Author Interview: Tomie dePaola
Bianca: How does it feel to see Strega Nona come to life in your new pop-up book, Brava, Strega Nona! A Heartwarming Pop-Up Book?
Tomie: It is so much fun to see Strega Nona’s world come to life in 3D. The Children’s Theater Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota has done three Strega Nona full stage productions, so it isn’t the first time I’ve
seen Strega Nona come to life off the page, but this book is really so special. My favorite spread is the one of Big Anthony and the pasta.
Tomie: Working with Robert and Matt (and their Staff) was a very positive experience. They are the ultimate pros and I guess I am, too. So the back and forth work went very smoothly.
Tomie: Most people don’t realize the many steps that a pop-up goes through. There are a variety of “Dummies” (the sketch phase of the book). Then finally the pencil “dummy”, then the
finished art which is like painting pieces of a jig saw puzzle. The entire process took literally years – 3 to be exact.
Bianca: Where is your favorite place to work?
Tomie: In my studio which is a 200 year old barn, in New Hampshire.
Bianca: I love asking authors and illustrators which one of their books is their favorite creation. Is it possible to have one favorite when you have created over 200 books? If so, which one is it?
Tomie: Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs. It was the first book I did which was 100% autobiographical. A few years ago, I re-illustrated it in full color for its 25th Anniversary.
Bianca: What stands out as the most memorable moment in your amazing journey as an author and illustrator?
Tomie: It hasn’t happened yet. I’ve had so many moments, but I’m still waiting for the BIG ONE.
Bianca: Is there any advice – or words of wisdom – you were given during your career that stuck with you?
Tomie: In 1955, the great artist , Ben Shahn told me that “being an artist is not only what you do, but how you live your life.”