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Susan Guevara Biography

Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Illustrator, Adaptations, Sidelights

Born 0027;s name Blair. Education: San Francisco Art Academy, B.F.A.; studied painting at Belgium's Royal Academy of Fine Art.


Agent—c/o Author Mail, G.P. Putnam, 375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014.



Honors Awards

Pura Belpre award for illustration, Association for Library Services to Children/National Association to Promote Library Services to the Spanish-Speaking, 1995, for Chato's Kitchen, and 2002, for Chato and the Party Animals.


Ned Miller, Emmett's Snowball, Holt (New York, NY), 1990.

Dian Curtis Regan, The Class with the Summer Birthdays, Holt (New York, NY), 1991.

Kathryn Lasky, I Have an Aunt on Marlborough Street, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1992.

Arthur A. Levine, The Boardwalk Princess, Morrow (New York, NY), 1993.

(With others) Margarita Robleda Moguel, El carrito de monchito, Houghton (Boston, MA), 1993.

Aileen Friedman, The King's Commissioners, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1994.

Virginia Haviland, reteller, Favorite Fairy Tales Told in Italy, Morrow (New York, NY), 1995.

Gary Soto, Chato's Kitchen, Putnam (New York, NY), 1995.

Marion Dane Bauer, Jason's Bears, Bridgewater Books (Mahwah, NJ), 1996.

Tony Johnston, Isabel's House of Butterflies, Sierra Club Books for Children (San Francisco, CA), 1997.

Ana Castillo, My Daughter, My Son, the Eagle, the Dove, Dutton (New York, NY), 2000.

Gary Soto, Chato and the Party Animals, Putnam (New York, NY), 2000.

Jane Yolen, reteller, Not One Damsel in Distress: World Folktales for Strong Girls, Silver Whistle Books (New York, NY), 2000.

Dee Lillegard, Tiger, Tiger, Putnam (New York, NY), 2002.

Judith Head, Mud Soup, Random House (New York, NY), 2003.

Gary Soto, Chato Goes Cruisin', Putnam (New York, NY), 2004.

Alex and Arthur Dorros, The Winner, Harry N. Abrams (New York, NY), 2006.

Several books illustrated by Guevara have been published in Spanish.


Chato's Kitchen was adapted as a video recording, 1999.


Latina artist Susan Guevara has created illustrations for a wide variety of books for young readers, from traditional European fairy tales to stories set in the modern Los Angeles barrio. In books ranging from Virginia Haviland's anthology Favorite Fairy Tales Told in Italy to works by award-winning Chicano writer Gary Soto, Guevara reflects and enhances the vision of the writers she works with. Training at both the San Francisco Art Academy and Belgium's Royal Academy of Fine Art, Guevara developed technical skills and creative interpretations that have been praised by reviewers and readers alike.

Guevara's first published illustration project was the 1990 picture book Emmett's Snowball, written by Ned Miller. In this story, a young boy begins to make a snowball and with the help of friends and neighbors his efforts eventually result in the largest snowball in the world. Guevara's watercolor and charcoal drawings, which use contrasting warm and cool colors to depict the warmth of friends and neighbors amid the chill of winter, were cited as an "ideal complement to [Miller's] slightly offbeat story" by Denise Anton Wright in School Library Journal. In the equally offbeat The Boardwalk Princess, Arthur A. Levine's lighthearted fairy tale about an evil witch, a magic potion, and a clever young girl is interspersed with "humorously illustrated … watercolors loaded with [Guevara's] period detail," according to Booklist contributor Janice Del Negro. In the opinion of Kay Weisman in her review for Booklist, Guevara's "brightly colored acrylic paintings add humor" to Aileen Friedman's The King's Commissioners, an upbeat story about a king's frustration with simple mathematics. Another highly praised picture book featuring Guevara's artwork, Dee Lillegard's Tiger, Tiger, prompted a Kirkus Reviews contributor to cite the book's "stunning, jewel-toned illustrations in gouache and chalk pastel," while School Library Journal Jody
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McCoy wrote that the book's pictures "conjure up all the magic needed for a tantalizing flight of fancy."

Chato's Kitchen, written by acclaimed poet and children's author Soto, introduces a wily cat and his feline friends. Chato decides to lure the small ratoncitos (mice) of his barrio home to an untimely end by preparing a bounty of good food. Soon the scent of everything from enchiladas to frijoles fills the air, and the hungry cat and his cat cohorts extend an invitation to their intended main course, only to be outsmarted in return. Guevara's illustrations for this highly praised though controversial work, which earned her the first Pura Belpre award for illustration, features what a Publishers Weekly critic termed "wickedly funny, urban paints" and felines that the critic called "delicious send-ups of barrio characters."

Guevara has re-teamed with Soto for the storybook sequels Chato and the Party Animals and Chato Goes Cruisin', the first which earned her a second Pura Belpre award. In Chato and the Party Animals the cat throws a birthday party for his friend Novio, but when party time comes the birthday cat is nowhere to be found. Novio re-pals with Chato in Chato Goes Cruisin', which finds the two friends winning a free cruise, only to discover that the entire cruise ship is full of seasick dogs. Praising Chato and the Party Animals, Ann Welton wrote in School Library Journal that the "lively acrylic-on-scratch-board" artwork created by Guevara "have a verve and style that will make readers long to join the fun."

In her acceptance speech for her first Pura Belpre award, published in the Journal of Youth Services in Libraries, Guevara described the process of illustrating a chil-
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dren's book. "A good story gives me wings," the illustrator explained. "Wings to zoom me in, out, over the character's world…. Wings to carry me someplace worth going, someplace readers might wish to go." She cited as her main task "communicating the ideas and beliefs of a specific world" created by the author, her tools for communicating being "technique, palette, viewpoint, and subject matter." Immersing herself in the world of her characters, Guevara researches movies, books, settings, and other illustrations of the period or place where the story takes place. In the case of Chato's Kitchen, her immersion in the culture of the barrio even resulted in a vision: "Tijuana black velvet paintings" were the inspiration for much of Guevara's work for the book.

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, January 15, 1993, p. 921; April 15, 1993, Janice Del Negro, review of The Boardwalk Princess, p. 1519; February 15, 1995, Kay Weisman, review of The King's Commissioners, p. 1092; November 15, 1998, Isabel Schon, review of Chato's Kitchen, p. 599; August, 2003, Hazel Rochman, review of Mud Soup, p. 1989.

Horn Book, September-October, 1995, pp. 591-592.

Journal of Youth Services in Libraries, spring, 1997, Susan Guevara, "Pura Belpre Award Acceptance Speech for Illustration 1995," pp. 273-275.

Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2002, review of Tiger, Tiger, p. 1474.

Publishers Weekly, May 3, 1993, p. 308; February 6, 1995, review of Chato's Kitchen, pp. 84-85; March 6, 1995, p. 70.

School Library Journal, February, 1991, Denise Anton Wright, review of Emmett's Snowball, p. 73; March, 1993, p. 189; June, 1993, p. 98; July, 2000, Ann Welton, review of Chato and the Party Animals, p. 88; April, 2002, Luann Toth, "Pura Belpre Awards Announced in New Orleans," p. 10; December, 2002, Jody McCoy, review of Tiger, Tiger, p. 100.


Susan Guevara Home Page, http://www.susanguevara.com (January 3, 2006).

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Bob Graham (1942-) Biography - Awards to Francis Hendy Biography - Born to Sew