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Set aside a special place for children to keep their own books.
Summary: Strega Nona (Grandma witch) has potions and cures to help all the people in her village. She also has a magic pot which makes as much pasta as she needs. Because she is getting old, Strega Nona needs help her garden and house. Big Anthony gets the job. He brags to the townspeople about the magic pasta pot, but they don’t believe him. When Strega Nona leaves for the day to visit a friend, Big Anthony gets into Big trouble with the magic pasta pot. This magical story takes a legend and teaches kids about listening and responsibility.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, anytime reading, family reading, playtime reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 4 to 8; read yourself: 8 and up
Interest Level: 4 to 9
Reading Level: 3.9
Age of Child: Shared with a group of Kindergarteners and first graders (kids ages 5 to 7)
Young Reader Reaction: The children really enjoyed the book, as kids this age usually love books with some “magic” involved. Big Anthony is told not to do something (touch the magic pasta pot) but does it anyway because it is so hard for him to keep such a BIG secret. This is something and someone children can identify with!
Adult Reader Reaction: I love this book…and most of Tomie de Paola’s books. I read them to my own children and to my students when I was a librarian in a K-8 school. It never failed to be a big hit, so I was not surprised that the Kindergarten and first graders that I recently read it to, loved it.
Pros: Like many Tomie de Paola books, this one is appealing to children and adults. It is engaging, humorous, and fun, with fanciful illustrations. The story teaches an important lesson in a fun way.
Borrow or Buy: Buy, definitely! The copy I read to the Kindergarten and first graders is my personal copy that I read to my kids (who are now in their 20s) and I am keeping it for my grandchildren when they come along. In fact I am giving a copy of this and other Strega Nona stories to my 3 year old niece and 5 year old nephew. Tomie de Paola books, especially his Strega Nona books, are classics!
Educational Themes: This is a great book for demonstrating to kids why it is important to do as adults in charge ask. If not, things can get out of hand and the child will not be able to handle the situation. The children learned that their actions have consequences that they will have to deal with.
Literary Categories: Fiction - picture book, life lessons, fables and folklore