Pasta – Felice Arena. Illustrated by Beatrice Cerocchi.


Affirm Press

28 March 2023
RRP: $19.99
ISBN: 9781922848604

I do wish you could see how tricky this lovely cover is, with its embossed shiny strands of spaghetti twirling with temptation. There would be very few kiddos who don’t both know and enjoy eating pasta and many of them will already know a few of the different types. Spaghetti, macaroni, lasagne, fettucine spring to mind immediately. But if you have known Italians, as The Kid and I have done, you will know that these are just the tip of the steaming bowl of delicious goodness and so many of the pasta names are just glorious good fun to say. Clever Felice Arena has put them together in a joyous rhyming romp through the menu, to which all children will love to bounce along.

I have not previously seen Beatrice Cerocchio’s illustrative work but her style is well suited to this rambunctious rumbustification with its bold colours, adroit details and expressive characters – and those endpapers!! Just delightful!

If you have a focus on food itself or perhaps looking at cultural differences, (or how these have been absorbed to become a vital part of mainstream Australia) this would be a great addition to your program. But like most great picture books, it is just pure good fun as well and I can easily envisage a read-aloud session that leads to some pasta art or some menu creations for a classroom restaurant or some crazy spelling lists. I do feel you should practise your Italian accent for a read-aloud session as the kiddos will delight in joining in with you, as well as providing the emphases in all the appropriate places!

Those of us of a certain age will remember a childhood in a typical WASP home sans pasta – I know I didn’t ‘discover’ spaghetti bolognese until the very early 70s (thanks to my big brother!). How marvellous that now we have this entire delicious smorgasbord of pasta varieties and dishes to play with as a matter of course!

Let me finish with a slightly amusing story on that note. Our Italian friend came to Australia in 1971, and he, and the friend he made on the ship, arrived in Sydney and set forth to find somewhere to eat on their first day. Neither of these two Italian men (almost still boys) spoke a single word of English, but found a cafe and recognised the word ‘spaghetti’ on the menu, so promptly ordered that. You can imagine their complete bewilderment (and horror actually) when plates of toast and tinned spaghetti arrived at their table. I did laugh a lot at the recount of this experience but really, thank heavens we’ve moved on from there! (also – where would our sense of pasta humour be without the famous Spaghetti Harvest Hoax?)

Buon Appetito! Enjoy your fill of Pasta – I highly recommend it to your readers from around Prep upwards. Ciao!

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