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Monday, December 12, 2011

A Gift from Tomie dePaola

     Once upon a time I married into an Italian family.  To my delight, every Christmas Eve since then I have celebrated Italian style with a huge fish feast. And although I love the linguine with clam sauce, I don't care as much for the baccala.  I never questioned why Italian celebrations were always all about the food, but thanks to a new book* by Tomie dePaola, I have a much better idea.
*I really have to thank Karen MacPherson, whose weekly Children's Corner in the Tuesday Pittsburgh Post Gazette keeps me up to date on lots of new (and old!) children's books
Strega Nona's Gift chronicles the eight feasts celebrated by Italians from early December ( Feast of San Nicola), to early January (Feast of the Epiphany).  Strega Nona and Big Anthony are together again and taught me that the Feast of the Seven Fishes, "La Vigilia,"  was celebrated as a way of fasting by Italians since no meat was served until after the midnight mass.  If you'd like to find out how lentils and rice pudding, talking animals and red underwear are also a part of these eight Italian celebrations, make sure to give yourself (or a curious non-Italian child!) the gift of Strega Nona's Gift. 

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