31 Days: Strega Nona is my BFF
It’s confession time: y’all should probably know that my best friend is a fictional character. It’s true. Strega Nona has been a huge part of my life since I was about three, and now I get to read about her all the time because I’ve convinced my girls she’s the best thing since sliced bread. There’s not a problem she can’t solve, and she serves all of her advice with a heaping side dish of fresh pasta. What’s not to love?
After the original, this is my favorite Strega Nona story. In Strega Nona’s Harvest, written and illustrated by the incomparable Tomie dePaola, our favorite strega is doing is her best to help hapless Big Anthony learn how to garden. After careful instruction in saving seeds, preparing the soil, and planting in an orderly fashion, Big Anthony decides to throw caution to the wind and plan his own garden, which promptly becomes a jungle. As usual, Big Anthony’s laziness results in extra work for him, and benefits for others around him. Even if your little reader isn’t familiar with gardening, this is still an excellent book for learning how tiny seeds can become so many of the foods we eat. In addition, for older readers, dePaola has sprinkled in a number of Italian vegetable terms, so kiddos can discover some interesting cognates and word origins.
In September, Tomie dePaola came to Atlanta and delivered the KidNote address to open the Decatur Book Festival. Bethany and I were privileged to hear him speak, and we waited in quite the line to meet him and have him sign his newest book, Strega Nona Does It Again. (It’s a bit of a love story, with interventions as necessary by Strega Nona.) When we spoke, I told Mr. dePaola that I’d met him once before when I was three. He put his head down and cackled, then said, “Well, I must have only been six.” He is truly a delight, and even more hilarious in person than he comes across in his writing. It was really a treat to spend a few hours around him.
This week, I’ll be sharing a variety of books we’ve found courtesy of our local library, and leaving the fall stories behind for a bit. Don’t worry: next weekend, I’ll have a whole roundup of Halloween stories to preview in plenty of time for some spooky reading before the big day.
If you’d like to see other books featured this month, just click on the picture below. Happy Sunday!