Guest Feature / John Parra

John Parra–What Was on His . . .

John Parra 2

John Parra

In honor of the Golden Kite Awards and the Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrators upcoming celebration of the winners, I’m thrilled to have John Parra as our guest this week! John won the prize for his incredible illustrations for Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans, a heartwarming and inspiring story about a real-life New Orleans hero. 

If you are new to John’s work, make no mistake, the Golden Kite is only John’s most recent prize. John has won a string of awards, including the American Library Association’s prestigious Pura Belpré Honor’s Award. In addition to illustration, John works as a fine artist, designer, and educator, and last year, was invited to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to share his ideas about books and illustration. 

John joins us from Queens, New York, where he lives with his wife Maria. He is here to tell us–and show us–What Was on John Parra’s . . . 

Drawing Pad: Faces in a neighborhood/character studies. 


Desktop: A few items on my desk include: iMac computer, Art/design books, drawing pencils, eraser, art drawing pad, coffee cup, iPhone, remote, external hard drives, ruler/straight edge, literature books, Frida Kahlo photos and diary, numerous children’s books, award statues, souvenir mini wine bottle, vintage green army men, JBL speakers, and illustration annuals.


Calendar: The 2016 Official Tolkien Calendar with art by Tove Jansson.

Front Yard: When I was younger, I worked for my father who was a landscape contractor. I used to love doing the architectural designs and plans for many of the projects he worked on. Now that I am older, my wife and I have a home where we are able to create our own front yard and garden designs: Petite and lush lawn composed of Kentucky Bluegrass, a Callery Pear tree casting cool shade on our walk, pink and purple Petunias energizing the flower beds, a Wisteria vine creeping up the side of our house, a statue of three “Coqui” frogs carrying a sign that says: “Bienvenido,” a statue of The Virgin Mary, decorative landscape lights, a folk style birdhouse, a wall mailbox and nightlight, an American flag, a Vivint sign, a green watering hose, deep green Hosta plants, Rosemary and mint plants pushing though assorted shrubbery, all enclosed in a decorative black metal fence, with red brick and stone stairway.

Back Yard: A work in progress.

Stovetop: 4 cast iron burners, 1 coffee pot with Bustelo coffee, a nonstick frying pan containing ground almonds in raw honey, a medium stainless steel pot with homemade salmon soup, and 1 retro classic clock timer to track cooking time.

List of Most-Admired Artists: Since my personal list of most-admired artists is quite long I would like to share three of my recent favorites: 1. Self-taught folk artist: Clementine Hunter, 2. Artists/animator team: Jorge Gutierrez and Sandra Equihua, 3. Handmade toy maker and fourth generation craftsman: Masaaki Hiroi.

T-Shirt: Grey t-shirt with image of cartoon faces, Tom & Jerry, that includes text: “Bros 4 Life.”

Mind: Project sketches, email responses, book deadlines . . . pick up bread, avocado, and juice at the supermarket . . . work revision, art paintings, accept festival invite, book deadlines . . . doing yard work, call family, walk city/parks/promenade, family dinner, PBS Masterpiece Mystery . . . BOOK. DEADLINES! 

To keep up to date with John Parra or see some of his other wonderful works, you can follow him on Twitter at @johnparrart, visit his site at, and stop by his Facebook page at John Parra.

If you would like to buy Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans, click on the book-link below.

Marvelous Cornelius

Other books illustrated by John include:

Green is for Chile Peppter

P is for Pinata





Round is for Tortilla






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