[Featured Illustrators] Mike Blanc

I Came from the Water: One Haitian Boy's Incredible Tale of Survival is a picturebook based on the real life experiences of an eight year-old Haitian boy called Moses. Moses was a baby when he was found floating in a basket during the Gonaives floods of 2004. He was taken in by nuns at the St. Helene’s orphanage in Haiti who named him after the biblical character.

Award-winning US children's author, Vanita Oelschlager, a well known philanthropist, wrote I Came from the Water after she visited Haiti on a 2010 service trip. At the St. Helene’s orphanage she met Moses, then 6 years old. When she asked him where he was from, Moses replied "I Came from the Water."

Blanc's illustrations for I Came From The Water began as pencil sketches followed by detailed drawings which were scanned in digital format for templates. He used Corel® Painter™, computer software for artists, to paint. With the support of a pressure sensitive drawing monitor he used a variety of the many paper textures available like dotted and wiggly line patterns. He combined custom “real bristle” brushes, color sponges, and blenders with the traditional oil paint color palette. The finished result is a book with varied textures and saturated colors.

The Basket Journey

River of Mud

Playing and Learning

Mike on what Caribbean children's illustration means to him:

Illustrating Vanita Oelschlager’s I Came from The Water introduced me to the true story of a remarkable people– the Haitian people. The tragedies, difficulty and triumphs of the people inform and inspire the highest human qualities. Charity, kindness, humility, fortitude– all the cardinal virtues are displayed within the heart of the characters. The illustration is challenged to present these qualities and the face of Haiti to children worldwide. To me, Caribbean illustration is spirituality and celebration of life through attitude and color! I am grateful to be associated with this Caribbean story, full of life and teeming with hope.


Mike Blanc was born in 1953. In 1997, after 25 years of traditional drawing and painting he added digital illustration to technique. Mike has collaborated with Vanita Oelschlager on two other children’s books: Francesca: Postcards from a War and Porcupette Finds a Family. He is also the illustrator of Bonyo Bonyo: The True Story of a Brave Boy from Kenya, written by Kristin Blackwood. Mike lives in Doylestown, Ohio, USA.

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About Anansesem

Anansesem is an online magazine of Caribbean children's and young adult literature by adults and children. We strive to bring you the best in news, reviews and creative content from the world of Caribbean children's publishing.
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