1970 Mildred Batchelder Award (U.S.A.) / 2007 Premio Andersen - Il mondo dell'infanzia (ITALY) A children's vel Wildcat under Glass, first published in 1963 and translated in about 35 languages, is internationally acclaimed as a classic work having been successfully and repeatedly published in many countries apart from Greece until today. The story is set on an island in Greece during the 1930's as the nation is forced into a Fascist dictatorship. It is told through the eyes of a young girl named Melia, who relates the experiences of her family as they are forced to accept life under a repressive government. The book provides an interesting look at an important period of Greek history and tells it from a child's unsophisticated perspective. The naturalness and liveliness of the dialogue is combined with the seriousness and depth of the meaning. In a playful atmosphere, the reader is aware of and enjoys a mature thought that deals with and analyses social visions while trying to discover the threads that move them. The value of the book consists in precisely this combination. One of its virtues and what makes it universal is that the narration, although set in Greece at a particular period of time, seems somehow spaceless and timeless. A masterpiece! Undoubtedly perfect, extremely moving. One should t always refrain from expressing one's enthusiasm! This vel sums up all the essential qualities that one seeks in the children's literature of our times. Through a sensitivity always alert, a freshness of the eye, a concrete vision that excludes all moralising prose, Alki Zei succeeds in keeping, from beginning to end, the childish tone of the narration in order to deal with overwhelming frankness with a subject of such grave consequence as Fascism, which for once we are t afraid to call by its name... One would need many pages to analyse what makes possible this perfect balance between the daring essence of the subject and the constant complicity of the writer with the children's world. The result is the passionate involvement of the reader, regardless of his or her age.
Bernard Epin, L'ecole et la Nation, 1973
I am one of those readers who cant understand the difference between children's or adolescent literature and literature for adults. Literature is one, and sometimes its texts are addressed to adolescents, even to children. But they are t meant only for them; a literature that an adolescent and a child can read can certainly be read by a grown-up as well. This is the reason why I think Alki Zei stands out in our post-war literature, t only because of her vel Achilles' Fiancee (1987) but also for her excellent Wildcat under Glass (1963).
Elisabeth Kotzia, Kathimerini newspaper, 2002
Wildcat under Glass, Achilles' Fiancee and With a Faber Number Two Pencil form a sort of trilogy in which 50 years of Greek history is covered by Alki Zei's exquisite and distinguished narrative.
Alki Zei qualifies as one of the most famous and beloved contemporary Greek authors. She was born in Athens in 1925. Her studies include philosophy, drama and scenario writing. She has lived an important part of her life as a political refugee in the Soviet Union and in Paris, until the reconstitution of the parliamentary republic in Greece in 1974. The subjects of her books are mainly based on her personal experiences, conveying important events of the recent history of Greece. Her first novel, Wildcat under Glass, written in 1963, is nowadays classified among the world's classic literary works, also constituting a milestone in the history of Modern Greek literature for children. Alki Zei's books are published in many countries around the world; she has received various distinctions and awards, and continues to earn the admiration of a wide readership. For more information about Alki Zei visit www.alkizei.com