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The Wilder Award honors an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.
2011 Medal Winner
Author/Illustrator Tomie dePaola is the winner of the 2011 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award honoring an author or illustrator, published in the United States, whose books have made a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children. His numerous works include “26 Fairmont Avenue” (Putnam, 1999); “Strega Nona” (Prentice-Hall, 1975); “The Legend of the Poinsettia” (Putnam, 1994); and “Oliver Button Is a Sissy” (Harcourt, 1979).
“Tomie dePaola is masterful at creating seemingly simple stories that have surprising depth and reflect tremendous emotional honesty,” said Wilder Award Committee Chair Megan Schliesman. “They have resonated with children for over 40 years.”
Tomie dePaola was born in Meriden, Conn., September 15, 1934. He received a BFA in Art Education from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY, in 1956, and an MFA from the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, Calif. in 1969. In a career that spans more than 45 years, he has created over 200 books for children and continues to write and illustrate today. He currently lives in New London, N.H.
Tomie dePaola’s award-winning works include “26 Fairmont Avenue,” which received a Newbery Honor in 2000; “Strega Nona,” recipient of a Caldecott Honor in 1976; and many others. In addition, dePaola has received the Kerlan Award (Kerlan Collection, University of Minnesota, 1981), Regina Medal (Catholic Library Association, 1983), James Smithson Bicentennial Medal (Smithsonian Institution, 1990), the Living Treasure Award (Governor’s Arts Awards, State of New Hampshire, 1999), and was one of two nominees of the United States Board on Books for Young People (USBBY) for the international Hans Christian Andersen Award (1990).
Tomie dePaola’s books range from autobiographical stories to retellings of folktales and legends to original tales and stories. His works reflect an innate understanding of childhood, a distinctive visual style, and a remarkable ability to adapt his voice to perfectly suit the story. With books that are often humorous—sometimes quietly, sometimes outrageously—and almost always contain a strong emotional core, dePaola has made a contribution to children’s literature that is broad, deep and lasting.
One of Tomie dePaola’s best known books is “Strega Nona,” the first in a series of original tales featuring the irrepressible and wise “Grandma Witch.” It demonstrates the blending of dePaola’s recognizable and welcoming visual elements with his astute narrative sensibility. The brilliantly balanced words and pictures depict the mayhem that ensues when Big Anthony doesn’t pay attention to Strega Nona, and introduce an enduring character who has charmed generations of children.
Members of the 2011 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award Committee are: Chair Megan Schliesman, Cooperative Children’s Book Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison; JoAnn Jonas, San Diego County Library; Andrew Medlar, Chicago Public Library; Martha V. Parravano, Horn Book Magazine, Boston; and Angela J. Reynolds, Annapolis Valley Regional Library, Bridgetown, Nova Scotia, Canada.