Why do Italian children hang up a stocking on the eve of the Epiphany?
The Night of La Befana explains this custom with a retelling of the ancient Italian legend in which a reclusive old woman named Befana is the object of curious whispers.
And for what reason? For sweeping and baking all day long, and singing lullabies to no one at all!
But the appearance of a brilliant star one winter's night changes everything.
Author Maria Centofanti Pritchard and illustrator Isabella Centofanti Alexander are sisters who grew up when life's slower pace invited them to linger long at the dinner table and to listen to their parents tell of their Old World childhood adventures.
To create The Night of La Befana, Maria and Isabella drew deeply on memories: their father's birthplace in Italy, the hard-working villagers there, and their Italian grandmother who baked bread and sang the ninna nanna with joy and passion.
The Night of La Befana unfolds in a simple yet lyrical style. Each watercolor illustration is entirely hand-done, every brush stroke robust and purposeful. Together, text and pictures capture the essence of that strange night when three royally dressed men invite Befana to join their star-led search for the Christ Child, and she stubbornly declines.
What happens when she wakes to regret her decision is why January 5th is the Night of La Befana.
And it is why Italian children hang up a stocking on the eve of the Epiphany.
Readers and listeners of all ages will treasure The Night of La Befana, a story to be read and enjoyed throughout the Christmas season, again and again!
Cookie recipe (including coal cookies) included on back page.
Written in English, and heirloom book, suitable for ages 9+
Hardcover, dust jacket, 32 pages. 8.5" x 11", $17.95 . (order button is below the video)
"I just received my copy and I couldn't wait to read it - cover to cover! The story is beautifully written and the illustration are wonderful! Thank you for a book I will share with my grandchildren. The book goes beautifully with my La Befana doll I bought last year!" ~ Sue
"This book is wonderful. I just received my copy a couple days ago and read it to my daughter; tomorrow I will start reading it to my younger Italian students." ~ Sandra