Sonderbooks Stand-out

Sonderbooks Book Review of

All the Way to America

The Story of a Big Italian Family and a Little Shovel

by Dan Yaccarino


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All the Way to America

The Story of a Big Italian Family
and a Little Shovel

by Dan Yaccarino
Review posted April 28, 2011.
Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2011. 36 pages.
Starred Review
2011 Sonderbooks Standout: #6 Children's Nonfiction

This is a picture book biography, but it's not a book kids will use for school reports, so I feel a little sad that it will be shelved with the biographies rather than the picture books. First and foremost, this book tells an engaging story. It's a story simple enough for preschoolers or young elementary school students to have read to them or to read themselves. That the story is true is an exciting bonus, which I'm sure will fascinate young readers.

In this book, Dan Yaccarino tells about how his great-grandfather Michele Iaccarino came to America all the way from Sorrento, Italy. His bright and distinctive illustrations add to this tale of family, food, and adventure.

And so when he was a young man, Michele left Italy and went all the way to America in search of new opportunities.

"Work hard," his father told him, handing him the little shovel.

"But remember to enjoy life."

"And never forget your family," his mother said. She hugged him and gave him their few family photographs and her recipe for tomato sauce.

Each generation has a new use for the little shovel. And each generation, the family got larger. Each generation, they found uses for the traditional tomato sauce.

To emphasize that this is a true story, the author poses on the back cover flap with the actual little shovel his great-grandfather brought to America.

This would make a great addition to a storytime about family. It gives you a nice warm feeling of family traditions and good food.