¡Mil Gracias!: The Art and Illustration of John Parra

Central Library
Additional Location
Youth Wing

This Winter-Spring season, Central Library’s youth wing exhibits the work of illustrator John Parra. Parra’s artwork celebrates the resplendent fabric of Latino culture, with stories about its important heroes (Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos), its visual traditions of mural-making and artisanal craft, its food (Round is a Tortilla), and the beauty of the Spanish language. Several of his books for children are bilingual Spanish-English. His imaginative parables transport us to small villages (Waiting for the Biblioburro), family scenes (Gracias and Thanks) and to just around the corner, in our local community (Hey Wall: A Story of Art and Community). Over forty original artworks from these books and his newest title, Little Libraries, Big Heroes, are displayed. ¡Mil Gracias! Imparts many lessons through Parra’s beautiful illustrations, most notably the importance of learning about each other and of gratitude.

About the Illustrator

John Parra is an award-winning illustrator, best known for his illustrated Latino themed children’s books, for which he has received many awards and honors including: The American Library Association’s: Pura Belpré Honors, The Christopher’s Award, and the Golden Kite Award from The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

John’s artistic path began growing up in Santa Barbara, California. He spent his days exploring and drawing. His Hispanic roots and heritage provided a rich cultural palette of inspiring imagery and customs. Mexican murals, surrealism, outsider folk art, regional cuisine, music & dance costumes are all visual influences seen in his work. John perused art graduating from the prestigious Art Center College of Design. Now based in Queens NY, with his wife Maria, John continues working in his studio.

He received his second Golden Kite Award from SCBWI for the picture book, Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans. In 2015 he was invited by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to present a special event and workshop about his career in art and illustration. His artwork in the book, Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos, was selected as one of the New York Times/NY Public Library’s: Best Illustrated Children's Book of 2017. John’s designs can be seen at the U.S. Post Office on six Forever Stamps titled Delicioso, with illustrated images celebrating Latino food cuisine. John’s most recent book, Little Libraries, Big Heroes, with author Miranda Paul, was released this past Fall, telling the inspiring story of the Little Free Library organization and the community heroes who support it.

He has taught art at the Carnegie Art Museum in Oxnard, CA and regularly speaks as a visiting artist at schools and literary conferences across the country, advocating art and reading education.

To learn more visit: https://www.johnparraart.com/




Preview the Exhibit