Banned Books Week, Day 2: Hello, friends! We are continuing our Banned Books Week theme today with Strega Nona Does It Again by Tomie dePoala, the latest in the Strega Nona (Italian for “Grandmother Witch”) book series. These books have been challenged and/or banned in multiple locations because of their positive portrayal of magic and witches.
Strega Nona is expecting a visit from her cousin’s daughter, the beautiful Angelina. When Angelina arrives, Strega Nona and her friends find that she is quite a handful: she is self-centered and rude, and turns their lives upside-down by making them wait on her hand and foot! Strega Nona decides to concoct a plan to win the heart of Angelina’s beloved Hugo for her, in order to get her demanding houseguest out of her hair, and weaves a little magic along the way.
I have to say, while I have enjoyed the Strega Nona books in the past, I did not like this one. While the folk-art illustrations are always charming and fun, and I love that there is a smattering of Italian vocabulary words and phrases, I disagreed with this book’s overall message. Angelina is spoiled and impolite, so Strega Nona decides to teach her a lesson by… giving her exactly what she wants? Rewarding her for her egocentric behavior? Also, I’m not wild about the notion of marrying a woman of as punishment. From a practical standpoint, the book was also a bit long for JJ, and she started getting squirmy (though, again, she loved the illustrations).
I’ve been a fan of the Strega Nona books past, but I just don’t think I can call this one Baby Bookworm approved. However, I would definitely encourage readers to check out the previous Strega Nona stories, which are fun and have much better lessons.