ANGELINA OF ITALY
Maya Angelou, , illus. by Lizzy Rockwell. . Random, $3.99 (24pp) ISBN 978-0-375-82832-4
"Let me tell you about my friend Angelina," writes Angelou at the start of this minimal, clichéd story, one of four launching the Maya's World paperback series starring children from various countries. Angelina, who lives in Italy, is so enamored of pizza that her older sister calls her "Patty Pizza." When one night at dinner her uncle tells the story of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the girl envisions "a tower made of delicious, saucy pizza pies rising as tall as the church steeple down the street" and is chagrined to think that, if it fell over, "no one would ever have a chance to eat it! Especially her!" When she fails to believe her mother's assertion that the tower is not made of pizza ("Don't worry, darlinghissima," she tells Angelina), the family drives to Pisa. There—with "big tears rolling down [her] cheeks"—Angelina dashes past a guard and under the ropes to get a closer look at the structure. With relief, she discovers, "There wasn't a piece of pepperoni or drippy mozzarella in sight!" In the tale's predictably contrived ending, Angelina earns "a great big pizza pie with everything!" Though cheerful, Rockwell's spare illustrations are as one-dimensional as the narrative. Unfortunately, neither will satiate the appetites of youngsters hungry for information about a child from another culture. Ages 4-8.
Reviewed on: 09/06/2004