I’ve read a fair amount of history about Missoula and the surrounding area; enough to have a passing knowledge of why many local residents – including my grandfather – have Italian names.

So it comes as no surprise that Lolo author Joanne Puccinelli chose to make the first book in her new children’s series about a boy’s attempts to understand his Italian heritage.

“Naughty Nello and the Sausages,” published by RoseDog Books, is a 36-page illustrated paperback.

“In this story,” the publisher’s notice reads, “Naughty Nello tries to understand his Italian heritage and finds himself in a heap of trouble. This curious little boy learns that ‘old’ is not always bad and ‘new’ is not always better. This is a delightfully funny story of family, love, and respect. Naughty Nello reminds us that America is a great melting pot enriched by a variety of ethnic cultures.”

The announcement goes on to describe Puccinelli’s upbringing in Goosetown, “the immigrant section of Anaconda, Montana.”

This was a neighborhood rich in ethnic diversity. Joanne has often told stories from this era to her children, grandchildren, and the many students she has taught. The Naughty Nello Stories are based on her father’s childhood experiences.

Pucinelli is also a University of Montana alumna, with a master’s in guidance and counseling, and currently a supervisor for student teachers at the university.

I’m looking forward to see which heritage she writes about in her next book. Irish? Salish? Hmong? This could turn out to be a pretty lengthy series.