Tomie dePaola (pronounced Tommy da-Pow-la) is one of my favorite children’s authors and illustrators. I taught books written by Tomie for years as a second grade teacher. As part of our unit, each student would write a letter to Mr. dePaola, telling him which story was their favorite and why. I would mail the letters to his publisher, and a few weeks later we would receive a letter from Tomie, an autographed photo, and a class set of bookmarks.
Last night, as I browsed information about Tomie, I discovered…his blog! Unfortunately, comments are closed, or he would have a gushing fan writing who knows what! (Actually, I would probably be so starstruck that I wouldn’t be able to write a thing.)
Would you consider me a book-nerd if I admitted I would rather meet authors than celebrities? One summer, I was on vacation with my sister and dad in Anchorage, Alaska. We were visiting my aunt, who lives up there. At a local library, author and illustrator Steven Kellogg was speaking to a group of children. I dragged my sister and dad there, even though they were dragging their heels. Mr. Kellogg drew and told his story The Island of the Skog for us. He was a great speaker, and in the end, even my dad admitted that he had a great time. (I’m sure Steven Kellogg and this story will pop up again in a future Book Nook!)
Tomie dePaola has a huge variety of books. Some are for very young children, and some are for older children. He also has a series of chapter books; the first one is titled 26 Fairmount Avenue.
rating: 5 of 5 stars
This sweet book tells of Tommy’s weekly visits to his grandmother and great-grandmother’s house. Tommy is four, and his Nana Upstairs is ninety-four. One day, Tommy’s parents tell him that Nana Upstairs died the night before. They go to her house, and it isn’t a Sunday. Tommy runs upstairs, and Nana Upstairs’ bed is empty. Tommy struggles with the concept of death, but seeing a falling star reminds him of Nana Upstairs.
My husband and I take our daughters to visit his parents every Sunday. We recently lost my husband’s mother. Last Sunday, as my toddler ran into her grandparents’ living room, she pointed to a chair and said, “Gamma.” That chair is where her Grandma sat every Sunday, when we came to visit.
Death is a difficult concept to understand, even for adults. I can never reach the end of this book without crying, yet this book is also a comforting story of a little boy’s love for both his Nanas.