The Bears' Famous Invasion of Sicily

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The Famous Bears Invasion of Sicily
La famosa invasione degli orsi in Sicilia.jpg
First edition
Author Dino Buzzati
Original title La famosa invasione degli orsi in Siciia
Translator Frances Lobb
Illustrator Dino Buzzati
Cover artist Dino Buzzati
Country Italy
Language Italian
Genre Children's fiction
Publisher Rizzoli, Milano
Publication date
Media type Print (hardback & paperback)
ISBN 0-06-072608-3 (2005 edition in English)
OCLC 55634012
LC Class PZ8.B965 Be 2005

The Bears' Famous Invasion of Sicily (Italian: La famosa invasione degli orsi in Sicilia) is a 1945 Italian children's book written and illustrated by Dino Buzzati. It tells the story of an armed conflict between the bears and humans of Sicily. It is written in novel format, with a great deal of poetry and illustrations as well.


A group of bears live in the mountains on the island of Sicily. One year, a harsh winter descends upon them, eliminating the majority of their food sources. Driven by hunger, the bears descend the mountain to avoid starvation. The bear king, Leander, also has a personal motive for going: years ago, humans kidnapped his son Tony, and he is determined to get him back.

Upon being seen, the Grand Duke of Sicily starts a military campaign against the bears. Their valour is no match against the humans' technology, but when the bears proceed against the capital city, the bear Marzipan builds ladders, catapults and a cannon. The bears are victorious.

King Leander's son, Tony, is found performing in the capital's theater, and is happily reunited with his father. King Leander now rules over Sicily, with bears and humans peacefully coexisting in the city. However, to King Leander's dislike, his bears lose their innocence and adopt human habits.

The situation deteriorates when the King's Chamberlain, bear Salpetre establishes a gambling den, robs the treasury, and organizes orgies. His final grab to take power by killing the king is, however, prevented by bear Dandilion. On his death-bed, King Leander orders his bears to denounce all human ways, and return into the mountains to their former life. They are to leave the riches behind, to find again peace of mind.


The book was published by Rizzoli in 1945. It was translated into English by Frances Lobb. The American hardcover edition was published by HarperCollins in 2003 and the paperback was published in 2005, also by HarperCollins and The New York Review Children's Collection. In the English edition, Lemony Snicket has written a Reader's Companion that sums up each chapter, provides some interesting questions for the reader to think about, and an interesting activity to go along with each chapter.


Publishers Weekly wrote in 2004: "Buzzati's drawings retain a fun, retro-European feel, while his occasional full-color illustrations emphasize the town's red rooftops and celebrated architecture."[1] Kirkus Reviews wrote that the book "will appeal perhaps as much to the adult who shares it with a child of ten and up, as to the child, who may read it simply as a fantasy." The critic further wrote that "the opera-comique effect, the substantial plot, the humorous drawings—and full pages in color—by the author, make it appealing to a selective audience."[2]

Film adaptation[edit]

The book is being adapted into the French-Italian animated film The Bears' Famous Invasion of Sicily, directed by Lorenzo Mattotti.[3] In a November 2016 interview, Mattotti expected the film to be released in two or three years.[4]


  1. ^ "Children's Book Review: The Bears' Famous Invasion of Sicily by Dino Buzzati". Publishers Weekly. 2004. Retrieved 2015-10-26. 
  2. ^ "The Bears' Famous Invasion of Sicily". Kirkus Reviews. 2004. Retrieved 2015-10-26. 
  3. ^ Lemercier, Fabien (2016-11-30). "The Nature of Time supported by the Gan Foundation". Cineuropa. Retrieved 2017-01-07. 
  4. ^ Mezzena Lona, Alessandro (2016-11-16). "'Io, Lorenzo Mattotti disegno in libertà e sogno Dino Buzzati'". Il Piccolo (in Italian). Retrieved 2017-01-07.