ACROSS SEAS SELDOM NAVIGATED
Cecília Meireles and Children's Literature
Margarida de Souza Neves
1. Journeys 
I ordered to prepare my ship.
We will return to the deep sea,
Cecília Meireles: Prazo de Vida (Life Span)
IN: Mar Absoluto (Absolute Sea)
Poesia Completa, p.270
On the 10th of December 1964, Tristão de Athaíde published an article in Jornal
do Brasil that honoured two female figures representative of Brazilian culture who at
that time had recently passed away: Anita Malfatti and Cecília Meireles .
Seven years later, this same article was to form the book entitled Companheiros de
Viagem , which Alceu Amoroso Lima published under
his own name, so escaping, as was the authors intention, the ephemeral destiny of
its publication in a daily newspaper.
In the article, Tristão/Alceu seemed to want to right accounts with a remote past and
smooth out, in face of death, the abyss that had always remained between him and Cecília.
The disagreement had begun in August of 1930, when Alceu had participated, together with
Antenor Nascentes, Coelho Neto and Nestor Vítor , as a
member of the examining board of the competition for the professorship of Brazilian
literature at the Federal District Normal School. This was a well-attended and tense
competition held amid the conflicts between those of the newschool and
the Catholics for control of the trench of education in the thirties. Eight candidates
competed with only two reaching the final stage that constituted a class examination.
Three failed to get their thesis approved and three dropped out due to the clear
superiority of the grades achieved in the thesis defence examination of two of the
candidates: Cecília Meireles and Clóvis do Rego Monteiro .
Cecília was classified in second place in the competition.
The result of the contest seems to have marked as deeply Cecília as Alceu .
Bearing in mind that this still young teacher had, in 1910, at nine years of age, received
from Olavo Bilac, then acting in the capacity of Federal District School Inspector, the
gold medal of school merit for completing the primary course at Escola Estácio de Sá
(Estácio de Sá School) with distinction and praise; who had, in 1917, graduated from the
Escola Normal (Normal School); who had taught ever since then and, in 1925, had published
a childrens book entitled Criança meu Amor (Children my Love) that
has been in use as a school reading book by the public system since 1927 , it seems safe to assume that the result of the competition had been,
primarily, in the political interests of the Catholic group. A few months after her
premiere as journalist for Página de Educação (Education Page) of the Diário
de Notícias , she wrote in the column Comentário:
The Normal School, for which the good intentions of the present administration has
been able to erect such a magnificent edifice, seems to be threatened to come to harbour
at its solemn premises all the opponents of the New School, this one, in itself,
instituted by this very reform that originated it. (...) The Literature competition held
as of late, has left the Fernando de Azevedo Reform in a very bad situation (...). After
the ill intentioned disorganization of the Literature competition (...) the Sociology
competition, the internal mechanism of which is already beginning to appear, will be
another opportunity to evaluate what the destiny of our magnificent Teaching Reform may
finally be. Discussions have already begun on the board that has been organized, and to a
just purpose. The representatives of the church, that form part of it, could never, due to
the particular dignity of their duty, leave the cassock by the door as the saying goes. It
is in their interest and it is their religious obligation to defend their creed. And in
their opinion they surely do a lot of good. But those in education have another opinion.
And that is what has to be respected because the Normal School is a Pedagogic Institute
and not a seminary.
Alceu had at this time already converted to Catholicism and, having assumed the leadership
of the Catholic laity through his direction of the Centro D. Vital and the magazine Ordem,
didnt spare any vehemence in his comments on the Manifesto dos Pioneiros (The
Pioneers Manifest), as the Manifesto da Nova Educação ao Governo e ao Povo
(Manifesto of New Education to the Government and to the People) became known,
published on the 19th of March 1932 in the Página de Educação of Diário
We already have our NEP! However, it is not Lenins New Economic Politics. It
is the new educational politics, which is a general outline presented in the
summary of the Pioneers Manifesto of New Education, signed by a select
group of the gros bonnets (bigwigs) of the new official pedagogy.
It is anti-Christian because it denies the supremacy of its spiritual goal; it is
anti-national because although referring to the care of national unity it
doesnt take into account, in its arid rationalism, any particularity of Brazilian
temperament and tradition; and it is also anti-liberal because it is based on the
pedagogic absolutism of the Estate and in the negation of all freedom in teaching.
In a second opportunity, still amidst the din of the battles that characterised the
thirties in the field of education, Alceu voted against Cassiano Ricardos counsel,
which proposed that the Academia Brasileira de Letras (Brazilian Academy of Literature)
award of 1938 be conferred only to the book of poetry Viagem by Cecília Meireles,
in what was, according to Manuel Bandeira, one of the most tumultuous sessions it
(the Academia Brasileira de Letras) ever had .
The judgement generated a controversy that extended beyond the confines of the Academy and
was made public through the press. Cecília received the poetry award nevertheless,
Cassianos proposal was defeated due to the Academys decision to grant awards
also to the other literary modalities.
Cecília, chosen by the other award winners to speak on behalf of them all, saw her speech
be modified by the Comissão de Censura da Academia (Academy Censorship Commission) and so
preferred to remain silent .
However, the Alceu of the sixties was not the same orthodox and irascible Alceu of the
thirties. In the elogio fúnebre (funereal eulogy) of his article of
December 64, he acknowledges Cecílias intellectual and literary stature:
Departed at the same time, those two exceptional female figures who were the first
ones to be brought by the first modernist wave to our aesthetic shores: Anita Malfatti and
Cecília Meirelles. (...)
It was without doubt that couple, of such noble style, Anita Malfatti and Cecília
Meireles, who marked the beginning of the new era on the plane of the arts and literature.
The first was the originator, among us, of modern painting. Cecília, that of modern
Many statements of the brief article of 64, as well as some of its silences, are
eloquent. Firstly, the repeated appraisal of Cecílias modern character, as much for
her being acknowledged as the originator, among us, of modern poetry as for
the established parallelism, in life as in death, with Anita.
The violent colour of Anitas canvases and the veiled sonority of
Cecílias verse opened a new era in Brazils cultural life. 
Secondly, for the relativity of her pioneering character, and the affirmation of the
specificity of her modernism, of clear symbolist affiliation and as incorporator of
(...) Her poetry didnt exactly come to break taboos. Others had already done
this before her. She prolonged - with a totally individual originality and without any
innovative or revolutionary concern the symbolist lineage. She had participated in
the spiritualist group to which Tasso da Silveira, Andrade Murici, Henrique Abílio,
Barreto Filho and their colleagues from Festa magazine belonged, which had
facilitated the transition of the past to the present, without violence, through the
troubled rapids of the 1922 movement. 
Thirdly, for relating Cecílias and Anitas achievements in the world of
literature and the arts to (...) one of the new signs of the times: the importance
of the female contribution to Brazilian intellectual life , affirming their specificity within the universe of scholarship as
representative of a gender that until then had been the object of segregation (...)
of the ghetto, of reclusion, of gynoecium (...) wherein the castle-bound had been
carefully kept,  and signalling in this way, in
the same movement, to womens new and subtle segregation within the citadel of
literature, their value being recognized in its own right, but magnified by the fact that
they are women.
Lastly, Alceu summarizes, situates and defines the role that, in his eyes, Cecília had
played in the intellectual universe of Brazilian art:
That sylph of poetic imponderability grew in stature, poem by poem, until becoming
the biggest female figure of continental poetry. Her universality is based on a
triangulation in which three worlds meet, forming the typical tone of its universality:
Portugal, Brazil, India. Asia, Europe and America represent three key points in this
subtle and typically feminine poetics that, for thirty years has echoed in all hearts and
delivered us of so many afflictions, in its transcendent spirituality and crystalline
Cecília is seen by Alceu, and indeed, right up until very recently, by the greater part
of her critical fortune , and by the heritage
memorial of the time as that sylph of poetic imponderability, of whose
identity traits are repeatedly stated as subtly poetic, virtuosity in the use
of the word, a specific insertion into the modern movement, and such undefined features as
eternal femininity, spirituality, transcendence and universality. The
interviews given by Cecília to the press , her
directly or indirectly autobiographical writings  and
the iconography of her that reaches us, especially her photos that always seem to
highlight her slender appearance with her clear eyes almost always resting upon some
infinite place, are far from denying this image of the author.
Some observations and silences are revealing on the reverse of the funereal eulogy traced
by Alceu. Firstly, the edited chronology he selected in 64, the last 30
years, omits from Cecílias intellectual history the year of the conflicting
competition of 1929; the controversy on Página de Educação of the Diário de
Notícias, of which she was editor between 1930 and 1933; her first poetry
books, Espectros, of 1919, Nunca Mais and Poema dos Poemas, published
in 1923, and Baladas para El-Rei, of 1925; her participation in the magazines Árvore
Nova, Terra do Sol and Festa, which, curiously, this same text maintains
as being a defining element of her trajectory; her first childrens book, Criança
meu Amor, of 1925 and, further still, the fact of her signature appearing in the
Manifesto dos Pioneiros da Educação Brasileira (Pioneers of Brazilian Education
Manifesto), of the 19th of March 1932.
Secondly, it points to the exclusive focus of her role as a major poet, to the detriment
of many of her other activities as a public figure and as an intellectual.
Finally, it is clear the explicit omission of his conflict with Cecília Meireles, since
he highlights as an element of contrast between Anita and Cecília the fact of the former,
contrary to the latter, had confronted major controversies, emphasizing the fact that
Anita had had against her, from the beginning, a voice that represented an almost
insuperable obstacle, that of Monteiro Lobato :
Anita, in this sense, suffered much more than Cecília. Primarily because she was
the first to break the taboos of academic art. The first ones are always, naturally, the
first victims of the eternal Philistine. Furthermore, because the São Paulo environment
is harder to convince than that of Rio de Janeiro. 
Facing the finality of death, Alceu, Cecílias old opponent, speaks of himself in
speaking about that whom he pays homage to. He rewrites the biography of that he saw as an
enemy unto death , emphasising Cecílias
transcendent spirituality and universalism and remaining silent about the conflict between
them both, erasing a good part of her trajectory, and contributing to fix an image of her,
for which her critical fortune has only very recently begun to relativize: Cecília
Meireles, in death, will be immortalized by her own worth as by most of those who
at the time write analogous texts  - as a major poet,
with a place all of her own in the construction of the modern in Brazilian culture, master
of sensibility and of the magic of words and, definitively, the sylph of poetic
Cecília also speaks of herself in paying posthumous homage to Mário de Andrade, an
intellectual and poet whom she admired and respected, a friend with whom she had made
acquaintance through a letter, simultaneously timid and daring, written in 1935 , and to whom she dedicated the 2º Motivo da
Rosa, a sonnet published in Mar Absoluto ,
which had been actually chosen by Mário himself .
When Mário de Andrade died, in 1945, Cecília dedicated to him, in a literary column, an
elegy in which one of his traits is emphasised, exactly that trait which mirrors the
reference to the universal that, if for her was always a point of departure and of
arrival, in the case of Mário could only be found at the core of what was genuinely
Brazilian. In Cecílias portrait of Mário, the pain of loss is the contrast to a
luminous piece of writing:
Mischievous Macunaíma always recovering, and so abundant in sweetness, so crazy and
so timid, of such discreet and adamant kindness - so much of himself, so much of others,
so much of everyone, so much of the universe in whose lap hed nestle like a child
that smiles in its sleep. 
In 1960, the Federal District mayorship commissioned Cecília Meireles to do the
organization of an anthology of Mário de Andrades poems, to coincide with the
fifteenth anniversary of his death. Cecília undertook a comprehensive study of
Mários poetic work, carefully putting together a cartography of his poetic writing
to produce what she intended to be an exhaustive inventory of the themes approached, the
expressions used, the vocabulary, the salience of the rhymes and figures of style, of
authors cited and of a thousand other details which in her eyes were significant in
Mários poetry. The preliminary study was so detailed that the work was not
delivered on time, and for this reason was then not published. In the
Introdução that she prepared for the Anthology, Cecília wrote:
In spite of the short time that has passed since his death, and the vividness of his
presence that lives on, in spite of the clarity of his work and the vastness of his
bibliography, it is not easy to delineate a synthesis of Mário de Andrade given the
richness of his personality; his daring and wrath of a timid and good man; his
aggressiveness and his repentance; his serious and playful constitution; his regionalism,
his Brazilianism and his universalism; his contrasts of body and spirit; and, in the so
lucid and sensitive words of Henriqueta Lisboa, that form of intelligence that
distinguished him, of the embodiment of mankind, of the friend, of the brother that he was
to almost all the intellectuals of the time. (...) It is in his verse that Mário de
Andrade endeavors to reflect with prodigy, and in a simultaneous way, the innumerous
aspects of his sensitivity and the multiplicity of motives of his interests. (...)
He is not, from a poetic point of view, a very uniform author, but to the contrary, he is
the participant of a period of literary renewal to which he surrendered himself with all
the curiosities of his temperament. All the elements that composed his versatility entered
into that experience: the taste in music, the folkloric research, the historical and
linguistic interests, his Brazilianism, his Paulistanismo (traits of those from the
city of Sao Paulo), and furthermore, those qualities that characterized his very special
personality: a sentimental, a compassionate, a discrete and almost a timid, playing of
being audacious, of exploring adventures in socio-political invectives, of attempting to
surrender himself in a curious sensualism into which sudden feelings of disgust, dream and
regret seem to intervene anything which displaces this rendition onto a plane of
reflection that we dont dare to call mystic, but whence spiritual consideration has
its importance. 
Whether in contrast or in sympathy, it is not difficult to identify signs of the
readers identity in the reading of Mários profile made by Cecília Meireles.
Likewise, it is not easy to draw a synthesis of Cecília. Perhaps even more
than in Mários poetry, it is in Cecília-the-poets verses that the
contemporaries and critics find the whole breadth and depth of her sensibility and her
multiples interests. She also is seen, and saw herself, as a participant
of a period of literary renewal because, in her own way, she is viewed as modern.
Like Mário, although by different pathways and at different moments, Cecília
explored adventures in socio-political invectives, and, much like the author
of Macunaíma, she stood out due to the taste in music, the folkloric
research, and the historical and linguistic interests. And, if the analyses of
Cecílias work seem to emphasize, more so than those of Mário, a mystic sensibility
and spiritual consideration as features of her poetic identity, certainly
Mário de Andrade is not recognised in the first term of the triad regionalism,
Brazilianism, universalism that, according to Cecília, characterized him, and it is
not evident what could be Brazilianism in Cecílias case.
To Mário, in the accompliceship created after years of exchanging correspondence,
Cecília advised in 1943
Don't forget that I am a mariner. Like a Phnician. 
Cecília, in effect, seems to know the secrets of the sea, and, in an article written in
the same year as the letter to Mario in which she declares to be a mariner, like a
Phnician, she acknowledges to be in her element when on a boat - small and
anchored, it must be said -, perhaps because it is there where she finds echoes of her
symbolic universe. In the article, curiously anchored between a series of twelve-weekly
issues in which she only approached short stories from different parts of the world that
were structured around fortune telling and another series dedicated to popular
proclamations, Cecília opens a space for that which she herself calls her seafaring
" (...) the atmosphere awoke a taste for healthy adventure, across difficult seas,
assaulted by savage monsters, with salty wind through the hair, the turbulence of waves on
the deck, and the music of the pulleys, rough and strong, that has a strange power over
those who truly love to sail.
(...) because the sea people have such habits, their hunger follows other rituals; in the
world of the seas one forgets the customs established at land; the table has a different
plenitude, and is split in another way.
(...) The men of the sea have their luxuries: the binoculars, the open maps, the knowledge
that constructs landscapes and conversations in the sweet tobacco of the pipe. (...)
We all proceed ennobled by dreams, united in the love for those whom, along with
ourselves, had so much loved the losing and encountering oneself in this experiencing of
the ocean, so similar to that of life.The men of the sea have their luxuries: great
silences, varied routes, sudden apparitions...
And those who navigate have their tranquil hopes: conquered the seas, there is always a
place for imaginary encounters, in a joyful port. (...)
In crossing sea after sea we arrive at our destiny. 
Without falling in the obviousness of signaling the recurrence of the sea and of the
voyages as themes of her work in verse and in prose, without insisting on the variety of
the latitudes that she visited on her physical journeys, as pointed out by all her
biographers , without succumbing to the temptation of
identifying the symbolic routes she traversed, it is befitting to point out the pertinence
of the journey as a metaphor of Cecília Meireless intellectual itinerary, already
extensively recognized as a special voyager 
always in search and always
(...) between her anguish and her dismay, her conception of an ideal and the
emptiness of the same (...)
Because of this she moves, she travels, she dreams of boats, with clouds, with
nomadic and ethereal moving and spectral things, transforming this excursion into pure
This study, actually the intermixing of two distinct journeys, that of the great
navigations undertaken by Cecília and this, infinitely more modest, of one of the
possible readings of some of her minor itineraries, which are different to those of her
more glorious routes through the Mar Absoluto (Absolute Sea) of poetry,
intends to have as a ballast a warning uttered by Cecília herself:
What we write becomes something else to each person that reads us 
As with the journeys, it is in the difference between the point of departure and the
different points of arrival that the itineraries gain meaning, it is in the tension
between what is known and what is unknown that meanings are woven, and it is the eyes of
the traveller the maps drawn.
Many sails, many oars.
Anchor is something other...
The time well cruise
cannot be measured.
Cecília Meireles: O Rei do Mar
(The King of the Sea)
IN: Vaga Música.
Poesia Completa, p. 182
2.1. In the path of the future
Among the shorter itineraries traversed by Cecília Meireles, those carried out outside
the vast-sea of greater tone poetry, is the one of her journeys through childrens
literature. It is a very particular journey this one she realizes through the continent of
childhood, and in it her ship seems equipped with such a luggage that synthesizes her
childhood memories, her identity as a teacher and as a poet, her passion for books and her
conviction of the role of reading, of education and of school and of its project for the
future, which at times appears through her relentless militant side, endeavoring in the
construction of a time that will come, and that appears at others, through her
contemplative and serene side, of a time that flows and master of the rhythm of words.
In her childhood memory, so astonishingly exposed in book form, which, although narrated
in the third person is a plunge into the contemplative introspection in which, by the
miracle of the imagination, escapes the condemnation of a world presided over by the
omnipresence of death arriving through all the senses ,
Cecília goes in search of the memory of a solitary girl enlivened by her first contact
And to separate herself definitively from everybodys world, she built a wall
of books and declared: Now I live in there. 
And in living inside the fortification of books that she hadnt yet read, like those
who love books do , the girl, who would turn
the books pages whilst lying prone on the rug, associates her sweet memories
of her grandmother with a very special book
Boquinha de Doce (Sweet Little Mouth) would sit down in her wicker chair and
open her book, which was small but thick and with gilded edges, and there would remain
among the clouds. And the girl would kneel down, get up to move close to her, nestle in
her lap, remain between her face and the book. And the figures would pass: men of other
times opened their arms speaking to crowds; the saints head dripped blood beneath
thorns; the saints body crawled between the soldiers; the saint died on the cross
and the kneeling women cried. 
In this way, what she saw as beauty she associated with books, as a character from a
book, the bride, would seem only a drawing ,
and with her dreams, these, her dreams of music, she herself doesnt
understand. But shed think, think about certain very fine sounds, spaced, extremely
pleasant, as being something unforgettable heard from a distance with infinite pleasure.
Do they come from the books pictures? 
Also in interviews speaking about her childhood memories on books, is a constant:
When I still didnt know how to read, I played with books and imagined them
full of voices speaking about the world. 
Additional to her vast poetic work, her production specifically for children is due to her
being convinced that
(...) writing for children has to be a science and an art at the same time. (...)
(Science) because it is necessary to know the intimate conditions of these young lives,
how they work, their characteristics, their possibilities. (...)
[Art because] The artist is a creature that stands out from others by his intuition and
sensitivity, and by a power to create in accordance with the special vibration that each
environment transmits. Because of this, they have within them something of a divinatory
faculty, which allows them to foretell events and times. They are also able to write for
children, in spite of ignoring the truths about those that science is fixating: guided
only by the delicacy of their spiritual sense and by the greater desire for an intimate
conviviality with a childs soul.
In fact, in modern times one is ever more realizing an enormous psychological similarity
between the child and the artist; either in the subjective existence, either in the
To write for children is at once both difficult and easy. It is, as I once heard: Columbuss
egg. The difficulty lies in us being Columbus. Being, for real. Not merely thinking
that we are...
As she writes in the Página de Educação of November the 11th 1930,
preferring to comment on the science and art of writing for children on the very day that
the newspapers report that, on that same week, a decree dissolving the National Congress
would be signed, the same week that Getúlio Vargas would take office as president, and
this, three days after the publication of news reporting of a serious conflict on the
streets of Rio de Janeiro between pro-Hitler activists and the police: in the same edition
of Diário de Notícias that records the events surrounding the consolidation of
the 1930 coup, Cecília states that childrens books are created from the science and
the art of those who are, or consider themselves to be, discoverers.
It is for this reason she writes for children, and what she writes for them about.
Therefore, in tracing Cecílias profile in his Arquivos Implacáveis (Inexorable
files), João Condé notes, making a hierarchy of preferences according to priority as
much as to the triple repetition:
- Things she loves: children, old objects, flowers, harpsichord music, a deserted
beach, books, books, books, a night with stars and clouds at the same time. 
Cecília writes books for children, and promotes reading, that are boat-books that
prepare for discovery, because those are the books that enable the reading of not only
that which is written within their pages, but also the reading of the world 
Ah! You, modest book, that in the shadows of a bookshelf a child one day freely
discovered, and by which was enchanted and so, without illustrations, without
extravagances, forgot the hours, the playmates, the afternoon snack... you, yes you, are a
childrens book and your distinction will be truly immortal. 
It is interesting to note that one of her first publications, amongst those made before
she was 25 years old and before she initiated her presence in the public debate about the
New School and prior to her best renowned poetic production, is a childrens book, Criança,
meu Amor (Child, my Love) . Published in
the same year that Walter Benjamin published his first text on childrens books , in 1924, it was adopted by the Diretoria Geral de
Instrução Pública do Distrito Federal (Federal District General Directorate of Public
Instruction) and approved by the Conselho Superior de Ensino dos Estados de Minas Gerais e
Pernambuco (Superior Council of Teaching for the States of Minas Gerais and Pernambuco),
and used extensively as a school reading book since then. Coming full circle, her last
book publication, which was in 1964, the year of her death, was also a childrens
book only this time of poems; Ou Isto ou Aquilo 
(Either This or that), used at schools to this day.
In the forty years that separate 1924 and 1964, Cecílias production for children,
about children and on literature for children, is significant though not constant or
Also for children, she wrote A Festa das Letras (The Letters Party)  in 1937; Rute e Alberto Resolveram Ser Turistas
(Rute and Alberto Decided to Be Tourists)  in
1938; the Nau Catarineta (Santa Catarinas Boat)  and O Menino Atrasado (The Boy who Was Late)  in 1946; and Rui, Pequena História de uma Grande
Vida (Rui, a Short History of a Great Life) 
Collections of texts by Cecília not originally meant for the young public were published,
after her death, as is the case of Escolha seu Sonho (Choose your Dream) , a collection of articles taken from radio programs in
which she participated along with other writers of the time at the Rádio Ministério da
Educação e Cultura (Ministry of Education and Culture Radio), entitled
Quadrante (Quadrant), and also at the Rádio Roquete Pinto, entitled
Vozes da Cidade (Voices of the City); A Janela Mágica (The Magic
Window) , articles taken from previously
published collections along with texts prepared for the same radio programs that had
served as the basis for Escolha seu Sonho; Ilusões do Mundo (Illusions
of the World) , also composed of articles
originally written for radio programs produced between 1961 and 1963; O que se Diz e o
que se Entende (What is said and what is understood) , also a collection of articles sometimes used in schools; and Giroflê,
Giroflá , which includes some of the articles
from the book of the same name that was published in 1956 in a limited edition, and which
mainly gathers together accounts of trips to India and Italy, preceded by the traditional
nursery rhyme from which the book takes its name. Surprisingly, also indicated for
childrens reading is the book Olhinhos de Gato (Cats Little Eyes)
, her book of memoirs of childhood that opens with
the dense and complex narration of her memories of a kiss given to the cold face of her
dead mother when she was only three years of age. 
Everything that the author wrote and published for children 
is, in some way, linked to school and to school activities, because, for her
School is the centre of life .
And all of them are reading books, those written in verse as much as those written in
prose, as also those intended to follow the program of a certain school discipline, as
does Rute e Alberto Resolveram Ser Turistas which, as its subtitle makes clear,
relates to the social sciences program for the third year of elementary
To encourage reading among children, she idealized and created, during the period in which
Anísio Teixeira was head of the Departamento de Educação do Distrito Federal (Federal
District Department of Education), the first library specialized in childrens
literature in Brazil, which was located in the Pavilhão Mourisco in Botafogo, the
short-lived existence of which she always presided over:
In 1934, she is assigned, by the Federal District Mayorship Secretary for Education,
to manage a Center for Children that is to be installed at the Pavilhão do Mourisco.
There, she creates the citys first childrens library, taking full advantage of
the Pavilions architectural possibilities in order to offer the children multiple
educational and recreational activities. In this magical environment, so essential to the
minds of children, the towers house, between refuge and discovery, collections of stamps
and of prints, and a music archive. The basement, decorated by Fernando Correia Dias, is a
kind of enchanted city where the children can freely exercise their imagination. On
special occasions, educational pamphlets are printed, with pictures, poems, short texts
and photos, to be distributed amongst the Centers young members. However, this
childrens paradise was short-lived. Once again, political intrigue emerged and the
place was closed down as a result of the allegation that the library contained books that
were dangerous to childrens formation. The presence of Mark Twains The
Adventures of Tom Sawyer was used as evidence. More evident, however, were the
negative repercussions of the episode, as much in the United States of America as in
Ten years later, in an account of an interview given in Washington to a young, avid
journalist enthusiastic about her pioneership, Cecília, recognizing that the library
was the first to exist within that model in Brazil, opens a parenthesis for an
ironic comment about the episode:
(The story would be a long one to tell, although it would serve to teach many,
astonish several and amuse all) 
Many of Cecílias writings are about children, and about childhood as an age of life
and as potentiality for the future to the country and to humanity. This is observed as
much in those texts dispersed among her vast production of articles published in
newspapers, as in her text in prose, synthesis about the new education, literature and its
function in the education of a people. Her thesis presented for the competition for the
professorial chair of Brazilian literature at the Escola Normal in 1929, entitled O
Espírito vitorioso (The Victorious Spirit) ,
is certainly a youthful piece of writing, assertive and controversial, generous and
rhetorical, yet it remains faithful to the ideas and convictions she maintained throughout
Besides several Comentários (Commentaries) and articles in the
Página de Educação , Cecília
wrote a fundamental text on childrens literature, entitled Problemas da
Literatura Infantil (Problems of Childrens Literature) and published in
1951 , that was actually the result of three
conferences held during a holiday course given to teachers of Belo Horizontes public
education system in January 1949 at the invitation of the citys then Secretary of
Education, Abgard Renault.
In this publication, the theme is developed in such a way, with the patience and detail of
the armourers of the great expeditions, as to allow one to encounter a Cecília Meireles
who theorizes about childrens literature; who deepens the significance of the
education of those that she saw as being the Brazil of the future, that defines the
relationship between childrens literature and school, who insists on the importance
of libraries, who proposes, in a chapter entitled Como fazer um bom livro
infantil (How to make a good childrens book) ,
a canon for this type of literature, and, also in developing this theme of literature for
children, reaffirms her humanist, universalist and aesthetic convictions.
The central argument is her explanation of what literature is:
Literature is not, as many suppose, a pastime. It is nutrition. 
With this piece of writing, the author of verses about the importance of greens, of
spinach and fresh fruit for the health of childrens bodies, creates her second festa
das letras, only now in prose and referring to the health of children's hearts and
minds. Books are the basic food of the spirit, therefore what is written for children,
especially, should aspire to Literature, that is, a capital letters writing, indebted to
the works of great writers, because it will be the whetting stone of the intellect, of
moral formation, and the teaching of aesthetic taste. And because it is sustenance for
life it must be sustained by that which is most perennial - the great tradition - most
solid - humanism - and most ample - the universal.
With this reference as a basis, which constants and which elements of differentiation can
be found in the childrens literature of Cecília Meireles? And, if in order to write
for children it is necessary to be - or to think to be, as she explains - a discoverer,
what discoveries would this reading allow its young readers?
For the answer not to be simplistic, it is important to look for some contrasting
Among scholars who study the book and the act of reading, are Anne-Marie Chartier and Jean
Hébrard. In a book they have recently published, these two authors analyse reading
manuals of France from between 1880 and 1960. Without intending a mechanical appropriation
of the analysis therein, certainly inadequate for the Brazilian case in general and for
the childrens literature of Cecília Meireles in particular, it is always useful to
incorporate the observation made by these authors in the sense of emphasising the
relevance of studying the books that are for childrens reading:
Reading manuals are the true highway to enter into the world of writing. (...) Among
all books, school books are the ones that a person will have spent most time with during
his or her life 
It is equally important to reflect about the changes that put into context the modern in
establishing itself in the materiality, in the didacticism and textuality of reading books
in France, as of 1925 and up to 1960: the passage of
a unique model, firmly established, whereby reading is the access rout to all routes
of knowledge, and a more complex situation in which three tendencies coexist: the
universal encyclopedic model, the model by which the reading manual is transformed into a
collation of moral narratives, and, finally, the model which attempts to introduce
literature into primary school reading. 
Chartier and Hébrard point out, in this period, a movement in three directions. The first
tendency is that one which consolidates the encyclopedic model of instructive
readings , intending, according to the authors,
to combine reading and instruction organically. This type of book is intended to address
and to compend the more distinct domains of knowledge, synthesizing into a narrative text
the detailed and scrupulous inventory that is the knowledge of hygiene, geography,
domestic economy, history, and whatever more possible. The most frequent type of narrative
is that of a journey of two children, who, at the whim of adventure, go discovering their
homeland, their riches, and moral values upon which it is built, developing themselves in
the pleasure of reading, at the same time as they are initiated, as catechumens, in the
secular religion of nationalism and of patriotism. The paradigm of this type of reading
book is Le Tour de la France par Deux Enfants (The Tour of France by Two
Children), the author of which hides herself under the pseudonym G. Bruno. This book
has already been the object of several analyses, including an important text by Mona and
Joseph Ouzouf . It is a lesson in such things,
In its turn, the educational model of the moralizing narrative  which is largely the result of the introduction of specialized
textbooks for disciplines, takes away the monopoly of instructive reading in schools,
which in a certain way was held by the livres de lecture courante
(comprehensive lecture book). The books belonging to this category concentrate
on moral content, and on content related to the future citizens everyday life. They
are, above all, lessons in life. Their objective is to form the heart and the will, and,
if most of the time they follow the normal itinerary of a childs life, a surprising
event will occur that transforms the childs routine who is then transformed and so
assumes his or her destiny. Some of them are narratives in verse form, and all proceed to
choose from certain themes, with moralizing objectives, and become obligatory books for
school libraries, all having exciting adventure as a common denominator.
Finally, the third type of book in Chartier and Hébrards taxonomy is the one which
the authors call the cultural model of literary readings . These are anthologies of the work by great literary authors which
are laid out within the grasp of youngsters. In this instance, they are an eminently
aesthetic lesson. The objective is to form the childrens taste rather than to
transmit knowledge, either about the authors, or about some discipline or about morality.
The intention is to show by example a command of the written word and of refined rules in
the art of writing well, a command of vernacular language and of its inheritance
constituted by literature.
It would be simplistic to classify Cecília Meireless works for children within
those three domains. Some nuances and differentiations might suggest avenues that are
perhaps richer, being less mechanical and more attentive to history, the eternal
relativizer of models.
In fact, the first difference to be pointed out is that Cecílias books for children
do not fit, at least in their totality, within the category livres de lecture
courante, so specific to French school practices. With the exception of Criança
meu Amor, which was adopted as the first reading book in not few schools, they are
books for reading. On particular occasions they are for dramatizing on stage, as is
the Christmas play O Menino Atrasado; in some cases, they are thematic or
disciplinary, like A Festa das Letras and the book that contains the Social
Sciences program for the third year of elementary school, Rute e Alberto Resolveram Ser
Turistas; some belong to the category of readings recommended by the schools, as is
the case of Ou Isto ou Aquilo, Rui, Pequena História de uma Grande Vida;
and others, that although not having been written for children, were and are used in
schools, such as the anthologies of articles and even Olhinhos de Gato. Although
these last can be used as such, they are not reading manuals created according to that
intention and so considered appropriate to what Chartier and Hébrad call the
ineluctable law of the genre:
To read at school, to learn to read at school, means to recite a text in the close
association of a group, with the slow pace of exchanges, with the meticulousness of
verifications, with the patience dictated by the necessity of the application of
Even if they were in fact used in this way at schools and would eventually continue to be
so, they dont seem to have been written for reading aloud, an activity which points
to the construction of a collectiveness and reinforces the community bonds, and which
presupposes a certain societal ethics and that refers to the public sphere. They seem to
have been written for silent reading in the intimacy of the home or in the solitude of the
library, that reading that allows the readers to subtract themselves from the world and
enter into the mystery of the interior universe, to give the imagination unfettered wings
and construct individuality, to operate with a differentiation proposed by Roger Chartier.
Not without reason, Cecília always uses the singular when calling upon the young reader
to engage in dialogue, referring to a sole reader with whom she dialogues exclusively and
with great intimacy, as in the opening text that serves as the brief, programmatic
prologue in Criança meu Amor:
Whats your name? How old are you? Where are you? I dont know who you
are, but I love you. Without knowing you, I composed this book that I offer to you,
wanting to make you happy. 
Or, on the back cover of the book Rui. Pequena História de uma Grande Vida:
If you see a poor house and there, inside, is a boy studying alone, enchanted with
his studies, not wanting to know of anything else - ask for the hero, who surely has
passed by there. 
The books that Cecília writes for children are books to be kept not just in every
childs and every schools library, like the French books that serve as the
basis for Anne-Marie Chartier and Jean Hébrards analysis, but also in their hearts,
and to be held on to, indelibly, throughout life. She explains this with great clarity:
To give only a little attention to reading is not enough to reveal a preference or
an approbation. It is necessary that the child lives under its influence, that this
landscape, this music, this discovery, this communication, always remain charged
throughout life. 
Texts should be read and remembered so that they fulfil the initial and soteriological
function that Menguel speaks of about his personal experience as a reader:
A text read and remembered becomes, in this redeeming re-reading, as the frozen lake
in a poem that in time I had learnt by heart, as solid as the ground and capable of
sustaining the reader crossing it, however, at the same time, its only existence is in the
mind, as precarious and fleeting as if its letters were written in water. 
Unlike the books of the French republic, which initiate a clear process of differentiation
between books of literary narratives and instruction books, Cecília Meireless books
for children never abstain from uniting the concern about form to instructional content.
This occurs even in the extreme case of the alphabets rigid guidelines that
constrains the short verses of Festa das Letras to transmit to very small children
those just learning their ABCs difficult lessons about health and
hygiene, which go very much against the deeply ingrained alimentary habits of the
Brazilian people. Although for most of the text the verses are far from revealing
Cecílias best poetry, on some occasions they do give us a glimpse of her mastery as
an equilibrist of words in the game of alliterations and onomatopoeias. In the first case
there are, for example, the absurd and hardly defensible, whichever aesthetic canon is
used, tiny verses of the letter E:
Mas que E, Engraçado!
E de Estômago bom menino Excelente.
E de Estômago mau menino Enjoado!
E de prato de Espinafre!
Eta! maravilha! 
which contrast with the final verses about the letter F:
Ó menina da menina da Face
Que na pela da Fruta madura?
Ó menina da Face vermelha
Veja como a abelha
Por não Ter certeza
Se essa cor tão bonita
É da sua Face
Ou da Framboesa! 
It is also the case, not so much regarding the form as the content, of the praise of
poetry embedded in the Social Sciences lessons in Rute e Alberto Resolveram Ser
Turistas,  curiously omitted from the American
edition of the book , and discreetly present in the
book Criança meu Amor .
The third and most significant difference between Cecília Meireless books for
children and the manuals of the French republic is that, far from intending the formation
of national spirit and republican citizenship in their readers, what appears to be
emphasised in them all is a desire to construct men and women who, whilst remaining
Brazilian, are recognized as being universal and who find their true homeland in humanity.
This seems to be the lay religion to which Cecília devotes herself and yields homage:
that of universalism and of humanism, and not that of nationalism and of patriotism
defined by territorial borders.
In her books for children, Brazil is more an element of identity than a project, always
referred to by its greatness and potentiality . In
her more combative writings, Brazil is the future that is to be conquered through
What Brazil has to be, depends on the way it resolves the problem of
As much in her writings on education as in relation to the education to which she wants
her childrens books to contribute, Brazil is our soil of universality. It is to open
horizons the size of the world that education is destined:
One cannot understand the well-educated individual save when their feelings have
extended beyond the domestic orbit, beyond the national orbit, to the most diverse points
of the world in which men, their brothers, live. The spirit of fraternity crosses over
borders, crosses the mystery of languages, forgets the differences of race. The spirit of
fraternity is the end of education, because it is only worthwhile to live for a total
cohesion of effort between people pacified by love. 
This Consecration, is what Cecília proclaims to her young readers to be the
glory of Rui Barbosa, he who united the defence of the homeland to the sentiments of the
One day - how long ago? - Argentina received him as a political fugitive. Then later
saw him leave, for far away, a melancholic exile. He would now be received as a Hero, full
of glory, who to the old sufferings in defence of the Homeland had added new sufferings in
defence of the world. 
Although in a confused and generalised form, perhaps this was the thesis, that she
defended at the age of twenty eight in the frustrated entry for the professorship at the
Escola Normal do Distrito Federal, proposing a three-dimensional system for the perception
of each thing in the world as a method of emphasizing the value of the word and of
Each objective phenomenon and each thing can have three lives: that which is limited
to its external form; that which we lend to them, subjectively, and that is related with
our own passions; and yet a third, which is the generalization of these two,
generalization in image, universalised image - the idea deposited in a symbol 
For Cecília, the Espirito Vitorioso should be universal.
Victorious Spirit: to look at the Universe face to face! 
And the poet should be at its service.
The poet will be the uniter of destinies, the builder of universal solidarity.
For some, this is the vulnerable point that her militancy led her to fight for a modern
education, and that ultimately, becomes idealistic because she defended the idea that an
education for all, secular and free, is the duty and responsibility of the State. For
others, this is her individual mark of greatness of spirit. For herself, this is her
confession of faith:
I believe that if humanity knew itself better it would love itself. It would find in
all races, at the foundations of all countries, the same physiognomy of life and dreams
(...) I also believe that this revelation of human identity could be achieved by means of
poetic work. The poets are only truly poets when they possess this Gift of the universal
that frees them from the fatality of time and space, immortalizing them in the heart of
all centuries and all men.
I believe, finally, that educations chore will have to be a work of high poetry, and
that a moment will come when pedagogic vocations will have to take on the form of
civilizing missions of the spirit, of activities almost especially artistic; the activity
that is more directly linked to life, which it seeks to define, which it suggests, which
it interprets, which gives to the creatures this notion of their own presence in the
universal setting. 
2.2. The small obstinate ships
In 1945, Cecília Meireles published Mar Absoluto in which she speaks of
great obstinate ships in a long poem entitled Compromisso
(Commitment). Perhaps we could think of her seven works published for children
as an armada of small obstinate ships.
She, who declared that
education is the one thing in this world which I believe in adamantly ,
who believed in the educational potentiality of reading, possibly thought, when writing
for her children-public, something similar to what she had said about writing in
Because it is an obstinate hope, which I hold onto, that the public will read and
Uniting faith and hope -both obstinate- Cecília wrote also so that children may read, and
through reading, may understand the world.
These books are frequently mentioned in analyses that are available on childrens
literature . The book Problemas da Literatura
Infantil, about her thoughts on theoretical ideas on childrens literature, is an
obligatory reference. There are, however, only a few analyses of Cecílias
production for children.  We intend, here, to make an
exploratory incursion across these until now seldom navigated seas, taking as a sea-chart
some of Anne-Marie Chartiers and Jean Hébrards reflections about reading.
If it is true, as has already been mentioned, that identifying the differences between, on
one hand, Cecília Meireless books for children and her proposals for education and,
on the other, the proposals presented in the reading books of republican France, is an
indispensable exercise in the historical study of the former, then it is also important to
point out that another exercise, symmetrical and complementary; the one of exploring the
hypothesis that if Cecílias production for children cannot be satisfactorily
classified within any of the three models proposed by Anne-Marie Chartier and Jean
Hébrard, or even distributed across all three types of reading books proposed by those
authors, maybe it would be possible to identify, in each of the books that Cecília wrote
for children, not as models, but as dimensions present in all of them, the encyclopedic
and instructive character, the educational and moral connotation and the
In a first estimation, what is possibly most apparent in reading the books Cecília wrote
for children is her strong moralizing character. Maybe this is because it surprises the
adult reader to find in these little frequented works by such an author whom had always
distinguished herself by her personal autonomy in relation to the literary schools; who
had been so active as a participant of the democratic cause, with the contradictions
representative of the time; who had represented the new-school movement; and in whose
poetry and journalistic activity, the word freedom is one of the constant
features; it is a surprise to find a remarkably moralist tone that, today, contains an
accentuated reactionary content.
It is in Criança meu Amor and Rui, Pequena História de uma Grande Vida
that this characteristic is more evident. It should not be forgotten that there is a
25-year gap between the publications of these two books.
In the first of these, morality is a constant, particularly visible in the texts O
Bom Menino (The Good Boy) and O Mau Menino (The Bad Boy), which
construct an opposition of extreme Manichaeism. The good boy is described, somewhat
overusing the diminutive suffixes, as an angelical being, and the end of the description
does not lack a certain kind of examination of conscience:
I know of a boy who comes to school every day with his (tiny) clothes clean and his
homework well understood.
(...) He doesnt come jumping around and shouting as other school children do. He
comes as a well-behaved child, a good (tiny) boy, a very good (tiny) boy...
(...) Nobody ever complained about this boy. It is he who advises the most troublesome
boys not to fight; it is he who explains to the less clever boys the lessons they
didnt understand well...
I know of a model boy, whose name I wont say because he wouldnt like it if I
Which of you knows this boy?
Which of you is he? 
At the opposite pole, the children encounter, pages and weeks of reading later, the
bad boy, who, unlike the good boy, has a name and whose main badness is
that he doesnt like his teacher. The bad boy is not described, but is
the object of accusation and reprehension not without a certain tone of blackmail, from
the voice of a narrator, who, in the likeness of the watchful eye of God which has
terrorized so many childrens lives, sees and knows everything and who knows of the
boys actions and his most intimate feelings and also those of his devoted teacher:
Oh! You dont like the teacher, Julinho! You dont like her...
When she explains the multiplication table, you doodle on your paper. When its
reading time, you never know from what place you should read. She asks for silence and you
talk, and make a noise with your feet...
Oh! You dont like your teacher!
However, she likes you a lot...
She comes to school for you, on rainy days, on days when shes not well...
She thinks of you... she thinks about what you will be when you grow to be a man...
Cant you see how you make her sad, by being bad? It seems that she asks you,
sometimes, with a look:
Why are you so ungrateful like this, Julinho?
Oh! You dont yet know the hurt ingratitude causes, my son...
Dont be ungrateful! 
The book is composed of thirty short texts, and, as if marking out the compass of the
reading as a whole, five times the children will read pages under the same title,
Mandamento (Commandment). These are the only pages that contain subtitles,
which, inverting the logic of fables, condense the moral of the story even before it has
been read. The commandments that Cecília inscribes on the stones of the laws of school
reading are as follows: I - I should love school as if it was my home, II - I
should love and respect the teacher as if she was my mother, III - I should
treat my school friends as my brothers and sisters, IV - I should be
truthful, and V - I should be well-behaved. 
The book about Rui Barbosa follows a distinct logic and is reading material for children a
little older, although the readers age for which it was written is not defined.
Actually, it is a biography of praise in the mould of the hagiography found on the library
shelves of religious schools, having the same intention of forming souls by way of ethical
example. The secret of his exemplary life is in the study and love that overflow from the
books to the family, from the family to the country, and from the country to the world.
As in the lives of saints, Rui suffers a lot throughout his life, to then is crowned in
glory at the altars of his country and, at the end of the book, canonized as a hero. He
seems predestined from tender childhood to be the eagle of Haia in a smaller scale: the
first chapter about him, actually the third chapter of the book, is entitled A Boy
In the books architecture, it is possible to verify two interesting displacements:
firstly, Bahia - the subject of the first two chapters - appears as a projection of
Brazil, not just because
seen on the map it is like a mini-Brazil: a miniature of Brazil , but also because it is presented as its origin:
(...) it was the oldest region of Brazil! The first to be sighted by the
Secondly, Rui appears as a projection - in the superlative degree - of the ideal
Brazilian, who, implicitly present throughout the book, is revealed with meridian clarity.
To find such a hero today we should follow in the footsteps of the boy that studies
alone, of the teenager who meditates on mans perfection, on the
salvation of the world, on compassion and love, of the serious and judicious
youth who believes in Justice, Freedom and Law, of the man who is disposed to
work night and day to help build a dignified and magnificent country, where one is
protected by ones rights and where the words Ignorance and Oppression are
The moralizing connotation is also present in the other books. It is easily found in the
constant opposition between good and bad, in the normative tone, and in the praise of
moderation in Festa das Letras.
Ninguém com de menos
Nem trabalhe de mais
Tenha Nervos serenos
Seja simples como o N
Das coisas Naturais! 
(Nobody with too little
Nor too much work
Has Nerves as serene
As to be as simple as the N
Of things Natural!)
It is possible to find in the conclusion of the Christmas puppet-play, a happy ending in
which the boy Jesus himself, bypassing the authority of the doorkeeper, goes to meet the Menino
Atrasado (The Boy Who Was Late), who had been barred at the Nativity party
because he hadnt brought a present and had arrived at the wrong time; he is allowed
in because the kindness in the poor boys pure heart was recognized, and in the
boys voice, he hears the call of the friend and of the brother who seeks a companion
to play with, and thus goes towards him:
Quem foi que chamou por mim?
Ouvi, levantei-me e vim.
Quem disse que me quer bem?
Eu lhe quererei também
Quem quer ser o meu irmão?
Estenda-me a sua mão. 
(Who was it that called for me?
I heard, got up and came.
Who said that they wish me well ?
I will wish them well too
Who wants to be my brother?
Stretch out your hand to me.)
A moralizing tone is also present in the extended and typical family of Rute e Alberto:
hard-working father, understanding mother, well-behaved children keen to learn, uncle who
knows to teach values and knowledge while, in the summer holidays, walks around the city
of Rio de Janeiro with the boys, helpful maids who learn with the family and tell stories
from which the boys also learn. Even in the last of Cecílias books for children,
those in which her mastery of the art of the word is more evident and in which fantasy
directs the game of phonemes, she is not averse to administering a good smack
to the naughty girl who seems not to have learned the lesson of Festa das Letras:
É a menina manhosa
que não gosta da rosa,
que não quer a borboleta
porque é amarela e preta,
que não quer maçã nem pêra
porque tem gosto de cera,
que não toma leite,
porque lhe parece azeite,
que mingau não toma,
porque é mesmo goma,
que não almoça nem janta
porque cansa a garganta,
que tem medo do gato,
e também do rato,
e também do cão
e também do ladrão,
que não calça meia
porque dentro tem areia,
que não toma banho frio
porque sente arrepio,
que não toma banho quente
porque calor sente,
que a unha não corta,
porque sempre fica torta,
que não escova os dentes,
porque ficam dormentes,
que não quer dormir cedo,
porque sente imenso medo;
que também tarde não dorme,
porque sente um medo enorme,
que não quer festa nem beijo
nem doce nem queijo...
Ó menina levada,
Quer uma palmada?
Uma palmada bem dada
Para quem não quer nada! 
(It is the whimsical girl
who doesnt like roses,
who doesnt want a butterfly
because its yellow and black,
who wants not an apple nor a pear
because they taste of wax,
who doesnt drink milk,
because it seems like olive oil,
who doesnt eat porridge,
because its really gum,
who doesnt eat lunch or dinner
because it tires the throat,
who is afraid of cats,
and also of rats,
and also of dogs
and also of robbers,
who doesnt wear socks
because they have sand in them,
who doesnt take a cold shower
because it makes her shiver,
who doesnt take a hot shower
because she feels the heat,
who doesnt cut her nails,
because it always ends up uneven,
who doesnt brush her teeth,
because they go to sleep,
who doesnt want to sleep early,
because she feels great fear;
who also wont sleep late,
because shes very afraid,
who wants neither a party nor a kiss
neither sweets nor cheese...
Oh naughty girl,
Do you want a smack?
A smack well given
To that who nothing wants!)
In short: it is a Manichaeistic, disciplinary and normative moralism that appears in
Cecílias books for children. In these books, the good boys will find
the basic hierarchies present in society reinforced through their reaffirmation in the
family circle and at school. And if it is true that Cecília affirms the position of the
poor and the value of respect for poverty, it is also certain that, in her books, the poor
and the excluded do not move from their subordinated position. It is like the
youngsters dreams for the future in Criança meu Amor, wherein Oswaldo
intends to be a doctor like his father, while Adosinda,
who is a poor girl, would be happy if, when she is grown up, she could sew
well, and Antonio, a very funny little black boy, would like to be a
The same happens with the multitude of the poor, the slaves and the destitute who Rui
Barbosa protects and cares for throughout his life, and with Georgina and Maria da
Glória, Rute and Albertos housemaids, apparently included in the family and treated
with love, but who must calmly put up with the boys jokes about the fact of them
being black . Georgina provides full proof of her
subordination when Alberto, enchanted with the built-in wardrobes found in all the rooms
of the apartment rented in Copacabana for the holidays, enters the kitchen and asks her if
she too has a wardrobe, to which she answers:
I do have, yes, see there under the sink.
It is like this, lastly, with the roceiros (peasants) and the pretinhas
(little black girls) of the play Menino Atrasado; fearful that, by
being poor, their presents would not be accepted, and would even be objects of derision to
the boy-God. This is also the case with the anonymous character of the beautiful
Cantiga da Babá (Nannys song) from Ou Isto ou Aquilo,
poetry that Cecília probably wrote whilst thinking of Pedrina, the dear nanny of her
childhood as an orphan to whom she dedicates many pages of Olhinhos de Gato. In
this poetry, all the nanny desires, her desire condensed into I would like
opening each stanza, is to comb, to clothe and to give
little wings of wire and cotton to the boy-angel to whom she is devoted, yet who
On reading Cecília Meireless books for children one may ask how they prepare
the creatures that will be the adults of the future ,
to use her words from the lucid Página de Educação, trench of her own exercise
in citizenship in which she made of her defence for the New School the bastion of her
dream of an equalitarian and democratic society. The answer found in its pages seems to
indicate that it is by a strictly individual morality, formed of personal virtues, and
there is no indication of a societal morality that points to the construction of
citizenship using more consistent and democratic models.
The moral and moralizing dimension is a constant that leaps to the attention in all of
Cecílias books. A closer reading allows one to verify that, further to educating
from a certain moral perspective, all the books also inform their readers who then
respond, each in his or her own way, to the encyclopedic and instructive ideal.
In the first of her books, Criança meu Amor, the learning is, primarily, that of
reading. In this book the child finds, even without knowing it, elementary lessons about
forms, figures and literary genres: prose and verse; the letter, the dialogue, the fable
and the shortstory; the metaphor, the metonymy, the alliteration and the onomatopia.
He or she will also learn to appreciate books and reading through the practice that the
books make possible and through the reiterated exhortation, as much in the first as in the
last text read.
In the opening text, entitled Criança (Child), the author
directly addresses the child who is reading, saying that even without knowing him or her,
she loves and composed the book for them. In the manner of her programmatic forewords, the
Give me a little of your treasure, oh child!
- How? You may well ask.
By loving this book of yours, by trying to understand it and trying to keep it in the
memory of your heart, which, if I could, I would kneel down to kiss! ... 
In the letter that closes the book, and that sometimes serves as a postscript,
a godmother writes to her goddaughter, who the children perhaps recognize as being a
female version of the good boy:
As I know that you have studied a lot, and that more and more you fill your parents
house with happiness, I send you with my letter a small childrens library, where
your curiosity will find lots of useful and interesting things.
I wont ask that you take good care of these books that are my present to you, sent
with affection, because I know that you are a model girl who will pay them great
Wishing that you become each time better than you have been, feel hugged in your heart,
Your godmother. 
The real book unfolds itself as an imaginary little library, as a prize, a
treasure, and as proof of affection, so teaching young readers something else about
But this small first reading book contains other lessons besides that of reading:
rudimentary knowledge about time (past, present and future; the time of day and the
seasons of the year; the ages of life; time of work and time of leisure; time of
festivities - Carnival and Christmas - and time of routine), about space (the house and
the street; the school; the garden and the orchard; the earth and the sea), about health
and hygiene (cleanliness, good diet, appearance) and about life in society (the family,
professions, wealth and poverty).
It also contains a teaching about the employment of time, synthesis of a moral lesson,
learning about time, the acquisition of notions of health and feeding habits, and classes
on the basic hierarchy of society being divided between the poor and the rich. In the text
entitled A brincadeira do relógio (the clocks game), the
childrens day resembles life in the barracks.
Midnight. One oclock. Two... Three...
And all the children are sleeping.
Five... Six... Seven...
Zequinha pokes his head out from under the sheet...
And Manuel and Antonio, and that little blond girl, and Célia, and the others whose names
I dont know...
Eight oclock. And all the children are drinking their milky coffee, or
their black coffee if they are poor...
Nine oclock... Ten... And all the children have done their homework:
Elisa, Eduardo, Marina...
Eleven oclock. And all the children are having lunch.
Midday, All the children go to school.
One, two, three oclock...
And all the children are working in their classes...
Five... All the children leave...
Six oclock... Seven...
And the children are having dinner: Luís, Vera, Plínio...
Eight oclock, nine... The children play...
Ten oclock... And all the children fall asleep...
Eleven oclock... Midnight. One oclock.
And the children are soon to wake up again... 
In A Festa das Letras the lesson is different. A kind of primer in short and free
verses, whose entries are organized alphabetically following the formal model of
encyclopaedias and dictionaries, teaches habits regarding nutrition and hygiene , lists all types of food - including some unusual
fruits such as cambucá, grumixama and guabiraba
-, instructs on healthy practices and explains how the digestive system works. Amply
illustrated by João Fahrion, the book was written to form a series of textbooks, and as
part of a national campaign captained by Josué de Castro, a doctor and great authority on
subjects related to nutrition, and co-author of the book.
The book Rute e Alberto Resolveram Ser Turistas is a textbook on a specific
discipline: the social sciences. Children can read it as a story-book and not
notice, whilst following the adventures of the brother and sister, what jumps to the adult
readers attention: the clearly identifiable programmatic content: notions of time
and of space more systematized and complex than those that are found in books written for
younger children (a week, month, year, leap year, the seasons; the cardinal points,
orientation in the city and in the countryside, means of transportation, representations
of space), the planet Earth (sphericality, movements of rotation and of translation, the
line of the equator, the north pole and the south pole, the hemispheres), geographical
accidents, Brazil (the extent of its size and wealth, regional diversity, economic
activities) and the History of Brazil (the discovery of Brazil, the foundation of the city
of Rio de Janeiro, the colonial period, the arrival of the Portuguese court, the monarchy
and the republic).
However, the book also teaches some surprising things.
Firstly, all the learning takes place outside of school and during school holidays, and
that the great educator is not a teacher, but is uncle Alberto. Further still: the method
of learning always supposes the active participation of children: it responds to their
curiosity, it presupposes action (the children make models, explore monuments as
documents, locate the colonial city within the city, discovering from their newly acquired
knowledge a new sense about places they had often visited).
Secondly, even if uncle Alberto gave all the information the youngsters requested, with
astonishing detail and precision, it would not be by his erudition alone that they would
learn interesting things. Georgina, the cook, is also wise, and from her the youngsters
learn about festivities, songs, fantastic stories, legends, proverbs and beliefs of
popular tradition. Thus is formed a double education: one of learned knowledge and one of
Thirdly, a truly unexpected lesson, especially if we take into account the fact that the
book was published in Rio Grande do Sul: the tourism that they decided to
undertake, which leads them to discover Brazil, to discover themselves as Brazilians, is
done in the city of Rio de Janeiro, and not throughout Brazil.
Unlike André and Julien, the two boys in Le Tour de la France par eux Enfants who,
having lost their father, secretly cross the German border and embark on a rambling
adventure travelling all over France in search of their mother and their uncle, Rute and
Alberto, without any alarm or misfortune, learn about Brazil whilst travelling all around
parts of the south zone of the capital city.
The French boys, according to Jacques and Mona Ouzouf, proceed to an appropriation
of the French territory , which refers to
the construction of the national unity of France within themselves and through two
processes: the journey through the physical space and the learning experience that the act
of travelling makes possible, since to travel (...) is really to make
connections . At the same time the Brazilian
siblings set out on a discovery of Brazil, physically travelling around only those parts
of the city that are a metonym of the country, and mentally travelling across time through
the History of Brazil which is a continuum from the discovery until today, and that is the
work of individual heroes, always linked to the State, and which has become known through
documents (the letter of Caminha) and monuments (the aqueduct at Lapa, the commemorative
monument to the fourth centennial of the discovery of Brazil in Glória Gardens, the
Botanical Garden, the tomb of Estácio de Sá).
The route taken by Rute and Alberto is very different from that taken by André and
Julien, but this doesnt prevent the existance of a union: that of nationality
considered as something received from the hands of the countrys heroes and of the
governors of the State. How they learn is also different. Although they move physically,
not across the country but within the city of Rio de Janeiro, which represents and
synthesizes the former, what the two Brazilian children learn about Brazil is primarily
intellectual, and it is via the intellect that their hearts are touched whilst their
bodies move through the city. In the case of the French boys, the learning experience is
one whereby intellectual learning operates through constant physical displacement, and it
is the personal drama of this experience that opens a space in their hearts for a new
feeling: that of France being a nation built for all, which lives in the heart of each
person to such an extent that the mothers name, last wish and final word
uttered by the dying father, is France. 
Some of the lessons of Rute e Alberto are further developed in the Christmas play O
Menino Atrasado: those that the cook Georgina, the illiterate teacher of peoples
immemorial traditions that echo within her, would convey without method, without
programmatic content and without being conscious of having taught something. For Cecília
Meireles, it is in the forms, in the themes and in the rhythms of folklore that this
wisdom is condensed. O Menino Atrasado and, supposedly, A Nau Catarineta  delight children who read them or see them staged as
puppet-plays in schools, and in this way they learn from them.
In both, the form of the text - a play-, the specific themes, and the fact of them being
made for marionettes and puppets in the theatre already constitute forms of learning.
The note that precedes the text in the second edition of the Christmas play
alludes to it frequently being staged in several teaching establishments, with
the explanation that
The author classified the play as a piece for marionettes and puppets, about
traditional Brazilian subjects. 
Set to music by Luis Cosme, the extracts of songs of praise sung throughout the
countrys interior, the folk-dances, the fragments of Folias de Reis (the Twelfth
Night Celebration), bumba meu boi (hit my ox, a popular comic dance
organized as a parade which revolves around the death and resurrection of the ox) and reisados
(celebration of Epiphany), all put the children in contact with this fun and these
lively rhythms. The characters are the ones that feature frequently in the Brazilian
folklore: the violeiro (guitar player), the pastorinhas (little girl
shepherds), the ciganas (gypsy ladies), the baiana (lady born in the state
of Baia), the roceiro (peasant) and the boi barroso (muddy ox). And the play
mentions objects (jacá [wicker basket], cancela [wooden gate]), musical
instruments (viola [guitar], pandero [a type of tambourine], gaita
[harmonica]), foods (melado [molasses], cocada [a coconut desert], cuscuz
[tapioca and coconut], bolo de milho [corn cake], quindim [coconut
desert], bombocado [almond and coconut sweet], pé de moleque [peanuts
sweet] and even aguardente [sugar cane spirit]) and games (papagaio
[kite-flying], pião [spinning top], gude [marbles] and amarelinha
[hopscotch]), all very traditional and very typically Brazilian.
It is interesting to note that João Cabral de Melo Nettos text Morte e Vida
Severina (Severina, Life and Death) has some extracts of popular songs that
coincide with those selected by Cecília, as is the case of the refrain
Todo o céu e a terra
Vos cantam louvor 
(All the heavens and earth
Sing you praise)
It is the same with some elements of popular Christmas plays collected by the two authors,
as in the opening in which the impoverished men and women give their poor presents to the
boy God, and the gypsies voice of prophecy. It is impossible not to recognize that
the two authors drank of the same source of popular tradition when we read in
Cecílias play such passages as follows:
Trago um queijo
o menino comerá?
Eu trago melado,
porém essa gente
não ficará rindo
desse meu presente?
(I bring cheese
in the basket.
Will the boy eat it?
I bring molasses,
but these people
wont be laughing
at my present?)
Nós somos ciganas,
E lemos a sorte
Nasceu um menino
Que manda na morte
Longe num presépio
Nasceu um menino,
Nós três já sabemos
Qual é seu destino!
(We are gypsies ladies,
And we read the luck
A boy was born
Who is above death
Distant in a stable
A boy was born,
We three already know
What is his destiny!)
O Menino Atrasado teaches basically two things: the first is the richness and the
beauty of folklore and of what Cecília called traditional Brazilian subjects.
The second is her perfect syntony and harmony with the universal tradition, in the case
represented by the Nativity scene and the biblical account of Christs birth.
In Rui, Pequena História de uma Grande Vida it is possible to find new
developments of the lessons found in Rute e Alberto, which in this book complement
and are made apparent within a different perspective. In its pages, following in the
heros steps, one may learn about Brazil as well as about other South American
countries and European countries, thus expanding knowledge of geographical space. One may
also learn about the History of Brazil, seeing how it crosses Rui Barbosas personal
life, he himself an architect of this same History since he assumes an individual
protagonism based on two unshakable foundations: personal virtue and constant study.
In the book, the children furthermore learn the lesson that if on one hand great men are
constituted by their sacrificing everything for their countrys crown and glory, on
the other, they are even greater the more their hearts, their interests and their actions
embrace the universal, and their horizon is the whole world.
Finally, in Ou Isto ou Aquilo, written at a time quite removed and different from
her first four books for children, Cecília writes, playing and teaching to play with
words, so that each poem enables the full understanding of a certain phoneme, as in Bolhas
Olha a bolha dágua
Olha o orvalho!
Olha a bolha de vinho
Olha a bolha!
Olha a bolha na mão
Olha a bolha de sabão
na ponta da palha:
e se espalha.
Olha a bolha!
Olha a bolha
A mão do menino.
A bolha da chuva da calha! 
(Look at the bubble of water
in the branch!
Look at the dew!
Look at the bubble of wine
On the cork!
Look at the bubble!
Look at the bubble in the hands
Look at the bubble of soap
on the tip of the straw:
it shines, it mirrors
and is scattered.
Look at the bubble!
Look at the bubble
How it wets
The boys hand.
The bubble of rain in the gutter!)
Some of the older lessons contained in the other books are again covered; the method of
elaboration in A Festa das Letras seems to reappear in the verses of O
Passarinho no Sapé  (The Little Bird
in the Bracken). However what its young readers will in fact really learn is poetry.
If it is possible to find educational dimensions in their moralizing character and their
instructive dimension, all of Cecílias books are also educative for having been
written according to the model of literary writing, that is, written to introduce young
readers to the call of good literature and to educate their aesthetic taste.
It was, in first place, Cecílias signature that gave a literary guarantee to this
production. When she published her first childrens book in 1925, she had already
published three poetry books that had received critical praise and, moreover, had already
participated in excited literary debates concerning the modern in Brazil in the magazine Festa.
All the others were works from a poet who had won awards from the Brazilian Academy of
Literature and a writer critically acclaimed.
To write and publish for children, to write books for schools, to have her books adopted
by the public network of teaching, and to participate in the national campaign for
nutrition led by Josué de Castro, writing for the countrys youngest readers, were
ways of realising some of her more persistent dreams. .
She herself affirms:
A book of literature for children is, before anything else, a literary work. 
And it should be written by
someone who knows how to use words with expertise, from vast experience of a long
literary career. 
It is not strange that evidence of a masterly handling of the word is less apparent in the
prose of her childrens books than in her poetry written for children, from
Ciranda (a dancing game), Cantilena, a Cantiga
(Song) and Canção dos Tamanquinhos (The Little Clogs
Lullaby) published in 1925, to the musicality of linguistic virtuosity of the last
book she ever published, Ou Isto ou Aquilo. Her language is poetry.
3. With the ballast of tradition
with his ship anchored,
sometimes I almost forget
that this world was real.
(or perhaps it was a lie...)
Cecília Meireles: Desejo de Regresso (Desire to Return)
IN: Mar Absoluto.
Poesia Completa, p. 282.
The search for the identity of Brazil and of the Brazilian, so present in the quest and in
the production of those belonging to different intellectual lineages and groups, who from
the 1920s onwards affirmed their desire to be modern, also guided Cecília Meireless
From very early on, it is possible to identify her concern in, and dedication to,
registering, writing down, drawing, commenting on and incorporating aspects and forms of
popular cultural tradition into her poetry and into all other genres, in the certainty
that here was to be found the soul  of
the people. This, on one hand, would allow one to find Brazil, and on the other, unite
this identity with the universal, inasmuch as the themes, forms, rhythms, and finally
everything else that was of the peoples creation would enable what she considered to
be the human core, in its essence, constant in time and in space.
Also, for Cecília, Brazil was to be discovered, and, due to its gigantism, the complexity
of its formation and the cultural entangledness that she considered its main
characteristic, this discovery was far from being a trivial task.
we know well how big Brazil is and how intricate still are its paths.
It was in folklore, as it was understood and valued in her time, that Cecília intended to
find the thread of Ariadne, which would lead her way through the gigantic labyrinth of the
intricate paths of Brazil, so to make a double discovery: that of Brazil, and that of the
manifestation, in the particular features of this country and its culture, of what is
Between 1926 and 1934, her interest in studying folklore took her towards a type of
production quite different from that which has the word as its main raw material: during
this period she made drawings, which attempted to capture gestures and rhythms of African
origin in Rio de Janeiro. This is a series of more than 100 drawings in watercolour and in
Indian ink, of themes including the baianas, entities of candomblé (a
popular non Christian religion), cordões carnavalescos (carnival parades), sambistas
(samba dancers) and musical instruments. She took these drawings with her to Lisbon in
1934 when, invited by the Portuguese Government, she visited the country to attend
conferences in Lisbon and Coimbra. 
In the series of articles she wrote for A Manhã, the folklore theme is a constant,
especially in the long series entitled Infância e Folclore (Childhood
and Folklore) that begun on the 2nd of February 1942 and which represents
a good part of her texts of that year for the newspaper, and that would continue, with
less frequency, its true, to be published in 1943 and 1944. Many of these articles
are constituted as a careful and meticulous inventory of divinations, proverbs, nursery
rhymes and aspects of Brazilian folklore and folklore of other countries, emphasising the
relationship between traditions that at times originate from very different places and
cultures. It is their recurrence that, with a collectors patience, Cecília seems to
want to highlight; inasmuch the coincidence and variation around the same themes sustains,
from her perspective, the argument that local, regional and national traditions are
subservient to the great Tradition that she saw as the manifestation of the human
In the post-war period, Brazil responded to UNESCOs guidelines regarding incentive
to studies and activities related to the appreciation of folklore through the creation of
the National Commission of Folklore in 1947, as one of the thematic commissions of the
Brazilian Institute of Education and Culture, which was subordinate to the Ministry of
External Relations. The N.C.F. would have a double function. Internally, its objective was
to coordinate what was called the Folkloric Movement, favouring and providing incentive
for events, publications and initiatives that would multiply throughout the whole country,
mobilizing public opinion and seeking to establish folklore as an intellectual field in
Brazil. Externally, the N.C.F. represented Brazil within the auspices of UNESCO for
subjects related to folklore.
It is not strange that still in 1947 Cecília was invited to be part of the recently
established National Commission of Folklore , and
participated actively within the Folkloric Movement, even being the secretary in the I
Brazilian Congress of Folklore of which Renato Almeida was president. 
As from 1947, the theme of popular culture, always associated with national identity,
gained relevance in intellectual circles and, above all, among scholars of folklore.
According to Luís Rodolfo Vilhena,
(...) the analysis of the development of this area of studies during the period in
which it attained greater prestige and greater publicity, brings us also to attend to the
engagement of a substantial contingent of intellectuals in the appreciation of popular
culture, conceived by them not only as an object of research, but mainly as the ballast
for the definition of our national identity .
Already broadly recognized for her studies and activities in relation to folklore,
Cecília is invited by Rodrigo Melo Franco de Andrade to participate in the group that,
under his coordination, would write a History of Fine Arts in Brazil, in several volumes.
In 1952, as a result of this initiative, the book As Artes Plásticas no Brasil. Artes
Populares  (The Fine Arts in
Brazil. Popular Arts) is published, which would end up being the only book of the
collection to be published. An extension and synthesis of some of their studies on
Brazilian folklore, the book analyses the most varied manifestations of popular culture;
from votive offerings to quilts and embroideries, from Carnival as a festivity that
synthesises popular culture to the sculpted toys, sitoplástica  - edible sculptures-, to the postais
amatórios (amorous postcards) . The
book synthesizes her thoughts on popular art as being a coded language, a
condensation of a peoples living tradition and memory and an essential element of
their national identity:
The popular arts manifest the general sensibility of those that practice it, due to
a selection of motives that are a type of coded language. From behind these seemingly
simple elements - seemingly disconnected, most of the time, to the unadvised observer -
are infinite and totally varied experiences, realized by many generations. 
The popular arts, in modest terms, using the most moderate of resources, summarize
the great works of humanity - it is History in small stitches, it is life in
It is therefore the resource to this coded language, the reference to
life in reminiscence, the appreciation of which is seen as a capacity of the
translation of the general sensibility, and meaning of this gift of
communicating from seemingly simple elements not only to the national
experiences but to the totally varied experiences, all of which summarize
the great works of humanity, which together justify the inclusion of, and the
importance given by Cecília to the themes, forms and agents of popular culture in her
books for children, so as not to miss the opportunity of learning the lessons of this
history in small stitches and uniting ones life, still only as
potentiality, to the life in reminiscence of many generations.
For Cecília, the pledge to preserve and to transmit this heritage is fundamental, since
one of the problems that she identifies in the world and in modern man is, precisely, that
of uprooting, since this man
Surrenders himself to the utilitarian routine, facilitated by a world in crisis,
which offers him pleasant and vulgar things, alien to his true emotions, to his natural
human growth. He participates in experiences that are not his, that are nobodys,
that belong to the machine, to the industry. He lives in the surface. He thinks his
horizons are vaster. He believes in these motivations of false pleasure. And he dies of
boredom, without roots, without coherence, without resonance. 
In wanting to search for resonance, coherence and roots against the trend of
enchantment with the impersonal machine and uniformizing industry she fetches from
her memories as a young girl what she had learned from the cries of street vendors; the
Azorean stories recounted by her grandmother; the cook Maria Marucas prayers; the
sound of the drums that beat an accurate rhythm. And tireless ; and the strange things that, on certain mornings,
would appear in the corner; her nanny Pedrinas songs; the children playing in the
street; things that she, in her turn, recounts to other children in her books.
Sometimes they are just allusions lost in the middle of the text, as that one to the king
of Prussia and to the procession that passes by 
or to Luluru the giant . Others are taken from
folklore; themes, music, characters and citations with which she weaves her text with the
explicit desire to get to know traditional Brazilian subjects and universal
artistic forms, as in the puppet and marionette theater plays . At other times she aims to include in the narrative, the popular
wisdom as both a complement and counterpoint to scholarly knowledge, as in Rute e
Alberto and the biography of Rui. At others still, she reinforces the figures that
populate the childrens imagination from all latitudes, as with the multitude of
clowns, magicians and acrobats that, in her verses as in the drawings of Fahrion, populate
the pages of Festa das Letras.
For Cecília, folklore is the first of the living sources of tradition. She considers
great literature to be the second.
Her dream for childrens literature is not only that acclaimed writers dedicate
themselves to writing for children, as has already been said, but that the great works of
world literature have versions for children, that anthologies with texts of literary
quality are produced to be within a child grasp; that what she calls a classic
library for children is consolidated, with works chosen by children themselves over the
times, works that have enchanted readers for generations; that great writers reading
preferences are sought in their memoirs; that the child learns to love reading at school;
that public libraries for children multiply , a
dream to which she had invested talent and effort through the pioneering experience of the
Childrens Library at Mourisco, and which was suffocated by intolerance and
For Cecília, childrens libraries are fundamental, since the link that would unite
the childs universe to the great tradition transmitted orally by narrators of
generation after generation tends to disappear,
The formation of Childrens Libraries corresponds to a need of our time, since
there arent any longer nannies or grandmothers who are interested in the sweet
profession of telling stories.  But
what would she regard as good literature, that literature which defines a great literary
tradition, being it or not destined for a child-public?
In contrast, she defines what consideres not to be good literature for children harshly
criticizing her contemporary who would write for children of flesh and bone and not for
idealized beings, adults in miniature: Monteiro Lobato.
On at least two occasions she criticizes the books of the creator of Sítio do Pica-Pau
Amarelo (The Yellow Woodpeckers Ranch), a book that, sustaining Cecílias own
argument according to which a classic childrens book is one that children would
choose, became the great classic of generations of readers who, through Emílias
mischieves, discovered the pleasure of reading.
On the first occasion the criticism was published, in Página de Educação,
featuring a readers letter complaining of an error by Lobato regarding the location
of the river in O Garimpeiro do Rio das Garças (The Prospector of Rio das
Garças). The Página comments:
Monteiro Lobato, who has produced the most beautiful books for children, from a
graphic point of view, but which are lamentably in disagreement with the modern spirit of
education, has, despite his wonderful talent and his brilliant intelligence, also made one
of those unpleasant errors, as shown in the letter below - which, if not to tarnish his
literary reputation, serves at least as a careful warning to those who venture into
the difficult areas of good childrens literature. 
The second observation regarding Monteiro Lobato is more bruising and much more revealing,
since Cecília defines herself as the antithesis of Lobato and positions what is worth
doing including, therefore to publish for children as based on the triple
criterion of literary quality, spirituality and refinement. The criticism is made in a
private letter to Fernando de Azevedo:
I received Lobatos books. I need to know his address to thank him directly. He
is very funny, writing. But his characters are everything that is rude and detestable
within the territory of childhood. Therefore, I think that his books might entertain (I
have observed that they entertain adults more than children) but I really think that they
very much anti-educate. Its a pity. And what beautiful editions! I must confess to
you that one of the things I find embarrassing in the books making is its own craft,
in relation to others, its literary craft, spiritual, refined. I believe it is only
worthwhile to do things like this. Not for any fortune in the world would I sign a book
like those of Lobato, despite the fact that I find them interesting. 
The canon of what, for Cecília, would be good literature is more difficult to define. On
one hand, there is the possibility to consider her observation about good childrens
literature as an indication that, for her, good literature is written by whoever writes
well, which would be tautological. On the other hand, there is the designation that good
literature is made up of books that the praise of time and the sieve of criticism consider
as classics. Above all, there is the observation about the spiritual and the refined
exponentially affecting the literary.
What is certain is that good childrens literature has, in Cecílias
understanding, a redeeming function similar to that of school, a cause to which she so
devoted herself: of securing the future by protecting the children in a moment of profound
crisis, as she had recognized:
(...) only good, great, eternal readings can lessen or remedy the danger to which
the child is exposed in the disorder of a very much disturbed world, in which men hesitate
even in the notions regarding themselves. 
And, if her militancy regarding the New School might seem incoherent with her insistence
on the value of tradition, she takes it upon herself to explain the particular logic of
this paradox, because for her
There are only two ways to learn things:
either through tradition or at school. 
In terms of learning through tradition, beyond making use of folklore and of what she
considers the literary heritage of the country and of humanity, Cecília seems also to
believe in the aesthetic and pedagogic value of traditional literary forms, which she
frequently uses as much in her renowned poetry as in the plays she wrote for the
child-public. And she recreates cantigas de ninar (lullabies)  and cirandas (nursery rhymes sung in a circle)  for the children, because
(...) Songs sung in a circle make us all hold hands. And, to the rhythm of common
tradition, we all feel mutually understood and mutually loved. 
A sensitive translator of Ibsen, Dickens, Bernard Shaw, Tagore, Garcia Lorca, Rilke,
Virginia Wolf , and of Chinese poets of the eighth
century like Li Po and Tu Fu , Cecília also seeks
to translate for children the coded language of tradition, which she finds in
traditional literary forms -in what she understands to be the great tradition of universal
literature-, and in popular traditions. This translation will allow the future to hold
hands with the past, and Brazil to sing along the nursery rhymes of the Universal.
And even without a ship navigates
whom for the sea was destined.
Cecília Meireles: Beira-mar (Sea-shore)
IN: Mar Absoluto.
Poesia Completa, p. 294
Does the reading and analysis of the books written and published by Cecília Meireles for
children permit her to be amongst the lineage of the modern discoverers of Brazil? Might
she have written to form, throughout reading, a generation of discoverers, capable of
inventing the new in the country?
Only with difficultly would it be possible to answer affirmatively to these two questions
without having to know the trees by their forest, in performing the exercise of counting
and commenting on the number of times the word discovery, and its synonyms or
derivatives, are used in the childrens literature that she wrote, or furthermore, in
the wider spectrum of her production, find a project for Brazil. Cecília Meireles is not
among the writers who outlined a Brazil for children  in the literature that theyve created for them.
Cecília participated actively on the project of, and in the battles over, the New School,
on the project of implementing folklore as an intellectual field, and, in her own way, on
the project of modern poetry. However her personal discovery is another one, and in
writing about her childhood, she projects it in her tender years, when, still very small,
In the tiny wicker chair the girl continued to look at the street and to see the
So it was, in this chair and leant towards the world, that she made her immense discovery:
(...) Without leaving that place she wandered through strange places and entered into all
Everybody is double: visible and invisible.
The visible is by and large of much less interest. 
Inwardness, all the lives and the world the universal- are the absolute seas of her
personal discovery, and through the poetic word, she seeks to associate them to the modern
What the reading of the books Cecília Meireles wrote for children allows us is another
discovery: one of particularities, differences and contradictions of the modern in Brazil
that she expresses and embodies in her moment. And, in discovering them, to also discover
our own contradictions.
 This text is a product of the Integrated
Research Project, financed by CNPq, and entitled Monteiro Lobato, Cecília Meireles
and other discoveries of Brazil. I am much obliged to the whole research
team for all they have done. Firstly, to my long-time and always renewed partnership with
Ilmar Rohloff de Mattos, who coordinated the research team with me, and to Selma Rinaldi
de Mattos for her participation. I would like to thank Alexandre Affonso de Miranda
Pereira, fellowship holder for Development; Luciana Borgerth Vial Corrêa, fellowship
holder for Technical Support; I thank Renata Corrêa Tavares Barbosa, Rafael Aragón
Guerra, Joana Cavalcanti de Abreu, Mirella De Santo Faria and Luiza Laranjeira da Silva
Mello, fellowship holders for Science Iniciation, for their serious work and enthusiasm in
the research, which gives me faith in the future.
I relied on the friendship and intellectual generosity of many colleagues during this
research: Anna Chrystina Venâncio Mignot, of the Education Department at UERJ, allowed me
to use her own research material on the Página de Educação of what Cecília
Meireles wrote in Diário de Notícias; Silvia Petersen, of the History Department
at UFRGS, didnt spare any effort in locating the school book Cecília Meireles
published in Porto Alegre, Rute e Alberto Resolvem ser Turistas, and Regina
Zilbermann, of the Literature Department at PUC-RS, sent me a copy of this text and of Rui.
Pequena História de uma Grande Vida, as well as her own texts about childrens
literature in Brazil. Bert Barickman, of the History Department at the University of
Arizona, sent me a copy of the North American edition of Rute e Alberto. Marta
Abreu Esteves, of the History Department at UFF, provided me with material on Brazilian
folklorists and so helped me to understand the meaning of Cecília Meireless work on
folklore. Marcelo Timótheo da Costa, currently completing his PhD with the Social History
of Culture Program at PUC-Rio, located precious texts relating to Cecília Meireles by
Alceu Amoroso Lima. Maria Laura Viveiros de Castro Cavalcanti, of the Social Sciences
Department at UFRJ, held, with the entire research team, a seminar on folklore as an
intellectual field in Brazil and the work of folklorists who were Cecílias
contemporaries, and discussed with the team Luiz Rodolpho Vilhenas magnificent text
entitled Projeto e Missão. I thank everybody not only for their
precious support, but, above all, for their corroboration that the collaboration between
researchers, academic fields and research institutions is a grateful and stronger reality
than that of the difficulties that day in day out the countrys Universities and
researchers seem continually to face.
 Anita Malfati died on the 6th of November
1964, at the age of 68, and Cecília Meireles on the 9th of November of that
same year, two days after her 63rd birthday.
 Please refer to: Alceu Amoroso LIMA: Cecília e
Anita. IN: Companheiros de Viagem. Rio de Janeiro, Livraria José Olympio
Editora, 1971, pp.230 to 232. I am obliged to Marcelo Thimótheo da Costa for this
 Antonio Carlos VILLAÇA: O Pensamento Católico no
Brasil. Rio de Janeiro, Zahar Editores, 1971, p. 73.
 Alceu Amoroso LIMA: Memórias Improvisadas.
Petrópolis, Vozes, 1973, p. 223 and Yolanda Lima LOBO: Memória e Educação: O
Espírito Victorioso de Cecília Meireles. IN: Revista Brasileira de Estudos
Pedagógicos. Brasília, September December 1996, vol. 77, nº 187, pp.
532 and 533.
 Regarding the permanent indisposition between both, the
comment by Alceu in Memórias Improvisadas: The result of the competition,
with Clóvis Monteiros victory, with a minimum of difference in points over five or
six competitors, including Cecília Meireles, awarded me as an enemy until her
death. Op. cit. p. 223.
 Norma Seltzer GOLDSTEIN and Rita de Cássia BARBOSA: Cecília
Meireles. Seleção de Textos, Notas, Estudos Biográfico, Histórico e Crítico e
Exercícios. São Paulo, Abril Educação, 1982.
 Between 1930 and 1933, Cecília directed a daily page
in Diário de Notícias dedicated to subjects related to education, personally
being the writer of the column Comentário (Comment) on the
Página de Educação (Education Page). About this journalistic
activity of Cecília, refer to Valéria LAMEGO: A Farpa na Lira. Cecília Meireles na
Revolução de 30. Rio de Janeiro/São Paulo, Editora Record, 1996.
 Cecília MEIRELES: Comentário. IN:
Página de Educação. Diário de Notícias. Rio de Janeiro, 21st
of September 1930, p. 5.
 Alceu Amoroso LIMA: Absolutismo
Pedagógico. IN: O Jornal. Rio de Janeiro, 23rd of March
1932, apud Valéria LAMEGO: Op. cit. p. 104.
 Manuel BANDEIRA: Cecília Meireles. IN: Diário
de Notícias. Rio de Janeiro, 15th of November 1964, apud: Cecília
MEIRELES: Poesia Completa. Rio de Janeiro, Aguilar, 1994, p. 71.
 Yolanda Lima LOBO: Memória e Educação: O
Espírito Victorioso de Cecília Meireles. IN: Revista Brasileira de Estudos
Pedagógicos. Brasília, September December 1996, vol. 77, nº 187, pp.
532 and 533.
 Alceu Amoroso LIMA, op. cit. 1971 p. 230.
 Idem/Ibidem: p. 232.
 Idem/Ibidem: p. 231.
 Idem/Ibidem: p. 231.
 Idem/Ibidem: p. 231.
 Idem/Ibidem: p. 232.
 The practically exclusive image of the sylph
of poetic imponderability was recently relativized, primarily, by Valéria Lamego in
her master degree dissertation published in book format in 1996 and by the series of
thesis in the area of education addressing the group of pioneers of Brazilian education,
among whom Marta Chagas de Carvalho, Zaia Brandão, Clarice Nunes, Anna Waleska Polo de
Mendonça, Carlos Monarca, Marcos Vinicius da Cunha and Anna Chystina Venâncio Mignot,
stand out. Cecílias work in prose, organized by Leodegário A. de Azevedo Filho, of
which Nova Fronteira published two of the twenty-three volumes in 1998, will certainly
allow deeper studies of Cecílias multifaceted intellectual personality.
 See especially two interviews given to the magazine Manchete
(5th of October 1953 and 16th of October 1964), the interview given
to the magazine Ler (Lisbon, June 1952, nº. 3), the interview granted to Haroldo
Maranhão and published in Folha do Norte (Belém do Pará, 10th of
April 1949) and Cecílias profile published by João Condé in the session that he
was responsible for in the magazine O Cruzeiro with the title of Arquivos
Implacáveis (31st of December 1955).
 Among the first, see especially the text Olhinhos
de Gato, originally published in separate chapters in the magazine Ocidente
(Lisbon, 1939 - 1940), published in book format by Editora Moderna (São Paulo, 1980) and
currently in its 12th edition, surprisingly classified and used as literature for the
youth. Among the second, see above all the series of articles published in the newspaper A
Manhã between 1936 and 1938 and between 1942 and 1945.
 Alceu Amoroso LIMA, op. cit. 1971, p. 231.
 Idem/Ibidem: p. 231.
 See Alceus statement in Memórias
Improvisadas, in note 6 of this work.
 See above all, Carlos DRUMOND DE ANDRADE:
Cecília. IN Correio da Manhã. Rio de Janeiro, 11th of
November 1964; Walmir AYALA: Cecília Meireles: Perfil da Morte, Severo e
Obstinado. IN: Correio da Manhã, Rio de Janeiro, 14th of November
1964; Manuel BANDEIRA: Cecília Meireles. IN Diário de Notícias. Rio
de Janeiro, 15th of November 1964; Geir CAMPOS: Meu Encontro com Cecília. IN Diário
de Notícias. Rio de Janeiro, 15th of November 1964; Jorge de SENA:
Cecília Meireles e os Puros Espíritos. IN: Diário de Notícias. Rio
de Janeiro, 26th of November 1964; Gustavo CORÇÃO: Homenagem a Cecília
Meireles. IN: O Estado de São Paulo. São Paulo, 14th of November 1964;
Herman LIMA: As Gaivotas, o Mar.... IN: Jornal do Comércio. Rio
de Janeiro, 15th of November 1964; MIRANDA NETO: Cecília Meirelles. IN: Jornal
do Comércio. Rio de Janeiro, 15th of November 1964; Augusto Frederico SCHIMIDT:
A grande Cecília. IN: O Globo. Rio de Janeiro, 12th of November 1964.
 Letter from Cecília Meireles to Mário de Andrade,
dated 30th of September 1935. IN: Cecília MEIRELES: Cecília e Mário.
Rio de Janeiro, Nova Fronteira, 1996, p. 289.
 Cecília MEIRELES: Mar Absoluto. IN: Poesia
Completa. Rio de Janeiro, Editora Nova Aguilar, 1994, p. 291.
 Letter from Mário de Andrade to Cecília Meireles,
dated 18th of March 1943. IN: Cecília MEIRELES: Op. Cit., 1996, p. 308.
 Cecília MEIRELES: Elegia a Mario de
Andrade IN: A Manhã. Rio de Janeiro, 28th of February 1945.
 Cecília MEIRELES: Introdução [to the
anthology of Mário de Andrades poetry, a work prepared by Cecília in 1960 and
published only in 1994]. IN: Cecília MEIRELES: Op. cit. 1994, pp. 21 and 22.
 A letter from Cecília Meireles to Mário de
Andrade, dated 15th of March 1943. IN: Cecília MEIRELES: Op. cit.,1996, p.
 Cecília MEIRELES: O Bariloche. IN: A
Manhã. Rio de Janeiro, 22nd of December 1943. The article is reproduced in the first
volume of Crônicas de Viagem da Obra em Prosa de Cecília recently being published
by Nova Fronteira (Rio de Janeiro, Nova Fronteira, 1998, pp. 63 to 68).
 Effectively, it is almost surprising to verify that
Cecília travelled regularly, particularly from the 1940s onwards, not only to
Latin-American countries, of which she especially visited Argentina, Uruguay and Chile; to
the United States and to Mexico; to Portugal, a country to which she was profoundly
connected through both personal and intellectual ties, and to other European countries,
especially Holland and France, but she also ventured to more distant places, especially
Israel and India, with whose culture and spirituality she identified deeply.
 The expression is Walmir AYALAs from the
Introdução à 4ª Edição, Revista e Ampliada da Poesia Completa de
Cecília Meireles (Cecília MEIRELES: Op. cit., 1994, p. 16).
 MENOTI DEL PICCHIA: Vaga Música. IN: A
Manhã. Rio de Janeiro, 1st of August 1942, apud Fortuna
Crítica. IN: Cecília MEIRELES: Op. cit. 1994, p. 60.
 Letter from Cecília Meireles to Mário de Andrade,
dated 21st of March 1943. IN: Cecília MEIRELES: Op. cit.,1996, p. 294.
 Cecília Meireless principal memoires are
brought together in Olhinhos de Gato, first published, in chapters, in the
Portuguese magazine Ocidente between 1939 and 1940 and collated in book form by
Editora Moderna after the authors death. Cecília MEIRELES: Olhinhos de Gato.
São Paulo, Editora Moderna, no date (12th edition).
 Cecília MEIRELES: Op. cit., no date, p. 87.
 In regards to the representation of the book as
refuge and citadel, see, for example, the beautiful book by the Argentine, naturalized
Canadian, Aberto MANGUEL: Uma História da Leitura. São Paulo, Companhia das
letras, 1997, in which it is possible to find, in a very different narrative plan than
that used by Cecília in the passage mentioned, similar observations to those of the
Brazilian author: I wanted to live among books. (...) Each book is a world in itself
and I took refuge within them. Pp. 28 and 24.
 Cecília MEIRELES: Idem/Ibidem, p. 106.
 Idem/Ibidem: p. 112.
 Idem/Ibidem: p. 123.
 Fagundes de MENEZES: Silêncio e Solidão.
Dois Fatores Positivos na Vida da Poetisa. Manchete magazine. Rio de
Janeiro, 3rd of October 1953, p. 49.
 João CONDÈ: Arquivos Implacáveis. IN:
O Cruzeiro. Rio de Janeiro, 31st of December 1955.
 Ilmar Rohloff de MATTOS and Margarida de Souza
NEVES: Cecília Meireles, Monteiro Lobato e Outros Descobrimentos do Brasil. Rio de
Janeiro, PUC-Rio / CNPq, 1996, p. 6. (Mimeo Integrated Research Project).
 Cecília MEIRELES: Problemas da Literatura
Infantil. São Paulo/Brasília, Summuus/INL, 1979, p. 28. (3rd edition).
 Cecília MEIRELLES: Criança meu Amor. Rio de
Janeiro, Anuário do Brasil, 1924.
 Walter BENJAMIN: Velhos Livros Infantis
IN: Reflexões: A Criança. O Brinquedo. A Educação. São Paulo, Summus
Editorial, 1984, pp. 47 to 53. (2nd edition).
 Cecília MEIRELLES: Ou Isto ou Aquilo. Rio de
Janeiro, Giroflá, 1964.
 Cecília MEIRELES and Josué de CASTRO: A Festa
das Letras. Porto Alegre, Edições Globo, 1937.
 Cecília MEIRELES: Rute e Alberto Resolveram ser
Turistas. Porto Alegre, Livraria do Globo, 1938.
 According to information present in Poesia
Completa from Editora Aguilar (Op. cit. p. 95), this is a folkloric piece for
puppet-theatre, which was not located within the collections researched. I suppose that it
will be found in the authors personal collection, not yet available to the public.
 Cecília MEIRELES: O Menino Atrasado. Auto de
Natal. Rio de Janeiro, Livros de Portugal, 1966.
 Cecília MEIRELES: Rui. Pequena História de uma
Grande Vida. Rio de Janeiro, Livros de Portugal, 1949.
 Cecília MEIRELES: Escolha o seu Sonho. Rio
de Janeiro/São Paulo, Record, 1969 (3rd edition).
 Cecília MEIRELES: A Janela Mágica. São
Paulo, Editora Moderna, 1983. (16th edition).
 Cecília MEIRELES: Ilusões do Mundo. Rio de
Janeiro, Nova Fronteira, 1982 (6th edition).
 Cecília MEIRELES: O que se Diz e o que se
Entende. Rio de Janeiro, Nova Fronteira, 1980 (2nd edition).
 Cecília MEIRELES: Giroflê. Giroflá. São
Paulo, Editora Moderna, 1981 (7th edition).
 Cecília MEIRELES, op. cit. (1983). There is a
Spanish translation of this book, made by Roberto Romero Escalada, and published with the
title Ojitos de Gato. Buenos Aires, Centro de Estudos Brasileiros, 1981.
 The inventory of children books and those directed
to the youth written by Cecília Meireles, or those used as literature for children may be
a little lengthy, but this is justified, since in none of the bibliographies of Cecília
Meireless work that were consulted, this group of writings was to be found in its
 Only the books published by Cecília for children
are objects of analysis in this work, but not those books used in schools today which were
not written by the author specifically to this end.
 Cecília MEIRELES: La Maternelle. IN: A
Manhã. Rio de Janeiro, 1st of September 1943.
 Eliane ZAGURY: Cecília Meireles: Notícia
Biográfica, Estudo Crítico, Antologia, Bibliografia, Discografia, Partituras.
Petrópolis, Vozes, 1973, pp. 15 and 16.
 Cecília MEIRELLES: Precursoras
Brasileiras. IN: Folha Carioca. Rio de Janeiro, 19th of June 1945,
apud idem: Crônicas de Viagem. Rio de Janeiro, Nova Fronteira 1998 p. 227.
 Cecília MEIRELES: O Espírito Vitorioso. Rio
de Janeiro, Tipografia do Anuário do Brasil, no date.
 Among the Comentários of the
Página de Educação of Diário de Notícias, above all, see those of
28/6/1930, entitled Literatura Infantil; and of 14/9/1930, entitled
Educação Moral e Cívica, in which she defined what it is to write for
children. Furthermore, in Diário de Notícias 13/7/1930, there is a note in the
column Outros criticizing Monteiro Lobato. Among the articles published in A
Manhã, are two of particular importance on the theme of childrens literature:
one of 15/1/1942, entitled Literatura Infantil, and one of 18/1/1945, entitled
À margem da Literatura Infantil.
 Cecília MEIRELES: Problemas da Literatura
Infantil. São Paulo/Brasília, Summuus/INL, 1979 (3rd edition).
 Cecília MEIRELES: Problemas da Literatura
Infantil, op. cit . pp 93 to 96.
 Idem/Ibidem: p. 28. Grifo de Cecília Meireles.
 Anne-Marie CHARTIER and Jean HÉBRARD: Discursos
sobre a Leitura 1880 1980. São Paulo, Editora Ática, 1995, p. 390.
 Idem/Ibidem: pp. 393 and 394.
 Cfr. Idem/Ibidem: pp. 398 to 402.
 Jacques OUSOUF and Mona OUSOUF: Le Tour de la
France par Deux Enfants. Le Petit Livre Rouge de la République. IN: Pierre NORA, Les
Lieux de Mémoire, vol. I - La République. Paris, Gallimard, 1984, pp.
291 to 321.
 Cfr. Anne-Marie CHARTIER and Jean HÉBRARD: Op. cit.
pp. 398 to 402.
 Cfr. Idem/Ibidem: pp. 402 to 408.
 Idem/Ibidem: p. 402.
 Cfr. Roger CHARTIER: As Práticas da
Escrita. IN: Georges DUBY and Philippe ARIÉS (orgs): História da Vida Privada,
vol. 3 - Da Renascença ao Século das Luzes. São Paulo, Companhia das Letras,
 Cecília MEIRELLES: Op. cit, 1924, p. 9.
 Idem: op. cit., 1949, p. 93.
 Cecília MEIRELES: Problemas da Literatura
Infantil, op. cit. p. 28.
 Alberto MANGUEL: Op. cit. p. 83.
 Cecília Meireles: A Festa das Letras, op.
cit. no page.
 Idem/Ibidem: no page.
 Idem: Rute e Alberto Resolveram Ser Turistas,
op. cit., above all p. 203.
 Idem: Rute e Alberto. Boston, D.C. Heath and
Company, 1945. This is an abbreviated edition, with notes, vocabulary and exercises,
edited by the teachers Virgina JOINER of Trinity University and Eunice JOINER GATES of
Texas Technological College, and aimed at the teaching of Portuguese to Americans. Perhaps
because it is aimed mainly at an adult public, the selection made excludes most of the
first two parts of the book in Portuguese, that are dedicated to notions of time and
space, hygiene and alimentary habits, and good and moral conduct. From the chapters
selected, those that characterize the family -possibly viewed as being a typical Brazilian
family-, the country and its history and the city of Rio de Janeiro, some parts are
missing. Also, some situations, words and characters have been meticulously taken out. In
the first case, there is the very careful erasure of all references to the fact of the
brother and sister sleeping in the same room. In the second, there is the curious and
systematic substitution of the word criança (child) for others,
excepting in only three occasions (p. 30, p. 37, p. 60), although the epithet malandrinho
(little rascal), as Alberto is continuously called in the book, is maintained, as are the
words criada (a colloquial variation for maid) and patroa
(literally means female boss, but it is also used to refer to the housewife
who employs the maid). In the third case there is the (not so) strange disappearance of
Maria da Glória, the familys second maid. The American edition is abundantly
illustrated with photos of Rio de Janeiro, whilst the Brazilian edition has drawings
alluding to the two siblings adventures or that reproduce monuments, celebrated
squares and tourist locations in Rio.
 Cecília MEIRELES: Criança meu Amor, op.
cit. p. 41.
 IN Rute e Alberto.
 Cecília MEIRELES: A Formação do
Professor. IN: Diário de Noticias. Rio de Janeiro, 19th of
 Cecília MEIRELES: Educação e Fraternidade
Universal. IN: Diário de Notícias. Rio de Janeiro, 27th of June
 Cecília MEIRELES: Rui. Pequena História de uma
Grande Vida, op. cit. p. 84.
 Cecília MEIRELLES: O Espírito Vitorioso,
op. cit. p. 88.
 Idem/Ibidem: p. 107.
 Idem/Ibidem: p. 122.
 Cecília MEIRELES: Ternura Chinesa. IN: Diário
de Notícias. Rio de Janeiro, 16th of August 1932.
 Idem: Conversa Talvez Fiada. IN: A
Manhã. Rio de Janeiro, 6th of September 1943.
 Cecília MEIRELES: Carta a Fernando de
Azevedo. Rio de Janeiro, 8th of April 1931, apud Valéria LAMEGO: Op.
cit. pp. 58 and 211.
 See, for example, ARROYO, Leonardo: Literatura
Infantil Brasileira. São Paulo, Edições Melhoramentos, 1968; Nelly Novaes
COELHO: A Literatura Infantil. História, Teoria, Anáside. São Paulo/Brasília,
Quiron/INL, 1981; Laura SANDRONI: Retrospectiva da Literatura Infantil Brasileira.
Rio de Janeiro, PUC-Rio, 1980. (Publication of PUC-Rio nº 33); Eliana YUNES: Os
Caminhos da Literatura Infanto-juvenil Brasileira
.IN: Anais do 1º Encontro de Professores de Literatura Infantil e Juvenil. Rio de
Janeiro, FNLIJ, 1980; Regina ZILBERMAN: A Literatura Infantil na Escola. São
Paulo, Global, 1981; Regina ZILBERMAN and Marisa LAJOLO: Um Brasil para Crianças. Para
Conhecer a Literatura Infantil Brasileira: Histórias, Autores e Textos. Porto
Alegre, Global Universitária, 1993 (4th edition); Literatura Infantil
Brasileira. História e Histórias. São Paulo, Ática, 1991 (5th edition)
; A Formação da Leitura no Brasil. São Paulo, Ática, 1996.
 Among the exceptions is this text by Moema
RUSSOMANO: Cecílias Meireles e o Mundo Poético Infantil. IN: Letras de
Hoje. Porto Alegre, PUC-RS, 1979, nº 12, vol. 36.
 Cecília MEIRELES: O Bom Menino. IN: Criança
meu Amor, op. cit. p. 11.
 Idem: O Mau Menino IN: Ibidem, p.55.
 Idem/Ibidem: pp. 19, 35, 49, 67 and 83.
 Cecília Meireles: Rui, Pequena História de
uma Grande Vida, op. cit. p.9.
 Idem/Ibidem: p. 12.
 Cecília Meireles: Idem/Ibidem, pp. 93 and 94.
 Cecília MEIRELES: A Festa das Letras, op.
cit. no page.
 Cecília MEIRELES: O Menino Atrasado, op.
cit. p. 29.
 Cecília MEIRELES: Uma Palmada bem
Dada. IN: Ou Isto ou Aquilo, op. Cit. pp. 42 and 43.
 Cecília MEIRELES: Para o Futuro IN: Criança
meu Amor op. cit. p. 41.
 Cecília MEIRELES: Rute e Alberto Resolveram
ser Turistas, op. cit p. 9.
 Idem: As Qualidades do Educador. IN: Diário
de Notícias. Rio de Janeiro, 30th of October 1930.
 Cecília MEIRELES: Criança meu Amor, op.
cit. p. 9.
 Cecília MEIRELES: Criança meu Amor, op.
cit. p. 9.
 Idem/Ibidem: pp. 23 and 24.
 The themes of nutrition, alimentary habits and
hygiene are recurrent in the Página da Educação of Diário de Notícias.
 Jacques OUZOUF and Mona OUZOUF: Op. cit. p. 294.
 Idem. Ibidem: p. 297.
 Idem. Ibidem: p. 292.
 As has already been said, this play, apparently
never published, has not been located.
 Nota da Segunda edição IN: Idem: O
Menino Atrasado. Op. Cit., page not numbered.
 Idem/Ibidem: p. 9.
 Idem/Ibidem: p. 14.
 Idem/Ibidem: p. 12.
 Idem: Ou Isto ou Aquilo, op. cit. p. 15.
 Cecília MEIRELES: Ou Isto ou Aquilo, op.
cit. p. 58.
 The word dream, as much in Cecílias
journalistic production, as in the letters that were researched and in her literary work,
including her books for children, has a clear correspondence with the idea of project; an
ideal and a goal to be reached being the equivalent, in a poetic key, to her convictions
and her militancy.
 Cecília MEIRELES: Problemas da Literatura
Infantil, op. cit. p. 96.
 Idem/Ibidem: p. 95.
 Cecília MEIRELES: Introdução. IN: As
Artes Plásticas no Brasil Artes Populares. Rio de Janeiro, Edições Ouro,
1968, p. 17.
 Cecília MEIRELES: Discurso da Sra.
Cecília Meireles. IN: Folclore. Vitória, September/December 1954, year VI,
nº 32 and 33, p. 17.
 These drawings, published for the first time in
Lisbon in 1934, are available nowadays in the book Batuque, Samba e Macumba - Estudos
de Gesto e de Ritmo 1926 - 1934 (Rio de Janeiro, FUNARTE/Instituto Nacional do
Folclore, 1983), of which there is an English edition.
 For a careful analysis of the Movement, and of
folklorists in Brazil, refer to Luiz Rodolpho VILHENAs fundamental text: Projeto
e Missão: O Movimento Folclórico Brasileiro - 1947-1964. Rio de Janeiro,
Funarte/Fundação Getulio Vargas, 1997.
 Renato ALMEIDA: Cecília Meireles, uma
Companheira . IN: Folclore. Vitória, December 1964 and January 1965, year
XV, nº 79 and 80, p. 7.
 Apud Diário de Notícias. Rio de Janeiro,
22nd of August 1951.
Luis Rodolfo VILHENA: Op. cit., p. 21.
 Cecília MEIRELES: As Artes Plásticas no
Brasil Artes Populares. Rio de Janeiro, Edições Ouro, 1968.
 Idem/Ibidem: pp. 65 to 71.
 Idem/Ibidem: pp. 147 to 153.
 Idem/Ibidem: p. 18.
 MEIRELES, Cecília. As Artes Plásticas no
Brasil Artes Populares. Rio de Janeiro, Edições Ouro, 1968, p.18.
 Idem/Ibidem: p. 20.
 Cecília MEIRELES: Olhinhos de Gato, op.
cit. p. 74. All the other references were extracted from the same work.
 Idem: Ou Isto ou Aquilo, p. 49.
 Idem: Criança meu Amor, p. 87.
 This certainly is the case with O Menino
Atrasado, and it may be supposed that the same is true of A Nau Catarineta, not
 All these topics are developed in Problemas da
 Cecília MEIRELES: Problemas da Literatura
Infantil, op. cit. p. 111.
 Um Descuido de Monteiro Lobato. IN: Diário
de Notícias. Rio de Janeiro, 13th of July 1930.
 Letter from Cecília Meireles to Fernando de
Azevedo, dated 9th of November 1932 apud Valéria LAMEGO, op. cit. p. 229.
 Cecília MEIRELES: Problemas da Literatura
Infantil, op. cit. p. 28.
 Idem: Educação Doméstica. IN: A
Manhã. Rio de Janeiro, 9th of January 1942.
 Idem: Cantiga para Adormecer Lulu.
IN: Ou Isto ou Aquilo, pp. 60 and 61.
 Idem/Ibidem: p. 29.
 Cecília MEIRELES: Encontros. IN: A
Manhã. Rio de Janeiro, 2nd of June 1943.
 The reference to these translations can be found
in Obra Poética, op. cit. pp. 95 and 96.
 Li PO and Tu FU: Poemas Chineses.
Rio de Janeiro, Nova Fronteira, 1996. Translation by Cecília Meireles.
 This is the title of one of the books by Regina
ZILBERMAN and Marisa LAJOLO on childrens literature: Um Brasil para Crianças.
Para Conhecer a Literatura Infantil Brasileira: Histórias, Autores e Textos. Porto
Alegre, Global Universitária, 1993 (4th edition).
 Cecília MEIRELES: Olhinhos de Gato, op.
cit. p. 133.
 Idem/Ibidem: p.77.