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INTERVIEWS:

How Far Do You Love Me?

By Lulu Delacre
Illustrations by Lulu Delacre

Photo of Lulu
Delacre

In How Far Do You Love Me? author and illustrator Lulu Delacre has taken a bedtime game she played with her young daughters and turned it into an “I love you” book with a twist. With every expression of love, readers visit one of thirteen different locations around the world, each a beautifully illustrated scene of adults and children in a place of natural beauty. In this BookTalk, Lulu Delacre talks about traveling the world, art, and what it takes to be an author and illustrator.

The neat thing about How Far Do You Love Me? is that you’ve actually been to all the places in the book! Are there any cities or countries you would really like to see but haven’t been to yet?

Lulu Delacre: Actually, I’ve been to all the continents except Antarctica. That continent has eluded me twice. Once, the cruise was cancelled due to a lack of passengers. Another time, the Soviet icebreaker that was scheduled to be our vessel was damaged in collision with an iceberg. The illustration that appears in the book was inspired by the beautiful Alaska glaciers that I had seen a few summers back, and by the Antarctica photos provided by a friend.

I love learning about different cultures and there are many countries that are on my list of go to places. Currently at the top of the list are Burma, Laos, Bali, and Mongolia in Asia.

You grew up in Puerto Rico and attended school in both Argentina and Paris, as well as traveled to places all over the world. Is there a city or town that is your favorite place to explore?

LD: Paris is a city I visit again and again. It is brimming with art and lends itself to long and fascinating walks lost in the discovery of history and beautiful architecture at every corner! I also crave going to places where I can be connected to the natural beauty of the world.

How do you choose the kind of art supplies to use for your illustrations? For example, in The Storyteller’s Candle, you had bits of a New York Times newspaper in the pictures!

LD: The manuscript dictates the media technique I select for the illustrations. I spend a long time on the research of the right materials, textures, and style that will marry well with the text. Often, I draw inspiration from exhibits I go to. I had already written the poem for How Far Do You Love Me? but had no idea about how best to illustrate it. I only knew the art had to look soft, poetic, and beautiful. In 2008, I went to a pastel painting exhibit at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris titled “Mystery and Glitter.” Upon looking at the richness of the colors and awe-inspiring beauty of the Sennelier pastel paintings I knew I had found the right media for the book.

How did your parents cultivate your love of reading and drawing when you were younger?

LD: I learned the love of reading by example. My father had floor to ceiling bookcases in his study and was constantly reading. He had subscriptions to National Geographic magazine and Scientific American. Both my parents were very supportive of my artistic endeavors, signing me up from a very young age to take classes with their artist friends.

You played “How Far Do You Love Me?” with your daughters. What was the creative process in going from bedtime game to picture book?

LD: It was a cumulative process. On a walk around the neighborhood I started thinking of my daughters and how I love them. Memories of the game rushed back to me and I started composing the poem in Spanish drawing from the visual images of my trips stored in my brain.

As both an author and illustrator, how do most of your stories get started, as a picture in your mind or as words on a page?

LD: It depends on the project. If I envision a character driven picture book, I’ll first create the characters and draw them in as many situations as possible until the plot of a story emerges. Otherwise, the words come first.

What advice would you give to an aspiring children’s book author?

LD: Write about what is important to you and make your words matter. Be patient and things should fall into place.

About This Title

Guided Reading:

K

Lexile:

AD650L

Interest Level:

Grades PreK - 3

Reading Level:

Grades 2 - 3

Themes

Colors, Nature/Science, Multiethnic interest, Environment/Nature, Cultural Diversity, Childhood Experiences and Memories, Empathy/Compassion, Gratitude, Optimism/Enthusiasm, Realistic Fiction, Water

Collections

Earth Day Poetry Collection , Mother's Day Collection, Bestsellers and Favorites Collection, English Fiction Grades PreK-2, Family Diversity , RITELL PreK-2 Collection, Appendix B Diverse Collection Grades 3-6, Diverse Background English Collection Grades PreK-2, Lulu Delacre Collection , Diversity Starter Pack PreK-2, Bilingual English/Spanish and Dual Language Books , Dual Language Collection English and Spanish, Dual Language Levels J-M Collection, Pedro Noguera Diverse Collection Grades PreK-2

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