Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Children's Book Illustrator Delights His Young Audiences; Chris Soentpiet Visits Students throughout Jacksonville

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Children's Book Illustrator Delights His Young Audiences; Chris Soentpiet Visits Students throughout Jacksonville

Article excerpt

Byline: SANDY STRICKLAND

The famed New York children's book illustrator called the 6-year-old Mandarin boy on stage and arranged his body in a Leaning Tower of Pisa pose.

Using first-grader Nicholas Smith as his model, he quickly sketched a clown with a hat. He told Nicholas he hadn't made his legs long enough, but not to worry.

"It doesn't have to be perfect," Chris Soentpiet (pronounced soon-peet) said during a recent visit to Greenland Pines Elementary School in Mandarin.

Usually, Soentpiet said, he does 30 sketches before coming up with a good pencil drawing.

Nicholas craned his neck to get a look. Afterward, he got to keep the drawing, autographed to boot.

"I liked how he gave me an autograph," Nicholas said.

Nicholas said he's a fan of Soentpiet's work and especially likes "Silver Packages," in which a boy in Appalachia waits by the train tracks every Christmas hoping a particular gift will be tossed from the Christmas Train.

The Greenland Pines presentation was one of 35 at 15 Jacksonville schools that the award-winning illustrator made during a week-long visit. A South Korean native, Soentpiet was adopted and moved to America after his parents died when he was 6. He's been in the business 16 years and just finished illustrating his 20th book.

His first, "Around Town," was published in 1994 after he sent it to more than 20 publishers.

"I never gave up," he said during a slide-show presentation to an auditorium full of students. "That's why I have so many books. Always believe in yourself."

"Around Town" is set on the streets of New York on a summer Saturday and is filled with horses, jugglers, puppets and balloons. For inspiration for the cover, he photographed a young girl sitting on a wooden crate but painted her sitting in a carriage with her mother.

Soentpiet, who travels three months of the year, revealed some of his trade secrets to the impressed group of youngsters. For instance, he takes pictures of toy cars as stand-ins for real ones. And his paintings contain subtle messages that are decipherable only to those in the know. The numbers "1370," for example, appear on a train in "Around Town. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.