Book of the Week: Strega Nona

May 13, 2013

 Images and text by Carter.

When I moved across the country almost seven years ago, my younger sister travelled with me. And when I arrived on the west coast after a long week of driving, it was late and dark. I didn’t know my roommate, my neighborhood, or why one of the only possessions I stuffed into the back of my little car was a broken green lamp with a crumpled shade.

Morning shed some light on my unfamiliar street, and on my unfamiliar house, and my sister said simply, “Looks like Strega Nona’s.” This book was woven into our history. With one quiet observation, all of the unsettled grumbles that echo around a new place hushed, and it became a little more like home. This is why stories matter. 

Strega Nona, by Tomie dePaola, is timeless. It’s the story of a grandma with a magic touch and hungry Big Anthony, who doesn’t. This is a book with an overeager heart and an overflowing pasta pot. I love my cautionary tales with a side of spaghetti, don’t you? And ever astute, Strega Nona rests comfortably once she takes care of that pasta problem — in her house, the one etched in my heart. 

Do you have a book like this, one that stirs shared souls? Something wonderfully haunting and deeply comforting?

Strega Nona by Tomie DePaola

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Just Moms » Blog Archive » Book of the Week: Strega Nona
May 13, 2013 at 2:24 pm
Round Trip « Design of the Picture Book
May 29, 2013 at 7:30 am

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Captain Crafty May 13, 2013 at 7:30 am

I love the everlasting power and imagery childrens books have. For me, The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton will always be etched in my mind. I find that I can not read it to my own children without tearing up! I can not help but wonder what books I read to them might have a life long impact of their vision of the world.

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2 Carter Higgins May 13, 2013 at 9:33 am

I love that one! And I love that wonder of yours, that will be fun to watch unfold.

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3 Michelle L May 13, 2013 at 7:32 am

A Pocketful of Cricket by Rebecca Caudill. Beautifuly written with engaging illustrations, this story always warms me even as it warns me about what is important. The narrative is a little slow for most kids in the beginning, but I told my fidgety daughter, “Trust me. You’ll like this in the end.” And she did. For me it is a perfect book and a perfect story.

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4 Carter Higgins May 13, 2013 at 9:33 am

That story of yours is pretty perfect, too.

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5 Ellen Faris May 13, 2013 at 8:12 am

Henry Bear’s Park is magical. The story, and the drawings, absolutely draw the reader in.
I have vivid and happy memories of listening to my father read Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories to my sister and me. That was the last book I read to him before he died.

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6 Carter Higgins May 13, 2013 at 9:34 am

Oh, Ellen, that’s lovely.

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7 Raleigh-Elizabeth May 13, 2013 at 8:16 am

Unsurprisingly, Strega Nona is my favorite story ever. Hooray Strega Nona!

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8 Carter Higgins May 13, 2013 at 9:35 am

Ha! I can just picture a tiny, cute, blond you fascinated by all that spaghetti!

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9 Raleigh-Elizabeth May 13, 2013 at 10:44 am

I really wanted a magic pasta pot. I later discovered rice makers are basically the same thing.

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10 Carter Higgins May 13, 2013 at 11:20 am

Sold. I’ll think of you and Strega Nona every time I use it!

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11 Koseli Cummings May 13, 2013 at 8:47 am

A favorite for sure. We have the pop-up version and love it so much. It’s the most incredible pop-up book I’ve ever seen.

“Boil, Boil pasta pot, boil me some pasta nice and hot…” I love it!

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12 Amy May 13, 2013 at 8:49 am

My youngest son’s kindergarten teachers created a play out of Strega Nona, and they creatively used yards and yards of yellow yarn for the overflowing pasta. Today is that son’s 14th birthday, and I was feeling blue about him starting high school next year. You’ve brought up a good memory for me!

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13 Carter Higgins May 13, 2013 at 9:35 am

14! Happy Birthday to him!

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14 Chase @ The Smell of Summer May 13, 2013 at 9:18 am

There’s something magical about children’s books. One of my favorites remains Where the Wild Things Are.

The Smell of Summer – A Boutique Lifestyle Blog

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15 Melissa@Julia's Bookbag May 13, 2013 at 10:50 am

For me, that book of haunting memories you described would be ‘Stuart Little’. When he goes off at the end to find Margalo…..oooooh. Such a feeling of hope, beauty, and the pain of the unknown. That story is like dagger to my heart. In a good way! :)

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16 Carter Higgins May 13, 2013 at 3:13 pm

I love Stuart Little!

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17 Jenna May 13, 2013 at 12:37 pm

Ahh this brings back memories of kindergarden. Love it! This also reminds me of the book “Stone Soup” that we read in kindergarden and how my teacher made stone soup for us to eat. I love the way books bring back such fond memories!

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18 Erin May 13, 2013 at 1:40 pm

I used to love this book as a kid! The pasta flowing everywhere! Definitely one of my faves.

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19 Design Mom May 13, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Strega Nona is one of my favorites! I swear, I can remember even at a young age being stressed out for Big Anthony. : )

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20 Carter Higgins May 13, 2013 at 3:14 pm

He meant well, I think!

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21 Cathy Hunter May 13, 2013 at 5:26 pm

Im older but still remember Strega Nona. Other favorites for my children included:
Make Way for Ducklings (Robert McCloskey)
Noisy Nora (Rosemary Wells)
Bread and Jam for Frances (Russell Hoban)
King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub (Audrey Wood)
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel (Virginia Lee Burton)
One of my sweetest memories is nursing a new baby while the older sibling nestled
under my arm as I read his (or her) story choice.

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22 Jacque Duffy May 13, 2013 at 7:25 pm

Sadly I grew up without many books, the ones we did have were kept on the highest shelf and had to be asked for. I envy you and your Strega Nona. {I’m going to buy myself a copy]
I must admit though, books were read to me by my friends on Sesame Street and Play-School and someone gave me Fox In Sox <3 at some stage.
What a wonderful thing it would be to write something that embeds itself in the hearts of its readers.

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23 Christy May 16, 2013 at 7:46 pm

I LOVE this book!! I haven’t thought of it in so long & now I will buy it for my FIVE boys! My other fave was “Popcorn” by Frank Asch…I must have some fascination with overflowing food! (I do have other favorites that have nothing to do with food BTW!)

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24 Carter Higgins May 17, 2013 at 11:18 am

Oh! I forgot about Popcorn!! Fun memory, Christy, thank you!

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25 Rachiep May 16, 2013 at 10:24 pm

The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky old Tree. I can still hear the way my mom would read it to my sisters and me.

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