There are a handful of authors who should have longer IMDb pages. In this case, I can’t believe no one has had the idea of a Strega Nona cartoon series; my kids don’t know it, but they would fall in love with that. And even if they didn’t, they would end up watching it anyway, because I would fall in love with that. At least, if it was done with Tomie dePaola’s wit, charm, and humour. Not to mention his extremely distinctive art style.
Okay, so there was apparently a Muppet series called Telling Stories With Tomie de Paola, which appeared on the Hallmark Channel for a couple of months in 2001, but PBS should’ve come calling. I’m pretty sure he did at least one Reading Rainbow book, but I devoured his books as a child, and I would’ve devoured a show of them. I’m not sure I know anyone who’s read them who didn’t fall in love with them. He never married and he had no children, but my goodness but he influenced a lot of children.
Stephen King wrote in Danse Macabre about how imaginative people often retained the facial appearance of a child, and that was true in dePaola’s case. He seems, from what little I know, to have retained a cheerful, whimsical attitude toward life. Some of his books were very serious, but he also created many lighthearted works, not to mention a fair amount of autobiography. And illustrating others’ works—I have a Mother Goose book illustrated by him on my kids’ wishlist.
I do keep coming back to Strega Nona and Large Anthony. And you know, I don’t think he’d mind. I think he would’ve liked that they’ve been making me laugh since I was a child and that I very much need to share them with my own children, who would laugh as well. I have at least one of his books translated into Spanish, as part of my belief that having children’s books in the language you’re trying to learn is great practice.
And my mom has a Nativity mobile of his drawings, because one of the things he did was a lot of religious art. He did a number of paintings, including Stations of the Cross and some frescos, for the Our Lady of Glastonbury abbey church in Hingham, Massachusetts. I don’t know if he ever considered a monastic life, but it doesn’t take much delving to recognize how important his faith was to him. And in this time, it’s worth noting that he died after a fall at home, of a head injury. Which is also sad, of course, but I thought people would like to know what he didn’t die of.