How can i tell if my palm tree is dead

How To Tell If A Palm Tree Is Dead? [And How To Revive It]

Even the majestic palm tree is vulnerable to disease, nutritional deficiency, and death. Have you ever wondered whether your palm tree is in danger of perishing and if you could do anything to save it? We scoured various resources for more information about palm trees and threats to their survival. Keep reading on to learn more.

You can tell your palm tree is dying if you see the following problems:

  • The center of the tree is a brown color.
  • Younger fronds are discolored and falling off.
  • The fronds are wilting, yellowing, and turning brown.
  • Holes in the trunk caused by untreated pests or disease

There are more than a few reasons a palm tree might be having problems thriving and eventually succumbs to an early demise. Read on and learn more about palm trees, how to keep them healthy, and emerging threats to this beautiful, tropical plant.

Understanding Your Palm Tree

The palm tree exists in various environments on our planet, and it is best grown in zones 8 through 10 for the best results. Some palms thrive indoors, but most are better suited for living outdoors where they can soak up the sun and reach for the clouds. Although there are over 2,500 species of palm trees in existence, not all grow as trees, and some palms are non-natives to their current home. Palm trees are beloved as a source of food, oil, wine, and other useful products. It is essential to understand a palm tree's vulnerability and remove any threats to keep it healthy and happy.

Palm trees can die because of a myriad of reasons, whether they are not receiving enough bright, direct light when growing indoors, lack proper space for their roots to spread, or are being overpowered. In some places, emerging diseases and pests ravage palm trees, leaving plant lovers distraught over their beloved plant. Ideally, a palm tree should be grown in temperatures ranging between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, planted in soil that is nutrient-rich and well-draining, and in a space with at least 50% humidity levels.

If you can see the early warning signs that your palm tree is dying, you can take proactive measures to revive it and prevent future problems. Look out for signs of pests, including discolored fronds, trunks riddled with holes, a discolored center, and problems surrounding the base of the palm tree. Palm trees do prefer specific soil and water conditions to reduce stunted growth and enjoy a long life. Continue reading and discover more in-depth info about palm trees.

Why Would a Palm Tree Die?

A palm tree can die because of fertilizer burn, nutrient deficiency, overwatering, off-balance pH levels, or if temperatures and humidity levels are less than ideal. Diseases and pests can cause harm to the fronds and center of a palm tree, leaving holes in trunks and discolored and drooping fronds behind. Indoor palm trees need to be repotted as the plant grows, so roots have enough room. The soil for indoor palm trees should moist and routinely flushed to reduce the chance of unwanted buildup or too much fertilizer in the soil. It is also best to water palm trees with filtered water.

If a palm tree is not getting enough light or is suffering from overwatering, it will display these problems in its fronds. The fronds will easily wilt and wither away, become a yellow and brown color, and eventually fall off of the tree. When choosing a fertilizer for a palm tree, you want to ensure the plant receives adequate amounts of magnesium, potassium, and manganese. Additionally, it is helpful to check your soil with a meter to check the pH and moisture levels to assess the needs of your palm tree.

Check out this 3-in-1 soil meter on Amazon.

Check out this air purifying palm tree on Amazon.

Will a Palm Tree Grow Back After You Cut it Down?

A palm tree will not grow back and regenerate if you cut down its trunk. The topmost part of a palm tree, called the crownshaft, is the point where a palm grows upward. Once the trunk of a palm is felled and the connection between the growing tip and the rest of the plant is severed, it cannot be revived. The top of a palm tree should never be cut and removed as it will kill the tree.

What's Killing the Palm Trees in Florida?

Did you know that there are only 12 species of palms that are natives to Florida, and all other palms were introduced from parts of Southeast Asia? Although the palm is a resilient plant and iconic sight in Florida, palm trees are currently being threatened by invasive bacteria from neighboring states. Common native palms to Florida include the Buccaneer Palm, the Royal Palm, and the Paurotis Palm. First spotted in 2006, Leaf Bronzing Disease or LBD has been slowly spreading from palm to palm, turning the fronds and trunk shade of brown and causing death.

It is believed that treehoppers are responsible for transmitting Leaf Bronzing Disease and killing palms. Treehoppers are about the size of a rice grain and may transmit the lethal disease to palms when feeding. Phoenix palms and the Sabal Palm are most at-risk of succumbing to LBD and perishing, but all palms are being watched for signs of the spreading epidemic. The only solution is to fell infected trees to prevent the spread of LBD, and there is a preventative antibiotic available, but it is costly and only lasts for three months.

What is the Life Expectancy of a Palm Tree?

The lifespan of a palm tree depends on the variety of the plant, as some species can grow an average of 70 years! The areca palm lives an average of 40 years, but the Mexican fan palm may live up to the ripe age of 100. Because palms are a symbol of resurrection, prosperity, and victory, they are being studied as a key to unlocking the mysteries of immortality.

Check out this delightful parlor palm on Amazon.

Check out this gorgeous Majesty palm on Amazon.

How Do You Kill a Palm Tree Naturally?

You can kill a palm tree by removing the crownshaft from the top of the trunk. Other methods of killing a palm include boring holes into the trunk and filling it with an herbicide or vinegar. When killing a palm tree, it is helpful to remove all of the fronds, damage the trunk, and neglect it by withholding water, light, and nutrients.

Will Roundup Kill a Palm Tree?

Roundup can potentially kill a palm tree if it is applied to the fronds and poured into holes bored in the trunk of the plant. However, it would take a considerable amount of Roundup to kill a palm tree and time for the chemical agent to take some effect.

Check out this concentrated Roundup on Amazon.

How to Revive a Palm Tree?

If you wish to revive a palm tree, remember to stop yourself from pruning fronds unless they are entirely dead, discolored, or diseased. The fronds aid in the palm's process of photosynthesis and moving nutrients throughout the plant. Make sure to apply a quality fertilizer to your palm, but keep your fertilizer two feet from the roots to prevent burn. Epsom salt is a natural fertilizer for palms as it provides magnesium. If you wish to apply Epsom salt to a palm tree, consider adding some eggshells to the mix to give your palm tree potassium and calcium.

Apply an adequate amount of water to the palm depending on the plant's age, species needs, and season. Indoor plants have slightly varying demands compared to outdoor palms. A palm needs bright, indirect sunlight, temperatures between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, adequate nutrients, and ample humidity to thrive. Remember, significant damage to the trunk of a palm and removal of the crownshaft will make it so you cannot revive your plant.

Check out this organic palm tree fertilizer on Amazon.

Click to see this Epsom salt on Amazon.

Check out the following articles and learn more about palm trees!

8 Palm Trees That Stay Small

12 Awesome Planters & Pots for Palm Trees

7 Indoor Trees With Big Leaves

Is My Palm Tree Dead?

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Written by webtechs

Is My Palm Tree Dead?

When your palm tree fronds begin to droop or turn brown they quickly lose the tropical island appeal. Not many people know that palm trees actually belong to the evergreen family of trees which is why brown or yellow fronds are much more noticeable.

Palm trees can be infested with bugs as well as the more popular Fusarium Wilt fungus or Nalanthamala Vermoeseni also known as pink rot.

Signs Of A Dead Palm Tree

It can be quite difficult to tell if a palm tree is completely dead or just in need of some extra care. Hunker states that if you have any green on your fronds no matter how small the tree is still alive, but if you d not see any green the tree is dying if not already dead. Some of the tell-tale signs of a dying palm tree start with drooping or yellowing leaves and one of the places to start would be with the soil the tree is planted in.

Discolored or Wilting Palms

When a palm tree’s fronds begin yellowing Davey recommends checking the soil to ensure that there are no major nutrients lacking in the soil, as well as proper moisture and fertilizer levels as well since too much or too little can harm your palm tree. It may be tempting to remove the discolored fronds from the plant but this should be cautioned against since this could stunt growth for younger leaves.

Runs Out of Nutrients

According to Tree Help manganese, potassium, and magnesium deficiency are the most likely areas for a palm tree to be deficient in. These deficiencies can be identified by simple visual inspection but it is best to test the soil to get an accurate estimate of what nutrients are lacking.


According to Palm Tree Passion palm trees are most affected by sucking insects, mealybugs, palm aphids, spider mites, and caterpillars. By regularly inspecting your palm tree you should be able to perform a visual or audio inspection to check for any pests that may bother your palm tree.

Can My Palm Tree Be Saved?

Since a dying palm tree and completely dead palm tree can look very similar it can be hard to tell the health of your palm tree. These trees can be very temperamental and there are several factors like water, soil, nutrients, fertilizer, or dying fronds can affect the health of the tree it is best to do something the second you notice something wrong. If these factors are left unchecked there is a chance that a sick palm tree quickly turns into a dead palm tree.

Saving A Dying Palm Tree

Gardening Know How suggests getting to the root of the problem to discover why the palm tree is not healthy. A good starting point would be to see how the “crown” fronds since this is where growing fronds will start and if the crown is unhealthy the rest of the tree will also have issues. Florida Palm Trees states that palm trees could environmental issues, nutrition deficiency, or problems like poor soil and incorrect watering schedule. This is why it is best to start with a soil test so that you can replace the proper chemical balance and add fertilizer if necessary while adjusting your watering schedule.

Remove Dead Palm Trees in Phoenix, Tempe, & More

If none of the above steps have helped with your palm tree it may be time to call a certified arborist and have your tree further examined. We offer palm tree trimming services in the Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, and surrounding areas. As an added bonus we are experienced and certified arborists, which means that we will do our best to restore your tree to its former health. However, we do know that this is not always possible in every situation which is why we also offer palm tree removal services to keep you and your property safe from harm. Worried about how much it is going to cost? Check out our palm tree trimming cost guide.

Read online The Curse of the De Palma by Darien Roytman - LitRes

Giovanna was born in Naples in February 1423, at the height of the reign of Queen Giovanna of the Durazzo family. The father of the newborn was considered one of the best friends of the queen's all-powerful lover, Caracciolo, and simply would not have dared to name his first and only daughter otherwise.

Already at a very early age, the little Neapolitan amazed everyone with her bright beauty.

When she appeared, the men opened their eyes in admiration, and the women bit their lips enviously. The girl had regular features, clear skin, rye-blonde hair and large sky-blue eyes. She moved with the natural grace of a gazelle and there was not a person who would not turn around after her. She was called an angel in the flesh, and from the age of ten, Giovanna's parents were besieged by a whole group of famous artists fighting for the right to write divine seraphim from her.

The girl herself had a far from angelic character. Giovanna grew up stubborn, mobile and very curious. Ignoring the strict orders of her father, she always came where she liked and did what she wanted.

Neither threat nor punishment had any effect.

Her parents could only shrug their shoulders and wait for the moment when their restless child would marry and finally leave his father's house. Maybe that's why, as soon as Giovanna was twelve years old, her father married her to a noble Sicilian knight, Vasco de Palma.

There was another good reason.

In that year 1435, leaving no descendants, Queen Giovanna died. Alfonso of the Trastamara clan, son of Ferdinand I, king of Aragon and Sicily, ascended the throne.

Baron de Palma had considerable wealth and was one of the favorites of the new king. Trying to strengthen his position at court, Giovanna's father "killed two birds with one stone" - he favorably betrothed his only daughter and at the same time got rid of the wayward stubbornness.

Giovanna liked the Knight Vasco at first sight. He was a handsome, muscular man of thirty-two years of age, who already had two unsuccessful marriages behind him. The Baron was very tall, with a mop of jet-black hair, equally black eyes, and swarthy olive skin. The bride barely reached the groom's shoulder with her crown, but this fact did not bother her in the least.

Vasco and Giovanna were alone for the first time the day after their engagement. The baron arrived at the house of his betrothed and expressed a desire to talk with her without witnesses.

Moving two carved chairs to each other, he took the girl by the hand and seated her in front of him, and began to speak.

“Dear bride,” the knight took a deep breath and looked straight into her eyes. “You should know that I have the honor of being a descendant of an eminent Moorish family who converted to Christianity over two hundred years ago. De Palma have always been proud of their unusual origins and special blood. You should be proud of this too. My two former wives disappointed me greatly by not having sons. You are much more beautiful than them and my heart flutters just from one look at you. But remember! Even if you are an angel yourself, I will not allow you to produce girls alone! Promise that you will bear me a son!

- But how? Giovanna was a little taken aback by this demand. How can I promise you this?!

“I think you can,” the baron shook his black curls. - My mother promised my father to give birth to a boy and gave birth to me! And my grandmother promised the same thing to my grandfather and gave birth to my father. Promise you too! And please fulfill your obligation in the future. I warn you! Otherwise, I'll call off the engagement!

- All right. – the girl meekly lowered her head. – I promise you, since you want it so much. I will pray every day that the Lord send us a son and heir.

“That's good,” Vasco nodded with satisfaction, and his eyes sparkled with an unkind light. “Don’t forget your oath when you get carried away by me. Rod de Palma must continue! See you at the wedding.

With these words, he stood up and headed towards the exit.

- Wait! - the girl stopped him - Answer me one question before you leave!

- Which one? – jingling his armor, the knight turned around in surprise.

- What happened to your former wives?

“You are brave enough to dare to ask me about this,” Vasco chuckled. – I give you my word that I will tell you when you bring me a son…



– Mother, where do babies come from? Giovanna asked her mother in the evening.

– Children?! the venerable matron almost choked on her wine. “Uh, well, how can I explain it to you?” You see, daughter, this is a very difficult and painful process. What do you know about it yourself?

“Well, I am well aware of the story of how the Virgin Mary bore from the Holy Spirit and gave birth to the baby Jesus,” the young bride answered readily. “But how it happens to ordinary people, I have no idea.

“Ah,” her mother sighed. “I didn't know anything about it either when I married your father. After the wedding, you will understand everything yourself.

She turned away, taking up her embroidery, thus signaling that the conversation was over.

Realizing that she could not achieve anything else, Giovanna returned to her chambers, where she found a pretty red-cheeked maid about to heat the master's bed with a large stone from the fireplace.

“Zita,” the girl smiled slyly at the maid. “Tell me, how are babies made?”

- What?! She bulged her big brown eyes at her. “Things like that are not to be discussed.

- I don't care about that! Giovanna stamped her foot. - Come on, lay your stone and start talking!

“But…” the girl hesitated.

– No "buts"!! the little mistress interrupted her. - I order you! Otherwise, I'll tell my father that I saw you stealing silver spoons. Do you know what will happen to you then? You will be pilloried and whipped in front of the whole city.

“But I’m not a thief,” whispered the maid with whitened lips. “For what, signorina?”

“And because you refuse to tell me where babies come from,” was the answer.

- I don't refuse! - Zita fell at the feet of the girl. - I'll tell you everything you want!

“That’s better,” Giovanna changed her anger to mercy and sat down on a cloth-covered stool and prepared to listen. - You can start right now.

“Everything happens very quickly,” the maid began to explain, hanging her head in shame. A man climbs on a woman, inserts his contraption into her, twitches a couple of times, and then gets off. After that, her belly begins to grow and after a few months a baby appears.

“I didn’t understand something,” the bride-to-be tugged at her braid. - Let's elaborate. What item are you talking about now? How she looks like? Where exactly is it inserted? Where does the baby come from? Answer in order.

“Men usually hide their gizmos in their pants,” Zita blushed even more. - They look different. I really haven't seen many of them. Just three or four. The first time was in childhood. Father and mother decided to have some fun and he ran naked around the house after her. They did not know that my sisters and I were spying on them. My father's contraption looked like a swollen tree root sticking up. Then he caught my mother by the waist, pulled up her skirts and forced her inside several times with force. They yelled a little and then stopped. Well, a few months later my brother was born.

“So this is how it happens…” Giovanna drawled thoughtfully. “So it’s like a game of catch-up, only it all ends with some kind of strange ritual. But you mentioned seeing two more things. Did they look the same?

“No,” the maid fixed her eyes on the floor. - Differently. Remember that outlandish Ethiopian slave that Signor Caracciolo gave the queen a few years ago?

“Of course,” the girl nodded.

- Once, while at court, I, along with my friends, had the pleasure of watching how he served Her Majesty. The Ethiopian rather clumsily poured wine into glasses, but, thanks to his exorbitant height, he was visible from all parts of the hall.

So. Once I was sent to the royal kitchen with a package for Signor Caracciolo himself. You know how much the late favorite of our empress adored the dish of hare with spices that your father’s cook is preparing ... In general, I came to the right place, and the lazy cook, who made a fire in the fireplace, ordered me to take this hot earthen pot with a hare to small dining room. I did so because I knew exactly where she was. My mother worked for several years in the royal palace and therefore ...

- Enough! Giovanna interrupted her sharply. - Get to the point. After all, I still don’t understand, and here is that Ethiopian.

“Good,” Zita sighed heavily. “I've already told you almost everything. Putting the pot on the table, I went back, and on the way, out of old memory, I decided to look into the laundry where my mother used to work. When I got there, I heard some strange sounds. As if in the laundry room, loudly spanking with large webbed paws, a hefty duck walked around, while quacking loudly. But as you probably already understood, it turned out to be not a duck at all ...

– Not a duck? the young mistress asked, shaking her head like a child. “Then who is it?”

“The washerwoman Colombina was there,” the maid blushed even more. - And not alone. An absolutely naked Ethiopian glared at her with his huge contraption, resembling a long spear. Only black.

“Phuh,” the girl exhaled forcefully. “I can't even imagine it. And what is there in this case quacked and spanked?

- Quacked Colombina, - came the answer. - And the voluminous pouch that the slave had right under the contraption slapped on her loins.

– Pouch? Giovanna raised her eyebrows. What other bag? To store coins? Why did he tie him up there?

“No, not for coins,” the maid swallowed loudly. - I think he did not bind him, but was simply born with him. For men, this is common. All of them, even the smallest ones, have a bag and a contraption hanging between their legs.

“How strange they are, these men…” the bride-to-be drawled thoughtfully. And unfortunate too. Probably, all this greatly prevents them from walking ...

“I don't know,” Zita shrugged. - Never thought about it.

- Now tell me about the third thing! - not allowing her to rest, the curious hostess demanded.

“As you command,” her interlocutor stopped resisting. - A few weeks ago, in the evening, I was passing by the stables and heard someone moaning. Deciding that someone was kicked hard by a horse and he was lying unable to move, I looked inside and saw how two young grooms indulge in sodomy.

- And what is this? Giovanna rolled her eyes. What is this strange word?

“Sodomy is when two men do to each other what should be done only to a woman,” the maid explained with a serious look.

And seeing that the girl did not understand her, she added.

- Instead of sticking their gizmos at women, the guys are poking them at each other.

- Where exactly do they put them? asked the young Signorina.

“Both women and men have such places…” Zita did not go into details. “And the grooms’ things were small and looked like pea pods.

- Oh! The bride-to-be covered her mouth with her hand. - So what? Are they the same green?

The maid wanted to say something, but did not have time to answer. There was a knock on the door.

Signorina Giovanna! came the voice of one of the servants. - Dinner is served in the main hall. Your father invites you to the table!

- Tell the signor that I'll be right there! she replied.

Knowing that it would be wrong to keep her parents waiting, Giovanna silently nodded to Zita and left the bedchamber.


“Baron Vasco, your fiancé, has sent a messenger,” her father told her when they finished their meal. - He decided that he no longer wants to delay and wants to quickly accept you into the bosom of his family. Tomorrow morning you are leaving for Sicily. The wedding will take place at the Monreale Cathedral near Palermo. Castle De Palma is located in the same area.

- Tomorrow already? Giovanna gasped. – But I never managed to find out about...

She was a little embarrassed, not knowing how to choose the right words, and her parents, in turn, did not ask their daughter what exactly she was going to say.

“Go to bed, dear,” her mother said in a quiet voice that did not tolerate bickering. “You've never been on a ship before, let alone traveled on it. This is an extremely dubious pleasure, you can trust me. You need to get enough sleep and gain strength. The path ahead is long...

The girl obeyed and returned to the bedchamber, where the old maid Nanziya was already waiting for her. There was no point in asking the maid about the childbearing process. She always answered inappropriately and not at all what was asked of her. The old woman was deaf as a stump and therefore a conversation with her turned into a real torture.

Nanziya helped the young mistress undress, and when she got into a warm bed in her nightgown, she left the room.

Giovanna tossed and turned for a long time on the soft feather bed. She couldn't stop thinking about male gizmos and where exactly they were inserted.

"Baron Vasco is handsome in face and, to all appearances, also beautiful in body," she thought before falling asleep. - "He has a lot of experience and he will definitely know what to do with his contraption when we find ourselves on the marriage bed. And after a son appears from my stomach, my husband will love me more than life."

Pacified by this conclusion, the future Baroness de Palma fell into a deep deep sleep.


The Caracca, a tall two-deck ship, rocked steadily on the small waves washing the sunny Sicilian coast. Most of the crew was busy furling the sails, while the rest were lowering anchors on both sides of the ship.

Pale, exhausted from many days of tossing, Giovanna climbed onto the deck, accompanied by old Nanzia.

The girl's eyes opened to a wide pier, along which a whole forest of masts of ships moored here lined up. Venetian, Genoese, Neapolitan and Pisan pennants fluttered proudly in the light breeze. Muscular workers laden with sacks and chests scurried along the wharf. Richly dressed merchants paced importantly, and weary fishermen dragged baskets filled with fish to the top. A tall knight in a mail hood made his way through the crowd. Behind him, trying to keep up, minced a boy squire about ten years old. At first, Giovanna thought that this knight was her fiancé, but when he turned to face her, she saw a blond beard and bright blue eyes. Vasco de Palma had a very different appearance.

The next gust of wind brought with it the sharp smell of raw fish, mixed with wood, rare spices and the sea.

Immediately behind the pier, the shopping arcade of the incredibly noisy local market began.

- This is Vucciria! - the captain who was standing nearby waved towards the bazaar. - In the local dialect means confusion! Ha! It's really not long to get lost there! And here is your escort!

Indeed, a group of armed men with a familiar symbol on their shields was approaching the ship. They were followed by a brocaded palanquin carried by four stocky servants.

The coat of arms of de Palma consisted of two crossed arms on a green background. One of them, in a gauntlet, clutched a palm branch, and the other, without a glove, a naked sword. Above them hovered the baron's golden crown.

One of the greeters, a tall graceful young man, folded his hands like a mouthpiece and loudly addressed those on the ship.

- Greetings! I am the trusted signora Vasco de Palma! I am instructed to escort the bride of Mr. Signorina Giovanna from Naples! Did she come on this ship?!

- Greetings! I am the commander of this ship! the captain answered sternly. “Signorina Giovanna beside me!” You can pick up!

- "So he said, as if I were not a noble lady, but some outlandish product," the girl thought displeasedly, heading for the gangway.

The baron's young envoy offered her his hand in a plate glove and, bowing slightly, introduced himself.

– My name is Vittorio, signorina. My name is di Pacino and you should remember that you will not find a more devoted servant than me. Our family has been a vassal of the de Palma family for almost a hundred years. Ever since your fiancé's great-great-grandfather saved my ancestor's life on the Smyrna crusade.

“How interesting…” the girl looked at the young knight in a new way. “Pleased to meet you, Signor Vittorio. And tell me, did you say the same thing to the baron's previous wives?

“I don’t…” the boy blushed, swallowing loudly.

He paused to gather his thoughts and finally found something to say.

- You are much more beautiful than any of them, my lady! Hope you stay with us longer.

“I think it will depend on who I bring into the world,” Giovanna smiled sadly at him.

“That's right,” the young man did not deny. “I will pray that everything will work out for you, beautiful lady.”

Bowing again, he approached the palanquin standing nearby and, throwing back the silk curtain, invited the girl inside.

Due to the fact that the stretcher was double, there was a place for the old Nanzia. The satisfied maid sat down opposite her mistress and, leaning to her ear, murmured joyfully.

- Just look how you are greeted, signorina. It looks like a real royal seat. All in silk and fine brocade. Expensive, probably ... And the seats are so soft. Well, straight feather bed ...

Ignoring the old woman's elation, Giovanna heard their escort instructing her about the luggage and telling them to get on the road.

The palanquin swayed slightly and lifted off the ground. They began to move and began to slowly move away from the noisy market. Apparently, the porters knew their business well, since it seemed that a covered stretcher with two passengers simply flew through the air a meter from the pavement.

Pushing back the curtain, the girl watched the landscape passing by. The architecture of Palermo was very different from that of Naples. Many of the walls were decorated with ornate stone ornaments reminiscent of Arabic script. A considerable number of false arches and double columns with carved capitals also predominated.

“What unusual buildings here…” Giovanna muttered under her breath.

- Oh! I see you are surprised! - Vittorio, walking next to the palanquin, somehow heard her words. – You see, our country is unique in its essence. Orthodox Greeks ruled here, then the Moors, followed by the Normans. A little later, we, the Italians, joined them. The local culture has absorbed the features and customs of all these peoples. On top of that, don't forget the Jews. They also contributed a lot to all this confusion. And here is the house of a local Jewish doctor. This is where we need it!

The servants holding the stretcher stopped at a small two-story mansion with high arches and ivy-covered columns.

“Señor Vasco wants you to be examined before the wedding,” di Pacino told the girl, answering her puzzled look. “The Baron has complete confidence in the doctor here.

– But why?! Giovanna gasped in surprise. - I'm perfectly healthy. Just a little tired after a tiring journey.

“I can see for myself that you are not sick, signorina,” the young man chuckled. “That's not why you're here. The doctor must make sure that you are able to produce children.

- And how will he do it? The girl raised her eyebrows. “What if he says I’m not capable yet?”

“I can’t say for sure about the first one,” came the answer. As for the second one, it's very simple. If you are still unable to give birth, the wedding will have to wait a bit.

– What does it mean to wait?! she clenched her fists. “I didn’t make such a long journey from Naples in order to return back dishonored!” And why didn't the baron bother to tell me about this ordeal?! A Neapolitan doctor could examine me in advance!

“I couldn't, signorina,” Vittorio shook his head patiently. “Signor de Palma trusts only this doctor. I ask you to leave, they are already waiting for you. If you like, you can take your maid with you.

“Let's go, Nanzia,” Giovanna made a sign to the maid, realizing that there was no point in arguing with the orders of her future husband.

They got out of the sedan chair and went to one of the arches of the mansion, near which, stepping from one foot to the other, stood a frail little boy in a round cap and with long curly curls at the temples.

“I am Yitzhak, son of Shmuel, signorina,” he introduced himself with a half bow. - A doctor's apprentice.

The Baron's fiancee saw the Jew for the first time and, looking at him with interest, only slightly nodded in response to the greeting.

Without waiting for her to finish her research, the young Jew turned around and entered the hospitably open carved gate.

Passing through a semi-dark corridor, they found themselves in a courtyard, in the middle of which a small fountain was beating. Bypassing it, Yitzhak approached an inconspicuous door and knocked softly.

“Please, signorina,” he invited the girl, when an old voice was heard from inside. - The teacher will accept you.

Entering the room, Giovanna saw the healer sitting at a massive oak table. He was writing something on a rectangular piece of parchment, creaking softly with a pointed quill.

The doctor turned out to be an elderly, hunched-over man with a wrinkled face and a long grayish beard. He wore a green velvet jerkin with gold-plated clasps, more suited to a nobleman than a healer. His head was crowned with the same cap as his student, and long gray curls descended from the temples, the ends of which lay on stooped shoulders.

At the sight of the girl, the doctor stood up and bowed ceremoniously.

“I welcome you to my humble dwelling, signorina,” he said in a cracked voice. “My name is Hizkiah son of Eliyahu, but here they call me Rapaporte, which in the Sicilian dialect means port doctor. So, your future spouse...

- Didn't tell me about his plans concerning you! Giovanna interrupted him unceremoniously. “Do as you are ordered and let’s get this over with as soon as possible!” I am very tired from the road.

“And you are obstinate, although you are very young,” the Jew grinned into his beard.

For some reason this fact amused him greatly.

- You are very different from the previous brides of Signor de Palma and I hope this is for the best. For your information, signorina, no one has the right to order anything from me. Looking over you, I do a great favor to the baron. Plus, it costs him a fortune. You see, I usually treat kings or dukes, and such petty nobles as your possible spouse consider it an honor to use my professional services.

“All right,” the girl bowed her head, just in case. “You convinced me, Signor Rapaporte. Now I understand why Baron Vasco trusts you so much. But what can you say just by looking at me?

“Oh, a lot, my dear,” the Jew flashed his dark brown eyes. - First, let's go to a place specially designed for inspection.

With these words, he went to the door at the far end of the room and, with the gesture of a conjurer, flung it open.

Behind it was a bright room with narrow stained-glass windows. In the center stood a tall wooden bed, upholstered in soft colored fabric, to which was attached a small ladder of four steps. Next to this strange structure, some tools were neatly laid out on a narrow pedestal. In the corner was a painted screen with hooks for clothes.

“Strip naked, signorina,” the doctor casually asked her.

Giovanna had never been naked in front of a man and was completely taken aback by such a request.

“You have nothing to be ashamed of, dear,” the old Jew assured her. “I've seen a lot of naked bodies in my lifetime. And believe me, most of them were much more noble than yours.

“I… I’m not used to undressing myself,” the girl blushed. - And I don't know where to start.

“In that case, let me help you,” the doctor came to her aid. - First, untie the belt under the chest. Like this. Then we remove the top dress over the head. Now the bottom ... Well, that's all. Nothing complicated, signorina.

Completely naked, Giovanna shivered under the old man's gaze and lowered her head shyly. He, in turn, completely unaware of her embarrassment, walked around the girl, muttering something under his breath. She heard only separate words and phrases.

– The skin is clean and flawless… Hair on the body almost does not grow… The breast has just begun to develop, there will be almost no milk… The pelvis is narrow, but over time it will expand… chest, he asked.

- How long ago did your usual women begin?

“I don’t understand you, signor,” the girl looked at him in surprise.

“Blood,” the doctor touched her private parts with his finger. - Have you already bled from here?

- How do you know that?! she shuddered. - It was supposed to remain a secret confession!

- Confessions? the Jew frowned. - And what about confession?

- When this first happened, I was very frightened, because I thought that I had eaten something wrong and now it hurts me from the inside. I had severe stomach cramps and was bleeding. My maid Nanzia, seeing the blood, simply gave me a few pieces of cloth and said nothing. Then I went to church and confessed to the holy father that blood was oozing between my legs and I was very afraid to die. He explained that it was not about the food. The priest said that this happens with all sinful girls and ordered to repent. And after a few days of continuous prayers and righteous fasting, everything stopped.

“Let me guess,” the old man smiled. “About a month later, it happened again.

- You are right, sir. I am so sinful that prayers and fasting only help for a short time. Then the blood flows again and again.

“What nonsense,” the old man groaned, clutching his head. - But you didn’t answer how many times this was repeated.

“I have been a sinner for almost half a year now, signor,” Giovanna breathed out almost inaudibly. This has happened to me five times already. I beg you, do not tell my fiancé about this!

“You have nothing to be ashamed or afraid of, signorina,” he tried to reassure her. - This happens not only with you, but with all the women in the world. And this can be called a blessing rather than a sin. Blood means that your body is now capable of carrying and bearing children.

– Is it true?! the girl clapped her eyelashes, momentarily forgetting that she was completely naked.

- True truth, signorina. That priest is just wrong. But this often happens ... Well, now climb the stairs and lie down on the bed, spreading your legs. I need to prove your innocence. ..


“Well, that’s all,” Eliyahu’s son Hezkiah grunted with satisfaction, sealing a folded piece of parchment with hot sealing wax. Removing an impressive gold ring from his finger, he pressed it into a pliable red mass, leaving on it a large Latin letter "R" with elaborate curls around it.

“In this letter I confirm your chastity,” he turned to the girl. “Also, I hereby certify to the Baron that you are capable of having children. He can safely marry you. However, I strongly recommend delaying intercourse for a few more months or even a year. Your young body is not yet strong enough. Therefore, everything related to conception and childbearing can be extremely painful for you. I hope Senor de Palma will listen to my advice ...

Approaching the door leading to the patio, the old man opened it and barked loudly.

- Hey! Yitzhak! Where have you been, you bastard?! Come here soon!

The boy jumped out from around the corner like a jack-in-the-box, and Nanziya, who was sitting on a stone bench near the fountain, continued to doze in the sun as if nothing had happened.

- Take your horse and ride to the castle de Palma. Hand this letter over to the baron personally,” Rapaporte ordered the student, handing over the folded parchment.

- Yes, teacher! - the young man bowed to him and rushed to carry out the assignment.

- Well, goodbye, signorina. I’m sure we’ll meet again,” the doctor bowed his head.

“Thank you, sir,” Giovanna thanked him. - Will you allow me to ask you a question that has long interested me in parting?

“Why not,” the old Jew shrugged his shoulders. “What exactly do you want to know, dear?”

– You mentioned that you saw a lot of naked bodies, the girl began. - Can you tell me what men's gizmos are and what color is preferable? Maybe it's like a rainbow?

– What exactly are you talking about? the doctor did not understand. "What do you mean signorina?"

- Like what? Of course, those things that hang between men's legs and prevent them from walking. I would like to know what colors they come in and how they are used.

The healer's eyes popped into his forehead.

– What?! he almost choked. – Ha-ha-ha!!!

The booming echo of his laughter reverberated throughout the mansion. He laughed so long and loudly that an alarmed Vittorio ran into the courtyard to check if anything had happened.

There was a clatter of feet and a small area near the fountain began to fill with worried household members and servants.

“Colors…” muttered the Jew, wiping away his tears. “Where did you hear such nonsense, girl?! Ha ha ha!!!

Holding his stomach, he sat down on the bench next to Nanzia, who continued to doze.

- What's going on here?! di Pacino demanded. What made the Jew so funny?

Without waiting for an answer, the young man went up to the old man and, taking him by the shoulder, shouted: - If you please explain what is the reason for your laughter, Signor Rapaporte! If you don't tell me, I'll take it as a personal insult to the monsignor's fiancée!

“Rainbow,” Hizkiah groaned, still choking on laughter. The colors of the rainbow made me laugh!

“I’m afraid our doctor has experienced senile insanity,” the young man summed up. "Take your maid and let's get out of here, signorina." It's time to move on. They are waiting for you at the castle de Palma.

“So be it,” Giovanna sighed disappointedly. Let's go, Nanziah!

With these words, she pushed the old woman in the side and, when she opened her eyes, motioned for her to follow her. The maid stood up, stretched, cracking her joints, and without understanding anything, looked around. Obviously wondering what such a crowd of people was doing here, she followed her mistress.

– Is it far to the castle? – seated in the palanquin, the girl asked Vittorio.

- Fortress de Palma rises on a hill just outside Monreale. This is a suburb of Palermo. In general, we will arrive there in about an hour.


The castle turned out to be a majestic gloomy structure of dark gray stone.

“Your new home, signorina,” di Pacino announced proudly as he stepped onto the wide suspension bridge. - I'm sure you'll like it here.

Seeing the young man, the guards at the gate smiled affably, and a washerwoman passing by, dragging a heavy basket with linen, winked at him fervently. Vittorio was clearly loved here.

Everyone they met bowed low to the palanquin and respectfully removed their hats. Giovanna was accustomed to everyone's attention since childhood, and therefore the greetings of the locals did not impress her at all. Nanzia, unlike her mistress, beamed with happiness and contentment, apparently taking bows at her own expense.

“I can't get bored of Kazan. I have nightmares about how I get there and walk along the streets that I don’t recognize»

As an assistant professor of philology at KSU, she quit a successful career, became a writer and left for Costa Rica

For most of her life, Dina Sabitova lived in the capital of Tatarstan and worked at the philological faculty of Kazan University. But then the teaching platform changed to a writer's desk, and the Russian Federation to Costa Rica. In an interview with BUSINESS Online, Sabitova told why she began to write fairy tales for children, how a performance based on her work appeared in the famous St. Petersburg MDT - the Theater of Europe, and why she and her husband adopted a 16-year-old teenage girl.

Dina Sabitova: “If here, on the other side of the world, I start to miss Kazan, then I listen to the song “Kaz ropes” and tears appear in my eyes. In this sense, I am still a Tatar. I think if a person cries from Tatar songs, then he cannot consider himself a non-Tatar" Photo courtesy of Dina Sabitova

“She said that if we were going to leave Russia, then only here”

— Dina, the Atlantic Ocean separates us now. We have snow and January winds blowing, while you have 25 degrees Celsius, hot sun and greenery. How long have you been living in Costa Rica?

- Ninth year. We moved here in 2013. Although the first time I was in Costa Rica in 2012, I immediately fell in love with the country. I remember then she said that if we were going to leave Russia, then only here. It would seem that there are palm trees and iguanas all around, but the people around seem close and understandable to me.

- An impressive number. No longing for Russian birch trees or native Kazan?

- My husband, who wanted to come here more than me, usually answers this question to his friends in Moscow quite sharply. He says: “I have missed summer all my life. In the Moscow region, it lasts for three weeks, and then it rains. In Costa Rica, summer never ends." Personally, I don't know if I really miss the snow. Rather, according to some Russian realities: for example, the smell of lilacs, peonies, the Volga.

Biography of Dina Sabitova

Dina Rafisovna Sabitova - writer, prose writer. Philologist-Russianist by education, candidate of philological sciences.

Born in Kazan in a family of technical intelligentsia. With the help of her older sister, she learned to read at the age of three. At the age of 10, Sabitova wrote her first fairy tale about three little creatures who lived in a dacha in the grass behind a trough: a household girl and a boy, and the third one is a poet. I studied well at school.

B 199She defended her PhD thesis in 2 years. In 2002, after 10 years of teaching and research work at the University, Sabitova moved to Moscow with her family. In the new environment there were many representatives of the writing and literary environment. Communication with them contributed to the fact that Sabitova began to write, and at first these were fairy tales for her children. In 2004, stories about the Glyceria mouse began to appear first. In 2006, several fairy tales were published by the Cucumber magazine, and soon the Glykeria Mouse took part in the first national competition, Cherished Dream. The novice author became famous for the story-tale "The Circus in the Box", which in 2007 became the winner of the second season of the national children's literary award "Cherished Dream".

Sabitova's books are printed not only in Russia: "Circus in a Box" was released in France, "Three Your Names" - in Ukraine. In 2012, the Children's Center of the Library of Foreign Literature named after Rudomino nominated Sabitova for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Prize. In January 2020, the St. Petersburg Academic Maly Drama Theater - Theater of Europe staged the play "Where there is no winter" based on the story of the same name by Sabitova.

And I can't miss Kazan. I have nightmares of getting there and walking through streets I don't recognize. The old city is no more. Everything is lined with tall buildings. The last time I was there was in 2007, and I still have some kind of post-traumatic syndrome. The Kazan that I knew is no more. They removed the trams, built a bridge to the other side of the Kazanka, destroyed many places and built a "props" instead. And she is very strongly felt. The city has become completely different. And missing him is not only very difficult, but unbearably painful.

“My husband wanted to come here more than me. He says: “I have missed summer all my life. In the Moscow region, it lasts for three weeks, and then it rains. In Costa Rica, summer never ends" Photo: © Sergi Reboredo/

- Such a fate befell not only Kazan.

- Unfortunately, there are very few cities left in which the spirit of the late 19th century would exist. Nizhny Novgorod was one of the last, but its residents complain that old houses are abandoned and are slowly turning into ruins. I think there must be some third way - conservation, preservation of antiquity. In order not to destroy these buildings, but to turn them into the same offices, preserving the historical appearance of the city.

- In interviews and some publications about your work, there is actually no mention of Kazan, although you were born and raised here, you even taught at the university for more than one year. Did the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan play no role at all in the development of the writer Dina Sabitova?

- I have lived in Kazan all my conscious life. She was born there and lived until she was 34. Hometown cannot but influence a person. It doesn't matter if he is a writer or not. My eldest son was born in Kazan and left with me for Moscow at the age of four. But nevertheless, he always proudly says that he is a Volzhan, Kazan.

Actually, my book "Where there is no winter" is written just about Kazan. This is not stated directly, but by reading it, one can understand what places are being referred to. For example, the house of the main characters stands on Vishnevsky Street, which, by the way, is also completely destroyed now. I mention the monument to the revolutionary and the street that is named after him. In the book, it is called Karasev Street, but, of course, this is Nikolai Ershov Street. “Where there is no winter” is just an attempt to tell about the Kazan that I loved and which had already been destroyed by the time the book was written.

“In Kazan, I had a different career, and quite a good one. I worked at the Kazan University at the philological faculty. By the age of 30 she was already a candidate of sciences and an associate professor, she defended herself very early. And everything went well for me. I think if I had stayed in Kazan, I would have already been a doctor of sciences, maybe the head of the department” Photo: BUSINESS Online

“When I worked at the university, I thought that I would stay there until the end. She even said that my funeral would take place in the marble hall of the university in the second building ... "

- Do you consider yourself a Tatar and how important is it to define yourself that way, living thousands and thousands of kilometers from your native places?

- I have a Tatar father and a Russian mother. And, for example, I did not find the Tatar grandmother. She died a year before my birth. As a child, I was often left with my old Russian grandmother. Therefore, in the family, I grew up surrounded by Russian culture. But Tatar culture still made up a significant part of life. It didn't matter if you were a Russian child or a Tatar one. In the kindergarten, everyone danced Tatar dances in national costumes and sang Tatar songs. Therefore, any child in Kazan felt like a little Tatar, even if there was not a drop of Tatar blood in him.

On the other hand, while I was growing up, the Tatar language was considered less prestigious. And even those for whom he was native tried to use Russian at work. A person who spoke Tatar in public places, as a rule, did so not only because Tatar was part of his national identity, but because he simply spoke Russian badly and with a large accent. Then, unfortunately, the situation was just that.

For example, a teacher of the Tatar language, which was an elective for children with Tatar surnames, was perceived in my school as poorly educated, simple, rural in some sense. It was only when I was a student, in the 80s, that the national language began to rise. And many of my classmates began to be interested in Tatar history, Muslim culture.

- The issue of national identity is generally very complex. It occupies the minds of more than one generation of people.

- Yes, I personally understand Tatar, but I don't speak it. But if here, on the other side of the world, I start to miss Kazan, then I listen to the song "Kaz ropes" and tears appear in my eyes. In this sense, I am still a Tatar. I think if a person cries from Tatar songs, then he cannot consider himself a non-Tatar.

— In Tatarstan, people often complain that creative people here make their way to the top only after they leave the republic. Is this your case?

- Yes and no. I didn't plan to be a writer. Everything happened by chance. In Kazan, I had a different career, and quite a good one. I worked at Kazan University at the philological faculty. By the age of 30, she was already a candidate of science and an associate professor, she defended herself very early. And everything went well for me. I think if I had stayed in Kazan, I would have already been a doctor of science, maybe the head of the department. And that's exactly what I planned for myself.

But, unfortunately, indeed, many people leave Kazan to rise in creative terms. It is believed that it is quite difficult for a person living in a provincial city to break into capital publishing houses.

- Isn't that right?

- Only partly true. Of course, when you personally know these people, you see them in a party, this can play into your hands. But, on the other hand, there are several competitions for children's literature. For example, "Kniguru", where I was on the jury. There, often when summing up the results, dissatisfied voices of provincial writers arise that only Muscovites get everything. Although this is not true at all. The geography of the winners is both the Urals and the Far East. If a person is a good writer, then it is at such a competition that he has the opportunity to declare himself. And then publishers will also be interested in them. Necessarily.

- Is there a reason to somehow remember that you are related to the famous Kazan linguistic school of Baudouin de Courtenay? Remember any teachers?

— Yes, absolutely. When I worked at the university, I thought that I would stay there until the end. She even said that my funeral would be held in the marble hall of the university in the second building and the rector would read a speech over my body. That was the plan. I worked there for 10 years and I always liked it. I think I was a good teacher. In any case, former students often tell me about this, with whom we now communicate online. Many of them were scattered across different cities, countries and continents.

What's more, I often have dreams that I'm standing in the classroom, not ready for class, and don't know what to say to students. And I wake up absolutely exhausted, because I have been writing a lecture to them all night. Of course, I remember a lot of teachers. Unfortunately, this is a passing nature. Just recently I wrote a letter to my university lecturer Tatyana Mikhailovna Nikolaeva. Those who know her, I think, will now read and smile, because she is an absolute star of the philological faculty with tireless energy. Even then, in our 20s, we understood that no one would keep up with her.

- Usually such people teach not only the subject, but also life.

— Yes, and my teachers taught me not only philology. They showed what it means to be responsible for your work and work to the point where you can no longer see the letters. This was the outgoing generation with a difficult fate, but at the same time very free, creative and burning people. Many of them are remembered by students with great respect. These people were bison. And the Kazan linguistic school is a source of pride, of course. We ourselves, of course, did not contribute anything to it, but we can consider ourselves the bearers of its ideas.

“I never aspired to Moscow. And if my loved one lived in any other city, then I would go there. But he lived in Moscow, so everything happened just like that. Photo courtesy of Dina Sabitova

"In order not to go crazy, I wrote fairy tales"

- You have already mentioned that you did not intend to become a writer. Why did you start writing at all?

— I have been writing all my life, since childhood. I even recently found my notebook with fairy tales that I wrote in the fifth grade and illustrated myself. With the advent of the Internet, it became possible to publish your texts there, on different forums. She wrote her first book in 2004. It was a fairy tale about the mouse Glyceria. I went to different publishing houses for a long time, but no one was interested in it. Then I had to write the second book, Circus in a Box. With her, I already won the "Cherished Dream" competition, and then the publishers noticed both me and my first book. They both seem to be addressed to young children. Although "Circus in a Box" is a rather large story with a complex plot, "Glyceria Mouse" only looks childish. In fact, I wrote it about teenage girls.

— And when did periodic records from childhood transform into adult stories and books? Was it still while working at the philological faculty?

- No, I left Kazan in 2002, got married a second time and gave birth to my second son. Actually, I started writing when I was sitting with my one-year-old youngest son in a dacha near Moscow. Husband left early, arrived late. And in fact, I was alone in a strange house with two children. And in order not to go crazy, she wrote fairy tales. Not even for children, but for myself personally. Just for my own pleasure, I created the text, which itself was interesting to read.

Five years have passed since leaving the university and before the appearance of the first book. This is a long period during which I raised children and tried to realize myself in a new quality. Unlike so many people, I never aspired to Moscow. And if my beloved person lived in any other city, then I would go there. But he lived in Moscow, so everything happened just like that.

“Books are not written on convenient and uncomfortable topics. They are either good or bad. And it seems to me that my good Photo courtesy of Dina Sabitova

“It’s good if love appears, but it is not attached to the contract at the time of signing the adoption papers”

Orphans are the main characters in some of your books. Why did you decide to talk about this?

- There are two reasons. Firstly, an orphan child often becomes the hero of children's books, because he is free and can go somewhere to wander, unlimited by the family and the pressure of his parents. On the one hand, this is an unfortunate Andersen child, and on the other, such a Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn. But the second and main reason is different. My husband and I really wanted an adopted daughter after two sons. And for quite a long time they were looking for "their" child in the database of orphans in Russia. At this time, I was in close contact with the adoptive party. Many of them know each other quite well, share all sorts of stories. And there I heard a lot of heartbreaking stories that ended both well and badly.

In 2007, we had an adopted daughter, Luda. She was then 16 years old. And this topic, which arose in my life, required some kind of embodiment and reflection. Actually, two of my books are written just about this. “Three of your names” is the story of my daughter, and “Where there is no winter” is someone else’s story that I heard while collecting documents. The foster mother wanted to take the youngest of the brothers, but she had to take the eldest as well, because she could not find the strength to separate the brothers. And "Tales about Martha" is a special therapeutic book that was written by order of Alexei Rudov, a very famous person among adoptive parents. Those who worked on the book wanted to help parents find words and talk to their adopted children about their history in the family.

This topic has occupied me for a very long time. But now my adopted daughter is already 30 years old. She is an independent adult, and the topic of orphanhood is slowly letting me go.

- Were you not afraid then that the literary party would accuse you of using such a convenient character from an artistic point of view as an orphan child?

— No. After all, books are not written on convenient and uncomfortable topics. They are either good or bad. And it seems to me that mine are good. For example, in the book “Where there is no winter”, people noted moves that were unusual for themselves. For example, it is often customary to portray employees of orphanages as perfect monsters. This is not always true. Often there are wonderful people working there who take care of children. And in my book, the director of the orphanage is a good person who helps the heroes look for their father. And readers thought that leaden horrors, abuse and so on would await them. But it was important for me to show that orphanhood is always a tragedy, despite the most chocolatey orphanage in which a child lives.

- There is another important theme that is in books and human consciousness - this is love between an adopted child and a parent.

— Yes, an orphan with clear eyes and delicate hands is expected to hug his adoptive parent and thank him to the grave for taking him away. But many children do not want to leave the orphanage at all, they feel like fish in water there and do not understand that this is a completely wrong environment. They do not know another and, of course, they oppose a change of fate. And, before foster school was made compulsory, many adoptive parents were shocked. They were expecting gratitude for salvation from the orphan's share, and the child not only didn't say thank you, but ran away, lied, stole, set fire, swore and so on.

And very often acquaintances ask a newly-baked foster parent: “Well, do you love them, of course?” The heroine of my book, Mira, answers absolutely honestly: “What kind of love? Their mother died two months ago. They cannot love me. And I can't, because I saw them two weeks ago." Love is a bonus. It either occurs or it doesn't. But the main thing is parental care. It's good if love appears, but it is not attached to the contract at the time of signing the adoption papers.

- Sorry for the personal question, but weren't you afraid when you adopted Luda?

- She was 16 years old when we took custody. We knew that it was issued until 18. In fact, my husband and I were very arrogant and naive. We thought that we all knew, and if the child turns out to be not at all as beautiful as the volunteers tell us about him, then we will still hold out until her 18th birthday. And after that, in any case, she will leave not the orphanage, but from the family. With our support and reliance on material and vital resources. It often happens that people just find exactly “their” child in the database, fall in love with him, collect documents and are sincerely nervous that someone will take their beautiful child and they will not be in time. Although the child has been in the base for five years and no one is particularly interested in him.

Actually, at this moment all fears disappear by themselves and the most ordinary life begins. In the end, it’s not always easy with your own children either. Therefore, we didn’t have any special fears, although we heard a lot of stories around.

- For example?

- How people could not cope with their decision and returned the child back. And this is perhaps one of the main fears of adoptive parents. After all, you will not return to the point when you just took the child. You feel so bad with him, and he feels so bad with you, that bringing him back seems like the only right decision. But after that you will always think that you did something wrong, that you betrayed the child who trusted you. And he, in fact, had no choice. These are your decisions, and it was they who broke something in his already difficult fate. This is not a fear of a "defective" child, but that you overestimated your strengths, that you learned something so unpleasant about yourself that you had not imagined before.

“If you want a child to read, let him see you with a book. Show interest in contemporary children's literature. Learn to understand it" Photo courtesy of Dina Sabitova

“There is a separate problem in teachers of literature. They do not like to read children's books, they are not interested in the tastes of children"

- A year ago, this topic was heard again, but already on the stage of the Maly Drama Theater in St. Petersburg, which is headed by Lev Dodin. They put on a performance based on your book "Where there is no winter." How did it happen?

- Yana Tumina, the director of this performance and one of the best directors in our country, was looking for a text on the basis of which she would make a new performance. And I was very lucky that my book fell into her hands. Yana was very touched by this story. She wrote to me if I would mind. And I was just glad.

Together with the acting team, with the theater artist, they created a completely independent work filled with new meanings, details, artistic images. For example, the roof of a house at some point begins to move like wings. And they help kids to hold on. There is a lot of independent creativity. And because of this, the performance turned out to be so full, beautiful, original. Many of my friends watched it and were delighted. Of course, my share of participation there is quite small. The performance became so wonderful only thanks to its creators, and not to me.

— Some writers feel pain when their work is adapted into a screen or dramatized. Is this not your case?

- I did not hold on to my text with my teeth so much. I was wondering what they would do with it. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to see it myself, because it was made shortly before the pandemic. And I couldn't come to Russia. It remains to be judged only by short videos and viewer reviews. I hope someone will make a full video for me someday.

“Many parents would do well to look into their kids’ gadgets and see if they only watch TikTok videos. For example, I know that my youngest son, who is 18 years old, reads a lot on the Internet. Photo courtesy of Dina Sabitova

- Modern parents often say that their children do not read at all, scold gadgets. Do you also think that modern children are far from literature?

- I don't think children don't read. It seems to me that parents have a slightly false memory of their childhood. It seems to them that everyone around them has been reading. I think there is exactly the same percentage of children who read now as before. Rather, the structure of reading has changed. Many parents would do well to look into their children's gadgets and see if they only watch TikTok videos. For example, I know that my youngest son, who is 18 years old, reads a lot on the Internet.

And children's competitions continue, and libraries are not empty. There is another problem. Often, parents offer their children classical literature, which is already difficult to read without special commentary. Although over the past 20 years a huge array of wonderful children's literature has appeared, focused on the problems of modern children.

- Many simply do not know about their existence.

- Yes, it's sad. And books don't reach most provincial libraries because they come out in small numbers. But a separate problem is literature teachers. I spoke with many. They do not like to read children's books, they are not interested in the tastes of children and consider it their only mission to force the child to read "Fathers and Sons" or Dostoevsky's novels. And instead, the child takes out Harry Potter and reads avidly. But the teacher, without reading, calls it rubbish. Although I think this is one of the best books ever made for children.

You see, parents don't have anyone to consult with. Teachers are not their assistants, there is little in libraries, they do not follow the winners of book competitions. So it turns out that they come to the store, grab the first Marshak, Mikhalkov, Dragunsky they come across. This is truly a timeless classic. But you can't just read it. If you want a child to read, let him see you with a book. Show interest in contemporary children's literature. Learn to understand it.

- Let's help a little parents and their middle school children in choosing books by modern writers.

- I'm afraid to miss someone, there are so many new names, and I hope my colleagues will not be offended by me. I can name the authors Zhvalevsky and Pasternak. I would also recommend books by Larisa Romanovskaya. She, for example, develops the theme of immigrant children who are trying to find their place in life. Nina Dashevskaya, Shamil Idiatullin, Eduard Verkin, Artem Lyakhovich, Svetlana Lavrova, Yulia Kuznetsova, Aya En... But in fact, I would advise reading children and parents to go to the site of the unique competition "Kniguru". The main decision there is made by a collective children's reader's jury. It often happens that their sympathies do not coincide with professional adult judging, but the latter do not decide who will win. Adults only select a short list. And you can just draw wonderful texts from it.

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