Latino illustrator wins award for saintly art

Latino illustrator wins award for saintly art

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A  press release from the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, selected an illustrator’s depiction of a Catholic saint as top pick for the illustrator portion of the 2013 Pura Belpré Awards.

The honor recognizes one Latino author and one Latino illustrator for work that “best portrays, affirms and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in children’s books.” David Diaz is responsible for artwork in the June 2012 release of “Martin de Porres: The Rose in the Desert.”

David Diaz's art won him an award honoring Latino authors and illustrators "whose work best portrays, affirms and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in children’s books."

David Diaz’s art won him an award honoring Latino authors and illustrators “whose work best portrays, affirms and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in children’s books.”

From the press release:

Capturing both historical fact and legend, “Martín de Porres: The Rose in the Desert” is the illustrated biography of the first African-heritage saint of the Américas. Diaz’s luminous mixed-media illustrations complement and expand the story. Diaz expertly uses color, perspective and contrast to portray Martín’s gentle spirit and miraculous abilities.

The book was written by Gary D. Schmidt and published by Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

“The committee was impressed with Diaz’s ability to capture and expand Schmidt’s text, while including references to traditional South American artisan crafts, word carvings and textiles,” said Pura Belpré Award Committee Chair Charmette S. Kuhn-Kendrick.

David Diaz is a prolific and award-winning illustrator and graphic designer with nearly 50 books to his name. He works in a variety of media, including ink, pencil, watercolor, acrylic, gouache and more.  Diaz studied at the Fort Lauderdale Art Institute and currently resides in Southern California.

The award was bestowed every two years since 1996 and annually since 2009. Diaz’s work in Diego: Bigger Than Life, written by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, received honorable mention in 2010.

A couple of online reviews and blogs had this to say about the Martin de Porres book:

  • His humble origins, service oriented life and love for animals won her heart! We were pleased to find this beautiful picture book about the well-known and beloved Peruvian saint. …there is enough in the story for the young reader to have an introduction to his life. Books on lives of the saints are very inspirational and greatly needed today! (from a Catholic homeschool parent)
  • Newbery-honor winning novelist Gary D. Schmidt and Caldecott-winning illustrator David Diaz together have created a beautiful and moving portrait of Martin de Porres, a 17th century Peruvian saint.  I was completely unfamiliar with this remarkable individual…   Schmidt’s lyrical text and Diaz’ beautifully realized illustrations combine to make this a stellar offering for those looking for inspirational stories about saints or other religious figures to share with their children.  Diaz illustrations are rendered with a flat, stylized method and are colored with rich, jewel-like tones.  Many of the illustrations have a dream-like quality suited to rendering the miracles described in the text. (from a librarian)
  • “Schmidt’s telling, touching in its simplicity, is well matched with Diaz’s exceptional artwork, which is bold and referential in equal parts.”–Booklist, starred review
    “An artful and reverent portrait of a lesser-known figure.”–School Library Journal (from editorial review on Amazon)

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