All The Way to America

The Story of A Big Italian Family
and A Little Shovel

This post is part of Nonfiction Monday hosted today by Check It Out and joins It's Monday! What are you reading? at  Teacher Mentor Texts
(pub. 3.8.2011) 40 pages 

A True Tale with A Cherry On Top

A uthor and illustrator: Dan Yaccarino
haracters: Dan Yaccarino's family

O verview from the jacket flap: 

      "Michele Iaccarino journeyed from his home in Italy all the way to America, searching for a better life. He brought big dreams, a small shovel, and his parents' good advice: 'Work hard, but remember to enjoy life, and never forget your family.'
     Now, many years later, Michele's great-grandson Dan Yaccarino tells how he succeeded. Dan shows us four generations of this proud Italian American family, and how the little shovel has been passed from father to son - along with the good advice.
     It's a story that captures the experience of so many American families: each generation doing a bit better than the last; each generation holding fast to the memories and traditions of their forebears.
    And it's a story meant for sharing. One that will have kids asking their grandparents: where did we come from? How did our family make the journey, all the way to America?"
T antalizing taste: 

   "My great-grandfather Michele Iaccarino grew up on a farm in Sorrento, Italy. When he was a boy, his father gave him a little shovel so he could help tend the zucchini, tomatoes, and strawberries that his family sold in the village...
     Michael [Michele's new name] polished his little shovel till it shined and used it to measure out flour and sugar...
     Now the little shovel belonged to Dan [Michael's son], and he used it to measure out beans, macaroni, and olives...
     Mike [Michael's son] opened a barbershop, and he used the little shovel to pour rock salt over the sidewalk whenever it snowed...
     'Work hard,' my father told me [Dan, the author/illustrator of this book] as he handed me the little shovel. 'But remember to enjoy life.'
     'And don't forget to call your family,' said my mother ...
     Now I watch Michael and his sister, Lucy, [the author's children] work on our small terrace with the very same shovel that their great-great-grandfather brought all the way to America..."

and something more:  Dan Yaccarino has explained that he solved the question of how to structure his family's story in All the Way to America when he realized that the connective tissue, the thread, of the story would be the shovel that connected the generations. It's fun to see the author photo on the back flap showing him holding this family shovel.
          I heard a wonderful talk, titled "Yes!", by Dan Yaccarino at the Asilomar writer's conference this past spring. He said that many moments of success during his career came from his willingness to say YES! even when the new opportunity seemed overwhelming or beyond his current capability.  The power of positive thinking! 


Perogyo said...

I love immigrant stories!

What a great lesson from Dan Yaccarino. What do we have to lose by saying yes?

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

So true! He's such an upbeat guy to hear talk -- that optimism comes through in his books, I think.

Jen said...

I've reviewed All the Way to America. I love how it can be used to help kids start to think about their roots and their ancestors. Dan Yaccarino is fun. :)

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

Hi Jen, Yes, this book would be great for kids to think about their own families and what's passed on from generation to generation.