BELOVED children’s author and illustrator Tomie dePaola, writer of the popular Strega Nona series, has died at the age of 85.
DePaola was badly injured in a fall last week and died Monday of complications following surgery.
Nearly 25 million copies of his books have been sold around the world, and they have been translated into 20 languages.
The character of the kindly old witch Strega Nona originated as a doodle during a faculty meeting at a New Hampshire college where dePaola served in the theater department.
Titles in the series include Strega Nona: An Original Tale, Strega Nona’s Magic Lessons and Strega Nona Meets Her Match.
He worked on more than 270 books in a career that spanned more than 50 years.
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu praised DePaola as “a man who brought a smile to thousands of Granite State children who read his books, cherishing them for their brilliant illustrations.”
“Rest in peace, Tomie. You will be missed by all,” the governor added.
The prolific author was asked about the success of the Strega Nona series during an interview with The Associated Press in 2013.
“I think it’s because she’s like everybody’s grandmother,” he said.
“She’s cute, she’s not pretty, she’s kind of funny-looking, but she’s sweet, she’s understanding.
“And she’s a little saucy, she gets a little irritated every once in a while.”
The versatile dePaola also showcased his artwork with several exhibitions, including a pair in 2013-2014 called “Then” and “Now.”
“Even though I love doing my books and I try to be as creative as possible, there’s always a restriction,” he said in 2013.
“I have to please other people, I have to please my art director, my editor, and then there’s all the public to please.
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“Some of the books I’ve considered my best artistic personal accomplishments aren’t necessarily the books that appeal to children. And that’s OK.”
He spent much of his time writing in his 200-year-old barn in the New Hampshire town of New London.
DePaola grew up in Connecticut during the Great Depression.
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