Lapo, the pencil boy
The book: Lapo just moved to a big city, working on a dream: he wants to become an illustrator. Yet, things do not go very well at the beginning, but he believes so much in his capacities that all of a sudden, one morning, he becomes his dream, waking up in a new form, the tool that he always holds in his hand: a pencil. He is a pencil boy now! He leaves signs and drawings all over the place.
But he cannot show emotions and he has to draw faces, one for each emotion, which he will show to people when needed. He draws more than 100, but he realizes that it is not enough. He has to temper his tips instead of combing his hair. And he begins an incredible tragicomic adventure in the big city!
“Lapo, the pencil boy” believes that he can become friend of so many other children around the world and he would like to tell them his story and his coloured adventures.
And he would like to follow dreams with them.
We also believe that “Storia di una Matita” can be a universal and adaptable story for every nation and so many cultures: it tells the story of a young artist with a lot of dreams, but so far he is still a child in his soul.
Moreover, other book features can meet the interest of new readers: a powerful tycoon, who wants to own Lapo’s talent; the story located in a big city, that could be any big city in the world (for instance: London, New York, Paris, Roma, Sidney); the imagination which pervades the whole story. We strongly believe that these features (imagination, in particular) can make the story universal.
Storia di una matita – “Lapo, the pencil boy”
(the first 5 paragraphs)
It was a week since Lapo had moved to the little apartment at the top floor of a building. That evening the phone, as every night, rang.
“So, how did it go?” asked a voice that was so familiar to him.
“Ehi Mom! This week I had four interviews. The first one did not go well, but I hope that maybe the next one …! Yes, I will have another interview tomorrow.” Added Lapo. “It will be in one of the most important studios in town. You should see their walls, full with paintings, posters, drawings … and tables that never end … with many people around staring at their sketches, while drawing…”
“Mom, can you hear me?”
“Yeah but I didn’t get your last word: they are so many… rowing?”
“Rowing? Oh, no…”
“Maybe you said: teaching?”
“Oh, mom! I believe the most experts ones give advice to younger artists …”
“And the town? Tell me about the town. Do you have some friends already?”
“Mom, but I have been here just for three weeks. I need some more time …”
“And a girlfriend? Do you have a girlfriend?”
“Mom, what are you saying? I just told you that I did not get to know anybody yet … but my neighbor next door. She’s a nice lady, she is your age. She always says hello to me and talks and talks. She has a dog that always barks … I can’t stand it … I can hear it from my room as well. Then, well, the care-taker here in the building, the newsagent… they all look nice but we don’t talk too much, we just say hello and that’s it.”
“And the weather? How is it?”, asked his mother.
“It’s so cold.”
“Well my son, I wish you goodnight. But don’t forget: don’t be so stubborn with this story of being an illustrator. You can find another job. Look around. Maybe you can apply for a job in a school? You can become a teacher, just like me!”
“Let’s not start the usual talk … I like to create worlds, characters…and everything with my pencil. I like to draw!”
“Perfect then, my son, if you don’t like to raw, maybe you like to teach!”
“Uhm… I told you that I like to draw. It’s since I was a child … you see … always the same story with you.”
And he started coughing.
“I will make it, one day”.
“Well, go to bed now” his mother said “and cover yourself warmly or you’ll get a cold!”
Lapo greeted his mother and went to bed. He was quiet and could never imagine what it was going to happen to him, the next day.
It was still dawn when he opened his eyes. He yawned and yawned. The neighbor’s dog had started barking already. So he went down under the blankets. He felt safe down there. And for sure he could not hear the shaky noise of the little dog.
“Give her some food, please. She’ll stop barking…” he whispered still half asleep.
Outside it was very cold and the town was slowly waking up. He would have stayed in bed for another hour if the dog had just allowed him. He pressed his head on the pillow but it didn’t work. He took two pencils from the table and put them in the ears. He laid down looking up, closed his eyes after a while and magically managed to fall asleep again. But around 8, as a sort of spite, the phone started ringing.
Ring… Ring… Ring…
Then silence. Two more yawns. But then the ringing started again. One, two, three, four times.
“Who can it be?” Lapo mumbled, taking out the two pencils in his ears.
Crawled under the blankets, he put his finger in his nose and he started digging.
“Ah, if it were sharp.” he whispered while moving it around. He could not get rid of the yucky stuff you get when you have a cold. And, yes, he had got a cold and a hard one.
“Goodness” he said with a pasty voice.
He just didn’t want to get up. Being half asleep, still dreaming. Yes, dreaming to be a famous illustrator, one of those who sign the covers of the most important magazines in the world, one of those who create drawings for the books of most important writers, one of those who create cartoons …
Ring… Ring… Ring…
He stood up in a second, knocked his knee on the table which, with a shake, let all his drawings fall down on the floor. The pencils as well jumped down the table and transformed the room in a mined field.
Ring… Ring… Ring…
“Heddo!”, said Lapo with a stuffy nose.
“My name is Lapo” he answered, while cleaning off his nose with a tissue.
“Hello, hello? Is anybody there? What happens?”
“Oh, no, sorry, nothing wrong. I’m just cleaning…. my nose…”
“Ah! So… I was saying that…”
“But who is it?” asked Lapo.
“I’m calling from the HB Graphic Studio.”
“Ah!” said Lapo, while crossing his fingers.
“It’s for the interview you had the other day. We examined your drawings. They are very beautiful but at the moment we do not need another illustrator… we’re sorry. We will keep your contacts and drawings. And if we will need you, we will call you back….”
Lapo hang off.
His nose was stuck and could hardly breathe.
Ring… Ring… Ring…
He stood up again and walked on his pencils, hurting his feet and breaking some mines.
“My name is Lapo.”
“Hello, I’m calling you from the Matisse Animation Studios. Thanks for getting in touch with us but…”
Lapo did not even listened to them. He knew already what they were going to say. He hung off, sat down on his drawings, with an Indian posture, and stared at the mix of pencils under his eyes.
He thought back about his dreams, those which he was just sitting on. Pencils were holding him but they were also pinching him a bit.
Although Lapo felt so little at that moment, he knew that he wanted to leave a sign somehow. This was the strongest ambition he had.
He was still wearing his pajama when he started to pick up his pencils, one by one, from the floor. With care, he managed to win his solitary Shangai battle by putting all of them in their right place in an enormous milk cup.
His little finger went straight to the right nostril. That finger was the most appropriate for that specific task. Around and around, deeper and deeper, Lapo felt a special smell.
It was the smell of his pencils.
“Oh, fantastic!” he whispered.
A smile of satisfaction crossed his face. He loved the taste of wood mixed with graphite. And above all, he had managed to breathe: that peculiar digging machine had created a tunnel and now Lapo was able to feel some smell.
He was happy for a second.
Yet, he was not totally satisfied and kept on turning the small finger in his nose.
Ring… Ring… Ring…
“But what is happening this morning?”
This time he decided he would not answer. He let the telephone ring and kept on digging. The smell was always there, once again. He was happy, one more time. Then he took out the finger, stood up and started getting his good cup of coffee ready.
The aroma reached him intensively when the coffee was coming out from the machine. He poured it when it was still very hot.
But only when he put his lips on the edge of the cup, he noticed something weird. He opened his eyes wide.
He couldn’t be wrong. He had seen it. The pencil tip well sharpened, the yellow color, the hexagonal shape. It was a wonderful pencil. There was just one problem. It had replaced his little finger.
“I must be crazy!”
He ran to the bathroom and took out the thermometer. He wanted to check his fever. But the thermometer stopped at 36, 8 degrees.
“I don’t have fever! Maybe it’s those medicines, it must be a hallucination. But wait a minute, I’m not taking any medicine… how is it possible, then?”
In that precise moment his head started dizzying and he suddenly fell on the bathroom carpet.
He laid down there, as a little dog. When he woke up, he stood up immediately. He washed his face and looked at himself in the mirror. He had a bad look, two deep dark circles, his nose and ears were red and his hair was ruffled.
He took his hands to his face.
“It’s not possible…”
He observed them with care.
“Well, I must calm down, now I will call a doctor, no… the ambulance… Come on, it’s not that serious… And even if it was? What’s wrong with it? I will not need to cut my nails any more, well I will need to sharpen them. My life will be like a pencil: sharpened and ready for drawing … but what am I saying?”
While struggling, he picked up the thermometer again and he put it under his armpit. He waited for a little while and then looked at the mercury column.
“37 and a half. Fever!”
He was released.
“Now everything is clear. I have hallucinations, I see things that do not exist. It’s because of fever!”
He tried to calm down and looked at his hands again. Ten sharpened pencils, one per finger.
Then, just for checking, he took out his socks.
“I believe I still don’t feel very well…”
And while saying this, he lost consciousness and fell on the bathroom rag again.
Now the pencils were twenty.
At the end of the day, the transformation was complete. Lapo was a huge sharpened pencil, with two smaller pencils coming out from his body just as arms. He did not have legs any longer and he could move around just by jumping. Instead of his face he had a big tip of graphite that looked like a crest.
What a bizarre situation. He looked at himself in the mirror and while moving his three tips he asked: But how can I see if I don’t have eyes? And how can I smell if I don’t have a nose?”
He could not find answers. He did not have friends to whom he could ask for advice and did not want to call his mother. She would worry so much. He did not want to go to the hospital. He was so afraid of hospitals.
He waited for long minutes, while thinking, stuck in front of the mirror, hardly trying to stay calm.
He could not go out with that look. He had to invent something.
He decided to sharpen the pencil’s base, where he used to have his feet. He could move better, he thought, slipping as a pencil does on a sheet.
But he needed a sharpener. A very big one. He switched his computer on with his right tip and with some effort typed in: G-I-A-N-T— S-H-A-R-P-E-N-E-R.
“Bingo!” he said.
And he did not care any longer about trying to understand how he could speak without a mouth.
“So, diameter: 20 centimeters; blade: 28 centimeters. It should work. Perfect. I’ll get it!”
It is really cool, on internet everything can be found.
After a few hours, the postman left a big package in front of his door. A huge sharpener was in it. Just some sharpening and Lapo soon had a big tip where he used to have his feet and he could easily slip around the floor. He realized he was leaving traces all over and on whatever he was touching. The computer keyboard was all scrabbled and the floor full with swirls. But he could not think about it now. He would have cleaned later. He did not know how but he did not feel lost: he would have found his wait out.
He could see, hear, smell. It was a miracle!
He had no more cold and he thought that maybe being a pencil was somehow positive as well.
“Yeah, pencils do not get sick!”
Yet, his head was still a big tip of graphite. He could not show himself to his neighbor in that condition. He needed a face with two eyes, two ears, a mouth, two cheeks…
So, on a sheet of paper he outlined a frowning face.
Just one day had gone since Lapo had become a pencil that he stepped outdoor through the town. Before going out he had dressed a very large and long t-shirt. He wanted to avoid people noticing him. He cheered the newsagent who greeted him back and said: “What a pale look in your face this morning. Are you feeling well?”.
Lapo quickly slipped away with no answer. Just around the corner, he bumped into the neighbor. “Good morning” she said “How are you? What a haircut!”
Lapo turned around and in no seconds rushed away from her and from her curly dog who had just started barking.
He just wished to be back home. His first outdoor experiment had turned out to be a disaster.
He went along the flower seller. She had some tulips in her hands and was putting them in a vase full of water. She looked at him and smiled.
Lapo was happily released. But just for a moment. Because he soon realized he had a problem. A big problem. He could not smile.
While he was concentrating on this, his point got stuck into a manhole and broke.
“Ouch!”, he shouted.
But his face did not change expression. It was always the same. He got hurt so much that he started crying, but no tears were coming out from his wooden face.
While jumping here and there, he went back home and sharpened his point. When he was done, he took some sheets of paper from the drawer of his desk and started drawing faces. He needed more faces: one for happiness, one for sad moments, one for boredom, one for crying, one for joy and one for love. And he also needed one for being stubborn because, you never know, sometimes you need it.
In other words, he needed so many faces.
He drew almost a hundred faces. Yet, he still thought they were not enough.