Tomie dePaola, the prolific children’s writer and illustrator who charmed generations with stories of Strega Nona, the compassionate and supportive old witch in Italy, died Monday at age 85.
Tomie dePaola died at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire, as indicated by his literary agent, Doug Whiteman. He has seriously harmed in a fall a week ago and passed on of complications following surgery.
Tomie dePaola dealt with more than 270 books in the greater part an era of publishing, and almost 25 million copies have been sold worldwide and his books have been converted into over 20 languages.
Writer Lin Oliver grieved his misfortune, tweeting that “He was a creator of beauty and a beloved friend.” New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu issued a statement, praising Tomie dePaola as “a man who brought a smile to thousands of Granite State children who read his books, cherishing them for their brilliant illustrations.”
Strega Nona, his most charming character, began as a doodle at a dull faculty meeting at Colby Sawyer College in New London, New Hampshire, where Tomie dePaola was an individual from the theater department. The first story depended on one of his beloved stories as a child, about a pot that continues producing porridge. “Strega Nona: An Original Tale,” which turned out in 1975, was a Caldecott finalist for best-illustrated work. Different books in the series incorporate “Strega Nona’s Magic Lessons” and “Strega Nona Meets Her Match.”
Reflecting on her notoriety, Tomie dePaola told The Associated Press in 2013, “I think it’s because she’s like everybody’s grandmother. She’s cute, she’s not pretty, she’s kind of funny-looking, but she’s sweet, she’s understanding. And she’s a little saucy, she gets a little irritated every once in a while.”
Tomie dePaola said he put Strega Nona in Calabria, in southern Italy, since that is the place his grandparents originated from.
Tomie dePaola said throughout the years, the visualization of Strega Nona — who became out of his drawing of Punch from the commedia dell’arte — became more refined. Be that as it may, his liberal use of color and folk art influences in her stories were steady. In the wake of sparing her town from being flooded with pasta from a magic pot by her assistant, Big Anthony, Strega Nona proceeded to star or play a supporting role in around a dozen additional books.
“I remember laughing at the pictures of Big Anthony, the townspeople, and even cute little Strega Nona,” wrote one of his numerous fans in 2013, a lady who reviewed her mom reading the book to her growing up. “She is ingrained in my childhood … I hope to read Strega Nona to my kids one day.”
In 2011, Tomie dePaola got a lifetime accomplishment award from the American Library Association.
“Tomie dePaola is masterful at creating seemingly simple stories that have surprising depth and reflect tremendous emotional honesty,” the committee chair Megan Schliesman said at the time. “They have resonated with children for over 40 years.”
At age 4, Tomie dePaola realized he would have been an artist and writer — and he told individuals so. He got a great deal of support from his family. “They gave me half of the attic for my ‘studio.’ Now, how neat is that?” he said.
His family, thusly, became central characters in some of his autobiographical books, for example, “26 Fairmont Avenue,” about experiencing childhood in Connecticut during the Great Depression, and “The Art Lesson,” about arriving at a compromise with his art teacher on drawing in class. The previous got a Newbery Honor Award in 2000.
Tomie dePaola wrote about doodling on his bedsheets and his math work in second grade, advising his teacher he would not have been an “arithmetic-er.”
Huge numbers of his books bring to life folktales, legends, and spirituality — he frequently joined pictures of a white dove among the pages. Christmas, his beloved holiday, was a famous subject of a significant number of his works investigating customs of the season and offered a few storylines for Strega Nona.
In 2013-2014, Tomie dePaola had two exhibitions at Colby-Sawyer College, “Then,” and “Now.” The first demonstrated his early artistic efforts, his early stages at the Pratt Institute and his work, affected by Fra Angelico and George Roualt, among others; the second turned out soon after dePaola turned 80 and it concentrated on his more recent artwork.
“Even though I love doing my books and I try to be as creative as possible, there’s always a restriction,” he said in 2013. “I have to please other people, I have to please my art director, my editor, and then there’s all the public to please. Some of the books I’ve considered my best artistic personal accomplishments aren’t necessarily the books that appeal to children. And that’s OK.”
Tomie dePaola spent much of his time working in his 200-year-old barn in New London, which houses his studio and library. Also, it incorporates wall niches showing folk art and a corner with a chair confronting a little altar, where he meditated. More Native American, Mexican, and early American people art decorated his close by home.
Tomie dePaola got numerous letters during that time from children with inquiries regarding his life and books, and he often took the time to chat with them at book signings and different events. It was constantly essential to him to keep that voice active.
“I just keep the inner critic,” he said in an interview. “Don’t let the little 4-year-old get jaded. I listen to him. He stands beside me and says, ‘No, I don’t like that.’”