Childrens Book Review of Strega Nona's Harvest by Tomie dePaola, Number Ten in the Series

by DerdriuMarriner

The best gardeners are both intuitive and obedient. They accurately choose which problem-solving approach to apply. So where does Big Anthony fit in “Strega Nona’s Harvest”?

As the saying goes, nature abhors straight lines and vacuums. But gardening contrastingly comes down ultimately to:
• Paucity of vacuums bigger than air and moisture pore spaces;
• Respect for depths straight down and distances straight across.

Gardeners generally envision nature therefore as nurtured into:
• Cavities to be filled;
• Clearings to be organized.

The above-mentioned deep truths get the attention of peninsular Italy’s best known and most beloved wise villager, Strega Nona of Calabria. Grandma Witch Nona indeed has no trouble in adhering to the basic gardening rule of cultivating orderly plantings in the appropriate places at the correct times. Why is it not surprising that the rule passes right over Big Anthony’s head in “Strega Nona’s Harvest”?




Spring melting of snow in Calabria alert Strega Nona to annual cycle of planting, with emphasis on rotation gardening, and subsequent bountiful harvests.

Sila National Park: Catanzaro, Cosenza, and Crotone Provinces, Calabria, southern Italy
Sila National Park: Catanzaro, Cosenza, and Crotone Provinces, Calabria, southern Italy


Spring brings melting snows to peninsular Italy’s southwesternmost region of Calabria. Warmer days cause Strega Nona to reflect upon the year’s outdoor activities. Harvests contribute to Grandma Witch Nona’s:

  • Feasts;
  • Meals;
  • Remedies.

Every year, she follows critical rules to ensure healthy outputs from the current garden and for all subsequent annual plantings. She gathers and stores seeds from each season’s harvest. She gets them from winter-stored packets in a wood box. After chanting to May’s full moon and releasing three airborne kisses, she has the seeds in the soil and ready for lush growth by:

  • Adhering to proper planting depths and distances hoed respectively straight down and across;
  • Amending the soil with animal manure and garden compost.


In "Strega Nona's Harvest," Big Anthony watches Strega Nona blow three kisses to the moon, but he still manages to bumble the spell for plentiful harvest.

Daytime moonscape over Calabria
moon over Calabria
moon over Calabria


Big Anthony decides to put in a garden behind the goat shed. He dislikes the insistence by Bambolona, the baker Signor Bambo’s daughter and Strega Nona’s assistant, upon straight-lined rows. He does not copy Strega Nona’s perfect alignments. He gives six, not three, kisses to the full moon’s light. He has no clue as to problem-solving chaotic, rampant growth weeks later at harvest time. But he knows that Strega Nona -- whose garden yields attractive, fragrant, tasty produce from accessible rows -- will put his over-abundant harvests to good use. He leaves piles of edibles on her doorstep. Calabria’s most grandmotherly witch makes a feast for the entire village with the bounty from Big Anthony’s disorderly garden.


Strega Nona's Harvest by Tomie dePaola

Tomie dePaola's beloved Strega Nona is back in a colorful picture book, perfect for fall and the changing seasons.
Tomie dePaola's Strega Nona series



Accomplished chefs and gardeners contemplate inputs by:

  • Brands;
  • Trademarks.

Tomie dePaola indeed devotes time free from illustrating and writing books -- with pre-publication help from Apple iPods and Macintoshes -- to creating culinary and horticultural wonderworks. He finds as particularly conducive to quality outputs reliance upon:

  • Biscuit flour from The White Lily Southern Kitchen;
  • Meat from Lobel’s of New York and Niman Ranch;
  • Plants from Spring Ledge and White Flower Farms;
  • Sheep-milk cheese from Old Chatham Sheepherding Company;
  • Supplies from Stonewall Kitchen and Williams-Sonoma.

All of the above-mentioned inputs undoubtedly merge to churn Strega Nona’s Harvest into one of G.P. Putnam’s Sons’s top-quality publications in 2009 for:

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


Grandma Annii's Storytime: Strega Nona's Harvest by Tomi dePaola

Published on YouTube on May 10, 2014 by Grandma Annii ~ URL:



My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.


Tomie dePaola's Strega Nona series celebrates Calabria's rural landscape:

Livestock wend their way near Lake Ariamacina in Sila National Park, founded in 1997 and encompassing rural and tourist villages.
Lago di Ariamacina, Sila National Park, Catanzaro Province, Calabria, southern Italy
Lago di Ariamacina, Sila National Park, Catanzaro Province, Calabria, southern Italy

Sources Consulted


dePaola, Tomie. 2009. Strega Nona's Harvest. New York, NY: G.P. Putnam's Sons.

"Tomie's Links." Retrieved January 5, 2015.

  • Available at:


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

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

Tomie dePaola sets his Strega Nona series in Italy, in Calabria in the toe of the Italian Peninsula.
Italy Watercolor Map
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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: 01/05/2015, DerdriuMarriner
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