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SOFIA'S STOOP STORY by Maria LaPlaca Bohrer


18th Street, Brooklyn

by Maria LaPlaca Bohrer ; illustrated by Steve Johnson ; Lou Fancher

Age Range: 6 - 9

Pub Date: Feb. 10th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-9885295-2-6
Publisher: Blue Marlin

A richly sentimental picture of a Sunday gathering from the author’s youth.

In present tense, Sofia recalls sitting on the stoop with her six cousins listening to Uncle Frankie’s tale of the time he met Carl Furillo. As he regales the gathering, she’s repeatedly called away to fetch cheese and other ingredients from local shops for Nana’s meatballs. Though she uses effectively evocative names and cadences in speech, Bohrer gives Nana an accent that is overwrought to the point of parody: “Bella mia, go downa to D’Amico’s Bakerya, get two loaves o’ Italiano breada, fresh Italiano breada, make sure isa fresh. And, we needa some cannoli for desserta.” When everyone’s finally called in for dinner, Nana promises to save Sofia “braciole and a nicea sweet sozeecha” while Frankie stays outside to fill the little girl in on the parts of the story she missed. Johnson and Fancher incorporate glimpses of old news items and handwritten recipes into loosely brushed scenes of the stoop, neighborhood and an antique kitchen, but aside from Uncle Frankie’s plaid pants, the setting has a timeless quality. It is capped, as is only proper, with a mouthwatering meatball recipe.

Though a little heavy on the ethnic flavoring, the memories are as rich and savory as Nana’s homemade sauce. (afterword) (Picture book. 6-9)