The Legend of Old Befana: An Italian Christmas Story
The celebration of Befana, who flies across the sky on Twelfth Night, leaving cakes and cookies for children as they sleep, is a beloved story in Europe. It is timeworn only by its many versions, and Tomie dePaola's retelling is unique in its resplendent settings and carefully researched detail. His story also broadens the character of the eccentric old recluse of the small Italian village, who is always sweeping. While Befana is sometimes called a witch, Tomie dePaola gives his readers a chance to make their own decisions, imbuing Old Befana with more humanity than most have offered the lonely old woman in her endless search for the Christ Child.