Tired of always being "in the way" in the busy kitchen of her family's Italian restaurant, Sofia comes up with a delicious new recipe of her own.
Publishers Weekly - Publishers WeeklySofia's Italian family says she's "too little" to help out in their restaurant-- "Bambina, sei troppo piccola!" her Papa tells her, after she pushes the blender button and tomatoes splatter everywhere--but when she comes up with a new dessert, the whole clan is impressed. Sofia often repeats her grandmother's praise for the family members' specialties--"Nonna says that a queen would curtsey for a bite of your bread, Mama," Sofia tells her mother (before adding too much yeast to the dough)--so when Nonna tells her, "Angels would sing for one of your Fig Tree Sundaes, Sofia!" it's the ultimate compliment. Hartnung's (Dear Juno) watercolors look a little like jigsaw puzzles; they're evenly lit, with interlocking forms, muted colors, and figures that look like cotton dolls, all of which work to soften the impact of Sofia's accidents in the kitchen (though her family's love is evident, being repeatedly told she's too little clearly and realistically upsets her). Newcomer Akin's prose tends toward the frilly ("Scrumptious smells tickled Sofia's nose..."), but builds steadily to a pleasing conclusion. Ages 4-8. (Aug.)
Children's Literature - Deanna D'AntonioSofia's family is preparing for a special visit from her nonno and nonna (Italian for grandfather and grandmother). The house is awhirl with activity and awash in delicious scents, as Papa, Mama and big brother Mario make spaghetti sauce, bake bread, and toss pizza pies. Ever eager to help, Sofia dons her apron and pitches in. Unfortunately, her earnest attempts as kitchen apprentice all end disastrouslythe ceiling is now flecked with splotches of gravy; mounds of over-risen, yeasty dough tumble from the oven; and the ceiling fan is frozen mid-rotation by a tossed-too-high pizza pie. Time and again, Sofia is chastened with the phrase "Bambina, sei troppo piccola!" (Child, you are too little!) After each culinary debacle, Sofia and her little cat Figaro, find solace in the comforting boughs of a fig tree that sways in the breeze, laden with succulent fruit. In the end, the fig tree provides not just consolation, but Sofia's inspiration for a delectable dessert that wows her family and proves she isn't too little to contribute meaningfully after all. Young children, eager to grow up and prove themselves capable of big kid tasks, will find a simpatico character in Sofia. They will easily be able to recognize (and sympathize) with Sofia's all-too-familiar frustrations and her crowning triumphs in a picture book whose story and illustrations are as sweet, simple, and satisfying as Sofia's gelato-and-fig dessert. Reviewer: Deanna D'Antonio
School Library Journal - School Library JournalGr 1—Little Sofia's family is making special dishes for an upcoming visit from Nonna and Nonno, but no matter how hard she tries, Sofia is too small to help. Finally she is able to invent her own special dish that impresses her grandparents and becomes a new family classic. A list of the Italian words that appear in the text includes meanings and pronunciations. The large illustrations, some full spread, are crisp and clear, and facial expressions add humor and character development. A fun read-aloud.—Catherine Brenner, Bethlehem Public Library, Delmar, NY
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