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A Portrait of Pia Hardcover – June 1, 2007

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 730L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books (June 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152055770
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152055776
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,056,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

As her older brother's schizophrenia worsens, 12-year-old Pia's world also begins to fragment. Raised by her mother, Pia secretly writes her Italian father, but when she goes to Italy to meet him, she learns unsettling things about his family. Her longtime best friend seems to be moving on, and her mother's new boyfriend wants to become her stepfather. In the midst of the confusion, Pia, a budding artist, draws a haunting self-portrait, and over the course of this crowded story also reimagines the picture of her family. The author and illustrator of many picture books, Russo here paints with words, emphasizing the shapes and colors of Queens and the East Village, Rome and Florence. She lingers over the details of Pia's work--including the choice of gel pen. Relationships are portrayed clearly, and the school scenes are believable. Middle-school girls will find it easy to relate to Pia's uncertainties as well as to her solutions. Kathleen Isaacs
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

About the Author

MARISABINA RUSSO has written and illustrated many picture books for children. A Portrait of Pia is her second novel for young readers. She lives in  New York.

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Format: Hardcover
At thirteen Pia is determined to finally meet the father who abandoned her and moved to Italy before she was even born. Her mom has always been very secretive about him. But Pia has just discovered a box of old papers with her father's address printed on an empty envelope. She writes and then tears up several letters. How can she express all that she feels? In one letter she decides to call him Papa instead of Mr. Venturini.

_Dear Papa, My mother doesn't know I'm writing this letter. I've been thinking a lot about you even though I can't really remember you...Maybe now would be a good time for us to meet? Please write back really soon...Mom is okay except when she's worrying about Mario. He got into trouble at college and had to drop out and now he needs to see a doctor every week. You remember my half brother Mario, don't you?_

She adores her brother Mario, but he has just been diagnosed with schizophrenia, and figuring out what trouble he will cause next is exhausting. Sometimes Pia is even a little afraid to be around him.

She dreams of meeting a loving and exciting father in a romantic Italian setting. And her dreams come true. A package arrives on her birthday. Inside is a beautiful book about Italy and an invitation for her to come and visit him in Italy before it is too late.

Pia finally convinces her mom to accept the airplane tickets and travel to Italy: Land of Enchantment. She knows that things will be different now. Her life would be normal. She would make special memories with her father.

But Pia is totally unprepared for what she discovers in Italy. Her mother and father have secrets that change everything. She is deeply angry and disappointed with her mother.
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Format: Hardcover
Pia Crossley is a pretty average seventh-grade girl. She lives with her mother and sometimes her older brother, Mario, in an apartment in a quiet neighborhood in Queens. Her life is fairly normal. Until she discovers a box of old papers in the basement, including one with her father's address on it.

Pia has never met her mysterious Italian father, and her mom doesn't talk much about him. However, she's gone almost thirteen years without knowing him, and she wants to know. So she writes him a letter, wishing on the odd elephant charm her brother gave her for him to write back. But what happens if he does?

That's not the only drama going on in Pia's life. Her best friend seems to have traded her in for the new girl. The boy she's got a crush on doesn't seem to notice her much. Her brother is sick. Her mom's got a new boyfriend. And her art teacher won't stop trying to convince her to submit something for the art show. What's a girl to do?

A PORTRAIT OF PIA is a fun, charming story about, most of all, what it's like to be thirteen. It's also about Pia's mysterious Italian father, but really it's about Pia's life, and how she's handling it all. It's a well-written novel, and Marisabina Russo has a gift for creating lifelike, interesting characters. This one is well worth reading!

Reviewed by: Jocelyn Pearce
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