Friday, May 15, 2020

In Memory of Tomie dePaola

In Memoriam
Tomie dePaola
(1934-2020)

When the Wilmot Library re-opens, returning patrons will be greeted by a display at the front of the library (on your left as you come in) of the works of Tomie dePaola. Thanks to Carol MacDonald for pulling this exhibit together.

The children's book author passed away on March 30, 2020 at age 85. He wrote and illustrated over 270 books, which sold over 25 million copies. He won the Caldecott Honor for illustration, the Newberry Honor for writing, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, a lifetime-achievement honor that has been given to very few people.

DePaola was born and brought up in Meriden, Connecticut and attended Pratt Institute, an arts and engineering school in Brooklyn. After a short stint training to be a Benedictine monk in Weston, Vermont, he became a classic starving artist. Eventually he landed a show of his art in Boston. That led to teaching gigs in Boston, San Francisco, and New London, New Hampshire. He created his most famous character, Strega Nona ("Grandma Witch" in Italian) while teaching at Colby Junior College in the 1970s, before it became Colby-Sawyer College. He also taught at New England College in Henniker.

From the age of 4, the artist wanted to be an illustrator and writer of children's books. According to a 2013 article in Kearsarge magazine, his goal was simplicity. "I don't want my art to be difficult to look at," he said. "I have chosen to put my energy into books for children, and I want children to be able to decipher the art with ease."

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