Toshi finds an illustrator

Courtesy of Cybil Sanzetenea

Cybil Sanzetenea is an award winning illustrator with a passion for early childhood education. Growing up in a small academic enclave on New York’s Long Island, Sanzetenea has always harbored a strong sense of adventure. As a kid she would often escape her community to meet children from other neighborhoods, eager to learn about cultural backgrounds and languages different from her own. At the age of 15, she convinced her parents to let her live with a family friend in Bolivia. It was in the mountainous landscapes of Bolivia’s capital, La Paz, where she began to hone her artistic voice. The rugged and culturally rich nation became a second home for Sanzetenea. She alternated her time between studying South American history at Universidad Catolica Boliviana and volunteering at a local orphanage where she and the kids would paint murals together in the neighborhood.

Cybil Sanzetenea combines art, language, and culture as she teaches kindergarten in one of Philadelphia’s six dual-language immersion program.

After five years in South America it was time for Sanzetenea to continue her education. She enrolled at Princeton University where she studied Spanish literature, child psychology, urban education, and Latin American culture. In addition to many academic awards, Sanzetenea won the Isidore and Helen Sachs Memorial Prize for her senior thesis, a stunningly illustrated dual language children’s book, entitled “El Tiempo Vuela.”

Shaped by her work at the Bolivian orphanage and her dedication to bridging cultures, Sanzetenea was drawn to dual language early childhood education. She recognized that children in immigrant families often performed poorly in school because they were being taught in a language they did not yet understand. She has since dedicated herself to the education of these children. After graduation, Sanzetenea moved to Philadelphia where she began working as a dual-language kindergarten teacher at a time when such programs were nascent or non-existent throughout the city. She is one of Philadelphia’s only teachers that leads both the Spanish and English portions of her class. Sanzetenea’s impact is reflected in her students, who stand out for their engagement and excitement. “I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else,” says Sanzetenea of her work.

Courtesy of Cybil Sanzetenea, produced for consideration by Nature

Illustrating the world’s first blockchain board book is an opportunity Sanzetenea has been waiting for. The challenge of how to express technical concepts to a young audience through beautiful and easily digestible visual elements is particularly exciting to her. “Toshi” will not be Sanzetenea’s first foray into technical material, either. Her work was featured on the cover of the June 16th, 2016 issue of Cell magazine and she has as history working in scientific illustration. Noah and I are excited and honored to welcome Cybil Sanzetenea to the Toshi team!

To find out more about Cybil Sanzetenea’s work as an educator, visit her website. And remember to support the Kickstarter (ends November 29th!).

A page from Cybil Sanzetenea’s “El Tiempo Vuela.” In the artist’s words: “‘Time Flies’ was a project very close to my heart, because it presented giant concepts like the relativity of time, the fleeting nature of life, and the power of love and memory, all in an open-ended and interpretable way that encouraged readers to draw their own conclusions.”