Nella nebbia di Milano [The Circus in the Mist], published in 1968, is a masterwork of visual storytelling and a graphic arts classic by Bruno Munari. In vibrant colours and a cleverly engineered sequence of die-cut holes that guide the story, Munari tells the story of a foggy day that envelops the crazy world of the circus. Although a mist surrounds the all town, everything is bright and gay beneath the Circus tent.
The reader is taken for a stroll through changing places and situations recognizable not only thanks to the illustrations and (few) written indications but thanks to the changes in the material behaviour of the book.
The message seems to be a sweet and gentle reminder that the world is perpetually shrouded in opacity and we only see the parts of it on which we choose to shine our attention.
It wasn't Munari's aim to teach children how to "read" a book but to help them understand how the book-object works and the ways in which its combination of pages and its tactile, visual and formal elements allow us to express things which elude words.
For this reason pre-teaching The Circus of Milan before the storytelling session was simply showing the front cover of the book and "explaining" the concept of mist by hiding myself behind a sheet of tissue paper. This book-object speaks a lot and all the precious pages inside tell a story together with the children.
The Lab activity was the product of each child's creativity and imagination: the children were asked to create their own book drawing their landscapes using a pencil graphite. The results have been spectacular and totally personalized, as Bruno Munari would have liked.