What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Meilo So

h1 December 19th, 2014    by jules


“Blown by the wind, / water sails high. / Tumbling cloud plumes curl through the air. /
Soplada por el viento, / el agua se remonta. / Volutas nebulosas ruedan por el aire.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 
This morning over at Kirkus, I write about some holiday picture books titles, what I think are some of the best of the season. It’s a Christmas miracle: LeUyen Pham has made me like “The Twelve Days of Christmas” again. That link will be here soon.

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Last week, I wrote here about Pat Mora’s Water Rolls, Water Rises (Lee & Low, October 2014), illustrated by Meilo So. Today, I share some spreads from it.

Enjoy.

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The Many Sides of Santa
and Some Art from Chuck Groenink

h1 December 18th, 2014    by jules



 
Last week at Kirkus, I chatted here with children’s book author and poet Bob Raczka, so today I’m following up with some of Chuck Groenink’s illustrations from Raczka’s Santa Clauses: Short Poems from the North Pole, released by Carolrhoda Books in September. Groenink, as I mentioned in the column last week, is from the Netherlands but now lives in New York. I highly recommend exploring the art at his site or even his tumblr. If you subscribe to the Horn Book, you’ll recognize him from the cover art of the current issue.

I’m tellin’ you what. We see lots of new holiday picture books every year, many easily forgettable, but I really like this one. I’d love to see a 2015 7-Imp interview with Groenink so that we can see way more art from him. Don’t you agree?

Enjoy the art.

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Traditional Tales with Bernadette Watts

h1 December 16th, 2014    by jules

I’ve got my work cut out for me this week and so my time today is limited, but here’s a quick post to share a few spreads from The Bernadette Watts Collections: Stories and Fairy Tales, coming to shelves in an English edition early next year (NorthSouth). If you’re up for some colorful, pastoral art—with some no-holds-barred drama to boot—you’re in the right place today.

Watts, whose fairy tale art is well-known in Europe, was born in England in 1942 and still lives in the UK (and is still creating new stories). This collection of nearly forty previously-published stories, released this year in Switzerland, includes tales from Aesop, Leo Tolstoy, the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, and more. The book includes an introduction from Eric Carle, where in part he writes:

Although we have never met, I have been an admirer of Bernadette Watts’s art for a long time. Dominant in her work are the settings. She is a very English illustrator/artist, and her pedigree is unmistakable. That said, in “Varenka” [a story based on a Russian legend] she boldly and with a modern brush employs the vernacular of Russian religious art. …

Her books generally display warm and pleasing colors that bathe each image in an almost theater-like setting: the lights have been dimmed, the curtain has been drawn, and the viewer has settled back, invited into the magic unfolding in Bernadette’s art and stories. …

Watts strikes just about every mood in this collection. She goes from eerie (“Little Red Riding Hood,” originally published in 2009) to sweet (“The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse”) and hits just about every note in between.

Here’s a bit more art. (You may notice the text in the English edition differs from the text in these images.)

Until Thursday … Read the rest of this entry »

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #410: Featuring Chris Raschka

h1 December 14th, 2014    by jules


“And that is the very best sort of thing to be.”


 
I’ve got some illustrations today from Caldecott Medalist Chris Raschka, and I think taking a look at his artwork is pretty much always a good way to start one’s day.

If You Were a Dog (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, September 2014) was written by Jamie A. Swenson and is an engaging title for very young children. Swenson introduces a series of animals, using the conditional if-you-were question — from dogs to dinosaurs and lots of other animals in between (including a human at the book’s close). The text has an infectious energy, its fair share of entertaining onomatopoeia, and a very playful rhythm that begs to be shared in group story times. You can see some of that below in the spreads shared here today. It’s a book that invites young children to use their imagination and play along; I kinda wish I could snap my fingers right now and have a group of children to share it with.

Kirkus calls this one a “cheery picker-upper.” It’s true. See for yourself below. And please enjoy Raschka’s menagerie of swooping, swimming, stomping, swooshing, fluttering, buzzing creatures. His color palette here is spot-on, and I love the way he captures the movement and energy of all these creatures.

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What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Eva Eriksson

h1 December 12th, 2014    by jules


“Grump the tomte lived in the grounds of an empty cottage and every day, he slipped into the cottage through the cat flap. That’s how small he was. Real house tomtes are like that. They are small and quick and grumpy and they are always dressed in grey, apart from a pointy red hat. You hardly ever see them.”


 
This morning over at Kirkus, I spotlight Pat Mora’s Water Rolls, Water Rises, illustrated by Meilo So. That link is here.

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Last week I wrote here about Ulf Stark’s The Yule Tomte and the Little Rabbits (Floris Books), illustrated by Eva Eriksson and first published in Sweden in 2012. I’ve got some art from it today.

Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry »

Some Haiku Before Breakfast …

h1 December 11th, 2014    by jules

I love the fact that a haiku is designed to capture a moment in time. It allows the reader, and the writer, to savor that moment.

These days, we are bombarded with so much information that sometimes we forget to stop and appreciate the little things.

I also love the challenge of presenting these small moments in just seventeen syllables, with a little twist to make them memorable.”

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Today over at Kirkus, I chat with children’s book author and poet Bob Raczka, pictured above, about writing poetry for children; Santa Clauses: Short Poems from the North Pole, his beautiful new picture book, illustrated by Chuck Groenink; and what’s next on his plate.

That link is here, and next week I’ll have some art from the book here at 7-Imp.

* * * * * * *

Photo of Bob Raczka used by his permission.

One Impossibly Large Apple Before Breakfast

h1 December 9th, 2014    by jules


“It stuffed and stuffed and stuffed itself,
and had not even eaten half when it choked on it and fell down dead!”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 
It’s challenging to write about new picture books at this time of year, given that it’s the end of a calendar year and most Fall books are well past initial release. Instead of looking at newer titles, everyone’s talkin’ Caldecott. (This is something I enjoy reading about, to be sure. If you’re not already reading Calling Caldecott, I’d recommend it.)

Today I’m going to jump way back, though, to 1965; if we don’t have as many new books to explore, let’s look at this one, originally published in Switzerland and created by a German author-illustrator. Just One Apple comes from Horst Eckert, whose pen name is Janosch. NorthSouth re-released this here in the States in September of this year.

In this be-careful-what-you-wish-for tale, a poor man named Walter longs for an apple tree with a blossom. He makes a wish one night, and not only is it granted, but he eventually ends up with a monstrously large apple. He figures that everyone in the kingdom is now his friend, but then he becomes paranoid, believing thieves will take it. “He trusted no one — and even his friends deserted him.” He can’t even sell the fruit when he takes it to market. (And in my favorite line of the book, he has to admit he doesn’t even like apples.)

Turns out, though, that a giant green dragon descends upon the town and taunts the kingdom. In the end, the king’s “detectives” feed the apple to the dragon, who chokes and dies on it. (See above.) The kingdom is saved. Walter was happy again — and this time only wishes for two small, basket-sized apples.

Jonosch’s art is new to me. This is one thing I love about publishers like NorthSouth — that they give us a window into illustrators from overseas with much different sensibilities. I’m struck by how Janosch’s art reminds me of John Burningham’s art (British) in more than one way.

Here are a couple more illustrations. Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry »

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #409: Featuring Roger Duvoisin

h1 December 7th, 2014    by jules


“‘Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! On, Cupid!
On, Donder and Blitzen! To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away, all!’”


 
I’m going vintage today, you all.

Want to know one of my favorite things about this holiday season? Back in September, Knopf re-released Caldecott Medalist Roger Duvoisin’s very tall The Night Before Christmas, which was originally published in 1954.

Duvoisin’s take on the classic Christmas poem includes his vivid colors, robust line, and elegant shapes. Know what I just read in the Publishers Weekly review, too? “The illustrator’s fans may notice that the stuffed yellow lion among Santa’s gifts bears a notable resemblance to Louise Fatio’s The Happy Lion, which Duvoisin illustrated the same year.” Well, huh. That hadn’t occurred to me.

That same review also notes the use of primary colors in Duvoisin’s illustrations here, which you can see for yourself in the images featured here today.

This is one of many Christmas stories Duvoisin illustrated. In the classic American Picturebooks from Noah’s Ark to the Beast Within, Barbara Bader writes, “Nobody celebrates Christmas like Duvoisin — except children.”

Here’s some more art (without the text). Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry »

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Michael Emberley

h1 December 5th, 2014    by jules

This morning at Kirkus, I write about a Christmas story, straight from Sweden and originally published there in 2012 — Ulf Stark’s The Yule Tomte and the Little Rabbits, illustrated by Eva Eriksson. It’s available in the States now, thanks to Floris Books.

That link is here.

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Since I wrote here last week about the anniversary edition of two of Robie H. Harris’ excellent books for children about puberty and sexuality, I’m sharing some illustrations from them today. Michael Emberley, who will visit 7-Imp soon for a breakfast interview, illustrated them. You can click on each spread to see it in more detail.

Until Sunday …

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A Boy Named Carl …

h1 December 4th, 2014    by jules


The book’s opening endpapers (without text): “‘Imagination will often carry us
to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere.’ — Carl Sagan”

(Click to enlarge)


 
Last week, I chatted over at Kirkus with author-illustrator Stephanie Roth Sisson about Star Stuff, her new picture book biography of Carl Sagan (which Horn Book just gave a starred review). That link is here, and I wanted to be sure to follow up this week with some art from the book. Stephanie also sent some early dummy images, sketches, etc. Several of the dummy images below were later changed, so if you’ve seen the book, it’s fascinating to see these earlier images.

I thank Stephanie for sharing. Enjoy!

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