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Diaz, David 1959(?)–

Diaz, David 1959(?)–

Personal

Born c. 1959, in New York, NY; married; wife's name Cecelia (an artist); children: Jericho, Ariel, Gabrielle. Education: Fort Lauderdale Art Institute, diploma. Hobbies and other interests: Music.

Addresses

Home—Carlesbad, CA.

Career

Graphic artist, illustrator, and potter. Worked variously as a newspaper illustrator, graphic designer, and graphic artist, beginning 1980.

Awards, Honors

Caldecott Medal, American Library Association, 1995, for Smoky Night by Eve Bunting; Best Children's Book designation, Bank Street College of Education, 2002, for The Pot That Juan Built by Nancy Andrews-Goebel; awards from Communications Arts, American Illustration, American Institute of Graphic Arts, and New York Art Directors Club.

Illustrator

Gary Soto, Neighborhood Odes, Harcourt, Brace (New York, NY), 1992

Len Cabral, Anansi's Narrow Waist, Addison-Wesley (New York, NY), 1994, translated as La cinturita de Anansi, 1995.

Eve Bunting, Smoky Night, Harcourt, Brace (New York, NY), 1994.

Eve Bunting, Going Home, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1996.

Marybeth Lorbiecki, Just One Flick of a Finger, Dial Books (New York, NY), 1996.

Eve Merriam, The Inner City Mother Goose, 3rd edition, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1996.

Joseph A. Citro, Passing Strange: True Tales of New England Hauntings and Horrors, Chapters, 1996.

Kathleen Krull, Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest Woman, Harcourt, Brace (New York, NY), 1996.

Pauline Cartwright, Table for Two: An African Folktale, Celebration Press (Glenview, IL), 1996.

Eve Bunting, The Christmas House, Harcourt, Brace (New York, NY), 1997.

Eve Bunting, December, Harcourt, Brace (New York, NY), 1997.

Richard Wilbur, The Disappearing Alphabet, Harcourt, Brace (San Diego, CA), 1998.

Margaret Wise Brown, The Little Scarecrow Boy, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1998.

Eric A. Kimmel, Be Not Far from Me: The Oldest Love Story: Legends from the Bible, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1998.

Nancy Willard, Shadow Story, Harcourt, Brace (San Diego, CA), 1999.

Afi Scruggs, Jump Rope Magic, Blue Sky Press (New York, NY), 1999.

Joyce Carol Thomas, The Gospel Cinderella, HarperCollins (New York NY), 2000.

Rudolfo A. Anaya, Roadrunner's Dance, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 2000.

Sharon Creech, The Wanderer, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.

Sarah Weeks, Angel Face, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2002.

Nancy Andrews-Goebel, The Pot That Juan Built, Lee & Low Books (New York, NY), 2002.

José Feliciano, Feliz Navidad!: Two Stories Celebrating Christmas, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2003.

Sharon Creech, Who's That Baby?: New-Baby Songs, Joanna Cotler Books (New York, NY), 2005.

José-Luis Orozco, Rin, Rin, Rin/Do, Re, Mi, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2005.

Sarah Weeks, Counting Ovejas, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2006.

Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, Cèsar: Sí se puede!/Yes We Can!, Marshall Cavendish (New York, NY), 2006.

The Castle Corona, Joanna Cotler Books (New York, NY), 2007.

Pocahontas: Princess of the New World, Walker & Co. (New York, NY), 2007.

De colores: Bright with Colors, Marshall Cavendish (New York, NY), 2008.

Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, Diego: Bigger than Life, Marshall Cavendish (New York, NY), 2009.

Contributor of illustrations to periodicals, including Atlantic Monthly and Washington Post.

Sidelights

After establishing a successful career as a graphic and commercial artist, David Diaz decided to illustrate picture books as a creative outlet. Choosing his projects carefully, he quickly established himself as an illustrator of high reputation, winning a Caldecott Medal in 1995 for his work on Smoky Night by Eve Bunting. In the many books he has illustrated since, Diaz has avoided repetition, using a variety of media to enliven an array of titles ranging from folk tales to nonfiction. In the New York Times Book Review, Bill Ott observed that Diaz's images "reveal the way finished art integrates multiple levels of detail into a coordinated whole."

Born in New York City, Diaz grew up in Florida, where he decided to be a "drawer" from an early age. After graduating from high school, he attended the Fort Lauderdale Art Institute, then moved to southern California, where he established himself as a commercial designer and illustrator. Diaz moved into illustration in the early 1990s because he did not want the regret of having missed creative opportunities later in his life. In 1994 he accepted his first illustration project: Eve Bunting's picture-book text about the Los Angeles riots, Smoky Night.

Diaz was given the job of illustrating Bunting's text on the strength of a book he had designed that interspersed found objects and drawings to reflect a summer spent in Brazil. Smoky Night depicts a young boy's reaction to rioting on the streets below his family's apartment in an ethnically diverse urban neighborhood. In his illustrations for the story, Diaz mixes heavily outlined acrylic paintings incorporating soothing blue, purple, and green tones with collages of photographs capturing elements of Bunting's tale. In the illustrations depicting the looting of a grocery store, for instance, his artwork is layered over a photographed backdrop of spilled cereal. As Diaz recalled in his Caldecott Medal acceptance speech, as printed in Horn Book: "Bunting had taken a timely subject and had handled it in a truly sensitive and thoughtful way. I felt the book could have a positive effect and help erode barriers of prejudice and intolerance. And above all, it was a book that could be part of the post-riot healing process."

Commenting on Diaz's efforts to make characters of diverse ethnic backgrounds appear physically similar in Smoky Night, a Publishers Weekly critic asserted that his artwork "cautions the reader against assumptions about race." Likewise, Ellen Fader observed in Horn Book that "Diaz's bold artwork is a perfect match for the story.… Because each double-page spread is so carefully designed, because the pictorial elements work together harmoniously, the overall effect is that of urban energy, rather than cacophony. Both author and illustrator insist on an headlong confrontation with the issue of rapport between different races, and the result is a memorable, thought-provoking book."

With Smoky Night, Diaz won one of the most prestigious illustration honors in the United States: the American Library Association's 1995 Caldecott Medal. Commenting on his illustrations, Caldecott Award selection committee chair Grace W. Ruth was quoted in School Library Journal as calling the book "dramatic and groundbreaking," adding that the artist effectively "uses thickly textured, expressionistic acrylic paintings to portray a night of urban rioting from a child's perspective." In Booklist Hazel Rochman characterized Diaz's art for Smoky Night as "powerful—pulsating and crowded; part street mural, part urban collage."

Expanding his work in children's literature, Diaz has illustrated several other picture books that feature urban settings and social problems. A new edition of The Inner City Mother Goose, Eve Merriam's poetic reflection on the problems of the inner city, hones in on a teen audience with the help of Diaz's bold use of color and line. In Booklist, Carolyn Phelan praised the book by noting that the artist's "small, intense paintings create portraits rich in composition, color, and gesture." "The images, almost mythic in their sense of representing more than individual people, seem to move with the rhythm of the verse," added the critic.

In Marybeth Lorbiecki's Just One Flick of a Finger, urban teen violence is explored. A young man's act of taking a gun to school to ward off a local bully is portrayed in Diaz's characteristic heavy style against a "background [that] evokes a kind of feverish excitement with neon-lit graffiti, peeling walls, flashing color," according to Booklist reviewer Hazel Rochman. December, also by Bunting, explores the fate of a homeless child who takes solace in the picture of an angel that he has pinned to the side of the cardboard box in which he lives. When Christmas Day comes, an act of kindness performed by the boy and his mother results in a visit from an angel and an improvement in their circumstances. Grace Oliff, writing in School Library Journal, concluded that Diaz's woodcuts for December "amplify the theme" in the holiday tale.

Diaz and Bunting collaborate again on Going Home, a picture book featuring a migrant family returning to the Mexican town of their birth. Calling the work a "veritable treat for the eyes," a Publishers Weekly reviewer added that Diaz "sets his artwork within photographic backdrops that show gaily painted pottery, folk art figurines, Mexican Christmas decorations, festive flowers and other shiny holiday trinkets." "Bunting conveys her message softly, leaving the major role to Diaz," maintained Barbara Kiefer in School Library Journal. "His distinctive style is well suited to the setting and the mood of the book."

Diaz imbues each book project he takes with an individual flair and a unique theme. A new edition of poet

[Image not available for copyright reasons]

Gary Soto's Neighborhood Odes features woodcut silhouettes that complement Soto's twenty-one verses in what Booklist contributor Phelan called "an unobtrusive, playful way." Whimsical letters from the alphabet sneak across whole-page spreads in Richard Wilbur's The Disappearing Alphabet, a book that muses about what happens to words when certain letters decide not to cooperate. In Horn Book Jennifer M. Brabander commended Diaz's pictures for the work as "bold and appropriately playful." The acrylic paintings he creates for Joyce Carol Thomas's The Gospel Cinderella consist of "humorous, bold, and colorful images" that help make the fairy-tale adaptation "delightful," according to School Library Journal critic Mary N. Oluonye, and in the pages of Sharon Creech's The Castle Corona Diaz's artwork is "colorfully adorned with intricate designs that loosely recall illuminated manuscripts."

In Carmen T. Bernier-Grand's poetry collection about the live of activist Cèsar Chavez, Diaz contributes what School Library Journal critic Scott La Counte described as "stylized, computer-drawn, folk-art" images that bring to life a man dedicated to improving the lot of migrant farm workers in the United States. His "warm, melon-colored, pattern-filled paintings" for Sharon Creech's Who's That Baby?: New-Baby Songs "exalt babyhood and its rounded, soft-skinned perfection," according to Booklist critic Karin Snelson. Also reviewing Creech's book, a Kirkus Reviews writer deemed Diaz's contribution "gorgeous," due to his "extraordinary mastery of pattern" and his use of radiant colors and "sinuous line." Bringing to life a traditional Spanish-language folk song in De Colores: Bright with Colors, the illustrator "offers a fine, resonant representation of the song's words and warmth," according to Phelan.

Diaz employs a palette of autumn hues to illustrate The Little Scarecrow Boy, a story by legendary children's author Margaret Wise Brown. The little scarecrow wants to follow his father into the field to scare crows but is told he is "not fierce enough." One day, determined to do his part, he ventures into the field and tries out an array of scary faces, finally finding one that sends the crows packing. A Publishers Weekly reviewer liked the way Diaz created scarecrow faces, calling his renditions "a droll caricature of the kind of grimaces children concoct." Another song, this one by author José-Luis Orozco, comes to life in Diaz's "powerful, arresting art," according to Maria Otero-Boisvert in her School Library Journal review of Rin, Rin, Rin/Do, Re, Mi. "Most readers will bypass the text in [favor of] … the illustrations," the critic added.

The Pot That Juan Built introduces youngsters to artist Juan Quezada, a Mexican potter famous for reviving Native-American techniques. The story by Nancy Andrews-Goebel uses built rhymes to explain the process of creating a new pot, a process that is understood by Diaz, a potter as well as painter. According to a Publishers Weekly reviewer, the artwork's "glowing tones … capture the sweep and heat of the sun-bleached landscape" in a story that is both "inventive and engrossing." In Diaz's stylized images, noted Booklist critic Todd Morning, the illustrator captures "the shimmering light and heat of the desert," as well as including Quezada's unique pattern styles.

One of Diaz's most popular illustration projects, Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's

[Image not available for copyright reasons]

Fastest Woman, is a picture book that explores the inspiring life of Olympic gold medalist Wilma Rudolph, who overcame childhood illnesses and racism to become a champion on the track. Kathleen Krull's text is graced by "richly colored, stylized illustrations that—though painted—have the look and permanence of wood carvings" and are paired with a font of Diaz's own design, according to Booklist reviewer Michael Cart. In illustrating the story, Diaz uses sepia tones of watercolor, gouache, and acrylic in his characteristic stylized manner to "artfully capture [Rudolph's] physical and emotional determination, as well as the beauty of her body in motion," in the words of Horn Book critic Ellen Fader.

Krull and Diaz also team up in Pocahontas, a sophisticate picture-book treatment of the Native-American woman whose work on behalf of the Jamestown colonists and "rescue of Captain John Smith from an apparent execution" are presented "as one aspect of a broader life story," according to Booklist contributor Jennifer Mattson. Diaz's "striking artwork" is "bold, unexpected and inventive" in its interpretation, Mattson added while also expressing concern that the images imbue the story with a fanciful rather than realistic air. In Publishers Weekly a critic cited the book's "radiant illustrations and attention-grabbing narrative," while in School Library Journal Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst maintained that the characters in Pocahontas "burst from the page with exuberance and energy."

Diaz enjoys teaching children how to draw at workshops, and he is also an avid reader. As for his own work for picture books, he once noted in a BookPage.com interview: "I never try to second-guess what's going to make kids laugh or hold their attention. I just try to make the images as appropriate to the text as possible.… I never try to make something cute just because it's for kids."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, June 15, 1992, Carolyn Phelan, review of Neighborhood Odes, p. 1838; March 1, 1994, Hazel Rochman, review of Smoky Night, pp. 1266-1267; April 15, 1996, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Inner City Mother Goose, p. 1432; May 1, 1996, Michael Cart, review of Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest Woman, p. 1503; June 1, 1996, Hazel Rochman, review of Just One Flick of the Finger, p. 1718; September 1, 1998, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Little Scarecrow Boy, p. 124; September 15, 2002, Todd Morning, review of The Pot That Juan Built, p. 229; October 15, 2004, Jennifer Mattson, review of Cèsar: Sí se puede!/Yes We Can, p. 400; August, 2005, Karin Snelson, review of Who's That Baby?: New-Baby Songs, p. 2032; June 1, 2007, Jennifer Mattson, review of Pocahontas: Princess of the New World, p. 96; September 1, 2007, Jen-

nifer Mattson, review of The Castle Corona, p. 113; March 1, 2008, Carolyn Phelan, review of De Colores: Bright with Colors, p. 71.

Horn Book, May-June, 1994, Ellen Fader, review of Smoky Night, p. 309; July-August, 1995, David Diaz, "Caldecott Medal Acceptance," pp. 430-433; September-October, 1996, Ellen Fader, review of Wilma Unlimited; September-October, 1998, Jennifer M. Brabander, review of The Disappearing Alphabet, p. 618; November-December, 2007, Susan Dove Lempke, review of The Castle Corona, p. 675.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2005, review of Who's That Baby?, p. 911; July 1, 2006, review of Counting Ovejas, p. 683; April 1, 2007, review of Pocahontas; September 1, 2007, review of The Castle Corona.

New York Times Book Review, May 21, 1995, Selma G. Lanes, "Violence from a Distance," p. 25; February 9, 2003, Bill Ott, "Children's Books," p. 21.

Publishers Weekly, January 31, 1994, review of Smoky Night, p. 89; September 23, 1996, review of Going Home, p. 76; August 17, 1998, review of The Disappearing Alphabet, p. 70; August 26, 2002, review of The Pot That Juan Built, p. 68; September 22, 2003, review of Feliz Navidad, p. 70; April 15, 2007, review of Pocahontas, p. 51; September 17, 2007, review of The Castle Corona, p. 54.

School Library Journal, March, 1995, "Newbery, Caldecott Medals Go to New Creators," p. 108; September, 1996, Barbara Kiefer, review of Going Home, p. 171; July 20, 1998, review of The Little Scarecrow Boy, p. 218; September, 2002, Ann Welton, review of The Pot That Juan Built, p. 209; September, 2003, Grace Oliff, review of December, p. 84; March, 2004, Andrew Medlar, review of Wilma Unlimited, p. 69; May, 2004, Mary N. Oluonye, review of The Gospel Cinderella, p. 136; October, 2004, Scott La Counte, review of Cèsar, p. 138; March, 2005, Kathleen T. Isaacs, review of The Pot That Juan Built, p. 68; October, 2005, Bina Williams, review of Who's That Baby?, p. 136; February, 2006, Maria Otero-Boisvert, review of Rin, Rin, Rin/Do, Re, Mi, p. 127; June, 2006, Maria Otero-Boisvert, review of Counting Ovejas, p. 145; April, 2007, Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, review of Pocahontas, p. 123.

Teaching and Learning Literature, September-October, 1995, Michael Patrick Hearne, "After the Smoke Has Cleared," pp. 54-56.

ONLINE

BookPage.com,http://www.bookpage.com/ (December 6, 2003), Alice Cary, "Fast Book to Honor World's Fastest Woman."

Lee & Low Books Web site,http://www.leeandlow.com/booktalk/ (May 15, 2008), "David Diaz."

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Diaz, David 1959(?)-

DIAZ, David 1959(?)-

Personal

Born c. 1959, in New York, NY; married; wife's name, Cecelia (an artist); children: Jericho, Ariel, Gabrielle. Education: Attended Fort Lauderdale Art Institute, earned diploma. Hobbies and other interests: Ceramics, music.

Addresses

Agent c/o Author Correspondence, Lee & Low Books, 95 Madison Ave., Suite 606, New York, NY 10016.

Career

Graphic artist and illustrator. Worked variously as a newspaper illustrator, graphic designer, and graphic artist in California, 1980.

Awards, Honors

Caldecott Medal, American Library Association, 1995, for Smoky Night.

Writings

illustrator

Gary Soto, Neighborhood Odes, Harcourt, Brace (New York, NY), 1992.

Len Cabral, Anansi's Narrow Waist, Addison-Wesley (New York, NY), 1994, translated as La Cinturita de Anansi, 1995.

Eve Bunting, Smoky Night, Harcourt, Brace (New York, NY), 1994.

Eve Bunting, Going Home, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1996.

Marybeth Lorbiecki, Just One Flick of a Finger, Dial Books (New York, NY), 1996.

Eve Merriam, The Inner City Mother Goose, 3rd edition, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1996.

Joseph A. Citro, Passing Strange: True Tales of New England Hauntings and Horrors, Chapters, 1996.

Kathleen Krull, Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest Woman, Harcourt, Brace (New York, NY), 1996.

Pauline Cartwright, Table for Two: An African Folktale, Celebration Press (Glenview, IL), 1996.

Eve Bunting, The Christmas House, Harcourt, Brace (New York, NY), 1997.

Eve Bunting, December, Harcourt, Brace (New York, NY), 1997.

Richard Wilbur, The Disappearing Alphabet, Harcourt, Brace (San Diego, CA), 1998.

Margaret Wise Brown, The Little Scarecrow Boy, Harper-Collins (New York, NY), 1998.

Eric A. Kimmel, Be Not Far from Me: The Oldest Love Story: Legends from the Bible, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1998.

Nancy Willard, Shadow Story, Harcourt, Brace (San Diego, CA), 1999.

Afi Scruggs, Jump Rope Magic, Blue Sky Press (New York, NY), 1999.

Joyce Carol Thomas, The Gospel Cinderella, HarperCollins (New York NY), 2000.

Rudolfo A. Anaya, Roadrunner's Dance, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 2000.

Sharon Creech, The Wanderer, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.

Sarah Weeks, Angel Face, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2002.

Nancy Andrews-Goebel, The Pot That Juan Built, Lee & Low Books (New York, NY), 2002.

José Feliciano, Feliz Navidad!: Two Stories Celebrating Christmas, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2003.

Sharon Creech, A Baby in a Basket: New-Baby Songs, Joanna Cotler Books (New York, NY), 2004.

Sidelights

David Diaz is a successful graphic and commercial artist who decided to illustrate picture books as a creative outlet. Choosing his projects carefully, he quickly established himself as an illustrator of high reputation, winning a Caldecott Medal in 1995 for his work on Smoky Night. Since then he has tended not to repeat himself, using a variety of media to enliven an array of titles from folk tales to nonfiction. New York Times Book Review correspondent Bill Ott observed that Diaz's images "reveal the way finished art integrates multiple levels of detail into a coordinated whole."

Born in New York City, Diaz grew up in Florida. He decided on a career in the arts so early in life that he did not even know the word "illustrator"he said he wanted to be a "drawer." Diaz recalled in an online interview with Lee & Low Books that he was filling out a phonics sheet in first grade when he came to a picture of a nose. Taking a break from the assignment, he added a whole face to the noseand he never looked back. He has been a "drawer" ever since.

Diaz graduated from the Fort Lauderdale Art Institute and moved to Southern California, where he established himself as a designer and illustrator for companies and newspapers. He moved into illustration in the early 1990s because, he said, he did not want to regret having missed creative opportunities later in life. In 1994 he was offered the opportunity to illustrate a picture book about the Los Angeles riots entitled Smoky Night. Smoky Night, written by Eve Bunting, depicts a young boy's reaction to rioting on the streets below his family's apartment in an ethnically diverse large-city neighborhood. Diaz was given the job of illustrating Bunting's text on the strength of a book he had designed which interspersed found objects and drawings to reflect a summer spent in Brazil. That style would find its way into Smoky Night as well. In his illustrations for the story, Diaz mixed his heavily outlined acrylic paintings incorporating soothing blue, purple, and green tones with collages of photographs of common objects. In the series of illustrations depicting the looting of a grocery store, for instance, his artwork is layered over a photographed backdrop of spilled cereal. As Diaz recalled of his first encounter with Bunting's text in his Caldecott Medal acceptance speech, as printed in Horn Book: "Eve Bunting had taken a timely subject and had handled it in a truly sensitive and thoughtful way. I felt the book could have a positive effect and help erode barriers of prejudice and intolerance. And above all, it was a book that could be part of the post-riot healing process."

Diaz's attempts to make his work part of the "post-riot healing process" were noted by several critics. Commenting on the illustrator's deliberate efforts to make characters of diverse ethnic backgrounds appear physically similar, a Publishers Weekly critic asserted that "even the artwork here cautions the reader against assumptions about race." Likewise, Ellen Fader observed in Horn Book that "Diaz's bold artwork is a perfect match for the story. Because each double-page spread is so carefully designed, because the pictorial elements work together harmoniously, the overall effect is that of urban energy, rather than cacophony. Both author and illustrator insist on an headlong confrontation with the issue of rapport between different races, and the result is a memorable, thought-provoking book."

With Smoky Night, Diazstill a novice in the picture book industrywon one of the most prestigious illustration honors in the United Statesthe American Library Association's 1995 Caldecott Medal. Commenting on Diaz's illustrations, Caldecott Award Selection Committee chair Grace W. Ruth was quoted in School Library Journal as saying: "Smoky Night is dramatic and groundbreaking. Diaz uses thickly textured, expressionistic acrylic paintings to portray a night of urban rioting from a child's perspective." And reviewer Hazel Rochman characterized Diaz's artwork in Booklist as "powerfulpulsating and crowded; part street mural, part urban collage."

While many commentators found much to praise in Smoky Night, its status as a Caldecott Medal recipient aroused some controversy. One of the book's most out-spoken critics, Michael Patrick Hearn, commented in an essay in Teaching and Learning Literature: "Taken individually, the rugged, flat designs in heavy outline and simple contour and raw color are indeed striking, but after a while their stylized, detached imagery is a bit numbing. There is a terrible sameness from spread to spread. I never imagined a riot could appear quite so benign as this." Similarly, while praising Diaz for choosing to illustrate a challenging text, New York Times Book Review contributor Selma G. Lanes maintained that awards committees have a "tendency to reward flashiness over substance. Often such glitzy illustrations accompany subject matter that is of the moment, politically fashionable, and decidedly correct. Smoky Night falls into this category of knock-'em-dead artwork for an au courant if less than riveting story."

In addition to Smoky Night, Diaz has illustrated several other picture books that feature urban settings and social problems. In The Inner City Mother Goose, Eve Merriam's poetic reflection on the problems of the inner city is republished for a young adult audience and imbued with new life through Diaz's bold use of color and line. Carolyn Phelan praised the artist's work in a Booklist review, noting that his "small, intense paintings create portraits rich in composition, color, and gesture." Phelan added: "The images, almost mythic in their sense of representing more than individual people, seem to move with the rhythm of the verse."

In Marybeth Lorbiecki's Just One Flick of a Finger, urban teen violence is explored. A young man's act of taking a gun to school to ward off a local bully is portrayed by Diaz in his characteristic heavy style against a "background [that] evokes a kind of feverish excitement with neon-lit graffiti, peeling walls, flashing color," according to Booklist reviewer Hazel Rochman. December, also by Eve Bunting, explores the sad fate of a homeless child who takes solace in the picture of an angel that he has pinned to the side of the cardboard box in which he lives. When Christmas comes, an act of kindness the boy and his mother perform leads to a visit from an angel, who helps to improve their circumstances. Grace Oliff in School Library Journal concluded that Diaz's woodcuts for this title "amplify the theme."

Diaz tends to imbue each book project he takes with an individual flair and a unique theme. Poet Gary Soto's highly acclaimed Neighborhood Odes features woodcut silhouettes that complement the collection's twenty-one poems in what Booklist contributor Carolyn Phelan called "an unobtrusive, playful way." Diaz and Bunting collaborated again on Going Home, a 1996 picture book featuring a migrant worker family returning to the Mexican town of their birth. Calling the work a "veritable treat for the eyes," a Publishers Weekly reviewer added that Diaz "sets his artwork within photographic backdrops that show gaily painted pottery, folk art figurines, Mexican Christmas decorations, festive flowers and other shiny holiday trinkets." "Bunting conveys her message softly, leaving the major role to Diaz," maintained Barbara Kiefer in School Library Journal. "His distinctive style is well suited to the setting and the mood of the book." Whimsical letters from the alphabet sneak across whole-page spreads in Richard Wilbur's The Disappearing Alphabet, a book that poetically muses about what happens to words when certain letters decide not to cooperate. Horn Book reviewer Jennifer M. Brabander commended Diaz's pictures for this book as "bold and appropriately playful."

One of Diaz's better known works is Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest Woman. This picture book explores the inspiring life of Wilma Rudolph, who overcame childhood illnesses and racism to win multiple Olympic gold medals. Kathleen Krull's text is graced by "richly colored, stylized illustrations thatthough paintedhave the look and permanence of wood carvings" and a font of Diaz's own design, according to Booklist reviewer Michael Cart. In illustrating the story, Diaz uses watercolor, gouache, and acrylic in sepia tones in his characteristic stylized manner to "artfully capture [Rudolph's] physical and emotional determination," in the words of Horn Book correspondent Ellen Fader, "as well as the beauty of her body in motion."

Diaz uses a palette of autumn hues to illustrate The Little Scarecrow Boy, a story by the legendary children's author Margaret Wise Brown. The little scarecrow wants to follow his father into the field to scare crows but is told he is "not fierce enough." One day, determined to do his part, he ventures into the field and tries out an array of scary faces, finally finding one that sends the crows packing. A Publishers Weekly reviewer liked the way Diaz created scarecrow faces that are "a droll caricature of the kind of grimaces children concoct." The reviewer concluded: "This scarecrow boy may be made of straw, but he's all heart."

The Pot That Juan Built introduces youngsters to artist Juan Quezada, a Mexican potter famous for reviving Native American techniques. The story by Nancy Andrews-Goebel uses built rhymes to explain the process of creating a new pot, and, according to a Publishers Weekly reviewer, "The glowing tones of the artwork capture the sweep and heat of the sun-bleached landscape." The critic deemed the book "inventive and engrossing."

Diaz enjoys teaching children how to draw at workshops, and he is an avid reader. As for his own work for picture books, he said in an interview with Book Page 's Alice Cary: "I never try to second-guess what's going to make kids laugh or hold their attention. I just try to make the images as appropriate to the text as possible. I never try to make something cute just because it's for kids."

Biographical and Critical Sources

periodicals

Booklist, June 15, 1992, Carolyn Phelan, review of Neighborhood Odes, p. 1838; March 1, 1994, Hazel Rochman, review of Smoky Night, pp. 1266-1267; April 15, 1996, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Inner City Mother Goose, p. 1432; May 1, 1996, Michael Cart, review of Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest Woman, p. 1503; June 1, 1996, Hazel Rochman, review of Just One Flick of the Finger, p. 1718; September 1, 1998, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Little Scarecrow Boy, p. 124.

Detroit Free Press, February 7, 1995, Cathy Collison, "View of Urban Riots Wins Children's Book Illustration Award," p. C1.

Horn Book, May-June, 1994, Ellen Fader, review of Smoky Night, p. 309; July-August, 1995, David Diaz, "Caldecott Medal Acceptance," pp. 430-433; September-October, 1996, Ellen Fader, review of Wilma Unlimited; September-October, 1998, Jennifer M. Brabander, review of The Disappearing Alphabet, p. 618.

New York Times Book Review, May 21, 1995, Selma G. Lanes, "Violence from a Distance," p. 25; February 9, 2003, Bill Ott, "Children's Books," p. 21.

Publishers Weekly, January 31, 1994, review of Smoky Night, p. 89; September 23, 1996, review of Going Home, p. 76; August 17, 1998, review of The Disappearing Alphabet, p. 70; August 26, 2002, review of The Pot That Juan Built, p. 68.

School Library Journal, March, 1995, "Newbery, Caldecott Medals Go to New Creators," p. 108; September, 1996, Barbara Kiefer, review of Going Home, p. 171; July 20, 1998, review of The Little Scarecrow Boy, p. 218; September, 2002, Ann Welton, review of The Pot That Juan Built, p. 209; September, 2003, Grace Oliff, review of December, p. 84.

Teaching and Learning Literature, September-October, 1995, Michael Patrick Hearne, "After the Smoke Has Cleared," pp. 54-56.

online

Book Page, http://www.bookpage.com/ (December 6, 2003), Alice Cary, "Fast Book to Honor World's Fastest Woman."

Lee & Low Books, http://www.leeandlow.com/booktalk/ (December 6, 2003), "David Diaz."*

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"Diaz, David 1959(?)-." Something About the Author. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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