Synopses & Reviews
Newbery Medalist Paul Fleischman and Bagram Ibatoulline tell a breathtaking immigration tale with appeal across generations.
"Pick whatever you like most. Then Ill 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-grandfathers 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 wasnt 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.
"If you can't read or write, how do you remember the important moments of your life? An elderly man explains to his great-granddaughter that he created a diary of objects, each saved in a matchbox. One matchbox holds an olive pit from his native Italy, given to him by his mother to suck on when the family had no food. A fish bone reminds him of grueling work in canneries ('always a man watching to make sure we weren't slowing down'). But there are also matchboxes that hold a ticket to a baseball game, as well as pieces of coal and moveable type that represent how the man finally achieved literacy and a comfortable life. Fleischman's voice for the girl's great-grandfather is instantly engrossing, free of self-pity and resonant with resilience and gratitude. Ibatoulline, who previously worked with Fleischman on The Animal Hedge, 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. Ages 6 10. Illustrator's agent: Nancy Gallt Literary Agency." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
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.