Lulu Delacre is a writer and illustrator of many children's books, including How Far Do You Love Me?, Arroz con leche: Popular Songs and Rhymes from Latin America, and The Storyteller's Candle: La velita de los cuentos. She is based in the Washington, D.C., area.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for your most recent book, How Far Do You Love Me?
A: It was a cumulative process. On a walk around the neighborhood I started thinking of my daughters and how I love them. Memories of a game we used to play when they were little rushed back to me. I started composing the Spanish-language poem in my head. I drew inspiration from the visual images of the many trips I’ve taken throughout the years that are stored in my brain.
Q: You've written for different age groups. Do you have a preference?
A: I once said that I would only write books I could also illustrate, meaning picture books. That is no longer the case. I have grown as a writer, developing an urge to work on projects that challenge me and further my learning process. Since I love variety I like to develop a picture book as much as I like to create a collection of stories for teens.
Q: As an author and illustrator, do you usually come up with the ideas for the text or the pictures first, or do they both emerge together?
A: It depends on the project. If I envision a character-driven picture book, I'll first create the characters and draw them in as many situations as possible until the plot of a story emerges. Otherwise, the words come first.
Q: You write on your website, "I dreamed of creating books inspired by my heritage, books that celebrate the rich folklore and colorful traditions I was nurtured with as a child, books in English and in Spanish." How have you been able to realize that dream?
A: I have created collections of Latino nursery rhymes and songs, of Latino myths and legends, of original stories that highlight particular Latino traditions and foods.
My book Arroz con Leche: Popular Songs and Rhymes from Latin America has been in print 25 years! It is a book that young Latinas grew up with and are now passing on to their own babies. Wouldn’t that be a measure of achieving the dream?
That said, the beauty of such an encompassing goal is that one can keep working at it throughout the years. And as long as ideas come to me and I am able, I will keep at it.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I am working on two projects. One is a picture book that is part Spanish alphabet; part a lyrical bilingual description of the cloud forests; and part a brief telling of the discovery of the Olinguito, the new species of mammal recently announced by the Smithsonian Institution.
The other project is a collection of stories about young Latinos in América for middle grade students. Each story portrays a universal coming-of-age experience in the context of current events that affect Latino youth in the United States.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: I am involved in a wonderful initiative with a team at CentroNía, a charter school in Washington, D.C., in order to develop small collectives of pregnant, low-income, Spanish-speaking Latinas with the aim of instilling literacy behaviors in these mothers drawing from the wealth of their Latino culture and language heritage.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb
--Interview with Deborah Kalb