Follow TV Tropes

Following

Context Creator / TomieDePaola

Go To

1[[quoteright:500:https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/tomie_depaola_3.jpg]]
2[[caption-width-right:500: "Reading is important, because [[ReadingIsCoolAesop if you can read, you can learn anything about everything and everything about anything.]]"]]
3
4->''"A picture book is a small door to the enormous world of the visual arts, and they're often the first art a young person sees."''
5
6Thomas Anthony "Tomie" [=dePaola=][[note]]pronounced "de-POW-la"[[/note]] (September 15, 1934 -- March 30, 2020) was an American author and illustrator, specializing in books for children.
7
8From the age of four, Tomie knew that he wanted to be an artist, and also fantasized about being a professional tap dancer or singer. He credited his family with encouraging his development as an artist, and influencing the themes of many of his works.
9
10[=dePaola=] studied art at New York City's Pratt Institute, and would receive honorary degrees from various colleges across the country, as well as teaching art at several more. He retired from teaching in 1978 to focus on his illustrating and writing career. He frequently collaborated with other authors (with his first illustration credit being for Lisa Miller's ''Sound'', in 1965), but is best remembered for the works that he authored himself, ranging from [[WriteWhatYouKnow childhood anecdotes]] to re-tellings of folktales and legends -- among all of them, he is most famous as the creator of the beloved Southern Italian traditional healer/wise woman, Literature/StregaNona. For his contributions to children's literature, he won several awards, including the Caldecott Honor (for the first ''Strega Nona'' story), the Newbery Honor (for ''26 Fairmount Avenue''), and the Children's Literature Legacy Award, as well as being named a Living Treasure by the State of New Hampshire.
11
12In 2001, Tomie hosted a short-lived television series, ''Telling Stories with Tomie [=dePaola=]'', produced by the Creator/JimHenson Company, and airing on Hallmark Channel. The series is available for streaming on [[https://therokuchannel.roku.com/details/aface91ef95e562c9d618ea8445cc0f1/telling-stories-with-tomie-depaola/season-1#! the Roku Channel]].
13
14Tomie was of Irish descent on his mother's side of the family, and Italian (Calabrian, to be exact) on his father's; many of his stories -- such as those of Strega Nona, Old Befana, and Jamie O'Rourke -- reflect his heritage. A native of New England, he was born and raised in Meriden, Connecticut, and lived in New London, New Hampshire for most of his life. This was reflected in his anthology of New England tall tales, ''Tomie [=dePaola=]'s Front Porch Tales and North Country Whoppers.''
15
16In the last weeks of March 2020, Tomie fell in his studio and sustained a serious head injury, ultimately succumbing to complications from corrective surgery.
17
18For a more comprehensive bibliography, consult [[https://www.tomie.com/complete-list his website]].
19 ----
20!!Selected Bibiography (both written and illustrated by Tomie unless otherwise noted)
21* ''26 Fairmount Avenue'' (series)
22## ''26 Fairmount Avenue''
23## ''Here We All Are''
24## ''On My Way''
25## ''What a Year''
26## ''Things Will Never Be the Same''
27## ''I'm Still Scared''
28## ''Why?''
29## ''For the Duration''
30* ''Adelita: A Mexican Cinderella Story''
31* ''The Art Lesson''
32* ''The Baby Sister''
33* ''Bill and Pete'' (series)
34## ''Bill and Pete''
35## ''Bill and Pete Go Down the Nile''
36## ''Bill and Pete to the Rescue''
37* ''Bonjour, Monsieur Satie''
38* ''The Clown of God''
39* ''Fight the Night''
40* ''[[Myth/CelticMythology Fin M'Coul: The Giant of Knockmany Hill]]''
41* ''Front Porch Tales and North Country Whoppers''
42* ''In a Small Kingdom'' (illustrated by Doug Salati)
43* ''Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato''
44* ''Jamie O'Rourke and the Pooka''
45* ''The Legend of the Bluebonnet''
46* ''The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush''
47* ''The Legend of Old Befana''
48* ''The Legend of the Persian Carpet'' (illustrated by Claire Ewart)
49* ''Legend of the Poinsettia''
50* ''Little Grunt and the Big Egg''
51* ''Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs''
52* ''The Night of Las Posadas''
53* ''Now One Foot, Now the Other''
54* ''Odd Jobs'' (written by Tony Johnston)
55* ''Literature/OliverButtonIsASissy''
56* ''The Popcorn Book''
57* ''Literature/StregaNona'' (series)
58* ''Tom''
59* ''Watch Out for the Chicken Feet in Your Soup''
60----
61!!Tropes related to Tomie [=dePaola=] and his work include:
62* AesopAmnesia: Big Anthony appears to suffer from this, as he keeps learning that he shouldn't play with magic, but gets into trouble with it all over again in the next story.
63* ArtEvolution: [=dePaola=]'s style of drawing changed a lot over the course of his 50+-career.
64** The style he used in the ''Strega Nona'' books increasingly resembles the style of [[Creator/CharlesMSchulz Charles Schulz]] as the series progresses.
65** Some of Tomie's autobiographical works also use different styles of drawing. ''Now One Foot, Now the Other'', for instance, looks markedly more naturalistic than such titles as ''Tom'' or ''Oliver Button is a Sissy''.
66** Not just in terms of drawing style, either -- the color palettes in his books got progressively brighter and more vibrant. This is especially evident in the ''Strega Nona'' series.
67* BigFun: While Tomie was always fairly solidly-built, he put on a lot of weight between the late 1990's and the early 2010's (though he slimmed down somewhat toward the end of his life). In addition, everyone who knew him all agree that he was warm, friendly, and caring, with an unwavering and childlike ''joie de vivre'' and a charming sense of humor; as the page image indicates, he was also quick to smile.
68* BlackBeadEyes: A hallmark of [=dePaola=]'s art style. Very rarely do characters in his books have eyes with visible irises and sclerae, and even then, only in close-ups.
69* CoolOldGuy: In ''Tom'', Tomie's maternal grandfather, Tom Downey, is shown to have been a vivacious, warm-hearted man with an impish sense of humor. Considering all things, it's no wonder that his grandson shared such a strong bond with him.
70* FriendToAllChildren: From his sister Maureen's birth onward, Tomie showed a deep, sincere love for children; throughout his career, he frequently visited schools and local bookstores/libraries, and when interacting with his young fans, he was unfailingly gentle and affectionate. He also [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UV2ZhJZ0DsI&list=PLLxDwKxHx1yKFFmODc0JQb9KuG0acWPts&index=3 greatly encouraged children's creativity]], and wrote his stories in a way that spoke directly to kids, indicating a strong respect for their intelligence.
71* JustSoStory: ''The Legend of the Bluebonnet'', ''The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush'', and ''Legend of the Poinsettia'' are retellings of such stories, which tell how these species of plants came to be.
72* NeverSmileAtACrocodile: Thoroughly {{averted}} in the ''Bill and Pete'' series; William Everett "Bill" Crocodile is a very NiceGuy, as are his mother and classmates.
73* NewBabyEpisode: ''The Baby Sister'' centers on Tommy's mother's pregnancy. Tommy really wants a sister with a red ribbon in her hair, and his mother ends up having to stay in the hospital for several days, as a result of a chickenpox outbreak going around. Tommy deeply misses her, but she later comes home with Tommy's newborn sister, Maureen, who does have a red ribbon in her hair.
74* NiceGuy: Tomie's friends, family, and colleagues -- not to mention those of his fans who had the great luck to meet him -- can vouch that he was the kindest, sweetest man you'd ever meet.
75* SesameStreetCred: In addition to hosting ''Telling Stories'', [=dePaola=] made a few appearances on ''Series/BarneyAndFriends''.
76* SpellMyNameWithAnS: [=dePaola=]'s maternal cousin, singer Morton Downey, predicted that the boy would grow to be very famous, so if he wanted to be remembered, he would need to spell his name in a unique way. To that end, he spelled his name as T-O-M-I-E.(When he went to school, however, he was forced to spell it as T-O-M-M-Y.)
77* StarsAreSouls: In ''Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs'', shortly after Nana Upstairs passes away, Tommy sees a falling star through the window. He tells his parents, and his mother tells him, "It must be a kiss from Nana Upstairs." In the end, after Nana Downstairs' passing, an adult Tommy sees another falling star, and muses, "Now you are ''both'' Nana Upstairs."
78* TooUnhappyToBeHungry:
79** In ''The Baby Sister'', it's mentioned that Tommy doesn't eat his dinner because he misses his mother (who's still at the hospital) too much.
80** In ''Now One Foot, Now the Other'', Bobby is too distraught to eat while Bob is recuperating from his stroke.
81* WriteWhatYouKnow: Many of [=dePaola=]'s books are autobiographical in nature[[note]]He frequently changed small details, though, so they might best be described as -- to use his words -- "autobiographical fiction."[[/note]], and [[WriteWhoYouKnow his family features prominently in such stories]].
82** ''The Baby Sister'' chronicles the birth of Tomie's little sister, Maureen (who would remain his best friend until the day he died).
83** ''Tom'' highlights the IntergenerationalFriendship he had with his maternal grandfather (and namesake), Tom Downey.
84*** ''Now One Foot, Now the Other'' delves deeper into their relationship, and details how the former helped the latter to recover from a stroke.
85** ''The Art Lesson'' explores how [=dePaola=]'s passion for art began.
86** ''Oliver Button is a Sissy'' showcases [=dePaola=]'s childhood love for performing, and the bullying that he suffered from some of his male peers.
87*** His love of performing is also explored in ''Stagestruck'', in which he recalled his experience being cast in his school's production of ''Literature/TheTaleOfPeterRabbit''.
88** ''Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs'' is about his relationship with his maternal grandmother, Alice Downey ("Nana Downstairs"), and great-grandmother, Honorah Mock ("Nana Upstairs").
89** ''My Mother is So Smart'' is a [[MamasBoy love letter to Tomie's mom, Flossie]].
90** The ''26 Fairmount Avenue'' series -- Tomie's first venture into writing chapter books -- explores events in his childhood that he hadn't written about before, along with those explored in his storybooks.

Top