Nancy Vo

Portrait Nancy Vo
© Makito Inomata

Nancy Vo was born in Calgary, Canada. She studied art and architecture and now works as a spatial planner by day and as a children’s book author and illustrator by night. In an interview with Cornelia Funke, Nancy Vo summed up what being an illustrator is all about for her: »What I like about illustration is the problem-solving aspect […]. Illustration is about communicating something specific. With picture books you communicate something ongoing, you tell a story. And usually it’s an interplay of words and pictures. Both elements have to work together. You don’t just reproduce in pictures what the words say. The illustrations can add another layer to the story, or they can tell the story when there are no words, the way wordless picture books do.«

Her picture book debut, »Outlaw« (2018), is set in the Wild West: the residents of a small town live in constant fear of the Outlaw until the outlaw suddenly and mysteriously disappears. After a few years, a stranger comes to town. He repairs the schoolhouse and the train platform. When someone recognizes that he is the outlaw, the residents turn against him. A young boy finds the courage to change the course of events … Distinctive mixed-media illustrations made from materials such as ink, watercolors, old newspapers, and textiles from the 1850s and 1860s accompany the story of exclusion and redemption told in pared-down sentences. In her second book, »The Ranger« (2019), Ranger Annie encounters a fox who has fallen into a trap. Annie frees it and tends to its wounds. After the fox recovers, he stays close to Annie and, through an unexpected twist, eventually becomes the helper himself. One is faced with the question of whether the two are even now. But nothing in this friendship is held against the other and Annie and the fox continue their journey together. In »The Ranger«, Nancy Vo tells of the growing closeness between humans and animals, without suspending their differences. In her visual language, Vo again concentrates on the essentials, working with ink, newspaper material, fabrics, and wood. The book was named to the 2019 Best Children’s Books list by »Kirkus Reviews«.

Nancy Vo lives in Vancouver, Canada.