Strega Nona in Honor of World Pasta Day

streganonade Paola, Tomie. Strega Nona.  New York: Scholastic, 1975.

Happy World Pasta Day, Strega Nona!  On this day, we recognize that pasta is consumed on all the continents of the earth.  It comes in all shapes and sizes and it is delicious!  In honor of this day,  I offer you a delicious story of pasta and magic, Strega Nona.  

Who is Strega Nona, you ask?  Her name means “Grandma Witch” and she was a wise woman who lives in a small villiage in Calabria.  In her small village, Strega Nona helped many people with her special touch. She realized she was getting old and needed help to keep her little house and tend her little garden. She decided to post a job offering in the town square. Big Anthony applied for the job.  She outlined his duties: to sweep the house, to wash the dishes, to weed the garden, etc.  For his work, he would get a little money, as much as he could eat, and a place to sleep.

Strega Nona had a very special pot.  It was a pasta pot.  She warned Big Anthony, who never paid good attention, never to touch the pasta pot! Do you think he was paying attention?

Big Anthony worked hard.  He had a good place to sleep and lots of good food and he was happy.  All was well, until the day he learned that Strega Nona’s pasta pot was magic!  He saw her sing to start the pot and sing to stop the pot, but in his excitement, he missed something important.

When Strega Nona leaves to visit Strega Amelia, Anthony seizes his chance.  He pulls out the pasta pot and makes pasta for the entire village.  What happens next is no surprise.  Can you guess?  Will Big Anthony get in trouble?  Can the pasta pot be stopped? Pick up a copy of this story to read with your World Pasta Day meal.

Oh and by the way, if you have a magic pasta pot, will you share it with me? Look below for the Strega Nona’s verse to start the pot. You can do like I do and sing the pasta pot song to your pot.   May be Strega Nona’s magic will work for you!

Bubble, bubble, pasta pot.
Boil me up some pasta, nice and hot.
I’m hungry and it’s time to sup.
Boil enough pasta to fill me up.

Tomie De Paola

Born September 15, 1934.  He learned to love books early as his mother loved books and read to him every day. At the age of four, he told anyone who would listen that he wanted to write books and illustrate them¹.

After high school, he attended the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York and received a BFA.  He went on to earn MFA from the California College of Arts & Crafts in Oakland, California.  He taught, designed greeting cards and painted church murals until he had the opportunity to illustrate his first book².  The rest is history so they say.  He has written and/or illustrated over 200 books.

I love his work.  His books are funny and poignant.  Often they illustrate part of his story as in The Art Lesson and Nana Upstairs, Nana Downstairs.  I think he is masterful.  I love today’s story, Strega Nona!   You can visit Tomie’s website and read his spotlight on this book and how he developed his ideas for this particular book: http://www.tomie.com/books/spotlight_on_strega.html.

He has received many honors and awards for his books. Strega Nona received the Caldecott Honor medal in 1976.

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators gives the Tomie de Paola Illustrator Award annually.  It is given to an illustrator of promise chosen my Tomie.  You can read more about the award at this website: http://www.scbwi.org/awards/tomie-depaola-award. Here is the quote and writing/illustrating prompt for the 2017 competition3. There is still time to enter, December 1, 2016 is the submission deadline!

“Among the most successful and most satisfying books I have done, over the years, are my autobiographical picture books, and the series of chapter books. It’s an interesting journey to tell the “true” story of my youth, and even more, to make pictures of my past. I found it not only drew upon remembering, but of revisiting emotions of all kinds, especially laughter and hilarity, seriousness and sadness. This work has been almost daunting, not easy but, when successful, the most satisfying work I’ve done.
Now about the assignment or prompt, if you will.”

This year’s assignment is to cast yourself, as a child, in a picture book. Show your autobiographical character in a scene and make sure to convey the emotion of your character. The viewer should be able to read the emotion of the character immediately and clearly.
No words or captions are allowed in the image.

Here are more websites with information on this author.

¹http://www.tomie.com/about_tomie/bio.html

²https://www.amazon.com/Tomie-dePaola/e/B000APM6V6

³http://www.scbwi.org/awards/tomie-depaola-award/

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