Cynthia Weill's Web Page

The animals in this opposites book were hand carved by brothers Martin and Quirino Santiago and their family members. The Santiagos live in the hamlet of La Union Tejelapam outside of Oaxaca, City.

Count me in! A counting book with figurative ceramics by the world famous Aguilar sisters! Awarded the designation, A Junior Library Guild Selection for 2012.

Colores de la Vida uses work from wood, tin, ceramic and papier-mache artisans. Some of the artisans are just starting their careers. Some are considered "Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art."

Mi Familia Calaca/My Skeleton Family. Stunning paper mache calacas by award winning artist, Jesus Canseco Zarate. A Junior Library Guild fall 2013 selection.

Each piece in this alphabet book was hand carved by brothers Moises and Armando Jimenez. Their wives and children painted and sanded the work. The figures from ABeCedarios were recently acquired by the Field Museum of Chicago.

Original embroidered cover and book jacket of Ten Mice for Tet. Each page of the book was hand sewn by Mr. Dinh and his family in the village of Quat Dong, Vietnam.


About My Books
I am a writer of multicultural children's books. My work uses folk arts from around the world to illustrate basic concepts for children. My current series employs handicrafts commissioned from artisans in Oaxaca, Mexico to teach children colors, numbers, opposites and the alphabet in Spanish and English. See left and for lesson plans and power point presentations on the artists and their artesanias. Teachers can also order some of the books through Club Leo at Scholastic.

Many of these books are years in the making. For example, it took four years to create Count me in! The ceramic figures marching in parade formation were sculpted by the internationally known Aguilar sisters of Ocotlan, Mexico. The Aguilar family was discovered by Nelson Rockefeller and made famous when he collected their pieces for his museums. The ceramic figures for Count me in! were considered so unique that they were recently acquired by the Field Museum of Chicago for it's permanent collection. Go to for a power point about the Aguilar sisters and the development of this book and others.

One of my favorite books is Opuestos. See the short video, to the right, about Martin and Quirino Santiago. Martin and Quirino live in hamlet nestled within the northern sierra of Oaxaca. They hand carved each of the whimsical figures depicted.

About Me
I hold a Doctorate in Education from Teachers College Columbia University. When I am not in Oaxaca, I supervise graduate student teachers in New York City. I was a teacher for many years, worked in humanitarian assistance and am trained as an art historian.

I've always been interested in the work of artisans in developing nations. It gives me great pleasure to partner with these wonderful craftspeople and see them recognized for their lifetime achievement.

School Visits and Presentations
I am available for school visits and presentations. You can contact me directly at cweillvietnam@​ Presentations focus on how to use my books to enhance language development in Spanish and English for young children. Another favorite is talking about my experiences of working collaboratively and interculturally with artisans as well as a discussion of their artistic process.

Favorable Reviews
Starred review, Criticas Connection, Fall 2007
Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, 2007

Best Southwestern Book Award 2009
Blue Ribbon, Center for Children's Books, 2009
Blue Ribbon, University of Illinois, 2009
Oprah's Book List, 2009

Colores de la vida
Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Books List 2012

Count me in!
A Junior Library Guild Selection for fall 2012
Missouri State Teachers Association Reading List, 2013

Mi Familia Calaca
A Junior Library Guild Selection for fall 2013

For more information about Mexican folk art see

Ten Mice for Tet (Chronicle Books 2004).
An e-book version of Ten Mice for Tet is scheduled to be released any day now. Stay tuned!

To read up on Vietnamese embroidery and the renowned embroiderer, Pham Viet Dinh of Quat Dong, Ha Tay province who stitched the pages of Ten Mice for Tet go to http:/​/​​boutique-paintings-article-history.htm

Find Authors