Living in… Italy – by Chloe Perkins
This slim book introduces us to a young girl who lives in Italy. She takes us through a typical day in her life, introducing us to her family and her lifestyle. Along the way, we discover tidbits about Italian culture and history.
I was so excited to find such an accessible introduction to Italy — most of the books that I browsed through were somewhat overwhelming in their length and the amount of information they incorporated. This one was exactly what I was looking for.
Orani: My Father’s Village – by Claire A. Nivola
This is a stunning memoir in picture book form. The author grew up as an Italian-American in New York City, yet returned to her father’s hometown of Orani (on the island of Sardinia) almost every year to visit relatives. This account of her visits is not only filled with exquisite illustrations, it’s rich in the emotion and experience of straddling two worlds. Her delightful escapades with her cousins left me wishing I’d had Italian relatives to visit as a child as well.
This is Rome – by Miroslav Sasek
This charming book explores the famous sites in the city of Rome. It opens at the very beginning of Rome’s story — with Romulus, Remus, and the she-wolf — but soon transitions to a walking tour of the modern city. It includes a good bit of back and forth between the history and present, ending a page about the Colosseum with the sentence: “But if you go inside today all you see are cats and tourists and photographers and postcard sellers.”
I felt somewhat conflicted about this book. While it was the clearest introduction to the city of Rome that I found, it was also published in 1960 and can at times feel a bit dated. The string of names of buildings seemed somewhat dense at times, yet these place names were often broken up with humorous windows into daily life in Rome. All in all, we enjoyed the book and and found the illustrations to be particularly wonderful.
See Inside Great Cities – by Rob Lloyd Jones
While this book explores cities on many continents, it includes a lovely two-page exploration of the city of Venice. The main illustration is of gondolas travelling along the Grand Canal, but there are also a number of flaps to open that offer information about the city as a whole. I found the information to be helpful and engaging, and the book offered an inspiring introduction to this beautiful city.