In this e-book edition, Tomie dePaola retells his classic story against a charming musical score.
Strega Nona—"Grandma Witch"—is the source for potions, cures, magic, and comfort in her Calabrian town. Her magical ever-full pasta pot is especially intriguing to hungry Big Anthony. Big Anthony is supposed to look after her house and tend her garden, but one day, when she goes over the mountain to visit Strega Amelia, he recites the magic verse over the pasta pot, with disastrous results.
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.