With clarity and deep affection, Yaccarino turns his family history into a story of enduring charm. He tells it in the first person: how his great-grandfather Michele Iaccarino was given a little shovel, the better to help out on the family farm in Sorrento, Italy. When Michele left for America, his parents gave him the little shovel and told him to work hard, enjoy life and love his family. The shovel becomes a talisman through the generations, as Michele—now renamed Michael—uses it in the bakery where he first works, and his son uses the shovel to measure beans and olives in the market and later in his restaurant, andÃÂ hisÃÂ son opens a barbershop and uses the little shovel to pour salt on the sidewalk when it snows. His son is the author and illustrator, whose children now use the little shovel for the zucchini, tomatoes and strawberries they grow on their NYC terrace. The illustrations evoke each generation's clothing, hair, posture and adornment exquisitely with simple forms, and facial features convey myriad emotions with the sparest line. The author closes with his great-grandparents' advice—work hard, enjoy life and love family—and the back cover encourages readers to discover their own family stories. A gloriously warm celebration.ÃÂ (Picture book. 5-9)Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
In this affectionate personal history, Yaccarino (Lawn to Lawn) traces his ancestry from Sorrento, Italy, to New York City. He links the generations with a humble hand-me-down: a hefty gray grocer's scoop pictured in nearly every spread. The narrative starts with the author's great-grandfather, Michele Iaccarino, who boards a ship for America with the shovel, "their few family photographs and recipe for tomato sauce." In the U.S., he goes by Michael Yaccarino and uses the scoop at his pushcart stand. Later, his son "measures beans, macaroni, and olives" with the scoop, then opens a restaurant featuring the family's tomato sauce. Rather than give dates, Yaccarino shows the passage of time as the shovel passes from fathers to sons, and the respect given the object signals family pride. On snowy days at his father's barbershop, the shovel is "used... to pour rock salt over the sidewalk," and Yaccarino's author photo pictures him with the well-traveled tool. He celebrates classic bootstrap success, subtly incorporating red, white, and green in his palette. Folksy and warm, this is a timely reminder that America is a nation of immigrants. Ages 5-9. (Mar.)[Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC
PreS-Gr 2--In this picture book, Yaccarino shares his family history. Starting with his great-grandfather Michele Iaccarino's immigration to America, he gives a simplified rundown of each generation's career and family life. Advice passed from parent to child creates a narrative connection among generations: "Work hard....But remember to enjoy life....And never forget your family." A little shovel (actually more of a scoop) was also passed along, and it was used for gardening, for measuring foodstuffs, and even for pouring salt onto icy sidewalks. The text is clear and simple, if a bit dry, but readers' interest will be held fast by the bright illustrations. In his typical retro style, Yaccarino creates a world of friendly, rounded people set against stylized background scenery. Individuals are identifiable by signature items of clothing; for example, Michele wears the same green cap from childhood to old age. Yaccarino's family is proudly Italian, but their immigration story is universal. Readers of varied backgrounds will be able to identify with the search for a better life in a new country, the passing along of values and heirlooms, and the addition of new family members. The story will make an excellent family-history discussion starter.--Heidi Estrin, Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL[Page 146]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.