John Parra (illustrator)

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John Parra
Parra at the 2018 Gaithersburg Book Festival
Born1972 (age 51–52)
Alma materArt Center College of Design
AwardsPura Belpré Illustrator Honor Book Award
Golden Kite Award
Christopher Award
International Latino Book Award

John Parra (born 1972) is an American illustrator. Parra's books have received awards including the Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor Book Award, Golden Kite Award, Christopher Award, and an International Latino Book Award. He has additionally worked as an illustrator for corporate marketing campaigns and as an art instructor.

Early life[edit]

John Parra was born in 1972 in Santa Barbara, California.[1] He later graduated from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.[2]

Book illustration[edit]

Parra received an International Latino Book Award for Best Children's Book Interior Illustrations in 2006 for his first illustrated book My Name is / Me llamo Gabriela.[3] In 2009 his work Gracias / Thanks received a Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor Book Award as well as a SCBWI Golden Kite Award.[4] In 2012 his book Waiting for the Biblioburro received a Christopher Award.[5]

In 2015 Parra's book Green Is a Chile Pepper received another Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor Book Award.[6] In 2015 his work was also shown in a one-day presentation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art;[7] Parra's works have been shown in both solo and group art exhibitions.[8] The next year he illustrated the children's book Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans, based upon the fall-out of Hurricane Katrina and the real-life story of New Orleans sanitation worker Cornelius Washington, who died in 2008.[9] The book received a Golden Kite Award.[10][11]

In 2017, his illustrated children's book Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos was named to the New York Times/NY Public Library's: Best Illustrated Children's Book of 2017.[12] The book centers on the early years of artist Frida Kahlo and the animals that surrounded her childhood.[13] The book was also received the Barnes & Noble Best Book of 2017 award, was named to the Smithsonian Top Ten Best Children's Books of 2017 list,[14] and received his third Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor Book Award.[15] At the 2019 Golden Kite Awards & Gala, Parra presented one of his illustrations from the book We Are the Change: Words of Inspiration from Civil Rights Leaders to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, which he had based upon a quote from her career.[16]

In 2022, Parra released his picture book biography, Growing an Artist: The Story of a Landscaper and His Son (available in English and Spanish editions) detailing how he spent his young years working with his father's landscaping company which lead to his love of drawing and illustration.[17]


Parra has also provided illustrator's workshops to young artists and high-school students[18] and has served as an instructor at the Carnegie Art Museum.[19]

Other work[edit]

In 2017 Parra illustrated for the Delicioso Forever Stamps distributed by the US postal service. Over two years Parra developed six stamps derived from popular dishes originating from Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. Using bright colors, the six foods selected were tamales, flan, empanadas, chile rellenos, ceviche, and sancocho.[20] As an illustrator, he has also worked on advertising campaigns for companies including Jeep, United Airlines, PBS, and National Geographic, in addition to film, book, and computer companies.[7]


  1. ^ "La bibli des deux ânes, de Monica Brown et John Parra". La culture se partage.
  2. ^ "Six new USPS Delicioso stamps". Linns Stamp News.
  3. ^ "Growing Int'l Latino Book Awards Reflect Booming Market". NBC News.
  4. ^ "In the Artist's Studio With John Parra". December 1, 2017.
  5. ^ Lainez, Rene Colato (April 25, 2012). "La Bloga: Waiting for the Biblioburro wins a Christopher Award".
  6. ^ "Latino Authors, Illustrators Named 2015 Pura Belpre Award Winners". NBC News.
  7. ^ a b Belafonte, Harry (May 7, 2019). We Are the Change: Words of Inspiration from Civil Rights Leaders. Chronicle Books. ISBN 9781452170459 – via Google Books.
  8. ^ "WILD PROFILE: JOHN PARRA, Too much of more is better « The WILD Magazine".
  9. ^ Times-Picayune, David Lee Simmons, NOLA com | The. "In 'Marvelous Cornelius,' a Katrina story recalls New Orleans' beloved trash talker".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  10. ^ "John Parra on Marvelous Cornelius". KidLit TV. September 26, 2016.
  11. ^ "SCBWI | 2016 Golden Kite Winners".
  12. ^ Times, The New York (November 2, 2017). "The Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2017" – via
  13. ^ Lesser, Casey (December 13, 2017). "The Best New Children's Books for Budding Art Lovers". Artsy.
  14. ^ "10 Inspiring Children's Books for Budding Little Artists". February 3, 2018.
  15. ^ "Kelly, Cordell, LaCour Win Newbery, Caldecott, Printz".
  16. ^ "Flying High: The 2019 Golden Kite Awards".
  17. ^ Parra, John (2022). Growing an artist: the story of a landscaper and his son. New York. ISBN 978-1-5344-6927-3. OCLC 1264174801.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  18. ^ "Students, some of them immigrants, write children's books inspired by their own life's journeys". The Washington Post. 2016-12-20. Retrieved 2019-08-30.
  19. ^ "John Parra". The Author Village.
  20. ^ "New 'delicioso' postage stamps dedicated to Latino cuisine". The Seattle Times. April 20, 2017.

External links[edit]