Lizs Book Snuggery

Tomie Forever! A Salute of the Heart to This Picture Book Champion of World Renowned Whose Books Will Keep His Legacy Alive for Young Readers!

Picture book author Tomie de Paola passed away yesterday, March 30, 2020.

He was 85 years young.

He had an elfin smile and a sincere love both for what was his vocation in life, and for those for whom he wrote his books.

He was a born storyteller who relished people, picture books and the way that narrative and art attached, can move the emotions and take us subtly and softly from where we are, to an entirely new place.

His picture books, such as ” The Legend of Old Befana “and his wise, but sly “Strega Nona,” made me laugh, while his “Clown of God,” made me cry.

Some of his stories were autobiographical, some were based on tales, legends and myths, many were religious in nature, drawn from saints, parables and miracles.

He drew his inspiration from everywhere.

One of his latest books called “Quiet” tapped into the need for everyone of us to slow down and look around and reflect.

Simple, at first glance, it depicts a grandfather with his two grandchildren in a park. All around them is hurley burly…the dog is barking, birds are chirping loudly and the children are part of an active and energetic scene.

All at once the grandfather quietly beckons them over to a bench to sit for bit.

And the mood changes.

Everything slows.

There is time for observation…and more importantly, reflection.

The children remark on this when they observe, “When my mind is quiet, I can think.” or words to that effect.

Tomie knew the territory of a child’s heart very well. I don’t think you can write for children and ever completely leave that domain of childhood.

He knew it and wrote about it and for it.

He was my friend and I will miss him.

Here is a video that I did several years ago about him and his Irish/Italian heritage of which he was equally proud.

God love you, Tomie. I do, too.


  1. Sherron Pampalone on April 4, 2020 at 8:49 am

    God Bless you all, I met him years ago at a book fair in Chicago 1978. Clown of God has always been my favorite.

    • admin on April 4, 2020 at 11:37 am

      Dear Sherron,
      Thank you for being a fan of Tomie’s books. I started reading them to my now adult girls in the 70’s as well. He was a uniquely gifted teller of tales that resonated with so many young readers. His wit, heart and compassionate nature lived in those pages. Every one of his readers had a favorite story of his. Mine were “The Clown of God” and “Strega Nona.” Thank you for taking the time to comment. Be well.
      Tomie forever,
      Liz Shanks

  2. Mary Louise Sanchez on April 4, 2020 at 1:52 pm

    I have received daily emails of Tomie’s art work for about three years which I have saved on my computer. When he passed I didn’t think I’d receive any more but have been pleasantly blessed to continue to receive them. A recent one had a picture of Tomie from the 1960s with a link to your homepage. What a beautiful tribute to him!

    In February 2013 I attended the SCBWI conference in NYC as their guest because I was one of three recipients of the inaugural SCBWI On-the-Verge Emerging Voice Award.

    During a lull in the conference, my husband and I were standing by the elevator and Tomie was there alone. I approached him and we began a conversation that lasted about half and hour. We made connections about New Mexico and the Catholic religion, which play an important part of my middle grade novel, THE WIND CALLED MY NAME. That night I couldn’t sleep because I had met my favorite children’s author and so I wrote him a letter. The next day I gave it to him and he laughed as he asked me if my husband was jealous about the love letter.

    Tomie, I loved you enough to purchase your big Mother Goose book for our four children, 16 nieces and nephews, friends, and your smaller one for so many baby showers. I loved you enough to purchase every book you wrote and/or illustrated for my school library and I shared them with the students and teachers who came to love the stories too.

    Tomie, thank you for your stories which have been my mentor texts. They inspired me to write about my own Hispanic family because you wrote so beautifully about your own Italian/Irish family.

    Tomie, I will always love you and am thankful I have a large collection of your books that I can read again and again to continually touch my heart.

    • admin on April 4, 2020 at 3:48 pm

      Dear Mary Louise,
      So pleased to continue to hear these stories of the ripple effect of Tomie’s life. He loved people and always had time for them. His legacy, aside from the over two hundred books that were published, were their lasting legacy in the minds and hearts of readers; both children and adult. Authors, if they are like Tomie, try to encourage and pass the baton of writing picture books and other literature, on to the next generation of future authors.
      I am happy that you got an opportunity to meet him and be influenced by his enthusiasm for what is possible.
      Liz Shanks

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