In this picture book about losing a loved one, an author provides a look at his childhood relationship with his Italian grandmother.
Jimmy and Nonna are kindred spirits. In summer, they feed the birds and share Italian ice. In autumn, he tries to catch falling leaves while Nonna watches. On holidays, they make Nonna’s special biscotti di cannella. But one year, she isn’t well enough to cook her special Italian sausage stuffing on Thanksgiving; she’s so sick, she can’t get out of bed. After Nonna dies, Jimmy’s father declares that, honoring family tradition, they will not celebrate Christmas. But then Jimmy finds a vendor’s last Christmas tree and persuades his father to take it home. Placing Nonna’s angel on the tree brings the whole family peace. Doti’s (Jimmy Finds His Voice, 2013) gentle sequel is about struggling with the death of a grandparent but coming to realize that memories of the relative live on. The text is accessible and moving, and Ibatoulline’s (The Hawk of the Castle, 2017) Norman Rockwell–esque paintings beautifully capture the bygone era in which the vivid tale is set, revealing both the love and humor in Jimmy’s family. Though the book centers on an Italian-American clan, Ibatoulline offers a diverse neighborhood, where residents of many skin colors share the park and school. A recipe for Nonna’s biscotti di cannella follows the story. This is sure to have children playing the “I love you this much” game of the title.
Readers should be touched by this bittersweet family tale and captivated by the frameworthy art.