Mario Ramos

Mario Ramoswas born as the son of a Belgian mother and a Portuguese father in Brussels in 1958.  He studied Graphics and Communication Design at the local Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Visuels ‘La Cambre’. He then travelled Europe and from 1986 on worked as a freelance draughtsman, designer and poster artist.  He decided to focus on illustrating and writing children’s literature, which has since been published in the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Spain, Italy, Korea, Japan and the US.

Ramos’ books feature a plain and clear symbolic language.  He relies on the children’s humour, intelligence, and imagination when presenting them with a startling finale.  In his pictures and texts he tells of fear, power, otherness and tenderness.  “As a starting point I take an idea coming by way of a memory, an incident or a conversation.  It takes on a form and livens up all those important questions that I asked myself when a child, that all children ask and that still I ask often enough.”

Ramos’ children’s book ‘Le petit soldat qui cherchait la guerre’ (Engl: The Little Soldier who was Looking for the War) was published in German translation in 2000. A little soldier awakens all alone and left behind on a battlefield, and so takes to searching for the war. He meets victims of the war, loses his uniform, finally recognizes the absurdity of his quest, and discovers peace.  In his most renowned illustrated book ‘C’est moi le plus fort’ (Engl: I am the Strongest), Ramos relates in a very humorous way using a colourful and effective language about being little and big.  The young reader accompanies the “Big Bad Wolf” walking, boasting and bullying through the forest, and meets there well known figures from the world of fairy tales.  A little rabbit, Red Riding Hood or the Seven Dwarves confirm to the wolf that he is the biggest and strongest.  Only the small and cheeky toad, taunted as “Quabbelwabbel”, dares to contradict him, and by the end makes the wolf stop wanting to be the wickedest and wildest.  Ramos’ book ‘Le roi est occupé’ (1998; Engl: The King is Busy), published in German in August 2004, sends the reader in search of the king.  Secret corridors, treasure chambers and dungeons lie hidden behind liftable flaps on the page, and after an exciting route through the castle the reader finds the king in a place where kings go all alone. His mostly recently published children’s book is „C’est moi le plus beau“ (2006), which just appeared in German under the title „Ich bin der Schönste im ganzen Land!“.

In 1993, Mario Ramos was awarded the Prix Versèle for his children’s book ‘Djabibi’ (1992) and in 1998 the Prix des Critiques en Belgique for his illustrated book ‘Quand j’étais petit’ (1997). He lives with his family in Brussels.

© international literature festival berlin