Friday, September 4, 2009

Picture Books

STREGA NONA an original tale written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola

Bibliographic Information:

dePaola, T. (1975). Strega Nona. New York: Aladdin Paperbacks. ISBN 0-671-66606-1


When Strega Nona, Grandma Witch, leaves to visit Strega Amelia, her assisstant, Big Anthony, uses her magic pasta pot. Without having paid attention to the rules on how to use the pot and with specific instructions not to use the pot, Big Anthony makes a bit mess in the town as the pot overflows. Upon Stega Nona's return, Big Anthony is taught a lesson he is sure to never forget.

Lead Comments:

This is a favorite in our house because Big Anthony doesn't pay close enough attention to Strega Nona when she uses the pasta pot and he misses the most important rule for shutting it off! Big Anthony's only concern is showing off to the town members and proving he is a "Big" deal! My daughters love the idea of all that pasta all over town and think that it would be fun to play in it, but not have to eat it all! The healing spells Strega Nona uses on the town's people are funny, and the moral of the story is taught in such a funny way that this book appeals to all ages.

From the Publishe: (Excerpt)

Strega Nona — "Grandma Witch" — is the source for potions, cures, magic, and comfort in her Calabrian town. Her magical everfull pasta pot is especially intriguing to hungry Big Anthony. He is supposed to look after her house and tend her garden but one day, when she goes over the mountain to visit Strega Amelia, Big Anthony recites the magic verse over the pasta pot, with disastrous results.
...[A]uthor-illustrator Tomie dePaola (whose middle name is Anthony) combines humor in the writing and warmth in the paintings as he builds the story to its hilarious climax. (Retrieved September 27, 2009 from

School Library Journal:(Excerpt)

...dePaola takes readers once again to the quaint hills of old Italy. All the familiar dePaola elements are here: the homey Italian phrases; appreciation of the old ways; and the characteristically charming, square-bordered scenes with their pink-tiled roofs, noble doves, and goofy goats. Children will find many of the paintings hilarious. Karen MacDonald, East Falmouth Branch Library, MA (Retrieved September 27, 2009 from

Recorded Books (Recorded Books, LLC.): (Excerpt)

Mix together an old witch, her magic pasta pot, and a greedy boy. What do you get? Mischief, wild adventure, and a big helping of fun! All the people in the little town of Calabria go to old Strega Nona for solutions to their troubles. From aching heads to broken hearts--Strega Nona can cure them all. But when she hires a lumbering boy named Big Anthony to help her, Strega Nona’s own troubles begin. (Retrieved September 27, 2009 from UNT Electronic Resources-Children's Literature Comprehensive Database)

Teacher Tools & Library Leads:

This book offers the obvious lessons of the importance of paying attention and not doing something that is forbidden. Big Anthony, even though he wants to show off, does at least share the pasta with the town's people. All of these can lead to a great discussion of when the children have done something they shouldn't, what lesson they learned, and that just because they did this bad thing it doesn't make them a bad person.

A fun project to do with younger kids is to let them taste and feel cold cooked pasta. Then use uncooked pasta to make an art project by gluing the different types of pasta to tag board to make a picture. Even noise makers are fun to make using uncooked pasta.

For older students, a little research about the healing remedies used in the old days may show that Strega Nona wasn't really a witch, but that she just knew how to take care of people using herbs and such.

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