Intriguing pictures full of small details bring alive the sights, smells, sounds, tastes and textures of a small Sardinian town in the 1950s.
Nivola traveled to Orani during many summers of her childhood, when it was still a traditional village, albeit one that was growing more prosperous than the home her father left behind in 1926. She remembers in words and pictures first arriving by boat, then riding by car and finally sitting with her cousins “[u]nder a fig tree, beside the laundry, among the chickens” to discuss the differences between America and Orani. She goes on to recount the daily adventures of seeing a newborn baby, watching the tailor make velvet jackets for the shepherds and finding “a fledgling fallen from its nest.” Drinking in the carefully delineated, naive watercolors and sensory prose, young readers attend three-day weddings and funerals for old men, buried in their holiday clothes. They experience the Corpus Christi holidays, with a horse race through the narrow streets of the village, and the family meals with “cheese from someone’s cow, the honey from someone’s bees.”
Neither a story with a plot nor a full-blown memoir, this brief look at a town suspended in time resonates with happiness and could spark some children to reflect on their own idyllic summers in a new way. (map, author’s note) (Picture book/memoir. 7-10)