Tomie dePaola is one author I would love to meet, his effervescence to life is so contagious. I remember the first time I saw him at the BEA Breakfast in New York, (via internet). Julie Andrews was hosting and when she introduced him he burst into “The hills are alive with the Sound of Music…….” and when he finished his interesting and sincere speech he again burst into song “So long, good bye, Auf Wiedersehen…..” he was a natural hit.
I think he may have been very shy when growing up although outwardly he appears open, joyful, approachable, full of laughs and a story to tell. The right ingredients for a children’s book author I think. I had always wanted to read one of his books, so I was delighted when I stumbled across this one…
Christmas remembered by Tomie dePaola
A beautiful reminiscence of Tomie’s past Christmas experiences. Interesting, funny, and touching, one marvels at his memory give or take his first few Christmases. It is his first book for all ages, although it is noted at 9 – 12 yrs(it can be read to younger), dotted now and again with simply coloured pictures, both small and full page, illustrated by himself, with each page having a thin colour boarder down the side, giving his unique touch.
It is no secret that Christmas is his favourite time of year and always filled with love shared with family and friends. He was born in Meriden, Connecticut in 1934, and he inherited his mothers love of traditional Christmas gatherings, a time of miracles, fireside eggnog, fairy lights, decorating pine trees (lots of them), eating plum pudding, singing Christmas Carols, presents and making nativity scenes. From his third Christmas, through World War II to the present day he has never lost that joyful, childlike excitement that only comes with that special time of year. In the autobiographic look back, you can feel his excitement with every page turn, and new and interesting Christmas celebrations appear for every Chapter. He shares the opportunities he has had with learning his art, the people he has come into contact and his connections with the Benedictine monastery in Weston, Vermont, as a novice. I loved the ending of this book which was a Christmas where two Australian families join him at his home at Fairmount Avenue. His love of children shines through these pages although adults will love to read it to.
An art student at Pratt institute in Brooklyn, New York he received his BFA. In addition to writing and illustrating children’s books, he taught art and theater in colleges in California, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. He was a Children’s Theatre artistic director in Minneapolis and has received many prestigious awards, over the years. He has received the Smithson Medal, the Kerlan Award (from the University of Minnesota) and the Regina Medial, a Hans Christian Anderson Award nominee for his illustrations and a Caldecott Honour and many others. His home in New London, New Hampshire is a renovated 200 year old barn. I bet come December there is Christmas lights in the window, beautifully decorated trees inside and a wreath over the door, along with the smell of his plum pudding coated in brandy, you will hear his chuckle from within, for me he is the Santa Claus of children’s literature.