Featured Illustrators: Leizelle Guinness

Leizelle Guinness 
Trinidad and Tobago 

Leizelle's (unpublished) picturebook, Poppitz: The Frog Who Flew is "a story about believing in your dreams and never giving up." Poppitz the frog desperately wishes he could fly. Will he find a way to fulfill his dream? Wishes, the book suggests, do come true but not always in the way we expect!

The illustrations in Poppitz were first sketched by hand and then digitally inked on a computer to produce the cartoonesque vector illustrations in the book. In the illustration titled "Poppitz and the Chicken", Poppitz shares his dream of flying with a chicken who laughs at the idea, while "Poppitz Does Some Sewing" shows Poppitz putting his plan into action. In "The Fly is Puzzled" a fly tries to figure out how to get out of its, err, predicament (well frogs do eat flies you know!) You can read the entire story of Poppitz: The Frog Who Flew  online.

Leizelle on what Caribbean children's illustration means to her:

"For me, Caribbean children’s illustration means an opportunity to tell our stories, the stories of a people from various cultural backgrounds, the story of our heritage. We are a growing community and I feel very blessed to be a part of this melting pot."


Leizelle Guinness is an Illustrator and Art Director from Trinidad and Tobago. Her style, she says, is "a reflection of my life experiences and a wide assortment of music." In 2008, her children's animation, Chootsies, won the Adobe Photoshop People’s Choice award. She illustrated the picturebook The Promise of the Pawi, her first children's book project, for the Asa Wright Nature Center in Trinidad. Poppitz: The Frog Who Flew, her second children's book project, she both wrote and illustrated herself. Recently, Leizelle's short film Pothound, co-created with her husband Christopher Guinness and shot and filmed in Trinidad, won 8 international independent filmmaker awards and was a finalist at the Vimeo Festival Awards.

Frané's upcoming picturebook, Drummer Boy Of John John, is a story inspired by the life of Trinidadian steel pan pioneer, Winston "Spree" Simon. As a young man, Winston discovered that he could create beautiful music by banging on discarded biscuit and soda tins and oil drums. The proud villagers of John-John, Laventille, where Winston grew up, believe that he was the first person to play a tune on the steel pan, now the national instrument of Trinidad and Tobago. Drummer Boy Of John John is being published by Lee and Low Books and will be released in September.

In Drummer Boy Of John John, sun-drenched gouache paintings transport readers to the island of Trinidad bringing the festival of Carnival and the musical culture of the Caribbean to life. The illustration titled "Making Carnival Costumes" shows the people of John-John sewing, beading and decorating colorful costumes for the festival of Carnival. In "Down de Hill," masquerades parade through the street, waving banners and shaking shac shacs during the festival.

Frané on what Caribbean children's illustration means to her:

"I love being involved in something I’m passionate about - illustrating books for children. By creating books set in the Caribbean, we are empowering local children with knowledge of their rich and varied cultures, their uniqueness, and hopefully other children from around the world can travel vicariously to the Caribbean. Through my books I hope to develop a worldview that appreciates the magnificence of this special place."


Born in New Jersey, United States, Frané Lessac is an author and illustrator with over thirty-five children's books published throughout the world. She is the author of My Little IslandIsland Counting 1-2-3Caribbean Canvas, and Caribbean Alphabet. She also illustrated the picturebooks, Not A Copper Penny by Monica Gunning and Caribbean Carnival by Irving Burgie. Frané lived in Montserrat for many years where she began her career as a painter. Traveling continues to be a major source of inspiration for her work as she renders her impressions of a country and a particular way of life in her illustrations. Her greatest ambition is to instill pride and self esteem in children with regard to their own unique heritage and to encourage their ability to capture it in pictures and words.


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