Tomie dePaola, known for the well-loved Strega Nonabooks and many others has fashioned a charming short novel from his own childhood. Illustrated with many black-and-white drawings and small black silhouettes, the nine chapters describe the family's ups and downs in building the family home, as well as other exciting events like a hurricane and Tomie's first day of school. The first person narrative, which has the uncluttered freshness of a child's viewpoint, weaves in well-chosen details that will entertain young readers.
Nobody tells an anecdote better than the person who lived through it. This is one of the reasons that author-illustrator dePaola's picture-book autobiographies (26 Fairmount Avenue; Here We All Are; On My Way) have been such a success. On this audio adaptation of those first three books, plus the just-released What a Year! (Putnam, Mar.), dePaola, as narrator, lets his easygoing storytelling style and effervescent personality shine through. He recounts in vivid detail memories from his childhood in Connecticut, describing family members and major events in his life, including the hurricane of 1938, seeing Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs for the first time, the birth of his baby sister and his first foray into trick-or-treating (as Snow White). Contemporary kids will be enthralled by these accounts of long-ago because they are told with such childlike charm; parents and grandparents will likely want to listen for nostalgia's sake. And everyone will be entertained, taking away a sense of what it was really like to be a kid in the late 1930s/early 1940s. Ages 7-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
This year, well-known author and illustrator DePaola won a Newbery Honor award for his first-chapter book in which he recounts early adventures in his life. He writes about watching the hurricane of 1938 take over his neighborhood, mistaking laxatives for chocolates, and painting family portraits on the walls of his new home before the plasterers arrive. DePaola's style is brisk and readable, the anecdotes well chosen, and he promises more autobiographical chapter books will follow. 1999, Putnam, Ages 6 to 9, $13.99 and $5.99. Reviewer: Susie Wilde
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
In a real departure from his many other books, Tomie dePaola has written his first chapter book. It is a reminiscence about his childhood and the building of the family home at 26 Fairmount Avenue. The voice is that of a young boy, and the world is seen through his eyes. He tells about how he keeps his grandmothers and great grandmother straight and how much he enjoys spending time with them and other members of his extended family. The chapter relating his viewing of the Disney version of Snow White is a hoot. The day of the big move into the new house has been eagerly anticipated. Throughout the book, young Tomie shares his excitement about the construction as well as his parents angst. Black and white illustrations by the author are liberally sprinkled throughout the book. Kids who have moved up to chapter books will love this one.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4 Tomie dePaola's loving recollections of his childhood - 26 Fairmount Avenue, Here We All Are, On My Way, and What a Year (Putnam, 1999-2002) come to life in this delightful audiobook. The author reads his own works, and it is clear from his voice that writing these books was a true labor of love. The tone is conversational as dePaola takes listeners back to another time when "Little Orphan Annie" was on the radio and doctors made house calls. His large extended family - both Irish and Italian - are featured in these stories, but the hero is clearly little Tomie. He exults in a starring role in a dance recital, dresses up as Snow White for Halloween, and has the occasional run-in with his teachers who insist on spelling his name "Tommy." There are tense moments here, as Tomie's little sister battles pneumonia, and joyous celebrations when the family moves to Fairmount Avenue. The entire production, including original music and a closing interview with the author/illustrator, is extremely well done. It offers listeners, both young and old, a warm glimpse of a loving family. It also provides insights into the background that influenced dePaola's later work. -Teresa Bateman, Brigadoon Elementary School, Federal Way, WA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
A charming, gentle, funny...His respect and reverence for both the old and the youngis clear...in his stories. (Patricia MacLachlan, author of Sarah, Plain and Tall)
Author Biography: Tomie dePaola is one of the best-known and best-loved author/illustrators creating books for children today. Both his writing and art have won numerous awards, and many of his picture books are now considered classics.
Neat sketches and silhouettes will draw browsers in, and the book design is approachable and not babyish...[A]n entirely satisfying easy chapter book...
The Horn Book Review
The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola's autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences. Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938. Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (" `When do we learn to read?' I asked. `Oh, we don't learn how to read in kindergarten. We learn to read next year, in first grade.' `Fine,' I said. `I'll be back next year.' And I walked right out of school."), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney's "Snow White" doesn't match the story he knows. Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well. (Autobiography. 7-9)