Reviews for 26 Fairmount Avenue


Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 August 1999
Gr. 3^-5, younger for reading aloud. In an attractive chapter book, dePaola describes the year before his family moved from an apartment into their new home on Fairmount Avenue. Starting with a vivid account of the hurricane of 1938, he recalls an unfortunate but funny episode with a laxative, disappointment with "Mr. Walt Disney's Snow White," and his first day of kindergarten. Everything is seen through the eyes of five-year-old Tomi as construction problems arise with the new house: "My mom kept crying. My dad kept using more and more bad words." Reminiscent of Clyde Robert Bulla's appealing chapter books, the colloquial narrative gently meanders, introducing family, friends, and neighbors, noting holidays, anticipating moving day. Black-and-white sketches add a decorative touch and will draw children into the story. In an appended note, dePaola explains why and how he wrote this memoir and promises more. With this charming first installment, the series is off to an auspicious start. ((Reviewed August 1999)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 1999 #3
In a disarmingly unselfconscious reminiscence, the popular illustrator recounts the events that surrounded his family's move to the address of the title, in Meriden, Connecticut. First, a hurricane delays the building, then roadwork causes some problems, then, almost biblically, fire and flood invade the premises. But the house does get built, its progress framing the events of the four- and five-year-old Tomie's life. Familiar from dePaola's picture books are grandfather Tom and the Nanas Upstairs and Downstairs; we also go along on Tomie's greatly anticipated but ultimately disappointing trip to the movies to see Snow White ("'Mr. Walt Disney didn't read the story right,' I yelled") and first day of kindergarten (when told he wouldn't learn to read until first grade, Tomie replied, "Fine, I'll be back next year" and went home). The immediacy of detail resists nostalgia, and dePaola is wise to what recent graduates of his picture books will find interesting, from following in detail the progress of building 26 Fairmount Avenue to identifying the seeds of the artist's future career: "I looked at those blank walls and knew what I wanted to do." Neat sketches and silhouettes will draw browsers in, and the book design is approachable and not babyish. A note from the author promises a sequel or two, but for now here's an entirely satisfying easy chapter book that will provide an excellent foundation for what may follow. r.s. Copyright 1999 Horn Book Magazine Reviews

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Kirkus Reviews 1999 April #2
The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola's autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences. Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938. Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (`` `When do we learn to read?' I asked. `Oh, we don't learn how to read in kindergarten. We learn to read next year, in first grade.' `Fine,' I said. `I'll be back next year.' And I walked right out of school.''), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney's ``Snow White'' doesn't match the story he knows. Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well. (Autobiography. 7-9) Copyright 1999 Kirkus Reviews

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Library Talk Reviews 1999 November
Tomie dePaola has given his young fans an intimate look into his early family life in this book, his first beginning chapter book. A 1938 hurricane begins a charming look at two years in the life of this popular writer. The focus of the story is the building of the family's new house at 26 Fairmont Avenue, and events include the author's recollection of first days in kindergarten, which will delight children and adults alike. Readers of all ages will identify with his frustrations and laugh out loud at his solutions. DePaola's characteristic, b&w illustrations add depth to the story. The two-page family portraits introduce the reader to the characters from the many picture books he has created: Nana Upstairs and Tom and Nana-Fall River. Fans both young and old will welcome this chapter book and look forward to the promise of more to come. Recommended. Sandra Lee, Librarian, MICDS, St. Louis, Missouri © 1999 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 1999 March #5
Kicking off a series by the same name, dePaola's effervescent chapter book recounts some memorable moments from the author's early years, surrounded by loving family members and friends. Fans will recognize a few of the cast members from the author's various autobiographical picture books. Organized as an engaging pastiche of memories from 1938 to 1939, the story's primary focus is the snafu-plagued construction and landscaping of the dePaola family's "first and only house," in Meriden, Conn. Within this clever framework, other diverting vignettes surface: during the hurricane of 1938, dePaola's mother sprinkles holy water on a terrified neighbor for protection; young Tomie generously shares "chocolates" he finds hidden in the bathroom with his Nana Upstairs (they turn out to be laxatives); and on the first day of kindergarten, when he learns that reading is not taught until first grade, he announces, "Fine, I'll be back next year," and heads home. DePaola successfully evokes the voice of a precocious, inquisitive five-year-old everyone would want to befriend. Charming black-and-white illustrations animate the scenes and add a period flare, including a photo album-like assemblage of the characters' portraits at the book's start. Readers will also appreciate a glimpse of the artist's early debut as he draws life-size images of his family on the plasterboard walls in his new house. DePaola seems as at home in this format as he did when he first crossed the threshold of 26 Fairmount Avenue, an address readers will eagerly revisit in the series' subsequent tales. Ages 7-11. (Apr.) Copyright 1999 Publishers Weekly Reviews

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School Library Journal Reviews 1999 June
K-Gr 4An autobiographical account of dePaolas childhood, centered on the building of his familys new house during the 1930s. Each short chapter is also a slice-of-life view of young Tomies worldwitnessing a hurricane, a disillusioning first day of kindergarten, a much anticipated theater trip to see Disneys Snow White, and holiday gatherings. The authors thrill at being allowed to draw on the walls of the new house before plastering would be a fantasy come true for many budding artists. DePaola presents it all with a keen understanding of the timeless concerns children share. Filled with subtle humor and detail that children will appreciate, the narrative is crisp and casual, making it an ideal read-aloud. Black-and-white drawings portray family members, many of whom are already familiar from earlier picture books. A thoroughly entertaining and charming story.Heide Piehler, Shorewood Public Library, WI Copyright 1999 School Library Journal Reviews

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