Strega Nona

Have you ever had fresh made pasta covered with slow simmered tomato sauce, meatballs and sausage?

Since we’ve been home, we’ve been able to do some more extensive cooking projects, including making pasta from scratch a few times. It’s something my husband has enjoyed doing with Big Kid.

When they made pasta this week I pulled out Strega Nona for the first time. Big Kid was captivated, then appalled, and hid the book in my bedroom so she didn’t have to read it again. If you have never read Strega Nona, by Tomie dePaola, don’t let her reaction keep you from checking it out. She is often sensitive to books where characters don’t listen and face consequences as a result. She’ll come back to it as she has done with all the others when she’s more ready for it.

The Story: As Strega Nona, an old Italian grandmother ages, she finds she needs help around her house so hires Big Anthony. He sees Strega Nona use her magic pasta pot which cooks pasta on demand, but does not heed her warning when told not to touch it himself. When Strega Nona goes away, Big Anthony, who wants to be a town hero, starts the pot and eventually realizes he doesn’t know how to stop it. Strega Nona returns and stops the pot before pasta covers the town. Big Anthony is forced to eat all the pasta as a consequence for his actions.

Anything by Tomie dePaola is wonderful, and this book is no exception. He illustrates his books as well, and once you have seen a few, you can tell which books are his. I particularly like this one because Big Anthony learns he should listen to others, but this is not a story about listening – like in your face about listening. I always appreciate that. I find so many books today are about listening, or sharing, or being kind, but the message is so in your face it can deter kids from wanting to read them again. When there is a story, with memorable characters, an interesting plot, and beautiful illustrations, kids are more likely to pick it up again and again, while also internalizing the message.

What’s your favorite Tomie dePaola book?

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