Stereotype This! Debunking Hollywoods Italian Stereotypes and Myths
Nicky Deuce or 'Nicky Dunce'?

Letter to the National School Library Journal, December 1, 2005.

As a national organization of Italian American educators, we are shocked and stunned by Barbara Auerbach's positive review of Steven Schirippa and Charles Fleming's Nicky Deuce: Welcome to the Family.

In classic children's literature, the young protagonists learn positive life lessons (e.g., Huckleberry Finn, The Wizard of Oz, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Sounder, A Day No Pigs Would Die, Harry Potter, etc.)

In Nicky Deuce, however, the young hero's visit to his backward Brooklyn relatives is a "dumbing down" experience. Instead of learning about Rome, the Renaissance and the founding of the American republic (all products of Italian culture), little Nick Borelli learns how to lie, cheat and watch "The Sopranos."

Quick reality check: As educators, many of our members can testify first-hand to how nice, middle-class, intelligent Italian American students are frequently branded as "goombas" (i.e., morons) by both teachers and fellow students--largely based on the gross stereotypes put forth in Steve Schirippa's book.

Mr. Schirippa is no Judy Blume. Rather, he is a two-bit actor--and not even a real Italian!--trying to capitalize on his recurring role on a violent adult TV drama ("The Sopranos"). To associate this fictional Goomba Land, even indirectly, with the innocent world of children's literature is simply beyond the pale.

Nicky Deuce should have been titled "Nicky Dunce." And people like Ms. Auerbach need to start "thinking outside of the pizza box" when it comes to appreciating the true depth and dignity of the Italian American experience.

Bill Dal Cerro,
National President, Italic Institute of America, Floral Park, NY

Presented by Bill Dal Cerro   Copyright 2001