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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Small openings to a huge world

“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.” – Tomie dePaola
Born on this date in 1934, dePaola has created more than 200 children's books, and is known best for picture books such as Strega Nona.  In 2011, he was honored for his lifetime contribution to American children’s literature with the prestigious Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, presented by the American Children’s Librarians Association.  He’s also been a finalist for the international Hans Christian Andersen Award.
A native of Connecticut, dePaola was first going to be an art teacher, earning several degrees, including the equivalent of a Ph.D. in art while teaching at a number of colleges and universities.  But, after his books became successful, he left the teaching world in 1978 to concentrate full time on his adopted profession.
His lush artistic style has earned him legions                             
 of followers – kids and their parents alike – and he’s worked in a number of areas ranging from his famous Strega Nona series to memoirs, legends, folk tales and religion.  It’s in religion that he’s also earned accolades for his fine art, creating numerous significant pieces that are displayed at museums and religious centers around the country.

DePaola was attracted to art at an early age and credits his family with encouraging his development as an artist and influencing the themes of his works.  “I remember feeling guilty that I had a good childhood. I thought everybody who is famous has to have a desperate childhood and work his way out of it, but I had a great one.”

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