David Díaz is an American illustrator of children's books. In 1995, he won the Caldecott Medal for U.S. picture book illustration recognizing 'Smoky Night' by Eve Bunting. The Caldecott Medal recognizes the preceding year's "most distinguished American picture book for children". The Caldecott and Newbery Medals are the most prestigious American children's book awards.
Ironically, David's parents were concerned that his love for art would lead to struggle with the uncertainty of being an artist. Happily, that concern proved unfounded, as David's talents as an artist are now known worldwide. He has also won the 2009 Parents' Choice Award for 'Ocean's Child', and has been a runner-up for the Pura Belpré Award three different times. The Pura Belpré Award is a recognition presented to a writer and illustrator whose work best portrays the Latino cultural experience in a work of literature for children or youth.
David is a board member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). SCBWI "is the only professional organization specifically for those individuals writing and illustrating for children and young adults in the fields of children’s literature, magazines, film, television, and multimedia. "
For what audience do you illustrate?
I'm currently working on my 50th book, so I think I've illustrated for every genre and age category, from Easy Reader up through Young Adult. I don't illustrate TO a particular genre. I respond to the content of the manuscript, rather than to the book genre.
What's going on lately for you?
A few months ago, I received the Pura Belpré Award for illustrating 'Martín de Porres: The Rose in the Desert', illustrated by David Diaz, written by Gary D. Schmidt. Gary is an American children's writer of nonfiction books and young adult novels, including two Newbery Honor books and one Printz Honor award.
Henry: Congratulations! Wow, Diaz AND Schmidt. That's like literary peanut butter and chocolate! Wikipedia helpfully provides, "Saint Martin de Porres was a lay brother of the Dominican Order who was beatified in 1837 by Pope Gregory XVI and canonized in 1962 by Pope John XXIII. He is the patron saint of mixed-race people and all those seeking interracial harmony."
What aspect of illustrating do you find most challenging?
For me, the most challenging aspect of illustrating a picture book is the process I go through between receiving the manuscript and handing in the first round of drawings for the entire book. So much about how the book will be illustrated is decided in that early phase.
Click to read the full interview at Henry Herz's blog on fantasy and science fiction books for kids.