LONGLIST REVIEW: Sweet Pizza

Joe may have been born in Wales, but he is fiercely proud of his Italian roots. His family own Cafe Morelli, nestled at the heart of the village of Bryn Mawr, South Wales. The cafe has unfortunately seen better days and is now a little dirty, worn and in need of repair. It is also in desperate need of customers. 

Joe lives above the cafe with his mother, father and grandfather, his ‘Nonno’. He loves spending time with Nonno, learning about Italian family traditions and his family's history. Joe slowly unravels the stories of the past, his family's immigration to Wales and the effects of the second world war on his great-grandfather’s life. Joe realises that Cafe Morelli is his inheritance and so he embarks on a mission to save it from being closed. In the process of rejuvenating the cafe, he discovers a stronger sense of community and a passion for his family's Italian heritage.

'Sweet Pizza' may be set in South Wales, but the heart of this story lies in Italy, both in the food and the music. Joe develops a passion for Italian cooking with the help of his cousin and the recipes they create make your mouth water whilst reading. Whilst cooking, Joe begins to listen to opera, discovering Mozart, Verdi and Puccici. These things further drive the intensity of feeling he has for his family and the people of Bryn Mawr.

G. R. Gemin’s family are originally from Venice, Italy, but relocated to Wales before the outbreak of the second world war. Gemin drew upon his experiences of family run businesses and his Italian heritage for this story. He is passionate about Italian food and opera, both of which he was able to indulge in writing about in this book. Gemin has been heard to say that his, ‘blood and bones are Italian,’ but his, ‘home is in Wales.’ There are some fabulous recipes at the end of the book, some historical notes and G. R. Gemin’s insight into his favourite operas - each of these three areas would make the perfect starting point for further classroom investigation.

Sweet Pizza by G. R. Gemin, illustrated by Tom Cole

 Nosy Crow      ISBN: 9780857636300