A lot of adults remember the fun of Tomie dePaola’s books, particularly those that contained the adventures of one lovable woman. Just in time for the autumn season, Strega Nona’s Harvest brings parents and kids back into the world of a beloved witch, whose past activities have included things like cleaning up after a pot of ever-flowing noodles. Most of the time, she finds herself fixing the goof-ups made by her occasional helper, Big Anthony, and this book is no exception.
This time, in Strega Nona’s Harvest, she tries to teach Big Anthony how to garden. She uses a growing spell and does everything in a particular order so to achieve the correct results. But Big Anthony doesn’t exactly follow the right directions and suddenly a small vegetable garden transforms into a massive vegetable jungle! With so many vegetables to be had, what will they do with all of them?
Tomie dePaola always has a neat lesson to be learned from his picture books, and this time he teaches about generosity when the whole town suddenly gets an abundance of vegetables from Strega Nona (and Anthony). But the lesson isn’t overbearing and kids will have plenty of time to appreciate the story and all the antics that Big Anthony gets himself into. It’s hard not to love dePaola’s illustrations that are reminiscent of an older, simpler time, with vivid fall colors like oranges and reds, and plenty of vegetables to enjoy. Strega Nona always seems to have a kind smile on her face, even when dealing with Big Anthony’s goof-ups.
Strega Nona’s Harvest is a nice hardcover title of 32 pages and for children ages 3-5. It’s the perfect title to read around Thanksgiving when the ideas of sharing and food abound. Tomie dePaola delivers this little message with great ease, making it simple for children to grasp the idea that sharing is good, and in many ways, can be good fun. Certain to be a big hit with dePaola fans as well as newcomers to the books, it can also be a great title to read at any time of the year.