ur beloved Strega Nona is back, and this time she even dons a bathing suit! Fans of this little old Italian lady will delight in her newest adventure at the seashore.

It all starts when Strega Nona, the magical nurse of Calabria, dreams of her Grandma Concetta's cottage at the beach, and her grandmother beckons her to come back to look for shells, pick wildflowers for the house, swim in the welcoming sea, gather mussels for dinner. . . . Well, after a dream like that, Strega Nona finds it difficult to return to work. Her mind just isn't there; she even gives Signor Mayor the wrong remedy for his headache! Everyone in the village agrees: she needs a vacation.

When her grandmother in heaven returns to visit her the next night in a dream, she decides to go. Giving her children Bambolona and Big Anthony un bacio (a kiss), she is on her way. But her children don't do so well without her; Big Anthony doesn't touch the pasta pot this time, but let's just say that he has a little problem with bubbles.

Tomie de Paola's endearing story is enhanced by its setting the warmth of the Italian seashore invites the reader to plunge into the world of Nona, feel the healing waves, and bask in that special Italian sun. The tale is peppered throughout with musical Italian phrases which will only add to a child's enjoyment. The illustrations are bright, with warm colors that bring happiness to the reader's heart (just like a day at the beach). Every aspect of the book works to transport the reader to the world of a slow-paced seaside village in Italy.

This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the original Strega Nona; being that old, she certainly deserves a vacation.

Carolyn Cates lives and writes in Nashville.

comments powered by Disqus