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Velasquez, Eric

Velasquez, Eric

Personal

Born in New York, NY. Education: School of Visual Arts, B.F.A., 1983; studied with Harvey Dinnerstein at Art Students League, 1984.

Addresses

Home and office—Hartsdale, NY. E-mail—[email protected]

Career

Illustrator.

Member

Art Student's League.

Awards, Honors

Coretta-Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent, 1999, for The Piano Man; Carter G. Woodson Award, National Council for the Social Studies/Children's Book Council, 2001, for The Sound That Jazz Makes.

Writings

(Self-illustrated) Grandma's Records, Walker & Company (New York, NY), 2001.

ILLUSTRATOR

Beverley Naidoo, Journey to Jo'burg: A South African Story, Lippincott (Philadelphia, PA), 1985.

Lesley Koplow, Tanya and the Tobo Man: A Story for Children Entering Therapy/Tanya y el hombre Tobo: Una historia para niños que empiezan terapia, Spanish translation by Alexander Contos, Magination Press (New York, NY), 1991.

Gary Soto, The Skirt, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1992.

Eleanora E. Tate, Front Porch Stories at the One-Room School, Bantam (New York, NY), 1992.

Kim L. Siegelson, The Terrible, Wonderful Tellin' at Hog Hammock, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1996.

Gary Soto, Off and Running, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1996.

Debbi Chocolate, The Piano Man, Walker & Company (New York, NY), 1998.

Sharon Shavers Gayle, Escape!: A Story of the Underground Railroad, Soundprints (Norwalk, CT), 1999.

Carole Boston Weatherford, The Sound That Jazz Makes, Walker & Company (New York, NY), 2000.

David "Panama" Francis and Bob Reiser, David Gets His Drum, Marshall Cavendish (New York, NY), 2002.

Jim Haskins, Champion: The Story of Muhammad Ali, Walker & Company (New York, NY), 2002.

Candice Ransom, Liberty Street, Walker & Company (New York, NY), 2003.

Sharon Shavers Gayle, Emma's Escape: A Story of America's Underground Railroad, Soundprints (Norwalk, CT), 2003.

Linda Walvoord, Rosetta, Rosetta, Sit by Me!, Marshall Cavendish (New York, NY), 2004.

Kathleen Krull, Houdini: World's Greatest Mystery Man and Escape King, Walker & Company (New York, NY), 2005.

Charisse K. Richardson, The Real Lucky Charm, Dial Books (New York, NY), 2005.

Angela Johnson, A Sweet Smell of Roses, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2005.

Regina Hanson, A Season for Mangoes, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 2005.

Carole Boston Weatherford, Jesse Owens: The Fastest Man Alive, Walker & Company (New York, NY), 2006.

Hugh Brewster, The Other Mozart: The Life of the Famous Chevalier de Saint-George, Abrams Books (New York, NY), 2007.

Gary Soto, The Skirt, Yearling (New York, NY), 2008.

Carole Boston Weatherford, I, Matthew Henson: Polar Explorer, Walker & Company (New York, NY), 2008.

Carole Boston Weatherford, Racing against the Odds: Wendell Scott, African American Stock Car Champion, Marshall Cavendish (New York, NY), 2008.

Addie K. Boswell, The Rain Stomper, Marshall Cavendish (New York, NY), 2008.

Also illustrator of book covers, including "Encyclopedia Brown" series, "You Be the Jury" series, "Ghost Writers" series, and "Apple Classics" series.

Sidelights

During his career as a freelance illustrator, Eric Velasquez has provided the artwork for more than 300 book covers and book interiors. Growing up in New York City's Spanish Harlem neighborhood, Velasquez was greatly influenced by his grandmother's love of music and his father's love of film, and his mother encouraged his interest in drawing and sketching. "Becoming an artist was a natural choice for me," Velasquez stated on his home page. "I have never thought of being anything else."

Velasquez made his picture-book debut in 1985, serving as the illustrator for Beverley Naidoo's Journey to Jo'burg: A South African Story. He later collaborated with Debbi Chocolate on The Piano Man, a tribute to an African American musician. Velasquez's "subtle characterization of faces gives warmth and individuality to the main characters," observed Booklist reviewer Carolyn Phelan. Carole Boston Weatherford's award-winning The Sound That Jazz Makes traces the evolution of the American art form through the musicians who contributed to its development. The illustrator's "portraits emphasize the dignity and pride of his subjects," remarked a Publishers Weekly contributor. In a self-illustrated title, Grandma's Records, Velasquez recalls a special concert he attended with his grandmother. "Velasquez's touching yet simply told memoir of this tender relationship is lovingly captured in his illustrations," wrote Alicia Eames in School Library Journal.

Angela Johnson's A Sweet Smell of Roses follows two young girls as they join a civil rights march led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. "Velasquez's red-accented pencil illustrations capture the sweep and emotion of the march," Martha V. Parravano stated in Horn Book. Set in Jamaica, Regina Hanson's A Season for Mangoes focuses on a youngster's memories of her late grandmother during an all-night "sit-up," a type of wake. "Rich, naturalistic, full-color oil paintings fill the pages," observed Nancy Palmer in School Library Journal. "They reflect emotions well, succeeding most often in their close-up, almost portrait-like faces."

Velasquez has also illustrated several critically acclaimed biographies. Champion: The Story of Muhammad Ali, a work by Jim Haskins, explores the life of the boxing legend. "Velasquez's lush oils dominate the page in monumental fashion," a Kirkus Reviews critic stated. "They frequently appear as montages or in sequences of

stop-action frames, for a truly cinematic effect." Celebrated illusionist, stunt performer, and escape artist Harry Houdini is the subject of Kathleen Krull's Houdini: World's Greatest Mystery Man and Escape King. In the words of School Library Journal critic Heide Piehler, "Velasquez's impressive framed, posed oil paintings portray the magician's intensity and sense of showmanship." In The Other Mozart: The Life of the Famous Chevalier de Saint-George, Hugh Brewster looks at an accomplished eighteenth-century French composer who was born into slavery in Guadeloupe. According to Booklist reviewer Gillian Engberg, "Velasquez's arresting full-page portraits" for this profile "will captivate many young readers."

Velasquez and Weatherford teamed up again on Jesse Owens: The Fastest Man Alive, a biography of the famed sprinter who won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic Games. The illustrator's "pleasingly grainy pastels easily convey the movement and speed, determination and triumph at the core of Owens's uplifting story," a critic wrote in Publishers Weekly. In I, Matthew Henson: Polar Explorer, Weatherford offers a portrait of the African-American adventurer who journeyed to the North Pole with Robert Peary. The "full-spread pastel illustrations" Velasquez contributes here "use a palette of white, gray, pale blue, and brown to show the vast, icy landscape," remarked a contributor in Kirkus Reviews.

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, February 15, 1998, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Piano Man, p. 1018; September 1, 2005, Ilene Cooper, review of The Real Lucky Charm, p. 119; February 1, 2007, Gillian Engberg, review of The Other Mozart: The Life of the Famous Chevalier de Saint-George, p. 56.

Horn Book, January-February, 2005, Martha V. Parravano, review of A Sweet Smell of Roses, p. 79.

Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2002, review of Champion: The Story of Muhammad Ali, p. 569; March 1, 2005, review of Houdini: World's Greatest Mystery Man and Escape King, p. 289; April 1, 2005, review of A Season for Mangoes, p. 417; December 1, 2006, review of Jesse Owens: Fastest Man Alive, p. 1226; December 15, 2006, review of The Other Mozart, p. 1265; December 1, 2007, review of I, Matthew Henson: Polar Explorer.

Publishers Weekly, November 24, 1997, review of The Piano Man, p. 73; May 15, 2000, review of The Sound That Jazz Makes, p. 115; January 3, 2005, review of A Sweet Smell of Roses, p. 55; January 1, 2007, reviews of The Other Mozart and Jesse Owens, p. 49; January 28, 2008, review of I, Matthew Henson, p. 67.

School Library Journal, July, 2000, Ginny Gustin, review of The Sound That Jazz Makes, p. 99; September, 2001, Alicia Eames, review of Grandma's Records, p. 207; July, 2002, Alicia Eames, review of Champion, p. 136; November, 2004, Tracy Bell, review of Rosetta, Rosetta, Sit by Me!, p. 120; April, 2005, Heide Piehler, review of Houdini, p. 124; May, 2005, Nancy Palmer, review of A Season for Mangoes, p. 84; October, 2005, Mary N. Oluonye, review of The Real Lucky Charm, p. 126; March, 2007, Suzanne Myers Harold, review of Jesse Owens, p. 236; June, 2007, Emily R. Brown, review of The Other Mozart, p. 166; January, 2008, Barbara Auerbach, review of I, Matthew Henson, p. 112.

ONLINE

Eric Velasquez Home Page,http://www.ericvelasquez.com (August 10, 2008).

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