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Nonna Tell Me a Story: Lidia's Christmas Kitchen Hardcover – October 12, 2010
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From School Library Journal
K-Gr 2–Nonni Lidia tells her five grandkids about what Christmas was like in Italy when she was a child, with a juniper bush hung with real fruit, cinnamon sticks, and cookies. She so successfully evokes the fun and the tantalizing smells that the children decide to decorate their tree the same way. Bastianich, a television chef and cookbook author, clearly bases this story on her own family and experiences, and she includes plenty of delicious, if somewhat challenging, cookie recipes. The illustrations show round-faced, beaming family members cooking, eating, and celebrating together. A cheerful depiction of the making and sharing of holiday traditions.Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kids won’t know the name of Lidia Bastianich, but foodie parents will. This famous Italian chef, TV cooking star, cookbook author, and restaurateur tells her five grandchildren how Christmas was celebrated when she was a child. This lightly fictionalized personal remembrance becomes the framework for descriptions of how the whole family decorates the juniper bush with apples, tangerines, figs, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, and wrapped walnuts and almonds. Recipes for 16 delicious-sounding traditional Italian goodies make up the second half of the book but are definitely for adults to make (the recipe for Fried Ribbon Cookies, for example, takes up two pages with its small type). The soft-toned illustrations feature Bastianich with her signature close-capped haircut and are cozy as all get-out. Narrative directions for the decorations are included, and notes convey her belief that food provides “nourishment, pleasure, and communication at every family’s table.” Grades 1-3. --Julie Cummins
Top customer reviews
This hardcover, 9"x11", 26 page tale of Christmas past, will enchant the little ones with how simple acts of love and the the true spirit of Christmas, brought joy to Lidia as a child. And now, as a grandmother herself, she brought the same happiness to her grandchildren. The pictures are large with generous use of soft, pastel-like colors, with words that even a little one could read.
It is a delightfully written story of how the Christmases in Lidia's childhood were celebrated; not with running around and buying and spending and stressing, as we tend to do in this present world, but in simpler more cherished time of understanding the essence of Christmas; in coming together as family and finding the simple stuffs around us to prepare for the birth of our Lord.
Joining together with artist Laura Logan, both pen and picture tell the story of how Lidia, her parents, her grandparents, and her brother, spent the Christmas season when she was a child, growing up during more sparse times. But times in which the simplicities of life were the most endearing. We join Lidia as she is recounting these stories to her own grandchildren, and the lesson and impact such closeness imparts to young children as the older generation passes on the memories of a era gone by and the joy that it brought to them.
Instead of the luxury of a big Christmas tree, she tells of a small juniper bush that held little blue berries on its branches, and was bedecked with homemade cookie wreaths and tangerines and pears and apples and figs and bay leaves and such, with ribbons to tie those special decorations. Candy was also placed on the bush but candy was quite a treat in those days, and whenever she and her brother would eat one of the candies, they would place small pebbles in the wrapper and place them back on the bush, so that no one would notice.
In telling this story to the children, they too wanted to have that same type of Christmas celebration, and in the earnestness that only children can evoke, carried out the same tradition through the same actions.
A gifted artist, Laura Logan has created darling caricatures of Lidia and her family, especially her grandchildren, and with color and imagination, brought the scenes to the pages of this book. As her grandchildren will someday cherish, this was a wonderful and touching way of being entwined in their grandmother's love and life.
At the end of the story, there is a grand caricatiure photo of the Bastianich family, including Lidia's mother, Erminia, along with Lidia's children, Tanya and her husband, and son Joseph and his wife, along with the grandchildren, gathered around the tree and fireplace, feeling once more the joy of her Christmas past.
Near the end, the book contains the recipes that make for a simple, yet memorable celebration such as Fruit Tea, Brutti Ma Buoni cookies, Fregolata (Cookie Crumbles), Crostoli (Fried Ribbon Cookies), Pignoli (Amaretii con Pignoli; these are delicious!), Biscotti ai Demi di Sesamo (Sesame Cookies), Crostata (Fruit Jam or Chocolate Tartlet Cookies), Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies, PB & J Cookies, Angel Food Cupcakes, Simple Sugar Cookies, Almond Apricot Butter Cookies, Almond Stuffed Figs, Chocolate Star Cookies, Royal Icing, and Palacinkes.
The last 2 pages of this wonderful book is called "Decorating the Tree" which was a short little essay of sorts desribing how the Christmas tree (or bush!) can be decorated by finding the right ribbons and fruits, and how to use them to bring that memory to life.
This reminded me very much of the books I read in my childhood, which made me want to read them over and over again because of how warm and happy they made me feel. It also reminds me of times shared with my own grandparents and the stories they told; those memories are priceless to me. Yes, I am very much in awe of what Lidia does, and the talent that she has, but one would be hardpressed to deny the delight that such a simple story can bring to the heart. Peace.
This book is perfect for children from Grade 2 and up and the recipes make for some great baking time for kids and adults to take part in. The illustrations are beautiful and I like how Nonna looks just like Lidia ! I enjoy watching Lidia on cooking shows when I can, just to see if she makes anything that reminds me of the Italian side of my family.
to truly capture the moment. The book was somewhat of a surprise in that I expected a more mature content, however this will be a new take on the traditional Christmas stories we share. I enjoyed Lidia's childhood memories and the beautiful Italian cookie recipes and tree decorations are splendid!