Catarina Sobral was born in 1985 in Coimbra, Portugal. She studied graphic design and illustration and subsequently worked as a freelance illustrator. Although Sobral’s graphical work usually prioritizes a limited color palette, she readily works in two dimensions and with various techniques, combining collage, ink and colored pencils.
»Achimpa« (2012), for children age five and up, explores a puzzling word that a scholar has discovered in an ancient dictionary. News of the word spreads like wildfire; soon everyone wants to use the word, but no one knows whether it is a noun, verb or preposition. Even 137-year-old Ms. Augusta has no information to provide on the matter. The picture book sets out to inspire children to invent words themselves and to play with language as a whole. In 2013 it was chosen as the best children’s book by the Portuguese Authors’ Society, received the prize for Best Picture Book Illustration at the 2013 Amadora International Comics Festival and was the winner of the 2016 Fundación Cuatrogatos Award. In an unconventional depiction of the older generation, »O Meu Avô« (2014; tr. My granddad) sings a song of praise to the grandfather: »My grandad helps little pugs cross the road and even has time to pick me up from kindergarten.« Sobral’s illustrations are two-dimensional and rendered in the basic colors of red, green and black. In short sentences, a nameless protagonist recounts his daily life with his grandfather, who, unlike his harried neighbor Dr. Sebastian, has plenty of spare time and spends lots of it with the child. The book for children age four and up won the International Award for Illustration at the 2014 Bologna Children’s Book Fair and was a finalist for Ilustrarte 2016. In »Vazio« (2014; tr. Void), one of the 2014 »White Ravens« at the International Youth Library in Munich, Sobral tells the story of a – in the literal sense – empty man, who roams the city collecting everything he can, but without the ability to retain any of it. The doctors do not know what he has or how they can help him. Nothing can fill his emptiness until something unexpected happens. Her latest book »Tão Tão Grande« (2016; tr. So so big), for children age seven to nine, is the story of a boy named Samuel, who one morning wakes up as a hippopotamus, weighing 538 kg and with a mustache to boot. The book is a humorous parable of a child’s coming of age.
Catarina Sobral also works as an animator and illustrates children’s books by other authors, such as Tatiana Belinky and Davide Cali. She lives and works in Lisbon.