“Dream Something Big: Story of Watts Towers”
Author: Dianna Hutts Aston
“Dream Something Big: The Story of Watts Towers” by Dianna Hutts Aston is nothing short of a wonderful children’s read. Between the breath-taking collages and true story of Italian immigrant Simon Rodia, it’s difficult to pick my favorite aspect of the book. The magical story of Simon Rodia and his creation of the three Watts Towers located in Watts, California is narrated by a curious girl by the name of Marguerite. Marguerite and Uncle Sam (Simon Rodia) were next-door neighbors in Watts where the mix of Latino, African American, Jewish and Greek cultures are all intertwined. Uncle Sam intrigued Marguerite with his crafty ideas, building of the towers, and stories about journeying to the United States from Ribottoli, Italy. Marguerite tells readers that Uncle Sam’s own mix of Italian-English was hard to understand, but he loved to tell her about his childhood and how he was inspired by an annual parade and huge towers he would see in Ribottoli. Every day for years, Uncle Sam built the Watts Towers and saw a rare, unique beauty in every broken bowling ball, sea shell, jewel, rock, piece of ceramic, dish plate and broken glass chards that he used to decorate these three masterpieces. The story ends by Uncle Sam finishing his huge creations after 34 years, and simply walking away from everything he’d done, giving the deed to his tower’s lot to a friend and went and lived with his sister in Martinez, California, never seeing the towers again. He died at the age of 86 and lived a full, joyous, inspiring life.
With a playful story, and creative decorations this book also gives a wonderful message about hard work, love and determination. Simon Rodia came to America to create a better life style and worked non-stop for 34 years to achieve that. But we all know he achieved so much more. His determination to give California a beautiful piece of artwork, and something to be happy about really paid off. A child once asked him why he built the towers and his response was, “ To make a pretty scenery, I think. And make that place famous.”
The books collage artist Susan L. Roth did a phenomenal job decorating this imaginative and eye-popping book. Using real pictures of the Watts Towers and what seemed to be a mix of paper-mache, string, colored paper, canvas, and glitter the graphics are unbeatable. Bright colors and awe-inspiring materials make for a one of a kind, unforgettable children’s story.
–Written by Dana Felt