Retold by Maria Centofanti Pritchard
Illustrated by Isabella Centofanti Alexander


     Why do Italian children hang up a stocking on the eve of the Epiphany?

     The Night of La Befana is a children's book that explains this custom with a retelling of the ancient Italian legend.

     A reclusive old woman named Befana sweeps and bakes incessantly, and is heard singing lullabies with no one to love and care for.

     One winter’s night, a brilliant star awakens her to a passing caravan. Three royally dressed men invite her to join them on their journey to find the Christ Child. Stubbornly, she remains behind, noting her need to sweep.

     In the morning, filled with regret, Befana vows to catch up with the three royal men and their caravan. She packs a few cakes and a small gift for the Christ Child, takes her broom and her lantern, and begins to run.

     What happens next 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!


Hardcover, 32 pages. 8.75" X 11"  $17.95











The Night of La Befana


Maria Centofanti Pritchard



Isabella Centofanti Alexander


     Author Maria Centofanti Pritchard and illustrator Isabella Centofanti Alexander are sisters who grew up when life's slower pace invited them to linger at the dinner table and to listen to their parents tell of 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.