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Tomie dePaola: Everyone's Favorite Author and Illustrator

Updated on May 9, 2015

A Go-to Author for Kids Read-aloud Books


Tomie DePaola's Books

Tomie dePaola (author, illustrator) is my go-to author when I want to give a book to a child or feel like reading a story to children of any age. One of my fantasies is gathering a group of my senior citizen friends in a circle and reading some of dePaola's skillful and yet intimate retelling of Christmas favorites like the "Legend of the Poinsettia," "The Night of Las Posadas," and selections from "Christmas Remembered" and "Joy to the World."

Tomie DePaola: A Prolific Author and Illustrator

He has written and illustrated over two hundred children's books, two dozen of them Advent and Christmas-themed books. In a few cases like Clement Moore's "The Night Before Christmas," he has illustrated traditional stories. Blogger Elizabeth Foss, whose writings are liberally scattered with references and projects related to dePaola's work, says, "...he has enough advent and Christmas books to carry a family from the first Sunday in advent through Epiphany."

Tomie DePaola: Advent and Christmas Books

DePaola's reworking of familiar stories like versions of the Christmas story is skillful and out of the ordinary. The illustrations that accompany his books are delightful and pull the listeners into stories. Some examples are: "The Friendly Beasts" a retelling of a medieval carol illustrated with the curious faces of domestic farm animals; "The First Christmas" pop-up book, a modest treasure for very young readers that many parents use as a simple Advent calendar; and "The Little Christmas Pageant," a board book that in basic terms tells the story of Jesus' birth.

Advent and Christmas Books: Critics' Remarks

Yes, many critics take these books to task for not upholding modern standards like the perceived darkness of baby angels in "Country Angel Christmas," and chronological mishaps of dating carols with the supposed settings like angels singing the 18th century carol "Joy to World" at Jesus' birth about 1700 years earlier. The appeal of dePaola's books is an uncomplicated sense of the Christmas season, a straightforward retelling and innocent illustration in many different ways of the miracle of Christ's birth in a manger.

What this Hub Page Contains

In this Hub, I tell about;

  1. dePaola's latest book,
  2. where to buy copies of his works, and
  3. list some of his Advent and Christmas-themes books.

I also include:

  1. two poems about reading to children, and
  2. two polls asking about your favorite children's books.

Please, don't forget about the polls and giving me some feedback at the end of this Hub.

Enjoy a blessed Christmas and a good Christmas read.

Reading to Children

"...You may have tangible wealth untold;

Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.

Richer than I you can never be --

I had a Mother who read to me.

From the The Reading Mother

By poet Strickland Gillilan (1869-1954)

Tomie dePaola's Books - So Many Greats from Which to Choose

Book Cover Collage
Book Cover Collage

"The Birds of Bethlehem" - Tomie dePaola's latest book, just in time for Christmas!

Tomie dePaola has written over 200 books, most for young readers, some for beginning readers and even a few board books for toddlers. He knew from the time he was a youngster that what he wanted to do when he grew up was to tell and illustrate stories.

He is Roman Catholic and many of his stories like "Patrick Patron Saint of Ireland" and "The Song of Francis" show this influence. There are over two dozen books in dePaola's religious and holiday collection from which I chose books to read to classes when I taught catechism. Another series of his for which I have a deep affinity contain almost three dozen books about legends, folktales and familiar stories like the "Legend of the Bluebonnet" and "Legend of the Indian Paintbrush." Books that appeal to older children and especially boys are those in Tomie's memoir series and stories about growing up and his family. The almost one dozen books in the Strega Nona Series are special because they tell about an old woman - old witch, old bat or old gradmother - who helps people in her village in cunning useful ways.

These books are available online at the familiar Amazon store, eBay site and several others like alibris.

Readers looking for a particular book and not having success online might try the Morgan Hill Bookstore in dePaola's hometown of New London, NH. If you want to make your gift of one of dePaola's books extra special Morgan Hill Bookstore stocks books signed by Tomie dePaola.

Happy reading to you and your favorite young people!

Collage of book jackets by Georgene A. Bramlage

Poinsettia: A Christmas Symbol

The poinsettia story is one of my favorites of the Christmas-themed books.
The poinsettia story is one of my favorites of the Christmas-themed books. | Source

Christmas-themed Books - by Tomie dePaola

A Peek into other Places, Traditions and Times

The neat thing about Tomie's books is that they lead young readers into a joyful and color-filled exploration of many different places, times and traditions. Young readers may learn a lot from only one book or series - like the Christmas-themed books - or the curious ones can use single books as springboards into exploration and research of single themes.

Las Posadas: The Story of Mary and Joseph Looking for Lodging

Las Posadas re-enacts Mary and Joseph's cold and difficult journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem in search of shelter; in Spanish, the word means "lodging." Here are some sample verse from a familiar song that is sung:

Group Outside the House

En el nombre del Cielo
os pido posada,
pues no puede andar
mi esposa amada.

In the name of Heaven
I ask you for lodging,
because She cannot walk,
my beloved wife.

Group Inside the House

Aquí no es mesón;
sigan adelante.
Yo no puedo abrir,
no sea algún tunante.

This is no inn,
keep on going.
I won't open the door,
in case you are a truant.

Sung When Those Outside the House Are Allowed to Enter

Entren, Santos Peregrinos,
reciban este rincón;
no de esta pobre morada,
si no de mi corazón.

Enter, Holy Pilgrims,
accept this dwelling;
not of this humble house,
but of my heart.

Favorite Stories

Child Reading
Child Reading | Source

Santa's Eight Flying Reindeer and Their Names

From: "The NIght Before Christmas"

"Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer, and Vixen!

"On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Dunder and Blixem!"

Tomie's The Strega Nona Series - Ten Books in All

Strega Nona literally means "Grandma Witch" in Italian. Strega Nona has her helper, a young man named Big Anthony who has trouble paying attention. Strega Nona goes through her southern Italian town curing both headaches and warts, as well as helping young women find husbands.Readers might think that the stories of Strega Nona come from old oral traditions. Wrong! This grandmother witch comes straight from the imagination of Tomie, the writer, and artist.


I like books

I really do.

Books with stories

And pictures, too.

Books of birds

And things that grow.

Books of people

We should know.

Books of animals

And places, too.

I like books

I really do!

Author Unknown

Tomie's Version of a French Tale

What is Your Favorite Kind of Story to Read to Young Children?

See results

Listening to Tomie, the author and the illustrator

1 - Tomi dePaola speaks about " Why Reading is Important;" and

2 - Tomie dePaola talk at the 2011 National Book Festival.

For the Very Youngest Story Lover from Tomie

Have you ever heard of Tomie dePaola before you read this lens?

See results

Tomi dePaola, Author and Artist


A Penny for Your Thoughts

Would you like to learn more about Tomie dePaola and his children's books?

Would you call his books "children's literature" or children's books?"

How often do you buy children's books?

Did you learn anything new about Tomi dePaola in this lens?

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