Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Dancing on Grapes

Dancing on Grapes

Graziella Pacini Buoananno
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Boyds Mills Press, 2011   ISBN: 978-1590788332

It is September, and tomorrow Claudia and her family members will start harvesting the grapes that have been ripening on the vines all summer. This year Claudia is old enough and big enough to help, but she is worried because she is afraid of high places. Will her fear prevent her from being able to join in the work and the fun?

On the big day, even before the work begins, Claudia is challenged to overcome her fear of heights. She has to get the cheese she wants for breakfast down from the shelf, which means that she has to climb on a chair to reach the shelf where the plate of cheese sits. Even though her legs are as soft as “linguine,” Claudia manages to get the plate of cheese without mishap.

After the grapes are picked, they are placed in a huge tub on the roof of the cantina, a little building where the wine is stored. If Claudia wants to help make the wine, she is going to have to climb a ladder to get onto the roof of the cantina. Only then will she be able to join the other children in the tub to walk, jump, and dance on the grapes so that the juice can be made into wine.

Based on the story of the author’s own experiences when she was a child growing up in Italy, this delightful tale not only describes an old-fashioned Italian grape pressing, but it also shows young children how important it is not to let your fears rule your life. With an obvious love for her Italian roots, the author captures the joy that can be had when you are working shoulder to shoulder with friends and family.