Growing an Artist: The Story of a Landscaper and His Son

Growing an Artist cover
Growing an Artist: The Story of a Landscaper and His Son by John Parra

By John Parra
Simon & Schuster, 2022
32 pages

Ages 5-9

“Today is a BIG day. Today is the first time I get to help my papi at his work. He is a landscape contractor.” Juanito and Papi begin by picking up Javier, who works for Papi, and has been teaching Juanito some Spanish. “ ‘¿Listo para trabajar?’ he says. ‘Si, listo,’ ” I answer. At the first job, Juanito waves to Alex, a boy he knows from school who is watching from the house next door. But Alex pretends not to see him, leaving Juanito feeling awkward, and sad. Throughout the day, Papi and Javier teach Juanito how to help with various tasks, but at every work site Juanito also pulls out his sketchbook and draws. And throughout the day, Juanito remembers Alex looking away. It prompts him to ask Papi if he likes his job. Papi explains that even though it’s hard work, and sometimes he’s treated like he’s invisible, “when you do something you love and get to feel creative, you feel proud.” A story that leaves space for both reflection and discussion also showcases the nurturing of a young artist, and was inspired by author/artist Parra’s own father and childhood. In a moving author’s note Parra tells more about his Mexican American family and the workers, often from Mexico, that his father employed. Parra’s distinctive, folk-art-inspired illustrations are full of captivating details and abundant warmth. ©2022 Cooperative Children’s Book Center