Dancing on Grapesby Graziella Pacini Buonanno, Gina Capaldi
Claudia can't wait to take part in the annual grape harvest in her Tuscan village. The harvest means hard work, and Claudia's whole family pitches in to gather grapes from the vineyard. But there's plenty of opportunity for fun, too, now that she's old enough to join her cousins crushing grapes in the big tub. Unfortunately, the tub sits high atop the cantina, and
Claudia can't wait to take part in the annual grape harvest in her Tuscan village. The harvest means hard work, and Claudia's whole family pitches in to gather grapes from the vineyard. But there's plenty of opportunity for fun, too, now that she's old enough to join her cousins crushing grapes in the big tub. Unfortunately, the tub sits high atop the cantina, and Claudia is afraid of heights. Within the warm embrace of her large family, Claudia musters the courage to climb the tall ladder to the roof, where she celebrates with a joyful dance on the grapes. This endearing story is based on the author's memories of her own Tuscan childhood. Gina Capalid's warm illustrations beautifully evoke life on an Italian vineyard in the 1950's.
Six-year-old Claudia gets the fun of squishing the grapes to make the wine and overcomes a childhood fear as well.
In a voice that sounds rather older than her years, Claudia recounts her excitement at finally being old enough to crush grapes with her many relatives. A huge barrel is placed on the roof of a cantina (a small stone outbuilding), the grapes are put into the barrel and the family dances and sings, smashing the grapes with their feet. To help her overcome her fear of heights, Claudia's grandmother and aunt first coax her to climb alone into Nonna's high iron bed, then to reach, via a kitchen chair, to a high shelf where the cheese she loves is kept. Her mama climbs up the ladder behind Claudia, her brother pulls her up and there she is, singing and dancing with the rest of the family. In an author's note, Buonanno reveals that she grew up in Tuscany and, like Claudia, was afraid of high places. She laments the appearance of grape-crushing machines that appeared in the 1950s, taking away the fun. Capaldi's pen, ink and watercolor illustrations are disappointingly bland: The grapes look more like a sea of lavender, and the children are cheerful but indistinguishable, except for differences in hair color.
A little too much like an adult family story with a moral to have real child appeal. (glossary) (Picture book. 5-8)
Meet the Author
Graziella Pacini Buonanno: Graziella Pacini Buonanno was born in Lucca, Italy, the inspiration for Dancing on Grapes. She was a public-school teacher for twenty-five years in Tarrytown, New York, where she lives. This is her first picture book.
Gina Capaldi: Gina Capaldi has written and illustrated a number of books, including A Boy Named Beckoning: The True Story of Dr. Carlos Montezuma, Native American Hero, winner of the 2009 NCTE Orbis Pictus Award. She lives in San Dimas, California.
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This is a very sweet, beautiful story. For any child of Italian heritage, it's a must. But all children will enjoy this book.