Uncle Alfredo's Zoo

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-Anna and her grandmother travel from their home in America to Cantalone, Italy, to visit relatives and to see her great-Uncle Alfredo's famous ``zoo.'' Nonna has many old photos of the animal-shaped stones the man had collected over the years. But when they arrive, all of the stones are gone, and the garden walls and the hut are empty. Anna is disappointed, but she finds a stone that resembles a dog's head and places it on the wall of her uncle's property. The priest blesses it on St. Antuono's day and the next day, all of the carvings mysteriously reappear. The soft watercolors add to the rather lengthy text. The ending may be puzzling to children as it is not clear how the stone animals returned or whether a ghost meets them at the train station. A story with strong ethnic roots but not an essential purchase.-Janet M. Bair, Trumbull Library, CT
Julie Corsaro
After traveling with her Nona from America to the small Italian village of Cantalone, Anna is disappointed to discover that the zoo of stone animals collected by her deceased uncle Alfredo has disappeared from in front of his house. When she brings a large rock that resembles a sheepdog to the Blessing of the Animals ceremony, she is jeered by the local children who inform her, "It's got to be real." Anna nevertheless receives a blessing from the priest, and the next day, her uncle's stone flock mysteriously reappears. Surrounded by narrow borders and placed on alternating pages, the occasionally choppy yet tender text and soft, loose watercolors are fragmented in feeling. Still, this likable tale has an authentic ring (Vigna regularly visits relatives in Italy) and an unusual setting that can bring a fresh perspective to zoo units in the primary grades.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807582923
  • Publisher: Whitman, Albert & Company
  • Publication date: 3/1/1994
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 7 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.36 (w) x 9.04 (h) x 0.41 (d)

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