Tomie dePaola, 85: Award-winning NH author, illustrator, teacher

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Tomie daPaola/

CONCORD, NHTomie dePaola, beloved New Hampshire author and illustrator of many children’s books, died March 30. He was 85

DePaola died at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon after sustaining injuries in a fall last week. He died of complications following surgery, according to his agent.

He wrote and/or illustrated more than 270 books including Strega Nona, Tomie dePaola’s Mother Goose, Oliver Button Is a Sissy, and 26 Fairmount Avenue. Nearly 25 million copies of his books have been sold.

2015 marked Tomie dePaola’s 60th year as a professional artist, and 50th year as an illustrator of children’s books. 2015 was also the 40th anniversary of the publication of Strega Nona.

Born in Meriden, Connecticut, in 1934, dePaola received his BFA from Pratt Insitute 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 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.

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Longtime NH journalist and publisher of Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!