Friday, December 08, 2006Friday Coffeehouse: Tomie DePaola
I hope you all know about Tomie DePaola. I would have to say he is among my top 3 favorite children's authors. Probably the best book he's ever written that should be mandated reading for all kids is "Nana Upstairs, Nana Downstairs." No other book treats the topic of death in such a delicate and honest way that eases children into it. This story is a beautiful telling: "Every Sunday four-year-old Tommy's family goes to visit his grandparents. His grandmother is always busy downstairs, but his great-grandmother is always to be found in bed upstairs, because she is 94 years old. Tommy loves both of his nanas and the time he spends with them. He is desolate when his upstairs nana dies, but his mother comforts him by explaining that "she will come back in your memory whenever you think about her."
We have four or five of DePaola's books in our home and always look for more at thrift stores/garage sales. His books have a wide range of topics... from the lighthearted Popcorn book.... to the educational Cloud book... to the religious saint books... to the fantasy/magic of Strega Nona. All of them are dressed up with his unique illustration style that won't ever be duplicated. My favorites include "The Clown of God" (which has been known to bring people to tears) and "Pascual and the Kitchen Angels" (the story of St. Pascual... patron saint of the kitchen). Other religious books from this author cover the stories of Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Patrick, and St. Christopher.
One timely thing to note is that DePaola has written/illustrated several Christmas themed books (including "The Clown of God"). The one we have and love is "The Legend of the Poinsettia":
"Lucida is heartbroken because she has nothing beautiful to bring baby Jesus in the Christmas procession, when an old woman convinces her that the Baby Jesus will love anything she can give, her simple gift turns out to be the most miraculous of all."
One of his endearing little Christmas books is a pop-up: "The First Christmas." Some families use this as a weekly Advent calendar. Other Christmas titles listed here include descriptions from Emmanuel Books:
Country Angel Christmas
"The story of Saint Nicholas and the country angels. They were preparing for a Christmas celebration. But three of the youngest angels were told to stay out of the way by the bigger angels. They wanted to do something too. Saint Nicholas gives them an idea. It was the best idea for their celebration."
The Night of Las Posadas
"The story is set in New Mexico. It is about the old Spanish custom that commemorates Mary and Joseph's search for shelter in Bethlehem! Sister Angie has organized the tradition for many years. This year Angie's niece, Lupe, and Lupe's husband, Roberto, are going to play the parts of Mary and Joseph. But when Sister Angie becomes sick and Lupe and Roberto get stuck in a snowstorm, only a miracle can save Las Posadas! Wonderful tale of a Spanish Catholic tradition!"
Mary: the Mother of Jesus
"A feeling of joyful reverence pervades this story of Mary's life! A very colorful book. This story tells of Mary's life from her childhood, her visit from the angel Gabriel, her marriage, the birth of Jesus, her death and her assumption into Heaven."
-Ellie: Oak Harbor, WA
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