cover image Big Anthony: His Story

Big Anthony: His Story

Tomie dePaola. Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-23189-6

A companion to Strega Nona: Her Story, dePaola's breezy bio of Strega Nona's bumbling sidekick, Big Anthony, can be thoroughly enjoyed by readers whether they are new to the series or longtime fans. The tale opens with the christening of the newborn Anthony, identifiable even in infancy by his wild shock of yellow hair. On this occasion he spills holy water all over himself and everyone else within splashing distance--an omen of many misadventures to come. With an Amelia Bedelia-like innocence and tendency to heed only parts of directions, the boy triggers comic confusion wherever he goes. The buoyant art shows what the text does not tell: Anthony slipping under the table at his first birthday to topple an elegant cake onto his head; Anthony stacking not only books (as his teacher has directed) but all the classroom furniture on a groaning shelf; Anthony letting all the sheep out of their pens after listening to only the two final words of his mother's request, ""don't leave any of the gates open."" Readers will find even more to chuckle over after Big Anthony leaves home to earn his fortune (""Before he ruins ours,"" quips his grandmother). After several ill-fated job experiences in Italy's major cities, the well-intentioned fellow reads a want ad that leads him to Strega Nona's door and leaves readers at the same time and location as did the last page of Her Story. Though it's a delightful place to be, kids will likely flip back to the start, to relive bumbling Big Anthony's early life all over again. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)