Monday, January 18, 2010

Children's Books and Children's Book Press

One of my many passions is for children's picture books. I was lucky enough to be one of the earlier multicultural picture book artists working for Children's Book Press. They were the first publisher to show the beauty of all children, not just Anglo-Americans and to help challenge and change old racist ideas by presenting books by and about the many different cultural groups in America.

I illustrated Uncle Nacho's Hat, Baby Rattlesnake Where Fireflies Dance, and was honored to be in the anthologies Honoring Our Ancestors, and Just Like Me. I also got to art direct and design other books and through various CBP events got to know some of CBP's authors and artists such as the amazing Maya Christina Gonzales, Elizabeth Gomez, Enrique Chagoya, Carmen Lomas Garza, Elly Simmons, George Littlechild, Joe Sam, Felicia Hoshino, and Carl Angel who, among others, have all created ground breaking art for books that address important themes such as environment, lbgt, immigration, racism, war, feminism, special needs, spirituality, you name a social justice issue and it's in one of their books but in a gentle non-didactic, playful and whimsical way. Children's Book Press books have won just about every award except the Caldecott, which will hopefully happen soon. I have some annotated reading lists on my website for anyone interested in finding out more about multicultural picturebooks.

This year CBP is celebrating their 35th anniversary but like many small non-profits they have been hit hard by the recession in terms of donations and funding and the difficulties schools are having purchasing books. Other mainstream publishers have jumped on the bandwagon doing "vanilla" multiculturalism that imitate CBPs work but don't quite have the same heart, soul, and guts. While there is definitely a place for all kinds of books I really want to encourage anyone with any discretionary funding to head on over to Children's Book Presses website, check out their work, and donate. You'll feel really good afterwards.

No comments: