I BOOK ORDERING
in Jersey City, New Jersey, Frané
Lessac loves to travel and to work on books based on her worldwide
journeys. "I try to portray the people and places of these
countries to children in a sensitive, accurate, and educational
Attracted by the beauty of Montserrat, she moved in 1978 to the
small Caribbean island, which inspired My Little Island (HarperCollins).
The first of many books written by Ms. Lessac, My Little Island
was named a Children's Book of the Year by the Library of Congress.
Ms. Lessac has contributed her distinctive paintings to several
other critically acclaimed children's picture books, including
Caribbean Canvas (Boyds Mills Press), featuring her selections
of works by well-known West Indian poets; and Not a Copper
Penny in Me House: Poems from the Caribbean (Boyds Mills
Press), written by Monica Gunning. Her latest books include New
York New York -The Big Apple from A-Z (Harpercollins), Island
Counting 1-2-3 (Candlewick), and Monday on the Mississippi
(Holt). Her numerous children's
books have been translated into a variety of different languages.
A number of her paintings are part of private collections worldwide,
and she has exhibited her work in international galleries. She
studied at the New School for Social Research in New York City,
the University of Southern California, and she
studied Ethnographic Film at UCLA in California.
2010, Frané Lessac was awarded The Muriel Barwell Award
for Distinguished Service to Children's Literature. She joined
the National Year of Reading 2012 initiative as an ambassador
for Western Australia.
Frané Lessac is married to children's author Mark Greenwood,
and they have two children, son Luke and daughter Cody. Ms. Lessac
is the Asst. Regional
Adviser for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators
in West Australia. Ms. Lessac divides her time
between southwestern Australia and New Jersey. During the school
year, she conducts presentations for students in American elementary
schools and high schoosl as well as for adults.
HER OWN WORDS:
"The Eighth Book of Junior Authors and Illustrators 2000,"
edited by Connie Rockman)
grew up in a small town on top of the Palisades in New Jersey.
From my bedroom window, I could see the famous skyscraper skyline
of New York City. In the hot summer months I could hear the shrieks
of people riding on the roller coaster at a nearby amusement park.
a child, I always wanted to be an artist or a veterinarian. By
the time I was eight years old I had cats, dogs, fish, snakes,
and a pet monkey named Hercules that used to sit on my shoulder.
Hercules stank and had fleas and my mom finally said "either
you or that monkey has to go." I spent many weekends in New
York City browsing through museums and galleries. I liked to explore
New York's Greenwich Village with my green snake entwined around
my arm. I loved watching the painters wearing their black berets
and the poets reciting verse with the audience snapping their
fingers in approval.
father's cousin was the great writer and optimist Norman Cousins.
Our Thanksgiving dinners were like United Nations meetings. I
was surrounded by people of many different cultures and since
been drawn towards people from around the world.
eighteen, I headed for film school in California. My aim: to eventually
make films about 'primitive' tribes before they were swamped by
western culture. I borrowed camera equipment and, given film,
took off on the road to the southwest, documenting a rodeo team,
a long distance trucker, and even the birth of a baby. Home was
a beach house in Malibu furnished with the discarded furniture
of movie stars. We had Flip Wilson's lawn chairs and Barbra Streisand's
settee. I worked hard to help finance my studies. My jobs included
running the projector at the local Malibu cinema, chauffeuring
the residents of Beverly Hills, and fertilizing cactus with a
silver spoon at a desert nursery.
moved from California to the small Caribbean island of Montserrat
in 1978. Stunned by its visual beauty, I concentrated on painting
the old-style West Indian architecture and its people. I lived
on the island during its music glory years when Sting, Elton John,
Arrow and others were recording at George Martin's Air Studios.
Visiting rock stars and tourists began to buy my paintings.
to publish a children's picture book about Montserrat, I moved
to London in 1982 to be closer to publishers. I approached thirty
publishers before one finally accepted the idea and the book was
released as The Little Island in 1984 in the United
Kingdom. Six months later, it was published in the United States
as My Little Island and became a Reading Rainbow feature
book and has now sold over 300,000 copies.
work has led me on many adventures in numerous countries. Traveling
continues to be a major source of inspiration for my work as I
render my impression of a country and its way of life in oil and
gouache paintings. My greatest ambition is to instill pride and
self-esteem in children about their unique heritage and their
own ability to capture in it pictures and words.