Pam Muñoz Ryan, author
Pam Muñoz Ryan grew up in Bakersfield, California, in the San Joaquin Valley. Her home was a smorgasbord of cultural diversity including grandparents from Aguascalientes, Mexico, who migrated to the United States. Pam wrote about her grandmother’s journey in her best-selling book, Esperanza Rising (Scholastic). And on her father’s side of the family, her Portuguese-speaking Basque grandfather traveled to California from Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl. When spending time at one grandparent’s home, Pam and her sisters spoke Spanish and ate tortillas, beans, enchiladas, red molé, and lamb. When with the other, they enjoyed black-eyed peas, fried okra, biscuits and gravy, and smothered greens.
Read more about Pam.
Rafael López, illustrator
Rafael López is the illustrator of My Name is Celia/Me llamo Celia (Rising Moon Books), a Pura Belpré Honor Book and winner of the Américas Award.
Growing up in Mexico City, Rafael was immersed by his architect parents in the rich cultural heritage and native color of street life. Influenced by Mexican muralists, he developed a bold, vital drawing style with roots in these traditions. He studied illustration at the Art Center College of Design. He is also a painter and a sculptor.
Read more about Rafael.
- Bank Street College of Education's Best Children's Books of the Year
For the English edition:
A historical and regional tour revealed through rhyming snippets and bright acrylics welcomes the young picture-book audience to California. A turned-sideways opening spread of a map of California introduces 14 double-page spreads that lead a geographic journey from San Diego to such diverse places as Yosemite, Death Valley's Furnace Creek and the Channel Islands. There are historic trips to Sacramento's Capitol Dome in the time of the Pony Express; Monterey when sardines were fished and the sold on Cannery Row; and Coloma when James Marshall discovered gold. Simple couplets focus the vivid composition that's scratched and scraped on textured wood, creating a grandiose sense of history and place. The journey's end concludes with state facts and an expansive array of 75 bulleted items, the eclectic choices following no theme or organizational scheme other than their proximity to the visited areas in the poems. Included are lesser-known places such as Paul Ecke's poinsettia farm close to San Diego and well-known sites as the La Brea Tar Pits along with factoids about the endangered condors and California's motto, "Eureka." A brilliant tickler for budding historians and travel bugs.
Lopez's (My Name is Celia/ Me Llamo Celia) stylized, exuberant paintings make it clear why no other state in the continental U.S. has California's magical pull on the popular imagination. A whirlwind loop tour whisks readers through the Golden State, starting with the beaches of San Diego, heading up to L.A. and beyond to Gold Country, then swinging down through Yosemite (depicted in a stunning nighttime vertical spread) and Death Valley before ending up poolside at Palm Springs. Ryan's (When Marian Sings) quatrains often take on an earnest, textbook-like tone: "The Great Central Valley, with its plentiful yields,/ feeds the whole nation from its orchards and fields." Lopez's illustrations, paintings rendered on wood and sometimes distressed, remain fresh and surprising as he finds ways to express wonder and affection. On some spreads he seems to be channeling the spirit of the great WPA and Mexican muralists; on others, he releases a more graphic-novel spirit, as in the depiction of a '49er with a marvelously greedy glint in his eye. Beyond its obvious use in a classroom, this title is virtually certain to inspire California dreamin' in readers of all ages.
California is one of the most varied and beautiful states in the union, and this book, with amazing artwork, does it justice. Ryan, a California native, provides rhyming couplets that introduce locations on two-page spreads. Beginning in San Diego ("in this coastal city, there's plenty to do./ Surf, swim, and sun, then visit the zoo"), the trip makes stops in such places as Capistrano, L.A., Monterey, San Francisco, Eureka, and Coloma, finally ending in Palm Springs. The text, short and simple, doesn't always scan well, but it gives a feel for the locale, which is amplified by pictures that demand a second look. Acrylic painted on grainy wood (extra texture has been added by scraping and distressing the wood) make the visuals seem almost three-dimensional. Some pictures have a certain steadiness: workers in the Great Central Valley, bringing us fruit. Others are whimsical: a Pony Express rider galloping through the sky to Sacramento. But always, the art is intriguing - just like California.
School Library Journal
The art in this loving tribute to the state is so colorful, evocative, and eye-filling that it is tempting to review the title solely as a book of pictures. The text takes the form of brief, undistinguished four-line verses that highlight some interesting features in the 14 locales, or give reasons for their historical or current importance. Some of the places are well known (such as San Francisco and Los Angeles) and some will be less familiar to children outside California (such as the Channel Islands and Eureka). The illustrations, done in brilliant acrylics, fill each spread with a burst of folkloric color and energy. The Capistrano swallows, the Forty-Niners in Coloma, the whales and others along the coast-all are shown. The back matter includes an illustrated spread featuring the state flag, bird, insect, plant, and so on. Further information on all of the places shown is also appended. This book may not be adequate for reports, but it is a wonderful way to show children the spirit of California, and it could also be useful for families planning vacations.
ISBN: 000-0-00000-000-0 PDF
Page count: 48
10 x 10