Into the Clouds with Sophie Blackall

h1 October 18th, 2016    by jules

“‘We’ll see about that. …”
(Click to enlarge image)

I’ve got a review over at BookPage (here) of Matthew Olshan’s newest picture book, A Voyage in the Clouds: The (Mostly) True Story of the First International Flight by Balloon in 1785 (Margaret Ferguson Books/FSG, October 2016), illustrated by Sophie Blackall.

Sophie’s here today to share some reference images, early sketches, and final art. Here’s what she had to say about it:

I spent time in the V&A museum in London where they have all sorts of balloon paraphernalia. Balloon flight took the world by storm and influenced everything from cocktails to hats. There’s a drawing [below] I’ve included of a man and woman with balloon-inspired outfits. I’ve also thrown in a rather lewd cartoon from the time, which no doubt was funny in 1784, but in the light of Donald Trump seems sort of depressing. But it does show the illustration style of using speech balloons, which I borrowed throughout the book!

Sophie also shares below a sample painting for the next book she’s working on with Susan Rich at Little, Brown, called Hello, Lighthouse!


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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #505: Featuring a Dragon with a Taco

h1 October 16th, 2016    by jules

I’m doing something different today. No illustrations for you—I’ll be back early this week with some, as always—but you all remember Adam Rubin’s Dragons Love Tacos, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri, which came out in 2012, yes? I posted about it here (and here).

Well, evidently, there’s a new edition of the book that comes with a dragon/taco toy. And I don’t normally get this excited about plush, but boy, do I love that book. So, I was pretty happy to see this and wanted to share a photo of it today.

TACO PARTY, anyone?

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What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week, Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Mordicai Gerstein and Klaas Verplancke

h1 October 14th, 2016    by jules

— From Klaas Verplancke’s Margritte’s Apple


“The girl picked up her mandolin,
and as her fingers plucked and pressed the strings, she sang. …”
— From Mordicai Gerstein’s
The Sleeping Gypsy
(Click spread to enlarge)

This morning over at Kirkus, I’ve got the sweet and the surreal on the mind. That link is here.

* * *

Last week, I wrote here about Mordicai Gerstein’s The Sleeping Gypsy (Holiday House, October 2016) and Klaas Verplancke’s Magritte’s Apple (MoMA, September 2016). I’m following up here today with some spreads from each book.


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My Kirkus Q&A with Jabari Asim

h1 October 13th, 2016    by jules

I think of [Lewis] as one of the last
representatives of the golden age of civil rights oratory.”

* * *

Today over at Kirkus, I’ve got a Q&A with author Jabari Asim about Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis (Nancy Paulsen Books, October 2016). Earlier in the year, I showcased some spreads from this book, so if you want to see some of E. B. Lewis’s exquisite art for the book, head here and scroll down a bit.

The Q&A with Jabari is here this morning.

Until tomorrow . . .

* * * * * * *

Photo of Mr. Asim taken by Shef Reynolds II and used by permission of Penguin Random House.

My BookPage Chat with Melissa Sweet

h1 October 11th, 2016    by jules

“Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society — things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time, waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. … Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.”
(Click to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)

I’ve got an interview with Melissa Sweet over at BookPage. Go, go, go read it if you’re so inclined, because I really enjoyed our phone chat. That is here over in BookPage land.

We discussed her brand-new biography. It’s called Some Writer!: The Story of E. B. White (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, October 2016) — and it’s some book. Here at 7-Imp today, I’ve got some studio images and preliminary images from Melissa, as well as a bit of final art (which you can come back and look at when you’re done with the interview). That is below. I thank Melissa for sharing.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #504: Featuring Juana Medina

h1 October 9th, 2016    by jules

(Click to enlarge spread)

Here’s a quick post to tell you about Juana Medina’s newest book, Juana & Lucas, on shelves now from Candlewick Press. I read this one at the tail end of this summer—and I read it out loud to my girls—and we enjoyed every moment of it. It’s the story, divided into 11 illustrated and entertaining chapters, of young Juana, who lives in Bogotá, Colombia. She likes drawing; her Mami, her Tía Cris (her “favorite aunt. OF. ALL. AUNTS.”), and her Abue; her friend, Juli; a superhero character named Astroman; Brussels sprouts; the city where she lives, where “everyone speaks ESPAÑOL!”; reading; and her “furry amigo, Lucas.” He is “the smartest and most amazing perro every born,” Juana tells readers. “I can’t think of a better friend than Lucas.” Juana doesn’t like her school uniform and Felipe and Santiago, who laugh at her on the bus. But most of all, she doesn’t like learning English: “I’m certain I don’t either need or want to learn the English,” she says. “I’ve got trouble enough already with learning math.” The worst part of it all? The “TH” sound tickles her tongue and she is “positively terrible” at pronouncing it.

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What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring
Karen Lewis, Tom Sullivan, and Jennifer Thermes

h1 October 7th, 2016    by jules

— From Tom Sullivan’s I Used to Be a Fish
(Click to enlarge spread)


“After almost four years of exploring,
it was time to start the long voyage home. …”
— From Jennifer Thermes’
Charles Darwin’s Around-the-World Adventure
(Click to enlarge spread)


“This is our Grandmother Fish. …”
— From Jonathan Tweet’s
Grandmother Fish:
A Child’s First Book of Evolution, illustrated by Karen Lewis
(Click to enlarge spread)


Today over at Kirkus, I’ve got Henri Rousseau, René Magritte, Mordicai Gerstein, and Klaas Verplancke on the mind. That is here.

* * *

Last week, I wrote here about some new picture books about evolution (though one is more specifically about Charles Darwin) — Jonathan Tweet’s Grandmother Fish: A Child’s First Book of Evolution (Feiwel & Friends, September 2016), illustrated by Karen Lewis; Jennifer Thermes’ Charles Darwin’s Around-the-World Adventure; and Tom Sullivan’s I Used to Be a Fish.

I’ve got some spreads today from each book, and Tom and Jennifer also share some preliminary images (sketches and such). Let’s get to it, and I thank them for sharing.

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The Art of Michele Wood

h1 October 6th, 2016    by jules

Painting for “Jacob’s Ladder”
(Click to enlarge and see text)

Last week, I chatted here at Kirkus with illustrator Michele Wood about her paintings for Like a Bird: The Art of the American Slave Song (Millbrook/Lerner, September 2016), which includes text from Cynthia Grady.

Today, I’m following up with some paintings from the book.


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Aaron Becker Returns

h1 October 4th, 2016    by jules

Early sketch and final art
(Click each to enlarge)

Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator Aaron Becker visits 7-Imp today to talk about the close of his Journey trilogy. Return (Candlewick Press), the final picture book in the series, hit shelves in August and tells the further adventures of the girl whose crayon enables her to leave the world of her distracted family and enter a magical one of emperors, majestic birds, rich, cinematic landscapes, and much more. I won’t spoil the read for you, but suffice it to say that the girl’s father, satisfyingly, plays a large part in this final adventure.

I was curious to know how Aaron is feeling at the trilogy’s close, and I thank him for visiting today. He also shares some preliminary images and final art. Let’s get to it.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #503: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator Billy Renkl

h1 October 2nd, 2016    by jules

When I feature the work of student illustrators or those otherwise new to children’s literature on the first Sunday of each month here at 7-Imp, I tend to use the title you see above, which involves the phrase “up-and-coming illustrator.” Somehow that doesn’t seem enough for the work of artist Billy Renkl, who is actually a local artist to me. (He lives and teaches in Clarksville, Tennessee.) He’s been making art and teaching art since the late ’80s. Given that he has a newfound interest, however, in illustrating children’s books—he talks a bit about that below—I’m going to run with the whole “up-and-coming illustrator” moniker, even if he’s been making beautiful art for decades now.

Renkl, who teaches art, drawing, and illustration at Austin Peay State University, works in collage. “The old, retired, images and documents that I use,” he writes at his site, “many from antique didactic texts, allow for the possibility of meaning and metaphor in their peculiar beauty and often accidental æsthetic.” His work has been featured in many solo and group exhibitions, and he has also done editorial illustrations for many clients over the years. He’s had work in Creative Quarterly (the current issue, in fact), American Illustration, Society of Illustrator’s Annual, and 3×3.

Not only is Billy sharing some of his captivating artwork today, but he also shares his thoughts on his influences, why he loves collage, how teaching informs his work, and more. I thank him for visiting. Let’s get right to it.

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