This week, we would like to take a break from discussing exciting books our youngsters will enjoy and turn our focus to someone who is equally exciting and spends her time creating that work. Yuyi Morales, author and illustrator, has published several books which have not only been successful, but which epitomize the type of work we look to showcase here at Vamos a Leer.
Morales is a Mexican author and illustrator who was born in Xalapa, Mexico. She immigrated to the United States as an adult. Although she has written most of her work while in residence in California, she maintains her Mexican roots. In fact, much of her work has been influenced by her childhood in Mexico in what is known as the “City of Flowers” and her Mexican heritage. As an aside, the colorfulness of her personal website is indicative of the liveliness of her illustrations as well as the vivid color and imagery she utilizes in her work.
So how is it that Morales began her career? Well, as a new immigrant, Morales did not have a good grasp on English, so she spent a lot of time at her local library along with her son reading children’s books. Not only did she use this reading time as a means to learn the English language, but the books inspired her to become an author and illustrator. As she learned to read English in these books, she also learned to paint. For Morales, learning about her new home’s culture also meant finding a niche in creating children’s books. Morales has gone on to win the Pura Belpré Award (three times!), a Christopher Award, a Jane Addams Award for her illustrations, and our own personal favorite, the Americas Award. Some of her well-known works include Ladder to the Moon (illustrator), Just in Case: a Trickster Tale and Spanish Alphabet Book (author and illustrator), and Harvesting Hope: the Story of Cesar Chavez (illustrator).
While Morales’ work is for younger children, her story is nonetheless inspirational to young and old alike. Her work visually engages students with elements of and allusions to Hispanic culture, and presents elements of bilingualism and multiculturalism, or both. Such an inspiring, visually-engaging artist and author is definitely worth our consideration. Hopefully, you will check out some of her work and decide to pick up one of her books next time you are searching for a good read for the little ones!
Until Next Time,