My Q&A with Jonathan Auxier

h1 July 21st, 2016    by jules

‘What is the point of a storybook?’ is actually a really difficult question to answer because, at the end of the day, stories are largely frivolous: They don’t fill an empty belly or suture a wound or shelter the lost. And yet every reader knows that something almost mystical transpires when the right reader finds the right story. I was trying to articulate the meaning of that transaction. Ultimately, I found the easiest way to answer the question was to invert it and ask ‘What happens if we lose our storybooks?’ And that question became the foundation of the entire novel.”

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Over at Kirkus today, I talk to novelist Jonathan Auxier, pictured here, about his newest book, Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard (Abrams/Amulet, April 2016).

That is here this morning.

Until tomorrow …

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Photo of Jonathan used by his permission.


On Falling with Elisha Cooper

h1 July 19th, 2016    by jules

(Click to enlarge)

Author-illustrator Elisha Cooper and I started chatting about his new memoir, Falling, back in May when he was at the Sendak farm as a 2016 Sendak Fellow (hence the mug above), and I’m just now posting our conversation. (The Danielsons are moving to a new home this summer, so I take all the blame for the slow pace of this chat, though since I always enjoy talking with him, let’s just say I did it on purpose.)

Falling (published by Pantheon in June) is sub-titled A Daughter, a Father, and a Journey Back, and it tells the story of discovering a lump under his five-year-old daughter’s ribs and her subsequent diagnosis of cancer. With tenderness, wit, and precision, he writes about the changes in life brought about by the pediatric cancer, outlining his daughter’s treatment and even post-treatment, and the hopelessness he felt as a parent. But, as you can see in our chat below, the book is also infused with a spirit of hope (and, fortunately, his daughter is also now cancer-free). As the Publishers Weekly review notes, it’s a memoir that is poignant but never melodramatic.

Let’s get to it. Finally. I thank Elisha for taking the time to chat. (Bonus: There’s some art below.)

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #492: Featuring Harry Bliss

h1 July 17th, 2016    by jules

“A boy sheep is a ram. He has horns. The horns do not come off.”
(Click to enlarge spread)

I’ve got a review here over at BookPage of Jeanne Birdsall’s My Favorite Pets: By Gus W. for Ms. Smolinksi’s Class, released by Knopf this month. Here at 7-Imp today, I’m featuring some of the books spreads from Harry Bliss.

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What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Jeff Newman

h1 July 15th, 2016    by jules

This morning over at Kirkus, I’ve got story time on the mind. That link is here.

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Last week, I wrote here about Dan Richards’ Can One Balloon Make an Elephant Fly?, illustrated by Jeff Newman (coming to shelves in August from Simon & Schuster). Today, I have a few spreads from the book, but Jeff also shares some preliminary images.

You’ll see below some early sketches, as well as some (the ones broken into four grids) that represent an early version of the story in which Evan and his mother spent most of the story at their apartment. (In the final version, they stay at the zoo.) You’ll also see some finishes from, as Jeff puts it, “a more stylized, scrapped version of the book (before we took it in a slightly more realistic direction).”

I thank Jeff for sharing.


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Jeannie Baker’s Circle

h1 July 14th, 2016    by jules

“Following an ancient, invisible pathway high above the clouds,
each bird takes a turn to lead the way south.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


Last week, I chatted over at Kirkus (here) with Australian author-illustrator Jeannie Baker. It was fascinating to read her description of her collage-making process. Today, I’m following up with two spreads from her newest book, Circle (Candlewick, May 2016).

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The End Game with Isabel Roxas

h1 July 12th, 2016    by jules

(Click to enlarge)

Pictured above is, according to illustrator Isabel Roxas, one of many cover designs from Minh Lê’s debut picture book, Let Me Finish!, released by Disney/Hyperion last month. This is the story of a young boy trying to read, trying to reach the end of a book and experience the surprises in store, yet all around are his animal friends, revealing spoilers at every turn. At each spoiler, the boy picks up a new book, only to have its ending revealed as well. Lê paces the story well, building tension as the story progresses (and as the boy attempts to steal away and find a successful, interruption-free reading spot), giving readers a mammoth-sized surprise of his own at the end. (But I won’t ruin it for you.)

Roxas has illustrated many books in the Philippines but currently lives in the U.S. and is here to talk about creating the illustrations for this one. I thank her for sharing. Let’s get to it.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #491: Featuring Antoinette Portis

h1 July 10th, 2016    by jules

I’ve got a review over at BookPage of Antoinette Portis’s entertaining new picture book, Best Frints in the Whole Universe (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook Press, July 2016).

The review is here. Now, normally I’d share some spreads from the book here, but Antoinette actually already shared some spreads from this one here at 7-Imp. When she visited in August of last year to talk about Wait, she talked about Best Frints and shared a handful of spreads. So, if you want to check those out, they are here in this post — towards the bottom.

It was fun to give you all a sneak-peek of Best Frints last year, but it’s even better to see it on shelves now.

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What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week, Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Greg Pizzoli, Salina Yoon, and Toni Yuly

h1 July 8th, 2016    by jules

— From Salina Yoon’s Duck, Duck, Porcupine!


“Cat is sleepy. He wants to nap.
Kitten is curious. She wants to play …”
— From Toni Yuly’s
Cat Nap
(Click to enlarge)


— From Greg Pizzoli’s What’s an Apple?

Today over at Kirkus, I look at Can One Balloon Make an Elephant Fly? (coming to shelves in August from Simon & Schuster) in which Dan Richards and Jeff Newman explore what it looks like to a child when a parent stares into a cell phone. But mostly they tell an entertaining story. With floating elephants.

That is here.

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Last week I wrote here about Salina Yoon’s Duck, Duck, Porcupine! (Bloomsbury, May 2016); Toni Yuly’s Cat Nap (Feiwel & Friends, January 2016); and Marilyn Singer’s What’s an Apple? and What’s a Banana?, both illustrated by Greg Pizzoli and coming to shelves in August from Abrams.

I’ve got art from each book below, and Greg also shares some early character sketches and such.


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My Kirkus Q&A with Jeannie Baker

h1 July 7th, 2016    by jules

I was lucky enough to have Raymond Briggs as one of my tutors at Art College. I think he has inspired me more than anyone. As a tutor, he was always very positive and encouraging. Initially, I had a very small and clichéd idea of what a children’s picture book should be. Raymond’s work made me realize the potential of a picture book — that its boundaries and possibilities are wide and exciting and, mostly, that I’m only limited by my imagination.”

* * *

Over at Kirkus today, I talk to Australian author-illustrator Jeannie Baker, pictured here, about her newest picture book, Circle (Candlewick, May 2016).

That is here this morning. Next week at 7-Imp, I’ll follow up with some art from the book.

Until tomorrow …

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Photo of Jeannie used by permission of Candlewick Press.


Seven Questions Over Lunch with Evan Turk

h1 July 5th, 2016    by jules

“Long, long ago, like a pearl around a grain of sand, the fertile Kingdom of Morocco formed near the edge of the great, dry Sahara. It had fountains of cool, delicious water to quench the dangerous thirst of the desert,
and storytellers to bring the people together.”

(Click to enlarge spread)

This is supposed to be Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Evan Turk but it’s lunch instead, since I’m slow in getting started today. That’s okay, because Evan says he’s not a breakfast-eater anyway. He is, however, a fan of coffee, which we can have any time of day. Of course.

Evan has illustrated what I think is one of the year’s most beautiful picture books, The Storyteller (Atheneum, June 2016), which is the first book he’s both written and illustrated. (The book’s opening spread is pictured above.) It’s a story within a story within a story, and it’s a visual tour de force. In August, we’ll see his illustrations for the follow-up to Bethany Hegedus’ and Arun Gandhi’s Grandfather Gandhi, which was released in 2014 and was the book that first introduced readers to his artwork. In Be The Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story, Bethany and Arun examine how wastefulness can lead to violence.

Evan is here today to share lots of art from each book, as well as preliminary images of all sorts (boy howdy, does this guy do his research — and what beautiful research it is), and he talks a bit about what’s next for him. I thank him for visiting and, especially, for sharing so much art.

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