Elia, a five-year-old boy living in Milan, can't wait to turn six so he can "graduate" from scuola materna (combined preschool/kindergarten) and start elementary school. Filled with enthusiasm when he enters first grade, he quickly becomes disillusioned. While the scuola materna teachers were nurturing, the first grade teachers are rigid and strict-concerned above all with discipline and order. Elia soon begins to hate school and his self-esteem collapses. Halfway into the school year, his life suddenly changes when his father accepts a job in Germany and Elia transfers to an international school, which uses an utterly different approach. After the change, Elia becomes happy, enthusiastic, and eager to learn.
My Stomaco Hurts is a witty and perceptive foray into the world of international schools. The experiences lived by Ms .Dovera and her son at the boy's new school in Germany provide ample opportunities for cross-cultural observations as the family adjusts to new ways of looking at the world around them. The author's observations are acute and demonstrate an adept ability to analyze her own Italian culture from the inside. Her delightful sense of irony and tongue-in-cheek comments make for a highly enjoyable read. The juxtapositioning of the author's adult descriptions with her child's naive observations create a refreshing rhetorical style. The explanation of the methodological differences between traditional schools and the progressive practices favored by international schools is clear and well articulated. This book is an amusing and informative primer for all parents who have questions about current educational approaches. Day Jones, Associate Director, American School of Milan, Italy