Papa Piccolo

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been rowing Papa Piccolo by Carol Talley, which I chose to complement our composer study on Vivaldi (post coming soon).  Because of that, we focused on geography and spent a lot of time learning about Venice.

Papa Piccolo tells the story of a Venetian tomcat who finds two kittens who could use someone to watch over them and teach them how to take care of themselves.  The illustrations by Itoko Maeno are wonderful watercolor paintings of what many consider the most beautiful city in the world.  Both my boys were enchanted by the story and enjoyed reading it over and over.

Here are the things we did in addition to covering many of the activities in the Five in a Row manual (Vol. 1):

  • We talked about the main character’s name, looking at a picture of a piccolo and listening to Vivaldi’s Piccolo Concerto on the Daydreams and Lullabies CD from Classical Kids
  • We watched a Wonder Pets half-episode called “Save the Kitten” about a kitten in Venice (it’s the 2nd half of the episode, starting at 12:15 if you don’t want to watch the first one), available streaming on Netflix or Amazon Instant Video (free for Prime members).  The Little Einsteins episode “How We Became the Little Einsteins” features paintings of Venice. (They also visit Venice in “The Birthday Machine” on the Mission Celebration DVD.  (We also watched The Aristocats, which has nothing to do with Venice but was a fun story about tomcat who helps a group of kittens and their mother.)
  • Ian and I both enjoyed watching Ancient Mysteries: The Miraculous Canals of Venice on Netflix as we folded laundry one morning.  (This was fascinating for me and would be great for older kids!)
  • We read Zoe Sophia’s Scrapbook: An Adventure in Venice by Claudia Mauner and Elisa Smalley, which has a lot of great information about Venice.  I also had a Kindle book called The Canals of Venice that I had picked up a few months back when it was free
  • Finally, Ian really enjoyed seeing pictures of a friend and me on our trip to Venice back in our single days.  I told him about how a pigeon pooped on my jacket in the Piazza San Marco (where Papa Piccolo likes to watch the birds), and he mentioned it every time we saw the square in books or videos after that.


There are several places to see gondolas in action around Southern California, and I had hoped to take the kids out one evening to see them, but then sickness hit and it just didn’t seem like a great idea to spend an evening outside.  Someday I hope we’ll get to do that, and when we do I know the kids will we looking out for Marco, Polo, and Papa Piccolo!

To see what other FIAR books we’ve rowed, see my “Index of FIAR Posts.”  Also, a great place to see what other people have done with FIAR books is the FIAR Blog Roll at Delightful Learning.


Posted on October 30, 2012, in FIAR, Literature Units, Preschool and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Another children’s book that you all might enjoy is Gabriella’s Song ~ it’s a lovely book that we came across when we rowed Papa Piccolo many, many years ago! Treasure these rowing days while you can ~ they zip by! Teresa in Texas

  2. Papa Piccolo is also available on the iBooks store where the flat screen format is even bigger more beautiful and easier to read. Thanks for your kind comments. See the other 24 companion books in this Life Skills Childrens eBooks Fully Illustrated Version series.

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