Monday, December 5, 2011

Strega Nona's Gift

Title: Strega Nona’s Gift
Category: Picture Book
Grades: PreK - 2
Author: Tomie dePaola
Illustrator: Tomie dePaola
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
Date: 2011

The holidays are coming to Calabria, Italy and Strega Nona is preparing.  Big Anthony is helping, but when he eats the gift for Signora Goat on the Eve of Epiphany, Signora Goat becomes angry and eats his blanket.  Big Anthony must find a way to make amends, and the Day of Epiphany will bring just the opportunity he needs.

Tomie dePaola’s whimsical illustrative style and well researched stories of traditional legends and lore are no stranger to those who work with children’s literature.  Nor does he disappoint in this new tale of his original characters, Strega Nona and Big Anthony.  Children will enjoy the return of Big Anthony, whose bumbling ways are not unlike Amelia Bedelia and sure to incite laughs from preK and early elementary children, whose developing sense of humor will appreciate both Big Anthony’s mistake and Signora Goat’s revenge.  This book is also useful for teachers looking for material on multicultural Christmas traditions, as it covers several of the Italian celebration days through the winter holiday season.  The only minor drawback to this story is that dePaola tries to both tell a story and give a lot of information about the Italian traditions; the first half of the book is more expository than narrative.  Nevertheless, an educational and entertaining read for the holiday season.


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