Personal Born April 16, 1959, in Jersey City, NJ; son of Miriam Casilla; married Carmen Torres (a real estate adjuster), May 1, 1982; children: Robert, Jr., Emily. Ethnicity: "Puerto Rican heritage." Education: School of Visual Arts, B.F.A., 1982. Religion: Christian. Hobbies and other interests: Family, museums, fine art, running, baseball, movies. Addresses Home—New Fairfield, CT. Home and office—5 Erin Dr., New Fairfield, CT 06812. Agent—Libby Ford Artist Representative, 320 E. 57th St., Ste. 10B, New York, NY 10022. E-mail—robert@robertcasilla.com. Career Freelance illustrator, 1983—. Designer of postage stamps for Sierra Leone, Federated States of Micron¬ esia, and Marshall Islands. Teacher of middle-school through high school art at Dolan Art Academy/Chil¬ dren's Aid Society. Presenter at schools. Exhibitions: Work included in exhibitions of Society of Illustrators, New York, NY. Member Society of Illustrators, Society of Children's Book Writ¬ ers and Illustrators, Connecticut Watercolor Society. Awards, Honors Washington Irving Children's Book Choice Award for Illustration, 1996, Notable Book selection, American Library Association, and Pick of the List selection, Robert Casilla (Reproduced by pennission.) American Booksellers Association, both for The Little Painter of Sabana Grande; Children's Choice designa¬ tion, 2000; Smithsonian magazine Notable Book desig¬ nation, 2002; Cooperative Children's Book Center Choice designation, 2003; Pura Belpré Illustrator Award Honor Book designation, 2004. Blustrator David A. Adler, Martin Luther King, Jr.: Free at Last, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1986. Elizabeth Howard, The Train to Lulu's, Bradbury Press (New York, NY), 1988. Myra Cohn Livingston, Poems for Fathers, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1989. David A. Adler, Jackie Robinson: He Was the First, Holi¬ day House (New York, NY), 1989. David A. Adler, A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr., Holiday House (New York, NY), 1989. Eileen Roe, Con mi hermano/With My Brother, Bradbury Press (New York, NY), 1991. David A. Adler, A Picture Book of Eleanor Roosevelt, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1991. David A. Adler, A Picture Book of John F. Kennedy, Holi¬ day House (New York, NY), 1991. David A. Adler, A Picture Book of Simón Bolívar, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1992. David A. Adler, A Picture Book of Jesse Owens, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1992. Patricia Murkin, The Little Painter of Sabana Grande, Bradbury Press (New York, NY), 1993. David A. Adler, A Picture Book of Rosa Parks, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1993. Gary Soto, The Pool Party, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 1993. David A. Adler, A Picture Book of Jackie Robinson, Holi¬ day House (New York, NY), 1994. Jonelle Toriseva, Rodeo Day, Bradbury Press (New York, NY), 1994. Gary Soto, Boys at Work, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 1995. Jane Q. Saxton, reteller, The Good Samaritan, Time-Life for Children (Alexandria, VA), 1996. Natasha Wing, Jalapeño Bagels, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1996. David A. Adler, A Picture Book of Thurgood Marshall, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1997. Jo Harper, The Legend of Mexicatl, Turtle Books (New York, NY), 1998. John Micklos, Jr., Daddy Poems, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 2000. L. King Pérez, First Day in Grapes, Lee & Low (New York, NY), 2002. Carolyn Marsden, Mama Had to Work on Christmas, Vi¬ king (New York, NY), 2003. Jane Medina, The Dream on Blanca's Wall/El sueño en la pared de Blanca: Poems in English and Spanish, Wordsong (Honesdale, PA), 2004. Gary Hines, Midnight Forests: A Story of Gifford Pinchot and Our National Forests, Boyds Mills Press (Hones¬ dale, PA), 2005. April Jones Prince, Jackie Robinson: He Led the Way, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 2008. Anne C. Bromley, The Lunch Thief, Tilbury House Pub¬ lishers (Gardiner, ME), 2009. Francine Poppo Rich, Larry Bird: The Boy from French Lick, Blue Marlin Publications, 2009. Contributor of illustrations to the New York Times, Reader's Digest and Highlights for Children. Works illustrated by Casilla have been translated into Spanish. Sidelights Robert Casilla is an award-winning illustrator of chil¬ dren's books who is known for the warmth and detail he brings to his work. Using watercolors, line drawings, and pastels, Casilla creates realistic renderings that crit¬ ics consider especially appropriate for the many picture- book biographies he has illustrated for author David A. Adler. Raised by parents born in Puerto Rico, the illus¬ trator brings to his work a multicultural perspective that has enhanced books such as The Pool Party and Boys at Work, both by noted author Gary Soto, as well as Jo Harper's The Legend of Mexicatl, which tells the story of a boy chosen by the Great Spirit to lead his people out of the desert and into the region now known as Mexico. Using watercolors in earthy shades of gold, rust, and brown, Casilla's illustrations for The Legend of Mexicatl (published simultaneously in Spanish as La leyenda de Mexicatl) "complement the text perfectly," according to School Library Journal reviewer Monica Scheliga Carnesi, "infusing the story with both realism and magic." Casilla has collaborated with Adler on several illus¬ trated biographies of a number of men and women who have excelled at their field and made important contri¬ butions to society as well. Athlete Jackie Robinson joins civil rights advocates Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thur¬ good Marshall and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, in a se¬ ries of books that a Publishers Weekly contributor praised as "a highly effective . . . way to introduce the life and legacy of important Americans" to pre-readers. In each book, Casilla creates full-page watercolor paint¬ ings representing significant events from the subject's life, giving special attention to portraits and period de¬ tails. Praising A Picture Book of Thurgood Marshall in School Library Journal, Margaret Bush noted that the author and illustrator work together to "offer a succinct, visually handsome presentation of the youth and the ca¬ reer highlights of the history-making Marshall." The F^ " \ / i á^i Г ? ^\ I a \ ^. f ■ ! ι:; y Æ Casilla captures the charisma of a beloved sports hero in his work for April Jones Prince's picture book Jackie Robinson: He Led the Way. (Illustration copyright © 2008 by Robert Casilla. All rights reserved. Reproduced by per¬ mission of Grosset & Dunlap, a division of Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers.) life of the Alabama-born woman who sparked the civil- rights movement of the twentieth century is depicted in A Picture Book of Rosa Parks. Here Casilla uses "dra¬ matic color" in illustrations that reveal the historic back¬ drop to Parks' life—from Ku Klux Klan rallies lit by flaming torches to inspiring speeches by Dr. King—and include intimate portraits of Parks that "capture the or¬ dinary person who made a difference," in the words of Booklist contributor Hazel Rochman. Poems reflecting the special relationship between chil¬ dren and their fathers are the center of Daddy Poems, edited by John Micklos, Jr. In creating the illustrations for this poetry collection, Casilla used his own two children as models. The illustrator depicts children as they "dance, snuggle, and rest across the warmly illus¬ trated pages," remarked Jeanie Burnett in her Child¬ hood Education review. Praising the collection of twenty poems as a wonderful way to reinforce the many different relationships children may have with a father, School Library Journal reviewer Nina Lindsay com¬ mended in particular Casilla's "realistic paintings of families of diverse backgrounds." Another verse collec¬ tion, Jane Medina's bilingual The Dream on Blanca's Wall/El sueño en la pared de Blanca: Poems in English and Spanish, was dubbed "a winner" by a Kirkus Re¬ views writer on the strength of Casilla's "lifelike and in¬ viting" drawings. The life of a migrant farmworker family is the focus of L. King Perez's picture book First Day in Grapes, an¬ other book featuring Casilla's art. The story follows Chico as he begins third grade in a new school where he knows no one and where he will only stay until the grape harvest is complete and his family moves on to the next job. Although an initially unhappy Chico pre¬ pares to be hounded by schoolyard bullies and given homework he is unable to complete, he discovers that he has a skill with math due to his work in the fields and returns home from his first day confident and ex¬ cited about the school year to come. Casilla's colored pencil-and-watercolor illustrations "excel in conveying Chico's emotions through facial expressions," noted a Kirkus Reviews critic, while in School Library Journal, Rosalyn Pierini complimented the illustrator's work for adding "warmth and color to this portrait of life in rural California." In his work for Carolyn Marsden's elementary-grade chapter book Mama Had to Work on Christmas, Casilla captures the warmth of a Mexican migrant farmworker family's holiday season in "moving, realistic" drawings that "bring home the painful truth about class differ¬ ences," according to Booklist reviewer Hazel Rochman. Midnight Forests: A Story of Gifford Pinchot and Our National Forests, a picture-book biography about the nineteenth-century forester who helped President The¬ odore Roosevelt establish America's national forest sys¬ tem, pairs Casilla's earth-toned watercolor art with a text by Gary Hines. In Booklist Carolyn Phelan praised the artist's "dignified pencil-and-watercolor" illustra- tions, and Julie Leibach wrote in her Audubon review that the artist's "nostalgic" images recall the turn of the twentieth century, a time in which "natural resources seemed limitless and conservation was a strange new idea." In addition to illustrating children's books, Casilla also works with clients as a professional artist, and he has created art for magazines and even designed a postage stamp. He lives and works in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, with his wife, Carmen, and his children Emily and Robert, Jr. When not working in his studio, Casilla enjoys spending time with young people and sharing what he does for a living; he visits schools and explains to students how the book illustration process works, from reading the manuscript and meeting with the au¬ thor through "thumbnail" sketches, finished drawings, and final watercolor paintings. Casilla once commented: "When I illustrate biogra¬ phies, I try to learn as much as possible about the per¬ son I am illustrating so when I am working on the art, I feel I know the person very well. I find great rewards and satisfaction in illustrating for children. I hope to be able to help kids learn and grow and enjoy reading." Biographical and Critical Sources PERIODICALS Audubon, March-April, 2007, Julie Leibach, review of re¬ view of Midnight Forests: A Story of Gifford Pinchot and Our National Forests, p. 133. Booklist, March 1, 1993, Julie Corsaro, review of The Little Painter of Sabana Grande, p. 1237; October 15, 1993, Hazel Rochman, review of A Picture Book of Rosa Parks, p. 444; June 1, 1996, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Jalapeño Bagels, p. 1737; November 15, 1997, Carolyn Phelan, review of A Picture Book of Thurgood Marshall, p. 552; November 15, 1998, Isa¬ bel Schon, review of La leyenda de Mexicatl, p. 599; November 15, 2002, Linda Perkins, review of First Day in Grapes, p. 612; September 1, 2003, Hazel Rochman, review of Mama Had to Work on Christ¬ mas, p. 133; May 15, 2005, Carolyn Phelan, review of Midnight Forests, p. 1655. Childhood Education, winter, 2000, Jeanie Burnett, review of Daddy Poems, p. 107. Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2002, review of First Day in Grapes, p. 1477; November 1, 2003, review oí Mama Had to Work on Christmas, p. 1318; April 1, 2004, re¬ view of The Dream on Blanca's Wall/El sueño en la pared de Blanca: Poems in English and Spanish, p. 334. Publishers Weekly, November 24, 1989, review of A Pic¬ ture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr., p. 71; February 15, 1993, review of The Little Painter of Sabana Grande, p. 237; September 22, 2003, review of Mama Had to Work on Christmas, p. 72. School Library Journal, May, 1988, Jeanette Lambert, re¬ view of The Train to Lulu's, p. 84; November, 1994, Charlene Strickland, review of Rodeo Day, p. 92; De¬ cember, 1994, Tom S. Hurburt, review of A Picture Book of Jackie Robinson, p. 94; July, 1996, Beth Tegart, review of Jalapeño Bagels, p. 75; January, 1998, Margaret Bush, review of A Picture Book of Thurgood Marshall, p. 96; May, 1998, Monica Sche¬ liga Carnesi, review of La leyenda de Mexicatl, p. 161; October, 2002, Nina Lindsay, review of Daddy Poems, and Rosalyn Pierini, review of First Day in Grapes, p. 125; September 22, 2003, review of Mama Had to Work on Christmas, p. 72; April, 2005, Kathy Piehl, review of Midnight Forests, p. 123. ONLINE Author-Illustrator Source, http://author-illustr-source.com/ (June 11, 2003), "Robert Casilla, Illustrator." Robert Casilla Home Page, http://robertcasilla.com (Janu¬ ary 10, 2010). Robert Casilla Fine Arts Web site, http://www.robcasilla fineart.com (December 29, 2009). * * *