“Strega Nona”

In honor of Tomie dePaola’s recent passing, let’s take a look at his classic book “Strega Nona,” suggested for grades K-2. 
Strega 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. 

1. WATCH and LISTEN to an actress reading “Strega Nona” by Tomie dePaola, courtesy of StorylineOnline.net:


  • Do you think Strega Nona’s punishment for Big Anthony was fair? Why? Why not? How would you have punished Big Anthony?
  • Big Anthony uses Strega Nona’s pot without permission and is unable to stop the pasta from pouring all over the floor and into the street. Has there been a time when you used something without permission? What happened?
  • Why do you think Big Anthony disobeyed Strega Nona’s directions? Do you think Big Anthony will disobey again? Why or why not?
  • Strega means “witch” and Nona means “grandmother” in Italian. If Strega Nona was your grandmother, what magic cures and potions would you like her to make in her pot?

3. DRAW the many faces of Strega Nona (learning about and identifying emotions):
Watch the video again and pay careful attention to the images in the stories.  Notice how you can tell how Strega Nona is feeling by the faces that Tomie dePaola has drawn.  See if you can draw faces with similar emotions.

4. WRITE a letter to Big Anthony. Explain to him what he did wrong and why it is important to listen carefully to directions.

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