Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Winner Is Tiffany!

Tiffany traveled the greatest distance to meet Elvis at Morgan Hill Bookstore in New London, New Hampshire! Tiffany and her mother drove from Long Island to attend today's autographing. Won't Ms. Bistyga's students be surprised tomorrow when they hear of her weekend adventures?

Tomie with Great Friends and a Great Quilt

Left to Right:
Peggy, Tomie, Connie

Tomie autographed at Morgan Hill Bookstore today. Here he is with the owners of the store.

They're posing with the quilt made for Tomie by Mrs. Menard's class at Saylesville School.

Most of the photos on this blog can be supersized by clicking on the photo.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Can You Pronounce Oconomowoc?

Owen from Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, is a student at Carroll College with questions.

Q: How did you know from such an early age what your passion in life would be?
A: I've learned over the years that my story is not unusual. It may not be common, but it's not unusual. I knew at age four that I wanted to write stories and draw pictures for books. My parents, and other adults important to me, were supportive. I don't doubt that some children know what they want to do as adults, but they are not encouraged by family, teachers and important adults in their lives. They fail to follow their bliss, and we loose their talents in the world.

Q: As an author, how do you strike a balance between writing books that appeal to yourself as opposed to writing books that will sell?
A: I believe an editor's job is to get the best work out of me. An editor will sometimes discourage me from working on a book project because it might not be commercial enough. Sometimes, a book idea will be put aside for years until there's a better time to publish it. I have several ideas that are waiting for better times.

Q: How has your writing style changed over the course of your career?
A: I think I found my voice during the time I worked on CHARLIE NEEDS A CLOAK, ANDY (THAT'S MY NAME) and NANA UPSTAIRS & NANA DOWNSTAIRS. My writing has especially evolved while working on the "26 Fairmount Avenue" autobiographical chapter books because I'm spending more time on the words, and less on the illustrations. As to my illustration style, I don't think it has changed over the years. However, it has become more refined.


BRAVA, STREGA NONA is going to be on the NEW YORK TIMES bestsellers list for a third week. Great news!

BRAVA, STREGA NONA was featured in the November 28, 2008, edition of ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY as the EW PICK OF THE WEEK.

If you haven't had a chance to see BRAVA, STREGA NONA, check out this blog posting:

They're Talking About Me in Indiana!

Kathleen in Zionsville, Indiana, has a future career as a reporter.

Comment/Question: I read your book 26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE. I chose this book because in the story your family was moving, and so was I! When you moved did you miss your friends?
A: We didn't move very far away from our former home. So, I still saw my old friends, and I made new friends.

Q: What was it like living in a big house right on top of a hill?
A: It wasn't that the house was on top of a hill as much as the new road was graded in such a way that the house was much higher than the road. We did have a beautiful view of West Peak and the hanging hills of Meriden, Connecticut... until a lot of other families moved to the area and into their new houses, and our view became obstructed.

Q: Why did you decide to write a book about your childhood?
A: I had an interesting childhood. NANA UPSTAIRS & NANA DOWNSTAIRS was the first time I wrote about my childhood.

Comment: I really want to read more of your books.
A: I want you to read more of my books!

Friday, November 28, 2008

"A Pack of Questions" from Taylor

Taylor from Monticello, Indiana has "a pack of questions" for Tomie to answer.

Q: How old were you when you started writing books?
A: I started writing stories when I was in second grade. I started writing stories to be published at age 31.

Q: What is your favorite subject?
A: My favorite subjects in elementary school were art and reading.

Q: Did you used to have a wife?
A: Yes

Q: Did you get divorced?
A: Yes

Q: Do you want a wife?
A: No, I already had one.

Q: What is your favorite interesting word?
A: Courage

Q: Do you use it a lot?
A: I only use it when it's appropriate.

Q: Do you have a brother or sister?
A: I had a brother who died. I have two sisters.

Q: Did you ever play any sports?
A: No

Q: Did you think imaginary or real in your books?
A: Both

Dr. dePaola, Formerly Known as Actor

Tomie just accepted an invitation from the president of Pratt Institute to accept an honorary degree during Commencement Exercises on May 18, 2009, in New York City. Tomie graduated from Pratt in 1956 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

Three Cheers, Tomie!

In May of 2005, Tomie returned to the stage for the Newport Opera House production of "State Fair." (Tomie later announced that it was also his farewell from the stage.) Photos of Tomie as the intoxicated pickle judge (i.e., the pickled pickle judge) can be seen at:
Tomie's photos are third and eighth from the top.

It's a Flat Stanley Reunion!

Left to Right:
Bill Massey, Tomie, Charles Massey

Thanksgiving is a time for family reunions. Bill Massey traveled from North Carolina to visit his brother Charles who lives in the area. They came to see Tomie. And, some of the Flat Stanleys decided to take this opportunity to spend time together.

Bill and Flat Stanley (from Marta Gonzalez's class at Holy Cross School) are pictured together. Tomie is pictured with Flat Stanley from Mr. Johnson's class at Dudley Shoals Elementary. Flat Stanley from Mrs. Liddle's class at Jefferson Elementary is hanging out with Charles.

Put Flat Stanley, Flat Stanley, Flat Stanley, Bill, Charles and Tomie in the same room and the storytelling doesn't stop!

Tomie's dog Bronte is thinking Who are these people?

Click on the photo to supersize it.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Congress declared Thanksgiving a Federal holiday in 1941, thanks to the efforts of Sarah Josepha Hale, author of the poem "Mary Had a Little Lamb." Sarah Josepha Hale was born in Newport, New Hampshire, near Tomie's hometown.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

If You Have a Question, Put Both Hands on the Top of Your Head

Debbie Lolla teaches students with enquiring minds at Woodlawn School.

Comment: I learned that you should write down every memory possible.
A: Great idea if you have the time.

Q: Does your hand get tired?
A: Yes, it does. I have had surgeries on my hand and shoulder because of stress from writing, illustrating AND autographing. I've begun to use a pre-printed signature on fan mail notes to give my hand a rest. At autographings, I only sign "Tomie (year)" on books to give my hand and wrist more rest.

Q: Did you ever get tired of writing?
A: I don't get tired of writing and illustrating, but sometimes I don't have as many ideas as I'd like. So, I can't write because I can't think of any good ideas.

Q: Why didn't you ever mention your other sister?
A: Did she pay you to ask that question? My sister Judie will someday be in a "26 Fairmount Avenue" chapter book. But, she isn't born yet in the books. Judie is a lot younger than me.

Q: Why do you do different styles of illustrating (color or no color)?
A: I only make black-and-white drawings for the insides of the chapter books because that's what the publisher wanted me to do.

Q: My favorite utensil for drawing is oil pastels. What is your favorite utensil for drawing?
A: I use colored pencil, and paintbrushes and acrylics.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tomie Has a Cow!

Tomie returned earlier today from Book Tour. Here he is at the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport with his luggage and his traveling companion, Flat Nesy, the reading cow. Nesy was sent to Tomie by Christian of Mrs. Carson's class at Northville Elementary.

Tomie and the cow attracted attention in the parking lot as they posed for their photo op. Tomie told the cow, "Nes, chilax, this is what it's like to be a celebrity."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Some Ideal Questions

Mrs. Ewing's class at Ideal Elementary asked some ideal questions.

Q: How old were you when you published your first book?
A: I was 30 when my first book was published.

Q: Which made you more famous, your writing or your drawing?
A: Both. My most successful books are ones that I both wrote and illustrated.

Q: Are any of your pictures in museums?
A: Yes. The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is one.

Q: Is your friend Arnold Lobel still alive?
A: No. But, I've stayed in touch with his ex-wife Anita Lobel.

Q: What other things do you like to do besides drawing and writing?
A: Cooking, watching movies, reading, shopping, playing with my dog.

Students with A Lot on Their Minds

Diane Humphrey's class at Ault Elementary made several notable comments in their letters.

Comment: I think you should make a sequel to OLIVER BUTTON IS A SISSY perhaps called OLIVER BUTTON PLAYS FOOTBALL.
A: Here's the problem with that idea. Oliver Button isn't very good at sports. Perhaps a new book could be called OLIVER BUTTON SINGS.

Comment: My favorite book is STREGA NONA'S MAGIC LESSONS. It teaches you to listen to other people.
A: What? I wasn't listening. (I think it's great that you learned a lesson from STREGA NONA'S MAGIC LESSONS, but I didn't write the story with a lesson in mind.)

Question/Comment: Man, where do I start? I love your books. They're wonderful.
A: Man, that's a pretty good start! I love your comments.

Comment: You're the best author and illustrator I ever heard of!
A: Don't listen if someone wants to tell you about a better author and illustrator. Put your hands over your ears and say, "I can't hear you!"

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

When It's Your Turn to Ask a Question, Stand, Say Your Name and Speak Clearly!

It's now time for Miss Vicino's class at Atholton Elementary to ask questions.

Q: Why do you have lots of peacocks in STREGA NONA?
A: I like peacocks, and they're fun to draw.

Q: Have you been to Italy?
A: Si.

Q: Have you been to Calabria?
A: No.

Q: What was your first book you wrote?
A: The first book I both wrote and illustrated was THE WONDERFUL DRAGON OF TIMLIN.

Q: Why did you write BONJOUR, MR. SATIE?
A: I had a wonderful cat I had named Satie. When I would go on trips, I imagined Satie to have a very active life, including going on his own travels. So, I decided to write a book about Satie's adventures.

Q: Are you Italian?
A: My mother was Irish and my father was Italian. I'm an Irish-Italian American.

Comment: I enjoyed reading your spectacular books.
A: I enjoyed reading your spectacular letters.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


By the way, you can click on most images to get a larger version. In this case, if you clicked on the photo, you'd see the horrifying sight of snow falling WAY TOO EARLY in the season.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Unqua Second Graders Want to Know!

Miss Johnson's students at Unqua Elementary asked many questions in their letters.

But, they ALL asked: Did Uncle Charles and his girlfriend Viva get married?
A: Yes.

Evan also asked: How old is Buddy now?
A: Buddy (Joe) died several years ago.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Raise Your Left Hand If You Have a Question!

Here are some probing questions from Mrs. Bates' class at Wilber-Clatonia Elementary.

Q: Have you ever been to Nebraska?
A: Yes. I've autographed at bookstores in Nebraska.

Q: Will you write back?
A: Yes, I will. But, I get A LOT of mail, so it often takes me a VERY LONG time to reply.

Comment: I want to be like you when I grow up.
A: Incredibly good-looking?

Q: Have you ever gone to Chicago?
A: Yes, I have.

Q: Where do you get your ideas?
A: Some ideas are suggested to me. (A boy couldn't find any books about quicksand, so I wrote one. THE QUICKSAND BOOK) Sometimes I get an idea when I'm reading. (I got the idea for BILL AND PETE while reading a NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC magazine.) Some ideas just pop into my head. (I drew the character of Strega Nona on a doodle pad during a faculty meeting when I was a college teacher.) Some of my stories are based on my childhood, such as, the "26 Fairmount Avenue" autobiographical chapter books, and NANA UPSTAIRS & NANA DOWNSTAIRS.

Comment: I cannot believe you have illustrated over 200 books.
A: Believe!

Q: Do you think you can write more?
A: I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.

Q: My teacher is looking for a Strega Nona doll. Can you tell me where to get one?
A: There aren't any new ones available. She might be able to find one on eBay.

Comment: My teacher's son's name is Anthony.
A: Is he big?

Raise Your Right Hand If You Have a Question!

Danielle DiIanni's students at Hazel School are squirming in their seats with questions.

Q: How are you feeling?
A: Some days are better than others. I have aches and pains. The economy is bad. Winter is coming and there are leaves that need to be raked. My skin is dry. I need a haircut. My dog needs a haircut. I've got a book to finish. Actually, there are TWO books I have to finish! I'm actually feeling just fine, and I'm looking forward to Christmastime when my friends from Australia are coming to visit.

Q: Are you coming out with any new books?
A: What a question! BRAVA, STREGA NONA pop-up book (October, 2008), SONG OF FRANCIS picture book (February, 2009), FOR THE DURATION chapter book (June, 2009), STREGA NONA'S HARVEST picture book (September, 2009)

Q: Did your mom have a job?
A: Yes, she worked at home taking care of the house and our family.

Q: How many letters have you received?
A: A gazillion.

Q: When were you born, and where?
A: September 15, 1934, in Meriden, Connecticut.

Q: Did you really meet Mrs. Schettini?
A: Maybe, but I can't pronounce her name.

Q: Did your older brother pick on you? My older brother picks on me, and trust me, you could call it much, much more than picking on!
A: Yes. I write about it in the chapter book FOR THE DURATION (on sale in June, 2009). I feel for you.

Q: Did you really live at 26 Fairmount Avenue?
A: Yes, really, truly, you betcha!

Comment: I think you are one of the greatest artists and illustrators I have seen.
A: Gosh, shucks, stop it, you are embarrassing me. Did you say "one of the greatest?"

Tomie's question: Who's Hazel?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Book Eight in the 26 Fairmount Avenue autobiographical chapter book series

FOR THE DURATION will be published in June of 2009. It is the eighth book in the autobiographical chapter book series that began with the Newbery Honor Award-winning 26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE.

"Tomie is hearing the phrase 'for the duration' over and over. So many things will be different as long as the war goes on, but he's still excited about starring in a dance recital, taking the bus around town by himself, and having his First Communion. He does have to deal with problems with his brother, but luckily, Tomie knows there are a lot of people he can count on for the duration."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Four Good-looking Guys

Left to Right:
David, Tomie, Nathan, Andrew

These three young men talked with Tomie at the Connecticut Children's Book Fair dinner at the University of Connecticut this past Saturday. They attended the dinner with their father, Alan Katz.

Book Tour, Last Leg

Although Tomie doesn't travel with Security, Treetop Books in McLean, Virginia provided him with Jamaal Watson, Security. Jamaal protected Tomie from overzealous fans - you know, the ones that want to hug and kiss him, and rub his scalp for good luck. You know who you are! Thanks, Jamaal!

Red Balloon Book Shop
10:30 a.m. - Noon
891 Grand Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55105

Bookcase of Wayzata
2:00 - 3:30 p.m.
Event Location:
Wayzata Community Church
125 East Wayzata Blvd.
Wayzata, MN 55391
Store Phone: 952-473-8341

Creative Kidstuff
Noon - 1:30 p.m.
Galleria Mall
3555 - 69th Street
Edina, MN 55435

Barnes & Noble
3:30 - 5:00 p.m.
Har Mar Mall
2100 North Snelling Avenue
Roseville, MN 55113

Third Place Books
10:00 - 11:30 a.m.
17171 Bothell Way NE
Lake Forest Park, WA 98155

University Bookstore
1:30 - 3:00 p.m.
4326 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105

Rakestraw Books
11:00 a.m. - Noon
1:00 - 2:30 p.m.
409 Railroad Avenue
Danville, CA 94526
Call to confirm autographing times.

Books, Inc.
6:00 - 7:30 p.m.
Town & Country Village
855 El Camino Real, #74
Palo Alto, CA 94304

A Great Good Place for Books
11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
6120 La Salle Avenue
Oakland, CA 94611

3:00 - 4:30 p.m.
1378 Lincoln Avenue
San Jose, CA 95125

Mrs. Nelson's Toy & Book Shop
9:00 - 10:30 a.m.
Event Location:
Claremont Public Library
208 Harvard Avenue
Claremont, CA 91711
Store Phone: 909-599-4558

A Whale of a Tale
1:00 - 2:30 p.m.
4199 Campus Drive, Suite A
Irvine, CA 92612

Blue Willow Bookshop
10:30 a.m. - Noon
14532 Memorial Drive at Dairy Ashford
Houston, TX 77079

Brazos Bookstore
4:00 - 5:30 p.m.
Event Location:
Children's Museum of Houston
1500 Binz Street
Houston, TX 77004
Store Phone: 713-523-0701

Morgan Hill Bookstore
10:30 a.m. - Noon
253 Main Street
New London, NH 03257

Monday, November 10, 2008

Creative Student and Teacher

Third grade teacher Liz Feldsher at Peter Kirk Elementary dressed up as Strega Nona for her classroom. Her student, Bryce, is the November Splash Page artist.

Bryce's original drawing took over two weeks for the postal service to deliver it to New York City from New Hampshire. While we wondered if his drawing was lost forever, he quickly drew two new drawings for the Splash Page. He apparently creates well under pressure.

Thanks, Bryce! Thanks, Liz Feldsher!

Fashion Plates

Left to Right:
Pamela Levy (wearing a hat just handed to her by Norman Stevens), Billie Levy, Nora Stevens

There were many fashion plates at the Connecticut Children's Book Fair dinner this past Saturday at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Connecticut, but these were the three asked to strike a pose. We were at the Book Fair so that on Sunday, yesterday, Tomie could present a program and autograph his books.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


BRAVA, STREGA NONA, A HEARTWARMING POP-UP BOOK will debut on the NEW YORK TIMES Children's Picture Book Best Sellers List, at #8, on Sunday, November 16, 2008.

Bravo, Tomie!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Left to Right:
"Flat Brownie," Round Tomie, "Flat Stanley"

This morning Molly's "Flat Brownie" and Ms. Stachnik's Fourth Grade Classes' "Flat Stanley" got in the car with Tomie to drive to the polling place so that Tomie could vote.

Molly is a member of Brownie Girl Scout Troup 631. Ms. Stachnik and her fourth grade classes are from Parkside Elementary School.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Everybody's Got a Question!

Mrs. Rider's class at Beacon Elementary has questions.

Q: Do you have cats?
A: I had cats for many years. But, now I have one dog.

Q: When is your birthday?
A: EXCELLENT question. September 15.

Q: How are you doing?
A: Swell.

Q: Did you really have a baby sister, or did you just make it up?
A: Doubters! I really did have a baby sister.

Q: Do you really have the wooden blocks from NOW ONE FOOT, NOW THE OTHER?
A: Yes.

Q: What's your favorite food?
A: Popcorn.

Birth of a Library, follow-up

I wrote about the new Rollinsford Public Library on October 4, 2008. Here's a photo from the ribbon-cutting ceremony showing Tomie giving RJ a check and a bag of autographed books.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Family Time

Sunday, October 26, 2008, Meriden, Connecticut
Left to Right:
Patrick (Tomie's nephew), Rayne ( October Splash Page artist), Shelby (Patrick's wife), Jeremiah (lost a cell phone while at breakfast), David (Judie's husband), Judie (Tomie's sister yet to be born in the "26 Fairmount Avenue" autobiographical chapter books, and holding Rayne's unfinished sandwich), Tomie

Book Tour, Continued

Here's a blog entry from Barbara who met Tomie one year ago at Sherman's Bookstore in Bar Harbor, Maine.

Moravian Book Shop
10:30 a.m. - Noon
Event Location:
Central Moravian Church
73 West Church Street
Bethlehem, PA 18018
Store Phone: 610-866-5481

Books, Bytes and Beyond
4:00 - 5:30 p.m.
197 Rock Road
Glen Rock, NJ 07452

Tatnuck Bookseller
11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Westborough Shopping Center
18 Lyman Street (Route 9 and Lyman Street)
Westborough, MA 01581

Wellesley Booksmith
4:00 - 5:30 p.m.
Event Location:
Wellesley Free Library
530 Washington Street
Wellesley, MA 02482
Store Phone: 781-431-1160

Barnes & Noble
Noon - 1:30 p.m.
Buckland Hills Mall
270 Buckland Hills Drive
Manchester, CT 06040

Connecticut Children's Book Fair
10:15 - 10:45 a.m. Presentation
11:00 a.m. - Noon Autographing
12:45 - 1:45 p.m. Autographing
Rome Commons Building
Rome Hall, South Campus Complex
University of Connecticut
Storrs, CT 06269

More bookstore autographings to come.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

More questions. More answers.

Here are some questions from Mrs. Neill's class at Sacred Heart School, and Tomie's answers.

Q: Did you know that Mrs. Neill has the same birthday, September 15, as you?
A: No. Is she also 74 years old?

Q: What is your favorite color?
A: White

Q: Why did you draw on your sheets?
A: Just because.

Comment: It's cool how you drew under your covers. I should do that sometime.
Tomie: No, you shouldn't.

Q: Why did you draw on the wall?
A: Just because.

Q: What is your favorite book of your own?

Q: How many chapter books have you made?
A: 7

Q: Do you ever do school visits?
A: I no longer visit schools as I once did.