Nono's Pocket Watch - The Italian Tribune Book Review

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“Nono’s Pocket Watch,” by Ray M. Vento (Review printed in August of 2012)

Nonno’s Pocket Watch is a feel good children’s book that teaches valuable lessons throughout. Ray Vento, the book’s author, touches upon some of life’s most valuable lessons, including confidence, friendship, respect and pride. All are core values Vento learned from his family. Ray Vento grew up in Los Angeles and was part of an Italian American family. Throughout his childhood, Ray’s family passed down Italian traditions and valuable lessons. The stories of Sam Caruso, the main character in Nonno’s Pocket Watch are loosely based on Vento’s childhood experiences. Sam learns many lessons from his grandfather, whom he calls ‘Nonno.’ It is geared for children yet it can also be enjoyed by adults. Vento’s goal is to take adults back to an earlier time so that they can share their experiences with younger generations and it accomplishes this goal.

Sam Caruso is a young boy just starting out in a new school. Before he starts school, Nonno give him a gold pocket watch for good luck. Sam is overwhelmed with appreciation for this sentimental gift. The watch is a family heirloom, passed down to Nonno from his father. Nonno’s father got the watch in Italy and carried it with him on his voyage to America. The story then proceeds to tell the story of Sam’s first few days in his new school where he experiences both joy and misfortune. Ray Vento uses Sam’s experiences to teach lessons of life, family and American pride.

The author uses the main character’s experiences to educate readers on important morals, ye he also teaches about his Italian American heritage. Vento explains that during breakfast, Nonno drinks his coffee from a bowl, an old custom he brought with him from Sicily. While in school, Sam meets a new friend that is unfamiliar with the term Nonno, and is unsure of where Sicily is. Sam proceeds to explain a little about his grandfather and the country he came from. Vento’s Italian pride bans through the pages of Nonno’s Pocket Watch.

He writes with immense detail allowing the reader to experience the book with all of their senses. He explains the feel of the watch, the sound of its tick, tick, tick and the glistening of its gold. He includes pictures, which gives a visual representation of the characters. Vento’s clear and concise writing make the book appropriate for young readers. The lessons of Nonno’s Pocket Watch are both timeless and ageless. However, it is especially appropriate for Italian American families who can relate to the anecdotes and traditions references in the story. Nonno’s Pocket Watch gives readers not only a story but an entire learning experience.

Leonardo Mascaro