Tommy is so excited. His first-grade class is putting on a play about Peter Rabbit, and he’s sure to get the starring role. But in his enthusiasm, Tommy talks too much in class, so his teacher decides that he should play Mopsy instead—and Mopsy doesn’t have any lines! Tommy is disappointed until he gets an idea. If he can’t be the star, he can still get the audience’s attention by reacting to everything Peter Rabbit does. But how will Tommy’s mother and teacher react to his ...
Tommy is so excited. His first-grade class is putting on a play about Peter Rabbit, and he’s sure to get the starring role. But in his enthusiasm, Tommy talks too much in class, so his teacher decides that he should play Mopsy instead—and Mopsy doesn’t have any lines! Tommy is disappointed until he gets an idea. If he can’t be the star, he can still get the audience’s attention by reacting to everything Peter Rabbit does. But how will Tommy’s mother and teacher react to his performance?
Although Tommy fails to get the part of Peter Rabbit in the kindergarten play, he still finds a way to be the center of attention on stage.
DePaola (26 Fairmount Avenue) takes the stage in this latest story inspired by his childhood memories. For young Tommy, all the world-and especially all of kindergarten-is a stage. Tommy did such a swell job as Pilgrim John Alden in the class's Thanksgiving production, he's confident he'll play the lead in the spring play, Peter Rabbit. But Tommy's enthusiasm about the role gets the better of him and when his attention wanders and he talks out of turn, Miss Bird relegates him to play Mopsy instead of Peter. Since there are no small parts (only small actors, as the saying goes), Tommy takes it upon himself to use his gift of "stage presence" and play Mopsy for all the bunny's worth. The hammy result amuses the audience, but not Miss Bird, or Tommy's fellow actors-especially the boy playing Peter. Amends are made, and Tommy sets his sights on the next opportunity to take the stage. Gentle humor and realistic childhood emotions abound in this tale of the ups and downs of a budding performer. DePaola's recognizable style of sunny, acrylic paintings spotlighting Tommy's bushy head of dark hair and playfully prominent ears are worthy of an encore. And small panel scenes of Tommy/Mopsy's antics plus his daydreams of spotlights to come are sure to rouse a chuckle from readers. Ages 4-up. (Feb.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Tommy's teacher, Miss Bird, has just announced that their class will be putting on the spring play for the whole school. Tommy loves to be the center of attention, and he is sure that he will be a great Peter Rabbit. After all, he was a natural as Pilgrim John Alden in the Thanksgiving play, and he gets lots of practice bowing at the end of his weekly tap lessons. Tommy can hardly wait for Miss Bird to pass out the parts! It is all he can think about—and talk about—for days. Unfortunately, Tommy does much of his thinking and talking during class. Miss Bird is not too happy with his inability to pay attention, and so she does not give him the part of Peter after all. Resigned to the role of Mopsy, will Tommy find a way to make the play fun, anyway? Or will the whole thing be a bust? Tomie dePaolo once again captures the eagerness and enthusiasm of childhood in the character of Tommy, a boy with experiences based on dePaolo's own life. Readers will rejoice in Tommy's stage success, and they are likely to appreciate the mixed response his performance brings. 2005, GP Putnam/Penguin, Ages 4 to 8.
—Heidi Hauser Green
DePaola recounts another anecdote from his childhood in this school story that explores the concept of "stealing the show." The main character, Tommy, is very interested in dancing and acting, and he hopes to be cast as Peter Rabbit in the class play. When he's cast instead in a minor role as Mopsy the rabbit sibling, he upstages everyone during the performance, earning lots of laughs and applause, but displeasing his mom and teacher. Tommy has to apologize to his teacher and to the boy who played Peter Rabbit, but he can't forget the laughter and applause and can't wait for his next performance opportunity. Teachers putting on classroom plays of their own will find this story useful, both for its thoughtful exploration of appropriate behavior on stage and for a general introduction to the theatrical experience. As in DePaola's other stories that incorporate his childhood memories, this classroom is a peek back into an earlier time, with boys in knickers and girls in dresses and hair bows, but the emotions of a budding thespian remain the same. (Picture book. 5-8)
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Meet the Author
Tomie dePaola was born in Meriden, Connecticut, in 1934 to a
family of Irish and Italian background. By the time he could hold a pencil, he knew what his life's work would be. His determination to create books for children led to a BFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, and an MFA from the California College of
Arts&Crafts in Oakland, California.
It drove him through the years of teaching, designing greeting cards and stage sets, and painting church murals until 1965, when he illustrated his first children's book, Sound, by Lisa Miller for Coward-McCann. Eventually, freed of other obligations, he plunged full time into both writing and illustrating children's books.
He names Fra Angelico and Giotto, Georges Rouault, and Ben Shahn as major
influences on his work, but he soon found his own unique style. His particular way with color, line, detail, and design have earned him many of the most prestigious awards in his
field, among them a Caldecott Honor Award for Strega Nona, the Smithsonian Medal from the Smithsonian Institution, the Kerlan Award from the University of Minnesota for his "singular attainment in children's literature," the Catholic Library
Association's Regina Medal for his "continued distinguished contribution," and the University of Southern Mississippi Medallion. He was also the 1990 United States nominee for the Hans Christian Andersen Medal for illustration.
Tomie dePaola has published almost 200 children's books in fifteen different
countries. He remains one of the most popular creators of books for children, receiving more than 100,000 fan letters each year.
Tomie lives in an interesting house in New Hampshire with his four dogs. His studio is in a large renovated 200-year-old barn.
- He has been published for over 30 years.
- Over 5 million copies of his books have sold worldwide.
- His books have been published in over 15 different countries.
- He receives nearly 100,000 fan letters each year.
Tomie dePaola has received virtually every significant recognition for
his books in the children's book world, including:
- Caldecott Honor Award from American Library Association
- Newbery Honor Award from American Library Association
- Smithson Medal from Smithsonian Institution
- USA nominee in illustration for Hans Christian Andersen Medal
Born in 1934 into a large extended Irish/Italian family, Tomie dePaola received his art education at Brooklyn's Pratt Institute and the California College of Arts & Crafts. Although he always wanted to create children's books, he spent several years applying his talents to the fields of education, theater, and graphic design. In the mid-1960s, he received his first commission to illustrate a children's science book. A year later, he published his first original picture book, The Wonderful Dragon of Timlin. Today, he is one of the most prolific -- and beloved -- author/illustrators in children's literature.
In addition to illustrating stories by other writers, DePaola has created artwork for collections of poetry, nursery rhymes, holiday traditions, and folk and religious tales. But, he is most famous for books of his own creation, especially Strega Nona ("Grandma Witch"), the beloved story of an old woman who uses her magical powers to help the people of her small Italian village. Written in 1975, this Caldecott Honor winner is still delighting children today.
DePaola admits that there are strong autobiographical elements in many of his books (Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs, The Art Lesson, Stagestruck), but nowhere is this more evident than in 26 Fairmount Avenue, a series of charming chapter books based on his Connecticut childhood. Taking its name from the address of his family home, the series captures the experiences and emotions of a young boy growing up in the late 1930s and early '40s in the shadow of World War II. The first book in the series received a 1999 Newbery Honor Award.
DePaola and his work have been recognized with many honors, including the Smithsonian Medal, the Kerlan Award for "singular attainment in children's literature," the Catholic Library Association's Regina Medal, and several awards from the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. In 1999, the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts bestowed on dePaola the Lotte Jacobi Living Treasure Award for the body of his work.
Good To Know
Tomie dePaola's name is pronounced Tommy de POW-la.
Between college and graduate school, dePaola spent a short time in a Benedictine monastery before determining that religious life was not for him.
Using a combination of watercolor, tempera, and acrylic, dePaola's artistic style is best described as folk-traditional.
DePaola's favorite painters and strongest artistic influences are Matisse, Giotto, and Ben Shahn.