Caldecott Honor Artist Yuko Shimizu

 Click here to watch the 2021 ALA Youth Media Awards press conference.

I asked Michaela Goade, Noa Denmon, Yuko Shimizu, Cozbi A. Cabrera, and Cindy Derby to answer two questions and finish two sentence starters.

Hello, Yuko Shimizu! Congratulations on winning a 2021 Caldecott Honor for The Cat Man of Aleppo. I love learning about the call. What was running through your heart when the Caldecott committee was clapping and cheering for you?

Yuko Shimizu: It was more that it hit me the following day. (The call came on Sunday, and the official public announcement was made Monday.) Don’t get me wrong, I was really really really happy. But I found out the extent of the weight on Monday. I have never gotten this many congratulations from people not just in the art and book world, but pretty much everyone else. Wow.

What does receiving a Caldecott Honor for The Cat Man of Aleppo mean to you?

Yuko Shimizu: Of course I didn’t make the book for the award. But there was so much hard work put into making this book, not just the actual picture making part, but the work that is not actually visible on the surface, like, I spent the first six months just researching about the subject, area, politics, history and people’s lives, before even drawing a single page. It is the least I can do as an artist who is not Syrian, or had not even been to the Middle East. I am happy to know that my work toward making this book was appreciated by the librarians.

Please finish the following sentence starters:

Picture books let you travel to the places where you have never been without ever leaving where you are.

School libraries are a doorway into the unlimited knowledge.

Thank you, Yuko! 

Yuko Shimizu has been drawing and painting ever since she can remember, and has loved animals just as long.  Yuko lives and works with a rescued senior Chihuahua named Bear, who is probably smaller than the cats in Alaa's sanctuary.

Borrow The Cat Man of Aleppo from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops.

Penguin's Description: 

Alaa loves Aleppo, but when war comes his neighbors flee to safety, leaving their many pets behind. Alaa decides to stay—he can make a difference by driving an ambulance, carrying the sick and wounded to safety. One day he hears hungry cats calling out to him on his way home. They are lonely and scared, just like him. He feeds and pets them to let them know they are loved. The next day more cats come, and then even more! There are too many for Alaa to take care of on his own. Alaa has a big heart, but he will need help from others if he wants to keep all of his new friends safe.


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