Tag Archives: spanish language picture books

their picture book life: ISOL + a giveaway from la librería!

I’m starting another series! It’s called “THEIR PICTURE BOOK LIFE” in which I’ll periodically showcase one picture book creator and her contribution to the form. I’m excited!


First up, Argentinian author/illustrator, ISOL (aka Marisol Misenta). She won the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2013 (which has just been awarded this year to Barbro Lindgren).



It’s clear from ISOL’s books that she possesses a unique, creative mind as both artist and storyteller—bizarre, wonderful, edgy. And her books have that special thing I love: they appeal to anyone of any age.

“I don’t think about ages…

my wish is that you can

enjoy the book even if you [are] 

two or twenty or sixty.”

—Isol from this interview.


Take  It’s Useful to Have a Duck (Tener Un Patito es Útil) for example. It’s a board book. You know, a super simple book for the youngest little readers and hearers of stories. But it’s so well-exectued and so layered and smart that I found myself amazed and delighted when reading it.



ISOL never underestimates her audience and this accordion style book told from two different perspectives—boy and duck—is basically genius. When the boy thinks the duck is giving him kisses, the duck thinks the boy is waxing his beak.



“The skillful way that Isol handles these subtexts allows her books to be read on mulitple levels. The child is constantly discovering something new, while the adult is rewarded on a perhaps more profound psychological level.

Ulla Rhedin, here.


ISOL’S latest is Nocturne: Dream Recipes (Nocturno) in 2011.

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It’s incredible. Each spread is a picture of a possible dream. And when you turn out the light, the dream, the picture, glows in the dark. GLOWS IN THE DARK!! There’s even one children can make themselves, “the drawn dream.”

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Thanks to Groundwood Books for Nocturne images! 



I must also mention Beautiful Griselda (La Bella Griselda, 2011), the book that introduced me to ISOL’s work. It’s so like a traditional fairy tale—it’s strange, dark, and even gruesome, with an ending to puzzle over. And it’s wonderful.


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“Princess Griselda was so beautiful that almost everyone she met fell

head over heels in love with her.”


Literally, men’s heads fell off when they saw Griselda. Their heads fell off! The book deals with vanity and being loved versus being feared.

MEZCLA salon new   doggy-slippers-poems

Doggy Slippers is a series of poems by Jorge Lujan developed with the contributions of Latin American children aged 5 to 13 talking about their pets. (ISOL and Lujan have collaborated on two books so far.)


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The poems are so very childlike and delightful and rich. And ISOL’s illustrations really shine with her characteristic bold shapes, hand drawn lines that can’t be contained, and her own childlike quality that manages to convey so much emotion. Darkness, then light, confusion, then comfort.


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Not to mention this book is completely hilarious.

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 “My bunny understands me. 

When I’m sad she can tell right away.

And though she walks on four feet

and she likes to bite,

she’s nicer than the nicest people.”

What strikes me most about ISOL’S work is duality and things in opposition. Take the dual perspectives in It’s Useful to Have a Duck. The dark and light of Nocturne. In Petit, the Monster, the opposition of good and bad and the way ISOL plays with and morphs them. Her illustration style as well: bold shapes and intricate patterns with her hand drawn and coloring out of the lines quality—simple and childlike while at the same time sophisticated.



How cool is she? Wouldn’t you know it, she’s not just a writer, illustrator, and designer, she’s a singer too. ISOL’S about to release release a new album with her band SIMA called “Novela gráfica.” 


A big shout out has to go to Groundwood for publishing ISOL’s work in English and to Elisa Amado for translating it.


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Now, on to LA Librería and a wonderful giveaway!


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Based here in Southern California and providing books for kids in Spanish,  LA Librería is a treasure. They host events and sell the most beautiful books from Latin America and Spain.


I first learned of them at their LA Times Festival of Books booth and it was those very beautiful books that drew me in. Their books are perfect for Spanish speakers and/or Spanish learners. For parents of either. For bilingual teachers of bilingual students. For anyone who appreciates wonderfully crafted books.


Chiara & Celene are giving away 4 Spanish language books by ISOL to one reader of This Picture Book Life for our very first giveaway! (It’s been hard for me to contain my excitement while cooking this up!)


The books: Intercambio Cultural (2000, paperback), Secreto de Familia (2003, paperback), Regalo Sorpresa (Los Primerisimos) (2010, paperback), and La Bella Griselda (2010, hardcover).

Screen Shot 2014-05-26 at 11.19.14 AM Here’s how to enter the giveaway:

1.) Like LA librería on Facebook here.

2.) Like This Picture Book Life on Facebook here.

3.) Leave a comment on this post that says who you’d like to share an ISOL book with.


I’ll contact the randomly chosen winner by email for your mailing address!


(Enter until Friday, May 30th at midnight; open to U.S. residents only—sorry about that international readers!)