Children’s book author and illustrator Tomie dePaola has been commemorated by the US Postal Service with the release of a Forever stamp. A dedication ceremony for the stamp was held May 5 at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, New Hampshire, which also houses more than 100 of dePaola’s works of art in its permanent collection. The stamp art includes a detail from the cover of “Strega Nona”, the first book in Paola’s popular series of picture books.
DePaola, who passed away in 2020 following complications from surgery, was known for producing an extensive body of work that included folktales and legends, informational books, religious and holiday stories, and autobiographical stories. His books contained layers of emotional meaning and emphasized the importance of hard work, self-acceptance, love and kindness.
At the dedication ceremony, Steve Monteith, chief of customer and marketing for the US Postal Service, praised dePaola’s genius and unique ability to interact with readers of all ages and cultures. Other participants in the event included Bruce McColl, director of engagement at the Currier Museum of Art; Dr. Susan Lynch, former first lady of New Hampshire and Currier Museum of Art board member; Judie de Paola Bobbi, sister of Tomie de Paola; Erin Fehlau, WMUR-TV anchor; Jon Anderson, president and publisher of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing; Sarah Mackenzie, founder of Read-Aloud Revival; and Kathleen McCaffery, anglophone arts consultant with the New Hampshire Department of Education.
Clear but muted tones, flat, two-dimensional perspectives, and a distinctive blend of Romanesque painting styles and traditional folk art characterized DePaola’s work. Hearts and white birds, which were important to dePaola, reappeared in his illustrations. His most famous work, the “Strega Nona” picture book series, received a Caldecott Honor and centered on the character Strega Nona, or “Grandma Witch”, who uses magic to help her neighbors and cure their ailments.
In 2011, the American Library Association awarded dePaola the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for his significant contribution to children’s literature. After his death, the Currier Museum established the Tomie dePaola Art Education Fund to support art education for youth of all backgrounds.
The stamp issuance is celebrated on social media with the hashtag #TomiedePaolaStamp. Through this honor, dePaola’s legacy and contributions to children’s literature will continue to inspire and captivate readers of all ages.