Tomie de Paola

Mary, the Mother of Jesus

Book cover: 'Mary, the Mother of Jesus'
Author(s): 
Tomie de Paola
Copyright: 
1995
Publisher: 
Holiday House
Binding: 
Sewn Hardcover
Number of pages: 
32 pages
Subject(s): 
Review: 

This is a very nice and very Catholic book about Mary for small children. But don't let its simplicity fool you - there is a great deal for older ones as well. There is a two page "chapter" on each of the following topics: The Presentation of the Child Mary at the Temple, The Betrothal of Joseph and Mary, The Annunciation, The Visitation, The Birth of Jesus, The Presentation of the Boy Jesus in the Temple, The Adoration of the Magi, The Flight into Egypt, The Boy Jesus in the Temple, The Marriage at Cana, The Ministry (of Jesus), Mary's Solitude (the Crucifixion), The Coming of the Holy Spirit, Mary is Taken to Heaven, and a final picture of The Queen of Heaven. Each "chapter" has one or two illustrations - in the Tomie de Paola style of course - a short verse from the Liturgy of the Hours and a simple retelling of the story.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
1999
Reviewed by: 

The Friendly Beasts

An Old English Christmas Carol
Book cover: 'The Friendly Beasts: An Old English Christmas Carol'
Illustrator(s): 
Tomie de Paola
Copyright: 
1981
Publisher: 
Putnam Juvenile
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
32 pages
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

"The Friendly Beasts" is a lovely old English Christmas carol (the words and music are included in their entirety on the last page). Tomie de Paola has drawn beautiful pictures, in his signature style, to accompany the words to this song. (We didn't know the song before we came across the book. Now we tend to sing it, rather than read it, to the children.) It has been a favorite in our family partly because of it's beautiful simplicity and is frequently requested (even when it's nowhere near Christmastime) by our younger children. The artwork is to be enjoyed and cherished over and over again. I especially like a little drawing of the Annunciation that just shows up on the front cover.

Here is the first verse of the song to give you the idea:

Jesus our brother, strong and good,
Was humbly born in a stable rude.
And the friendly beasts around Him stood,
Jesus our brother, strong and good.

Review Date: 
12-1-05
Reviewed by: 

The Lady of Guadalupe

Book cover: 'The Lady of Guadalupe'
Author(s): 
Tomie de Paola
Copyright: 
1980
Publisher: 
Holiday House
Binding: 
Sewn Hardcover
Number of pages: 
44 pages
Resource Type: 
Review: 

This has been one of my family's very favorite picture books since our oldest was a toddler. It is a beautiful re-telling of a beautiful story with illustrations that complement it nicely and which are very appealing to children. I especially like Tomie de Paola's attention to detail. It's informative enough to be interesting even for adults.
The story tells of Mary's apparitions to an Indian convert, Juan Diego, in Mexico, in 1531. She asked Juan Diego to tell the bishop that she wished a church to be built. On his second visit, the bishop asked Juan to ask "the lady" for a sign. Mary sends Juan back to the bishop with fresh cut roses - even though it's the middle of December. When Juan opens his tilma (like a cloak) to show the roses to the bishop, they discover that Our Lady's image has been miraculously imprinted on his tilma. This tilma has remained intact and is displayed even today in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.The author also avoids some of the mistakes and biases often present in renditions of the story. By explaining how the Bishop interrogated Juan Diego and carefully recorded all the details, the author makes it clear that this story is not a legend, but an actual occurence. (A note following the story also gives information about the miraculous condition of the tilma today - which is amazingly intact after more than 400 years.) The author also seems to have avoided any politically correct bias. I was particularly impressed with his portrayal of the bishop who was a very holy man with a genuine concern for all the people of Mexico.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
1999
Reviewed by: 

The Legend of the Poinsettia

Book cover: 'The Legend of the Poinsettia'
Author(s): 
Tomie de Paola
Illustrator(s): 
Tomie de Paola
Copyright: 
1994
Publisher: 
Paperstar Books
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
32 pages
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

This lovely retelling of an old Mexican legend transports us to the mountains of Mexico, where a young girl, Lucida, prepares for Christmas with her family. Her mother is a fine weaver, and the Padre asks her to make a new blanket for the Baby Jesus. When her mother falls ill, she longs to help finish the blanket, but only seems to make a mess of things. With no gift for the Baby Jesus, Lucida hides and watches the procession from afar. An old woman assures her that "any gift is beautiful because it is given" and that "Whatever you give, the Baby Jesus will love, because it comes from you."

Feeling more courageous, Lucida picks a bundle of weeds and brings them to the Baby Jesus in the manger scene at church, where they are beautifully transformed.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
11-29-06
Reviewed by: 

The Parables of Jesus

Book cover: 'The Parables of Jesus'
Author(s): 
Tomie de Paola
Review: 

In a similar manner to The Miracles of Jesus, Tomie de Paola presents seventeen of Jesus' parables. This book makes them very accessible to small children and may even be the start of some interesting little discussions with your children about why Jesus told these stories. Some of the text of the parables is very brief.

Review Date: 
1999
Reviewed by: 

26 Fairmount Avenue Series

Book cover: '26 Fairmount Avenue Series'
Author(s): 
Tomie de Paola
Series: 
26 Fairmount Avenue
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

See below for review of the first book in the series.

Individual Titles in Chronological Order:

  • 26 Fairmount Avenue
  • Here We All Are
  • On My Way
  • What a Year!
  • Things Will Never be the Same

These books also make delightful read-alouds.

Review Date: 
1999
Reviewed by: 

26 Fairmount Avenue

Book cover: '26 Fairmount Avenue'
Author(s): 
Tomie de Paola
Copyright: 
1999
Publisher: 
G.P.Putnam's Sons or Scholastic
Series: 
26 Fairmount Avenue
Number of pages: 
58 pages
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

With 26 Fairmount Avenue, Tomie dePaola has written an account of when he was four and five years old and awaiting the building of his new home on Fairmount Ave. The story opens in 1938 with a huge hurricane blowing into town, upsetting life as well as trees. Mama calms everyone's fears by sprinkling the neighbors and the children with holy water. (Direct Catholic references are few, but nice to see.)

Primarily, his Catholic faith is witnessed through his family's relationships with one another, as well as their friends and neighbors. For instance, Tomie's relationship with his great grandmother is a beautiful example of a young child loving and respecting an elderly person. Tomie likes to spend time with his great grandmother. "...my Nana upstairs was a special person to me. I loved her and every Sunday I spent all my time with her." This is quite amazing for a child his age when you realize that Nana upstairs is so old that she has to be tied into a chair so that she won't fall over.

Written with warmth and amusing anecdotes, this book is a delight to read. I highly recommend reading his numerous other books as well.

If you are interested in reading more about his childhood, Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs is about his visiting his great grandmother. Now One Foot, Now the Other and Tom are about his grandfather. The Baby Sister is about his joyful anticipation of his baby sister and the difficulties of waiting for her arrival. The Art Lesson is about his love of art, his desire to be an artist someday, and his hope to take a "real" art lesson in school with a "real" art teacher. All these books are picture books, expressing a child's point of view with reverence for others and respect and joy for life.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Additional notes: 

This is a really delightful little book. In addition to its historical value and charming family relationships, the author's experiences as a young boy who loved stories and was frustrated by his kindergarten class that wouldn't teach him to read and the changes made to his favorite stories in movie form will be easy for many homeschooled children to relate to. - Alicia Van Hecke (1-4-01)

Review Date: 
1999
Reviewed by: