Title: Pizza for the Queen
Author: Nancy Castaldo
Major Themes: Italy, Pizza, Food
Synopsis: When the queen wants to taste his pizza, Raffaele does his best to cook a masterpiece for her.
We went into a library far from home recently to use the WiFi, while on a trip. We were staying with a relative who had a card for that library, and because I had several sick children, we found a large stack of books to take home for them. What fun to have access, for a day, to a good library! One of the books, Pizza for the Queen, was such a hit with my 6-year-old that, immediately after the third reading, he wanted me to read it to him again! That was when I knew I needed to write a review of this delightful picture book.
The story is set in Napoli, or Naples, Italy, in 1889. Raffaele Esposito owns a famous pizzeria, and is busy feeding the common people every day. This morning, a messenger arrives from the queen, announcing that she wants to taste the pizza that the common people eat! Raffaele springs into action, visiting the vendors from whom he buys the ingredients for his pizzas.
In the evening after he satisfies the appetites of his customers, Raffaele begins to make pizzas for the queen. He makes two of the local people’s favorites—but the main ingredient for the third has vanished! In desperation, he invents a new style of pizza. What will the queen think of it?
Not only is this a delightful story, the pictures are also fun. They are slightly stylized, but give the feeling of an Italian town. We were fascinated by the way Raffaele shaped the pizza crust, and reading the story made my little boys hungry! At the end of the book is a recipe for the pizza he invented. This is a great picture book to read over and over, and inspire young cooks.
Listening Level—Ages 3 – 4, 5 – 8
Reading Independently—Ages 7 – 9