Sunday, February 19, 2012

All The Way To America: The Story of a Big Italian Family and a Little Shovel

Yaccarino, Dan. 2011. ALL THE WAY TO AMERICA: THE STORY OF A BIG ITALIAN FAMILY AND A LITTLE SHOVEL. New York: Knopf. ISBN 978-0375866425 [Suggested Grade Levels K-5]

In this autobiographical picture book, author and illustrator Dan Yaccarino tells the story of his family’s immigration from Italy to the U.S. As each generation makes its way in the new homeland, a toy shovel provides a link of continuity and a variety of useful purposes with a focus on working hard, enjoying life, and spending time with family. What could come off as sentimental is grounded in meaningful details and examples of daily life and Yaccarino’s characteristic cartoon characters rendered in a vivid palette of poster colors. He subtly incorporates the colors of the Italian flag (red, white, green) throughout the pages, a detail young readers are sure to enjoy.

Following the reading aloud of this story, use the book to model how a family tree is constructed identifying each generations’ members and where they are noted on a tree diagram. Encourage young readers to talk about their own extended family members and what names (e.g. “Grandma,” “Nana,” etc.) they use for each person. Check the author’s web site for digital trailers for this book, one narrated by the author himself. He also encourages children to submit their own family stories at a dedicated blog:

More family stories by Dan Yaccarino:
EVERY FRIDAY. ISBN 978-0805077247

By Sylvia M. Vardell

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