Last weekend, I attended the national SCBWI conference in New York. It was a great way to meet illustrators and writers, as well as to get my own illustrations noticed.
However, one of the highlights of the conference was to hear and meet Sophie Blackall, whose recent illustrations for "Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear" won her the 2016 Caldecott Medal. Not only was Sophie an amazing speaker, her story to fame is truly inspiring.
One of the most important things I took away from her speech, though, was just how diverse her illustrations are. From "Ruby's Wish" to "Pecan Pie Baby", to her illustrated New York subway poster Sophie shows characters from all races, cultures, and disabilities. Some are more culturally based stories, like "Red Butterfly" but in most cases the characters are just there, in everyday situations.
That's a real reflection of the real world.
In addition, I was completely impressed with Sophie talking about her trip to Rwanda. She traveled there and brought rolls of paper and markers for kids to draw on in a school that was made up of cement walls and a few benches for all the kids to cram into. She spoke about programs that were introducing books to children for the first time, where kids would travel two hours on foot - including one child who was missing a foot - just to hear a story and hold a book in their hands.
It was pretty powerful and heartwarming.
So I highly recommend studying Sophie Blackall's work. You could not only learn a lot about writing and illustrating children's books, but about life as well.
Angela Padron is a published illustrator of two books, including "The Hero in You" by Ellis Paul, as well as a Star Wars geek and chocolate chip cookie connoisseur. She also writes and illustrates her own picture books, board books, and chapter books. When she's not teaching, Angela works as a freelance writer and editor for educational publishers and spends weekends enjoying walks along the beach with her family. View her online portfolio at www.angelapadron.com. You can also "like" her facebook page, follow her on Twitter @angela_padron, and follow her own blog called "Show and Tell" with weekly posts about teaching, writing and illustrating books for children.
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