Shake it, Morena! And Other Folklore from Puerto Rico by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, Paintings by Lulu Delacre
About the Art
Yes, yes they are oil paintings. You would have never guessed by looking at the pictures of Shake it, Morena! would you? After reading the manuscript
many times, I asked Carmen for photos of her childhood home, to see what I could add to what I already had in mind (now, the tiles of her beloved grandmas house appear in one of the pictures). Then, I sketched a young girl and her close-knit family. I set her home in the Puerto Rican countryside, because Morena needed to be able to walk home from school.
Since I felt I needed the art to exude joy, to reflect the bubbly nature of the collection, I decided to try an entirely new technique. I wanted many textures,
bright colors, and a medium that would force me to be spontaneous. To achieve these effects, I applied a thick layer of gesso onto Bristol paper, priming it for painting in oils. Then, I painted the pictures with thin oil washes, leaving brush marks, and colors that bled into each other. The white of the gesso came through, rendering the colors as brilliant as I wanted them.
To add to the playfulness of this folklore, I also decided to have red hibiscus flowers present every time Morena appears. If you follow her through the book, you will notice the flowers hover and increase in quantity as she enjoys herself, and fade into the background once she falls asleep. Finally, I hid lizards in the pictures, creating yet another game.
An Interview with Carmen T. Bernier-Grand
What inspired you to create such a varied collection of folklore?
It all began way back when my children were in pre-school. I played these games and told these stories in their schools and at their parties. Parents, teachers, and librarians asked me to put them in a book.
Did you always envision the book as a day in the life of a young Puerto Rican girl?
At first, I just had folklore that I wanted to share. But I think in stories. So when I had to organize it,
I could see a girl waking up, having breakfast, going to school, doing homework, eating dinner, and finally going to sleep.
How would you use Shake it, Morena! as a teaching device?
Invite your parents to come to school and share the games, stories, songs, riddles they grew up with.
Translate into Spanish the Juan Bobo story in the book.
Make your own book of contemporary songs, riddles, stories.
Research the coquν.
Dance Shake It, Morena!