Tomie dePaola celebrated his 75th birthday this past Tuesday, and Penguin Young Readers Group threw a birthday party in honor of the beloved author and illustrator last week at New York City’s Valbella Restaurant. Numerous friends, writers and publishing folk turned out to wish dePaola well.

As we went to press, we learned that dePaola has had to cancel his fall bookstore tour. Penguin Young Readers publicity director Shanta Newlin told Bookshelf, "Due to unforeseen health issues, Tomie dePaola has cancelled his tour for Strega Nona’s Harvest. The return of Tomie’s carpal tunnel syndrome requires immediate surgery, and the recovery time is expected to be lengthy. Tomie was looking forward to touring this fall and is very saddened to have to disappoint booksellers and his fans. He hopes to be well soon and able to continue visiting bookstores for many more years to come."

After hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, the crowd heard remarks from Penguin CEO David Shanks; his wife, Liz; and the guest of honor himself. To mark the occasion, Don Weisberg, president of Penguin Young Readers Group, gave dePaola a certificate for a well to be constructed by his name by charity: water, an organization dePaola supports, which builds wells in underdeveloped countries.

Later dePaola demonstrated that Strega Nona isn’t the only one who knows her way around a kitchen. DePaola created French Napoleons, aided by Valbella’s pastry chef Raphael Dequeker. (Strega Nona herself returns to bookstore shelves this month in Strega Nona’s Harvest.)

DePaola blew out the candle on a rather enormous Napoleon.

Here, dePaola is joined by (from l.) Erin Dempsey from Penguin, Matthew Reinhart and Robert Sabuda. Sabuda and Reinhart recently collaborated with dePaola on Brava Strega Nona!, a pop-up book featuring Strega Nona and friends.

David and Liz Shanks also gave dePaola marionettes of Strega Nona, Big Anthony and dePaola as birthday gifts.

Birthday celebrations have even extended online; author/illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka has created a Web site called Three Kisses for Tomie, where children’s book illustrators can submit congratulatory artwork for dePaola. Ten pieces of art have already been posted.