Razia’s Ray of Hope, 2013
Suana Verelst was born in Antwerp, Belgium, and grew up in Kortrijk, a Belgian town close to the French border. She studied drawing and painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Sint-Niklaas, East Flanders, before leaving for Canada to continue her studies in Art History, Fine Arts and Graphic Design.
After a successful conclusion of her studies, with several diplomas, she worked as an assistant production manager and colorist for a publisher of children’s books in Montreal. Having viewed a beautiful catalog of the illustrators' exhibit from the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, Suana was inspired to become a children’s book illustrator.
She has illustrated many books for publishers in Canada, the United States, Belgium and France. Suana approaches each new book with techniques that suit the story. Her style resembles a quilt of various expressions woven into one — from traditional, realistic imagery, to collage and texture, to quirky and surrealistic illustrations.
She has received many awards for her outstanding work. Her latest book, Razia’s Ray of Hope: One Girl’s Dream of an Education, was named an Honour Book by the jury of the 2014 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award. In 2012, Suana won the French-Language TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award for her illustrations in La saison des pluies. A number of her illustrations have been featured in major exhibitions, such as the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, as part of the Flemish illustrators' exhibit, and at a group exhibition of children’s book illustrators at the “4th Annual New York Showcase Children’s Book Art Exhibition” in New York City.
Suana is inspired by living in one of the oldest working-class neighborhoods in Montreal, surrounded by green spaces and lots of birds. When she is not working on a project drawing or gluing bits of paper, she is probably making a papier-mâché puppet or admiring an old building on the way to her yogalates class …
2014 - USBBY Outstanding International Book, International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), Commended
2014 - Middle East Book Award, Picture Book, Middle East Outreach Council, Winner
2014 - Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Short-listed
2014 - CCBC Choices 2014, Cooperative Children’s Book Center, Winner
2014 - South Asia Book Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature, South Asia National Outreach Consortium, Winner
2014 - Best Books of the Year for Children and Young Adults, Bank Street Children’s Book Committee, Winner
2014 - White Raven List, International Youth Library, Winner
2014 - Social Justice Literature Award, International Reading Association, Winner