Books, Children's Books, fiction, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Illustrators, Pura Belpre Awards, Rafael Lopez

And the Winner Is…

Two time winner Rafael Lopez, artist and illustrator.
It’s quiet an achievement to win an award and I imagine a great accomplishment to win an award twice, but Rafael Lopez, artist and illustrator, is one of the few multi-award winners in children’s illustrations. Artists, such as Mr. Lopez, bring to life the words written by authors, adding another dimension to a story.  
The 16th Annual Pura Belpre award honors a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. The award is co-sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), and REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking, an ALA affiliate. 
One of the recipients for 2012 was Guadalupe Garcia McCall, award winning author, of “Under the Mesquite Tree.” I’ve read this book and it is exquisitely written in free verse. The emotionally riveting verse has us feel the experience of 14 year old Lupita, the eldest of a large family, who is dealing with her mother’s terminal illness. 
Artist Rafael Lopez was awarded his second 2012 Pura Belpré honor award for his illustration of “The Cazuela that the Farm Maiden Stirred.” Just look at this richly colored book cover. Makes you want to turn the page to see what else is in store for the eyes.
His artistry graces buildings in San Diego with bright colored murals and he has been asked to contribute three paintings to Oprah Winfrey’s school in South Africa. He also drew the Latin Music Legends stamp series in 2011 for the US Postal Service. 
rafaellopezstudios
For an interesting view on how stamps are created and the artists’ experience see Lopez’ Studio blog.
Mr. Lopez said he was thrilled beyond words to receive the honor and illustrated his reaction in this short video:
As a book lover, and owner of a tiny bookstore, I appreciate the craft that goes into the writing and illustrating of a story. These artists, both of the written word and drawings, work extremely hard to get their thoughts, concepts, and visions just right. This is what separates the average from the good and great. This is what has us cherish favorite books and reread them more than once. 
When you think back on your favorite children’s books which one’s speak to you or make your children wide eyed with amazed interest?  
Books, Caldecott Awards, Children's Books, Simms Taback, Ventura County Museum

Making Pictures for Children

You can always make something out of nothing-Simms Taback

The other day I visited our local county museum and found one of my favorite “read to the kids” books. A retrospective journey through the career of Simms Taback  filled half of the large room. Poster size book and magazine covers decorated the walls, mounds of his books sat up on shelves, and his amazing “Joseph” coat stood upright in the center of the room among many other wonderful surprises. 


You may not recognize the authors name but I’m sure you’ve read one or more of his books to your children, watched his work on the Children’s Television Workshop, or have seen his cover illustrations on Scholastic Magazine.


Simms Taback grew up in a Bronx cooperative housing project of mainly Jewish immigrants. During his writing career he became an advocate for artist rights. 


His bold colorful and textured collage like illustrations contained hidden surprises, beautiful details and reflected his neighborhood, culture, language and experiences. The lyrical quality of his words along with his beautiful illustrations made his books stand out. It is no wonder that two of his books received the Caldecott Awards for illustrations in 1998 and 2000. 


One of my favorite posters, and where I learned what “Shlemiel” and “Shlimazel” meant 
(remember when LaVerne & Shirley used to sing those words?) was this one:

Besides books and covers of magazines, his work extended to the design of the original McDonald’s “Happy Meal,” container in 1977. 

From New York, Simms Taback moved to Ventura County in 2007. He passed away on December 25, 2011 from pancreatic cancer.  A couple of weeks before he passed away he  attended the opening reception of the exhibit. I would like to imagine that he felt the warmth, admiration, and love for his books from the guests. 


The “Simms Taback: Making Pictures for Children,” retrospective runs until February 12, 2012 at the Ventura County Museum