Wednesday, December 3, 2008
December Stories and Songs, Part 3
Off to Italy today with Tomie de Paola and a rollicking tale of what happens when Big Anthony tries to comply with Strega Nona's rule about preparing for Christmas with no magic. Sisterfilms thought that I should post disclaimers about some of the stories, because they might make readers or listeners cry. This one won't, unless you laugh until you cry. (By the way, if you want to read some very nice memoirs about Tomie de Paola's Christmas celebrations over the years, his book Christmas Remembered, published by Putnam in 2006, is a winner).
Years ago, the Children's Theatre Company of Minneapolis did a wonderful stage version of Merry Christmas, Strega Nona. At one point, shepherds from the Abruzzi come into Strega Nona's village playing their bagpipes, in the Canzone di Zampognari (in Italian variously Quanno nascette Nino and Tu scendi dalle stelle). I recognized the tune as one I'd heard on a folk music album with English words. The song was 'Twas on a Night Like This, the words by Pete Seeger, and the album I now have is this one: 'Twas on a Night Like This, a Folk-Legacy recording featuring Cathy Barton, Dave Para, the Paton family, Ed Trickett, and even a reading of Howard Thurman's Benediction by Gordon Bok. The song is also available for download as sung by Pete Seeger, from the Smithsonian website in conjunction with Folkways.
So, grab a biscotto and an espresso (or Italian soda, for the uncaffeinated) and spend some time in Italy with dePaola's sunny colors. A perfect antidote for any grey skies you may be seeing outside!