Our Italian Christmas Eve

Danielle Sedita

Book - 2023

In a bustling house of relatives, Danielle and Francesco's excitement turns to a mission as they race against time to remember their mother's cheesecake recipe, saving Christmas with a mouthwatering Italian feast. Includes a recipe for cheesecake.

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picture books
Picture books
New York : Viking 2023.
Main Author
Danielle Sedita (author)
Other Authors
Francesco Sedita (author), Luciano Lozano, 1969- (illustrator)
Physical Description
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 28 cm
Ages 3-7.
Grades K-1.
Contents unavailable.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

The siblings Sedita set a place for readers at the table of their extended Italian family's holiday Feast of the Seven Fishes in this picture book look at a cherished tradition. A labeled portrait introduces the child narrators' smiling wide-eyed fam, all portrayed with pale skin, gathered at hostess Aunt Babe's house. After "we kiss all eighteen people and get big hugs," Babe quickly puts her "darlings" to work grating big hunks of parmesan, and sounds the alarm about a dessert shortage. The "bambini" delightedly whip up a sweet treat of their own before describing the parade of seafood dishes. A busy evening of Christmas music, naps, and mouthwatering baked goods unfolds before Babe ushers everyone on to attend midnight Mass. The authors sustain a warm, bubbly tone, a mood matched by Lozano's scribbly depictions of a loving family exhibiting countless distinct and often-humorous facial expressions. Ages 3--7. (Oct.)

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Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 1--4--Danielle and Francesco are excited to celebrate their Italian heritage at Christmastime, especially at Aunt Babe's house with their large extended family. As family members gather in the kitchen to prepare their Christmas Eve feast, a dilemma arises: "Your uncle Robert forgot to bring the struffoli!" It seems it will be up to Danielle and Francesco to use available ingredients to make a special dessert for the whole family and save Christmas Eve. Delectable food, including seven different kinds of fish, is served for the monumental feast. Afterwards, music, cuddling, presents, and midnight mass fill the evening as quality time with family is cherished. After all, it is "the best day of the year because we get to spend so much time with the ones we love the most." Bright illustrations sketched with care accompany the text nicely in this fun take on a traditional Italian Christmas Eve. Final pages provide an author's note with a brief history of the Italian celebrations often shared around the holiday season, as well as a savory recipe for "Mom's Cheesecake." VERDICT An excellent addition to any elementary library, this would also pair well with a classroom lesson on holiday cultures around the world.--Kerra Mazzariello

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

Two young siblings of Italian descent describe the year they saved Christmas Eve. Danielle and Francesco (the authors and protagonists) narrate their story in the first-person plural, a choice that leads to dialogic constraints and little character differentiation, but those elements are not this tale's concern. What is? Food and family. After the drive to Aunt Babe's, the first activity is a group photo; all 22 guests are labeled, from Aunt Tootsie to Baby Meemo. The caricaturelike figures--presenting white, with a multitude of body shapes--have a retro feel, but Grandma Yoo-Hoo's selfie stick places the night in the 21st century. The action mostly occurs in the kitchen and dining room, where readers learn about a traditional Italian Christmas Eve, from the Feast of the Seven Fishes (note the octopus in the sink) to the bignolati and rosettes. (Backmatter provides information about these delicacies.) The narrative arc peaks at a potential dessert shortage; Uncle Robert forgot to bring the struffoli. Luckily, the children know how to make cheesecake. Lozano's digital scenes are full of holiday bustle, aunties cooking in high heels, and eye-catching textures and patterns--feathery evergreen branches, the design on the red tablecloth, the shape of stiff spaghetti before it sinks into a pot of water. Common Italian words add linguistic flavor. (This book was reviewed digitally.) While the drama is low-key, foodies will enjoy this entertaining expansion to the holiday shelf. (authors' note, recipe) (Picture book. 4-6) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.