Greek Gods and Fearsome Blizzards:
A Visit with John Rocco

h1 September 23rd, 2014    by jules


“I was the only one light enough to walk on top of the snow.”
Spread (without text) from Blizzard
(Click to enlarge)


“Zeus got angry and decided to destroy the entire race. I mean, Come on.
How bad could the humans have been?”

(Click to enlarge)

Pictured right is author-illustrator John Rocco in 1971. With him is his sister, Denise, and their dog, Toby-Tyler. This photo is the inspiration for John’s newest picture book, Blizzard (Disney-Hyperion), which will be released at the end of October. Blizzard tells the true story of John’s winter of 1978, when New England, as he explains in a closing author’s note, was slammed with one of the biggest snowstorms in its history. At first, it was all a bit thrilling and fun—we’re talkin’ school lets out early, snowdrifts cover doors, and tunnels and secret rooms are dug under piles of snow—and much hot cocoa (with milk!) was consumed. Then, things started to get a bit scary, but the young boy in the tale (John himself) heads out bravely to gather groceries for his family, as well as his neighbors, since as you can see above, he was “the only one light enough to walk on top of the snow.” It’s an adventure tale with cheer and heart, and at its core it’s a story about the resiliency and bravery of children.

Today, John is sharing some early drawings from the book, as well as some final art and a couple of other surprises. To boot, he’s throwing in four of his paintings from Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods, released by Disney-Hyperion in August.

Enjoy the art … Read the rest of this entry »

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #398: Featuring Ninja Cat Vs. Angel Cat

h1 September 21st, 2014    by jules

Hi, dear kickers. The illustrations I had planned to share today aren’t up, because I had some issues with the image files. Well, most of the images are fine, but two of them are not, so I’ll just wait. I’ll get that fixed soon (I hope) and post about the book another day.

But since posting without images is just not something I can tolerate here at 7-Imp, I’m sharing a piece of art my 10-year-old made. She and her sister are all the time drawing ninja cats, and this particular image cracks me up. It’s the age-old narrative of good vs. evil. This time it’s Ninja Cat vs. Angel Cat. Who will win?

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What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week, Plus What I Did
Last Week, Featuring Qin Leng and Frank Morrison

h1 September 19th, 2014    by jules


“Melba and her music trotted around the globe, dazzling audiences and making headlines in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. All her life, Melba kept composing and arranging music, kept making her trombone sing. Spread the word!
Melba Doretta Liston was something special.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


“Ojiichan played every morning. From his study, the clear, bright notes would drift upstairs, through the shoji screen doors to where Hana slept on sweet-smelling tatami mats, and coax her awake as gently as sunshine.”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 
Today over at Kirkus, I write about an utterly charming picture book import from the UK, The Storm Whale by Benji Davies. That is here.

* * *

Since last week I wrote here about Chieri Uegaki’s Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin (Kids Can Press, August 2014), illustrated by Qin Leng, and Little Melba and Her Big Trombone (Lee & Low, April 2014), written by Katheryn Russell-Brown and illustrated by Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award winner Frank Morrison, I’m following up with some art from each book today.

Enjoy. … Read the rest of this entry »

Firebird: A Chat with
Misty Copeland and Christopher Myers

h1 September 18th, 2014    by jules

Ballet is so rigorous and formally precise. I spent a lot of time watching videos of ballet and going to see Misty dance specifically, because as precise as ballet is, the specificity of her art was most important to me. I wanted not just to capture the excitement of ballet, but the thrill of watching Misty perform those precision moves, the artistry that she brings to it.”

 

Today over at Kirkus, I talk with Misty Copeland and Christopher Myers (pictured above), the creators of Firebird, a picture book released by Putnam this month. That’s Chris quoted above, who is talking about Misty’s work as the second African American soloist in the history of the American Ballet Theatre.

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

* * * * * * *

Photos used with permission. Photo of Misty taken by Gregg Delman.

A Conversation with
Norwegian Author-Illustrator, Stian Hole

h1 September 16th, 2014    by jules


“‘Listen! The sea has so many voices,’ Anna whispers. ‘It sounds like a heavenly choir humming. A song about crabs, eels, and sea urchins cooing in the deep.’”
– From
Anna’s Heaven
(Click to enlarge spread)

This month, I reviewed Stian Hole’s Anna’s Heaven, released by Eerdman’s in September, for BookPage. That review is here.

You all know I like to follow up reviews with art from the books I write about, if possible, but for this one I also decided to chat with the award-winning illustrator himself (pictured here) about this book, what’s next for him, how picture books differ in the U.S. and overseas, and more. In fact, he poses a question to readers below (regarding U.S. publishing), if anyone is so inclined to weigh in.

The chat today includes art from Anna’s Heaven, as well as a couple of older picture book titles of Stian’s, published here in the States. Stian also shares images from a forthcoming book, which will also be published here.

Let’s get right to it, and I thank him for visiting. Read the rest of this entry »

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #397: Featuring David Biedrzycki

h1 September 14th, 2014    by jules

Hello, dear kickers. Today I have some artwork from author-illustrator David Biedrzycki, whose has a brand-new picture book out from Charlesbridge, Breaking News: Bear Alert (Charlesbridge, September 2014). It’s the story—in the style of a breaking-news, this-just-in television report—of two very curious bears who make their way into a busy town. It’s a fun story, and David has a handful of spreads from it to share today, as well as a few early sketches. The Kirkus review for this one notes that David’s Adobe Photoshop illustrations are “bold and playful, appropriately reminiscent of vintage Hanna-Barbera and a good match for the slapstick story,” while the Publishers Weekly review adds that David’s book “comically exploits our cultures of distraction and surveillance.” (They make an excellent point.)

The cover’s so entertaining that I’m opening this post with it, though I normally open with artwork (well, non-cover artwork).

While David’s here, he’s also sharing some other artwork, so let’s get right to it, shall we? To read more about the books from which these images come and more about David and his work, you can visit his site here.

Read the rest of this entry »

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Bagram Ibatoulline

h1 September 12th, 2014    by jules

Today at Kirkus, I write about two picture books, Chieri Uegaki’s Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin, illustrated by Qin Leng, and Little Melba and Her Big Trombone, written by Katheryn Russell-Brown and illustrated by Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award winner Frank Morrison. That link is here.

* * *

Last week, I wrote here about two wonderful new books for budding, young photographers, Susan Goldman Rubin’s Stand There! She Shouted: The Invincible Photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline, and Ruth Thomson’s Photos Framed: A Fresh Look at the World’s Most Memorable Photographs. I’ve got a bit of art from Ibatoulline today.

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The Birds and the Bees

h1 September 11th, 2014    by jules


Joyce Sidman’s “Winter Bees,”
illustrated by Rick Allen

(Click to enlarge)


David Elliott’s “The Hummingbird,”
illustrated by Becca Stadtlander

(Click to enlarge)


 
Last week at Kirkus, I wrote here about two new picture book poetry collections — On the Wing by David Elliott and illustrated by newcomer Becca Stadtlander and, coming in November from Joyce Sidman, Winter Bees & Other Poems of the the Cold, illustrated by Rick Allen.

I’ve got art from each today.

Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry »

A Spotlight on Smaller Publishers, Featuring Artwork from Gusti, Elisa Gutiérrez, and Trina Schart Hyman

h1 September 9th, 2014    by jules



Above: An illustration from Jorge Bucay’s The King and the Magician,
illustrated by Gusti; Elisa Gutiérrez’s
Letter Lunch;
and Eric Kimmel’s
Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins,
illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman

Today’s featured picture books really have nothing in common but for two things: 1) I’ve been meaning to feature them for a while now, and 2) they all come from smaller publishers.

Let’s just get right to it. …

First up is Elisa Gutiérrez’s Letter Lunch, which was released by Owlkids in March. Gutiérrez is a graphic designer and illustrator, now living in Canada but originally from Mexico City. Letter Lunch, an inventive wordless tale, is the story of two friends collecting letters for alphabet soup after they realize on the very first spread that only the letter “C” is on their kitchen shelves. They head out into a lush, green garden; they head to the bustling market; and eventually they find themselves on top of a mountain. When they get back to their kitchen, they find their vowels in the form of spices and finally chow down. Gutiérrez lays the story out as if a comic, using panels and pacing everything just right. The letters boldly stand out in these textured cut-paper collage and mixed media illustrations. Kirkus calls this one “pleasingly fresh.”

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #396: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Esmé Shapiro

h1 September 7th, 2014    by jules


(Click to enlarge)

I always look forward to the first Sunday of every month here at 7-Imp, since that’s when I feature student or recently graduated illustrators, and today is no exception. I’m happy to introduce you to Esmé Shapiro, a recent grad. Let’s just get right to it, since she says a bit below and shares even more artwork.

I thank her for visiting.

(Please note that all of the images below are at Esmé’s site, as well as her Tumblr presence, and you can also read further at those cyberspace stops about the ideas behind the images. For instance, the above is an illustration for a story she wrote, called “Carmella Chameleon.”)

Read the rest of this entry »