Strega Nona and Her Tomatoes – written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola

      Strega Nona and Her Tomatoes – written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola, Simon Spotlight, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, 9781481481342, 2017

Format: Paperback

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Genre: Easy/Early Reader

What did you like about the book? The beloved character Strega Nona is back with two delightful stories for emerging readers.  dePaola’s distinct style in both illustrations remain while the text is much more accessible with a simple plot and words that can be sounded out.  Each book also features some wordless panels to encourage struggling readers to engage in or practice visual literacy.  By far the best part of this new series is the fact that the stories are so relatable for children; many will love these characters from previous family or storytime readings of the original books and be happy to discover a new (low-key) adventure.

It should be noted that Strega Nona and Her Tomatoes includes two pages with a chance to count (to twelve and then to twenty-four) while Strega Nona and the Twins has many more opportunities to read and interpret facial expressions.

Anything you didn’t like about it? These may not appeal to readers who have not previously encountered Strega Nona; the more familiar readers are with a character, the more inclined they are to pick a book about them!  This is still a fantastic option to have, however.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Recommended for emergent readers who love already love dePaola or those who are seeking conflict-light stories.  The love and understanding Strega Nona has is apparent even in these short stories and will appeal to readers through its grandmotherly aspects.

Who should buy this book? Childrens’ library collections (public and school)

Where would you shelve it ? Easy/Early Readers

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Not really.  These tales are cute, but not an essential read for dePaola fans.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Melissa McCleary, Pembroke Public Library, Pembroke, MA

Date of review: July 8, 2017

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