Pick-and-Shovel Poet: The Journeys of Pascal D'Angelo by Jim Murphy, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Pick-and-Shovel Poet: The Journeys of Pascal D'Angelo

Pick-and-Shovel Poet: The Journeys of Pascal D'Angelo

by Jim Murphy
     
 

In this inspiring biography, critically acclaimed author Jim Murphy tells the unique story of Pascal D’Angelo, who came to America in 1910 at the age of sixteen. Like so many immigrants from southern Italy and other parts of Europe, he took on the only job available to him, that of a manual laborer building roads and railways. Though his life was difficult,

Overview


In this inspiring biography, critically acclaimed author Jim Murphy tells the unique story of Pascal D’Angelo, who came to America in 1910 at the age of sixteen. Like so many immigrants from southern Italy and other parts of Europe, he took on the only job available to him, that of a manual laborer building roads and railways. Though his life was difficult, Pascal remained optimistic and never lost his sense of wonder at the world around him. He yearned for an outlet to express his passion, and so, remarkably, he taught himself English from newspapers and poetry books, in the process becoming a respected poet himself.

Augmented with parallel references to other immigrant stories and accompanied by moving archival photographs, this story of one man’s life and noteworthy accomplishments is also a universal story shared by all American immigrants who helped build our nation. Source notes, bibliography, index.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"An important, inspiring, and well-documented book that will complement any collection." School Library Journal, Starred

"A biography of a common man that is also the history of a civilization and its times." Kirkus Reviews

"Murphy synthesizes the personal with the universal, making D'Angelo's life stand for not only the sum of his experience but for the sum of the experience of his fellow immigrants." The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"Jim Murphy provides a compelling tribute to the indomitable masses who, through their labor, helped to modernize America." Horn Book

Except for his autobiography and some poetry, not much has been written about Pascal D'Angelo, who immigrated to the U.S. from Italy in 1910 and lived a life of hardship until his death at age 38. Consequently, Murphy sets his passionate biography in a historical context that broadens the book's scope. Detailed early chapters give a strong sense of the emotional and physical stamina it took for poor Italian farmers to leave their families and homeland, and the often nightmarish experiences, from Ellis Island to building railroads, that awaited them in their new land. D'Angelo proves an inspiring figure who maintained his optimism despite financial hardship, ethnic discrimination, and crippling labor. The poet's works are brief and few, but this reverent biography is filled with his indomitable spirit. Black-and-white archival photos show the times, places, and people.
Booklist, ALA

The dream and the reality of the unskilled, non-English speaking immigrant's experience in early 1900s America is portrayed vividly in this biography of Italian-born poet Pascal D'Angelo. . . . Murphy's skillful placement of Pascal's personal experiences, as related with passion in the poet's 1924 autobiography, in their historical context makes this book a multifaceted read. With stunning black-and-white photographs and clear unsentimental prose, Murphy shows Pascal as an immigrant Everyman.
VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)

Children's Literature
Sixteen-year-old Pascal D'Angelo journeyed to the United States from his native Italy in 1910 and joined many fellow emigrants in backbreaking manual labor. Award-winning biographer Jim Murphy tells D'Angelo's story in Pick and Shovel Poet. Though he never rose from extreme poverty and died at the age of 38, D'Angelo attained his dream of being a poet in the English language he struggled so hard to learn. This complex, fascinating picture of the man and his times includes period photos and examples of his poetry, which allows young readers to hear his voice. "Accident in a Coal Dump" concludes powerfully with the witnesses to a death straggling slowly home, as snow falls "like a white dream through the rude sleep of the winter night." Acclaimed author Jim Murphy recently received the prestigious nonfiction award presented by The Children's Book Guild in conjunction with the Washington Post. 2000, Clarion, $20.00. Ages 9 up. Reviewer:Mary Quattlebaum
VOYA
The dream and the reality of the unskilled, non-English speaking immigrant's experience in early 1900s America is portrayed vividly in this biography of Italian-born poet Pascal D'Angelo. In 1910, sixteen-year-old Pascal joined his father on a voyage to America. "Fully one third of the Italian people abandoned their homeland between 1872 and 1924." Murphy's skillful placement of Pascal's personal experiences, as related with passion in the poet's 1924 autobiography, in their historical context makes this book a multifaceted read. With stunning black-and-white photos and clear unsentimental prose, Murphy shows Pascal as an immigrant Everyman. Ellis Island, the company store system, hazardous work conditions, and racial prejudice appear in stark relief. After four profitless years of what Pascal described as "endless continuous toil," his father returned to his homeland, but Pascal clung to his dream. He stayed on, learning English by picking words out of newspapers and writing them on the wall of the boxcar where he slept. He became a literary success, publishing from 1922 forward deeply emotional poetry that expressed the struggle, pain, and "brooding anger" of the unskilled immigrant. Much of present-day America has its roots in the men and women of Pascal's generation. This book will appeal to young adults interested in acquiring a sensory and emotional as well as an objective understanding of the immigrant's world. It is an inspirational account of raw courage and the power of hope. Murphy's unique biography will enhance any collection. Index. Illus. Photos. Biblio. Source Notes. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P M J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; MiddleSchool, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2000, Clarion, 162p, $20. Ages 11 to 18. Reviewer: Mary E. Heslin SOURCE: VOYA, February 2002 (Vol. 24, No.6)
School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up-An excellent biography, replete with evocative photos. Murphy recounts D'Angelo's early life and his emigration to America with his father in an attempt to save their family from the crushing poverty of Italy in 1910. The author poignantly captures their struggle, which, like that of so many immigrants, entailed prejudice, cold, hunger, and constant worry over where they would find work. D'Angelo eventually learned to read English and was so struck by the power of words that he began to compose his own poetry, and to express his life's journeys. After he was discovered by the editor of The Nation, his poetry and his autobiography, Son of Italy, were soon published. Murphy quotes liberally from that work, which lends depth and often humor to the text. The stunning photographs, many by Lewis Hine, reflect the faces of these new Americans and add even more layers of emotion to D'Angelo's poetry, which is also featured in the text. An important, inspiring, and well-documented book that will complement any collection.-Carol Fazioli, formerly at The Brearley School, New York City Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In 1910, Pascal D'Angelo and his father left the harsh Abruzzi region of Italy to escape its impossible poverty and journey to the United States; Pascal was 16 years old. Murphy, a graceful narrator of history, presents the life of the peasant as he journeyed through life in the new country. He never became wealthy or even comfortable, but did leave an impression with his poetry—and this from a man who became literate in English as an adult, largely self-taught (and librarians will be delighted to know that they helped him). D'Angelo also wrote an autobiography, Son of Italy, relating to life as an immigrant and the hard—largely pick-and-shovel—work he did to earn a scant living. Such a telling should resonate when readers think about why people come to a new country where they do not speak the language, do not know the customs, and too often are alone, even (or especially) today. The protagonist does not come through as a sharp personality; he is somewhat shadowy against the times and places of his life. He stands out as a symbol rather than a full person. But his accomplishments are certainly large. Archival photos are interesting but sometimes captions are non-indicative; what do they mean? When and where were they taken? There are two photos of D'Angelo. As usual, Murphy provides details that help set the story. A biography of a common man that is also the history of a civilization and its times. (index and bibliography) (Biography. 9-14)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780395776100
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
10/28/2000
Pages:
176
Product dimensions:
(w) x (h) x 0.43(d)
Age Range:
10 - 12 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"An important, inspiring, and well-documented book that will complement any collection." School Library Journal, Starred

"A biography of a common man that is also the history of a civilization and its times." Kirkus Reviews

"Murphy synthesizes the personal with the universal, making D'Angelo's life stand for not only the sum of his experience but for the sum of the experience of his fellow immigrants." The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"Jim Murphy provides a compelling tribute to the indomitable masses who, through their labor, helped to modernize America." Horn Book

Except for his autobiography and some poetry, not much has been written about Pascal D'Angelo, who immigrated to the U.S. from Italy in 1910 and lived a life of hardship until his death at age 38. Consequently, Murphy sets his passionate biography in a historical context that broadens the book's scope. Detailed early chapters give a strong sense of the emotional and physical stamina it took for poor Italian farmers to leave their families and homeland, and the often nightmarish experiences, from Ellis Island to building railroads, that awaited them in their new land. D'Angelo proves an inspiring figure who maintained his optimism despite financial hardship, ethnic discrimination, and crippling labor. The poet's works are brief and few, but this reverent biography is filled with his indomitable spirit. Black-and-white archival photos show the times, places, and people.
Booklist, ALA

The dream and the reality of the unskilled, non-English speaking immigrant's experience in early 1900s America is portrayed vividly in this biography of Italian-born poet Pascal D'Angelo. . . . Murphy's skillful placement of Pascal's personal experiences, as related with passion in the poet's 1924 autobiography, in their historical context makes this book a multifaceted read. With stunning black-and-white photographs and clear unsentimental prose, Murphy shows Pascal as an immigrant Everyman.
VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)

Meet the Author


Jim Murphy's nonfiction books have received numerous awards, among them the Sibert Medal, three Orbis Pictus awards, the Margaret A. Edwards award, and two Newbery Honors. Jim also was a finalist for the National Book Award. Born and raised in New Jersey, Jim lives in Maplewood, NJ, with his family.

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