cover image American Too

American Too

Elisa Bartone. HarperCollins Publishers, $16 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-688-13278-1

Set in the Little Italy of post-WWI Manhattan, this uplifting companion to the Caldecott Honor book Peppe the Lamplighter introduces a feisty girl who emigrates from Italy with her family. As their ship arrives in New York, Rosina spies the Statue of Liberty and announces that she wants to wear a dress and crown and carry a torch, just like that grand lady. Determined to be ""a modern American girl,"" she changes her name to Rosie, refuses to eat the eggplant her mother packs in her school lunch and tells her parents she will not play the queen in the annual feast of San Gennaro. But as she watches the preparations for the Italian feast day, Rosie hatches a plan that lets her participate in the celebration yet prove her allegiance to her new country. The likable heroine and judicious details about the setting help distill the experience of new Americans caught between two cultures. Lewin's stunning paintings, often so clearly focused and lifelike as to resemble photographs, convey the flavor of the period--in clothing, decor, architecture--as well as Rosie's highly charged emotions. Ages 5-up. (Sept.)