This biography from dePaola was entertaining and heart-felt. The young, driven character Tommy, shows young readers that people of all ages have talents and it is never too early to set goals. Starting at the beginning of the book, he identifies his strong interest and talent for drawing, then goes on to practice every chance he gets. His birthday happens to fall at the onset of first grade, the year he finally gets to have real art lessons with the art teacher, Mrs. Bowers. Tommy receives a box of brand new 64 Crayola crayons as a gift from his parents, and boy is he eager to use them in his art lessons. His first grade teacher, Miss Landers, quickly sets him straight as she angrily instructs him to bring his crayons home and leave them there. He will use the SCHOOL crayons like all the rest of the kids in the class, despite his feelings that REAL artists don't use school crayons.
The book has multiple strong themes and important messages for children: be true to yourself; share your interests with others and be proud; stand up for yourself-don't let others get in the way of your dreams, but always be respectful; never give up, always keep trying; learn to compromise. On top of this, dePaola demonstrates his artistic talents by creating illustrations that tell a story. I would consider it a difficult task to find readers that don't immediately fall in love with delightful book!