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Featured books by Tomie dePaola

Reading Rockets recommends the following books by Tomie dePaola.

26 Fairmount Avenue

By: Tomie dePaola
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Family

The first in a series of autobiographical chapter books about Tomie dePaola's early years, this story focuses on his family's move from their apartment in Meriden, Connecticut, to the now famous address, 26 Fairmount Avenue. This Newbery Honor book is sprinkled with humorous sketches, and is ideal for reading aloud and for the sharing of family stories.

Adelita: A Mexican Cinderella Story

By: Tomie dePaola
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Adelita’s stepmother and stepsisters relegate her to kitchen duties after her father dies - and they don’t let her attend the fiesta. While details change – a kindly servant takes the place of a fairy godmother and a brightly hued shawl replaces the glass slipper – the story is recognizable as a Cinderella variant. Adelita, published in September of 2002, is rich with the colors, flavors, and sounds of Mexico. Spanish is sprinkled throughout this beautifully decorated book.

Charlie Needs a Cloak

By: Tomie dePaola
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Charlie's sheep keep nibbling on his cloak, and now it's all tattered and torn. So, he shears his sheep, cards and spins the wool, weaves and dyes the cloth, and sews a beautiful new red cloak to keep him warm when winter comes.

Fin M'coul: The Giant of Knockmany Hill

By: Tomie dePaola
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

DePaola uses humor and verve to retell the traditional Irish tale of how Ireland’s Fin M’coul – with the help of his wife – outwits an even bigger giant and creates the topography of Ireland. Characteristic illustrations add to the outsized fun.

My First Thanksgiving

By: Tomie dePaola
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

This small board book provides a first look at the holiday to be shared with the youngest. Clear illustrations are placed in an open format to engage readers and to illuminate traditions and celebrations.

My Mother Is So Smart

By: Tomie dePaola
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The narrator knows his mom is special by the way she does regular Mom things (like changing a diaper) but more. She also drives an old truck and teaches her son to dance the polka. The author/illustrator’s homage to his mom will be appreciated by mothers everywhere.

Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs

By: Tomie dePaola
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Every Sunday Tommy and his family visit the two nanas: upstairs Nana is Tommy's great-grandmother who stays in bed because of her age; the active Nana downstairs is his grandmother. Tommy is forlorn when Nana upstairs dies, but comes to understand that she remains with him through his fond memories of times shared. New artwork in a larger format was created to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of this modern classic.

Oliver Button Is a Sissy

By: Tomie dePaola
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

His classmates taunt Oliver because he prefers to dance and draw and do other things that other boys don't much like. But Oliver's practice and passion for dance gain the respect and admiration of the kids after his performance. This tough topic is handled with sensitivity and humor in both text and illustration.

Popcorn Book

By: Tomie dePaola
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Ever wonder why popcorn pops? When did it become a favorite food? With humor and verve in text and illustration, dePaola presents scientific and historical information about popcorn in this delectable book.

Strega Nona

By: Tomie dePaola
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Big Anthony is large in size and curiosity but short on self-control. When Strega Nona, "grandma witch" of the village, leaves him in charge of her magic pasta pot, he can’t resist trying his hand at a spell. The small town almost drowns in pasta until Strega Nona returns just in time to reverse the spell and save the day. Through his lively illustrations and vivacious retelling, dePaola brings a traditional tale to new generations.

Strega Nona's Gift

By: Tomie dePaola
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Join Strega Nona and Big Anthony for holidays in Calabria (Italy) where feasts, food, and fun abound from early December to Epiphany. Of course, Big Anthony gets into trouble, but all ends well in this cheerful holiday offering with these enduring characters.

Strega Nona's Harvest

By: Tomie dePaola
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

When the good Italian witch, Strega Nona carefully adds a touch of magic to her well-tended garden it grows beautifully. Her bumbling assistant, Big Anthony, is not as careful with near-disastrous results. A creative solution to the overabundance winds up helping many - but will Big Anthony ever learn?

The Art Lesson

By: Tomie dePaola
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Though Tommy's family values and respects his artwork, the budding artist’s school doesn't always seem to appreciate it. That is until a special teacher encourages Tommy to follow his own interests. The tone of dePaola's signature art is reserved here but ideally suited to this autobiographical picture book. Those who follow their own passions and persevere (or want to) will find this book affirming.

The Birds of Bethlehem

By: Tomie dePaola
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A range of colorful birds share what they see in Bethlehem on the night of the Nativity, including the child and mother. Soft color and gentle line – characteristic of dePaola – and fluid text present a warm Christmas story.

The Legend of the Bluebonnet

By: Tomie dePaola
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Bluebonnets are the state flower of Texas. How they came to be is an Indian legend from the Comanche tradition. An orphan, She-Who-Is-Alone, is raised by the tribe in a time of drought and famine. Her sacrifice brings the people back into harmony with nature and saves the tribe. Stylized illustrations (though obviously still dePaola's work) provide atmosphere for this inspiring, touching, and respectful tale.

The Legend of the Poinsettia

By: Tomie dePaola
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

In this retelling of a beloved Mexican folktale, Tomie dePaola presents Lucinda, a young girl who is helping her mother weave a new blanket for Baby Jesus to be used in the Christmas procession to the church. When her mother falls ill, however, Lucinda tries to continue weaving and is distraught when the blanket's threads get tangled. She is sure that she has ruined the celebration — until a Christmas miracle brings forth the flaming red-star flowers that we still enjoy each December. Beautiful artwork will enthrall readers.

Tom

By: Tomie dePaola
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The simple, plain text tells of the close relationship between Tommy and his namesake grandfather, Tom. They read the comics together, act out poems, make up stories, and play practical jokes.

Tomie dePaola's Mother Goose

By: Tomie dePaola
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Original illustrations define and enhance a selection of over 200 mostly familiar nursery rhymes. Open format and gentle colors in a large format make this a wonderful book to share with young children.

Books illustrated by Tomie dePaola

Erandi's Braids

By: Antonio Hernández Madrigal
Illustrated by: Tomie dePaola
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Product Description: The yellow dress Erandi wants for her birthday will look beautiful with her long, thick braids. But Mama's fishing net is full of holes, and there isn't enough money to buy both a new net and a birthday dress. The only solution lies with the hair buyers from the city. But Mama's hair isn't nearly as beautiful as Erandi's. Will Erandi have to choose between her birthday present and her braids? This touching tale of love and sacrifice is sprinkled throughout with Spanish words and expressions.

Frida Kahlo: The Artist who Painted Herself

By: Margaret Frith
Illustrated by: Tomie dePaola
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Product Description: Through original artwork by the renowned artist Tomie dePaola — a longtime aficionado of Frida Kahlo's work — as well as beautiful reproductions of Kahlo's paintings, this latest Smart About book explores the creative, imaginative world of Mexico's most celebrated female artist.

Shhh! We're Writing the Constitution

By: Jean Fritz
Illustrated by: Tomie dePaola
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Long ago in 1787, a group of men known as the Founding Fathers of the United States met in Independence Hall in Philadelphia. (It's now a national park.) There they discussed, argued, and finally agreed upon a document that still in use today — the U.S. Constitution. Their story is told with verve and humor in this playful book.

The Tale of Rabbit and Coyote

By: Tony Johnston
Illustrated by: Tomie dePaola
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Coyote howls at the moon because of a small, smart, and very tricky rabbit. This lively retelling of an Oaxacan (Mexico) tale has familiar elements like rabbit becoming stuck on a farmer made of sticky beeswax. The energetic tale is complemented by illustrations reminiscent of folk art.

Interested in wonderful interviews with tween and teen authors? Hop on over to our sister site, AdLit.org, and browse the library.

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