Eat, Leo! Eat! by Caroline Adderson
Illustrations by Josée Bisaillon
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Release Date: April 1, 2015
Leo wants no part of sitting down with his family to eat Nonna's big, delizioso lunch every Sunday. "I'm not hungry," he insists. Not hungry? Hmm. Clever Nonna gets an idea. She'll use a story to lure Leo to her table. And since the pasta in her soup, called stelline (little stars), is woven into the story about a boy who journeys to his grandmother's at night, it works. But again on the following Sunday, Leo doesn't want to eat. So Nonna expands her story, this time adding some chiancaredde (paving stones), the name of the pasta she's serving that day, to create a path for her character to follow. Now Leo's hooked. So much that he begins to badger Nonna every Sunday to reveal more pasta-based details of the story. And week by week, as Leo's relatives crowd around listening to Nonna and teasing Leo to get him to mangia (eat), he slowly comes to realize just how happy he is to have a place at this table.
Not being even remotely Italian, I have truly never understood (nor pronounced correctly) the many names of pasta, which is why I loved this book so much. It is a unique way to introduce readers to a subject that they didn't know they needed or wanted to know. This is a book about good Italian food and the importance of heritage. It is about the power of story and how it shapes our view of the world and our role in it. Most importantly, it is about family. The illustrations were fantastic and I walked away feeling like I had not only read a good book, but had learned something important. For example, the Farfalle pasta I made last weekend, which I have always called bow-tie pasta, should actually be called butterfly pasta. And now I know.