Elisa Chavarri is the illustrator of the Pura Belpré Honor book Sharuko: El Arqueólogo Peruano Julio C. Tello / Peruvian Archaeologist Julio C. Tello by Monica Brown, as well as many other picture books for children. In illustrating this bilingual biography, she drew on her own roots in Lima, Peru. Elisa loves creating work that promotes inclusiveness and helps kids from all different backgrounds feel special. She lives in Michigan with her husband and two children.
Elisa Chavarri will be one of the featured authors at the Los Angeles Libros Festival, a free bilingual book festival for the whole family. L.A. Libros Fest will be streamed live on Facebook and YouTube on Friday, September 24 from 9 a.m. to 12 noon and Saturday, September 25 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Our theme this year is Imagine a Better World. How do you think your books and stories help us accomplish this?
My hope is that my illustrations help children see themselves in compassionate ways, and ways that they can be proud of. I hope they also make them laugh and inspire curiosity and a love of reading. All things which ultimately I believe contribute to a better world.
What are some of the things you do to bring to life the world you’ve imagined?
I draw a lot of inspiration from my emotions and those of the people around me to try and make my characters feel real. I use the colors that inspire me, be they digital or paints.
What stories inspired you as a young reader?
So many different stories! I always loved the classic fairy tales, also Greek Mythology! As I grew a little older I really enjoyed Roald Dahl’s books.
If your book was turned into a movie/series, who would you cast?
I’d say give somebody new a shot, and if it’s for an indigenous character cast an indigenous actor.
What advice would you give to young writers?
Practice a lot, have fun with it, don’t get discouraged, it can take time and lots and lots of mistakes, I speak from experience! ;)
How did you feel the first time your work was published? How was your publishing journey?
It was extremely exciting, when I got my first copy you would have thought I was looking at the most fascinating book in the world. With my first book, I got lucky, I had sent out samples to the publisher (a small publisher) and their art director liked my work and hired me for a book.
"My hope is that my illustrations help children see themselves in compassionate ways, and ways that they can be proud of."
What are the challenges of writing for young readers?
To remember to try to see things from their perspective, but also not “talk down to” because kids are really smart.
What was your experience like getting your book translated into Spanish or English?
I’ve been lucky to do two books that are both English and Spanish in the same copy. I think that is fantastic, especially since I try to find Spanish books for my own children, to have both translations in a book is wonderful. Ultimately it’s up to the publishers, when I heard My Little Golden Book About Frida Kahlo would be released in Spanish as well I was beyond excited!
How do you think libraries make our world a better place?
They hold worlds and make them available to everyone! They foster knowledge and understanding, they inspire, they’re truly a beautiful thing.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on a couple of books in tandem, one is called Abuela’s Super Capa by Ana Siqueira and it is very very sweet and touching, I’m lucky to illustrate it. The other is also a Hispanic heroine but I’m not sure how much I can reveal about it! I’m also working on a Racecar puzzle for a toy company and working with a ballet company to help develop a family-friendly ballet by a Latina writer!
Books by Elisa Chavarri
Elisa Chavarri at L.A. Libros Fest