cover image Celia


Christelle Vallat, illus. by Stephanie Augusseau. Peter Pauper (, $16.99 (36p) ISBN 978-1-4413-1536-6

Not unlike Strega Nona, an elderly woman named Celia brings magic to the town in which she lives. Celia's magic is that she listens. On Sundays, she perches somberly on a stool while citizens queue up to speak with her: "She listened to the little problems, to the big problems.... She listened to every worry, every sorrow, everything that the people had to say." In exchange, the people give Celia small seeds%E2%80%94initially, they are the only source of color in Augusseau's delicate pencil illustrations%E2%80%94that she uses to create even more magic. She changes some seeds to big red and orange balloons that make children jump for joy; others become fields of flowers or frosting for cakes and cookies. The heart of Vallat's story revolves around a boy who loses his seed; Celia finds it and takes him under her wing. The scenes of the two of them carefully watering his seed and chatting over tea present deeply tender images of intergenerational friendship, and it's clear that he brings her as much happiness as she does him. Ages 4%E2%80%938. (Mar.)