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Big Anthony


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About the Author

Tomie dePaola(www.tomie.com) is the acclaimed author and/or illustrator of more than 250 books for children. His books range from autobiographical stories to retellings of folktales and legends to original tales, such as the Strega Nona books. Tomie has received the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, a Caldecott Honor forStrega Nona,and a Newbery Honor for his autobiographical chapter book,26 Fairmount Avenue.The American Library Association said- "His works reflect an innate understanding of childhood, a distinctive visual style, and a remarkable ability to adapt his voice to perfectly suit the story."He was awarded the Smithson Medal, the Regina Medal, was designated a "living treasure" by the state of New Hampshire, and received the 2012 Original Art Lifetime Achievement Award given by the Society of Illustrators. He lives in New London, New Hampshire.


K-Gr 3-Big Anthony, hapless helper of the good Italian witch Strega Nona, didn't begin his bumbling ways when he caused pasta from a magic pot to engulf the medieval Italian city of Calabria. He has bumbled from birth, and those mishaps have been recorded in this latest installment in the saga. This second prequel to Strega Nona: An Old Tale (S & S, 1975) is less folkloric and more biographical than the original. As in Strega Nona: Her Life (Putnam, 1996), dePaola documents the path that brought the two together. A bit long and perhaps a wee bit obscure for the preschoolers who haven't met the characters before, the text is well balanced with trademark dePaola illustrations, which provide comic visual punch lines to each episode. If the familiar cartoons are a bit looser in execution, the palette, with rosy Italian skies and even a volcano eruption, is more vivid than ever. Big Anthony and Strega Nona certainly qualify as celebrities in the realm of picture books, and this latest installment will bring smiles to the faces of their young fans.-Sue Sherif, Fairbanks North Star Borough Public Library, AK

A companion to Strega Nona: Her Story, dePaola's breezy bio of Strega Nona's bumbling sidekick, Big Anthony, can be thoroughly enjoyed by readers whether they are new to the series or longtime fans. The tale opens with the christening of the newborn Anthony, identifiable even in infancy by his wild shock of yellow hair. On this occasion he spills holy water all over himself and everyone else within splashing distance‘an omen of many misadventures to come. With an Amelia Bedelia-like innocence and tendency to heed only parts of directions, the boy triggers comic confusion wherever he goes. The buoyant art shows what the text does not tell: Anthony slipping under the table at his first birthday to topple an elegant cake onto his head; Anthony stacking not only books (as his teacher has directed) but all the classroom furniture on a groaning shelf; Anthony letting all the sheep out of their pens after listening to only the two final words of his mother's request, "don't leave any of the gates open." Readers will find even more to chuckle over after Big Anthony leaves home to earn his fortune ("Before he ruins ours," quips his grandmother). After several ill-fated job experiences in Italy's major cities, the well-intentioned fellow reads a want ad that leads him to Strega Nona's door and leaves readers at the same time and location as did the last page of Her Story. Though it's a delightful place to be, kids will likely flip back to the start, to relive bumbling Big Anthony's early life all over again. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)

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