A favorite book: Charlie Needs a Cloak

Today is my birthday, and I have just opened my daughter’s present. It’s a copy of one of my all-time favorite books: Charlie Needs a Cloak, written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola.


It contains no words at all. very few words. I tend not to notice the words in this book, because the story is conveyed in the pictures. My daughter has corrected my original statement by pointing out that the words really do exist. There are less than 150 words for a full year of activity.

I think it is very funny—it makes me feel like a kid again every time I read it, and since the copyright date says 1973, that’s probably more than thirty years.

Yes, I already owned a copy. I have bought a number to give away, too. But the copy I received this morning is special.

Last week, I learned that Tomie dePaola would be at a local bookstore promoting his newest book. On the crucial day, I needed to be in Denver at a meeting and could not by any stretch of the imagination be back home in time, but my daughter also likes children’s books (maybe even better than I do) and I mentioned it to her.

So she went for both of us and managed to keep what she did there as a surprise until just this morning. My new copy of Charlie Needs a Cloak has been signed by its author/illustrator!

I’m not big on signed books. I care more about the books themselves than the signatures. For me, the author (and/or illustrator) is fully present in the unsigned book, and a signature doesn’t change that.

This is an exception. This is a triply special copy of a  book that I dearly love: special for what it is, for the signature, and (last and greatest) because of the person who gave it to me.


5 thoughts on “A favorite book: Charlie Needs a Cloak”

  1. You know, dePaola’s archives (all early sketches and all the editions of all of his books) are at the UConn special research center. It’s nifty!

  2. Happy Birthday! Have a wonderful, productive, healthy year.

    I just went shopping for children’s books today for the first time in years…a friend is having a baby. I found so many of my old favorites, it was a struggle to limit my purchases!

  3. Happy Birthday! “Charlie Needs a Cloak” has been a favorite of mine for gift giving ever since I found it while babysitting for friends. How nice for you to get such a special gift.

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