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The Legend of Old Befana Paperback


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 10 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 4
  • Lexile Measure: 460L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; Reissue edition (September 2, 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152438173
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152438173
  • Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 6.9 x 0.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #80,214 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

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More About the Author

"Tomie dePaola was born in Meriden, Connecticut, in 1934 to a family of Irish and Italian background. By the time he could hold a pencil, he knew what his life's work would be. His determination to create books for children led to a BFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, and an MFA from the California College of Arts & Crafts in Oakland, California.
It drove him through the years of teaching, designing greeting cards and stage sets, and painting church murals until 1965, when he illustrated his first children's book, Sound, by Lisa Miller for Coward-McCann. Eventually, freed of other obligations, he plunged full time into both writing and illustrating children's books.
He names Fra Angelico and Giotto, Georges Rouault, and Ben Shahn as major influences on his work, but he soon found his own unique style. His particular way with color, line, detail, and design have earned him many of the most prestigious awards in his field, among them a Caldecott Honor Award for Strega Nona, the Smithsonian Medal from the Smithsonian Institution, the Kerlan Award from the University of Minnesota for his ""singular attainment in children's literature,"" the Catholic Library Association's Regina Medal for his ""continued distinguished contribution,"" and the University of Southern Mississippi Medallion. He was also the 1990 United States nominee for the Hans Christian Andersen Medal for illustration.
Tomie dePaola has published almost 200 children's books in fifteen different countries. He remains one of the most popular creators of books for children, receiving more than 100,000 fan letters each year.
Tomie lives in an interesting house in New Hampshire with his four dogs. His studio is in a large renovated 200-year-old barn.
- He has been published for over 30 years.
- Over 5 million copies of his books have sold worldwide.
- His books have been published in over 15 different countries.
- He receives nearly 100,000 fan letters each year.
Tomie dePaola has received virtually every significant recognition for his books in the children's book world, including:
- Caldecott Honor Award from American Library Association
- Newbery Honor Award from American Library Association
- Smithson Medal from Smithsonian Institution
- USA nominee in illustration for Hans Christian Andersen Medal
- Regina Medal from Catholic Library Association

"

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Great story to teach students about holidays around the world!
Brandy Speake
I would recommend it for enhancing your winter holiday book collection.
Zoya Geacintov
It is a beautiful story, simply related and beautifully illustrated.
J. Fantone

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

78 of 82 people found the following review helpful By slomamma on December 21, 2001
Format: Paperback
My husband is Italian, so Befana (who brings gifts to Italian children on Epiphany) is as much a part of our Christmas traditions as Santa Claus. To be honest, I prefer the story of Befana and find it a lot closer to the spirit of Christmas.
Befana is a somewhat grumpy and fussy old woman. One day Three Kings show up at her door, following a star, and looking for a miraculous baby. They urge Befana to come with them, but Befana is so busy with her household tasks she thinks she doesn't have time.
Little by little though, the idea of a baby who "comes for the poor" (like her) and yet attracts kings as well begins to move her and she decides to follow. She gathers up some goodies she has just baked and a few toys to bring as gifts for the new baby. But she has waited too long, and although she keeps following the star, she never finds the infant.
The lovely aspect of this story is that she begins leaving her gifts for other children, because she recognizes in them the spirit of that miraculous child that the Three Kings sought. I love the idea that children receive presents at Christmas because Jesus' spirit is in them.
This is an essential book for Italian-American families. I think it would also be a good book for teachers or parents of somewhat older children (past Santa Claus believing age) who are interested in Christmas traditions of different cultures. In Russia, the story of Babushka is very similar to the story of Befana (and there are several good picture books about her). And in Mexico, the Three Kings themselves bring presents (and Tomie dePaola has done a wonderful book about the story of the Three Kings that makes a perfect companion to this one).
Overall, a terrific Christmas book.
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54 of 58 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 27, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Tomie DePaola evoked memories of my childhood Christmas' in both visual and verbal splendor. I was taken back to my childhood and the story told to my sisters and myself about the Befana. Not only is this book written at a level that all children can understand and appreciate but it also keeps an adults interest. It beautifully illustrates another legend which inspires the wonderful message of the giving time we call Christmas. This has been accomplished noteably by Mr. DePaola's illustrations that although simple are rich in colour and meaning. As a person of Italian heritage I was elated to see such a wonderful legend captured in print in such a obviously well researched manner. The subtle yet awe inspiring symbolism contained in the book make it a pleasure for adults yet the simpleness and vibrant colours make it equally riveting for children. I would label this book a "must have" for all parents but especially those of Italian descent wanting to share some Italian culture with their children.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dawn De Lorenzo on November 10, 2009
Format: School & Library Binding Verified Purchase
I wish there were more books about La Befana in the US; thankfully, even if this is the only one you have ~ it is a WONDERFUL book telling the Italian legend of Befana. In many ways, the story of Befana reminds me of the biblical story of Mary and Martha (Lazarus' sisters). While a guest in thier home, Mary chose to spend time with Jesus while Martha is too busy with her household chores. In The Legend Of Old Befana we meet an old woman who is constantly sweeping. When the procession of kings pass through her town and tell her of the birth of the Child King she decides to follow. She bakes all day in order to have a gift to bring for the Child. She also plans to sweep knowing that the Child's mother will be tired.

However, rather than set off to find the baby Jesus, she tarries in order to sweep. Her decision to delay in favor of sweeping costs her a glimpse of the Child King. To this day, she searches for the Child, visiting children while they sleep, leaving them gifts from her basket.

I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to share this celebrated Italian legend! Another EXCELLENT resource is Ken Lonnquist's CD titled Old Befana: Old Befana. You can also download the entire album in MP3 format which is cheaper and faster. It has the story of La Befana and songs.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Deborah Roberts on December 18, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I used this book while studying Christmas Around the World, more specifically, Italy. Found a video that matched its story pretty close. My 2nd graders really enjoyed this story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Christine P. Dean on November 3, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is another wonderful Christian legend by the migthy author Tomie de Paola.

If you prize old tales and love stories about the Catholic faith, then don't miss this one. The story of Old Befana is very engaging, a little sad at times but with a heartwarming ending. This book will make a wonderful gift for the Holidays!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By N. Carver on October 24, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this for my greatniece. Her father has one from long ago and is so glad to have the updated one now for her
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Reading Junkie on October 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book became my child's favorite in a very short span of time. She is now 25, but still remembers this sweet and loving story and I bought this book to have at home after we had rented it from the library so often that we needed to own it ourselves. I bought an extra copy and gave to my mother who has read this story to several visiting relative's children.
The story is about Old Befana who can't get her home clean enough for a visit from the Christ child at Christmas. She is so busy worrying and cleaning, she misses his visit completely.

A Lovely Christmas story.
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