I was so saddened to hear of Tomie dePaola’s passing. We are both Italian Americans and he has been part of my life since my children were little. His Strega Nona books spoke to my Italian Culture. One Italian translation for Strega Nona is Grandma (Nona) Witch (someone who has special powers.)
He described the Christmas Eves that I heard about and adapted to our Italian American culture. Growing up, my family gathered on Christmas Eve for the Feast of the Seven Fishes. My father told me how he grew up opening gifts on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas morning. Reading these stories to my children and my preschool class brought my heritage to life through the pages of a book.
My daughter also loved Tomie dePaula. We had the honor and pleasure of meeting him at a book signing in Maryland.
In 2013, when Tomie dePaola released Strega Nona Does It Again, we met him again. We now have have an autographed copy of his book. What a treasure!
When we saw him, he was gracious and kind, taking the time to talk to each person who wanted his autograph. He also took the time to get a photograph us!
Here, The Italian Grandmama reads My First Easter by Tomie dePaola:
The Italian Grandmama
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