Holding up a copy of Dan Yaccarino's new picture book, All the Way to America, I asked, "How many of you know the TV show 'Oswald'?" ("Oswald" is a cartoon on Nick Jr.)
A smattering of hands went up, but Matthew said, "I've never seen it."
"Me neither," someone else chimed in.
"That's okay if you haven't," I said. "Dan Yaccarino, the creator of 'Oswald,' wrote and illustrated this—
"I've never seen that show," Matthew continued.
I reassured the ones who hadn't seen the cartoon that it didn't matter, and we went ahead. Later I realized that my intro was unnecessary and that I just needed to trust that the class would be interested in the book itself. Because they were.
All the Way to America, subtitled "The Story of a Big Italian Family and a Little Shovel," is about leaving one country and making a success of yourself in another. The Yaccarino family values of working hard, enjoying life, and staying in touch with your family, no matter where you live, resonated with the second graders, whose roots are in Brazil, Nigeria, Haiti, Peru, Vietnam, and Florida ("I came by car and not in a ship!"), among other places.
"It was a long journey.
And how different New York was from his [the author's great-grandfather's] tiny village in Italy!"
Even if we're only seven, we've all had a long journey to get to where we are. I pondered that as I drove home.
All the Way to America
written and illustrated by Dan Yaccarino
40 pages; for ages 4-8
Image from Powell's Books. This blog is not an affiliate of the Portland, Oregon, store, but my experience ordering from there has always been positive.
*This is my second year as a volunteer reader in a city public school.