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Meilo So

Photo of Meilo So

About the Author

Meilo So has illustrated several award-winning books, including Tasty Baby Belly Buttons, by Judy Sierra; It’s Simple, Said Simon, by Mary Ann Hoberman; The Ugly Duckling, retold by Kevin Crossley-Holland; and Countdown to Spring!, by Janet Schulman. Meilo So was born in Hong Kong and lives in England with her
husband and daughter.


I have always made narrative into pictures . . .

I have been drawing from about the time I was five years old. My grandfather had a mannequin shop; I used to watch him painting eyes and lips on the models. I have always made narrative into pictures. My first children’s book was published in Hong Kong in 1987. I wrote the story; it was about a naughty angel with three black spots on her
face. It was semi-autobiographical.

I try to keep my life simple and I choose a simple, light-weight medium . . .

I enjoy using acrylics and recently gouache (as in Countdown to Spring!). I prefer a medium that you can make corrections with. My favorite is simple black-and-white drawings. I haven’t lived all over the world, but I have traveled a little bit, and it has influenced me to carry fewer and fewer tools with me when it comes to work, and I think a lot more in my head.

I like to write and illustrate books, whether they are for adults or children . . .

I like to write and illustrate books, whether they are for adults or children. I like the story to be kind and optimistic. I enjoy painting domestic settings.

Since the birth of my daughter I am now more attracted to bold and simple illustrations . . .

My work is also influenced by a Chinese artist named Feng Tse Kai, who worked in the 1930s to 1960s. His simple brush drawings about children, childhood, wars, ordinary people—they are very touching images, but not sentimental. I also admire Ben Shann’s work a great deal.

The whole working process flowed nicely . . .
I enjoyed illustrating The Beauty of the Beast. It is one of those projects that you know is going to look good. The whole working process flowed nicely.


Poems from the Animal Kingdom

—An ALA Notable Book

“Meilo So does enchantingly unreal paintings: whimsical watercolors made with a wet-on-wet technique that reserves the spontaneity of her hand gestures. In very few brush strokes, she captures the essence of organisms from stallions to sea horses. Yet the images themselves are abstract, almost calligraphic pictograms.”—The New York Times Book Review

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