Family Book Festival

Family Book Festival: Kara Fleck and Strega Nona

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February is our Family Book Festival!

Family Book Festival

Today we are paid a visit from the ever talented and lovely Kara Fleck. Kara and I share a love of books, knitting, crafting and a deep love of motherhood. I feel truly honored and blessed to share daily musings with Kara via our Facebook pages. Throughout the years we’ve come to peak into each other’s lives and interests. Kara makes a huge contribution to the world and wonder of parenting as editor of Simple Kids

Simple Kids

Kara is sharing her family book read Strega Nona by Tomie DePaolaYou must know that is one of our family’s favorites as well. Don’t forget the fun activity at the end where you too get to deliver something magical !!!!


Kara, what is it about Stregna Nona your family loves? Please share.

Our Family Favorite: Strega Nona by Tomie DePaola

I grew up in the country, corn fields and woods and a (mostly) lazy river surrounding the house built into the side of a hill where I lived with my parents and my two brothers and baby sister.  The town closest to us was very small, with one blinking stop light, a post office, a corner grocery story, and a tiny library.  The library was actually in the front living room of a home, with a small area reserved for children’s books.  The school I attended was a rural school with another small library, shelves around the perimeter of the room and a handful of tables and chairs sprinkled throughout.  It was perfectly nice and inviting and not at all intimidating for this shy young reader.

We had a home library and my parents and grandparents purchased books for me.  This was before the days of internet bookstores and mega-chain franchises, and the weekly reader book club was one of my favorites. We also frequented the used bookstore, the place where I learned to love old books for their smell, the touch of the pages, and the feel of their bound covers, tome after tome in precarious stacks.In spite of the size of “my” libraries, as a child I found it easy to fill my backpack week after week with books – enough to fall in love with reading and to keep my imagination active.

While I was familiar with Laura Ingalls, Narnia, Caddie Woodlawn, and Garfield there are some stories considered children’s classics that I did not know about until I became a parent myself.  This means that my children and I got to discover them together.

One of those stories, which has become a family favorite, is Tomie DePaola’s Strega Nona.

 Strega Nona

Tomie DePaola wrote the story of Strega Nona,  about Big Anthony, and the magic pasta pot.  It is an original story he wrote and illustrated.  I won’t spoil the ending for you, but the pasta pot is a key figure in the story for it is a magical pasta pot capable of making endless amounts of pasta.


Strega Nona is a story about listening, following rules, having respect for others … and it is also a story about magic, kindness, teaching, and sharing.

Strega Nona Pasta Night


Reading Strega Nona is a frequent occurrence at our house, and it is only natural that my family and I think of Strega Nona and her magic pasta pot when we have spaghetti dinners. Spaghetti is an easy meal to make and, depending on the type of sauce you use, can either be a quick meal to pull together or a slow, lingering afternoon of preparation as you get the sauce just right.

Either way, preparing a pasta dinner together is a nice excuse for families to spend time in the kitchen.  And, if you know the magic words for your own pasta pot, you can be sure there will be exactly the right amount for every hungry belly at your table.

“Bubble, bubble, pasta pot,

Boil me some pasta, nice and hot,

I’m hungry and it’s time to sup,

Boil enough pasta to fill me up”

Sharing “Magic” Pasta 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have an endless pasta pot?  While that may not be possible, it is possible to share our good fortune with others.

Why not make a donation to your local food pantry?  Boxed pasta and jarred pasta sauce would be appreciated and your family can share with others in your community, performing your own type of magic.

Want to put a fun spin on pasta for your kids?

Spaghetti Hotdogs!

spaghetti hotdog recipe


1 package of good quality spaghetti noodles like Barilla

2 Package of hot dogs or turkey hotdogs

Sauce of Choice


Break dry spaghetti noodles in half.

Cut hotdogs up into 2″ pieces (bite-sized)

Thread 5-6 pieces of uncooked spaghetti noodles through the hotdog chunks

Boil the two together in unsalted water until tender (approx 10 minutes)

Serve with whatever sauce your kids may like.  YUM!

I think Strega Nona and Big Anthony would approve.


Kara Fleck is the editor of Simple Kids. She lives in Indiana with her husband Christopher and their four children. You can also find her at Rockin’ Granola, where things are “a little bit crunchy and a little bit rock’n’roll.”  You can find Kara on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter

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