The Book of Bright Ideas
Button Peters is 9 years old when her summer and her young life changes, perhaps forever.
That summer of 1961 was the summer that Winalee and her wild sister, Freeda, came into Button's sleepy little town in Wisconsin.
Winalee was everything Button was not: she had long, flowing, blond hair, ran around barefoot and talked back to her sister. Button's mother, Jewel, disliked the newcomers on sight. She thought Freeda was a big flirt and Winalee was a spoiled brat. She didn't want her well-behaved Button associating with Winalee and she worried about how Freeda looked at her husband.
Little by little, Freeda and Winalee weave their way into everyone's hearts. After an explosive argument, Freeda helps Jewel become more confident and Winalee helps Button remember to be a child.
The title of the book refers to a blank book that Winalee carries around, where she is keeping a record of all the important things she needs to know in order to have a perfect, happy life.
This is a great story, filled with sisterhood, friendships and discovery for each of the characters. I highly recommend it.
An Italian American Story
Susan D'Angelo Mannino
This book had me from page one. Where were you on that hot summer day in 2006 when Italy won the World Cup? I know where I was, cruising around Juniper Valley Park with my sister and her family – as was the entire neighborhood. I think everyone was at least a little bit Italian that day.
Mrs. D'Angelo Mannino details the final moments of that game in her prologue. I felt chills, as if I were there all over again, watching the game and jumping for joy when Italy won. But this is not a book about soccer. It is a book about family, about love and sacrifices made by parents for their children.
This book is about the author's family; from her grandparents' meeting and struggles through World War II, to present, with all the love and loss along the way.
Mrs. D'Angelo Mannino is blessed with a large family; aunts, uncles and cousins galore. Large families are wonderful because they are there to share life's celebrations and they are also there to offer support during the sorrows that come into our lives.
Her description of a large, Italian family is on the mark. I felt like part of her family. (If you're Italian, this book will resonate with you; there are so many Aunt Maria's, you have to identify them somehow, either with the initial of the last name, or like we do in my family, by where they live!).
Although Mrs. D'Angelo Mannino details her family history, what I was most absorbed by was her description of her relationship with her father. She is the youngest of five children and her father's jewel. Her description of how strict he was strikes a chord with me, as well. How she couldn't walk two blocks alone to go to her friend's house. How she wasn't allowed to date and her boyfriend had to come to the house to date her.
Sunday was meatball and sauce day. Everyone would come for dinner and there was always plenty of Italian bread to mop up the sauce.
This is one of the very few books that I've had to stop reading while on the subway, because I'm crying. I could go on and on, but I would rather you read the book. You can buy your own copy through Marble House Editions, 96-09 66th Avenue, Suite 1D, Rego Park, New York 11374 ($19.00 plus $3.00 postage). Trust me, you'll enjoy it – even if you're not Italian!
I had the pleasure of meeting the author in July at a book signing held at the Italian American Museum on Mulberry Street in Little Italy. She is sweet and friendly, and extremely talented. She lives in Glendale and is a special education paraprofessional in the New York City Public School System. She has a children's book out, available online through Barnes and Noble and Amazon entitled The True Story of the Fly in the Pie. She has a second children's book coming out entitled A Rose Like No Other which should be available in September at the above websites. Mrs. D'Angelo Mannino is very talented and I feel honored to have met her. Keep an eye out for this rising star in our own back yard!