Childrens Book Review of Strega Nona Meets Her Match by Tomie dePaola, Number Five in the Series

by DerdriuMarriner

Some acquaintances and relatives honor friendship while others do not. Interactions may or may not survive competition. Rivalry turns upon itself in “Strega Nona Meets Her Match.”

Regular acquaintances, friendships, and interactions accommodate a certain amount of competition.

The more competitive individuals can channel their energies in ways that may disrespect or honor the achievements and personalities for whom dear feelings purportedly are experienced and long-term interactions supposedly are anticipated. According to the saying, all ways fair and foul emerge as options in regard to love and war. Fights to the finish and no holds barred approaches by their very nature go against the cherished, predictable element of permanency within familial, friendly, and peer relationships.

And yet that is the tack that Strega Amelia appears to embrace against her childhood friend during a visit that becomes permanent in “Strega Nona Meets Her Match.”




Strega Nona's traditional wisdom is challenged by modern marketing techniques employed by her childhood friend, Strega Amelia:

Shaggy Sparrow-Wort (Thymelaea hirsuta), a species of thyme, is appreciated as a traditional remedy throughout the Mediterranean Basin.
Isola di Capo Rizzuto, southern Crotone Province, Calabria, southern Italy
Isola di Capo Rizzuto, southern Crotone Province, Calabria, southern Italy


Strega Amelia and Strega Nona superficially appear similar. They both are old witches who live in sunny Calabria, peninsular Italy’s southwesternmost region. But they actually commit to two different ways of practicing magic. Strega Amelia defers to modernity in:

  • Conducting business like an aggressive entrepreneur who lacks family and friends;
  • Employing magic like a witch who disdains problem-solving any other way.

Grandma Witch Nona contrastingly embraces an entrepreneurialism of:

  • Empathizing with villagers as a homeowner whose horticultural and residential magic involves only a self-motivating pot for making pasta;
  • Using magic lotions, potions, and spells only when non-magical approaches fail.

Her long-standing practice almost expires when Strega Amelia decides to turn a brief visit into a business opportunity.


Strega Nona's childhood friend, Strega Amelia, engages in ploys -- such as free cappuccino -- to lure customers into her modern shop.

traditional cappuccino with goodly amount of foam
traditional cappuccino with goodly amount of foam


Calabrian villagers enjoy the distinct cuisine, long-standing traditions, predictable lifestyle, and pure dialect which their hilly, sunny homeland harbors. They nevertheless find it interesting to keep informed about modern trends and other customs. They get quite a dose of modernity when Strega Amelia opens a shop with:

  • Cutting-edge spells;
  • Free cappuccino and desserts;
  • Modern equipment.

Everyone has to sample the free food and un-traditional magic available just across the street from Strega Nona’s ultra-traditional, unassuming shop. Calabria’s Grandma Witch quickly is left with neither customers nor employees. Even Big Anthony leaves when Strega Amelia decides to hire an assistant. But the inattentive new hire may be counted on to do what he should not and vice versa.


In "Strega Nona Meets Her Match," Strega Nona's competitor, Strega Amelia, entices customers with free desserts:

Giurgiulena, a nougat-like candy especially treasured at Christmas, is a typical sweet of Calabria; basic ingredients include sesame and honey, with confetti as colorful garnish.
traditional desserts of Calabria
traditional desserts of Calabria



Tomie dePaola can remember his mother, Florence Downey dePaola, reading to him every day of his childhood. He considers her love for books a major motivator for his defining at age four his life’s mission of illustrating and writing his own books. He describes as critical to his professional self-realization:

  • Training in California, Connecticut, and New York;
  • Willingness to put that learning into practice.

He emphasizes that folkloric drawing and writing style commitments explain his landing contracts as artist and author of The Wonderful Dragon of Timlin in 1966. That same confident competence inspires the high-quality of the 1993-published Strega Nona Meets Her Match for:

  • Ages 4 – 8+ and upward;
  • Grades preschool through third grade and onward.


Strega Nona Meets Her Match by Tomie dePaola

Strega Nona uses old-fashioned potions and magic and the villagers in Calabria flock to her door. But when her friend Strega Amelia comes over the mountain for a visit, she brings more than just gossip.
Tomie dePaola's Strega Nona series



My special thanks to talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the internet.


Tomie dePaola's Strega Nona series is set in Calabria, a region of natural beauty in the "toe" of the Italian Peninsula.

Diamante, Province of Cosenza, northwestern Calabria, southern Italy
Diamante, Province of Cosenza, northwestern Calabria, southern Italy

Sources Consulted


"About Tomie: Biography." Retrieved December 30, 2014.

  • Available at:

dePaola, Tomie. 1993. Strega Nona Meets Her Match. New York, NY: G.P. Putnam's Sons.


the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Italy watercolor map: black t-shirt ~ Available via AllPosters

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Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 10/19/2021, DerdriuMarriner
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