Strega Nona

Book review by
Carrie Kingsley, Common Sense Media
Strega Nona Book Poster Image
Classic tale of magic pasta pot has mischief, kindness.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Lots of word repetition, lessons in setting expectations and ways to react when things go wrong.

Positive Messages
Take people's requests seriously, treat them and their things with respect, and be kind.
Positive Role Models & Representations
Strega Nona reacts with compassion and fairness.
Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the classic tale Strega Nona is a simple, fun story about the chaos that happens in an Italian village when a grandma witch's magic pasta pot goes haywire. First published in 1975, this picture book folk tale has big, colorful illustrations on every page and lots of word repetition, making it great for reading aloud to younger kids and a good way for more advanced readers to stretch their vocabulary. There's a nice lesson about compassion and having a reasonable reaction when a person makes a mistake. 

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What's the story?

STREGA NONA, the "Grandma Witch" of a small Italian village, creates all kinds of potions and cures to help her neighbors. One day, while Big Anthony is looking after her house and garden, he sees Strega Nona use a magic pot to make her dinner, and it magically makes pasta. When he's left alone, he uses her special phrase to start making pasta for the entire village, but things go hilariously wrong without Strega Nona's secret.

Is it any good?

The heart and humor of this classic story shine through the simple illustrations and uncomplicated plot. Strega Nona was a Caldecott Honor Book after its release in 1975, and other than a reference to "special potions for the girls who wanted husbands," it stands the test of time. There's a lot of text for emerging readers to tackle, which makes it great for adults to read aloud and for more advanced readers to practice their fluency with a familiar story. There are fun touches, like Big Anthony using the Italian "grazie" and "si" ("please" and "yes") when he speaks to Strega Nona, and the idea that fairness is important when someone makes a mistake is a lesson for all ages.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Strega Nona reacts to Big Anthony's mistake. How do you think you would react if someone did what you told them not to do? How would you like to be treated if you were the one who made the mistake?

  • Why do you think the villagers got so upset? What would you do if you were Big Anthony?

  • What other books have you read that have magic in them?

Book details

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