Fans of Tomie dePaola's kindly Strega Nona will love this charming look at the early days of her good-hearted but clumsy helper Big Anthony. From the day he is born, Big Anthony never pays attention. As a boy, he leaves the gates of the farm open and all the animals escape. As a young man off to make his fortune in the world, he accidentally "fixes" the leaning Tower of Pisa. Will Italy survive the hilarious ...
Fans of Tomie dePaola's kindly Strega Nona will love this charming look at the early days of her good-hearted but clumsy helper Big Anthony. From the day he is born, Big Anthony never pays attention. As a boy, he leaves the gates of the farm open and all the animals escape. As a young man off to make his fortune in the world, he accidentally "fixes" the leaning Tower of Pisa. Will Italy survive the hilarious mishaps of Big Anthony?
"Readers of all ages can be grateful that dePaola continues to practice his magic so well."
-The New York Times Book Review
"Big Anthony and Strega Nona certainly qualify as celebrities in the realm of picture books, and this latest installment will bring smiles to the faces of their young fans."
-School Library Journal.
Big Anthony, well-meaning but inattentive, journeys around Italy causing one problem after another, before meeting Strega Nona.
. . .[F]ull of remembering and forgetting, and of things seen and unseen. . . — The New York Times Book Review
- Publisher's Weekly
A companion to Strega Nona: Her Story, dePaola's breezy bio of Strega Nona's bumbling sidekick, Big Anthony, can be thoroughly enjoyed by readers whether they are new to the series or longtime fans. The tale opens with the christening of the newborn Anthony, identifiable even in infancy by his wild shock of yellow hair. On this occasion he spills holy water all over himself and everyone else within splashing distance--an omen of many misadventures to come. With an Amelia Bedelia-like innocence and tendency to heed only parts of directions, the boy triggers comic confusion wherever he goes. The buoyant art shows what the text does not tell: Anthony slipping under the table at his first birthday to topple an elegant cake onto his head; Anthony stacking not only books (as his teacher has directed) but all the classroom furniture on a groaning shelf; Anthony letting all the sheep out of their pens after listening to only the two final words of his mother's request, "don't leave any of the gates open." Readers will find even more to chuckle over after Big Anthony leaves home to earn his fortune ("Before he ruins ours," quips his grandmother). After several ill-fated job experiences in Italy's major cities, the well-intentioned fellow reads a want ad that leads him to Strega Nona's door and leaves readers at the same time and location as did the last page of Her Story. Though it's a delightful place to be, kids will likely flip back to the start, to relive bumbling Big Anthony's early life all over again. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)
Come join Big Anthony in his entertaining misadventures around Italy. The story is about Big Anthony, a boy with good intentions whose absent-mindedness never fails to get him into trouble. Starting from the time he spills water over everyone at his christening, there is certainly never a dull moment. Big Anthony grows up on a farm and then goes out to seek his fortune where he wanders from place to place, creating delightful havoc wherever he visits. It would be best if readers were familiar with Tomie dePaola's character Strega Nona before reading this book since it follows Big Anthony's life until his encounter with her at the very end. An important part of appreciating this book is knowing that Big Anthony is Strega Nona's assistant. Tomie dePaola's illustrations make a delightful accompaniment to Big Anthony's mishaps. Both the artistry and the story have a capriciousness that makes the book enjoyable. 2001 (orig. 1998), Puffin Books, $16.99 and $5.99. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Rihoko Ueno AGES: 4 5 6 7 8
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-Big Anthony, hapless helper of the good Italian witch Strega Nona, didn't begin his bumbling ways when he caused pasta from a magic pot to engulf the medieval Italian city of Calabria. He has bumbled from birth, and those mishaps have been recorded in this latest installment in the saga. This second prequel to Strega Nona: An Old Tale (S & S, 1975) is less folkloric and more biographical than the original. As in Strega Nona: Her Life (Putnam, 1996), dePaola documents the path that brought the two together. A bit long and perhaps a wee bit obscure for the preschoolers who haven't met the characters before, the text is well balanced with trademark dePaola illustrations, which provide comic visual punch lines to each episode. If the familiar cartoons are a bit looser in execution, the palette, with rosy Italian skies and even a volcano eruption, is more vivid than ever. Big Anthony and Strega Nona certainly qualify as celebrities in the realm of picture books, and this latest installment will bring smiles to the faces of their young fans.-Sue Sherif, Fairbanks North Star Borough Public Library, AK
. . .[F]ull of remembering and forgetting, and of things seen and unseen. . . -- The New York Times Book Review
The followers of Strega Nona and her consistently befuddled sidekick Big Anthony now have his "biography" from birth to that fateful meeting on a hill in Calabria. Set in the sunlit, fresco-colored world of once-upon-a-time-in-Italy, readers see Anthony baptized (he got water on everyone), during his first birthday (he landed in the cake), and in school (he didn't pay attention). As he gets older, he's needed more on the farm, but he never quite gets the instructions right. In self-defense, his father sends him out into the world. Big Anthony wanders through Pisa, Roma, Firenze, and Napoli, creating havoc all the way to Calabria, where he meets Strega Nona. This cheerful addition to the dePaola canon has plenty of Italian words to roll off the tongue, and abundant, limpid colors to delight the eye.
Best known for his award-winning picture book Strega Nona and for the 26 Fairmount Avenue series of chapter books, Tomie dePaola is one of the most prolific -- and beloved -- author/illustrators in the field of children's literature.
Born in 1934 into a large extended Irish/Italian family, Tomie dePaola received his art education at Brooklyn's Pratt Institute and the California College of Arts & Crafts. Although he always wanted to create children's books, he spent several years applying his talents to the fields of education, theater, and graphic design. In the mid-1960s, he received his first commission to illustrate a children's science book. A year later, he published his first original picture book, The Wonderful Dragon of Timlin. Today, he is one of the most prolific -- and beloved -- author/illustrators in children's literature.
In addition to illustrating stories by other writers, DePaola has created artwork for collections of poetry, nursery rhymes, holiday traditions, and folk and religious tales. But, he is most famous for books of his own creation, especially Strega Nona ("Grandma Witch"), the beloved story of an old woman who uses her magical powers to help the people of her small Italian village. Written in 1975, this Caldecott Honor winner is still delighting children today.
DePaola admits that there are strong autobiographical elements in many of his books (Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs, The Art Lesson, Stagestruck), but nowhere is this more evident than in 26 Fairmount Avenue, a series of charming chapter books based on his Connecticut childhood. Taking its name from the address of his family home, the series captures the experiences and emotions of a young boy growing up in the late 1930s and early '40s in the shadow of World War II. The first book in the series received a 1999 Newbery Honor Award.
DePaola and his work have been recognized with many honors, including the Smithsonian Medal, the Kerlan Award for "singular attainment in children's literature," the Catholic Library Association's Regina Medal, and several awards from the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. In 1999, the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts bestowed on dePaola the Lotte Jacobi Living Treasure Award for the body of his work.
Good To Know
Tomie dePaola's name is pronounced Tommy de POW-la.
Between college and graduate school, dePaola spent a short time in a Benedictine monastery before determining that religious life was not for him.
Using a combination of watercolor, tempera, and acrylic, dePaola's artistic style is best described as folk-traditional.
DePaola's favorite painters and strongest artistic influences are Matisse, Giotto, and Ben Shahn.