Archive for the 'Etcetera' Category
This morning, the tables are turned.
I’m visiting Children’s Literature Network, and questions are being asked of me. “What’s Right with Children’s Literature” is Tom Owens’s wonderful column in which he asks folks, 1) What’s right right now with children’s literature? and 2) What could be done to make that good “better”? I highly recommend exploring his archives to hear what others have to say.
Here’s that link, and I thank Tom for asking me to stop by. I took some coffee with me.
Well, this marks the first time in 7-Imp history—at least since 7-Imp started doing weekly “kicks” posts on Sundays—that I’m not kickin’ on a Sunday, but it’s Saturday night as I write this and I just received the news that the one and only Peter D. Sieruta, with whom Betsy Bird and I have been researching and writing a book since 2009, passed away Friday night. I’m still lacking details about what exactly happened, but his brother has announced the news.
I am still shocked about the brand-new, intractable fact that there’s a Peter-shaped hole in the world now, and I don’t really want to accept it, to imagine further manuscript conversations without Peter, as much as I adore working with Betsy. I have no doubt she feels the same.
(In fact, Betsy has written a tribute as well, and readers can also leave memories/comments at that post on Sunday. Betsy chose just the right words and remembers him well.)
I had planned on featuring an illustrator tomorrow, listing kicks, and inviting others to do so, as I do every Sunday. But it seems only right now to say some words about Peter and invite those who knew him to do the same.
It was my pleasure to work and write with Peter over the past three years. He had a keen wit, a kind heart, and a brilliant mind. He was an avid reader; every time we turned around Betsy and I were amazed, but not surprised, by the number of children’s lit-related stories he had stored in his brain and the knowledge he held on the subject. I remember one of us asking him early on in our research, seriously, Peter, how do you KNOW all this stuff?, and he replied simply, “lifelong interest in kids’ books!”
He would get a bit anxious at times about the editing process—joking about all of his portions of the book getting hacked and removed altogether from our manuscript—and this would leave me shaking my head in wonder. And that’s because his writing was very tight and always entertaining. I often turned to him to help me find more economy with my own words. Oh, RIGHT. Why didn’t I think of that? I’d wonder, after Peter got a hold of one of my sentences. (Or, as Betsy wrote, “He was such a professional, modest to a fault, always willing to help us out when we were feeling stuck. It is intolerable to lose him.”)
Ever curious, he seemed to be always reading, writing, and learning. And his blog, Collecting Children’s Books, was a true delight, where his unique voice as a writer was on display weekly.
Peter also adored his family. This I know. He spoke so fondly of them. His brother and parents remain, and I’m sure they are devastated. I extend my deepest and most heartfelt sympathies to them. Peter and I were writing partners but also had conversations of a personal nature about friends, family, and … life in general. And I know that he loved his family more than my words could possibly say here.
It was also clear to me and Betsy that Peter was very excited about our book’s publication (scheduled for next year), and it won’t be the same at all now. Not with his absence.
If anyone else would like to share memories of Peter here or leave a tribute, please know that you are welcome to do so.
I re-read these beautiful words from Walt Whitman just last week, and the least I can do is offer them up now in Peter’s honor, though I do so in shock and sadness:
All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.
I hope and hope that’s true. May Peter rest in peace. And may his family be sustained by happy memories.
A week ago today at Kirkus, I conducted a short Q & A with Jennifer Dasal, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at the North Carolina Museum of Art, about their current exhibit of Ashley Bryan’s artwork, Rhythms of the Heart: The Illustration of Ashley Bryan, which runs until August 19 of this year.
As I wrote over there, Bryan (pictured right) has led a long and distinguished career in children’s literature and his work draws, in particular, upon African-American spirituals, poetry, and folklore.
That link is here. You can read more over there from Ms. Dasal about the pieces in the exhibit, and I thank her for taking the time to talk to me.
Today here at 7-Imp, I’ve got images from the exhibit, and I thank the museum for sharing.
Released in conjunction with this exhibit will be two volumes of spirituals from Ashley, Walk Together Children: Black American Spirituals, Volume One and I’m Going to Sing: Black American Spirituals, Volume Two, published by Alazar Press. Over at the Q & A, I also spoke briefly with Rosemarie Gulla of Alazar, and here is what she told me in her entirety, for those interested in Ashley’s work and, in particular, these new volumes: Read the rest of this entry �
Dan Yaccarino, Yours Truly, David Ezra Stein,
Dianne de Las Casas, and Alyssa Capucilli;
Knoxville, Tennessee; May 19, 2012
I have a presence over in the hypo-hyper world of Facebook, primarily so that I can share children’s literature links — and keep up with children’s lit news and links from colleagues in the field. I already posted the above image over there at my profile page, but I post it again here this morning all in the name of a really wonderful children’s reading festival that I’d like to yawp about. (And it’s about time, since every year I come back from the festival intending to blog more about it.) You can imagine me doing both jazz hands and cheerleader spirit fingers on this one, ’cause it’s that great. (Even if you were standing in front of me right now, you’d still have to just imagine me doing this, since I can only manage to grunt monosyllabically before breakfast/coffee, much less engage in such enthusiastic hand gestures. Post-coffee, I’m good to go, though.)
How do you like my new friend here?
I can’t possibly thank Aaron enough for the kind words about 7-Imp. Oh my. Best part is the company I’m in.
Naturally, I begged for a copy of the Zenz-inspired Mad Hatter to feature here at 7-Imp. It’s now on this page of the blog, left to posterity. (Um, I sound like I’m retiring, but you reader-Imps know what I mean.)
Thanks again to Mr. Zenz!
(including an Eric Rohmann sighting — he’s also seated with Suzanne Bloom, Lindsay Barrett George, Melanie Hall, and Floyd Cooper)
I’m doing something a bit different for 7-Imp today.
This March, I had the pleasure of being a faculty member (well, sorta — I was a Special Guest instructor) at a Highlights Foundation writers’ workshop up in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. The Foundation is changing the way they’re doing things, given the construction of a new facility at their Honesdale site, and wanted folks to help get the word out, and I said I’d be happy to contribute with a short Q & A with Kent Brown, Executive Director of the Highlights Foundation.
(If you’ve ever wondered about the Foundation faculty—for their writers’ workshops, that is—go no further than here and prepare to be impressed.)
So, here’s the deal, dear Imps: The Highlights Foundation has led in the past a week-long writers’ workshop at the Chautauqua Institution in New York state. However, at the Honesdale campus in Pennsylvania, they are happy to have completed work on a brand-new facility. As a result, they decided to focus on what they can provide writers and illustrators using the Honesdale space alone. Read the rest of this entry �
A quick post to note that the International Board on Books for Young People today announced the short list for the Hans Christian Andersen Award. That list is here. The winning author and illustrator will be announced next week at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. (Oh, how I wish I were going back!) There are many good folks shortlisted here, so I shouldn’t single out anyone, but to say I’m a ginormous John Burningham fan doesn’t even quite cut it, so I’m particularly excited about that.
That’s it for now. Until tomorrow …
I’m visiting this week (as a “special guest”) at a Highlights Foundation workshop in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. Last night at dinner, my former career as a sign language interpreter came up, and before I knew it, the ever-effusive Katie Davis—who could probably talk a cat into a long, leisurely bath—had convinced me to interpret her latest picture book, Little Chicken’s Big Day, into American Sign Language, while she read it — all in the name of World Read-Aloud Day 2012, which is being celebrated today, in fact.
I haven’t interpreted in—gulp—nearly eight years (with the wonderful exception of having the opportunity to interpret for Walter Dean Myers’ 2009 Arbuthnot Honor Lecture at the Alex Haley Farm in East Tennessee). This is far from a perfect interpretation. There are even mistakes. I feel like I should point this out to any deaf folks or interpreters watching. Did I mention it was very impromptu? It was also at the end of a long day, as you can tell from my shiny face and tired hair. (I’m hardly a vain person, but you know … Whew.)
And it was fun. May you enjoy reading aloud today, if you’re so inclined.
I hope to be back tomorrow with actual picture book art. Until then …