Showing posts with label Runaway Piggy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Runaway Piggy. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Tejas Star Book Award 2011-2012 Winner

The Tejas Star Book Award was created by the Region One ESC Library Advisory Committee to promote reading in general and for readers to discover the cognitive and economic benefits of bilingualism and multilingualism. All the children of Texas had the opportunity to select their favorite book from the Tejas Star list during the 2011-2012 school year.

Congratulations to James Luna and Laura Lacámara! The Runaway Piggy/ El cochinito fugitivo (Arte Publico Press/ Piñata Books) won the 2011-2012 Tejas Star Book award.

 This is the description of the book:

This rollicking bilingual picture book re-tells 
a familiar story with a Latino twist

The sun shines through the windows of Martha’s Panadería onto the shelves of freshly baked treats. The bakery holds tray after tray of hot Mexican sweet bread—conchas, orejas, cuernitos, empanadas, and cochinitos—all ready for hungry customers.

In the classic tradition of The Gingerbread Man, James Luna’s piggy cookie leaps off the baking tray and takes the reader on a mad dash through the barrio, past Lorenzo’s Auto Shop, Nita’s Beauty Salon, Leti’s Flower Shop, and Juana’s Thrift Shop.

The telephone repairman, the bus driver . . . each person the piggy encounters is greeted by his laugh and the repeated refrain: “Chase me! Chase me down the street! But this is one piggy you won’t get to eat! I ran away from the others and I’ll run away from you!” The cochinito fugitivo avoids being eaten by the long line of people chasing him through the neighborhood streets . . . until he meets a crafty little girl named Rosa!

Children—and adults too—will delight in the clever piggy’s escape from Martha’s Panadería in this entertaining retelling of a familiar story set in a colorful Latino neighborhood. A recipe to make Mexican gingerbread pig cookies is included in both English and Spanish.

The 2011-2012 Tejas Star Book Award finalists are:

El mejor regalo del mundo: la leyenda de La Vieja Belen = 
The Best Gift of All: The Legend of La Vieja Belen
Alvarez, Julia, and Ruddy Nuñez (Illus.)
2009 Miami, Fla: Alfaguara

Arroz con leche : un poema para cocinar = 
Rice Pudding: A Cooking Poem
Argueta, Jorge,  and Fernando Vilela (Illus.)
2010 Toronto: Groundwood Books

Side by Side: The Story of Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez = 
Lado a lado : la historia de Dolores Huerta y Cesar Chavez
Brown, Monica, and Joe Cepeda (Illus.)
2010 New York: Rayo

Braids = 
Contreras, Kathleen, and Margaret Lindmark (Illus.)
2009 New York: Lectorum

From North to South = 
Del Norte al Sur
Colato Lainez, Rene, and Joe Cepeda (Illus.)
2010 San Francisco, Calif: Children's Book Press

Kid Cyclone Fights the Devil and Other Stories = 
Kid Ciclon se enfrenta a El Diablo y otras historias
Garza, Xavier
2010 Houston: Piñata Books

Dance, Nana, Dance = 
Baila, Nana, baila : Cuban Folktales in English and Spanish
Hayes, Joe, and Mauricio Trenard Sayago (Illus.)
2008 El Paso, TX: Cinco Puntos Press

Floating on Mama's Song = 
Flotando con la canción de mamá
Lacamara, Laura, and Yuyi Morales (Illus.)
2010 New York: Katherine Tegen Books

Pepita and the Bully = 
Pepita y la peleonera
Lachtman, Ofelia Dumas, and Alex Pardo DeLange (Illus.)
2011 Houston, Tex: Piñata Books

Once Upon a Time: Traditional Latin American tales = 
Había una vez: cuentos tradicionales latinoamericanos
Martinez, Rueben, and Raul Colon (Illus.)
2010 New York, NY: Rayo

Gracias = 
Mora, Pat, and John Parra (Illus.)
2009 New York: Lee & Low Books

Grandma's Chocolate = 
El chocolate de abuelita
Price, Mara, and Lisa Fields (Illus.)
2010 Houston, Tex: Piñata Books

The Dog Who Loved Tortillas = 
La perrita que le encantaban las tortillas
Saenz, Benjamin Alire, and Geronimo Garcia (Illus.)
2009 El Paso, Tex: Cinco Puntos Press

I Kick the Ball =
Pateo el balón
Zepeda, Gwendolyn, and Pablo Torrecilla (Illus.)
2011 Houston, Tex: Piñata Books

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Illustrator Laura Lacamára talks about her picture book The Runaway Piggy

Last year, I completed illustrations for my first picture book. The Runaway Piggy, written by James Luna (Piñata Books / debuts Nov. 30, 2010) is a Latino take on the Gingerbread Man story, featuring a Mexican sweet bread cochinito (piggy cookie).
I had been sending postcard samples of my art to Piñata Books (an imprint of Arte Público Press) every six months or so for several years.  I had never heard a peep from them until I received an email from the production manager asking if I would be interested in providing Piñata with a “character concept” for a new bilingual picture book called, The Runaway Piggy.  I was thrilled!  There were other artists trying out for the same job (four illustrators total, I later found out).  Piñata would choose one illustrator based on the character concept they submitted, and that person would win the contract to illustrate the book.  I jumped at the chance to break into children’s picture book illustration  --  a long-held dream of mine.
In order to execute the black and white character concept “audition” drawing, Piñata provided me with the manuscript and requested that I select a scene from the story to illustrate.  I purposely chose a scene of medium complexity  --  one that showed a lot of action, yet would not require a huge crowd or an aerial perspective.  I worked almost one month on the research and creation of the drawing I would ultimately submit. 

One of the biggest challenges for me with that first drawing was that the story was set in an inner-city neighborhood.  I had avoided rendering buildings or cityscapes my entire artistic career.  I had always been most comfortable drawing and painting “organic” earthy figures and shapes.  Well, I needed to say goodbye to comfort and face my fears head on.  I knew if I were going to draw buildings, I would have to find a way to make the buildings work for me, to somehow translate them into my own style.  One morning, on a walk through my neighborhood in Venice, Calif., I took a turn down Abbott Kinney Blvd.  I noticed the unique mixture of quaint and artsy-hip architecture, which created an atmosphere of a city street with a small-town feeling.  I took out my notebook and pen and made sketches of my favorite doorways, windows and awnings.  When I got home, I began doing the rough sketches for my concept drawing.  At first, the buildings looked too stiff, as I had feared.  That is when I stopped to look at other picture books for inspiration.  This usually helps me free up and loosen up.  It worked  --  the solution was simple!  I would curve the lines of the buildings and streets and make them just as alive and organic as any of the figures.  The sketch was finally coming together.

Now, all I needed to do was to create the mischievous piggy cookie that would run through the streets, eluding the townspeople at every turn. 

When I first got the manuscript, I was familiar with some Mexican sweet bread, but I had never heard of cochinitos (piggy cookies).   Being from a Cuban background, I grew up eating pasteles de guayaba, frituritas de papa, and flan.  

A trip to the neighborhood Mexican bakery was in order.  (Hey, it was in the name of research!)  I bought my first piggy cookie, took it home to study, make sketches based on its simple piggy shape, and, of course, to enjoy it with my morning coffee!  Next, I collected photo references from the web of more Mexican sweet bread cochinitos (no two bakers bake alike), of actual pigs running, and, finally, illustration samples from traditional Gingerbread Man books.  Combining all these visuals helped me come up with an animated version of the piggy cookie. 
Then, to figure out how the cookie would look in action  --  from different angles and positions  --  I made a clay model of my piggy and used it to further develop the character in my drawing.  

OK, so all this may sound like a lot of work, but, in the end, it paid off.  Two weeks after submitting my drawing, I received an e-mail telling me that my character concept drawing was chosen, and I had won the Piñata contract to illustrate The Runaway Piggy!  I was so excited, I ran around my kitchen like a piggy with its head bitten off!  I was on my way to becoming a full-fledged picture book illustrator.

The character concept I had spent a month perfecting set the stage for the rest of my work on the book.  I had visually established a town, some of its local residents (Lorenzo, the mechanic, and Mama Nita, the beauty shop owner) and the animated piggy cookie that would race through every scene.  After signing the contract with Arte Público/Piñata, the many months that followed of sketches, final drawings and paintings were as exhilarating as they were exhausting!  I breathed a huge sigh of relief on the day of that final brush stroke, but nonetheless, it was a bittersweet goodbye to The Runaway Piggy

Luckily, there is a recipe in the back of the book, so I can bake my own cochinitos at home.  And, if one of my homemade piggy cookies should happen to escape, it just might be found running down Abbott Kinney Boulevard.

JAMES LUNA is an elementary school teacher in Riverside, California. This is his first published book.

LAURA LACAMARA is a Cuban-American artist and author. Floating on Mama’s Song / Flotando en la canción de mamá, her picture book illustrated by Yuyi Morales, was published by HarperCollins in 2010.  The Runaway Piggy is the first picture book she has illustrated. Laura lives in Venice, California, with her family.