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Days of the Blackbird Hardcover – January 27, 1997

4.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Northern Italy, legend has it that the weather is so cold during the last three days of January that the white doves that take shelter in the chimney tops emerge black from soot. The Italians call this time of year "Le Giornate della Merla" (the Days of the Blackbird), and thereby hangs a tale-or, at least, it has inspired dePaola to create this well-seasoned offering. As he explains in an afterword, his story is a sort of Italian "Emperor's Nightingale," featuring a duke, his devoted daughter and a particularly beautiful white dove whose sweet song sustains the nobleman through a long winter of illness. DePaola spins the tale with panache, imbuing it with a folktale-like timelessness, and artistically it's clear he was delighted to return once again to his beloved Italy for visual cues. The pages radiate warmth, from the picturesque late medieval setting and the terra cotta or blue-green houses with their tiled roofs, to the jewel-colored birds and flowers of the duke's garden. A sprinkling of Italian words and phrases adds an authentic flavor. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 4. An original folktale with roots in a winter legend from northern Italy. A wise, benevolent Duke lives with his daughter, Gemma, in a house in the middle of town. The two spend much time in their courtyard listening to the exuberant songs of birds of many colors. When the Duke is stricken with a life-threatening illness, a pure white bird, La Colomba, remains through the harsh winter, singing outside the man's window. Seeking brief respite from the cold in chimney tops turns its feathers solid black. La Colomba is never again pure white, but the Duke regains his health, declaring the coldest days of January the "Days of the Blackbird." The moving story is elegantly, yet simply, told. The artist combines his recognizable style with visual elements reminiscent of Italian frescoes. Watercolor background washes create a marbleized effect. Color choices portray the warmth and serenity the story suggests. A successful and satisfying union of narration and illustration.?Heide Piehler, Shorewood Public Library, WI
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 810L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Juvenile (January 27, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399229299
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399229299
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.4 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,249,849 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

"Tomie dePaola was born in Meriden, Connecticut, in 1934 to a family of Irish and Italian background. By the time he could hold a pencil, he knew what his life's work would be. His determination to create books for children led to a BFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, and an MFA from the California College of Arts & Crafts in Oakland, California.
It drove him through the years of teaching, designing greeting cards and stage sets, and painting church murals until 1965, when he illustrated his first children's book, Sound, by Lisa Miller for Coward-McCann. Eventually, freed of other obligations, he plunged full time into both writing and illustrating children's books.
He names Fra Angelico and Giotto, Georges Rouault, and Ben Shahn as major influences on his work, but he soon found his own unique style. His particular way with color, line, detail, and design have earned him many of the most prestigious awards in his field, among them a Caldecott Honor Award for Strega Nona, the Smithsonian Medal from the Smithsonian Institution, the Kerlan Award from the University of Minnesota for his ""singular attainment in children's literature,"" the Catholic Library Association's Regina Medal for his ""continued distinguished contribution,"" and the University of Southern Mississippi Medallion. He was also the 1990 United States nominee for the Hans Christian Andersen Medal for illustration.
Tomie dePaola has published almost 200 children's books in fifteen different countries. He remains one of the most popular creators of books for children, receiving more than 100,000 fan letters each year.
Tomie lives in an interesting house in New Hampshire with his four dogs. His studio is in a large renovated 200-year-old barn.
- He has been published for over 30 years.
- Over 5 million copies of his books have sold worldwide.
- His books have been published in over 15 different countries.
- He receives nearly 100,000 fan letters each year.
Tomie dePaola has received virtually every significant recognition for his books in the children's book world, including:
- Caldecott Honor Award from American Library Association
- Newbery Honor Award from American Library Association
- Smithson Medal from Smithsonian Institution
- USA nominee in illustration for Hans Christian Andersen Medal
- Regina Medal from Catholic Library Association


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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
There are three main characters in this book; Duca Gennaro, Gemma, La Colombia. Duca Gennero is a duke who has a huge house in the middle of the town. He lived alone with his daughter Gemma. He would let anyone in the town come into his house for anything they needed because Duca Gennaro was a kind and wise man. He was also known for his good advice that would bring people in. Everyday, he would ask Gemma how her day was and what she learned. They would go into the courtyard and listen to the birds sing. Gemma's favorite bird was a pure white one, that she named La Colombia.
Then the winter came and the birds flew away to somewhere warm. Duca Gennaro always would reassure Gemma that Spring would be here soon. Then Spring came again and Gemma and her father listened to the birds sing. Duca Gennaro got sick after one hot summer, a year later. He would ask Gemma to open the window, so he could hear the birds sing. Soon the winter came, and the birds were ready to leave. Gemma made them baskets to live in and feed them too, so they would stay tho sing to her dad.
Christmas came and all the children it the town came to Duca Gennaro's house to get a Christmas present. All the birds flew away because it was too cold. La Colombia was the only one that stayed there. The Duke was still sick. His friends knew that he loved the music from the birds, so they decided to play some music for him. The Duke wasn't happy because he wanted to hear the birds sing. It got even colder outside, but La Colombia still stayed. La Colombia flew up to the chimney to make a nest for himself.
Will Duca Gennaro get better? Will Spring ever come? What will happen to La Colombia? Read the book to find the answers to these questions.
I really enjoyed this book because I think that Tomie de Paola is a great author and illustrator. He writes books that the whole family can enjoy!
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Format: Hardcover
This is a somewhat unusual book because it may appeal to two age groups: Toddlers and Pre-Adolescents. The former will like the big colorful pictures and happy ending; the latter may appreciate the references to Italian culture and folklore. The plot and conclusion may be somewhat boring to children between these ages, and the very ill father may upset some toddlers. Still, very young children may enjoy the human-animal interaction and the happy denouement.
A well-loved father becomes very sick; bird song seems to cheer him. Most of the birds leave as winter comes, save for one white one who continues to sing. This bird climbs up in a chimney stack to stay warm and keep the father's spirits up through his eventual recovery. Nicely illustrated, with big, "folkish" drawings effectively highlighting an Italian village.
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Format: Hardcover
Days of the Black Bird is one of Tomie de Paola's children books. There are birds in this book. The birds make nice noise in this book. But they go away in the winter and they come back in the spring. The girl in this book tries to keep one of the birds so she will always hear nice music. She makes a nest to comfort the bird. My favorite part is when the white bird goes in the chimney. When the white comes to sing he is covered in soot and looks funny. I would recommend this book to children in the K2 and the 5th grade because it's appropriate and if your learning about Tomie de Paoloa then this would be a good book. This is just one of Tomie de Paola's books. If you want to read more of his books just go to the library.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have enjoyed Tomie dePaola's book for years. This one is no exception. It is a great story for the family.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Another outstanding book by Tomie DePaola for my winter migration unit.
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