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The game of Zé

A book reading and a creative workshop about the portuguese discoveries for the underprivileged children in Rio de Janeiro

23 November 2020
Year :
Location :
Caic Theophilo de Souza Pinto School, Rio de Janeiro

After designing and building the Parque subway station in Lisbon in 1995, about the history of the Portuguese discoveries alongside the Declaration of Human Rights, Françoise Schein invited the author Chloé Siganos to co-create a children’s book about the amazing Portuguese odyssey around the world from the XIV until the XVI century. They named the book O Azul do Zé – The Blue of Zé.

Françoise arrived in Rio in 1999 to adopt a child. She suggested to Chloé to create a children’s reading game with kids from unprivileged areas. The French consulate chose Complexo do Alemão, a huge and famous favela in the Bom Sucesso neighborhood, for this event.

The pedagogical game took place in one day in a Municipal school with around 100 children between 10 and 12 years old. Surrounded by the 100 kids, the writer Siganos was sitting on a huge map of the world reading the book while Schein was on the map moving boats above the oceans. Mesmerized by this exotic lesson, the children listened.

After the reading, a creative workshop was organized for the children to create 3D sculptures pre-conceived as little theater boxes to illustrate the 25 chapters of the book. 

For a favela school, such activity with thousands of various materials, paint, color pencils, brushes, colored cardboards, nuts and bolts, scissors, glue, tape, fabrics, feathers, balloons, and confetti was like Christmas. Such a poor school never receives anything near what we gave to them. Children were ecstatic! The activity was like the preparation of a party and a feast.
The director of the school, Laudicea, told us how wonderful the experience was for her students. 

This first experience in 1999 introduced Françoise Schein to the art and education issues in Brazil. Since then, she decided to create artworks about history, human rights, and culture in Brazil.


Chloé Siganos, writer
Françoise Schein, artist
Moema Branquinha
The school teachers
Laudicea, school director


Ministry of Education, special projects
Centro de Arte Maria Teresa Vieira
Marc Pottier
Asa Edições   


Le consulat français à Rio
Caçula, matériel artistique
Air France


Françoise Schein
Chloé Siganos