Newbery Medalist Paul Fleischman and Bagram Ibatoulline tell a breathtaking immigration tale with appeal across generations.
“Pick whatever you like most. Then I’ll tell you its story.”
When a little girl visits her great-grandfather at his curio-filled home, she chooses an unusual object to learn about: an old cigar box. What she finds inside surprises her: a collection of matchboxes making up her great-grandfather’s diary, harboring objects she can hold in her hand, each one evoking a memory. Together they tell of his journey from Italy to a new country, before he could read and write — the olive pit his mother gave him to suck on when there wasn’t enough food; a bottle cap he saw on his way to the boat; a ticket still retaining the thrill of his first baseball game. With a narrative entirely in dialogue, Paul Fleischman makes immediate the two characters’ foray into the past. With warmth and an uncanny eye for detail, Bagram Ibatoulline gives expressive life to their journey through time — and toward each other.
About the Author
Paul Fleischman won the Newbery Medal for Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices and a Newbery Honor for Graven Images. He is the author of numerous picture books, including The Animal Hedge, also illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline, and The Dunderheads and The Dunderheads Behind Bars, both illustrated by David Roberts. Paul Fleischman lives in Maine.
Bagram Ibatoulline has illustrated many acclaimed books for children, including The Animal Hedge by Paul Fleischman; On the Blue Comet by Rosemary Wells; The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and Great Joy, both by Kate DiCamillo; The Serpent Came to Gloucester by M. T. Anderson; and Hana in the Time of the Tulips by Deborah Noyes. He lives in Pennsylvania.
What People are Saying About This
Writing entirely in dialogue, Fleischman employs a natural and believable matter-of-fact tone that provides a fresh view of the immigrant experience, as the humble objects and their stories form the beginning of a loving bond between the little girl and her great-grandfather. Ibatoulline’s illustrations, done in acrylic gouache, are extraordinarily detailed and expressive. Modern scenes appear in warm, amber-toned colors, while framed sepia vignettes depict past memories as if part of a family album. Captivating and powerful.
Fleischman’s voice for the girl’s great-grandfather is instantly engrossing, free of self-pity and resonant with resilience and gratitude. Ibatoulline...is in equally fine form: his characters’ emotionally vivid faces speak of hard lives and fervent dreams, and his sepia-toned scenes never lapse into sentimentality. A powerful introduction to the American immigrant story, and fine inspiration for a classroom project.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a great story to teach children about immigration!