Tomie dePaola (1934–2020) was the beloved author and/or illustrator of more than 270 books for young readers, including the children’s classic Strega Nona, as well as Tomie dePaola's Mother Goose, Oliver Button Is a Sissy, and 26 Fairmount Avenue. Nearly 25 million copies of his books have been sold.
DePaola was born September 15, 1934 in Meriden, Connecticut, one of four children of Joseph and Florence (Downey) dePaola. He received his BFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, and his MFA from the California College of Arts in Oakland, California. He received his doctoral equivalency in fine arts from Lone Mountain College in San Francisco.
In addition to writing and illustrating children's books, dePaola taught for several years in art and theater departments in colleges in California, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.
DePaola had received many awards, including the Smithson Medal from the Smithsonian Institution, the Kerlan Award from the University of Minnesota, the Regina Medal from the Catholic Library Association, and the Sarah Josepha Hale Award, a prestigious distinction in writing by a New Englander.
He was also the United States nominee in 1990 for the international Hans Christian Andersen Award in illustration. The American Library Association named Strega Nona a Caldecott Honor Book, and 26 Fairmount Avenue a Newbery Honor Book. He was the 2011 Children's Literature Legacy Award recipient (called the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award until June 2018) for "substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children." He received the Society of Illustrators Original Art Show Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.
The University of Connecticut, Georgetown University, and Pratt Institute, among others, have granted him honorary doctoral degrees. Pratt Institute, in 2012, named him "one of the top 125 Pratt icons of all time." In 1999, he was selected for the New Hampshire Governor's Arts Award of Living Treasure.
Tomie dePaola lived in New Hampshire, and worked in a 200-year-old renovated barn. He died on March 30, 2020.