When Tomie dePaola presented a signed copy of his artwork to Hillary Clinton, she exclaimed, “Oh, Tomie, I just love you!”
Tomie dePaola is one of today’s best-known, best-loved names in the world of children’s literature. He has received the industry’s highest recognition and awards, including the Caldecott Honor Award for his book Strega Nona and the Newbery Honor Award for his autobiographical 26 Fairmount Avenue. In 2011, Tomie was awarded the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal honoring his lasting contribution to children’s literature. And in 2012, an Original Art Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Illustrators.
At the core of Tomie’s success is … well … Tomie. 78 years into life on this planet and he has never lost touch with own sense of wonder and what it is to be a child. Tomie has an uncanny ability to know what children like and what they want to read about – and is terrifically successful translating that into image and text.
Tomie came from a large, intimate and fun-loving Irish-Italian family that “loved telling tales.” Laughter and storytelling were part of his everyday life, as was reading. He remembers well his mother reading stories to him when he was too young to read himself – and attributes that to a declaration he made at age five – announcing that he wanted to write books and draw pictures when he grew up. He was encouraged every step of the way by his parents and teachers who saw his talent early on. Tomie loved to draw so much he would bring a penlight to bed with him and draw pictures on his sheets! (That wasn’t so much encouraged.) He once wrote a note and sent a picture to Walt Disney – and received a reply. Disney told the young Tomie how much he liked his drawing and urged him to keep up the good work – and that he did. Now it’s Tomie who writes back to and encourages every child who writes to him.
I will be recording Tomie in early November in the studio at CedarHouse Sound and Mastering in Sutton, NH. It is always difficult to know in what direction a conversation with Tomie will go – but we will touch on early influences, growing up in Depression-era central Connecticut, his autobiographical stories, the role of folktales in modern life, and the step-by-step process behind creating a picture book.
“Generally, we don’t think of those who create books for children–authors or illustrators–as superstars. Yet certain names–Sendak, Carle, dePaola among others–have acquired the kind of sparkle that goes with star status. A new book by any one of the stellar few stands as a real publishing event.”
The Detroit News
“… great contemporary picture-book writer.”
The New York Times Book Review
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