You’re just in time to enjoy a soul-warming slice of Susan Fillion’s homemade pizza. There’s nothing like a perfect chewy-crisp crust topped with a little crushed tomato, melty mozzarella, black olives and fresh basil, just begging you to take a bite. Delizioso!
Also delicious is Susan’s charming new bilingual picture book, Pizza in Pienza (David R. Godine, 2013), which is about two of her favorite things — pizza, of course, and Pienza, a small town in Tuscany where Pope Pius II was born (he rebuilt Pienza to be an “ideal Renaissance town”).
Susan’s story features a young Italian girl, a resident of Pienza, who is crazy about pizza — so much so, that she decides to find out everything she can about it. She asks her grandmother to teach her how to make it, she scopes out Giovanni, the local pizzaiolo, and she also reads all about the history of pizza at the library. Did you know pizza (as we know it today) most likely originated in Naples, Italy?
An artist and museum educator at the Baltimore Museum of Art, Susan has filled this book with beautiful rustic, folkloric paintings rendered in warm Tuscan browns, crimsons, golds, olives, and blues. I love how her humorous touches (Mona Lisa holding a slice of pizza) gives us a fresh taste of antiquity, blending past and present on a timeless canvas of Italian village life.
Hungry readers will appreciate the added layer of flavor afforded by the Italian translations on every page — two savory bites for the price of one! End matter includes an Author’s Note, Pronunciation Guide, and Susan’s recipe for Pizza Margherita. And did I mention the cool pizza sauce endpapers? Squisito!
I first saw Patty’s lovely dolls several weeks ago when Etsy posted her enchanting stop motion video, “A Doll Making Story.” Instantly charmed, I was curious to find out more about the artist who was able to transform pieces of paper clay and scraps of vintage fabric into beautiful dolls with heart. All her pieces are handmade without the use of molds and are one of a kind.
The mysterious Patty, who chooses not to divulge her surname or reveal her likeness in a photo, lives in Florence, Italy, surely one of the most beautiful cities in the world, known for its rich history, culture, art, architecture, and high fashion. Who would not be inspired to create some form of art when living in the birthplace of the Renaissance? I still sigh and swoon whenever I recall standing in the Uffizi Gallery gazing at Botticelli’s “Primavera.”
I’m sure you’ll enjoy meeting Patty, who, in addition to English, speaks Italian, Spanish, French, and a bit of Russian. She named her shop “Dedalos” (“maze”), after Daedalus, the first artist and artisan in Greek mythology who built the famous Labyrinth for King Minos in Crete. I’m always fascinated by how an artist can make a doll actually resemble a famous person yet still emanate her own trademark style.