Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Waiting for the Biblioburro wins a Christopher Award

 First presented in 1949, the Christopher Awards were established by Christopher founder Father James Keller to salute media that “affirm the highest values of the human spirit.” Their goal is to encourage men, women and children to pursue excellence in creative arenas that have the potential to influence a mass audience positively. Award winners encourage audiences to see the better side of human nature and motivate artists and the general public to use their best instincts on behalf of others.

To see the complete list of the Christopher Award book winners visit

In Waiting for the Biblioburro (Tricycle Press/Random House Children’s Books), author Monica Brown and illustrator John Parra craft a tale for kindergartners inspired by traveling librarian Luis Soriano who carries books to children in rural Columbia on his two donkeys.

Illustrator John Parra Shares His Experience 
on Waiting for the Biblioburro

I knew before starting  the art for Waiting for the Biblioburro that it would be a very special children's book. It began when I heard the moving story of librarian and teacher, Luis Soriano Bohórquez, and his amazing work in the rural areas of Columbia. Mr. Soriano, accompanied by his two donkeys, Alpha and Beto, travel throughout the back roads and countryside of his territory to deliver books for kids who have little to no access to libraries or schools. Once there he reads and teaches his pupils the joy of reading, learning, and using ones imagination. He also allows the young students to borrow books from his Biblioburro and then return them with his next visit.

It is not hard to be inspired by this wonderful tale of a modern day hero especially when the story inspires a wonderfully written children's narrative by author Monica Brown. Monica's story for Waiting for the Biblioburro, tells of Mr. Soriano's tale beautifully fictionalized through the eyes of a young girl named Ana who loves books and loves to read. As I created the drawings for the book I found many wonderful reference images of Luis with his burros, the kids he visited and small villages, plus other images of farms, trees, rivers, plants, animals and even the insects as well as artwork and food, all from this rich and diverse region. I love when I get to research these projects because it gives me a chance to visually step into the characters shoes and see what they might see. Through this observation and my own imagination I can create the artwork.

From the Waiting for the Biblioburro book there are a few pages that I enjoy very much, the first is the image where Mr. Soriano places out all his books that he brought for the kids to see, then reads and teaches to them, all under the shade of a small tree. This page brings back memories of myself when I was young and visiting my local library in Santa Barbara to hear a good book read. The other page I enjoy  is where Ana is dreaming that she is flying on the back of a butterfly, soaring over jungles, rivers and villages, as she delivers her own created stories for friends and family. This reminded me of myself as an artist and how I love to dream, create and share my art work with others. It is in this spirit that Waiting for the Biblioburro was created, aspiring to reflect values that a person with dreams and ideals can make a creative, positive, and significant difference in another's life.

Visit John Parra at

Author Monica Brown 
Created This Book Trailer

Listen to Monica Brown at -Meet the Author Series. Monica introduces us to the librarian who inspired Waiting for the Biblioburro. She describes what she learned in her research for this book. Finally, she reads aloud from Waiting for the Biblioburro.

Visit Monica Brown at

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