cover image A Picnic in October

A Picnic in October

Eve Bunting. Harcourt Children's Books, $17 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-201656-2

A contemporary Italian-American family living in New York City makes its annual pilgrimage to Liberty Island to celebrate the birthday of the Statue of Liberty in this poignant picture book. Young Mike thinks a picnic in blustery October is just plain dumb (""Why do we always have to do this?""); he's embarrassed by his grandparents' unflagging enthusiasm for this outing. But when Mike observes a family of new Americans who have also come to pay their respects to Lady Liberty, he gains insight into this symbol of freedom--and his Italian grandparents' gratitude at arriving in the United States. Bunting's (So Far from the Sea) patriotic story includes several hallmarks of now-familiar immigrant stories but never grows soppy, due in large part to Mike's lightly irreverent voice. Carpenter (Twinnies, with Bunting) captures a touch of the ""huddled masses"" as she depicts crowds on the subway and on the ferry in her vibrant acrylics. Ages 5-10. (Oct.)