“Instantly engrossing, free of self-pity, and resonant with resilience and gratitude . . . A powerful introduction to the American immigrant story.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
When a little girl visits her great-grandfather, she asks about the collection of matchboxes 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. Newbery Medalist Paul Fleischman and acclaimed illustrator Bagram Ibatoulline tell a breathtaking immigration tale with appeal across generations.
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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.
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This is a great story to teach children about immigration!