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Brava, Strega Nona!: A Heartwarming Pop-Up Book School & Library Binding – October 30, 2008

4.9 out of 5 stars 81 customer reviews
Book 9 of 10 in the Strega Nona Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Eric Carle and Tomie dePaola: Author One-on-One

Eric Carle is the creator, author, and illustrator of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and many other children’s books. Tomie dePaola is the author and illustrator of Strega Nona: Her Story and countless other books. They recently had a conversation about their careers as picture book authors. Eric Carle

Tomie dePaola: When I was only four years old, I announced to my family in particular and to the world in general that I was going to become an artist, and write stories and draw pictures for books. I never swayed from that early declaration. I’ve always been curious to know, what inspired you to become a creator and illustrator of picture books?

Eric Carle: My career began as a graphic designer and for a number of years I worked as an art director for an advertising agency in New York. In the mid 1960's Bill Martin, Jr. saw an ad of a red lobster that I had designed and asked me to illustrate his Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Well, I was set on fire! I was so inspired by this book, and the opportunity to illustrate it changed my life. After that, I started to create my own books, both words and pictures, and really it was then that I had found my true course in life.

Now, I have a question for you, Tomie. How would you describe your artistic style, and has it changed over time?

Tomie dePaola: My illustration style is heavily influenced by folk art--strong simple shapes, bold lines, color, color, color and a deceptive simplicity. My style began to develop early in art school, and through the years, it hasn’t changed very much, but it has refined itself. How would you describe yours?

Eric Carle: My aim with my work is to simplify and refine, be logical and harmonious. I like to use simple shapes, bright colors and a lot of white space. I write for the child inside of me. That is always where I begin.

Tomie dePaola Tomie dePaola: I do, as well. The only audience I keep in mind is that four-year-old in me. People sometimes ask me what advice I would give to young artists. I always think of the wonderful advice I received from my twin cousins when they were in art school in the late '30s. They told me, “Practice, practice, practice and don’t copy.”

Eric Carle: I often tell people about the four magic letters: DO IT. I want to be encouraging but I can only offer the example of my own experience, which is just one approach. There are many wonderful artists to learn about, which is important. But you must use your own imagination. You have to just do it.

Tomie dePaola: How do you feel knowing that a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar is sold every 30 seconds, somewhere in the world?

Eric Carle: It is hard for me, maybe for others too, to grasp this concept. But I am truly honored that my story is enjoyed by so many and that it is now being shared by a generation of parents who grew up with my book. How about your Strega Nona. She is one of your most popular characters. Can you share how she came to be?

Tomie dePaola: In the ‘70s when I was teaching at a college, we were required to attend faculty meetings. I always sat in the back with a yellow legal pad. Everyone thought I was taking notes. At one meeting a doodle appeared of a little lady with a big nose and a big chin. I named her Strega Nona, and the rest is history. Speaking of history, how will you be celebrating the third annual Very Hungry Caterpillar Day this year?

Eric Carle: On The Very Hungry Caterpillar Day, March 20th, I will probably be at home with my wife, Bobbie (I am a bit of a hermit, actually). But I will be saying a little toast to the caterpillar for whom I have a special place in my heart. And speaking of holidays, isn’t your favorite holiday Christmas. Do you have a special Christmas memory?

Tomie dePaola: Christmas is my favorite holiday. My favorite Christmas was the one when I received tons and tons of art supplies: everything from an easel to paints, pads and pads of paper, and “how to draw” books.

From Publishers Weekly

DePaola's timeless Tuscan heroine trades in her magic spells in a pop-up book that will be best appreciated by kids who already know Strega Nona, Big Anthony and the rest. There's little storytelling: the initial spread has a small autobiographical inset by Strega Nona (complete with pop-ups) and a text box in Strega Nona's voice, declaring her intention to pass along her own and Grandma Concetta's secrets for a magical life. The first of these is famiglia—family; accordingly, Sabuda and Reinhart (Encyclopedia Mythologica) supply a towering tree from which ancestors' portraits bloom and from which a swing hangs, holding Strega Nona. Elsewhere, Strega Nona's friends dine under a grape arbor; Big Anthony slides into the village square on an avalanche of pasta; Strega Nona's pasta pot overflows with red hearts (her secret ingredient is love). Don't look for Sabuda and Reinhart's most jaw-dropping work: built for relatively young hands (though not for toddlers), this book has few movable parts, and the interactive elements, like lift-the-flap shutters and doors on village houses, are clearly labeled for durability's sake. All ages. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 2 - 5 years
  • School & Library Binding: 12 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers; Pop edition (October 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399244530
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399244537
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 1.9 x 10.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #283,447 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: School & Library Binding
This is a gorgeous book, combining the classic art of Tomie dePaola that you know and love with some truly mind boggling pop ups. It's not so much a story as a recipe for a good life - but as Tomie says (I went to a book signing yesterday) he's written lots of stories in his other books, so here he chose to take advantage of the visual display opportunities presented by the pop up spreads rather than engaging in a longer story.

The paper work really is magnificent. That being said, this may be more suited to slightly older, or at least calmer, readers if you're thinking of buying it for a little one.
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Brava, Strega Nona! is a magnificent work of art. The pop-ups and the story work perfectly together to exalt the simple things that are Strega Nona's "magic recipe" for the good life. My immediate urge is to buy one for everyone I know! BRAVO! to Tomie dePaola, Robert Sabuda, and Matthew Reinhart, whose collaboration on this book is truly magical. Each page is full of their artistry, and simply awe-inspiring. I wish I could give it TEN stars!!!!
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I came across Brava Strega Nona! in a holiday gift issue of Real Simple and thought it would be a good gift for my 1 year old niece. But the pop-up paperwork is so intricate and beautiful, it actually turned out to be a better fit for my 4 year old nephew, who knew to take care with the handiwork. It's a lovely little story about an old Italian woman that translates to any age, but honestly the adults were more excited about the book than anyone. On one page, a magic pot of pasta spills noodles right off the edge of the book and it's so. darn. cool. I recommend this book for anyone 4 to 94, especially someone who can appreciate a creative hand when they see one.
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Let me begin with saying I purchased a used copy of this delightful book. I love pop up books but had never read any of the Strega Nona series. Having the two together was a bonus. The prose is delightful and whimsical but speaks to the heart about what is truly important. I would purchase this book again just for that.

The pop ups are amazing! Each page brings delight and wonder. The family tree makes me want to display my own family genealogy. The arbor and table sets the mood for a fun family dinner. The Punch and Judy shows are an added surprise. Be careful as the pasta comes at you. You can almost hear the water spraying in the village. And on the last page you are overwhelmed with the love that pours out. It's the closing of some of these pages that is the problem. I'm wondering if I purchased an "older" run of the book and not all the engineering kinks had been worked out. That is the reason for the four stars.

I would definitely recommend the purchase of this book. Just be careful as you open and close the pages. (Which may not be such a bad experience as you sit with your child and you explain why one must be careful with books - and the child's world - and share the wisdom of Strega Nona.)
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I bought this for my granddaughter, but the truth is I've always loved pop up books, so, based on the reviews I wanted to see it myself. It's a great story for kids, but the pop ups are so amazing i have to confess that I still haven't given it to her yet. As a designer myself--not pop-up books, sadly--I find these pop-ups light years ahead of anything else I've ever seen, and I am in awe at what this designer accomplished here.
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This is an absolutely adorable pop-up book! The colors are bright and soft which gives a brilliant attractiveness to the book itself. The pop-up portions are adorable too! It really is a book that can be appealing for all ages. I purchased this item for my young nephew who is a little shy of two years old. He may not be able to read it yet but I have no doubt that the pop-up portions will amuse him and that he'll grow into the reading portions eventually.
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I'm a first grade teacher and have been a huge Tomie dePaola fan for years. (My students always LOVE the Strega Nona books). So I was thrilled when I saw that he had teamed with Robert Sabuda. This is such a beautiful, cleverly done book. It's especially great if you're already familiar with the Strega Nona books, but kids can still enjoy it with no prior knowledge of the other stories. As a teacher, this has been a great springboard for writing activities, since each page talks about what kinds of things make our lives rich and worthwhile (such as family, friends, eating, and celebrating) and the kids have used to it write about their own families, friends, how they celebrate, etc. I couldn't wait to show it to the school librarian, who promptly ordered several copies for the library, and to other teaching colleagues who also ordered their own. I highly recommend it! Thanks Tomie dePaola for writing and drawing with such humor and humanity, and Robert Sabuda for bring it to 3-D life!
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Such a beautiful and unique book. I was proud to give it as a gift to a family whose kids have EVERYTHING but they had never seen this book before. I will definitely be purchasing it as a gift again in the future.
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