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Strega Nona: An Old Tale



Last updated Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Author: Tomie de Paola
Illustrator: Tomie de Paola
Date of Publication: 1988
ISBN: 0606022821
Grade Level: 2nd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Sep. 2010

Synopsis: trega 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. He is supposed to look after her house and tend her garden but one day, when she goes over the mountain to visit Strega Amelia, Big Anthony recites the magic verse over the pasta pot, with disastrous results. In this retelling of an old tale, author-illustrator Tomie dePaola (whose middle names is Anthony) combines humor in the writing and warmth in the paintings as he builds the story to its hilarious climax

Note to readers:
•  VOCABULARY:
•  convent
•  potion
•  barricade
•  halt
ITALIAN TERMS:
•  grazie—thank you
•  strega—witch
•  nona—grandma

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Looking at the cover (and after a picture walk), what or who do you think this book is about?
•  What do you think a “Strega Nona” is? (woman on the cover—Strega Nona means Grandma Witch)
•  What is the woman holding? What do you think she does with it?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Why do the townspeople go to Strega Nona?
•  Would you visit a magic witch? Why and for what?
•  Would you listen to Strega Nona if she told you not to touch the pasta pot?
•  Did Strega Nona’s punishment fit the “crime”? Should Anthony be “strung up”? What other punishment can you think of for Anthony?

Craft ideas:
•  Create a “spell” or “spell book”. Decorate the page or book with magical designs and write a poem inside. Have each of the children think of a magical item—Strega Nona had a magical pot. The magical item can be a wand; a car; a ball; a clock…. After they have picked their magical item, help them start their spell with a word which fits their magical item. For example, for a magical car, begin “vroom, vroom magic car,…..
•  Make a magic wand with wooden sticks or construction paper.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!