Born and raised in San Francisco, California, Felicia Hoshino earned a BFA degree in Illustration from the California College of the Arts. As a child, Felicia enjoyed celebrating customs of her Japanese heritage, including making gyoza (Japanese dumplings) with her mother and performing Japanese classical dance.
She has illustrated four children's books to date, including Little Sap and Monsieur Rodin and
A Place Where Sunflowers Grow, winner of the 2007 Jane Addams Peace Award in the Picture Book category. Original illustrations from these two titles were featured in the Society of Illustrators' annual "The Original Art", a juried exhibition celebrating the art of children's book illustration. Felicia's prize-winning work can also be seen in children's magazines such as Cricket, Cicada and Ladybug. Most recently, she has contributed an illustration for the anthology On My Block: Stories and Paintings by Fifteen Artists, published by Children's Book Press.
She lives in San Francisco with her husband Yoshi, son Sora and newborn baby girl Yume.
What does your heritage mean to you and what role does it play in your work as an illustrator?
Being a fourth generation Japanese American, I grew up quite "Americanized," with none of the language and very few Japanese customs – which perhaps is natural, being that my family has been so far removed from Japan.
as an adult I've been drawn towards Japanese culture more and more, as if to fill a small void. My husband was born and raised in Japan, so together we hope to bring up our children with the best of both worlds. Living in America and especially the Bay Area, I feel we have the luxury of picking and choosing customs that mean the most to us and of creating new ones along the way.
It wasn't until I illustrated A Place Where Sunflowers Grow that I realized how much the Japanese American Interment Camp experience impacted my grandparents' and parents' generations. Although it was heartbreaking to learn about their struggle, it was an important turning point in my life, leading me to value my family's history so that I may pass it down to my children.
What is your main concern in terms of authenticity, when illustrating children's books?
Having never lived outside of America I've been exposed to and have probably adopted myself a skewed view of many other cultures, including my own. So, as an illustrator, I strive to observe, research and be sensitive to the cultures that I'm to represent in the stories that I illustrate.
Are you working on any new projects?
Occasionally I have been illustrating short stories and poems for the Cricket Magazine Group. These fun little projects have been keeping my paint brushes wet while I raise my two small children. I hope to return to illustrating children's books this year and I have some of my own ideas that I'd like to develop. I'm also in the middle of updating my website. Please check it out!
Posted May 2008
Illustrated by Felicia Hoshino:
written by Amy Lee-Tai,
A Place Where Sunflowers Grow
(Children's Book Press, 2006)
Winner of the 2007 Jane Adams Award
written by Michelle Lord,
Little Sap and Monsieur Rodin
(Lee & Low, 2006)
written by Karen Hill,
Finding the Golden Ruler: Think of Others
(Simon & Schuster / Little Simon)
written by Caroline Hatton,
(Bebop Books/Lee & Low, 2004)
For more information, visit her website.
Check out our interview from January 2008.