Living in the Bahamas when I was growing up enriched my life in many dramatic ways. Ever since my first visit as a kid, a love for island life has resided in my soul. A large part of my affinity for the islands has to do with the intensity of the colors of the land and sea, and the pervasive lushness, especially on tropical islands (or in the case of the Bahamas, sub-tropical).
When we first moved there, my family met a Bahamian artist named Amos Ferguson. My mother bought many of his enchanting paintings, and they hung all over our house. His simple images evoked the flavor and beauty of the islands, filtered through his unique point of view. I'm lucky to have two of Amos Ferguson's paintings. His work, and the vibrant palette of the sub-tropics, made an indelible impression on me, and have influenced my own approach to painting.
Several years ago, someone in my family visited a Caribbean island and came back with some paintings and prints by an artist named Frane Lessac. I got a reproduction of a carnival scene, which reminded me of the Junkanoo Festival in the Bahamas. It hangs on my son's wall today.
That's why it astonishes me it was only last summer that I came across Frane Lessac's picture book, My Little Island (Harper Collins Publishers, 1984). All this time, I didn't realize she is an American illustrator of children's books, who has lived in different countries, capturing the essence of life in places like the Caribbean. The carnival-like image I know so well, is on page 37 of My Little Island. I was thrilled to learn more about Lessac and her work.
What children's books have you discovered lately?
Coming up - November 1st, YA author Joanna Philbin makes a guest appearance to coincide with the launch of the fourth book in her series, The Daughters. Joanna promises to share some secrets about the motivation behind her writing. We'll be giving away a signed copy of her new book, The Daughters Join the Party.