I have always been fascinated by immigrant stories, both fiction and nonfiction, and I have reviewed a lot of books that explore what it was like to emigrate to North America, as you can see on this feature page. Today's picture book is a true immigration story told by Dan Yaccarino, a much-loved and highly successful children's book author and illustrator.
For ages 6 to 8
Random House, 2011, 978-0-375-86642-5
Many years ago, Dan Yaccarino’s great-grandfather Michele was a little boy living with his family on a farm in Sorrento, Italy. Michele had a little shovel, and he used this to do his share of the work on his family’s farm. Though they all worked very hard, Michele’s family was “always very poor.”
When he grew up into a young man, Michele decided to leave Italy. He hoped that he would find “new opportunities” in America. When he left his homeland, Michele took some family photos, his little shovel, and his mother’s recipe for tomato sauce with him.
The journey to America was a long one, and when he got to New York City, Michele had to pass through Ellis Island. Like so many other immigrants, Michele’s name was changed by the officials at Ellis Island, and his new name was Michael Yaccarino.
Michael got a job in a bakery, and he used his little shovel to measure out the flour and sugar. Later, when he became a pushcart peddler, Michael used the shovel to measure out fruits and nuts. Michael’s son Dan worked alongside him, and when Dan grew up, he and his wife Helen opened up a market. Dan used his father’s little shovel to measure out beans, macaroni, and olives for customers. With each new generation, the family grew bigger, and the treasured little shovel was passed down from father to son.
In this wonderful picture book, children’s book author and illustrator, Dan Yaccarino, tells the story of his family. Children will be charmed to see how traditions were passed down through the family, and how every generation did its best to make life better for the generation to come. With a strong work ethic, close family ties, and a connection with
the past, Dan’s family created a legacy that they can be proud of.