STREGA NONA TAKES A VACATION

There’s an inexhaustible sweetness to dePaola’s Strega Nona stories, and this is no exception (Night of Las Posedas, 1999, etc.). With their gentle, light-filled colors and strong, simple shapes, the figures of “Grandma Witch,” her cohorts Bambolona and Big Anthony, and the villagers of their Calabrian town fill the pages. This time, Strega Nona is so distracted by a dream of her own grandmother that she almost gives the wrong lotions and potions to the people who come to her with their aches and pains. She remembers her grandma Concetta’s little house by the seashore, and the dream-pictures show the two of them swimming, gathering shells, flowers, and mussels, and gazing out over the water. Strega Nona goes off on vacation to do all of those things again, leaving Big Anthony and Bambolona with careful admonitions. But when she sends gifts back to both, Bambolona wants Big Anthony’s candy, and switches the labels so he gets the bubble bath. Those who remember Big Anthony’s encounter with the pasta pot will figure out the result, as he floats through town with only his feet, hands, head, and rubber ducky visible in the cloud of bubbles. A little dove warns Strega Nona and she heads back to the rescue, noting that next time she goes on vacation she might as well take the two with her. Don’t miss “La gloria di Strega Nona” on the back cover, where Strega Nona does a Botticelli Venus with Big Anthony and Bambolona tossing flowers. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-399-23562-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2000

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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A DOG NAMED SAM

A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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