Happy memories of her childhood in Puerto Rico where she climbed tamarindo trees to eat the fruit, caught little brown lizards and wore them as earrings, and spent days drawing at her Grandmother’s house, inspire the work of Lulu Delacre. Among the many awards she has received for her books are the Americas Book Award for a bilingual book (Vejigante Masquerader) and two Pura Belpré Honor Awards for Illustration (The Bossy Gallito and Arrorró, Mi Niño : Latino Lullabies and Gentle Games). She began her formal art training at the age of ten when one of her mother’s friends, a fine artist and teacher, encouraged her to join one of her painting classes. She was the first of several instructors who taught Lulu to draw from real life and with whom she discovered the immense joy of being able to create. When she entered the Fine Arts department of the University of Puerto Rico she knew she wanted a career in art. She continued her education at L’Ecole Supérieure d’Arts Graphiques, in Paris, France. By the time she did her thesis, an audio-visual project illustrating Saint Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals, she knew she wanted to become an illustrator of children’s books. Her dreams of creating books inspired by her heritage, books that celebrate the rich folklore and colorful traditions of her childhood, available in both English and in Spanish, have come true. Lulu measures the success of her books in the proud smiling faces of the Latino children as they join hands with her and their schoolmates in the game song of Arroz con Leche. Lulu loves to cook and often entertains her friends and family in her home in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Rafi and Rosi: Carnival!
Rafi and Rosi, that delightful tree frog duo, are back in three short, easy to read stories centered around Carnival, Puerto Rico’s annual pre-Lenten festival. Rafi, the older sibling, loves his little sister, but cannot help playing tricks on her. In the first story, he tells her she is sure to be chosen queen of the parade, knowing full well that she is too young. In the second he makes a periscope through which he watches the Carnival parade from inside the house, while telling Rosi he has x-ray eyes. And in the third he scares her with his terrible vejigante mask. Yet, in each case, Rafi either feels so bad that he makes amends, (he makes a float out of a little red wagon and pulls Rosi around the neighborhood in her own parade), or Rosi teaches him a lesson, (when she discovers that Rafi is behind the terrible vejigante mask, she purposely stays hidden until he shows remorse.) Fun, colorful cartoonlike illustrations provide the perfect accompaniment to the text. Scattered throughout are Spanish words and phrases, which are defined on the page immediately preceding the first story. And included in an addendum at the back is a “Did you know . . .” section which provides further information about Carnival, and instructions on how to make a wagon float, periscope, and vejigante mask. The integration of reading with social science and art instruction is the added touch which makes this book stand out from the typical early reader. 2006, HarperCollins, $15.99. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Pat Trattles (Children’s Literature).
Rafi and Rosi
In three cheerfully illustrated stories featuring Puerto Rican tree frog siblings, Rafi teaches his younger sister, Rosi, about magnets, bioluminescence, and mangrove trees. Useful in the bilingual classroom for its Spanish and island references, the book will be appreciated by teachers for its scientific merits, too. 2004, HarperCollins/Rayo, 64pp, $15.99, $16.89. Ages 5 to 9. (The Horn Book Guide, Fall 2004).
The stories in this collection are told by natives of various Latin American countries who visit a young girl, Carmen Teresa, and her family for New Year’s in the United States. Each story revolves around a different nation’s celebration and its foods. Carmen Teresa finds the recipes for the foods and copies them into a notebook of “Fantastic Family Recipes.” The slim novel covers many nations, cultures, and foods, all in an easy-to-read fictional presentation. The only connection between the stories are the first and last, jumping from Abuelito’s Story, set in Cuba, to Abuelita’s Story of San Juan, with no more transition than a chapter heading. Stories read as if they were meant to be told verbally, and the vocal inflections and facial gestures of an oral rendering are sorely missed here. Transitional paragraphs at the end or beginning of each chapter could have added this depth, as well as connecting the dissimilar tales. The author’s linocut illustrations are intriguing, and though not extraordinary, add depth to the book. A glossary that translates Spanish terms into English was useful, but the title remains an optional purchase. The recipes are far better representations of the various cultures that the stories seek to portray. They are simple to follow and, more importantly, actually work. These assets might warrant acquisition by libraries sorely in need of Hispanic recipes and artwork accessible to middle school students. Glossary. VOYA CODES: 2Q 2P M (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8). 2000, Scholastic, 112p, $15.95. Ages 11 to 14. Reviewer: Beth Karpas (VOYA, June 2000 (Vol. 23, No. 2).
Gentle Games for Toddlers
A workshop designed to teach early childhood providers the classic games featured in Arrorró mi niño: Latino Lullabies and Gentle Games. (45 minutes)
From Arroz to Shake it!
The story behind the creation of Arroz con Leche: Popular Songs and Rhymes from Latin America, a slide show explaining how Shake it, Morena! was illustrated, and dancing of the game-songs the two books were titled after.
Recommended for Pre K- 2.
The Making of a Book
Rafi and Rosi: Carnival!
A reading of Queen for a Day, a slide show in DVD format that explains the process in the making of a book, and a peek at an authentic vejigante costume. (45 minutes)
Recommended for grades 1- 3.
Meet Rafi and Rosi
A slide show telling how the characters were born and the stories developed, a demonstration of the “magic fingers” trick, and brainstorming with the students about future Rafi and Rosi stories. (45 minutes)
Recommended for grades 1-2.
We explore how special foods spark fond family memories, and how these memories can be transformed into stories. A reading of a story, a slide show explaining the creative process behind the book and the powerful role of family anecdotes. I explain the printing process used for the illustrations. (45 minutes)
Recommended for grades 3 – and above.
The Path to Golden Tales
A reading of a tale, a slide show that explains the extensive research behind this book, and the importance of authenticity when dealing with myths, legends, and folktales. (45 minutes)
Recommended for grades 4 and above.
Celebrate with Latino Songs, Stories, and Food!
This presentation focuses on the books Arroz con Leche: Popular Songs and Rhymes from Latin America and Salsa Stories. I explain why I felt the need to create Arroz con Leche and invite children to dance with me the arroz con leche game-song. Then, I read a story from Salsa Stories and explain how I created the art. With the host’s help, a sampling of Salsa Stories’ recipes may be offered.
(30 to 45 minutes)
Recommended for all ages including adults.
Costs: Basic fee for 2 presentations within the DC Metropolitan area is $550 + $75 per additional presentation. No more than 4 presentations per day. Outside the DC Metropolitan area but within one-and-a half hours drive from her home is $770 for 2 presentations + $75 per additional presentation. Lulu will do up to 4 presentations in one day. Beyond driving range is $1300 for one day (up to 4 sessions). All travel and lodging expenses are to be covered by the booking organization.
To learn more about Lulu and her publications please visit http://www.luludelacre.com.