August 25, 2014
All the Way to America by Dan Yaccarino
All the Way to America:
The Story of a Big Italian Family and a Little Shovel
by Dan Yaccarino
Alfred A. Knopf
Michele Iaccrino grew up on a farm in Sorrento. His father gave him a small shovel and he used to to tend zucchini, tomatoes and strawberries. As he grew up, he learned to put in a good effort and to love his family. When he journeyed to America, he brought the little shovel with him.
The shovel passes from father to son. It is used on the farm to dig in the soil, in a bakery to scoop flour, on a pushcart to measure fruits and nuts, at a barber shop to scoop salt in the winter, on and on. The family, called the Yaccarinos since Michele entered this country, and the shovel make their way from New York City into the countryside and back into the city.
But wherever they are, they are a family working together. Husband and wife. Parents and children. Together they make a life to share with each other.
You don’t have to be from a big Italian family to love this book. It is a story of family and traditions and how both adapt through time and place. They aren’t a unit because they pass a trade from person to person, but they do pass down a set of values which adapt and change to fit each person’s circumstances.
Yaccarino’s paintings are bright and slightly cartoony and help give the story a contemporary feel although it stretches back over 100 years. Need a book on tradition that doesn’t center on the holidays? Use this story as a jumping off point to discuss tradition, family, immigration, and history.