Beloved children's book author and illustrator Tomie dePaola passed away this week and the world of children's literature lost one of its shining lights. Here is his story, as presented (in transcript) on The NPR Morning Edition by reporter Petra Mayer for NPR News, and a sampling of his beloved books available for ordering.
Beloved Children's Author And Illustrator Tomie DePaola Dies At 85
- Heard on NPR Morning Edition
Tomie DePaola died Monday following a fall. Among his classics is the Caldecott winner Strega Nona, which was a tale of a witch, her assistant and a magic pot.
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
We got sad news yesterday that children's author Tomie DePaola had died. DePaola won the Caldecott Honor Award in 1976 for the book "Strega Nona," which was a tale of a witch, her assistant and a magic pot. His bubbly, gentle illustrations charmed generations of children and were truly a reflection of the man himself. NPR Books editor Petra Mayer has this appreciation.
PETRA MAYER, BYLINE: If you were a little kid in the 1980s, you knew Strega Nona, the crafty Italian grandmother who could cure warts and brew love potions and had a pot that cooked up endless dinner and endless problems for dopey Big Anthony, who didn't realize you had to stop the pot by blowing it kisses. Instead, he ended up nearly burying the town in wiggly, squiggly threads of pasta. Here's the actress Mary Steenburgen reading from the book for Storyline Online.
MARY STEENBURGEN: (Reading) The pasta had all but filled little house. Out of the windows and through the doors came the pasta. And the pot kept right on bubbling.
MAYER: Tomie DePaola was almost as productive as that magic pot. By his own count, he wrote or illustrated or both more than 270 books, several of which starred Strega Nona. He won a Newbery Honor in 2000 for "26 Fairmount Avenue," the first in a series of autobiographical books about his own childhood home in Connecticut. Here he is talking to NPR's Linda Wertheimer in 1998 about what he liked to read as a kid.
TOMIE DEPAOLA: I loved the Greek myths and legends. I didn't like fairy tales that much, like "Cinderella," "Sleeping Beauty." Those were OK. I much preferred folk tales, which, you know, are more of the folk, more earthy. And I loved the legends of, like, how things came to be.
MAYER: DePaola preferred stories with their feet on the ground. But his work did sometimes have spiritual overtones. He often wrote about Christmas. And if you look closely at his books, you'll see white doves scattered across many of his pages. Let's not get into how many times "The Clown Of God," about a poor juggler who makes one last offering to a statue of the Christ child, made me very, very sad as a kid.
Tomie DePaola lived in a big sunny house in New Hampshire, packed with Mexican folk art and shelves of doodads that he called his household gods of inspiration. And he never stopped working. His most recent books included "Cats And Kittens," full of facts for the budding cat person, and "Quiet," an appreciation of the joys of being quiet, still and mindful. He spoke to Morning Edition's Rachel Martin about that book in 2018.
DEPAOLA: If you live in a country like I do, there is the time of the day when everything does just become still. The squirrels stop looking for nuts (laughter). The crows stop fighting the squirrels. You know, the trees stop rustling.
MAYER: In that moment, an old man invites his grandchildren to sit on a bench and just be still for a moment. Everything slows down. The little girl says, I can think when I'm quiet. The boy says, I can see when I'm still. DePaola had a great appreciation for kids and what they saw and thought.
DEPAOLA: As a grown-up, I want to give children the credit for everything I can - their courage, their humor, their love, their creative abilities, their abilities to be fair, their abilities to be unfair. And I do wish that we grown-ups would give children, really, lots of credit for these, you know, ephemeral kind of qualities that they have.
MAYER: Tomie DePaola died Monday in a New Hampshire hospital from complications of surgery following a fall. He was 85.
Petra Mayer, NPR News.
In this gorgeous and contemplative New York Times bestselling picture book, legendary author-illustrator Tomie dePaola reminds us that mindfulness—being quiet, still, and present with one another—is a very special thing.
Everything is in such a hurry, busy as busy can be.
The birds are flying so fast, the dragonfly is zooming over the water—even the trees
An illustrated tribute to the Irish patron saint from the best-selling author of Quiet, Strega Nona, and many others.
This timeless picture book, available in large-format paperback or as the board book Saint Patrick, is a perfect introduction to important Irish legends and an ideal St. Patrick's day gift.
You see, clouds are fun, silly, and very interesting.
Tomie dePaola—best-selling author of Strega Nona, Quiet, and many others—knows a lot about clouds. He also knows a lot about what people think of them.
When a killing drought threatens the existence of the tribe, a courageous little Comanche girl sacrifices her most beloved possession--and the Great Spirit's answer results not only in much needed rain but a very special gift in return.
"An ideal complement to Native American and Texas studies..."Booklist
From New York Times bestselling author and illustrator Tomie dePaola comes an adorable springtime story about fifteen bunnies who are planting a garden!
Spring is here! That means it’s time for the Hopkins family to plant their beautiful gardens.
What happens when a sheepish knight and a not-so-fierce dragon fight for the very first time? Well, it's no ordinary battle since the knight has to go to the castle library to learn about dragon-fighting and the dragon must dig through his ancestor's things to find out how to fight a knight!
From publishing legends Phyllis E. Grann and Tomie dePaola comes a simple and heartfelt board book introducing parents to the importance of talking to their little ones.
I will talk to you little one,
from the day you are born.
This sweet board book by beloved author Phyllis E.
From New York Times bestselling author and illustrator Tomie dePaola comes an adorable story about little lambs getting their spring haircuts!
Winter is finally over! That means it’s time for the Woolsey lambs to get their spring haircuts! They can’t wait to have fun in the warm sun.
Hace mucho tiempo—a long time ago—there lived a beautiful young woman named Adelita. So begins the age-old tale of a kindhearted young woman, her jealous stepmother, two hateful stepsisters, and a young man in search of a wife.
A family favorite since it was first published in 1994, I Love You, Sun/ I Love You, Moon has taught basic concepts to a generation of young children. Now, it can be used to introduce these concepts to Spanish readers.
Float along with the Fog Maiden as she takes two children on an enchanted bedtime adventure in this classic from the bestselling author of Strega Nona, Quiet, and more-- now back in print!
When everyone was fast asleep, two children were awakened by Token, the Fog Maiden's mysterious cat, and sent into the magical night.
Missing ingredients and mischievous pets create one humorous complication after another for a little old lady determined to make pancakes for breakfast in this larger-sized, color-enhanced edition of Tomie dePaola's wordless picture book classic. Pancakes for Breakfast is a Common Core exemplar text for Grades K–1.
After a move to a new home, comfort comes from a surprising place.
Long ago, a young girl named Abigail put her beloved patchwork quilt in the attic. Generations later, another young girl discovers the quilt and makes it her own, relying on its warmth to help her feel secure in a new home.
The yellow dress Erandi wants for her birthday will look beautiful with her long, thick braids. But Mama's fishing net is full of holes, and there isn't enough money to buy both a new net and a birthday dress. The only solution lies with the hair buyers from the city. But Mama's hair isn't nearly as beautiful as Erandi's. Will Erandi have to choose between her birthday present and her braids?
This board book of classic nursery rhymes introduces children to the magic of Mother Goose!
Big Anthony gets what he thinks he wants—but like usual, it causes him more trouble than he can handle in this beloved sequel to Tomie dePaola’s Caldecott Honor–winning Strega Nona.
Big Anthony has a case of spring fever and he needs a little Night Life to cheer him up!
But Big Anthony is afraid that if he goes to the village dance, no one will dance