All the Way to America / by Dan Yaccarino
Title: All the Way to America: The Story of a Big Italian Family and a Little Shovel
Concepts: child schooling and work, entrepreneurs, good/services, poverty producers/consumers
Review: In this picture book, author and illustrator Dan Yaccarino tells about his own family’s personal history. His great-grandfather Michael Yaccarino (nee Michele Iaccarino) grew up in a small village in Italy, using a little shovel to work hard tending to the family’s crops. But now matter how hard the family worked, they lived in poverty. So Michael left Italy for America to search for better economic opportunities, with his parents handing him the little shovel, some family photographs, a family recipe for tomato sauce, and the advice to work hard, enjoy life, and remember family. The book then follows Michael’s life and work in New York and that of his successive generations. Throughout all the changes in the family, each father would hand down to his son the little shovel and the advice that came from Michael’s parents back in Italy.
This book is a celebration of both family and hard work. With each generation, the reader sees yet another business venture put forth by the Yaccarino family – whether it’s pushcart peddling, opening a market, running a restaurant, or even writing and illustrating children’s books – and how the little shovel helped in every context.
The illustrations, created using gouache on watercolor paper, are bright and appealing. They give the impression of a family scrapbook, which is further accented by the framed “photographs” of the family over time displayed at the end. Children will delight in finding the little shovel at work in each of the Yaccarino generations’ labors. There are also numerous fun details to be found in the illustrations, such as a game of bocce ball at a family dinner or a small cat skittering about in a bakery.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children
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