Beccia’s illustrations of Josephine Baker and Madonna (along with a fashion sketch) appear in her most recent book, “Fashion Rebels.”
Lynnfield storyteller has a way with words — and art.
By Stacey Marcus
Award-winning author and illustrator Carlyn Beccia reflects on her younger years growing up in Lynnfield with a little laugh.
“I was a child that ran away a lot,” she says, noting that she never got very far, but her parents treasure the photo they shot of her donning a Hollie Hobbie nightgown and slippers, suitcase in tow, attempting to escape in the snow. “I was a very rebellious child always horrifying my mother with stuff I wore and trying to push her buttons.”
The wild child earned a full four-year scholarship to the University of Massachusetts Amherst and graduated in 1995. Her first foray into the work world was with Kronos selling time and attendance systems.
“I would advise everyone to go into sales because it’s an aspect of everything you do in business,” she says.
She then spent the next decade-and-a-half working in graphic design and art direction at advertising agencies.
“I always loved design,” says Beccia, who decided to go into children’s book publishing when she got married and had children of her own.
She sent some circus posters to an editor at Houghton Mifflin and got picked from a slush pile.
“Less than one percent of people get picked from the pile,” notes Beccia.
Luckily, Editor Ann Rider loved them and asked Beccia to write a story about them. Her debut book “Who Put the B in Ballyhoo?” was the Golden Kite honor recipient for picture book illustration.
“Karma shined on me by connecting me with Ann,” Beccia notes.
Her award-winning books illuminate her myriad talents as an author and storyteller. She has written and illustrated six books, has one coming out shortly and just illustrated two more. Although an illness sidelined her for a short while, her well of works showcases a portfolio of masterpieces that looks like she hasn’t missed a beat. “The Raucous Royals” won the International Reading Association’s 2009 Children’s and Young Adult Book Award for Intermediate-Nonfiction.
“I Feel Better with a Frog in my Throat” scored the nonfiction picture book Cybil Award winner, Parents’ Choice Silver Honor medalist, an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio award winner, a Blue Stem Award Nominee and received a Silver Honor from the California Reading Association’s Eureka! Nonfiction Children’s Book Awards.“‘I Feel Better with a Frog in my Throat’ is a gross book. I wasn’t sure if the market would like it,” Beccia says of the medical mystery book that tours a collection and connection of cures. “It’s hard to predict what kids are going to like.”
“My favorite book is the fashion book I just wrote called ‘Fashion Rebels.’ I wish I had it as a kid.” says Beccia.
The gorgeously illustrated book shows and tells the stories of 25 fashionistas throughout time and how their fashion choices influenced history. Beccia prides herself on her ability to transition from super girly stuff to gross subjects like body parts and decomposition. “In my other life I was one of those wacky doctors,” she jokes.
Her two children, Charlotte and Johnny, are great inspirations. “Johnny is hilarious and shares my dark humor while Charlotte is a real fashionista. Every morning she turns to the famous fashion icons for style,” she says.
Beccia loves Lynnfield and that her family is close by. Along with a strong sense of community, she applauds the town for its education system and that everyone knows each other. She adores doing school visits.
“I love having lunch with the kids and interviewing them,” she says. “It’s so interesting to hear their perspectives.”