Growing an Artist: The Story of a Landscaper and His Son (Hardcover)
May/June 2022 Kids Indie Next List
“A beautifully illustrated story by John Parra on his inspiration to become an artist. This tender rendering of his landscape architect father’s work brings simplicity, joy in doing, and a passion for plants to a new level. Exquisite!”
— Maureen Palacios, Once Upon a Time, Montrose, CA
A beautifully illustrated story of artist John Parra and his inspiration in becoming an artist. Seldom seen in literature, Parra’s tender and heartfelt rendering of his landscape architect father’s work brings simplicity, joy in doing and a passion for plants to a new level. Exquisite!
— From Staff Picks by Maureen
Growth is key in plants, kids, and families that is celebrated and cherished in this moving picture book.
(Picture Book, ages 4+)
— From Staff Picks by Jessica
A Kirkus Reviews Best Picture Book of the Year
From award-winning artist John Parra comes a “heartwarming family story that underscores the value of creativity, passion, and hard work” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) that is “a love letter to sons and their fathers” (BookPage, starred review) based on his childhood experience.
Today is a big day—the first time Juanito gets to help his papi on the job as a landscape architect! Throughout the day, Juanito sketches anything that catches his eye: a nest full of baby birds, a nursery with row upon row of plants and flowers, and more. Father and son travel from house to house, pruning, weeding, mowing, and turning overgrown and chaotic yards into beautiful spaces.
A few of the clients don’t appreciate Papi’s hard work, like Juanito’s classmate who pretends not to see him. But Papi always feels pride in owning his own business and in a job well done. And at the end of the day, Juanito may get the chance to turn his artistic eye toward landscape design—just like his papi.
John Parra’s illustrations for Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos, written by Monica Brown, earned the book a New York Times Best Illustrated Book designation. He also illustrated Green Is a Chile Pepper: A Book of Colors by Roseanne Thong, which received a Pura Belpré Honor and the Américas Book Award: Commended; Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans by Phil Bildner, which won the Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Illustration and was a Bank Street Best Book of the year; and Hey, Wall, by Susan Verde, which School Library Journal called “a must-purchase” in a starred review. Learn more at JohnParraArt.com.
— School Library Journal, *STARRED REVIEW*
*Sincere and lively with illustrative detail, Parra’s story reveals how his personal sense of creativity and esteem for hard work grew during his childhood experiences with his papi’s landscape company.....As he readily sketches and helps Papi with landscape work, readers meet the role models in Juanito’s childhood world—not just Papi but also long-time employee, Javier, from Mexico. This story offers teachable moments about the different but equally important roles that create a thriving community.... In an author’s note, Parra delves deeper his father’s life story. VERDICT In a reflective nod to his youthful days spent with his father, Parra presents a balanced, intricate illustrative style to convey his earnest appreciation for hard work, lessons, and creative influence.
— School Library Journal, *STARRED REVIEW*
*Parra incorporates Spanish words and phrases into the text and touches on the importance of Latin American migrant workers to the landscaping industry. It’s an underappreciated job that requires creativity and demanding physical labor.... Honoring the great pride that Parra’s father took in his landscaping work, Parra’s characteristically vibrant and finely detailed acrylic illustrations in Growing an Artist depict people and plants with equal affection and respect. The way that Papi points out natural beauties to his artistic young son is tender and moving, and a scene in which he gently lifts a branch to reveal a hidden bird’s nest is especially lovely. Growing an Artist is a love letter to sons and their fathers, to work done with one’s hands and to making the world more beautiful, no matter what tools are used to do so.
— BookPage, *STARRED REVIEW*
*Parra’s autobiographical picture book reflects on how working in his father’s landscaping business nurtured his identity as an artist.... Juanito’s sketch pad is close by throughout, and he learns that everything he experiences feeds his imagination: his proudly entrepreneurial father, an overgrown yard, a nest of baby birds, and even a classmate’s dismissal all become driving forces “to tell the stories of hardworking, passionate people who make the world more beautiful.” An author’s note concludes.
— Pubishers Weekly, *STARRED REVIEW*
*A young artist helps his father on the job....In this autobiographical tale, author/illustrator Parra recounts his childhood experience of tagging along to work with his papi, an independent landscape contractor, for the first time. TJohn’s father is from Mexico, and characters are depicted with skin tones ranging from tan to dark brown.
— Kirkus Reviews, *STARRED REVIEW*