Author: Tomie dePaola
Genre: Magic / Discipline / Humor / Italy
Year Published: 1984
Year Read: 1997
Series: Strega Nona #3
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Content Rating: Ages 5+ (Some Mischievous Behavior)
I have been reading the “Strega Nona” series ever since I was a child and there were many “Strega Nona” books that I have really enjoyed over the years! One of my favorites was this little gem called “Strega Nona’s Magic Lessons” by Tomie dePaola and it is about how Big Anthony wanted to learn magic like Strega Nona, but might have to go through drastic measures to learn magic! “Strega Nona’s Magic Lessons” is a truly clever and hilarious story for “Strega Nona” fans!
Bambolona, the baker’s daughter was extremely upset with her job since she is the only employee working at her father’s bakery while her father just sits in the town square chatting away with his friends. When Bambolona tried to tell her father that she needs help with the bakery, her father just told her to work harder and that caused Bambolona to leave her father’s bakery and go to Strega Nona’s house. Strega Nona then tells Bambolona that she could teach her magic, but when Big Anthony wanted to learn magic too, Strega Nona told him that he could not learn magic. Big Anthony was so upset at this that he leaves Strega Nona to work for the baker, only to end up losing his job at the bakery on the first day. When Big Anthony realizes that the only way he could learn magic is if he is a woman, he decides to dress up like a Strega and try to learn some magic! .
Everything about this book is so perfectly humorous and creative that I just had to read this book over and over again! Tomie dePaola’s writing and illustrations are both extremely creative and hilarious at the same time and together they made this story into quite a treat to read! I loved the way that Tomie dePaola portrayed all the characters in this story as they are all interesting to read about, especially Strega Nona, Bambolona and Big Anthony! Now, I keep forgetting that Bambolona’s actual first appearance was in “Big Anthony and the Magic Ring,” but she did not have a speaking role in that book. This book however, is Bambolona’s first speaking role in the “Strega Nona” series and it was great that she has become apart of the popular cast of “Strega Nona” as she is like a clever folly to Big Anthony’s foolishness. Big Anthony’s latest mischief is just as hilarious as his incident with the pasta pot in “Strega Nona” and I loved seeing him dressed up as a woman in order to learn magic from Strega Nona. Tomie dePaola’s illustrations are extremely hilarious and creative at the same time as Strega Nona is as always shown as a wise looking woman who is always wearing an apron and a white shawl on her head. My favorite illustrations were of when both Bambolona and Antonia were learning cures for the people and while Bambolona was always getting the cures right, Antonia was always getting the cures wrong.
Overall, “Strega Nona’s Magic Lessons” is a truly hilarious and creative book for children who are fans of the “Strega Nona” series and who love seeing a little magic in their lives! I would recommend this book to children ages five and up since the Italian phrases might be a bit too difficult for smaller children to understand.