Title: Orani: My Father's Village
Author: Claire A. Nivola
Illustrator: Claire A. Nivola
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Concepts: poverty, scarcity, jobs, economic development
Review: Born in the United States to Italian parents, Claire Nivola very much enjoyed their family visits back to Orani, a small village on the island of Sardinia where her father had grown up. He came from an impoverished family of ten children, shared a bed with five siblings, and often went hungry. Like all homes in the village, their house had no bathroom. What they lacked in creature comforts, however, they made up for with a thriving community of people who supported each other and freely shared their time, talents, creativity, and dreams.
When Claire visited as a child, this small village atmosphere had remained intact. She especially liked hanging out with her cousins and stopping by to see anyone who had something interesting to share, especially the village artisans. Claire found it difficult to return back home to the vast size and dispersed social networks of New York City.
With its intricate illustrations and carefully crafted prose, this picture book conveys an interesting set of messages about how social networks can change with economic growth. Moreover, the Sardinian setting provides young readers with exposure to a location they may not know much about. This unique book makes a nice addition to the literature.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children