Tomie dePaola: Then and Now


When Tomie dePaola was four years old, his Italian relatives asked him and his older brother Joseph what they wanted to be when they grew up. Joseph said he wanted to be Dick Tracey, Joe Palooka and Buck Rogers, but Tomie responded with more conviction. "I'm going to be an artist. I'm going to write stories and draw pictures for books, and I'm going to sing and tap dance on the stage."

Seventy-five years later, Tomie dePaola is one of the world's most prolific and popular children's author/illustrators. He has published over 250 books and sold some 15 million copies, as well as won many of the genre's prestigious awards. As Tomie relaxes in his orderly studio in an old converted barn in New London, N.H., surrounded by his art work, children's books and eclectic folk art collections, he revels in his good fortune.

"I'm going to be 80 next year, and I've done all those things and been paid for them!" Tomie says, breaking into raucous laughter. "I never changed my mind about the whole art thing."

Colby-Sawyer College will celebrate his life's work in two exhibitions at the Sawyer Fine and Performing Arts Center, "Tomie dePaola: Then and Now." The "Then" exhibition this fall, which opens with a reception on Nov. 7 from 5 to 7 p.m., will feature his early drawings, paintings and books, along with images of his costume and set designs, from the late 1940s until the mid-1970s. In fall 2014, the "Now" show will coincide with his 80th birthday and highlight his career, from 1975 to the present, with his fine art work and book illustrations.

"I'd like to show people, especially students, how I started out in high school and what I'm doing now. A lot of people don't know I can draw realistically from the figure," Tomie says. "Now that I'm reaching the end of my journey, I'd like to show off all of my work and let people make up their own minds."

Previously in People Say...

“one of the most famous and gifted in the field”
The Today Show, NBC-TV

“Oh Tomie, I just love you!”
First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton at a reading event at The White House, April 23, 1997

“perhaps the friendliest and most popular picture book maker of our time”
The Detroit News

“Tomie dePaola is my Leonardo Di Caprio.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer (comments by a teacher)

“one of the best read authors in America”
The Minneapolis Tribune

“the children's choice”
The Reading Teacher

“international star”
Publishers Weekly

“a veritable industry”

“You have such a warm and friendly face. Children must just love you.”
Anchor Donna Kelly, CNN Morning News

“very well known”
Good Morning America, ABC-TV

“Tomie's a one-man mall!”
Tom Bergeron of FOX After Breakfast, FOX-TV

“great contemporary picture-book writer”
The New York Times Book Review

“tough and tender storyteller”

“creative visionary”
The Boston Globe

“one of the best known and loved authors in the world”
New Hampshire Public Television

“the Pied Piper of children's books”
The Home Show, ABC-TV

“a genius”
The Children's Picture Book

“Generally, we don't think of those who create books for children--authors or illustrators–as superstars. Yet certain names–Sendak, Carle, dePaola among others–have acquired the kind of sparkle that goes with star status. A new book by any one of the stellar few stands as a real publishing event.”
The Detroit News

“Tomie dePaola is one of the country's most popular illustrators for children, who greatly enjoy his recognizable characters and clean, stylized art form and respond to the energy and empathy expressed in both his ink and watercolor art and in his lively storytelling. Tomie dePaola's popularity and volume of work assure him prominence in the world of children's books. The variety, wit, and child appeal of his books should make a lasting contribution to the field.”
Children's Books and their Creators


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