Yuyi Morales Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Work in Progress, Sidelights
Born 1994; children: a son.
Agent—c/o Author Mail, Barefoot Books, 2067 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140.
Children's book author and illustrator.
Americas Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature, sponsored by the national Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs (CLASP), Parent's Choice Award Winner, Northern California Book Award Nomination, Children's Literature, Best of the Best List, Chicago Public Library, Best Children's Books of the Year, Bank Street College of Education, all 2003, for Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book; Pura Belpre Illustrator Award, California Book Award Silver Medal for Juvenile Fiction, Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Award, Golden Kite Honor Book, Picture Book Illustration, Latino Book Award, Latino Literary Award for Best Children's Book, Notable Books for Children, Younger Readers, Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) Choices Selection, Notable Books for a Global Society, all 2004, for Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book; Americas Award Honorable Mention, School Library Journal Best Books, San Francisco Chronicle Best of Year, Lasting Connections, Best of the Year, Book Links Magazine, Best of the Year, Child magazine, all 2003, for Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez; Christopher Award, Jane Addams Book Award, Pura Belpre Honor for illustration, CCBC Choices Selection, Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, The National Council for Social Studies, Blue Bonnet Award Nomination, all 2004, for Harvesting Hope.
(Illustrator) Kathleen Krull, Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2003.
(Self-illustrated) Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 2003.
(Illustrator) Amanda White, Sand Sister, Barefoot Books (Cambridge, MA), 2004.
Also illustrator of Todas las buenas manos, by F. Isabel Campoy, Harcourt (San Diego, CA).
Work in Progress
Illustrating books by Marisa Montes and Tony Johnston; another self-illustrated book.
Although Yuyi Morales loved to draw as a child, she never expected to make a career out of art. "In my eyes, artists were geniuses born under mythical skies," she said in an interview posted on the Mariuccia Iaconi Book Imports Web site. Morales was born in Mexico and only came to the United States after she married, in 1994. She spoke very little English at the time, and she lived with her husband's family, who spoke no Spanish. As she recalled, one day, while exploring the neighborhood with her young son, "I found a place where communication became universal: the children's section of the public library. I had never seen such beautiful books."
"Once I knew about children's books in the USA, I felt as if a void had been filled inside me," Morales continued in her interview. "I believed that, with some work, I could learn how to write and illustrate my own books. I very much wanted to create works of art such as the ones I had in my hands. It was love at first sight." Using the pictures to help her understand the writing, Morales read the books to her son. They learned English together, using Sesame Street as well as books from the library. Morales then began attending writers' and illustrators' conferences, meeting and learning from other children's-book creators and learning the skills of the trade. She eventually met author F. Isabel Campoy, who was impressed by a copy of a painting Morales sent her. A few weeks later, Morales was asked to illustrate Campoy's next book.
Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez, by Kathleen Krull, was the first English-language book Morales illustrated. Her "beautifully rendered earth-tone illustrations," as School Library Journal contributor Sue Morgan described them, were praised as a positive aspect of this biography of the famous labor leader by many reviewers. Horn Book's Susan Dove Lempke noted that Morales "suffused" her acrylic paintings "with a variety of emotions, especially fear and sorrow," while a Kirkus Reviews critic compared Morales' artwork to that of noted twentieth-century Mexican muralist Diego Rivera.
Booklist reviewer Jennifer Mattson also saw "hints of Diego Rivera" in Morales' first self-illustrated title, Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book, which was published in 2003. The book begins with a skeleton, who calls himself Señor Calavera, arriving at Grandma Beetle's door and requesting that she come along. She will, the elderly woman replies, in "just a minute," but she has a few things to do before she can leave. First she has to sweep just one house, then make just two pots of tea, then grind just three pounds of corn, et cetera. The reason for all of these preparations is soon revealed: Grandma Beetle's nine children are on their way to her house to celebrate her birthday. After the party, Grandma Beetle is ready to go, but Señor Calavera enjoyed himself so much that he decides not to take Grandma Beetle right now; instead, he leaves her a note saying that he is looking forward to coming to her next birthday party. "Morales's personification of death is never forbidding or scary," Catherine Threadgill commented in School Library Journal, "but rather a simple matter of fact." Indeed, a Publishers Weekly reviewer found the "dapper skeleton" to be an appealing character: his "ghoulish, goofy gallantry would make him the comic lead of any Day of the Dead festivity," the reviewer concluded.
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, December 1, 2003, Jennifer Mattson, review of Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book, p. 668; March 1, 2004, "Pura Belpre Award," p. 1197.
Horn Book, July-August, 2003, Susan Dove Lempke, review of Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez, p. 480.
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2003, review of Harvesting Hope, p. 911; October 15, 2003, review of Just a Minute, p. 1274.
Publishers Weekly, December 1, 2003, review of Just a Minute, p. 55.
School Library Journal, June, 2003, Sue Morgan, review of Harvesting Hope, p. 129; December, 2003, Catherine Threadgill, review of Just a Minute, p. 136.
Mariuccia Iaconi Book Imports Web site, http://www.mibibook.com/ (September 17, 2004), interview with Morales.
Yuyi Morales Home Page, http://www.yuyimorales.com/ (June 1, 2004).*
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