I met Isabel Roxas at the American Library Association Annual Conference in Washington, DC, in June 2022. I instantly became a fan of hers, in part because she was so warm and welcoming to this introvert, but also because of her artistic talent – I love that she’s illustrated both picture books and chapter books, as well as written and illustrated her own graphic novels. Whether you read, Let Me Finish! (Min Lê), Hello, Universe (Erin Entrada Kelly), or Team Dodo, Isabel and her art embody the phrase, “there is a book for everyone, and for everyone there is a book”.
Isabel Roxas is a featured presenter at the Gaithersburg Book Festival on May 20, 2023, and will be sharing (The Adventures of Team Pom: The Last Pom (Team Pom Book 2)). She and her friend, Mika Song (Pizza My Heart (A Graphic Novel). will be presenting their books and leading a workshop together entitled, “Sticky Situations”, at 1:15 pm in the Graphic Novels and Workshops Pavilion.
Who encouraged or inspired you to become an author/illustrator?
I started collecting children’s books while I was a freshman in College. There was a specialty bookstore in the Philippines called Young Minds that had a wonderful collection of books for young children from all over the world. I was always there, browsing, reading, and buying books. I met some artists painting a mural on their wall one day, and it turned out that they were members of a newly formed Illustrator’s guild that made books for young readers. The organization Ang Ink–Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan or Illustrators for Children, helped guide me to this path of making books.
What is your writing space like?
It is a bright and cozy studio full of plants, books, post-it notes (when I am writing) and art supplies. Right now, my drawing table is buried under fabric because I am making models of my characters to help me draw them from multiple angles.
What do you love most about the cover art and illustrations in your current book? Describe your art style and your art process.
My team at Flying Eye are really great at making our covers eye-catching and dynamic. I think that the cover for The Last Dodo really communicates a sense of fun, adventure and mystery of the story inside.
Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
I am ALL of the characters in my books at some point or another. Agnes, Ruby and Roberta all have some aspect of myself—my enthusiasm for learning languages (Agnes), book addiction (Ruby), overzealous adventure planning (Roberta).
How (or in what ways) do you hope librarians will promote your book?
They can promote it as reading for pleasure, but there are also ways to use it in the classroom too: Squid Happens can jump-start conversations on hobbies, friendship or Cephalopods. The Last Dodo can be used to talk about extinction or start a debate about whether or not we should be bringing animals back from extinction.
Who is the reader you are writing for? Please describe them.
The reader I am writing for is someone like my characters—smart, funny, quiet or extroverted (depends on which character you identify with) who is very curious about the world.
Which book review or award has been most meaningful to you?
The most rewarding review is one that I got from a teacher who gave Team Pom to one of her students and said that it got her through a lonely period when she felt abandoned and had to go looking for her “own Team Pom.” Books got me through a lot of tough moments in my life, and continue to do so today, so it means a whole lot to me for my own books to be there for young readers too.
What are you most looking forward to at our book festival?
Meeting your community of readers!
What message do you have for your readers?
Come to the Gaithersburg book festival and let’s find you something to read!!
Want to learn more about Isabel Roxas?
Author Reading and Activity: Isabel Roxas | Brooklyn Public Library
Children’s Book Week: How Do You Draw? (handout)
Five Questions with Isabel Roxas and Minh Lê
Let’s Talk About Diversity with Isabel Roxas
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2022