Nono's Pocket Watch - The Mercury News Book Review

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

A story about friendship By Mary Gottschalk

As a child, Ray Vento says, “I was the listener. I listened to stories from my grandfather, my aunts and my uncles about coming to this country and adapting to it and assimilating to it.”

Vento listened well, and now the 69-year-old Willow Glenn resident has taken the knowledge he gained growing up in an Italian-American family and written a children’s book that is a gentle parable about the value of friendship.

The central characters in “Nonno’s Pocket Watch” are Nonno Pete and Sam Caruso.

Nonno is Italian for grandfather, and Nonno Pete is based on Vento’s grandfather, Peter Giugno, while Same is patterned after himself.

The book is about Sam going to a new school, meeting Oliver and forming a close friendship.

The two plan their Halloween costumes together, and when Sam visits Oliver’s home, they show each other their treasures.

Oliver has a Lionel train set with tracks, engines and cars.

Sam has his grandfather’s pocket watch, given to him at the beginning of the school year. It was a gift to Nonno Pete from his father when he left Sicily to come to America.

There is an accident with the watch, which leaves Sam upset and angry with Oliver.

It is Nonno Pete who helps Sam realize what is important in life and how to deal with anger.

Vento is candid about who the book is aimed at.

“I call it a children’s book and the audience is between the ages 7 and 12, but the secondary audience is people like me who grew up in those times,” he says.

Vento says his hope is that a relative reading the story to a child will share their own stories. “Listening to the stories of my grandfather and aunts was so enriching,” he says.

Leonardo Mascaro