Strega Nona’s Harvest

What It Is

Wise Strega Nona plans her garden months before the fall harvest. Soon after the winter thaw, she plants all sorts of vegetables in a very neat, organized garden. Strega Nona gives her friends (and us) useful tips about gardening, such as storing seeds in the dark and switching planting locations every year to make the soil rich. Big Anthony, a bumbling, but lovable character, secretly sets out to plant his own garden to prove that he, too, can do something right. So he plants seeds, but not quite in as orderly fashion as Strega Nona suggested. While Strega Nona’s garden begins to grow, so does Big Anthony’s, but his looks more like a jungle. Ashamed at the “mess,” he hides all of his vegetables at harvest time and secretly drops them on Strega Nona’s door after dark. She wonders were the mysterious bounty comes from and donates the surplus. She also decides to hold a Harvest Feast for the villagers, who did not have a good growing season. She retires for the evening still wondering where all the extra vegetables came from, and while she sleeps, Big Anthony sneaks up to her door with a nice big pumpkin.

Why It’s Fun

For more than 30 years, Tomie dePaola has been entertaining children and adults with Strega Nona, the sage Italian “grandma witch.” Her adventures are humorous and its fun to read her Italian phrases with an exaggerated accent. Strega Nona books typically carry a subtle message, often through Big Anthony, a bumbling character with a big heart. In this tale, the message is one of generosity and sharing one’s good fortune. In short, this fall-themed book is a nice change from the apple-picking, leaf-falling titles that typically occupy bookshelves.

Who’s Going To Love It

The publisher’s recommended ages are 3 to 5, but older kids should enjoy it as well. We discovered this book at our local library and my fourth grader loves it. In fact, we’ve read it two nights in a row at bedtime and will be heading to the library to check out other Strega Nona titles. Whether you are fans of Strega Nona, or this is your first time “meeting” her, this title is a “can’t miss.”

Reading Time

About 6 minutes

Read-It-Again Points

10 out of 10

Book Information

By: Written and Illustrated by Tomie dePaola
Published by: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group (2009)
Approximate retail price: $16.99
Publisher’s recommended ages: 3 - 5


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