Thursday, April 21, 2011

Strega Nona

Last Friday, Josie and I went to Georgia's class to celebrate the end of their unit on children's book author, Tomie DePaola.

Tomie DePaola has written many books, including Strega Nona, a tale of eavesdropping and magic gone horribly wrong.  It features a rather dim-witted, though hard-working Italian boy called Big Anthony and his diminutive, wart-curing employer, Strega Nona.  It is a good book.

That being said, I've never understood our town's obsession with this author.  Tomie DePaola is studied for what seems like YEARS by our children.  They talk about his picture books in the lower grades and they read and discuss his series of autobiographical chapter books in the upper grades.  Our public schools use the lessons to learn about Italy and immigration and any number of other topics derived from each thin book.  My children talk about Tomie DePaola as if he's a Pulitzer Prize winner and someone that all people know about and revere.

I just don't get it.  Personally, I could think of many other children's authors that are better or just as good and many of them have great morals and superb talking points for kids.  But I digress.  This post is not about children's books, it is about Georgia's Second Grade Celebratory Spaghetti Lunch.  I apologise to you and to Tomie DePaola, who I'm sure is a delightful man.

The second graders made laminated place mats shaped like Strega Nona's pasta pot and they put her magical incantation on the front.  This is important because if they didn't recite the magic words, the pot would not start boiling pasta and the children would go hungry.  Notice how they didn't include the spell to stop the pot.  I guess Georgia's teacher was hoping to get some extra pasta for her dinner that night.

Josie and I had gone out for lunch, so we just helped out and watched the kids serve themselves a healthy mixture of spaghetti and meatballs, vegetable sticks with ranch dip and fruit salad.

Georgia's teacher keeps a basket by her desk with toys for younger siblings to play with when they come to visit.

Josie liked this basket of goodies very much.

Georgia has a great teacher this year, but I need to take a moment to show you around her classroom.  If I had been wondering where all of Georgia's art projects were, it quickly became very obvious:

The entire room is COVERED in things.  It's almost as if an entire school's worth of pictures, maps, study guides and informative posters exploded in this room.  Every time I walk into the room, it's all I can do to pay attention to the job at hand.  The clutter and lack of uncovered space is overwhelming to me.

The teacher has even hung strings across the room to hang things on so all adults - including little me - have to duck to move from the front door to the back.

There literally isn't a space uncovered.  It's totally overwhelming.  But I guess it doesn't bother the second grade set since Georgia has learned a lot this year and is doing fabulously.

But yeesh, right?

Georgia doesn't like spaghetti with meatballs.  In fact, there's very little that Georgia actually likes in terms of food.  She's an incredibly happy and sunny girl when it comes to most things, so I guess we can't really complain.

Georgia came back from the food table with this:

Not too bad, I suppose.

It was at this point that Josie started to get a little bored.  There wasn't much for either of us to do.  No books were being read and no craft projects were being started.  They were at the END of the unit and were all Tomie DePaola-ed out.

I let Josie take some pictures of me to pass the time.

This is the only one that was even the slightest bit flattering.  A note to my almost-40-year-old self:  Don't let people photograph you close up.  It's not pretty.  Distance is your friend.

After the meal, Georgia's teacher passed out Italian cookies:

Georgia noted that the cookies look like Norwegian Krumkage only not rolled up.  They did too. 

I was glad to have an additional opportunity to go into Georgia's class this year.  We've been so happy at our new school.  Although academically it's just as good as our old school, the new school has a homier and slightly old-fashioned feel.  And by old-fashioned, I mean more like the public school I went to in the 1970's and 80's.  All three of our children got wonderful teachers which made all the difference.  I hope they are just as fortunate next year. 

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