For as long as I can remember in my teaching career, Tomie DePaola has been, hands down, my favorite author/illustrator. Today, he is celebrating his 80th birthday! He has written and/or illustrated over 250 books!
I love using his books in first grade to teach narrative. How can you go wrong when he tells about licking his new maple bed post because he thinks it will taste like maple syrup or his moving stories with his Irish grandparents, Tom and Nana Downstairs?
His chapter book series, 26 Fairmount Avenue, takes place in Meriden, Connecticut where he grew up. These true stories not only share his engaging narrative, but also engage young readers in the challenging history of the time. He shares listening to fireside chats by FDR and losing his cousin, Blackie, in the war. He recalls seeing Walt Disney's Snow White on the big screen for the first time and can't get enough of Shirley Temple (one of his heroes). You can also hear about countless family tales as he shares stories from his very large and close knit, Irish/Italian family.
I was fortunate enough to have Moffat visit with Tomie in his now current home of New London, New Hampshire. When Moffat returned, I received a treasured note of encouragement along with some keepsake photos. I am thankful for Tomie's kindness and encouragement in my own work with Moffat.
If you have never read any of Tomie's books, GO GET SOME! Not only are his autobiographical books amazing, but his folktales and other books including Strega Nona, are not to be missed!