Orani: My Father's Village
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Orani: My Father's Village

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  144 ratings  ·  35 reviews
One of School Library Journal’s Best Nonfiction Books of 2011

One of Horn Book’s Best Nonfiction Books of 2011

As a child, Claire Nivola loved summers in Orani, the village where her father grew up and where her many aunts, uncles, and 50 cousins still lived. She ran freely through the town's cobbled streets with packs of cousins, who quizzed her about America while she took...more
Hardcover, 36 pages
Published July 19th 2011 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
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The personal family history as picture book is an interesting little subgenre. It’s been in the American picture book roster for years, dating back at least as far as Robert Lawson’s 1940 Caldecott winner They Were Strong and Good. Generally speaking, the American picture book memoir tends to focus on families that have immigrated to the States. Dan Yacarrino’s All the Way to America is a good example of this. The nice thing about Claire A. Nivola’s Orani: My Father’s Village is that it goes the...more
I'm not an immigrant myself, but I think this picture-book memoir captures perfectly a child's experience visiting the Old World where her father grew up, and its smaller-scale, family-centric life. I think I teared up a little.

Just love this quote from the Author's Note:

"Orani was a complete world and just the right scale for a child. Everything happened there -- all the tragedies and joys -- but they happened in a contained place, among families and neighbors, where everyone knew and cared, s...more
Monica Maher
Audience: preschool and up, boys, and girls
Appeal: This book has large and interesting pictures in it depicting the differences between Orani and America. This book also reads more like a story than an informational text, so I would say it could be considered fast-paced as far as nonfiction books go. Children will be able to relate to the narrator in Orani. This book came from the School Library Journal Best Non-Fiction 2011 list.
With incredibly detailed illustrations and carefully chosen words, the author of Planting the Trees of Kenya takes readers to a village in Sardinia where her father grew up. After he and his wife emigrated to the United States, he took his family back to the island as often as possible. This picture book describes with obvious fondness the connection Claire A. Nivola still feels for the village and its citizens. Readers will feel as though they are racing the cobbled streets, drinking the mounta...more
This lovely book paints a picture of of a small village on the island of Sardinia in the author's childhood summers, a place where children play in the streets, hear the women gathering early on hot mornings to bake bread, celebrate a wedding for 3 days and see a dead body in someones home for a funeral. The author says in a note at the end that this place doesn't exist anymore, but has racing cars in the narrow streets and children inside with their electronic gadgets.
But what a glorious ode t...more
Carrie Gelson
Beautiful book sharing a very special village - memories, community, simplicity. A gorgeous celebration of family history.
Author Claire Nivola often spent her summers in Orani, a small village surrounded by mountains in the country of Sardina, an island in the Mediterranean Sea between Europe and Africa. For many years Orani was untouched by the expanding progressive way of life that much of the rest of the world was swept up in, and remained a close-knit community that centered on family and friends. This story focuses on that simpler period of time. The authors notes in the afterward give a detailed account of ho...more
Sam Bloom
Not truly a biography, but close enough to qualify as such on my shelves. I'm not going to try to give a summary, because that won't really do this book justice. I suppose one could call this an episodic picture book, if such a thing exists, because the book is full of experiences that are interconnected by the place, time and people involved. If you (or a child you know) are/is a fan of maps and/or romantically old-fashioned Mediterranean towns, this book is for you.
The sense of place--warm and particular--Nivola evokes is palpable, and contrasts very effectively with the busy gray city scene on the last page.

The last paragraph, where a child Nivola wonders if everyone she sees in the city has their own "Orani," their own special place somewhere else in the world, is such a marvelous way of helping a young child to stretch the boundaries of their own world.

Really lovely.
This is one of those books that pulls you into a very specific place, making it come alive through both text and illustrations. Inspired by the author's experiences of visiting her father's birthplace in Sardinia, it wraps together the sense of being a child with the particular sense of place. Reading it over several times lets you absorb all the details in the illustrations and immerse youself in the story.
A beautiful look at Claire Nivola's childhood visits to Orani, the tiny Sardinian village where her father was born. The author's note and lovingly created illustrations show her deep emotional connection to this special place.

I liked the page where she returns to New York after a visit and wonders if the other strangers she sees on the street have an Orani of their own.
I'm not an immigrant myself, but I think this picture-book memoir captures perfectly a child's experience visiting the Old World where her father grew up, and its smaller-scale, family-centric life. I think I teared up a little. - Becky, Teen Librarian

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Saw this on a Mock Caldecott list, so I wanted to check it out. 3rd graders read Nivola's Planting the Trees of Kenya and LOVED it. I liked the story and illustrations ok, but then was totally struck by the last page, a full page painting of New York City. I would hang that on my wall. (And I'm not even especially partial to NYC)
Danie P.
A picture book for older readers or for families to share together. It's about a small girl who visits her fathers hometown of Orani, Sicily every summer. Beautiful pictures detail dancing in the town square, seeing a dead man at a funeral (not as scary as it sounds,) the ladies baking bread and much more.
A beautifully told and illustrated book. The narrator spends the summers with her extended family in Orani, Sardinia. The story is set in the recent past, perhaps the 1960s. A great way to teach cultural understanding and to help build an understanding of how others live. Recommended for grades 4 - 5.
Karen Arendt
Beautiful illustrations perfectly depict life in the mediterranean. This book tells how the author remembers the village of Orani when she visited with her family. This is more than a remembrance to her father, it is a tribute to simpler time that embraces family and tradition.
Gwen the Librarian
I really liked this episodic and beautifully illustrated look at life in a Sardinian village. While there isn't much of a story, it paints a lovely picture of life in a bygone era and strongly reminded me of the work of Tasha Tudor in A Gathering of Days, one of my childhood favorites.
Tyler Alles
I liked this book because it is a great way for students to learn about other cultures. Students can learn that other students are from different places in the world and how they are different and similar to other cultures. This book has both good pictures and text.
Karen A.
I think kids will like this. It is very nostalgic. I love the art work and I love how the author gets across the feel, atmosphere, and place of a small Italian village. It may be that this book is not just for children.
A colorful look at a small Sardinian village a half century ago. It captures a certain quality and pace of life there, showing joyous celebrations and mournful rituals. The art is fairly interesting as well.
Liked the sense of community and place offered by this picture book memoir of Nivola's visits to her father's hometown in Sardinia - and the pictures work nicely with this, precise and detailed.
Alyson (Kid Lit Frenzy)
This wasn't what I was expecting but I really liked this one. A young girl visits the village in Italy where her father grew up. Wonderfully told. Beautifully illustrated.
A child goes back to this village to visit. We get a glimpse of what it was like to live here which is on the island of Sardinia. Bright colors used in the illustrations.
I would never move from such a place. But sad to note in the end pages how that village has changed with tv, computers, and autos...it seems to be inevitable but sad.
Edward Sullivan
The author creates a beautiful tribute to the small Sardinian village where her father was born and raised in a large family with many siblings.
Franki Sibberson
Great story about village life, the immigrant experience and more. Loved the story, the illustration and the author's note.
Oct 13, 2011 Kim rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: kids, italy
Beautifully written with delicate, detailed illustrations. A time and place when children could roam free and explore.
Make sure you read the author's note. I gave it one more star after reading it.
Not very well written. The authors note at the end was very informative.
Really wonderful to dive into this town in an island on the Mediterranean.
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