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Lidia Bastianich writes for kids

Nonni is back. Lidia Bastianich and her grandchildren are together again in her second children’s picturebook, “Nonna’s Birthday Surprise: Lidia’s Family Kitchen” (illustrated by Renée Graef, Running Press Kids, $16.95), thinking up a feast for Bastianich’s mother, Nonna Mima, who is in her 90s. Bastianich recalls for them her own childhood in Italy surrounded by seasonal foods, grown at her grandparents’ home in Istria, eaten or canned, cured, and preserved (“our own little grocery store”). Then Nonni (as they call her) takes her brood to the market and they pick out fresh produce, cheese, and herbs. Back home she helps them concoct their surprise (pasta primavera) and they celebrate with their parents and Nonni and Nonna Mima. The 18 seasonal recipes — including panna cotta with berries, bread and tomato salad, chicken soup with pastina, and potato gnocchi — offer KIDS CAN segments (wrap garlic heads in foil, shuck peas, pound cutlets, measure cheese) that the adult in charge will appreciate. Available at bookstores or go to

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