In November 2008, a teddy bear named Giovanni left California, safe and snug in his little box and traveled all the way to New York. With his journey, the Italian Children’s Market was born. Isabella Centofanti, creator of Giovanni – the Italian Speaking Bear and the Italian Children’s Market, reflects fondly on that initial cross-country trip, imagining the joy on the face of the very first child to ever to hold Giovanni and hear him talk.
Since then, thousands of such journeys have brought Giovanni to homes in the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia. A brief note accompanies Giovanni on his journey: Buon viaggio, little Giovanni! Have a safe trip and when you arrive, love and be loved!
This November, the Italian Children’s Market celebrates eleven years of introducing young Italian Americans to the wonders of their heritage. It is still a family business with Isabella joined by her father, Loreto and her two sisters; Jackie handles the shipping and Maria is in charge of customer service. Their Papa, who is 93 years old, performs quality assurance by testing each and every Giovanni bear before he makes his journey.
Over the years, the Italian Children’s Market has become an ever expanding online store where one can find Giovanni, plus books in English, Italian or both; toys, games, CDs, DVDs, imported Pinocchio items, unique clothing and more. Each item is created and hand-picked by Isabella, with the purpose of introducing children to the land, the language and the culture of their ancestors. This Christmas, Giovanni is joined by his sweet little cousin, Giuliana, who speaks Italian, too! Visit Italian Children’s Market online at: www.ItalianChildrensMarket.com or call for a catalog: 310-427-2700.