cover image Strega Nona's Harvest

Strega Nona's Harvest

Tomie dePaola, . . Putnam, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-25291-4

DePaola's bighearted witch returns in a winning tale about generosity and cooperation. When the full moon shines at the end of May, Strega Nona enlists Big Anthony and Bambolona to help plant her annual vegetable garden. After singing to the moon, bidding it to “let the moonbeams shine from thee,/ To make my garden grow,” she adds her familiar “ingrediente segreto —secret ingredient”: three kisses she blows to the moon. In a diverting subplot, Big Anthony, who wants to impress bossy Bambolona with his green thumb, grows his own (considerably more slapdash) garden next door (he blows six kisses to the moon “just to be sure”). In the fall, both gardens flourish, and Big Anthony anonymously leaves huge piles of veggies outside Strega Nona's door. She, too, decides to share her bountiful harvest, hosting a feast for the grateful villagers. Readers get an introduction to some basic Italian words throughout, defined within the text or, in the case of the vegetables, in dePaola's signature, cheerful acrylic illustrations. Without an ounce of moralizing, dePaola demonstrates the benefits of sharing (not to mention eating locally). Ages 3–5. (Sept.)