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University of Connecticut University Libraries

The Heart of the Whitebird
the art of Tomie dePaola

The work of Tomie dePaola, internationally acclaimed children's book author and illustrator, will be the focus of a major exhibit at the Dodd Research Center, opening October 17, and the William Benton Museum of Art, opening October 23. Included will be a rich variety of illustrations, drawings, sketches, paintings, collages, books, posters and commercial applications that constitute a major lifetime retrospective. The Benton will also feature a special sampling from his collection of folk art, which fills his extraordinary home and his renovated 200-year-old barn studio in New London, New Hampshire.

Mr. dePaola has donated an extensive archive of his materials to the Northeast Children's Literature Collection in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. Items in the collection range from images he created as a child to some of his most recent illustrations for children's books. Tomie dePaola's career spans more than thirty years, during which time over five million copies of his books have been sold. Since 1965 he has illustrated over two hundred books and written the text of almost ninety of them. His work has been published in fifteen different countries. Born in Meriden, Connecticut, he has won many of the significant awards in the field of children's literature.

dePaola is best known for his character Strega Nona ("Grandma Witch" in Italian). She is portrayed as a chubby, wise, loving, kind, old woman who has great magical powers at her avail. The original Strega Nona book was so popular that there are now seven different books based on her. His autobiographical works include 26 Fairmount Avenue, The Art Lesson, and The Baby Sister. Mr. dePaola has become so loved by children and adults alike that he receives in excess of 100,000 pieces of fan mail every year.

Two days of special events are planned around the exhibit. A teachers' conference on Friday, October 22 will focus on the work of children's book illustrators. In addition to Mr. dePaola, speakers will include: Susan Jeffers, Mary Azarian, Barbara Kiefer, Cecilia Yung, Tony Stead, Barbara Elleman and Robert Sabuda.

On Saturday morning, October 23, Mr. dePaola will give a public lecture. In the afternoon, he will present a gallery talk at the official opening of the Benton Museum portion of the exhibit. On Saturday evening, Mr. dePaola will receive an honorary degree from the University of Connecticut. All events require registration or tickets in advance. Please call (860) 486-6346 for details.

Coinciding with the exhibition will be the publication of a major book on dePaola's life entitled Tomie dePaola, His Art & His Stories by Barbara Elleman with a forward by Trina Schart Hyman. The exhibit is supported in part by a grant from the Meriden Community Foundation, and the teachers' conference is supported in part by a grant from the Connecticut Humanities Council.

Curators: Roger Crossgrove and Terri Goldich