{illustrator} yuyi morales

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30 days of pbI occasionally share an illustrator who has caught my eye. See the above “picture book list” for other illustrators highlighted on this blog. For ’30 Days of Picture Books’,“Day Six” features three books and an Illustrator’s Spotlight!

Day Thirty:  Little Night; Just in Case: A Trickster Tale & Spanish Alphabet Book; and  Nino Wrestles the World .

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yuyi Illustration-from-Georgia-for-Molly
from Amy Novesky’s Georgia in Hawaii

yuyi moralesYuyi Morales is an author, artist, and puppet maker and was the host of her own Spanish-language radio program for children. Her books have won numerous awards and citations including the Americas Award, the Jane Addams Award, the Christopher Award, three Pura Belpre Medals, and three Pura Belpre Honors. She divides her time between the San Francisco area and Veracruz Mexico.

“I was born in the city of flowers, Xalapa, Mexico, where the springs came out from the sand, or so the story says. […]When I grow old I dream in becoming a professional liar. You know, those kind of people that tell stories and everybody goes, “Ahh, Ohh!” (“me”).

from an interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith at Cynsations: “From the books I borrowed, I learned how to make handmade-paper, and baskets, and how to bind books, carve rubber stamps, and build puppets and make them walk. But mostly I learned that everything I always wanted to learn I could find it in a book.

From Marisa Montes’ Los Gatos Black on Halloween
From Marisa Montes’ Los Gatos Black on Halloween

“From books in the library, I fell in love with children’s literature and their art. I awed at the sight of illustrations and studied picture book after picture book, wondering at how illustrators could bring such a magic to their work.” read the complete interview here.

Her picture books:  Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez, illus. for Kathleen Krull (HMH 2003); Just a Minute!: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book (Chronicle 2003); Los Gatos Black on Halloween, Illus. for Marisa Montes (Henry Holt and Co 2006); Just in Case: A Trickster Tale and Spanish Alphabet Book (Roaring Brook 2008); My Abuelita, illus. for Tony Johnston (HMH 2009); Georgia in Hawaii: When Georgia O’Keeffe Painted What She Pleased, illus. for Amy Novesky (HMH 2012); Ladder to the Moon, illus for Maya Soetoro-Ng (Candlewick 2011); Little Night (Roaring Brook 2007); Floating on Mama’s Song/Flotando En L Cancion de Mama, illus for Laura Lacamara (Katherine Tegen 2010); Sand Sister, illus. for Amanda White (Barefoot 2004); Viva Frida (Roaring Brook 2014)

bicy_animation

“I was born in Mexico, the eldest of four children. I always drew. I copied from my family’s photographs, I drew my relatives’ faces, and I looked at myself in the mirror to draw myself again and again. I was also interested in sports. My two sisters and I developed into competitive swimmers; we traveled a lot, and trained with our team twice a day, even during winter. Some times the water was so cold that we could not curl our fingers or lift our arms to comb our hair afterwards. As I grew up, it was time to choose a career. Even though I loved to draw and create, it never occurred to me that I could become an artist. Instead I went to the University to study to be a P.E. teacher and Psychologist. Soon after I graduated, I became a swimming coach. And that is what I was doing when things came to a big change.”–Aline Pereira’s interview w/ Morales, Paper Tigers (here)

Yuyi Morales’ artwork is intriguing, but learning more about her and her story you begin to confirm that sneaking suspicion you had that there is a vibrant, playful, and warm creator behind the work you’ve been admiring.

from Tony Johnston's My Abuelita
from Tony Johnston’s My Abuelita

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little night coverLittle Night by Yuyi Morales,

A Neal Porter Book/Roaring Book Press 2007

 Yuyi Morales plays with the getting-ready-for-bed story as Mother Sky tries to coax Little Night into a bathtub of stars. The sun sets, and the sky cools and darkens Mother Sky’s skirts as she bathes and dresses a child more interested in playing hide-and-seek.

Little Night hides in places wherein night would blend, with animals and hues like a little night. The color scheme moves from warm sunset reds, oranges, pinks to cooling and harder-surfaced reds to deepening into purples and blues. The evidence of brushwork is broad and sweeping, lending to the expansive quality of a tale set in the sky.

It is lovely to consider how the greatness of the sky and the night participate in each relatively small beings of the reader. Little Night appears both human child-size and large in the scale of villages, but Mother Sky is always large, but not looming on the page. The definitive thematic images are of Mother Sky’s domestic chores, seeking Little Night, and her holding Little Night on her lap. She is a comforting, caring presence. She’s also rendered quite beautiful.

little_night_vestirseaLittle Night is impish, and the whole interplay between Mother and Night is very sweet. It is also magical (shocking, I know), but the “dress crotched from clouds” is perfect, and that the “hair pins are stars,” named as they are placed in Little Night’s hair.

Little Night is probably an obvious choice for bedtime, and it is indeed one to nestle in with, but Little Night is not the only impish figure. The author isn’t putting Little Night to bed—it’s nighttime, it’s time for the child to be waking, to be bathed and dressed, fed and groomed, and given the moon as a ball with which to run out and play.

little nightOf course we all have times for sleeping and times for running wild and in sport. Little Night is for both of those times.

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just in case coverJust in Case: A Trickster Tale & Spanish Alphabet Book by Yuyi Morales, A Neal Porter Book/Roaring Book Press 2008

A new adventure with Señor Calavera following Just a Minute!: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book (Chronicle Books 2003)

After meeting  Señor Calavera (who has his own website), I know I am going to have to find Just a Minute! His efforts to find the perfect gifts for his dear friend Grandma Beetle was perfectly encantadora.

It is almost time for the Grandma Beetle’s birthday party and Señor Calavera is nearly ready to go, tie ironed, bike maintenance… Then Señor Zelmiro appears suggesting Señor Calavera should bring a gift. He has time. Unsure of what would make Grandma Beetle most happy to receive on her special day, Señor Calavera will choose gifts of every letter of the alphabet.

As he collects gifts alphabetically— Una Acordéon: An accordion for her to dance to. Bigotes: A mustache because she has none. Cosquillas: Tickles to make her laugh—Señor Zelmiro keeps egging him on, asking him if these are the gifts Grandma Beetle will really want. They are all good gifts, but what was the most precious? [one ring to rule them all?]

before text
before text

Señor Calavera worries, and time is running close to missing the party entirely.

The skeleton on his bicycle makes it one letter past xilografia before disaster strikes. Never fear, as you might guess, Señor Calavera does make it through the alphabet to find a gift precious to everyone at the birthday party.

before text
before text

The colors are as lively as the text, and as warm as the sentiment. The details are worth lingering over, little touches here and there; e.g. the bone texture of the skull beneath a differentiated layer of paint where it is decorated. The translucence of the ghost is beautifully done, lending Señor Zelmira a solid presence, the white dots lending a silvery sparkle (like in Grandma Beetle’s hair).

via Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, by Yuyi Morales
via Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, by Yuyi Morales

I was taken with the inclusion of the book resting beneath Señor Calavera’s hat in his bedroom: Cien años de soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude) [by Gabriel Garcia Marquez].

I was really taken with privileging all the text by not italicizing the Spanish language words. I should do a post on code-switching. No, the only italicizing was appropriate to the exclaimed (thus emphasized) ¡Quizás! (maybe or perhaps). Looking up the word Quizás led me to a YouTube video of Andrea Bocelli and Jennifer Lopez singing “Quizás, Quizás, Quizás.” Naturally, I want to share that link here. You’re welcome.

Natalya (2013)
Natalya (2013)

I mentioned I should do a post on code-switching, but I should really get Natalya to talk about it and her brief exchange with Poet Eduardo C. Corral on just whom bilingual picture books are really for?

Ignore the impulse to consider Just in Case a foreign language acquisition tool, and employ it as you’d do any picture book: as a tool of language acquisition. Natalya (nearly 14 now) and I will still occasionally indulge an alphabet game. The level of difficulty has been amped since she was 5, of course. But I wish we’d known xilografia back when, as ‘x’ can be the most limited alphabet game letter otherwise.  I wish we’d had this book back then.

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nino-wrestles-the-world coverNino Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales, A Neal Porter Book/Roaring Brook Press 2013. Includes “About Lucha Libre”

nino ficha_lloronaIn the popular tradition of the “theatrical, action-packed style of professional wrestling” of Lucha Libre, Yuyi Morales pits Nino against some gnarly cultural bogey-men. Love the appearance La Llorona, how she comes on scene and is defeated. Every competitor’s bio (including pronunciations) decorate the end pages, even Las Hermanitas who prove to be Nino’s most challenging of competitors.

nino-wrestles-the-world-illustration-yuyi-moralesMorales enacts a fantastic production in colors, graphics, energy and imaginative play. An absolute must for entertainment alone. Second are the lessons in courage, play, and siblinghood.

nino hermanitas-for_chelsea2It reminds me a bit of Kel Gilligan’s Daredevil Stunt Show by Michael Buckley and Dan Santat (Harry N. Abrams 2012).

Start your Yuyi Morales collection, and if you have to start it somewhere, Nino Wrestles the World would be an excellent book with which to begin.

{all images belong to Yuyi Morales, check out her site here}

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