Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Review & Giveaway - Strega Nona

"When all had their fill, Big Anthony sang, 
Enough, enough, pasta pot,
I have my pasta, nice and hot,
So simmer down my pot of clay,
Until I'm hungry another day.

But, alas, he did not blow the..."

What was it that Anthony did not do? And what's this tale about an old pasta pot?

:: The story 
An old tale retold and illustrated by the acclaimed Tomie de Paola, this title was written in 1975 and still is very much loved. This tale is a tweaked version of the Magic Porridge Pot. When his then-editor suggested to him to re-telling a folk tale, Tomie de Paola searched through stories in the public domain and decided that he no longer likes The Magic Porridge Pot and that was how Strega Nona was created; he decided to re-tell it. 

The story showed a bit of the author's ancestry as Strega Nona is Calabrese, like his ancestors while Nona is the 'slang' word for Grandmother. In the story, Strega Nona was looking to get a helper (of some sort) and Big Anthony 'applied' for the position. Strega Nona gave strict instructions to Big Anthony not to go near her magic cooking pot but did Anthony heed Strega Nona's warnings? He told everyone in town about the pot and of course, no one believed him. 

"I'll show them!" he said to himself. "Someday I will get the Pasta Pot and make it cook! And then, they'll be sorry. However, Big Anthony ended up filling the town with pasta instead. 

What happens next? Was the pasta cleared? Who was the sorry party in the end?

:: The author & Illustrator
My first title by the author Tomie de Paola was The Clown of God which touched me deeply. The story was beautifully written and illustrated though the topic of death is still a hard one for me. I recalled feeling my throat constrict and choking out the last few sentences as I read aloud to Dumpling.

In this title, as always, I enjoyed Tomie de Paola's usual illustrative style with subtle humor in the way he depicted various scenes. The star of the story - Strega Nona was portrayed as a wise old witch who also looked very "motherly". 

So. how did the drawing for Strega Nona come about? The author, in his words, said that he was "obsessed with the Italian commedia dell'arte character Punchinello" so many of his "doodles were him - big nose, big chin". He started drawing a profile of such and then added a scarf, then the eye and smiling mouth and later "a chubby body complete with long skirt and apron" and Strega Nona was conceived! 

Best of all, this book was also awarded the Caldecott Honor Medal so 'nuff said! 

I have one copy of this title to giveaway! 

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  1. Beautiful illustration that captures the children 's attention!

  2. We enjoy his humor, and of cos beautiful illustrations!

  3. Best of pictures book!

    Fiona Chan

  4. i love the illustration style!


  5. We love the rhymes!, robert sim

  6. I love the illustrations and the story lines - we loved The Clown of God.

  7. Actually I have never read his books before but from the sound of this post, it sounds really interesting. Stories with a moral. Would love to win this to introduce this author to my children.


  8. I do hope to win this as I don't own any of his books yet.... I like his illustrations and I'm sure the little one will too.

    Thanks for this giveaway.

  9. hi,

    loved the beautiful illustrations

  10. We love his illustrations, and the varied topics he covers in his books. :) Thanks for the giveaway!

  11. His wit, humor, and illustrations.

  12. we have the DVD, thus, would be wonderful to have the book to complete the set!
    we love the illustrations and the humour!
    Thank you!


  13. Like the illustration!

  14. In love the choice of colours. Gorgeous!


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