Join Sandra Canivet da Costa to discover the story of an author with both French and Portuguese identity as she writes to transmit to her children the history of their grandparents’ country.

My History

I was born in Paris in 1979. My Portuguese parents taught me that Portugal was a large and prestigious country. While Portugal was going through hard times, they patiently awaited better days while working in France! As a child I was passionate about history. Though I tried to read children’s books in the Portuguese language, I struggled. My Portuguese was simply not good enough. And so, I carried with me the frustration of not knowing the glorious past of the tiny country from where my parents came!

Life moved on. I put my childhood fascination with Portuguese history to on side. I graduated from Business School and became an entrepreneur in the building industry. I married and started a family. Certainly, nothing predestined me to write. Then, in 2016, when the Portuguese won the Euro football competition, I could detect a little glimmer of pride in my two boys’ eyes. Their father is from the north of France and before this time they had never considered their dual identity. During holidays in Lisbon my youngest son, then six years old asked as only a child can: Why is Portugal, with all the gold in its churches not richer than France? At the time we used to read novels and educational books together before sleeping. So, I set out to find a simple book on the history of Portugal in French. But all were too large (200 to 400 pages) and had neither images nor drawings. The only ones suitable for their young age were in Portuguese. I tried to translate but this became tedious and they got bored. I thought to myself, there must be many parents and grandparents and indeed their children or grandchildren (as indeed I once was) who would like to learn the history of their homeland, though they might not speak her language. With João Serrano, a young Portuguese designer with a promising career, we embarked on the adventure of “L’extraordinaire Histoire du Portugal”.

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Sandra Canivet Da Costa


João Serrano was born in 1993 and raised in Sintra, in sight of its beautiful castles and palaces. From a young age he showed great interest in music and drawing, and eventually enrolled at the Faculdade de Belas Artes da Universidade de Lisboa (Fine-Arts University of Lisbon), to study Art Multimedia, where he honed his artistic skills. L’extraordinaire Histoire du Portugal is his most ambitious project to date!

My History

I was born and raised in Sintra, a wonderful place, full of historic heritage preserved through the centuries. Like many of the portuguese families, I’m proud to have relatives living in different parts of the world, like Switzerland, France, USA, Canada and Chile!

After graduating I soon began working with different clients and projects in illustration, graphic design and live caricatures! One of these projects was done for a lovely restaurant right below the S.Jorge castle, in Lisbon. That’s where Sandra Canivet met my work, dining in front of one of my illustrations decorating the space, while enjoying the famously delicious portuguese cuisine!

Her contact through my social media page surprised me, and made me smile : she told me she couldn’t find any children’s book written in french about the history of Portugal, so she was looking for an illustrator to bring her ideas to life! “Attention, i want drawings in a “geek” style”, she said! Her two boys are her first readers, and my drawings had to please them! When studying, History was one of my favorite subjects! I loved understanding how countries were born and new lands discovered. So this was perfect! Matching my interest in the subject with my ability to draw, I was very honored to be able to contribute, in my humble way, to the teaching of the history of my beautiful country to all my young french-speaking fellow citizens. Even if it wasn’t always the case for past generations, my generation is very aware of the incredible riches that the portuguese diaspora represents in the world and I’m very glad to bring it to the french-speaking countries!

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João Serrano