Strega Nona, or “Grandma Witch” cures everyone’s ails in her town of Calabria, Italy with her potions and spells. Big Anthony, her helper, is put in charge when Strega Nona takes a trip out of town. She warns him not to touch her magic pasta pot, but he’s too foolish to resist.
Hoping to impress the town’s people, he fills the magic pot with pasta by repeating the secret chant he’d overheard her say. Unfortunately, he missed a key detail and the pot pumps out enough food to cover the entire town! Strega Nona returns just in time to stop the pasta flowing and hand Big Anthony a fork, saying, “The punishment must fit the crime.”
A young boy named Nicki looses a snow-white mitten that his “Baba” made for him. It’s not long before a mole, rabbit, hedgehog, owl, badger, fox, bear and tiny mouse squeeze into the mitten to take refuge from the snowy day. Just as the boy realizes his mitten is gone, the mouse’s whiskers tickle the bear’s nose and “Aaaaa-aaaaa-ca-chew! all the animals [fly] out of the mitten.” Nicki catches the extraordinarily stretched-out mitten as it sails through the air, calling out to his grandma, “See, Baba!…I have both my mittens.”
An endearing Ukrainian folktale well-told and beautifully illustrated. Each two page spread is framed in birch bark drawings. The mitten cutouts on either side foreshadow what the next page will bring.