Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"Strega Nona" In The Shower

A few months ago, a favorite book in our household was "Strega Nona" by Tomie dePaolo. This original tale features an Italian "grandma witch" who cures the simple ailments of the townspeople. She also happens to be in possession of a magic pasta pot.

The climax of the story occurs when Big Anthony, Strega Nona's helper,  "borrows" the pasta pot to impress the villagers. Having failed to pay attention previously, Anthony is unable to stop the pot from cooking, and the entire village is in danger of being swallowed up by the never ending pasta. Fortunately, Strega Nona returns from her visit at just the right time, the pasta pot ceases, the village is saved, and Anthony is forced to eat all of the pasta as punishment.

Although I love the story, I find that one of the best parts of reading it aloud is the fun of trying an Italian accent (albeit a terrible one), and letting the name Strega Nona roll off my tongue. My girls always enjoyed this part of the read aloud as well, laughing at my comical accent and trying versions of their own.

FLASH FORWARD. It is now a few months later, and my daughters have developed an extremely odd ritual. Every once in a while, when pressed for time and faced with grubby children, I will throw my children in the shower. After the water has stopped running, and prior to drying off, the chanting begins. At the top of their lungs, and in their very best Italian accents (which are as terrible as mine!), the girls begin a chorus of "Strega Nona...Strega Nona." Sometimes, they even crouch down, put their faces against the stone, and yell their refrain into the floor.

I can only imagine that this little ritual continues due to the fun of saying "Strega Nona," coupled with the fantastic acoustics the bathroom provides. What originally inspired the odd pairing of the shower and Strega Nona? To that I am clueless! Instead, I find myself rolling my eyes in befuddlement in those post-shower moments, looking on as my children try to outdo each other in a volley of terrible Italian accents. It is a sight (and sound) to behold!


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