Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Origins of THE CLOWN OF GOD Story

Tomie was just asked about the origins of his story THE CLOWN OF GOD.

The "Storyteller's Note" in THE CLOWN OF GOD explains:
The French legend of the little juggler who offers the gift of his talent and the miracle that occurs is well known. The version I loved as a child was the one told by the master storyteller Anatole France. In the oral tradition, storytellers through the centuries have told and retold tales, changing them often to fit their own lives and mores. Following this tradition, I have lovingly retold this ancient legend, shaping it to my own life and experience, and called it by its oldest known title.

The version by Anatole France that Tomie loved as a child was "Le Jongleur de Notre Dame."

But, THE CLOWN OF GOD is not a retelling of "Le Jongleur de Notre Dame." Both Anatole France and Tomie retold a medieval legend that was about two sentences in length.

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Marvelous B & B in Vermont

We recently stayed at the Eddington House Inn in North Bennington, Vermont. Kathleen Norris had a couple of talks scheduled at Bennington College, so we provided transportation for her to Bennington.

The Eddington House Inn is a house with three bedrooms (two of them suites) with private baths. It is a wonderful destination bed and breakfast with three restaurants within a couple of blocks. If you book all three rooms, you have the house to yourselves as we did. They even have free Wifi.

When I asked Patti Eddington what there was to do in the area, she gave me a list of 101 things to do in the Greater Bennington Area. She was ready for the question.

Highly recommended.



Alyssa at Public School 20 in Jersey City, New Jersey asked a question.

Alyssa: Do you have a museum?

Tomie: No, I don't. But, I think I should because I have a cool name for it. It could be Tomie's Museum, or Museum of Tomie. The latter idea is maybe better. When people say they're going to the Museum of Modern Art, they say they're going to moma (MoMA). If I call my museum Museum of Tomie, folks can say they are going to visit mot (MoT). I like it!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tom Sawyer Syndrome

Kathleen Norris thought that gnu painting was so much fun that she gave Tomie an autographed copy of her newest book, ACEDIA & ME, with the hope that Tomie would let her join in the fun and paint the gnu, too. Tomie happily gave Kathleen a paint brush.

Gnu Faux Pas. We thought that gnu was pronounced ga-new, but we learned it was correctly pronounced nyu. We are mortified!

Literary Titans

Left to Right:
Bronte (whose name was inspired by artistic and literary titans) with literary titans Kathleen Norris and Tomie dePaola

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Gallery Della-Piana Exhibition

Left to Right:
Lois, Tomie, Sherry, Elissa

Tomie's artwork will be exhibited at Gallery Della-Piana April 4 - May 16. A reception will be held on Saturday, April 4, 4:00-6:00 p.m. (There will be NO autographing at the reception.)

Elissa and Lois came to the studio yesterday to pick up artwork for the show.

Gallery Della-Piana
152R Main Street
Wenham, MA 01984

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Grandma Moses, Mozart and dePaola

Mrs. Floyd's first grade class at Albert Michelson Elementary in Murphys, California chose me to be their Author of the Month. I was in good company as Mozart was the Composer of the Month and Grandma Moses was the Artist of the Month.

Class: We studied about you. We learned that you have a dog, and a genius brain. You've written over 600 books. You like to draw hearts, and you're good at making books.
Tomie: Well... I haven't written over 600 books.

Class: What color is your hair?
Tomie: A lovely shade of white.

Class: Are you a magician?
Tomie: Friends says my "fettuccine with lemon sauce" is magically delicious.

Class: How old do you think you'll live to be?
Tomie: I've recently been getting a lot of age questions. I have lots of ideas for books, and I have lots of bills to pay. So, I think I'll live ten, twenty, thirty, maybe forty more years!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Buh Bye!

The artwork for FOR THE DURATION, eighth book in the "26 Fairmount Avenue" autobiographical chapter book series, is waiting to be picked up by Federal Express for a trip to the publisher in New York City. Tomie finished the artwork on Friday. FOR THE DURATION is expected to be published later this year.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I Heard It Through the Grapevine (Grapevine, Texas, That Is)

One of Mrs. Debbie Lewis' second grade students at Grapevine Elementary summarized OLIVER BUTTON IS A SISSY very well.

Adam: I like your book OLIVER BUTTON IS A SISSY because it says you can like whatever you like you can like.

Tomie: I like it!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

BILL AND PETE and the Schuie Award

Mrs. Schumacher's first grade class at Richardson Elementary in Lee's Summit, Missouri chooses Schuie Awards several times during the school year. A Schuie Award book is a book that has been read to the entire class, and is nominated by students as a favorite. BILL AND PETE has been honored with a Schuie Award! Hooray!

(I wouldn't be surprised if it was the bare bottom in BILL AND PETE that clinched the award.)

Miss Bird v. Miss Immick

Many students in Mrs. Soltis' class at Sacred Heart School in Dearborn, Michigan asked the same question as Michael.

Michael: Why did you put Mrs. Bird for your kindergarten teacher in STAGESTRUCK and in HERE WE ALL ARE you put Mrs. Immick?

Tomie: Miss Immick was the real name of my kindergarten teacher. I had changed her name to Miss Bird in THE ART LESSON, a picture book. I've continued using Miss Bird in the picture books (such as STAGESTRUCK), but I'm using her real name in the chapter books (such as HERE WE ALL ARE). The chapter books are more autobiographical, and accurate, than the picture books. I know it's a bit confusing. Congratulations to you and your class for noticing the different names.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Comments by Mrs. Lionti's first grade students at Valley Vista Elementary in North Royalton, Ohio are going to give me a "big head."

Katherine: I think you're a great speller.
Tomie: Maybe I should compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Jamie: You are the best artist in the world.
Tomie: Hear that Pablo (Picasso)?!

Dirt Bikes and the Next Tomie dePaola

Mrs. White's second grade class at Poolesville Elementary in Poolesville, Maryland wrote to me.

Tyson: Do you have a four-wheeler or dirt bike I do?
Tomie: My car has four wheels. Does that count as a four-wheeler?

Erin: I like you because I take tap dance just like you do. I also want to take your place when you die to be you. Only, my name won't be Tomie dePaola.
Tomie: It's good to plan ahead.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Drawing for Life

Taylor B. at Fredstrom Elementary in Lincoln, Nebraska: I hope you keep drawing until you pass away.

Tomie: Me, too.

Pie, Cheese and My Future

Second grade students in Cathy Grant's class at St. Peter's Catholic School in Kansas City, Missouri are thinking about food, and my career.

Katie B.: What is your favorite pie?
Tomie: Mincemeat pie

Caterina: What is your favorite cheese?
Tomie: Maytag blue cheese

Jerry: I think you are going to be a good artist.
Tomie: Someday SOON, I hope.

Story Ideas From Nebraska

Lynelle Huck's students at Sheridan School in Lincoln, Nebraska had story ideas for new books.

"I'd like you to write a book about..."
Graham: liquid nitrogen
Grace: cotton candy
Beatrice: horses and dolphins
Abram: goldenrod

Tomie: Hmm... The liquid nitrogen story idea is intriguing.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Happy Birthday, Me!

The Youth Services department at the Niles Public Library in Niles, Illinois celebrated my birthday "a while ago." They made birthday cards and drawings. They had cake and ice cream, watched a video and read my books. They even drew on the wall! (They drew on paper on the wall.)

They made a Memory Book of their celebration and sent it to me. Thanks, Niles Public Library friends!

Let's not forget my 75th birthday is not too far in the future: September 15, 2009.

My Dog's Name Explained

Megan in Montville, New Jersey wrote a letter with a question.

Q: My brother, Adam, did a biography report on your life for a book report. Your dog Bronte is so cute! Why did you name him Bronte?

A: Bronte is an Airedale terrier. The Airedale breed was developed in Yorkshire, England. The Brontes are best known as writers and artists. The family lived in Yorkshire. I had read that the Brontes had an Airedale although I might have remembered incorrectly. And, I liked the way "Bronte" sounded.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Brownies to the Rescue!

Brownie Troop 631 in upstate New York wrote and illustrated a book, WHEN TOMIE GOT SICK. They sent a box of Get Well goodies with the book.

"One day Tomie got sick. He knew he was sick because as soon as he got out of bed in the morning he felt absolutely tired...

"The doctor gave Tomie a prescription for giggles and said he would send some help over...

"The next morning who should arrive but the Brownies of Girl Scout Troop 631. They sprang into action...

"So Tomie continued to take his medicine and eat the popcorn Brownie Molly and Brownie Miranda had made and just as predicted, in 100 days he felt good as new! Thank goodness!"

Thanks, Brownie Troop 631!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Florist Flats

Emma, Adrianna and Angela in Azora Cook's class at Putman Elementary in Blanchester, Ohio sent me three Flat Mia Hamms. I discovered that the Flat Mia Hamms were not only good soccer players, but they were handy in the greenhouse. I named each one Flat the Florist. Here they are, in the house greenhouse, with the amaryllis flowers they cut in the barn greenhouse. I'll put the flowers in a vase later today. Thanks, Flats!

The Mysterious Giant of Escondido, California

Mrs. Lynch's third grade class at Farr Avenue School in Escondido, California read THE MYSTERIOUS GIANT OF BARLETTA. They wrote to tell me about their mysterious giant in Escondido. They even drew pictures of him.

The mysterious giant of Escondido is the Joor Muffler Man who holds a large muffler and is often dressed in seasonal clothes.

See for yourself!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Better Than the Miley Cyrus Autobiography

Sage in Mrs. Smith's second grade class at Donges Bay School in Mequon, Wisconsin has strong opinions.

Sage: My favorite book is STREGA NONA'S MAGIC LESSONS. It's the best book ever.

Tomie: Ever? Better than MILES TO GO, by Miley Cyrus? Who am I to argue with a second grader?

Monday, March 9, 2009

An Impolite Funny Kisser

Third graders at Arbury Hills School in Mokena, Illinois didn't hold back in their letters.

John: It's impolite to get busted by your parents by drawing under the covers or drawing on the wall under the wallpaper.
Tomie: I didn't even know the word "impolite" when I was in third grade.

Katlyn: We watched a video of you when you said you drew on your sheets and your wall behind wallpaper. Once my nephew did that and he was in big trouble.
Tomie: I hope your "nephew" didn't get in too much trouble, Katlyn.

Nicholas: Your video was the best. It is the one with the sheep, TOM, STREGA NONA and the picture with Strega Nona. The part at the end was the funniest when you were kissing.
Tomie: NOW, I'm a funny kisser. You aren't the first to tell me.

Well, That Puts It in Perspective

Alex in Evans, Georgia: I know your birthday is September 15, 1934 but mine is totally different. Mine is December 9, 2000. You were 67 when I was born.

Tomie: I know it's only ONE year, but I was only 66 when you were born. No matter, I'm still a tad bit older than you.

And Now, for My Next Magic Trick...

Diana Pettis' student Austin, at the Carl J. Lamb School, in Springvale, Maine wrote: "You are a great magician in your work."

Tomie: Are you saying I'm the "Siegfried and Roy" of children's books?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Speed Walking Miss Sally

PANCAKES FOR BREAKFAST is a wordless book. Third graders in the classes of Ms. Lynch and Mrs. Fowler at Bulverde Creek Elementary in San Antonio matched their words to my illustrations.

I especially liked:
"She put on her cloak because it was cold outside. She followed the scent to her neighbor's house. Miss Sally is speed walking because it smells so good like pancakes. She wants to get there fast."

They're Talking About Me in Carrollton, Texas!

Kindergarteners in the "highly gifted program," and their librarian, Laura Eaton, at McCoy Elementary want answers to their questions.

Q: Do you still walk in the woods?
A: No

Q: Do you still like to jumprope?
A: Not as much as I once did.

Q: Will you write a biography of St. Nicholas, similar to PATRICK, PATRON SAINT OF IRELAND?
A: Maybe. I've thought about it over the years.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

It's Nice to Have a Flat Stanley Around the House

Flat Stanley, by John S. in Miss Ladurantaye's class in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, is a good sport. Today is a beautiful, mild and sunny day and Flat has offered to shovel some of the snow into a sunnier area so that it will melt. Don't hurt your back, Flat!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Tomie (Well, Actually His Book) Is a "Classic"

TIME OUT NEW YORK KIDS called 26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE a "children's classic."


Hero Worship

Eight-year-old Adam in Montville, New Jersey sent a note decorated with "Adam" stickers.

Adam: I love all your books. You are my hero.
Tomie: You are sweet to make such a kind comment.

Kathleen Norris Autographing

Kathleen Norris, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author, will be visiting Tomie at the end of March, and will be autographing her books at Tomie's local bookstore on Saturday, March 28.

Saturday, March 28, 2009
Kathleen Norris Book Signing at
10:30 - 11:30 a.m.
253 Main Street
New London, NH

Interview with Kathleen Norris:

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Judie, Judie, Judie

Second graders at Portledge School in Locust Valley, New York have started to petition for a new book.

Lauren: I have an idea for your next book. It is JUDIE.

Kayla: The next book that you write could be called MEET JUDIE.

Sabriya: MEET JUDIE is an idea for a book because we have not met Judie yet.

Tomie: My sister Judie has not been born in the autobiographical "26 Fairmount Avenue" chapter books. But, she will soon. I offered to put her in a chapter book right away. It would have meant that she would have been born earlier than she actually was. It would have meant that she would be older than she actually is. She has decided to wait until her actual birth day in the chapter books.

Too Much of a Good Thing

Greta, a second grader, lives in Eagan, Minnesota and wrote a brief note.

Greta: I like 24 VERMONT AVENUE.
Tomie: I'll try to read 24 VERMONT AVENUE someday. I hope you'll be able to read 26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE someday.

Greta: I also like Strega Nona because Strega Nona's FAT!
Tomie: Many years ago, my doctor said to me, "Your blood pressure is good. Your cholesterol is good. The only thing wrong is that there's too much of you." So, Strega Nona isn't fat. There's just too much of her.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Ryan Is a Better Name

Ryan in Eagan, Minnesota has a good idea.

Ryan: We are reading 26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE and it is my favorite book ever. One thing I would change is Buddy's name to Ryan. Because I like it.

Tomie: 26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE is a true story about my life. My brother's name was Buddy, so I named him Buddy in the book. But, I'll keep your suggestion in mind.

Dance Machine!

Jacob, a second grader, from Eagan, Minnesota had an observation.

Jacob: My class watched a video of you on 1-23-09. You are a good tap dancer.

Tomie: Yes, well, I had to choose children's books or tap dancing. So, the children's book world's gain was sadly the tap dance world's loss.

Head Spins and the Funky Chicken

Mrs. Delaney's second grade class at Hunnewell School in Wellesley, Massachusetts wrote questions for "Tomie dePalaola."

Q: How did you create Big Anthony with those crazy ideas?
A: I'm a bit crazy.

Q: Who is your favorite character?
A: Tomie, Tommy and Strega Nona

A: Yes

Q: Did you really scream in a theater?
A: Yes

Q: Do you still dance?
A: I like to dance the "Funky Chicken." When I break dance, I like to do head spins. The truth is that I would like to dance, but I'm not as agile as I once was.

Andrew M.: I'm a little Irish.
Tomie: I'm a little Irish, too (half Irish). I'm also a little bit country, and a little bit rock 'n' roll.

Two Thumbs Up, but No Toes

Mrs. Hornyak's second grade class at Cedar Grove Elementary in Germantown, Maryland recently read a lot of my books.

Q: How old are you?
A: I am older than you, and even older than your teacher, but I am younger than 100 years old.

Q: Is Tony from TONY'S BREAD real?
A: No. Tony is a character I imagined.

Q: Is Jeannie still your friend?
A: Yes, Jeannie is still my friend. She lives in Maine with her husband. Her husband is also my friend.

William's comment: Two thumbs up for your books, Mr. dePaola!
A: What? No toes? Two thumbs up and two toes up for your comment, William!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

They're Talking About Me in Victor, Iowa!

The second grade students at HLV Schools are deep in thought.

Brody: I'm going to read your books until they wear out.

Jordan: Do you get over 200 letters a year?

Tomie: I get more than 205 letters each year.

Miriam: What is your favorite shape?

Tomie: I've learned to love all shapes.

Are Bees Insects Though?

One of Kelly Lucero's first grade students at Gordon Elementary in Cameron, North Carolina commented, shared and wondered.

Josian: I really like reading your book MICHAEL BIRD-BOY. I can tell you about bees. They get nectar from flowers. They get it from pollen. They make honey in the hive. Are bees insects though?

Tomie: Yes, bees are insects. Is a horse a mammal though?