Welcome to our fall 2021 Children’s Announcements issue! In our first feature, we speak with several children’s booksellers from across the country about the tools and methods that have helped their stores weather the pandemic—and the new strategies they expect will endure. Next, we ask sales reps how they’re adapting to an increasingly hybrid approach for meetings and materials. We also profile author Samira Ahmed, creator of stories about revolutionary young women, both contemporary and historical. All this, plus our comprehensive A–Z listings of children’s and YA titles being released between Aug. 1, 2021, and Jan. 31, 2022. Happy reading!
Describing his artistic ethos, Pura Belpré Award–winning illustrator Rafael López says, “I’m all about inclusion. Everyone is invited.” That commitment to diversity extends across various art forms, including picture books such as Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle and Just Ask! by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, U.S. Postal Service stamps, and community murals with the Urban Art Trail project, which López founded with his wife, Candice López, in San Diego.
Born and raised in Mexico City and currently living in San Miguel de Allende (as well as San Diego), López notes the influence of his roots on his style. “As you can see from this PW cover,” he says, “I use a lot of iconography—it’s part of the surreal art of Mexico.” He also cites Mexican painters Rufino Tamayo and Frida Kahlo as inspirations.
As a contrast to drawing alone in his studio, López says, he enjoys “the reward of working with the public [on murals]. You’re bringing the community together, all while having the great satisfaction of doing something beyond painting a pretty picture.” The book Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell, illustrated by López, is based in part on the Urban Art Trail.
His most recent picture book, I’ll Meet You in Your Dreams by Jessica Young (Little, Brown), is an oneiric ode to the unconditional bond between a child and caregiver—or, as López puts it, “that eternal love you have for someone, regardless of who they are.”
The illustrator credits his own parents, who were both architects, with kindling his passion for art at an early age. “My dad loved to go to the flea market and he brought me along,” he recalls. “We’d come back loaded with beautiful old books about art, history, geography, and works by authors from Latin America and Asia. I remember the visual impact of seeing those books and the color and texture of the buildings, covered in layers of paint.” His mother even encouraged him to draw on the walls.
To date, López has illustrated 17 books for young readers in as many years. Next up is another collaboration, The Year We Learned to Fly by Jacqueline Woodson (Penguin/Paulsen, Jan. 2022), the companion to their 2018 picture book, The Day You Begin.
López notes that “while I consider myself more of an illustrator, I’m trying to write my first story.” For now, he’s reluctant to share further details about the solo book. Meanwhile, he says, “I’m fortunate to be very busy with other projects.”
Summing up his creative passion, López adds, “It’s an honor to be invited to contribute. I love what I do." — E.K.
A version of this article appeared in the 07/19/2021 issue of Publishers Weekly under the headline: Fall Children’s Announcements