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Tomie dePaola Manuscripts

By Kayla Harris and Eve Wolynes

Now through Jan. 27, visitors to Roesch Library can view original manuscripts and illustrations from renowned children’s author and illustrator Tomie dePaola. The materials, on loan from the Elmer L. Andersen Library at the University of Minnesota and on display in the first-floor lobby, represent different stages of dePaola’s creative process for the 1978 children’s tale The Clown of God, based on a medieval story of a juggler who offers his unique talent to the Virgin Mary.

“I have lovingly retold this ancient legend, shaping it to my own life and experience, and called it by its oldest known title,” dePaola states in his introductory note in the published version.

The loan was facilitated for the Marian Library’s upcoming Christmas exhibit, Juggling for Mary: Vocation, Gifts and Performing for Our Lady, opening Nov. 7 in both the Rose Gallery on the first floor and the Marian Library Gallery on the seventh floor; however, the Andersen Library lent the dePaola materials early so that University of Dayton students could use them in the classroom. Students of professors Mary-Kate Sableski and Jennifer Adams in EDT 350, Foundations of Literacy through Literature courses, visited the library for instruction sessions about the juggler story and dePaola’s version. Through hands-on activities with different versions of the tale from the Marian Library’s collections and high-resolution copies of the dePaola materials, students gained a deeper appreciation for the way stories can be retold and adapted for different audiences.

DePaola, who died in March 2020, produced over 200 works of children’s literature, including his Strega Nona series, and earned numerous accolades and awards. In 2011 he received the Children’s Literature Legacy Award, the lifetime achievement award formerly known as the Laura Ingalls Wilder award, from the American Library Association in recognition of “a substantial and lasting contribution to children’s literature through books that demonstrate integrity and respect for children’s lives and experiences.” His books cover a variety of topics, from retellings of folklore and religious stories to semi-autobiographical stories about his experiences growing up with a proclivity toward artistic endeavors. 

In addition to the manuscripts, sketches and watercolor illustrations on loan, the Marian Library holds its own original artwork by dePaola, a framed watercolor illustration from his The Lady of Guadalupe, currently on display near the Marian Library reception desk.

— Kayla Harris manages the arrangement and preservation of the Marian Library’s archival materials including photographs, personal papers and other artifacts. Eve Wolynes is a Library Assistant in the Marian Library.

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