Sunday, February 22, 2009

Michael and His Very Thoughtful Comments and Question

Tomie received a letter from 11-year-old Michael in Chalfont, Pennsylvania.

"I read each of your books, that I have, about three times each. If I am ever looking for something to do, reading your books is one of my top choices. Even though I am not a big fan of reading, I read your books right through because they are so well written. Your books have inspired me to read more, too.

"If I were to meet you in person I would have a few questions for you: Why do you spell your last name, dePaola, with a lower cased 'D'? Is that how your ancestors spelled it? My mom's last name was changed when her grandfather (who worked on the building of the Empire State Building) came to America through Ellis Island. They took out an apostrophe" in her family's last name.

Tomie: When I was growing up, my last name was spelled "De Paola."

But, I learned, as I got older, that the spelling of my last name was CHANGED TO "De Paola" when my ancestors arrived in America. The last name was ORIGINALLY SPELLED "dePaola" in Italy.

So, I changed the way I spelled my last name to the original spelling when I got older.

It was common for the spelling of names to be changed when immigrants arrived in America.

Excellent question, Michael.