Title: Strega Nona's Harvest
Author and Illustrator: Tomie dePaola
Concepts: natural resources, human resources, interdependence, abundance
Review: Every spring, when Strega Nona plants her well-ordered garden using seeds saved from the year before, she sings a magic planting song to the full moon---ending by blowing three kisses to the moon. Strega Nona’s bumbling helper, Big Anthony, surreptitiously watches this ritual. He repeats it, adding 3 additional kisses for good measure, in his haphazard garden planted with some accidentally dropped seeds. While Strega Nona’s garden flourishes, because she maintains careful records of where things were planted previous years and never plants them in the same place, Big Anthony’s garden is growing in wild profusion.
Strega Nona's arrow-straight rows yield a bountiful harvest, which she carefully stores for the winter, while Anthony's jumble of jungle-like growth also produces an exceptional crop. Soon donations of vegetables begin to appear mysteriously each morning outside Strega Nona's door. Confused, Strega Nona carries the donations inside, until her small cottage becomes crowded with eggplants, zucchinis, beans, and pumpkins.
Running out of room in her cottage, Strega Nona fills her basket with the bounty and sets off for the convent in the village below. Once there, she discovers that the entire village had experienced a poor harvest. Strega Nona solves her problem of too much food and the villagers' problem of a poor harvest by providing a feast for the grateful townspeople.
Tomie dePaola fans, especially those who enjoy Strega Nona and her down to earth good humor, will enjoy this new tale which ends with a shadowy picture of Big Anthony about to deposit an enormous pumpkin on Strega Nona’s doorstep.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children