“This is a heartfelt ode to Mexico and the power of children’s imaginations to impart beauty and wonder onto the world.” ― School Library Journal

Mirelle Ortega is an award-winning Mexican artist and writer for kidlit and animation based in Los Angeles, California. She is the author-illustrator of RIVER OF MARIPOSAS and MAGIC: ONCE UPON A FARAWAY LAND, for which she received a 2023 Pura Belpré Award Honor for illustration and an International Latino Book Awards medal.

She’s a prolific children’s books illustrator creating covers for best-selling middle grade series such as FROM THE DESK OF ZOE WASHINGTON, CECE RIOS and LOVE SUGAR MAGIC, artwork for acclaimed chapter books series such as THE MYTHICS, VOTE FOR EFFIE and MERMAIDS ROCK, and vibrant illustrations for picture books like FREE TO LEARN, THE MERMAID PRINCESSES and PEPE AND THE PARADE.

Mirelle's Featured Titles

Mamiachi & Me: My Mami’s Mariachi Band

Abrams Books for Young Readers |

Mamiachi & Me is a lyrical and empowering picture book written by Jolene and Dakota Gutiérrez and illustrated by Mirelle Ortega, winner of a Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor, about what it means to be a mariachi in an all‑female band.

Today’s the day! Rosa will take the stage next to her mami and play along with her popular mariachi band. But as they fasten the shiny botonaduras and tie the moños on their charra suits, Rosa begins to worry. What if the audience doesn’t like her? Is she ready to perform?

With her “mamiachi” and madrinas by her side, Rosa’s stage fright is soothed away by the sound of trumpets, guitars, and violins. Centering on the power of sisterhood, community, and music, the warm and lively text by mother-and-son writing duo Jolene and Dakota Gutiérrez—joined by Mirelle Ortega’s beautiful illustrations—provides a unique perspective to the male-dominated world of mariachi. Back matter includes additional context on the history of the beloved Mexican tradition and the rise of all-female mariachi groups, as well as a glossary, a bibliography, further reading, and a fun, detailed look at a mariachi’s signature charro suit!

River of Mariposas: A Picture Book

Harry N. Abrams |

From Mirelle Ortega, the author-illustrator of Magic: Once Upon a Faraway Land comes River of Mariposas, a vibrant, colorful picture book story of imagination and the determination of a child to bring back the butterflies—even if she has to make them herself.

Can you imagine a time when the land and the sky belonged to the mariposas? I can . . .

A young girl dreams of the land’s historic mariposas amarillas and is determined to re-create their glory, even if her butterflies are made of paper. But when nature thwarts her plans, life, magic, and yes, even the rain, bring something more beautiful than she ever could have crafted.

Based on the author’s own memories of a hurricane that diverted the migration of thousands of butterflies through her hometown near Veracruz, Mexico, this beautiful story captures the essence of imagination and the beauty of the unexpected.

Magic: Once Upon a Faraway Land

Harry N. Abrams |

In Magic: Once Upon a Faraway Land, her acclaimed debut as author and illustrator, Mirelle Ortega shares her own story of growing up near her family’s pineapple farm in Mexico, where she learned the true meaning of magic.

A 2023 Pura Belpré Youth Illustration Honor Book

Growing up on a pineapple farm in Mexico, a girl discovers the true meaning of the word magic in this truly magical picture book about change and transformation of all kinds—what we can’t control, such as natural disasters and loss, and what we can. Magic can transform dirt into pineapples, seeds into trees, wool into blankets, words into stories, blank pages into pictures and stories into book.


MAGIC Story time + Drawing demo

A short reading of my author/illustrator debut MAGIC followed by a 2 part drawing demo. Part 1 focuses in getting children engaged by participating in a drawing with shapes exercise where I show them shapes and ask them to tell me what characters they can come up with them. Part 2 focuses in a step by step draw along where I give detailed instructions and we draw animal characters together.


RIVER OF MARIPOSAS Story time + Butterfly craft!

A short reading of RIVER OF MARIPOSAS (where we also listen to a little of the song mentioned in the book “Cielito Lindo”) followed by a butterfly craft to “fill the room with butterflies” like the girl in the story.


Author/Illustrator's journey

A talk about my journey becoming a children’s book illustrator, the general process of creating an illustrator and writing a book. Depending on the audience sometimes I follow this with a drawing demo.


Character design workshop

Character design art workshop! Book a one day character design workshop with me where I will work with your students in an exercise to help them create an original line up of characters based on a pre-existing story. Audience: 10 and older.

MAGIC Teacher Resources Link

RIVER OF MARIPOSAS Butterfly Craft Link

Coloring Pages Link

Honors, Awards & Recognition

Pura Belpre Award Honor for Illustration (MAGIC: ONCE UPON A FARAWAY LAND)
International Latino Book Award Bronze Medal (MAGIC: ONCE UPON A FARAWAY LAND)
Society of Illustration Original Art Show Selection (MAGIC: ONCE UPON A FARAWAY LAND)
Selection of the ALSC Notable Children’s Books of 2023 (MAGIC: ONCE UPON A FARAWAY LAND)
Starred Review from SLJ (RIVER OF MARIPOSAS)
Starred Review from Booklist (FREE TO LEARN).
Bookstagang best of 2023, Community favorite for illustration (RIVER OF MARIPOSAS)
New York Public Library Best Books for Kids list 2023 (MAGIA: EN UNA TIERRA MUY LEJANA)
Bank Street College of Education: Los Mejores Libros Infantiles en Español 2022 (SMALL ROOM, BIG DREAMS)

Media Kit

By clicking the link below you will be directed to a Google Docs Folder
where you can download author photos and cover images.

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