Archive for the 'Interviews' Category

Matt Phelan on Turtle Walk

h1 Tuesday, October 20th, 2020

Author-illustrator Matt Phelan visits today to talk a bit about his playful new picture book for very young readers, Turtle Walk (Greenwillow, October 2020). Librarians and educators, take note: This is your next best pick for storytime for your youngest patrons and students.

Matt, as he notes below, likes the “challenge of making something that is clear and simple, yet can be read again and again.” This particular story—one in which small turtles, much like small children, amble through a year, taking in everything around them (and in a palette of vivid, rich colors)—was inspired by his daughter. He visits today to talk about that and share some images from the creation of the book. As always, a few final illustrations are included here as well.

Thanks to Matt for visiting!

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Christy Hale on Out the Door

h1 Tuesday, October 13th, 2020

It’s a pleasure to have a visit today from author-illustrator Christy Hale. Her new picture book, Out the Door (Neal Porter Books/Holiday House, October 2020), takes readers to busy Brooklyn. Here, a young girl makes her way to school and back home again, and it’s all about the journey—”out the door, down the stoop, past the neighbors along the block….” As you can tell from the spreads below, it’s an adventure in prepositions (perfect for elementary students in that particular unit of study), but it’s much more. As Christy says below, it’s a book about “the connection between the words ‘commute’ and ‘community.’”

Here’s Christy, in her own words, and a handful of the beautifully textured cut-paper collages from the book.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #712: Featuring Ashley Wolff

h1 Sunday, October 11th, 2020

(Click spread to enlarge)

It’s a pleasure today to welcome author-illustrator Ashley Wolff, who talks about a new version of an old book.

Only the Cat Saw was originally published in 1985, and as you’ll read below, Ashley had an opportunity to update it. This new version, on shelves in June of this year (Beach Lane Books), is the story of a small multiracial family on a farm. While they bustle about, getting ready for bed after a busy day, the cat is the only one to see the sun set; fireflies at night; an owl; a shooting star; and more. The text is spare and rhythmic with pleasing repetition, and Ashley’s richly colored illustrations are deliciously textured. Young children, who wonder what their pet sees at night, will delight in this warm, cozy story.

Thanks to Ashley for visiting today to share more about this updated version. And don’t miss her September visit with Jama Kim Rattigan to talk in even more detail about the book. (That is here.)

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If You Come to Earth:
A Conversation with Sophie Blackall

h1 Monday, October 5th, 2020


(Click image to enlarge)

Author-illustrator Sophie Blackall and I have been chatting back and forth via email about her new picture book, If You Come to Earth (Chronicle), which arrived on shelves last month. It’s an ambitious picture book that asks big questions about life, and it’s funny and poignant and thought-provoking all at once. Our narrator, Quinn, writes a letter via scroll to any aliens who are perhaps considering visiting Earth. What is Earth like anyway? That’s the question Quinn poses. Not a small task, but over the course of 80 pages, they manage to cover a lot of ground.

I asked Sophie about the book’s genesis, and she also talks to me about the challenges of creating a book with such a wide scope—and why the tiny details in such a story matter and matter a lot. A transcription of our chat is below. There’s also lots of the book’s dynamic, exquisite art in our chat, and I thank her for sharing. Let’s get to it! Read the rest of this entry �

Sending You Elsewhere …

h1 Thursday, September 24th, 2020


I’m sending you over to the Horn Book’s Calling Caldecott today.

Last week, we posted a brief chat I had with the 2020 Caldecott Medalist Kadir Nelson, pictured left. If you’re interested in finding out what his Caldecott year has been like that, that Q&A is here.

We have also kicked off our book coverage over there. One book we covered this week is Lesa Cline-Ransome’s and James Ransome’s The Overground Railroad, pictured above. It’s a book I didn’t write about here at 7-Imp this year—but one I really like. So, I’m going to send you over to read Nicholl Montgomery’s thoughs on the book. That is here.

To keep up with all of our other posts there this year, you can always head right to the blog at this link.

See you there!

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Photo of Kadir Nelson taken by David Walter Banks and used by permisson of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

A Chapter 16 (and 7-Imp) Visit with David Wiesner

h1 Thursday, September 17th, 2020

Early sketch of Cathy


— A final illustration from Robobaby
(Click image to see spread in its entirety)

Over at Chapter 16, I have a Q&A with author-illustrator David Wiesner. He and I chatted via phone recently about his career; his newest picture book, Robobaby; and more. That Q&A is here.

But also! Here at 7-Imp, David gives us a deep dive into the making of Robobaby. That is below, should you be interested in that after reading the Chapter 16 piece.

I thank him for sharing.

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My BookPage Q&A with Denene Millner

h1 Thursday, September 10th, 2020


Over at BookPage, I had the pleasure of talking with publisher, author, and journalist Denene Millner about her work. Earlier this year, she moved her imprint, Denene Millner Books, to Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.

Denene talks about the challenges of launching an imprint during a pandemic and a “modern-day civil rights movement”; about wanting books about Black joy over Black struggle; how she finds talent; what’s on her publishing wish list; and more.

Click the above image to head to BookPage to read the Q&A.

My Chapter 16 Q&A with Renée Watson

h1 Thursday, September 3rd, 2020


I had the pleasure once again of interviewing author Renée Watson. We chat over at Tennessee’s Chapter 16. Renée will speak at the 2020 Southern Festival of Books (a Nashville event that will be virtual this year). She will be in conversation with Meg Medina on October 8; see the full festival schedule here.

She and I discuss Ways to Make Sunshine, illustrated by artist Nina Mata; the future of the I, Too Arts Collective; Portland; her hopes for children’s book publishing today; and more.

That interview is here.

Flamer: A Conversation with Mike Curato

h1 Thursday, August 27th, 2020

It’s a pleasure to welcome author-illustrator Mike Curato once again to 7-Imp. Today, we discuss Flamer (Godwin Books/Henry Holt, September 2020), his new graphic novel for teens. Flamer is fictional but based on some of Curato’s own personal experiences.

The book tells the story of 14-year-old Aiden, who is away at summer camp (awash in toxic masculinity) and trying to figure out a lot of things about himself, including the fact that he has a crush on a boy. He dreads the return to school (he’s about to transition from a Catholic school to a public high school) and is accustomed to being bullied — for his size and weight, for being effeminate, for not playing sports, and for his Filipino heritage. It’s a powerful and poignant coming-of-age story and a departure for Curato, who until now has made picture books.

I thank him for visiting today to discuss the book and share some art.

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Thanks to Frances Perkins:
An interview with Kristy Caldwell

h1 Thursday, August 13th, 2020

I’m pleased today to welcome illustrator Kristy Caldwell to 7-Imp as part of a blog tour for Deborah Hopkinson’s Thanks to Frances Perkins: Fighter for Workers’ Rights (Peachtree, August 2020). Hopkinson frames this biography of the groundbreaking workers-rights advocate, who served as the U.S. Secretary of Labor (the first woman appointed to a presidential cabinet) for twelve years, with “math questions” for the young readers at whom the book is aimed: “How many yeras will it be until you turn sixty two?” and “What year will that be?” You’ll want to thank Frances Perkins, Hopkinson writes, when you get to that age.

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