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Colby-Sawyer College Hosts Celebrated Children's Book Author and Illustrator Tomie dePaola in Artist-Scholar Lecture Series

NEW LONDON, N.H., Aug. 31, 2010 – Colby-Sawyer College will host New London's own internationally renowned author and artist Tomie dePaola in the inaugural event of the college's Artist and Scholar Lecture Series. Mr. dePaola will discuss his extraordinary career and present highlights of his work.

The event, held on Tuesday, Sept. 14, from 12 to 1 p.m. in the Sawyer Center Lobby Gallery, will kick off a yearlong series featuring talented artists and art historians. Admission is free.

College and area community members are invited to attend this series of lectures by artists and scholars, which is intended to inspire people and raise awareness of the arts at Colby-Sawyer and the college's proposed new fine and performing arts center.

Mr. dePaola, who grew up in Connecticut and studied at the Pratt Institute, is best known for his children's books. In a career that spans four decades and is still full of book projects for years to come, he has written and/or illustrated more than 200 books. His work has been recognized with the Caldecott Honor Award, the Newbery Honor Award and the New Hampshire Governor's Arts Award of Living Treasure.

Mr. de Paola taught in the Theatre Department at Colby-Sawyer College (then Colby Jr. College) in the 1970s and it was during perhaps the best faculty meeting ever that he was inspired to create one of his most well-known characters, Strega Nona.

“My books were beginning to get noticed, so my editor … suggested that I look into re-telling a folk tale. Of course, I would also illustrate it,” writes Mr. dePaola on his web site. “Well, some months before at a required weekly college faculty meeting (I always sat in the back row with a legal pad and doodled. The administration thought I was taking notes.), I was, as usual, doodling. I was 'obsessed' with the Italian commedia dell'arte character Punchinello. So many of my doodles were of him – big nose, big chin. On my pad, I drew the profile, but suddenly I found I had drawn a headscarf. I put in the eye and the smiling mouth and continued to draw a little chubby body complete with long skirt and apron. And I scribbled the words 'Strega Nona' next to the drawing.”

In addition to his eight Strega Nona books, the vast and rich library dePaola has created includes the autobiographical 26 Fairmount Avenue series, religious and holiday-themed tales, legends and folktales, and one of his personal favorites, Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs.

A great creator and supporter of the arts, dePaola is active in the community he calls home.  He encourages readers to support Morgan Hill Bookstore on Main Street in New London, which carries autographed copies of all of dePaola's books currently in print.

The next event in Colby-Sawyer's Artist and Scholar Lecture Series is “Animals and Nature in Japanese Art” with renowned art historian Robert T. Singer, curator of Japanese art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  Mr. Singer's lecture will be held Friday, Oct.1, at 7 p.m. in Sawyer Center's Gordon Hall.

Colby-Sawyer College hosts a wide variety of educational and cultural events that are open to the public. For more information about the Artist and Scholar Series and other upcoming events, please visit

Colby-Sawyer College is a comprehensive college that integrates the liberal arts and sciences with professional preparation. Founded in 1837, Colby-Sawyer is located in the scenic Lake Sunapee Region of central New Hampshire. Learn more about the college's vibrant teaching and learning community at

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