Jorge Amado gave in: “Faced with all that, I simply could no longer refuse the publication so many badgered me for. If the text wasn’t worth the trouble, in compensation, Carybé’s watercolors were priceless”.
     The book was published the same year, with no alterations to the thirty year-old original. “If I were to mess with it, I’d have to totally reconstruct it, robbing it of its only quality: having been written for the sheer pleasure of it, with no obligation to either public or publisher”, said Jorge Amado.
     The story was inspired by the popular tradition of oral narrative. Jorge Amado took the theme from a ballad the poet Estêvão da Escuna used to recite in the Sete Portas Market in Salvador. The text was later adapted for theatre and ballet.
     “Conic on. now. You don’t really think I’m ugly?”
     “Didn’t you hear me say you’re as ugly as sin?” the Swallow called out from a sal distance.
     “1 don’t believe yon. You’d have to be ‘blind to think I was ugly.”
     “Ugly and conceited, too!”
     The conversation broke off just then because the Swallow’s parents, whose love for their child had at last overcome their lea came flying up and bore her away wit them, scolding her all the way home. As she was being carried away the Swallow called back to the Cat, “See you later, my ugly
     With this rather idiotic exchange of words the tale of the Tom Cat and the Swalow began.
     As far as the Swallow was concerned, it had begun long before that. I should have explained a few things about this voting Swallow in an earlier chapter. Since I missed the chance to insert the explanation in its proper place in the narrative, all I can do now is stop the action and backtrack a little. This is a confusing way to tell a story: I realize that. But my lapse of memory can plausibly be blamed on the turmoil stirred up in cats and storytellers by the coming of Spring.

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