- Age Range: 6 - 9 years
- Grade Level: 1 - 4
- Lexile Measure: 460L (What's this?)
- Paperback: 32 pages
- Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (September 2, 1980)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0152438173
- ISBN-13: 978-0152438173
- Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.2 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (115 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #84,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Legend of Old Befana Paperback – September 2, 1980
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Having said that, I bought this book as a gift for my best friend's little girl... I figure, I turned out okay despite the Befana traumatizing of my youth, so perhaps she will, too.
They are an Italian family, so they appreciated it!
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.