Illustrator John Parra will be at Barnes & Noble at Encinitas Ranch Town Center on Monday, May 30, to share a new book about working with his father and how the experience helped him connect with his creative side.
The book is called “Growing an Artist: The Story of a Landscaper and His Son,” published by Simon & Schuster and released on May 10.
“This is a very personal story,” said Parra, who is from Southern California but now lives in New York. “It’s pretty much my life when I was younger, and it’s all about creativity and art and just finding your special path in life.”
Parra was based on memories of his father, who died last year. He was a landscape contractor. The father-son duo worked together for about 12 years.
“The book is based on many of the events and memories that I had,” Parra said. “It’s semi-autobiographical. A couple of things were changed to streamline the narrative.”
The main character, Juanito, gets his first chance to help his daddy at work. From a bird’s nest to a nursery with a wide variety of plants and flowers, Juanito outlines a series of things that he observes throughout the day. He then begins to see how his artistic skills can be translated into landscaping.
Parra added that about 95% of the experiences actually happened, but not on the same day.
“The child and the parent work together to develop these landscape plans that came to fruition,” he said. “So there’s creativity, and also seeing work and creativity come together and become real. And it is teaching children through hard work, through their ideas and inspiration, that they can make their dreams come true.”
Parra’s previous work includes illustrations for Monica Brown’s “Frida Kahlo and her Little Animals,” which earned New York Times Best Illustrated Book recognition. Additionally, she illustrated Phil Bildner’s “Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans,” which won the Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Illustration.
Parra also presented her original artwork and compilation book, “We Are The Change,” to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Her illustrations were also featured on six US Forever postage stamps titled “Delicious”.
“I just wanted to make this a very personal and memorable book,” “and fill it with a lot of heart and creativity and stories,” Parra said.
Parra’s event at the Encinitas Ranch Town Center Barnes & Noble will be held on Monday, May 30, from 11 am to 3 pm For more information, visit johnparraart.com. Event address: 1040 N. El Camino Real Drive Encinitas, 92024.