Sleeping in Mexico City

IMAGE OF THE WEEK
Sleeping in Mexico City© Durga Yael Bernhard

Sleeping in Mexico City

This illustration is part of my picture book While You Are Sleeping: A Lift-the-Flap Book of Time Around the WorldThis book was published in 2011.  It came about as a result of a long-ago conversation with an elementary school teacher who told me there were “no good books out there” that teach kids about time zones.

What, no time zone books?  In this global world?  As a multicultural author and illustrator, I immediately saw a niche that needed to be filled – and I knew how to do it.  While You Are Sleeping portrays one moment in time all around the world.  Flaps lift to reveal clocks showing what time it is on each page – and what’s happening on another page, in another country, at the same time.

SLEEPING coverKids get a kick out of this book.  In addition to peeking under flaps, they get to learn about how time zones work – a curious, man-made, intangible invention that shapes our daily lives in so many ways.

I drew heavily on interlibrary loans to research the illustrations for this book.  Alas, children’s books do not pay enough to travel to each location!  Yet there were aspects of these children’s lives that were familiar to me, either from my own travels or my friends’.  With so many books and the internet at my fingertips, I found the resources I needed. This was an opportunity to show how children live in diverse cultures – how we are “all the same, in all different ways”.  I wanted to show activities in children’s lives that are unfamiliar to most children growing up in America: a girl in England milking a goat before school; a boy in Brazil setting out on a fishing boat with his father; a girl in Nigeria carrying fruit on her head; a boy being bathed from a public water pump in India.  The girl pictured above is asleep among late-night city noises, with a lovely statue of the Virgin Mary de Guadalupe watching over her.  I was intrigued by these common Mexican statues, and could imagine what they might mean to a child.   I wanted a soft, cozy feeling to infuse this illustration.  What do you think, did I do it?

While You Are Sleeping (Charlesbridge Publishing, 2011) is available in my webstore.  Signed hardcover copies are $18.95 including shipping.  You can also find it on Amazon, or maybe even at your local library.

Order Sleeping in Mexico City as a POSTER this week, and get a free greeting card (of the same image)!   $10 for the poster and card, shipping included.  Order your poster here!

Wishing you a good week,

D Yael Bernhard

http://dyaelbernhard.com

Author / Illustrator of
JUST LIKE ME, CLIMBING A TREE: Exploring Trees Around the World – new!! 
THE JEWISH EYE 5776/2015 – calendar of art
NEVER SAY A MEAN WORD AGAIN – A Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review;
winner of the Sydney Taylor Award and National Jewish Book Council Award
THE DREIDEL THAT WOULDN’T SPIN – A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah
WHILE YOU ARE SLEEPING – A Children’s Book Council Notable Book
GREEN BIBLE STORIES FOR CHILDREN – Nat’l Green Book Festival Notable Book
A RIDE ON MOTHER’S BACK – An American Bookseller Assoc. Pick of the List
– and more!
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How the Leopard Got its Spots

IMAGE OF THE WEEK
Leopard© DURGA YAEL BERNHARD

How the Leopard Got its Spots

This was a fun illustration.  I was commissioned to create just one image for a school textbook as part of the “Harcourt Anthology Project”, which included the classic African fable of how the leopard got its spots.  The original gouache painting is 17″ wide.

In the story, Hyena is cruel to Tortoise, trapping him up in a tree.  Hyena walks away from poor helpless Tortoise, laughing at him.  Leopard, by contrast, is kind and compassionate, and saves Tortoise from his predicament.  In return, Tortoise carefully paints a beautiful design on Leopard’s coat, making him the most beautiful animal in the jungle.  Hyena sees how beautiful Leopard has become, and is jealous.  He issues a false apology to Tortoise, and asks him to paint his coat, too.  Tortoise complies, working slowly to create a pattern.  But each time he steps back, all the animals laugh harder and harder.  Tortoise has created a blotchy, messy design that makes Hyena the laughing stock of the jungle!  And that is why to this day, Hyena only comes out at night.  But he is still cruel, and laughs at all the other animals.

HyenaAs a book illustrator, I find it easy and refreshing to create a stand-alone illustration.  I only had to paint these animals once.  And truly, I spent so much time rendering the irregular organic shapes of the leopard’s spots – and making them look like they’re part of an animal’s body, with contour – I’m not sure I could have done it twice.  This laughing leopard really brightened my week!  As for Hyena . . . well, he got what he deserved: a bruised ego.

How the Leopard Got Its Spots - full imageOrder How the Leopard Got Its Spots as a POSTER this week, and get a free greeting card (of the same image)!   $10 for the poster and card, shipping included.  Order your poster here!

Wishing you a good week,

D Yael Bernhard

http://dyaelbernhard.com

Author / Illustrator of
JUST LIKE ME, CLIMBING A TREE: Exploring Trees Around the World – new!! 
THE JEWISH EYE 5776/2015 – calendar of art
NEVER SAY A MEAN WORD AGAIN – A Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review;
winner of the Sydney Taylor Award and National Jewish Book Council Award
THE DREIDEL THAT WOULDN’T SPIN – A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah
WHILE YOU ARE SLEEPING – A Children’s Book Council Notable Book
GREEN BIBLE STORIES FOR CHILDREN – Nat’l Green Book Festival Notable Book
A RIDE ON MOTHER’S BACK – An American Bookseller Assoc. Pick of the List
– and more!
Posted in Image of the Week | Leave a comment


IMAGE OF THE WEEK
A Bruised Reed© DURGA YAEL BERNHARD

A Bruised Reed He Shall Not Break

This illustration was one of the more challenging assignments I’ve received.  It depicts a passage from the Book of Isaiah that is dear to Christians and Jews alike.  The prophet Isaiah, possibly a composite of two historical figures, lived in the sixth century BCE, in the time of the Jewish exile in Babylon which followed the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem in 586BCE.  Isaiah was thought to be an educated man who wrote eloquently and poetically.  Certainly his writing has had a big impact on Judeo-Christian history.  Isaiah’s words are full of God’s wrath as well as a striking sense of justice, and seemed to reach into the future, resonating with what would later become the Christian prophecy of the coming of the messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.

As a professional illustrator working for a religious publisher, I am challenged to create images that ring true.  In order to serve my viewers, I seek what is universally human.  That’s not hard to find in the teachings of Isaiah.  Merely the beauty of the language is moving to anyone with a receptive ear:

“. . . My chosen one, in whom I delight,
I have put My spirit upon him,
He shall teach the true way to the nations.
. . . He shall not break even a bruised reed,
Or snuff out even a dim wick.
He shall bring forth the new way.
. . . Thus says the Eternal, the One who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who made the earth and all that grows in it,
who gives breath to its people and spirit to all who walk upon it.”

The commentary on this passage in my copy of the Hebrew Bible suggests that in serving life, we humans are charged with a special task: to proceed so gracefully that we will not not upset even fragile and unstable things.  While a reed might not mean much to us today, in ancient times it was a symbol of weakness or vulnerability, as a reed is easily bent or broken.  Today we might think of a reed as a symbol of the fragile ecosystems that we must tread upon with caution and grace, in order not to destroy our planet.  I took this a step further and painted an infant, a candle flame, and a seedling as symbols of that which must be protected and cherished.  Who is the protector?  As an artist, I cannot depict God, but I can suggest an intelligence and intention that manifests through human hands.  It is the question of how we do this that continues to matter today – just as it did in the time of Isaiah.

Order A Bruised Reed as a POSTER this week, and get a free greeting card (of the same image)!   $10 for the poster and card, shipping included.  Order your poster here!

Wishing you a good week,

D Yael Bernhard

http://dyaelbernhard.com

Author / Illustrator of
JUST LIKE ME, CLIMBING A TREE: Exploring Trees Around the World – new!! 
THE JEWISH EYE 5776/2015 – calendar of art
NEVER SAY A MEAN WORD AGAIN – A Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review;
winner of the Sydney Taylor Award and National Jewish Book Council Award
THE DREIDEL THAT WOULDN’T SPIN – A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah
WHILE YOU ARE SLEEPING – A Children’s Book Council Notable Book
GREEN BIBLE STORIES FOR CHILDREN – Nat’l Green Book Festival Notable Book
A RIDE ON MOTHER’S BACK – An American Bookseller Assoc. Pick of the List
– and more!
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