Tomie dePaola was born in Meriden, Connecticut, in 1934 to a family of Irish and Italian background. By the time he could hold a pencil, he knew what his life's work would be. His determination to create books for children led to a BFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, and an MFA from the California College of Arts & Crafts in Oakland, California.
It drove him through the years of teaching, designing greeting
cards and stage sets, and painting church murals until 1965, when
he illustrated his first children's book, Sound, by Lisa
Miller for Coward-McCann. Eventually, freed of other obligations,
he plunged full time into both writing and illustrating children's
books.He names Fra Angelico and Giotto, Georges Rouault, and Ben
Shahn as major influences on his work, but he soon found his own
unique style. His particular way with color, line, detail, and
design have earned him many of the most prestigious awards in his
field, among them a Caldecott Honor Award for Strega Nona,
the Smithsonian Medal from the Smithsonian Institution, the Kerlan
Award from the University of Minnesota for his singular attainment
in children's literature, the Catholic Library Association's Regina
Medal for his continued distinguished contribution, and the
University of Southern Mississippi Medallion. He was also the 1990
United States nominee for the Hans Christian Andersen Medal for
illustration.Tomie dePaola has published almost 200 children's
books in fifteen different countries. He remains one of the most
popular creators of books for children, receiving more than 100,000
fan letters each year.Tomie lives in an interesting house in New
Hampshire with his four dogs. His studio is in a large renovated
200-year-old barn.- He has been published for over 30 years.
- Over 5 million copies of his books have sold worldwide.
- His books have been published in over 15 different countries.
- He receives nearly 100,000 fan letters each year.Tomie dePaola has received virtually every significant recognition forhis books in the children's book world, including: - Caldecott Honor Award from American Library Association
- Newbery Honor Award from American Library Association
- Smithson Medal from Smithsonian Institution
- USA nominee in illustration for Hans Christian Andersen Medal
- Regina Medal from Catholic Library Associationcopyright (c) 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.
PreS-Gr 3‘In this prequel to the five other "Strega Nona" books, dePaola takes readers once again to the quaint hills of old Italy. The story begins with Nona's delivery at the hands of Grandma Concetta and closes as the aging Strega Nona answers her door to a knock-kneed apprentice-hopeful, Big Anthony. Along the way, readers learn how Concetta teaches Nona the mysteries of herbs and potions and, more importantly, her "secret ingredient." They see young Nona befriended by Amelia at convent school; later, they set off together for the modern Academy of Stregas. Proving herself clever and kind as well as skilled in magic, Nona eventually inherits Grandma Concetta's house and practice. All the familiar dePaola elements are here: the homey Italian phrases; appreciation of the old ways; and the characteristically charming, square-bordered scenes with their pink-tiled roofs, noble doves, and goofy goats. Tangerine is added to the usual pastel palette, giving the book a brighter look that stands out at story hour. Children will find many of the paintings hilarious. Though this book is a mere teaser on its own, it serves as the perfect final installment in any Strega Nona story fest, leaving children wanting still more of that "ingrediente segreto."‘Karen MacDonald, East Falmouth Branch Library, MA
DePaola executes a clever concept with his trademark charm and humor, offering a prequel to the series that began in 1976 with the Caldecott Honor book Strega Nona. Here the author/artist tells how his charismatic character came to become a strega (witch) with a "magic touch." The "biography" begins on a dark and stormy night in the hills of Calabria, where Grandma Concetta authoritatively oversees Nona's birth. Convinced that Nona will be a strega like her, the big-hearted woman teaches her granddaughter how to use herbs and spells to remedy villagers' aches and troubles. Nona, along with her overconfident friend Amelia (who sets herself up as Nona's rival in some of the other books), attends the Academy for Stregas, but soon concludes that its newfangled approach to magic is not for her, and returns home to practice her craft the old-fashioned way. Eventually she discovers Grandma Concetta's all-important secret ingredient: love. With their expressive faces and pertly exaggerated profiles (Strega Nona's signature hooked nose punctuates her face even as a newborn), the classic characters happily cavort in sunnily colored, droll illustrations. And dePaola does a splendid job of working this sparkling tale into the Strega Nona canon: on the final page, for example, the aging strega opens her door to the first respondent to her ad for a helper, whom fans will immediately recognize as the gangly and beloved Big Anthony. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)