Tomie dePaola, the popular author of hundreds of children’s books, died recently.
His works were featured in my elementary classroom throughout my career. He reminded teachers to never talk down to children, to speak to them in a natural voice and not to shy away from difficult social subjects. His thoughtful and beautiful illustrations are filled with details that encourage children to look deeply at them. Indeed, Tomie dePaola makes a perfect at-home author study for children of diverse ages. The whole family, including adults, can enjoy these stories together.
“Strega Nona”, the story of a “grandmother witch” and her magic pasta pot, is his most beloved book. The character of Big Anthony, who did not pay attention, was dePaola’s cautionary tale for children. Big Anthony clamors for the praise of the crowd without thinking about the calamity his actions will cause. It is only the quiet, steady wisdom of Strega Nona that averts disaster.
May we be Strega Nonas in these difficult times, and strive to “pay attention”.