All the Way to America: The Story of a Big Italian Family and a Little Shovel
by Dan Yaccarino
Alfred A. Knopf, $16.99
What it's about: The well-known children's author/illustrator Dan Yaccarino gets personal with this tale about his family history. The story starts with Dan's great-grandfather Michele Iaccarino, who grew up poor on a farm in Sorrento, Italy. As a young man he immigrated to New York City. When he left, his parents gave him a little shovel he had used on the farm, some photos of the family and a recipe for tomato sauce. They advised him to work hard, enjoy life and never forget family. The story then takes us through the years to Dan's own family, with each generation finding a use for the little shovel and remembering the advice of Michele's parents.
Why we like it: This is a well-told, sweet story about family and family values, but it's also a great way for kids to learn about America's history and its European immigrants. It is sure to provoke discussion about your own family's roots. Yaccarino has a simple, heartwarming style that had me tearing up a bit from time to time. His illustrations for this book are filled with lots of family members, and the details of their activities are interesting and amusing.
-- Catherine Mallette