Interview with Mercedes Cecilia
By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: November 20, 2011
Mercedes Cecilia was born and raised in Peru. She studied Naturopathic methods of healing, Jin Shin Jyutsu. Mercedes Cecilia has won several awards for her paintings, her Art in Education programs and community events.
Can you share a little on your background and how you became a children’s book writer and illustrator?
When we came to live in USA, storytelling was a way for me to treasure our diversity as immigrants to a new land. At school, in ninth grade I found myself spinning the few English words I knew to weave the stories about the people of the Andes Mountains. When I painted an imaginary portrait to give a face to the Amazon River so that it could tell its own story, my first children’s book began.
What inspired you to write Kusikiy, A Child from Taquile, Peru?
I always wanted to write a book about Peru and I treasure the times I lived with the people of Taquile. Since 1980 I have shared slide presentations of Taquile and other small communities of the Andes of Peru, in different universities, and schools. One day in the summer of 2007, I was having lunch with my 7-year-old grandson, Paulo Andres, and we were talking about condors and glaciers, when he asked me if I could draw the APU, the Spirit of the Great Glacier. This is how the story of Kusikiy started; soon I decide to share the story with everyone.
What age group did you write the book for?
I wrote Kusikiy A Child from Taquile, Peru thinking a child of 5 to 12 would enjoy reading it as well as friends, parents and teachers. I wanted to make a children’s book, because I feel a book with pictures allows the reader to become a co-creator of the story.
Your artwork is rich and vibrant. Can you tell us how you create your illuminating illustrations?
Thank you. First I did the drawings and used soft pastels on black tinted paper. I chose pastels as a medium, because the mineral pigments use to die wool is similar to the pigments in soft pastels. Because weaving and knitting is central to life in Taquile, I wanted to have those bright and pure colors in the illustrations. After I finished illustrating the story and photographed each painting, I used a digital tool to delineate more of the shapes.
Should we expect to see another book from you soon?
Yes, I am now finishing writing and illustrating the story of a girl from a village of the Andes. It will be published early spring 2012.
Then two bilingual picture books by early June.
What would you say has been the most personally rewarding aspect or becoming a children’s book author and illustrator?
One of the most rewarding experiences is when children write me a letter or an email to share their stories, or their plans on how to help the environment, The Earth. Some children tell me they have started writing books. I feel this is the most rewarding aspect for me, as a children’s book author, to know my book is inspiring others to share and to create new stories.
Which books from your own childhood have most influenced your life?
When I was 13 years old my favorite books were Anna Frank, the poems of Cesar Vallejo and Pablo Neruda, Little Women, and The Little Prince. These books, the way the authors told their story, touched my heart.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Let us keep connecting with our storybooks, readers, authors and we will always be sharing, creating and making a global community.
Add this book to your collection: Kusikiy: A Child from Taquile, Peru
For more information, visit: http://www.kusikiy.com/
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