An influential Italian children's author, he is best known for his Cipollino ('Little Onion') story, which was the inspiration for a popular ballet. He was the 1970 recipient of the prestigious
He published his first children's work, The Book of Children's Poems, in 1948, while he was writing for a Communist newspaper.
His numerous children's works have been translated into many languages.
He was born in northern Italy and was the son of a baker. He had two brothers: Cesare and Mario.
While studying at the University of Milan, he became interested in the writings of Vladimir Lenin .