Tomie dePaola serves as "biographer" to his delightful Italian sorceress, Strega Nona, in this beautifully drawn prequel. The tale begins with little Nona's birth on a dark and stormy night, and ends where the original Strega Nona picks up-with Strega Nona taking on the bumbling, knock-kneed Big Anthony as an apprentice. This winsome story is illustrated throughout with Tomie dePaola's warm and sunny ...
Tomie dePaola serves as "biographer" to his delightful Italian sorceress, Strega Nona, in this beautifully drawn prequel. The tale begins with little Nona's birth on a dark and stormy night, and ends where the original Strega Nona picks up-with Strega Nona taking on the bumbling, knock-kneed Big Anthony as an apprentice. This winsome story is illustrated throughout with Tomie dePaola's warm and sunny watercolors!
"dePaola does a splendid job of working this sparkling tale into the Strega Nona canon." -Publishers Weekly
When Strega Nona leaves him alone with her magic pasta pot, Big Anthony is determined to show the townspeople how it works.
Strega Nona (Italian for "Grandma Witch") warns foolish Big Anthony never to touch her pasta pot. One day, Big Anthony sees Strega Nona sing to it, and the pot magically fills with spaghetti. What Anthony doesn't see is the three kisses Strega Nona blows to make the pot stop. Left alone for the day, Big Anthony excitedly uses the pot to feed the whole town, but is helpless when pasta flows everywhere. Strega Nona returns, stops the pot-and punishes Big Anthony by handing him a fork!
- Publisher's Weekly
DePaola executes a clever concept with his trademark charm and humor, offering a prequel to the series that began in 1976 with the Caldecott Honor book Strega Nona. Here the author/artist tells how his charismatic character came to become a strega (witch) with a "magic touch." The "biography" begins on a dark and stormy night in the hills of Calabria, where Grandma Concetta authoritatively oversees Nona's birth. Convinced that Nona will be a strega like her, the big-hearted woman teaches her granddaughter how to use herbs and spells to remedy villagers' aches and troubles. Nona, along with her overconfident friend Amelia (who sets herself up as Nona's rival in some of the other books), attends the Academy for Stregas, but soon concludes that its newfangled approach to magic is not for her, and returns home to practice her craft the old-fashioned way. Eventually she discovers Grandma Concetta's all-important secret ingredient: love. With their expressive faces and pertly exaggerated profiles (Strega Nona's signature hooked nose punctuates her face even as a newborn), the classic characters happily cavort in sunnily colored, droll illustrations. And dePaola does a splendid job of working this sparkling tale into the Strega Nona canon: on the final page, for example, the aging strega opens her door to the first respondent to her ad for a helper, whom fans will immediately recognize as the gangly and beloved Big Anthony. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
- Marilyn Courtot
For the last two years, publishers have been giving a number of picture books a new treatment in board book form. The Caldecott Honor book, Strega Nona, has just been given the treatment. The layout and artwork look great, but the story is complex and long for the board book crowd. It will work with those who have a longer attention span but they may not get the humor. 1997 (orig.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3In this prequel to the five other "Strega Nona" books, dePaola takes readers once again to the quaint hills of old Italy. The story begins with Nona's delivery at the hands of Grandma Concetta and closes as the aging Strega Nona answers her door to a knock-kneed apprentice-hopeful, Big Anthony. Along the way, readers learn how Concetta teaches Nona the mysteries of herbs and potions and, more importantly, her "secret ingredient." They see young Nona befriended by Amelia at convent school; later, they set off together for the modern Academy of Stregas. Proving herself clever and kind as well as skilled in magic, Nona eventually inherits Grandma Concetta's house and practice. 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. Tangerine is added to the usual pastel palette, giving the book a brighter look that stands out at story hour. Children will find many of the paintings hilarious. Though this book is a mere teaser on its own, it serves as the perfect final installment in any Strega Nona story fest, leaving children wanting still more of that "ingrediente segreto."Karen MacDonald, East Falmouth Branch Library, MA
This warm and affable prequel to Strega Nona (1975) is a biography of the Italian sorcerer. It is a dark and stormy night in Calabria when baby Nona is born. Grandma Concetta pronounces that Nona will be a strega, and as the child grows, she teaches her lore. Baby Nona in her bonnet and the child Nona in her braids and trying a perm are humorous sights indeed as readers learn of the origins of this beloved character. An intriguing career choice confronts Nona as she tries a stint at the modern Accademia delle Streghe—the higher education institution for stregas. Homey Nona doesn't take to the new methods and longs for her dear Concetta and the countryside. There, her apprenticeship begins in earnest until the mantle of strega is placed upon Nona's shoulders. The secret of the pasta pot is lovingly passed on to her, and the last page reveals a private joke for readers of the other books: Big Anthony arrives at the door for the first time, in answer to an advertisement for an assistant. The familiar artwork is tinted in sophisticated watercolor hues and infused with warmth; the back jacket shows Strega Nona on an Italian hilltop gaily autographing books. Clearly, she and dePaola know plenty about labors of love.
From the Publisher
The New York Times Book Review "De Paola's illustrations aptly capture the whimsy of this ancient tale... simple line drawings clearly reveal the agony and ecstasy of pasta power, the muted colors create just the right ambiance for a Medieval village."
Tomie dePaola is one of the most popular children's book authors and illustrators of our time. His humor, insight, and gentle art delight all readers. A Newbery Honor award winner, he has written and illustrated a number of books for Simon & Schuster, including Caldecott Honor Book Strega Nona, as well as Andy: That's My Name, Watch Out for the Chicken Feet in Your Soup, and "Charlie Needs a Cloak." A native of Connecticut, Mr. dePaola studied at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, and now lives in New London, New Hampshire.
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.