Tomie dePaola

2012 Lifetime Achievement Award (Contemporary): Tomie dePaola

Tomie dePaola was born in 1934 in Meriden, Connecticut, and by the time he could hold a pencil, he knew what his life’s work would be. His determination to create books for children led to a BFA from Pratt Institute and an MFA from the California College of Arts & Crafts. It drove him through the years of teaching, designing greeting cards and stage sets, and painting church murals until 1965, when he illustrated his first children’s book,Sound, by Lisa Miller. Eventually, freed of other obligations, he plunged full time into writing and illustrating.

Tomie dePaola is the creator of the beloved character Strega Nona, whose first appearance, in the eponymous Strega Nona (Simon & Schuster), garnered him a Caldecott Honor Award. He has written and illustrated a series of chapter books about his childhood, including 26 Fairmount Avenue (Putnam), a Newbery Honor Book. And he has illustrated bestselling collections of folk tales and legends, nursery tales and Mother Goose rhymes, Bible and holiday stories. All together, he has published over 200 books, and his work has appeared in fifteen different countries.

In 1990, Tomie dePaola was the US nominee for the Hans Christian Andersen Medal for illustration. Other awards and honors include the James Smithson Medal from the Smithsonian Institution, the Kerlan Award from the University of Minnesota, the Regina Medal from the Catholic Library Association, and the 2011 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award from the American Library Association for “a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.” He lives in New Hampshire and works from a studio in a renovated 200-year-old barn. His website is www.tomie.com, and his blog is www.tomiesblog.blogspot.com