PARKER CURRY: Hi. I'm Parker Curry, and I take dance classes.
LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
4-year-old Parker Curry is also the author of the book "Parker Looks Up." Jessica Curry Morton is her co-author and her mom.
JESSICA CURRY MORTON: What is "Parker Looks Up" about?
CURRY: A little girl who is walking through the hallway. And then she froze in her tracks. And then the portrait of the first lady Michelle Obama loomed before me - but for who's also my friend.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: One day when Parker was 2 years old, she visited the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., with her mom. They saw a lot of pictures that day, but it was in front of Amy Sherald's portrait of first lady Michelle Obama that Parker Curry froze in her tracks and looked up.
CURRY: (Reading) She's a queen, I whisper, unable to look away, to move, to breathe.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: And as the book says, she had rich brown skin just like Parker. In that moment, Parker Curry saw more than just a portrait. She saw a road of endless possibilities.
CURRY MORTON: How did you feel when you saw the portrait of Michelle Obama?
CURRY: Viral, inspired.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Parker did indeed become a viral sensation when a fellow museumgoer took a picture of Parker standing there spellbound. That photo inspired this picture book. We've been asking authors and illustrators how they work together or apart to bring stories to life. For "Parker Looks Up," Parker and Jessica worked with illustrator Brittany Jackson, who had to bring more than just one celebrated portrait to life.
BRITTANY JACKSON: Naturally, I want to do, you know, everything justice and show respect to Amy Sherald, as well, for her work. It was a challenge approaching each one of them because it has a different art style. The only thing that I did was I just drew it in my style, which is just a little bit more cartoonized or more playful version. You see the painting of Einstein. So I changed the direction of his eyes so that he's looking down at Parker and made the portrait a little bit more exaggerated.
CURRY MORTON: Parker, how did you feel about the illustrations?
CURRY: It was fun.
CURRY MORTON: Yeah, whenever I would get a draft of the artwork...
CURRY: It's fun working with my mommy.
CURRY MORTON: Yeah, it's fun working with you, too. And it's fun working with Brittany, too, right? Because I can't draw (laughter).
CURRY: I can draw.
CURRY MORTON: Yes, Parker's a wonderful, wonderful artist.
CURRY: I can write your whole name.
CURRY MORTON: Yeah, you can write my whole name.
JACKSON: I really love to use vivid colors, very popping colors. And I use that as a way to also display emotion. And one thing that is consistent throughout the book is I have little confetti pieces and sparkles - that was just throwing a little extra character in there. Whenever Parker is, like, spellbound or she sees something that is inspiring to her, you see these sparkles and these confetti pieces appear. And each one is like - well, the colors are a combination of the colors from Michelle Obama's dress.
CURRY MORTON: Those illustrations are what make the story. I mean, obviously, there's that moment. That moment was very special, but the illustrations absolutely just brought the magic of that moment back to life again for whoever is reading it.
JACKSON: I know what it feels like to be young and to, you know, see something that inspires you. I mean, it's part of the reason why I got into doing illustrations - is because I was awestruck by other artists' work, either in the form of comic books or at our local art galleries. There's been many a times where I just stop, and I stare in awe, and I'm just like, I want to know how to do that.
CURRY MORTON: When I look at that picture today, I just - I smile and get teary-eyed because it's a moment that will hopefully continue to inspire children and people for many, many, many generations.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: That was author Jessica Curry Morton, author Parker Curry and illustrator Brittney Jackson talking about their book "Parker Looks Up."
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