Children's author and illustrator Tomie dePaola, the creator of the beloved Strega Nona character, died on Monday in New Hampshire. He was 85.
DePaola's literary agent told The Associated Press he had a serious fall last week, and died of complications following surgery.
During a career that lasted more than 50 years, dePaola worked on 270 books, which were translated into more than 20 languages, and received a lifetime achievement award in 2011 from the American Library Association. At the age of 4, dePaola told his family he wanted to write books, and they supported his passion for writing and drawing; he paid homage to his parents and siblings in some of his autobiographical works.
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DePaola was teaching theater at Colby-Sawyer College when he created the character that became Strega Nona, doodling his first image of her during a meeting. He had her live in southern Italy because that's where his grandparents came from, and in 2013, he told AP Strega Nona was popular because "she's like everybody's grandmother. She's cute, she's not pretty, she's kind of funny looking, but she's sweet, she's understanding. And she's a little saucy, she gets a little irritated every once in awhile."
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