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Morales, Yuyi 1968-

Morales, Yuyi 1968-

Personal

Born 1968, in Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico; immigrated to United States, 1994; married; husband's name Tim; children: Kelly (son). Education: University of Xalapa, B.A.; graduate study in creative writing.

Addresses

Home—San Francisco, CA. E-mail—yuyi@pacbell.net.

Career

Children's writer and illustrator. Swimming coach in Mexico; KPOO radio, San Francisco, CA, host of children's radio show, 1997-2000.

Awards, Honors

Don Freeman Memorial grant-in-aid, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, 2000; Americas Award for Children's and Young-Adult Literature, Consortium of Latin American Studies programs, Parent's Choice Award, Northern California Book Award nomination, named to Best of the Best List, Children's Literature, Chicago Public Library, and named to Best Children's Books of the Year list, Bank Street College of Education, all 2003, all for Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book; Pura Belpré Illustrator Award, California Book Award Silver Medal for juvenile fiction, Tomás Rivera Mexican-American Children's Book Award, Golden Kite Honor Book Award, Picture Book Illustration, Latino Book Award, Latino Literary Award for best children's book, Notable Books for Children list of Younger Readers, Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC), and Choice selection, Notable Books for a Global Society, all 2004, all for Just a Minute; Americas Award honorable mention, School Library Journal Best Books list, San Francisco Chronicle Best of Year list, Lasting Connections, Best of the Year, Book Links, and Best of the Year designation, Child magazine, all 2003, and Christopher Award, Jane Add-

ams Children's Book Award, Pura Belpré Illustrator Award, CCBC Choices Selection, Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, National Council for Social Studies, and Blue Bonnet Award nomination, all 2004, all for Harvesting Hope.

Writings

SELF-ILLUSTRATED

Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 2003.

Little Night, Roaring Brook Press (New Milford, CT), 2006.

ILLUSTRATOR

Kathleen Krull, Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2003.

Amanda White, Sand Sister, Barefoot Books (Cambridge, MA), 2004.

Marisa Montes, Los Gatos Black on Halloween, Holt (New York, NY), 2006.

Also illustrator of Todas las buenas manos, by F. Isabel Campoy, Harcourt (San Diego, CA).

Sidelights

Yuyi Morales is an award-winning illustrator and author of children's books whose original self-illustrated picture books include Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book and Little Night. Noted for her bright, child-friendly art, Morales has twice won the Pura Belpré Illustrator Award, which honors "Latino authors and illustrators whose work best portrays and celebrates Latino cultural experience in a children's book."

Morales was born in 1968 in Xalapa, Mexico, the eldest of four children. As a child she loved drawing, and often paired her pictures with stories. As she recalled in an interview for Authors and Artists for Young Adults (AAYA), "I … copied from family photographs, but mostly I looked at myself in the mirror and copied my face again and again until I memorized the shapes, the lines, and the shadows my face was made of. During these years I often dreamed of telling stories like in the books we had at home…. [and] the illustrated encyclopedia that my Mama bought from a door-to-door salesman, was among my favorites." "Yet, as much as I liked drawing and dreaming of stories," Morales added, "it never occurred to me, or to my parents or teachers, that I could choose to be an artist when I grew up." Although her father recognized her talent for drawing, he encouraged her to follow a career in architecture, but Morales felt no inspiration there. Instead, drawing on her skill as a competitive swimmer, she decided to major in physical education at the University of Xalapa and worked as a swimming coach for two years following graduation.

While coaching, Morales met her future husband, Tim, an American, got married, and had a son, Kelly. When her husband's grandfather became seriously ill, they went to visit him in San Francisco and decided to stay there. Recalling her first months in the United States, Morales noted in her AAYA interview that "the transition was long and arduous; I spoke almost no English, I had no job, I knew no friends, and I missed my family. At first … I felt as if there was no place for me here in this country, and I only longed to go back to the land I loved. Then one day, my mother-in-law … brought my son and me to the most incredible place I was going to know in the USA. She brought us to the Public Library." Inspired by the collection of children's books, Morales rekindled her love of bookmaking, and soon she was busy creating handmade picture books for Kelly. She then learned to read English along with her son, using library picture-book illustrations to decipher the simple texts. While attending writers' and illustrators' conferences, Morales began to learn the skills of the trade, and a meeting with author F. Isabel Campoy resulted in an offer to illustrate Campoy's next book, Todas las buenas manos.

Morales's first English-language picture-book project was Kathleen Krull's text for Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez. Chavez, a labor organizer who worked on behalf of California's migrant farm workers, made gains in the mid-1960s by organizing boycotts and strikes that ultimately won concessions from growers to improve the working conditions and pay rates for farm workers. Reviewing Morales's work for the volume, School Library Journal contributor Sue Morgan praised her "beautifully rendered earth-tone illustrations," while Traci Todd, writing in Booklist, cited the book's "gorgeous paintings, with their rounded, organic forms and lush, gemstone hues." Horn Book contributor Susan Dove Lempke noted that the illustrator "suffused" her acrylic paintings "with a variety of emotions, especially fear and sorrow," while a Kirkus Reviews critic compared Morales's artwork to that of noted twentieth-century Mexican muralist Diego Rivera.

Morales's first self-illustrated title, Just a Minute, was published in 2003. In the book, an old woman is summoned by Death to the afterlife. Death, a skeleton who calls himself Señor Calavera, arrives at Grandma Beetle's door and requests that she come with him. Although the old woman agrees, she has one small task to complete, then another, and then another, leaving Death increasingly impatient and frustrated. The reason for all the woman's work is soon revealed: Grandma Beetle's nine children are on their way to her house to celebrate her birthday. After the party, the woman prepares to go, but Señor Calavera has enjoyed himself so much during the festivities that he decides not to take her right now; instead, he leaves her a note saying that he is looking forward to coming to her next birthday party. "Morales's personification of death is never forbidding or scary," Catherine Threadgill commented in the School Library Journal, while a Publishers Weekly critic wrote that Death's "ghoulish, goofy gallantry would make him the comic lead of any Day of the Dead festivity."

In her original picture book Little Night, Morales presents "a tribute to mothers and the loving bond with their children through playing," as she explained in her AAYA interview. In the story, Little Night hides from Mother Sky, and readers follow the mother's search for her child across dusky hills and in dark caves. Ultimately, Little Night is discovered, and must bathe in falling stars, pin glowing planets in her hair, and have a bedtime glass of milk from the Milky Way before playing games with the moon at bedtime. Noting the book's "mystical effect," a Kirkus Reviews writer dubbed Little Night "lovely" while Enos Randall wrote in Booklist that Morales presents readers with "a sumptuous feast of metaphors," both in her serene text and "equally splendid illustrations." "Creating what amounts to a new myth may seem an ambitious project," noted a Publishers Weekly reviewer in appraising Little Night, "but Morales succeeds by combining intimacy and grandeur."

In addition to her self-illustrated books, Morales also takes on illustration duties for Amanda White's Sand Sister and Los Gatos Black on Halloween, a holiday-themed picture book with an English/Spanish text by Marisa Montes. Sand Sister finds a shy child wishing for a playmate at the beach while other children play with their brothers and sisters. When the lonely girl finds a stick and draws a picture of a playmate in the wet sand, her drawing magically comes alive. The two play together for the rest of the day, but when the tide turns the "sand sister" must leave and go back to the sea. Moving from the sunlit seashore to a shadow-filled haunted house, Los Gatos Black on Halloween invites readers to join a Halloween party where witches, skeletons, vampires, and black cats join in the scary fun. Reviewing Sand Sister for Booklist, Jennifer Mattson noted that Morales's "sun-drenched paintings," are filled with "vigor and fantastical sensibility," while her illustrations for Los Gatos Black on Halloween make the book "an atmospheric, bilingual romp" according to a Publishers Weekly contributor. Noting that the frightening creatures depicted in the illustrations might be too scary for smaller readers, Ilene Cooper wrote in Booklist that Morales's "soft-edged paintings glow with the luminosity of jewels." The illustrator's "dark, glowing pictures of inventively proportioned ghosts and other sinister night creatures provide the ideal accompaniment" for Montes' tale, concluded a Kirkus Reviews critic.

Describing how she creates characters for her books, Morales explained in her AAYA interview that "some … are modeled on people I know. My son Kelly appears in a couple of my books…. Los Gatos Black on Halloween is filled with people I know. My lovely dog Chacho is there, except he is a skeleton dog, frolicking and rattling his bones. My husband and I are the skeleton couple admiring the moon and dancing together, and my son is the dead boy who comes out from his coffin to join the dance." Creating such characters is a two-part process, according to the artist. "One is the conceptual part, and the other one the technical. Usually I like to have an idea of who my characters are. What do they feel, what emotions they portray, and how do they behave (are they playful, solemn, stern, silly, hard working?). Having this in mind, yes, sometimes I remember people I know, and that helps. Or sometimes they might remind me of a certain animal…. Then comes the technical part; I have to draw my characters. Sometimes I have an idea of how they might look, but quiet often I don't. Nevertheless, the next step is to start drawing. Perhaps I would start with a simple circle …, or a thin line if I am going to make somebody skinny like a skeleton. After I put down my first lines, I need to continue drawing, erasing and retracing, many, many times, because that is how I will eventually find what my characters will look like. There is a lot of experimentation, a lot of trying on different shapes, different sizes, different eyes, mouth, nose, etc, until I find the image I like for that specific character. My first attempts never come out right. They take a long time before I like them, sometimes even after I have sketched the whole book, I might go back and change one of my characters. I am always looking for the moment when I see what I have done and I say, ‘Yes, that is him/her!’

"What I am trying to do through my books is mostly to surround myself with the things I love, the stories that bring me closer to my homeland, the colors that make me vibrate, the tales and customs I want my son to know," Morales explained in her AAYA interview. "When I came to the USA, there were so many things I missed! I missed the colorful houses, because the little apartment we rented was cream color inside and gray on the outside like many other houses in San Francisco, and I couldn't change that. And I missed my family and friends and the many things we did together, like having birthday parties with piñatas and yummy food. And I missed my mother and my sisters and my father and my brother and the many stories we told together, and when I couldn't have any of that near me anymore, I decided to put it in my books."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, June 1, 2003, Traci Todd, review of Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez, p. 1795; December 1, 2003, Jennifer Mattson, review of Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book, p. 668; March 15, 2004, Jennifer Mattson, review of Sand Sister, p. 1311; February 1, 2007, Randall Enos, review of Little Night, p. 46.

Horn Book, July-August, 2003, Susan Dove Lempke, review of Harvesting Hope, p. 480; March-April, 2004, "Pura Belpré Illustrator Award," p. 220; July-August, 2004, "Jane Addams Children's Book Award," p. 492.

Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2003, review of Harvesting Hope, p. 911; October 15, 2003, review of Just a Minute, p. 1274; August 15, 2006, review of Los Gatos Black on Halloween, p. 848; April 1, 2007, review of Little Night.

Publishers Weekly, May 5, 2003, review of Harvesting Hope, p. 221; December 1, 2003, review of Just a Minute, p. 55; August 14, 2006, review of Los Gatos Black on Halloween, p. 204; March 26, 2007, review of Little Night, p. 93.

School Library Journal, June, 2003, Sue Morgan, review of Harvesting Hope, p. 129; December, 2003, Catherine Threadgill, review of Just a Minute, p. 136; October, 2004, Maryann H. Owen, review of Sand Sister, p. 136; July, 2005, Coop Renner, review of Just a Minute, p. 44; September, 2006, Joy Fleishhacker, review of Los Gatos Black on Halloween, p. 180; May, 2007, DoAnn Okamura, review of Little Night, p. 106.

ONLINE

PaperTigers,http://www.papertigers.org/ (October, 2005), Aline Pereira, interview with Morales.

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Web site,http://www.scbwi.org/ (June 10, 2007), "Yuyi Morales."

Yuyi Morales Home Page,http://www.yuyimorales.com (June 10, 2007).

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"Morales, Yuyi 1968-." Something About the Author. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Morales, Yuyi 1968-." Something About the Author. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/children/scholarly-magazines/morales-yuyi-1968

"Morales, Yuyi 1968-." Something About the Author. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/children/scholarly-magazines/morales-yuyi-1968

Morales, Yuyi

MORALES, Yuyi

Personal

Born in Xalapa, Mexico; came to the United States, 1994; married; children: a son.

Addresses

Agent c/o Author Mail, Barefoot Books, 2067 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140.

Career

Children's book author and illustrator.

Awards, Honors

Americas Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature, sponsored by the national Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs (CLASP), Parent's Choice Award Winner, Northern California Book Award Nomination, Children's Literature, Best of the Best List, Chicago Public Library, Best Children's Books of the Year, Bank Street College of Education, all 2003, for Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book; Pura Belpre Illustrator Award, California Book Award Silver Medal for Juvenile Fiction, Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Award, Golden Kite Honor Book, Picture Book Illustration, Latino Book Award, Latino Literary Award for Best Children's Book, Notable Books for Children, Younger Readers, Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) Choices Selection, Notable Books for a Global Society, all 2004, for Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book; Americas Award Honorable Mention, School Library Journal Best Books, San Francisco Chronicle Best of Year, Lasting Connections, Best of the Year, Book Links Magazine, Best of the Year, Child magazine, all 2003, for Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez; Christopher Award, Jane Addams Book Award, Pura Belpre Honor for illustration, CCBC Choices Selection, Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, The National Council for Social Studies, Blue Bonnet Award Nomination, all 2004, for Harvesting Hope.

Writings

(Illustrator) Kathleen Krull, Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2003.

(Self-illustrated) Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 2003.

(Illustrator) Amanda White, Sand Sister, Barefoot Books (Cambridge, MA), 2004.

Also illustrator of Todas las buenas manos, by F. Isabel Campoy, Harcourt (San Diego, CA).

Work in Progress

Illustrating books by Marisa Montes and Tony Johnston; another self-illustrated book.

Sidelights

Although Yuyi Morales loved to draw as a child, she never expected to make a career out of art. "In my eyes, artists were geniuses born under mythical skies," she said in an interview posted on the Mariuccia Iaconi Book Imports Web site. Morales was born in Mexico and only came to the United States after she married, in 1994. She spoke very little English at the time, and she lived with her husband's family, who spoke no Spanish. As she recalled, one day, while exploring the neighborhood with her young son, "I found a place where communication became universal: the children's section of the public library. I had never seen such beautiful books."

"Once I knew about children's books in the USA, I felt as if a void had been filled inside me," Morales continued in her interview. "I believed that, with some work, I could learn how to write and illustrate my own books. I very much wanted to create works of art such as the ones I had in my hands. It was love at first sight." Using the pictures to help her understand the writing, Morales read the books to her son. They learned English together, using Sesame Street as well as books from the library. Morales then began attending writers' and illustrators' conferences, meeting and learning from other children's-book creators and learning the skills of the trade. She eventually met author F. Isabel Campoy, who was impressed by a copy of a painting Morales sent her. A few weeks later, Morales was asked to illustrate Campoy's next book.

Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez, by Kathleen Krull, was the first English-language book Morales illustrated. Her "beautifully rendered earth-tone illustrations," as School Library Journal contributor Sue Morgan described them, were praised as a positive aspect of this biography of the famous labor leader by many reviewers. Horn Book 's Susan Dove Lempke noted that Morales "suffused" her acrylic paintings "with a variety of emotions, especially fear and sorrow," while a Kirkus Reviews critic compared Morales' artwork to that of noted twentieth-century Mexican muralist Diego Rivera.

Booklist reviewer Jennifer Mattson also saw "hints of Diego Rivera" in Morales' first self-illustrated title, Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book, which was published in 2003. The book begins with a skeleton, who calls himself Señor Calavera, arriving at Grandma Beetle's door and requesting that she come along. She will, the elderly woman replies, in "just a minute," but she has a few things to do before she can leave. First she has to sweep just one house, then make just two pots of tea, then grind just three pounds of corn, et cetera. The reason for all of these preparations is soon revealed: Grandma Beetle's nine children are on their way to her house to celebrate her birthday. After the party, Grandma Beetle is ready to go, but Señor Calavera enjoyed himself so much that he decides not to take Grandma Beetle right now; instead, he leaves her a note saying that he is looking forward to coming to her next birthday party. "Morales's personification of death is never forbidding or scary," Catherine Threadgill commented in School Library Journal, "but rather a simple matter of fact." Indeed, a Publishers Weekly reviewer found the "dapper skeleton" to be an appealing character: his "ghoulish, goofy gallantry would make him the comic lead of any Day of the Dead festivity," the reviewer concluded.

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, December 1, 2003, Jennifer Mattson, review of Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book, p. 668; March 1, 2004, "Pura Belpre Award," p. 1197.

Horn Book, July-August, 2003, Susan Dove Lempke, review of Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez, p. 480.

Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2003, review of Harvesting Hope, p. 911; October 15, 2003, review of Just a Minute, p. 1274.

Publishers Weekly, December 1, 2003, review of Just a Minute, p. 55.

School Library Journal, June, 2003, Sue Morgan, review of Harvesting Hope, p. 129; December, 2003, Catherine Threadgill, review of Just a Minute, p. 136.

ONLINE

Mariuccia Iaconi Book Imports Web site, http://www.mibibook.com/ (September 17, 2004), interview with Morales.

Yuyi Morales Home Page, http://www.yuyimorales.com/ (June 1, 2004).*

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Morales, Yuyi." Something About the Author. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Morales, Yuyi." Something About the Author. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/children/scholarly-magazines/morales-yuyi

"Morales, Yuyi." Something About the Author. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/children/scholarly-magazines/morales-yuyi