A Q&A with My Magic Wand Illustrator Amber Alvarez

Today on the blog, we’re sharing a Q&A conducted with Amber Alvarez, the illustrator of My Magic Wand: Growing with the Seasons.

Lee & Low: What’s the most exciting thing about getting to share My Magic Wand with the rest of the world?

Amber Alvarez: When I’m working on a book in the studio, it always feels like I’m keeping a huge secret. I hate keeping secrets! I always feel like I’m going to burst when I’m carrying one. It’s a relief to have it out in the world because I don’t have to hide it anymore. I was excited about the illustrations for My Magic Wand. I’m glad that I can share them now.

Lee & Low: What was running through your mind while illustrating My Magic Wand?

Amber Alvarez: These poems of Pat Mora’s remind me of my childhood. I grew up in a Mexican-American home in Hawaii, where I spent a lot of my time on the beach with my family. We are incredibly tight-knit, and I was reminded of such happy memories while drawing every illustration in this book. I also thought a lot about my Latin heritage, my Grandmothers, and how fun it is to be five and six!

Lee & Low: What was your favorite spread to illustrate and why?

Amber Alvarez: I liked illustrating “Becoming a Fish” best. It’s layer after layer of blue water, and I could lose myself in the textures and the paint. I liked designing the clothes on every page, but the blue bodysuit with the orange slice was a particular high point for me.

Lee & Low: In what way do you relate to the main character of My Magic Wand the most?

Amber Alvarez: I think we’re more alike than not! I was fortunate to grow up in a family that genuinely celebrated my quirks. I would play house with my mom and sister for hours or spend a happy afternoon painting with my dad. I never felt like I was too young to be part of the action. I love that Pat Mora wrote about a character who is the center of her world and happy to be part of a loving family.

Lee & Low: What message do you hope readers will come away with after reading My Magic Wand?

Amber Alvarez: I hope that readers of My Magic Wand will feel empowered to follow their passions and that this book will inspire them to write and illustrate their own poems about their fascinating everyday life.

Lee & Low: Do you have any advice for young artists who read My Magic Wand and are inspired by the illustrations?

Amber Alvarez: My favorite thing about young artists (and our main character, too) is how observant they are. Kids are especially gifted at seeing things that no one else can! I’d encourage them to draw what they see. I hope that they use all the colors of the rainbow. 

Amber Alvarez, a full-time illustrator, grew up in Oahu, Hawai‘i, and received her BFA from Pratt Institute. As a child, she embraced many of the activities the main character of My Magic Wand enjoys—drawing, cooking, swimming, dancing, and gardening—and her life still centers around these activities. Alvarez lives in Provo, Utah. You can find her online at amberalvarez.com and @shesureissketchy.