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Children's Author/Illustrator
To Receive Honorary Degree
October 4, 1999

Children's author Tomie dePaola will receive an honorary degree from the University during a weekend celebration of illustrated children's books on October 22 and 23.

DePaola will receive the Doctor of Fine Arts degree for his contributions to the world of children's literature, for his outstanding work and for donating his collections to the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. The public is invited to the honorary degree ceremony and reception for dePaola October 23 from 4:30-7 p.m. in the Rome Hall Ballroom, South Campus. The event is free, but advance registration is required.

The weekend also includes a teachers' conference on illustrated children's books, a children's event including a story-reading with dePaola, and an exhibit of his work.

On October 22, the third Connecticut Children's Literature Teachers' Conference will focus on "The Illustrated Children's Book in Today's World." The event, in the Konover Auditorium of the Dodd Center, will run from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. At 11 a.m., Barbara Elleman will discuss her new book, Tomie dePaola, His Art & His Stories. The book, filled with vintage photographs, includes discussions of the recurring themes in dePaola's work. At 1:45 p.m., dePaola will moderate a panel discussion on "The Art of Creating Illustrated Children's Books," with illustrators Robert Sabuda, Susan Jeffers and Mary Azarian. There are still openings for the conference. Registration is $50.

The exhibit "The Heart of the Whitebird: The Art of Tomie dePaola" will be at the William Benton Museum of Art and the Dodd Center and will be open to the public from October 26 through December 23. The show will include work from his early years to the present, including illustrations, drawings, sketches, paintings, collages, books, and posters. The Benton will also feature a special sampling of his collected folk art.

The 65-year-old dePaola, who was born in Meriden, Conn., receives 100,000 pieces of fan mail each year. In addition to his work as illustrator and author of children's books, he has been a professional artist and designer, teacher of art, painter and muralist. During his career, he has illustrated more than 200 books and has written the text of almost 90 of them. More than five million copies of his books have been sold and published in 15 countries. He has earned many accolades, including the Caldecott Honor Award and the Smithsonian Medal.

One of dePaola's most popular characters is Strega Nona ("Grandma Witch" in Italian). She is portrayed as a chubby, wise, loving, kind old woman who has magical powers. The original Strega Nona book was so popular that there are now seven different books based on her.

Earlier this year, dePaola decided to place his papers in the Northeast Children's Literature Collection in the Archives and Special Collections housed in the Dodd Research Center. This donation of personal papers is a significant addition to what has become a nationally recognized collection. The donation includes copies of his books, as well as personal papers, including childhood sketchbooks, and carries through to some of his most recent books and illustrations. It also includes paintings, design work, and memorabilia from his extensive career.

For more information or to register for the conference, call (860) 486-6346. Registration is due by October 15. The children's event on Saturday morning is already filled, as is the special opening of the exhibit of dePaola's work. Those who are not participating in the weekend's events but would like to purchase autographed copies of Tomie dePaola, His Art & His Stories may call (860) 486-6346 or 486-5027.

Sherry Fisher