Tomie dePaola Event Cancelled for Health Reasons
"Courage" is Tomie dePaola's favorite word. For the last year, it took every ounce of courage the legendary children's author and illustrator had to overcome a series of health challenges, including pneumonia, anemia, a serious foot infection, and the recurrence of painful carpel tunnel problems in his writing and drawing hand.
But through it all, dePaola, who just celebrated his 75th birthday and his 45th year in publishing, never stopped working.
After completing his 10th Strega Nona book, "Strega Nona's Harvest," he started the artwork for his eighth "26 Fairmont Avenue" chapter book, "For the Duration: The War Years," followed by illustrations for his book, "My Mother Is So Smart" (March 2010), artwork for a poster that will be packaged with the 25th anniversary edition of "Tomie dePaola's Mother Goose," and paintings for "Let the Whole Earth Sing Praise" (fall 2010). Finally, the pain in his hand became so intense it affected his sleep.
"It seemed as if my body was screaming, 'Give me a break!'" he said. Last week, dePaola's doctor insisted he needed immediate surgery, forcing the cancellation of the author's planned book tour which included an event Sunday, Sept. 27, at Weymouth Center, hosted by The Country Bookshop.
"We made the tough decision to cancel the book tour to give Tomie's hand a chance to heal, and to give his foot a chance to heal, and to get his anemia under control," his spokesperson said. "This was hardly the outcome Tomie had wanted. He was looking forward to touring this fall and is very saddened to have to disappoint booksellers and his fans. He hopes to be well soon and able to continue visiting bookstores for many more years to come."
"We are so sorry we weren't able to bring Tomie here," says Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop's children's section manager, "but we hope all his friends will stop by the shop to sign our 'Three Get Well Kisses For Tomie" book, which we'll forward to him. It would be wonderful if we could include some pictures drawn by Tomie's fans.
"For customers who had tickets for the now cancelled event, we have special limited edition bookplates designed by Tomie with his signature and 'Strega Nona's Harvest' artwork, which can be picked up during regular business hours at the bookshop."
Tally adds that in the spirit of 'Strega Nona's Harvest,' the bookshop will continue to collect nonperishable food items through Friday, Oct. 2, which will be donated to the Sandhills/Moore Coalition of Human Care.
"And as promised, The Country Bookshop will donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of Tomie's new books through the end of September," Tally says.
"Of all the zillions of things that could be said about Tomie dePaola," says Robert D. Hale in The Horn Book Magazine, "the one that comes most strongly to mind is his exuberance. He is joyful, ebullient. The books he creates radiate this quality of good cheer, even when they have serious messages to importEverything Tomie does is done with gusto and zest -- which is why his work appeals to all generations."
When asked by a young fan if he was going to retire, dePaola responded, "As an old man, I like the feeling I get when I climb into bed. But probably not, although some days when my drawing hand is hurting, it seems like a very good idea. It's a dream of mine that one of my books, any book, any picture, will touch the heart of some individual child and change that child's life for the better, I don't even have to know about it. I hope it's not a far-fetched dream.
"Meanwhile, I'll keep working, doing the best I'm capable of. I have lots of ideas for books. So I think I'll live 10, 20, 30, maybe 40 more years!"
Tomie dePaola lives with his Airedale dog, Bronte, in a 200-year-old farm house in New London, N.H.
For information about how to sign the "Three Get Well Kisses For Tomie" book or to make a donation to the Sandhills/Moore Coalition for Human Care, call The Country Bookshop at (910) 692-3211.
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