Raquel is a first-generation American (her parents were from Colombia), born and raised in New York City. After graduating with a BFA in Illustration from Parsons School of Design, she launched her career as an illustrator and book-jacket designer, and became the Creative Director of Henry Holt Adult trade books in 1990. Shortly after the birth of her older son, Raquel began illustrating her own children’s books, and in 2007 became the Children’s Book Director at Workman Publishing. There, she was responsible for developing original book ideas and turning them into successful publishing ventures. Brainquest Workbooks, Big Fat Notebooks, the technologically-innovative “Scanimation” and “Photicular” books, and the bestselling Unlikely Friendships series, were just a few of the franchises on her list.
In 2012, Raquel published her first novel, Wonder, under the pen name R. J. Palacio. Wonder has gone on to become a worldwide bestseller, with fifteen million copies in print, over six years on the New York Times bestseller list, and translated into fifty languages. Her story about a boy in need of a little extra kindness from the world launched the Choose Kind movement, and has become a must-read for middle graders in schools across the country. Raquel was an Executive Producer on the 2017 movie adaptation of Wonder starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, and Jacob Tremblay, which received an Oscar nomination and was a box office hit. The experience left her eager to create more content for screen, which is why in 2018, she is thrilled to be launching 1000JARS Productions with Russell Gordon, her partner in life and all things.