[Featured Illustrators] Lulu Delacre

Lulu Delacre's thirty-ninth children's book project, Turning Pages: My Life Story, is the highly anticipated children's book memoir by Puerto Rican American judge, Justice Sonia Sotomayor—the first Latina to attain a position on the US Supreme Court. The picturebook highlights the strong role reading played in Sotomayor's inspiring life from an early age. Read the book's synopsis here on the publisher's website.

Delacre illustrated Turning Pages using oil washes on primed Bristol paper, a style she has used before and which the Justice favoured. Her artwork continues to evolve with the addition of new creative elements. Delacre commented:

Creating the art for this book was both an honor and a challenge. How to best extend the message of the author? The manuscript is almost an ode to the written word. It highlights how books can open doors and expand horizons, a message I believe in. After interviewing the Justice, reading her memoir and pouring over the family photos that she so generously shared with me, I opted for adding collage elements to my art. I researched the written materials that inspired the Justice, and selected specific bits to add depth to the illustrations. The careful reader will find many connections between the collage elements and the Justice's story.

I also looked for ways to show the Justice’s love and respect for her Puerto Rican heritage. I underpainted each illustration with a layer of deep sap green. I hid coquí tree frogs in some pictures. I pressed ferns I had collected in a visit to the island which add texture and lend authenticity. Illustrating this book was a truly rewarding experience.

In the "Paper Boat" illustration, I wanted to show Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s love for Puerto Rico and for books. Books were the vessels that carried her in her journey to the Supreme Court. Can you find the hidden coquí tree frogs in the art? In the illustration "I Return to Puerto Rico", Abuelita recites 'A Puerto Rico', a poem by José Gautier Benitez, at a party in the Bronx. I wanted to show how the island comes to life through the collective memories of the family that misses it and how young Sonia witnesses the power of words. Books brought young Sonia to one of the highest offices where she would write important opinions. For the illustration "Kids Are People Too!", I pasted passages of an opinion written by Justice Sotomayor on the steps to the Supreme Court. Can you find the Justice's name on them?
Paper Boat

I Return to Puerto Rico

Delacre on what Caribbean children's illustration means to her:

I love portraying my culture and heritage with authenticity. When writing about or painting the people of Puerto Rico I return to the breezy island with relish. My goal is to show its people and culture true to their beauty. It is exciting to find new ways to incorporate bits of Borinquén in my art. Sometimes I hide lizards, coquíes and gallitos in the pictures of my books, or I use pressed ferns to stamp tropical patterns onto the illustrations of books like Turning Pages.

Kids Are People Too!


Three-time Pura Belpré Award honoree Lulu Delacre has been writing and illustrating children's books since 1980. Born and raised in Puerto Rico to Argentinean parents, Delacre says her Latino heritage and her life experiences inform her work. Her 39 titles include Arroz con Leche: Popular Songs and Rhymes from Latin America, a Horn Book Fanfare Book in print for over 25 years; and Salsa Stories, an IRA Outstanding International Book. Her bilingual picturebook ¡Olinguito, de la A a la Z! Descubriendo el bosque nublado/Olinguito, from A to Z! Unveiling the Cloud Forest and latest collection of stories Us, in Progress: Short Stories About Young Latinos have received starred reviews and multiple awards. Her latest work is the illustration of Turning Pages: My Life Story by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Delacre has lectured internationally and served as a juror for the National Book Awards. She has exhibited at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, The Original Art Show at the Society of Illustrators in New York, the Museum of Art of Puerto Rico and the Museum of Ponce in Puerto Rico among other venues.

View more of Lulu's work here:

Share on Google Plus

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.
    Blogger Comment
    Facebook Comment


Post a Comment


This Month's Books