Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 24, 2017

Illustrator Sunday – Rahele Jomepour Bell

Sharismar Rodriguez is an Associate Art Director for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers and their imprint Clarion Books, where she designs and art directs children’s books for all ages, from Picture Books to Middle Grade and YA novels and Non-Fiction volumes. She started her career in children’s publishing right after obtaining her BFA in Visual Communications from Parsons School of Design.

Some of her work includes award winning and note worthy titles such as New York Times bestseller Greenglass House by Kate Milford, illustrated by Jaime Zollars; Society of Illustrators Los Angeles Illustration 50 West winner 10 Rules You Absolutely Must Not Break If You Want to Survive the School Bus by John Grandits, illustrated by Micheal Allen Austin; Maybe Something Beautiful, an ALA Notable Children’s Book recipient, by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell, illustrated by Rafael Lopez; among other books.

When she’s not busy collaborating with amazing illustrators, writers and editors, she’s a secret art crafter, a compulsive Pinterest “pinner”, and a notebook-under-the-mattress writer.

Sharismar enjoys a wide-range of illustration styles to match the wide range of stories that she publishes.

Illustrator Samples: Rahele Jomepour Bell

Rahele, thanks for your submission, it was a true delight to receive these. Your samples have a timeless, classic look, evocative of the art of E. H. Shepard, Beatrix Potter, and others, except it has an extra layer of complexity that makes your art your distinctive. In a recent panel along with Dr. Mira Reisberg at The Children’s Book Academy I spoke about “standing on the shoulders of giants” which to me means looking at those artists that came before us and studying them for inspiration and taking that inspiration to go further with one’s art. I think your illustrations are a great model for that metaphor; I don’t know exactly on who’s shoulders you have stand but I can tell that you inject your art with your passion and your vision and influences from your travels, making it noteworthy.

This first spread is a showstopper, and I mean it the utmost admiration, there is so much to see and discover. I love the hidden characters and creatures here and there—I have said it before and I’ll say it again and again: Kids love it when the art has elements that they can discover, it’s like sharing a secret with your readers.

I like that the palette is a bit muted yet not dull and that the overall colors of the characters contrast nicely from the foliage in the scene, likewise, I’m crazy about the different patterns on the outfits, they’re so precious! Something that confuses me a bit are the two characters hidden behind the plants on the left side of the spread because they look like hybrids between human and animal though it’s not quite working well. Their faces are so human yet their bodies are contoured like rabbits so I can’t tell if they are supposed to be rabbits in clothes or kids disguised as clothed rabbits. Either concept could work—depending on the context of your story—you just need to push it further one way or the other. Creating anthropomorphic animals is very challenging, nonetheless, with the exception of these two characters, you have done it very beautifully.

Another concern of mine on this spread is that I keep thinking, Where will the text go? Granted, this could easily be a wordless spread, nevertheless, it’s something to keep in mind when you are creating these intricate scenes.

The strongest aspect of the second piece, the vignette, is the body language of the characters; it shows your readers that there’s movement happening, the direction to follow and a sense of urgency. The mirroring of the Donkey’s tail and the Fox’s finger may or may not had been intentional but it works nicely because that subtle detail adds energy to the piece that makes is “flow” into the next page.

The third and final piece you sent feels like the pinnacle of the story, we can witness the moment where the characters come together to find a resolution to the conflict in this tale, which looks like it involves an injured Lion. The facial expression on the Donkey and the Fox look great although I think you could perhaps push the Lion’s grumpiness/discomfort a tad further. The character in the awesome orange and polka dots suit (is it also a fox, a red panda, . . .? My apologies for not knowing all my wild animals by heart), his expression feels a little lukewarm to me as well, is he supposed to be worried, excited to see help arrive, surprised?

You have many charming details in your art, the little welcome rug by the door, the lion’s cup, the basket of apples, etc., and I absolutely love that lamp! That said, I must admit that I have mixed feelings about the amount of blood and the birds’ skulls. As an adult, I think its subdued and interesting, however, some kids might find it freighting or off putting; just something to be cautious about if your book’s age range is on the younger side.

Here, too, your handle of the color palette is alluring. I like that there’s an abundance of warm tones that makes the cooler tones on the Donkey stand out, really setting him apart from the rest of the cast. The rendering of burrow is great but I wish the door were a bit more obvious and maybe slightly open so that the readers can be more aware of the cut out view of the burrow and it’s also a subtle way to point in the direction of the page turn. You always want to guide the readers’ eyes in a forward direction.

To conclude, I just want to say that this sneak-peek has me intrigued about the story you’ve put together and I hope that someday it’s in the hands of many avid readers and picture book art aficionados, including myself.
Many thanks, Rahele, for sharing your art with us!


Sharismar, thank you for sharing your expertise with us. I enjoyed Julie’s artwork and hearing your thoughts.


Opportunity: Sharismar will be working with illustrators during the industry’s leading online children’s book illustration course – Craft and Business of Illustrating Children’s Books Course – starting September 25th. Click Here for Details.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Lovely illustrations!


  2. These images are great. So quirky.


  3. I am a big fan of your, Rahele!! 😀 Beautiful work, and helpful critique, too! ❤


  4. More great stuff going on here! 😀


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