Missing Illustrations

Thief steals art from NYT best-selling illustrator’s vehicle

The original illustrations for "Waiting for Mama," a children's book by Gianna Marino, were recently stolen out of the author's vehicle in Santa Fe. (Courtesy Gianna Marino)

A New York Times best-selling illustrator spending some time in Santa Fe wants to recover 20 original copies of her work that were stolen out of her car last week.

Shortly after Gianna Marino’s children’s book, Waiting for Mama, was published, she received the illustrations for it back from the publisher. In the midst of moving to Chromo, Colorado, with a car full of belongings, she slipped the works into the hatch of her vehicle for safe keeping. While normally vigilant about locking her car, she says, Marino forgot to secure the vehicle parked on San Salvador Lane, off Alameda Street.

The next morning she noticed some tools and other items missing, then realized the art she spent roughly five months creating was gone.

“It’s my fault,” she tells SFR. “I left the door open, but it’s sad that people do that. It’s probably meaningless to anybody but me.”

Following a baby emperor penguin that waits for its mother in the freezing Arctic environment, Waiting for Mama is Marino’s 16th published book and is dedicated to her mother. The writer and artist has scoured the area’s consignment shops and thrift stores for any signs of the lost illustrations and handed out fliers for people to keep on the lookout.

Having illustrated Chelsea Clinton’s Don’t Let Them Disappear, Marino is known for her work in the children’s book world.

While the illustrations created on watercolor paper are “not just little scribbles,” she says, they probably aren’t worth much money.

Children's book author Gianna Marino recently had the original illustrations for "Waiting for Mama," stolen from her vehicle while in Santa Fe. (Courtesy Gianna Marino)

“I’ve donated a couple [past illustrations] to museums,” she says, “but I mostly keep them all together just because they’re so important to me. I’ve had offers to purchase them, but I don’t want to do that, because I want to keep the books intact.”

The author found solace after hearing the Santa Fe Police Department officer assisting her, who lives near where Marino is staying, also recently had his vehicle rummaged through after leaving it unlocked.

“He made me feel better when he said the same thing happened to him the other night,” she says. “I guess whoever is doing this is coming often and just flips the handles of every single door, and goes in there and probably grabs whatever they can.”

Marino will reside in Santa Fe at least through May, she says, and asks that anyone who comes across the illustrations turn them in to SFPD. Most of the illustrations are on 11 x 25 gouache paper and have Marino’s name on them. An award is offered for anyone who finds them and turns them in. To contact Marino, call (415) 577-3328.

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