From Publishers Weekly
Much in the vein of DiSalvo's City Green and Grandpa's Corner Store, this earnest if somewhat pat story features a young activist as narrator. Angelo laments that few people now come to the park in his Italian-American neighborhood, since teenage "troublemakers" have begun playing their boom boxes too loudly and have "whipped up" the swings so that children can no longer use them. But Angelo continues to frequent the park with Grandpa, who is teaching him to play the Italian bowling game, bocce. Grandpa's peers look on, bragging about their own past feats on the bocce court-exaggerated claims that Grandpa calls "spaghetti benders." At a meeting of the neighborhood group, Angelo suggests that a bocce court be constructed in the park, whereupon a local politician announces, "If we all work together, we can make that park into something for everyone." Predictably, the neighbors all pitch in to clean up the park-even one of the tough kids. A setback (one morning the graffiti reappears and the newly planted garden is crushed) is quickly redeemed: the one-time troublemakers surprise everyone by cleaning up the damage. The brightly hued, gouache illustrations are better than the text at conveying the characters' bountiful energy and changeable emotions, and kids may enjoy the bocce subplot as well as the game's instructions at the end. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Grade 1-4-A purposeful story about determination and community. Angelo and his grandfather hate to see their local park deteriorate when hoodlums settle in-the swings are whipped up, the vegetables are smashed, and there is graffiti everywhere. Most people stay away. There is hesitation and downright rejection when the boy suggests the construction of a bocce ball court at the neighborhood meeting until Assembly Member Lopez suggests that if they all work together, they can clean up the area and offer something for everyone. Ultimately, Angelo's perseverance and acceptance of others enable his dream to come true. The gouache illustrations resonate with natural greens and grays, highlighting the outdoor setting. Various relationships, whether between older folks and young people or among the young generation, are expressed well so that young readers can appreciate the various dynamics at play. This story provides many avenues for discussion.Linda M. Kenton, San Rafael Public Library, CA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.