Featured Illustrators: Danielle C. McManus-Sladek

Danielle C. McManus-Sladek
United States/Jamaica

Danielle C. McManus-Sladek's self-published e-picturebook, My Grandma's Journey is a fictional story inspired by her grandmother, Evelyn Brissette's, journey from Jamaica. It tells of Evelyn's adventure on a ship destined to America when she was seven years old, and her special friendship with a girl named Edna Marsh. You can preview My Grandma's Journey on Blurb.com.

In the illustration "Evelyn Leaves Kingston", a sad Evelyn is held in the arms of her mother Edith as she waves goodbye to friends and family. For this illustration McManus-Sladek used watercolor, pastels, and brown sepia ink outlines. She channeled her own memories of moving across town as a child in creating this illustration.

The illustration "Evelyn Remembers" shows Evelyn thinking about all the things she left at home including her cat, Murry; Evelyn is flying back to Jamaica with her favorite blanket that her mother made her. Her blanket reminds her of home and the smell of home. McManus-Sladek used cut-out paper along with watercolors, colored pencils, and sepia ink.

Danielle on what Caribbean children's illustration means to her:

"Caribbean children's illustration means education and history to me. I think it is important to educate everyone about different cultures other than your own and to educate yourself about your own culture as well. I have noticed there are many negative depictions of the Caribbean and definitely a lack of children's books that speak about it in a positive and beautiful way. It is important to me as an illustrator and author to educate children and adults about a culture that is both special and meaningful."


Danielle C. McManus-Sladek is of Jamaican descent and currently resides in New York where she works as a freelance illustrator. Some of her clients include Crain's New York Business, Easy Spirit/Jones Apparel, MacsWomen, and Lam Design. She has currently written and illustrated five children's books. Presently her work is being shown at Mystic Seaport in the exhibit entitled, 'Restoring a Past, Charting a Future.' As an ambitious artist and entrepreneur, she launched her children's book company, Little Timeless Tales, and a greeting card store on Etsy.

View more of Danielle's work here:


I Came from the Water: One Haitian Boy's Incredible Tale of Survival is a picturebook based on the real life experiences of an eight year-old Haitian boy called Moses. Moses was a baby when he was found floating in a basket during the Gonaives floods of 2004. He was taken in by nuns at the St. Helene’s orphanage in Haiti who named him after the biblical character.

Award-winning US children's author, Vanita Oelschlager, a well known philanthropist, wrote I Came from the Water after she visited Haiti on a 2010 service trip. At the St. Helene’s orphanage she met Moses, then 6 years old. When she asked him where he was from, Moses replied "I Came from the Water."

Blanc's illustrations for I Came From The Water began as pencil sketches followed by detailed drawings which were scanned in digital format for templates. He used Corel® Painter™, computer software for artists, to paint. With the support of a pressure sensitive drawing monitor he used a variety of the many paper textures available like dotted and wiggly line patterns. He combined custom “real bristle” brushes, color sponges, and blenders with the traditional oil paint color palette. The finished result is a book with varied textures and saturated colors.

Mike on what Caribbean children's illustration means to him:

"Illustrating Vanita Oelschlager’s I Came from The Water introduced me to the true story of a remarkable people– the Haitian people. The tragedies, difficulty and triumphs of the people inform and inspire the highest human qualities. Charity, kindness, humility, fortitude– all the cardinal virtues are displayed within the heart of the characters. The illustration is challenged to present these qualities and the face of Haiti to children worldwide. To me, Caribbean illustration is spirituality and celebration of life through attitude and color! I am grateful to be associated with this Caribbean story, full of life and teeming with hope."


Mike Blanc was born in 1953. In 1997, after 25 years of traditional drawing and painting he added digital illustration to technique. Mike has collaborated with Vanita Oelschlager on two other children’s books: Francesca: Postcards from a War and Porcupette Finds a Family. He is also the illustrator of Bonyo Bonyo: The True Story of a Brave Boy from Kenya, written by Kristin Blackwood. Mike lives in Doylestown, Ohio, USA.


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