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All the Way to America: The Story of a Big Italian Family and a Little Shovel

Overview

“This immigration story is universal.” —School Library Journal, Starred
 
Dan Yaccarino’s great-grandfather arrived at Ellis Island with a small shovel and his parents’ good advice: “Work hard, but remember to enjoy life, and never forget your family.” With simple text and warm, colorful illustrations, Yaccarino recounts how the little shovel was passed down through four...
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Overview

“This immigration story is universal.” —School Library Journal, Starred
 
Dan Yaccarino’s great-grandfather arrived at Ellis Island with a small shovel and his parents’ good advice: “Work hard, but remember to enjoy life, and never forget your family.” With simple text and warm, colorful illustrations, Yaccarino recounts how the little shovel was passed down through four generations of this Italian-American family—along with the good advice.
 
It’s a story that will have kids asking their parents and grandparents: Where did we come from? How did our family make the journey all the way to America?
 
“A shovel is just a shovel, but in Dan Yaccarino’s hands it becomes a way to dig deep into the past and honor all those who helped make us who we are.” —Eric Rohmann, winner of the Caldecott Medal for My Friend Rabbit
 
All the Way to America is a charmer. Yaccarino’s heartwarming story rings clearly with truth, good cheer, and love.” —Tomie dePaola, winner of a Caldecott Honor Award for Strega Nona

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.)
School Library Journal
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
Kirkus Reviews

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, andhisson 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.(Picture book. 5-9)

From the Publisher

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly:
"In this affectionate personal history, Yaccarino Lawn to Lawn traces his ancestry from Sorrento, Italy to New York City. . . Folksy and warm, this is a timely reminder that America is a nation of immigrants."

Starred Review, School Library Journal, March 2011:
"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."

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, February 2011:
"With clarity and deep affection, Yaccarino turns his family history into a story of enduring charm. . . . A gloriously warm celebration."

All the Way to America is a charmer. Yaccarino’s heartwarming story rings clearly with truth, good cheer, and love.” —Tomie de Paola, winner of a Caldecott Honor Award for Strega Nona

“A shovel is just a shovel, but in Dan Yaccarino’s hands it becomes a way to dig deep into the past and honor all those who helped make us who we are.” —Eric Rohmann, winner of the Caldecott Medal for My Friend Rabbit

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375866425
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 3/8/2011
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 238,416
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD830L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.42 (w) x 8.34 (h) x 0.32 (d)

Meet the Author

DAN YACCARINO is an internationally acclaimed author-illustrator with more than thirty books to his credit. Dan is also the creator of the animated TV series Oswald. He lives in New York City with his wife and two children.
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