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Monday, December 7, 2015

Eat, Leo, Eat! Written by Caroline Adderson and illustrated by Josee Bisaillon. Kids Can Press, 2015. $18.95 ages 5 and up

"Once there was a little boy who went to see his nonna. He went at night. But at night the world looked so dark and different. 'I wish, I wish,' he said, 'that there was light to see by.' Then he looked up and what did he see?" "Stars?" Leo asks."

When the family pays their weekly visit to Nonna's house for lunch, Leo is uninterested. He would much rather be playing. All other family members love her lunches, and it isn't long until Nonna does just what is sure to bring a boy who is not hungry to the table ... she tells a story!

No matter what Nonna is providing for pasta lunch on each successive Sunday, Leo is rarely at the table when everyone else is ready to eat. Each week, no matter the food he refuses to eat, Nonna has a story for him and encouragement to 'mangia, Leo'. Whether it's stelline, or chiancaredde, occhi di lupo ... there's a story. It isn't too hard to entice the next week ... Leo does love spaghetti!

The next week Leo is first to the table. Is it spaghetti that he wants again? No, it's the end to his nonna's story! Leo is hungry for that. But is not to be. This week they are having creste di gallo. Leo will have to wait one more week for Nonna to tell him the rest of her story.

Readers share the warmth of this family's love for each other, their shared cultural heritage, and the food that brings them together one time every week. The cumulative storytelling adds depth and a connection to the variety in the pasta that Nonna makes to share with her happy Italian brood. The playful details of family life created in mixed media by Josee Bisaillon allows us a place at their table.

An endnote gives a brief look at the traditional pastas used in Italian cooking,  and there is a guide to the Italian words used throughout that is sure to add interest.

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