Tomie dePaola was doing something right in 1975. Ten years into her writing/ illustrating career, dePaola was in no hurry to stop. When she wrote Strega Nona, dePaola had already written or illustrated nearly thirty books. By 2011, that number was over 200. Strega Nona, though, has made a lasting impression on readers everywhere.
Strega Nona seems to be everyone’s typical, elderly lady neighbor at first glance. With a very identifying large nose, Strega Nona is useful around the village, as she helps her neighbors in many ways—curing headaches, finding husbands, etc. At the start of Tomie dePaola’s Strega Nona, though, the title character is looking for some help of her own.
When she hires Big Anthony to help her out with chores, she makes it clear that he is not to touch her magic pasta pot, which is ALWAYS full of pasta. Of course, Anthony is too curious to leave it at that. He watches Strega Nona as she tells her pot to stop making pasta and takes note of the magic spell she uses. When Strega Nona goes on a trip to visit Strega Amelia, Big Anthony wants to throw a party for the town and show off his new skills. The problem is he never noticed that Strega Nona blew three kisses at the pot to make it stop making pasta. By the time Strega Nona is back home, the whole town has been flooded with pasta! Luckily, Strega Nona stops the magic pot from making any more pasta and saves the town. As for Big Anthony, he had a lot of pasta to eat.
A classic tale, Strega Nona is a great read-aloud in the classroom. While the text has a few culturally relevant words that students might not know, it is a worthwhile read. I know I read it as a little girl! It is one of the most memorable pieces of children’s literature that I ever read, in fact! In 2011, dePaola was ready to publish Strega Nona’s Gift, continuing the story of Strega Nona for children everywhere.
Have fun catching up on the incredible works of Tomie dePaola!