Married Selina Alko (an illustrator); children: Isaiah.
Home and office—Brooklyn, NY. E-mail—[email protected]
Artist and children's book illustrator.
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
Silver Award, Parents' Choice, 2004, for Powerful Words; Blue Ribbon Award, Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, 2006, for both Dizzy by Jonah Winter and The Poet Slave of Cuba by Margarita Engle; Horn Book Fanfare designation, 2006, and American Library Association (ALA) Notable Children's Book designation, 2007, both for Dizzy; Best Book for Young Adults, ALA, 2007, for The Poet Slave of Cuba; Christopher Award, for How We Are Smart by W. Nikola Lisa.
Karen English, The Baby on the Way, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2005.
Margarita Engle, The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2006.
W. Nikola-Lisa, How We Are Smart, Lee & Low (New York, NY), 2006.
Jonah Winter, Dizzy, Arthur A. Levine Books (New York, NY), 2006.
Carole Boston Weatherford, Before John Was a Jazz Giant, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2008.
Catherine Clinton, Phillis's Big Tets, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2008.
Sean Qualls had an auspicious start to his career in children's-book illustration, earning several awards with only a few publications to his credit. At the beginning of his career, Qualls garnered two Blue Ribbon citations from the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, an accomplishment that was cited as "a little un-
usual" by the periodical's editor, Deborah Stevenson. Stevenson was also quick to add, however, that Qualls was honored as a result of his "serious craftsmanship and original style" that combines acrylic paints with other artistic media. Referencing his work for such books as Powerful Words: More than 200 Years of Extraordinary Writing by African Americans by Wade Hudson and The Baby on the Way by Karen English, Stevenson summarized Qualls' unique collage artwork as "sometimes crisp and close-cropped … and sometimes adding subtle tracery to backgrounds." In a joint online interview with wife and fellow illustrator Selina Alko for AltPick.com, Qualls commented that his art work is predominantly "about emotion and atmosphere. … I try to capture a feeling and perhaps not tangible things like music and a character's history." In the same interview, the artist and illustrator noted that his inspiration comes from "memories of my childhood and a sense of nostalgia," as well as from the works of well-known artists such as Jacob Lawrence and Romare Bearden.
Among Qualls' award-winning illustration projects is The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano. Featuring a rhyming text by Margarita Engle and based on the childhood of the noted Cuban poet, The Poet Slave of Cuba contains high-contrast black-and-white illustrations. Hazel Rochman, writing in Booklist, noted that Qualls' charcoal drawings "express Juan's suffering and strength," while Carol Jones Collins wrote in her School Library Journal review that Qualls' visual works provide readers with a "suitably stark and compelling" counterpoint to Manzano's life story.
Biographical and Critical Sources
Black Issues Book Review, Suzanne Rust, "Learning as We Climb: Stories about the Civil Rights Movement for Young Readers," p. 58.
Booklist, February 15, 2004, Carolyn Phelan, review of Powerful Words: More than 200 Years of Extraordinary Writing by African Americans, p. 1068; October 1, 2005, Hazel Rochman, review of The Baby on the Way, p. 62; February 15, 2006, Hazel Rochman, review of The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano, p. 95.
Horn Book, July-August, 2006, Lelac Almagor, review of The Poet Slave of Cuba, p. 459.
Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2005, review of The Baby on the Way, p. 1079; March 15, 2006, review of The Poet Slave of Cuba, p. 289.
New York Times Book Review, November 13, 2005, review of The Baby on the Way, p. L30.
Publishers Weekly, October 31, 2005, review of The Baby on the Way, p. 55; April 17, 2006, review of The Poet Slave of Cuba, p. 190.
School Library Journal, February, 2004, Mary N. Oluonye, review of Powerful Words, p. 164; November, 2005, Mary N. Oluonye, review of The Baby on the Way, p. 89; April, 2006, Carol Jones Collins, review of The Poet Slave of Cuba, p. 154; Joy Fleishhacker, June, 2006, review of How We Are Smart, p. 182.
AltPick.com,http://altpick.com/ (February 20, 2007), interview with Qualls and Selina Alko.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books Online,http://bccb.lis.uiuc.edu/ (February 20, 2007), Maggie Hommel, review of The Poet Slave of Cuba; Deborah Stevenson, "Rising Star: Sean Qualls."
Sean Qualls Home Page,http://www.seanqualls.com (February 20, 2007).
ZoomInfo.com,http://www.zoominfo.com/ (February 20, 2007), "Sean Qualls."