Today, we are shining the spotlight on illustrator and author Eric Velasquez and his latest picture book, New Shoes.
Eric Velasquez was born in Spanish Harlem in New York City. The awards he has won include a Pura Belpré and the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award. He lives in New York State with his family.
1. What is your favorite letter of the alphabet and why?
A, because it is the beginning of the journey.
2. What do you want readers to know about your latest book?
What I want readers to know about New Shoes is that it was common practice in the south not to allow African Americans to try on shoes.
I actually met an elderly woman from Houston Texas that vividly remembered the humiliation of having her mother on her knees trace her feet in the shoe store.
3. As an author, how do you know when you have discovered an idea for your next book?
The idea begins to grow and keeps growing and evolving until you begin writing and sketching.
4. What was the catalyst for creating your latest book?
The catalyst for creating the images for New Shoes was authenticity. However, I also wanted to capture the notion of the modern world as seen through the prism of the 1950’s and 1960’s.
America has always had a way of embracing the idea of the future, while keeping the ideas like race and equality from the distant past, (the colorful shoe boxes in the shoe store is a visual representation of that idea).
5. What’s next? What projects/books/events do you have in the works that you would like to share?
I am currently working on another book for Holiday House that I wrote, and I am in the process of illustrating.
I will be participating in The Philadelphia African American Book Fair on Feb. 7th.
More books by Eric Velasquez:
To learn more about Eric Velasquez, please visit his website!
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