February 26, 2019

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Meet Juana Medina! | Reading Rockets

Juana Medina was born in Bogotá, Colombia, the place she has stated that her drawings acquired her in bother along with her academics. Fortunately for the kids’s e book world, Juana has turned her creative abilities to writing and illustrating. Juana obtained the celebrated 2017 Pura Belpre Award for Juana and Lucas (Candlewick), certain to be the primary of many honors.

She studied on the Rhode Island College of Design (RISD) the place she additionally taught. Juana at present teaches at George Washington College in Washington, D.C. and continues to write down and illustrate books for younger readers in addition to for grownup purchasers world wide.

Inform us about your childhood.

I grew up in Bogotá, Colombia, within the 80s. It was a busy time in Colombia, due to a really lengthy conflict. I had the fortune of rising up in a giant metropolis, inside a household that valued books and inspired me to be curious which in some way helped counter the results of violence.

I grew up very near my grandparents; my grandma was a improbable woodworker and my grandfather a mind surgeon. They had been each tinkerers and inventors — early on, they constructed tools in my grandma’s studio for my grandfather to carry out surgical procedures. Additionally they constructed boats and picket clocks and all types of issues.

So I had the fortune of being round individuals whose pleasure to create (and share their creations) was contagious. They had been had a really significant affect on me. If I inform you about all my relations … this interview will flip right into a e book! With a purpose to maintain it quick, I will inform you I had a memorable childhood, listening to many audiobooks whereas drawing and studying well beyond bedtime, just because I could not put books down. Thank goodness my mother pulled me out of studying every so often to ensure I might get some recent air and recognize the fantastic thing about this planet.

How a lot of the actual Juana is mirrored in Juana and Lucas? 

A good quantity! There are issues like Spaceman and Spaceland, which might be fully fictionalized (in actuality, this was Disney World I used to be going to, keen to satisfy Mickey Mouse). And lots of cousins and uncles and aunts had been minimize out of the actual story for readability’s sake. In any other case, Juana and Lucas would take no less than eight tomes to unravel.

Was it the promise of a visit to an American theme park that impressed you to be taught English as a baby or was it one thing fully totally different?

My mother says someday she picked me up in school and I used to be livid. She requested what was incorrect and I informed her they wished to show me one thing known as “the English” and that I did not need to be taught it, no matter that was. She correctly stated we had been going to Disney World and that Mickey Mouse solely spoke English. That solved it! I needed to learn to communicate English. In fact, as soon as we made it to Orlando, I came upon that Mickey does not even communicate… I by no means imagined 30-something years later, I might be scripting this story, a lot much less in English!

Juana and Lucas


Juana and Lucas is introduced as a standard illustrated e book however with components of comics. How and why did you resolve to mix these kinds?

I wished to verify the e book labored at a pair totally different ranges:

The typography was meant to work not simply as phrase, but in addition as kind [in order] so as to add some playfulness and make the e book extra dynamic. Particularly for individuals who may be reluctant readers, to have phrases come out of the web page and be drawn into determining extra of the narrative. I additionally hope it injects some power into the textual content, which we’re so used to seeing formatted in a really quiet and structured method, that I believed it might use a little bit of a shakeup.

I wished illustrations to point out Juana’s world and clue readers additional into the Spanish that’s peppered all through the e book. I additionally concern that many books for younger readers drop the illustrations as soon as kids transition from image books to chapter books, which I discover absurd — there’s a lot narrative to share by way of visuals!

Ultimately, the wedding of kinds (visible and prose) appeared coherent and added as much as one thing that I felt labored so as to inform this story.

You’ve written two idea books, 1 Large Salad: A Scrumptious Counting E-book (Viking) and ABC Pasta: An Entertaining Alphabet (Viking). Each are about meals and nearly really feel edible! How and why did you provide you with this fashion of presenting counting and the alphabet to kids?

These two books are a part of a sequence I have been engaged on with Viking, for idea books (there is a third one quickly to return!).

I take pleasure in vastly taking a look at meals as drawing materials. Fruit and veggies convey such vibrant colours to the web page that they made my job very simple; I simply needed to provide you with animals and draw a couple of strains!

The concept of pasta was a bit extra sophisticated, I used to be in search of meals/menu that will cowl the entire alphabet. So with my pricey editor and artwork director we brainstormed about picnics, pizza, sushi, soup (I do not assume I might be adventurous sufficient to need to attempt a soup with elements from A by way of Z) … and arrived at pasta. A beloved kind of meals we will all be taught a bit about.

Along with writing and illustrating your personal books, you’ve illustrated Smick! written by Doreen Cronin (Viking). How does Smick evaluate to different canines in your life?

After I first learn the manuscript for Smick!, it jogged my memory of a German Pointer I grew up with. This energetic canine known as Max was curious and candy and immediately turned my muse for this e book.

You’ve labored in animation, too, in addition to different elements of graphic design and illustration. Speak a bit about you different work and the way it could or could not relate to your books. 

As time goes by, I notice there are a whole lot of overlaps between animation, design, and dealing on kids’s books. Image books really feel very very like a considerate collection of frames from a film, chosen to inform a narrative seamlessly.

Graphic design is a lot about utilizing visible components to successfully get a message throughout, in addition to bringing components to a minimal and making a system work. All of this whereas nonetheless being playful, participating, memorable, and environment friendly. All of those are ideas used whereas making a kids’s e book.

How did you come to write down and illustrate for younger readers?

I’ve at all times loved telling tales and drawing. It was a little bit of a pure match, although being terribly cussed, it did not even cross my thoughts that I might do that! I used to be simply obstinately attempting to make a residing doing different issues (like turning into a bodily therapist and afterward, a designer working in commercial). It took me some time to comprehend that this was one thing I might do and revel in vastly.

You’re bilingual and have lived in several nations and somewhere else within the U.S. What influence has this had or maybe proceed to have in your work as an writer, artist, and trainer?

It has nice influence! It means that you can understand the world in a extra complicated method, to comprehend that it is essential to take time to pay attention and observe intently, to assemble a greater understanding of different’s realities. It additionally has helped me notice that being an outsider will be was an asset to think about it as being a bridge, to seek out empathy, to seek out humor, to share our humanity and notice we’re not that totally different in spite of everything.

What’s your imaginative and prescient for the broad subject of youngsters’s literature?

I believe there’s room for a lot of extra tales to be shared and I discover that extremely thrilling. Visiting faculties it’s simple to comprehend how kids are desperate to learn new content material that features every of them, so I hope all of us can take that accountability severely and provide them comforting, thrilling and memorable tales they will maintain on to for a lifetime.

What’s subsequent for Juana Medina?

That is an incredible query! I am engaged on Juana and Lucas 2, wrapping up a candy challenge with the Library of Congress and Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, and dealing a pair different initiatives.

I am additionally, very slowly, determining what it means to be a brand new mom of twins, which up to now, regardless of the sleep deprivation, has been essentially the most thrilling journey I’ve lived.

Associated useful resource

Watch the video interview with Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera on our sister website, Colorín Colorado.

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