About the illustrator

Drawings by Victoria Mankowski

“Don’t doodle in the margins of your homework papers” was the worst advice Anita Borgo gave her then second grade student, Victoria Mankowski. Fortunately, Victoria ignored the suggestion and continued doodling. Despite the doodling issue, the teacher-student relationship flourished into a friendship continuing throughout Victoria’s grade and high school years.

Victoria and Drago, bearded dragon

A dozen years later in search of an illustrator for Operation Hopper and Other Tales, Anita remembered Victoria and her passion for doodling. She contacted Victoria, now a college student, who agreed to illustrate the short story collection. 

Victoria is a nature lover, constantly exploring the wilderness. She lives in Crystal Lake with her human family and animal family. She is known to have a collection of reptiles and amphibians ranging from chunky bearded dragons to small, slimy frogs. In her free time, when the weather is gloomy, she enjoys drawing and painting.

Regina Belt-Daniels, a Northwest Herald reporter who reviewed Anita’s book describes Victoria’s illustrations in the review as follows: “Her (Victoria’s) line drawings and illustrations complement and add clarity to each story; there’s a little bit of whimsy and expression captured.

Enjoy a sampling of Victoria’s illustrations for Operation Hopper (below) as well as her real-life pets!

Drago, a ten-year-old bearded dragon, is calm with a sweet disposition. Victoria and Drago stroll through the park on warm days.He enjoys warm baths and sleeping on the couch.
Babie, the tiny anole, hitchhiked in a friend’s suitcase from California to Illinois. (She survived a four hour plane ride!) Victoria is keeping this surprise house guest until Babie can be released into the California wilds.
Posty, Drago’s younger brother, likes to be held and wears a leash when outside. At first, he hissed at Victoria, but she won him over!
Paco, a Pac Man frog, is a three-year-old chub. His appetite transformed the quarter sized amphibian into a palm sized handful. He enjoys snuggling into the soil and watching Victoria.
Henry, a Cairn Terrier, is Victoria’s most typical and cuddliest pet.
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