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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fuse 8 n’ Kate: Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola

StregaNonaKate is under the distinct impression that she sounds like Dracula in this episode, but I say she’s Luigi-tastic. She also had to edit the living heck out of this one because I just kept flubbing the lines repeatedly. I have no idea what was going on with my tongue that day. She in turn has written, “Never make me do Italian again, I beg you.”  Which, naturally, makes me DESPERATELY want to make her do Italian again. But what kind of Italian shall I have her do? Something a little more Godfather? A little Sophia Loren? Suggestions are welcome.

The lesson of the day: Don’t take a pregnant woman’s fork. Explanation to follow.

Listen to the whole show here on Soundcloud or download it through iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or your preferred method of podcast selection.

Show Notes:

– I’ll do the Weston Woods folks a solid and not link to a YouTube video of their take on the book, but you should really watch it. For the soundtrack alone if nothing else.

– If anyone has any further information on the goose “Black Murdoch” that belonged to the Dillons, please alert me immediately.

– Wait. Kate may have been right about the Dracula thing. I may have to take my words back.

– To know more about the life of Big Anthony, check out Big Anthony: His Story.

– Evidence that Big Anthony knew that he was applying for a job. Note the paper in his hand.


– For the sequel with Strega Amelia, you’ll want Strega Nona Meets Her Match.

– The eleven Strega Nona sequels are as follows:

  • Big Anthony and the Magic Ring (1979)
  • Strega Nona’s Magic Lessons (1982)
  • Merry Christmas, Strega Nona (1986)
  • Strega Nona Meets Her Match (1993)
  • Strega Nona: Her Story (1996)
  • Big Anthony, His Story (1998)
  • Strega Nona Takes a Vacation (2000)
  • Brava, Strega Nona! A Heartwarming Pop-Up Book (2008)
  • Strega Nona’s Harvest (2009)
  • Strega Nona Does It Again (2013)

– Is this pasta gross or good? You decide. It does say, “And some people came back for two and three helpings”.


– This peacock ain’t waiting around to get strangled by spaghetti. Tail or no tail, it’s outta here.


– The one safe space in town. That rabbit is still perched there near the story’s end.


– Strega Nona performs a cardinal sin: Taking the pregnant woman’s fork. That guy in the background knows it’s going down.


– The priest and the nuns going to the local witch. I was reminded of The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz when I spoke of the early mix of paganism and Christianity in medieval Europe.


– The hat sequence. Let’s do this. The first time it goes off his head:


– The second time, when it’s removed willingly:


– The last time when the pot itself knocks it off. Maybe it felt he was disrespectful.


– “It’s wafer thin.”


– Evidence that he just did a path to her home. Do you see the pasta in the lower left-hand corner? So she’s not being a complete monster about all of this.


– Minh Le’s bit on Strega Nona can be found here but its brilliance belongs to the masses.

– Can you crack The dePaola Code? It’s a doozy.

– You can find Handsome Big Anthony in Big Anthony and the Magic Ring.

– This is what a quokka is. It doesn’t, insofar as we can tell, give you chlamydia:


– Actually, the yams are a-okay. What reader C. Baker actually wrote was, “Yams in Africa are not at all related to sweet potatoes in America. When Africans were kidnapped and brought to America, they used a familiar word (yam) to refer to a new vegetable. But they’re not the same, and you can hardly find yams over here.”

– Kate mentions the Freelance Wrestling Show in Chicago and her story is borne out by these tweets:

Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 11.22.15 PM

– Cannot recommend this book enough. Cake Magic by Caroline Wright:


About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. (I tried to post this on the track, and I don’t think it worked. If I messed up and it showed up a million times, I’m sorry.)

    I don’t know what happened to my former comment, so I apologize if this is posting twice. My trivia guess (without cheating and checking Google or my OPAC) is that Big Anthony is in five other books (His Story, Magic Ring, Magic Lessons, SN’s Harvest, and Merry Christmas SN). I’m actually reading Strega Nona this week with my primary students — we’ll read Strega Nona’s Harvest next week and Merry Christmas Strega Nona the next week.

    One thing you didn’t mention is that the Weston Woods video does the song wrong! Everyone knows you need to sing the Pasta Pot song to the tarantella melody!