When we were kids, we considered ourselves grown-up when we started reading books without pictures. Strangely, it’s now that I’m entering my late twenties that I’m beginning to appreciate illustrated books and graphic novels. I rediscovered my passion for comics when I found my high school X-Men collection, and I’m branching out to reading local materials, manga, and children’s books.
My latest discoveries in children’s books are the works of Mike Curato and Isabel Roxas, two Filipino illustrators who are now based in the US. National Book Store invited the two to meet friends and fans, and I was lucky enough to meet them when they were here.
Curato is the author and illustrator of Little Elliot, a collection of storybooks following the adventures of a polka-dotted elephant. Its debut title Little Elliot, Big City was released in 2014 and has won several awards and been translated into over 10 languages. Its fourth book, Little Elliott, Fall Friends, was recently released.
Apart from his Little Elliott collection, Curato is also the illustrator of JJ Austrian’s Worm Loves Worm, a romantic story that celebrates love in all forms; and Margarita Engle’s All the Way to Havana, a celebration of Cuban spirit.
I was able to have a short chat with Curato before the talk and I’ll be sharing what I learned from him in the next few days!
Like Curato, Roxas illustrates storybooks, including Samantha Berger’s Boo La La Witch Spa, about a witches’ spa; Alison McGhee’s The Case of the Missing Donut, where a sheriff goes on a mission to search for a missing donut; and May Tobias-Papa’s Araw sa Palengke, an award-winning book about a little girl who joins her mother go to the market.
During their talk, the two read excerpts from some of their works. Curato read the touching Little Elliott, Big Family, while Roxas read the hilarious Let Me Finish by Minh Le, allowing us to read along with her. They also shared their illustrating process. Curato delves into research to make his drawings historically accurate, while Roxas uses her sculpting background to create characters in clay and resin.
Their works are available in National Book Store branches nationwide. Join the conversation on social media by using the hashtag #MikeandIsabelinPH.