Last August, 9th I wrote about four stalwarts of children's literature, P.L.Travers, Tove Jansson, Seymour Simon and Nick Sharratt, but I didn't know that it was also the birthday of Jose Aruego. A Filipino-born illustrator, he has been a favourite since I first shared Leo the Late Bloomer and Milton the Early Riser with children. Subsequently, I have learned that he has many more gems to his credit and that he now lives in New York, not the Philippines. Although his characters amuse and do humorous things, Aruego takes his writing and drawing for children very seriously. He says that 'he feels he is still learning his craft and getting to know his audience. Each project teaches me something new and makes me a better artist. Each book brings me closer to children.'
Aruego's most well-known books are probably those that are written by Robert Kraus and illustrated with his ex-wife Ariane Dewey, but he has also worked with Judy Sierra, Crescent Dragonwagon and Joseph Bruchac, the writer who has written about his Abenaki Native Indian heritage.