Illustrator Melquea Smith

Illustrator Signed for a Picture Book Starring a Black Girl in a Wheelchair


April 24, 2022

Illustrator Signed for a Picture Book Starring a Black Girl in a Wheelchair

Eugene, OR — INCLUDAS Publishing’s newest illustrator for an upcoming collaborative project is award-winning children’s book artist Melquea Smith. She will be the visual hand behind a picture book about a young Black girl in a wheelchair and her friends. 

The story, written by INCLUDAS founder Luda Gogolushko, follows Tasha, who is excited for her first-ever birthday party! She wants to give Sam the biggest friendship gift ever. The only problem is that all the other kids are bringing even bigger gifts. How can Tasha make sure her gift is the biggest at the party?

Smith is very familiar with children’s storytelling, illustrating for the picture book “Two Homes in Omar’s Heart” and even self-publishing a collection of her art through Kickstarter. She loved getting to know the characters in Tasha’s world, especially drawing such a diverse friend group. 

For the preparation of the book’s creation, Smith researched about the disability community— specifically muscular dystrophy—through books, articles and documentaries. She also researched motorized wheelchairs. She learned about specific parts of different kinds of wheelchairs and watched YouTube videos to see how they roll over curbs on the road.  

Inspired by video game artwork and sharing her artwork with the DeviantArt community, Smith developed her passion for artistic storytelling. She explores aspects of herself and her identity through incorporating parts of her experiences into her artwork. Smith is an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and an admin for #BlackCreatorsHeadquarters.

Smith’s biggest piece of advice for young illustrators who don’t know how to get started is to just do it. 

“It’s a lot easier said than done; creating is such an intimate and sensitive experience, but when you’re older and more aware of how your ideologies change and evolve, it’s even more important to just do it,” Smith said. “You should look for all the resources you can, like school drawing programs, and engage with the community you want to be a part of. 

“Finding a mentor also changed my life. Finding a mentor that is the right fit for you and who understands what you want to do and that’s willing to push you and support you, is super important. You must surround yourself with the right people in order to feed the right energy into your art.”

When not illustrating, you can find Smith watching the latest cartoons and animated movies, practicing her Salsa steps with her cat Kilala and giving her other cat Bumblebee pit-pats on her super fluffy tummy.

You can find Melquea Smith on her website and Twitter.

About INCLUDAS Publishing INCLUDAS Publishing aims to bring disability inclusiveness and diversity into the book world by creating fictional characters with disabilities—from children’s books to mystery novels.


Press Contact: Charlotte Drummond, pre

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