Every once in awhile, a really special book comes along. Both the narrative and illustrations in Deborah Marcero’s picture book debut Ursa’s Light are exquisite and luminescent. Be sure to check out the very thoughtful teacher’s guide including writing prompts and design/art activities on Deborah’s site, definitely a nod to her background as an educator. She also has a BFA in drawing and photography and an MFA in poetry.
I loved reading Deborah’s story behind Ursa on her blog, and how it related to her own life.
“On the surface it’s a story about a spunky urban bear who wants to fly – but at the heart of it, this book is about failure. It’s about how doing things 'wrong' is crucial to finding success…. a success you couldn’t have imagined in the first place. Failure has lead me to my most profound discoveries. And I’m still falling, still learning. Making the art for this book was full of failures and wrong turns. Failing over and over helps me find my voice as children’s book writer and illustrator.”
The art in Ursa’s Light was made using various media—ink, woodblock cuts, watercolor, gouache, ink wash—collaged together in Photoshop. Here’s a bit about her creative process:
“I write and illustrate quiet stories. I want my writing and illustration (and the combination there-in) to feel large and small all at once. I love line work and using white space with minimal color palettes. I also love to work exclusively in black and white. Using figurative language and lyric and subtle word play in minimal and imaginative ways I try to create context or a generate feeling. For stories that I write, I shape a world between my words and images that has room for whimsy and humor but also sometimes darknesses and being scared. I want the reader to feel enveloped in a space that they can see smell touch hear and taste in the sound and meaning of one word or the enjambment between one line and the next. Because small things like that are important to me.”
Kudos to Deborah Marcero on her first picture book, and for adding such a treasure to the world of children’s literature.
PS. Check out Deborah’s lettering on her website. It is out of this world!