Children's Books



I'm Rafael López, an illustrator into making books.


I grew up in Mexico City, the child of architect parents and we surrounded ourselves with books. At a young age, I connected to stories and drawing. Books became my ticket to distant and diverse places and I was fascinated by imagery from different cultures. At age eleven, I lived for a time in England where I learned to use a printing press to create my first book that was an illustrated guide to my first adventures abroad.

For the past thirteen years, I’ve had the great opportunity to work with incredible authors and editors to illustrate children’s books. I regularly travel around the country speaking to young people at schools and libraries or paint murals with kids and communities. Connecting to young people has convinced me that words and images have the power to make change. When a child opens a book I’ve illustrated, I want them to see themselves on the pages and be inspired to reach their full potential.


 In 2019, Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You, written by Sonia Sotomayor was a

#1 New York Times Bestselling Children's Picture Book.  The Day You Begin, by Jacqueline Woodson also became a

2018 #1 New York Times Best Selling Picture Book. Thank you for your support.

My Name is Celia, published in 2004 was followed by Our California, Yum!, Mmmm Que Rico, Book Fiesta, The Cazuela that the Farm Maiden Stirred, Tito Puente, Mambo King, and in 2015 the Drum Dream Girl.  

2016 brought the release of Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood based on the

mural work I get to do with kids and communities.

In 2017, I collaborated with Eric Carle and Friends on What's your Favorite Color? followed by 

Bravo! Poems About Amazing Hispanics. 2018 books included The Day You Begin and We've Got the Whole World in our Hands.

My latest books for 2019 are Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln and

Just Ask, Be Different, Be Brave, Be You. 

Excited to collaborate on Sunny Day: A Celebration of the Sesame Street Theme Song due out on October 22. 


I live and work in a loft that was a 1930's car garage in San Diego, California

and the colonial town of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico with my wife and son.


Thanks for stopping by. 



Please click on any book image below to view additional book illustrations and learn more about each book. 

Just Ask!

Just Ask!

Dancing Hands

Dancing Hands

We've Got the Whole World...

We've Got the Whole World...

The Day You Begin

The Day You Begin

Bravo! Poems About Amazing Hispanics

Bravo! Poems About Amazing Hispanics

Maybe Something Beautiful

Maybe Something Beautiful

Drum Dream Girl

Drum Dream Girl

Tito Puente Mambo King Rey del Mambo

Tito Puente Mambo King Rey del Mambo

La Cazuela

La Cazuela

Book Fiesta!

Book Fiesta!

Our California

Our California

Yum! Mmmm! Que Rico!

Yum! Mmmm! Que Rico!

My Name is Celia

My Name is Celia


Painting murals around the country has been such a rewarding experience . It all started with the

Urban Art Trail that transformed my own neighborhood, San Diego’s East Village. This community work is the subject of the children's picture book Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood. You can find my murals at children’s hospitals, public schools,

farmer's markets and under freeways.

In my native country, I was surrounded by incredible murals by heroes like Carlos Merida and Diego Rivera. When my family moved into an edgy downtown neighborhood, I realized large-scale murals could be the catalyst to bring people together and improve the community. I've been lucky to take mural energy on the road to create new works in many different places around the country and world. A shout out to all the children and dedicated volunteers

who make a difference one brush stroke at a time.



 What a great opportunity to speak at book festivals, campuses, libraries, schools and conferences around the country and abroad.  I'm grateful for the chance to talk about books and literacy or make murals

and connect with diverse audiences of all ages, large and small.

Thanks to all the old and new friends I've met on the road and I appreciate your support.

Due to a very busy schedule creating many new books in the studio,

and previously scheduled visits and murals I am fully booked for 2019. For more information on

2020 speaker visits or conference presentations please contact:

The Author Village


For all book inquiries please contact my literary agents at Full Circle Literary.


Stefanie Von Borstel 

Adriana Dominguez


For more information on commercial illustration or murals

thanks for connecting via the contact form below.  I look forward to hearing from you!


To get more information or see additional portfolio work 

 Visit or Wikipedia

Book Festival_edited_edited.jpg

Rafael López is an internationally recognized illustrator and artist. The illustrations created by López bring diverse characters to children’s books and he is driven to produce and promote books that reflect and honor the lives of all young people. The Day You Begin, released in August 2018 became the #1 Picture Books Bestseller at the New York Times. In 2017 he was awarded the Silver Medal from the Society of Illustrators, New York Original Art show for his work on Bravo! Poems about Amazing Hispanics. The book Maybe Something Beautiful based on his own work as a community muralist, won the 2017 Tomás Rivera Children’s Book Award. He is the recipient of the 2016 Pura Belpré medal from the American Library Association for his illustrations for Drum Dream Girl and the 2010 Pura Belpré medal for Book Fiesta. In 2012, he was selected by the Library of Congress to create the National Book Festival poster.

He has also secured three Pura Belpré honors and two Américas Book Awards for previous books.

Born and raised in Mexico City, Rafael López was immersed in the rich visual heritage, music and surrealism of his native culture. He is a founder of the Urban Art Trail movement in San Diego’s East Village creating a series of large-scale murals that brought the community together. His murals can be found in urban areas, at children’s hospitals, public schools, under freeways and at farmer’s markets. López’s community work with murals is the subject of the children’s book Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood.


López was commissioned to create seven United States Postal Stamps including the Latin Music Legend Series. His stamps have been featured on the cover of the commemorative stamp yearbook and exhibited at the Smithsonian. In 2008 and 2012 he was asked to create official posters for the Obama/Biden campaign to win the pivotal Latino vote. The illustrator lives and works in an industrial loft in downtown San Diego and in the UNESCO world heritage city of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.


For all book illustration inquiries and visits please contact

my literary agents at Full Circle Literary.


Stefanie Sanchez Von Borstel


Adriana Dominguez

For information on ordering books, publicity or permissions requests,

please contact my publishers directly:


Orchard Books/Scholastic



Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Young Readers Group



Macmillan Kids



Houghton Mifflin Harcourt



HarperCollins Children’s Books



Charlesbridge Publishing

To learn more visit:

My 2019 calendar is currently full with speaker visits and murals. Thank you for your support. 

For more information on  commercial illustration

please contact me via the contact form below. 


I look forward to hearing from you!



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