Archive for the 'Interviews' Category

Shawn Harris on A Polar Bear in the Snow

h1 Tuesday, January 12th, 2021

It’s a pleasure to have a visit today from illustrator Shawn Harris, who discusses not only the genesis of A Polar Bear in the Snow (Candlewick), written by Mac Barnett and released at the end of 2020, but also how he created the illustrations for the book.

“There’s a polar bear in the snow. … Where is he going?” With engaging, appealing sentences and striking cut-paper artwork, the story brings readers a polar bear’s adventure, one of play and movement and joy.

I thank Shawn for sharing images and videos (all videos are captioned) about his artistic process. Let’s get right to it. …

Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #725: Featuring LeUyen Pham

h1 Sunday, January 10th, 2021

On shelves now is LeUyen Pham’s newest picture book, all about living during the pandemic — Outside, Inside (Roaring Brook). I’ve seen quite a few books published in response to COVID-19, but I think this one does a superb job of capturing the ways in which the pandemic has wreaked great havoc, while also acknowledging the hope that one day this will all end. To be blunt, I’m not fond of the books that spin the pandemic in only positive ways, such as the hey, we may be stuck inside, but we get to spend more time together! approach. (People have died. Let’s do a better job of reading the room.) I would highly recommend handing LeUyen’s book to a child, though. It gets it.

I’ve a review of the book over at BookPage. That is here, if you’d like to read more about it.

I also got to ask LeUyen all about making the book. That chat—in which she talks about cataloging the world as it is (“Outside, Inside was the first time I really allowed myself to paint exactly what I saw”)—is here.

And here at 7-Imp (below) are some spreads from the book. Read the rest of this entry �

Visiting The Book of Life podcast

h1 Monday, January 4th, 2021


Today, I’m sending you over to The Book of Life, a podcast focused on Jewish children’s literature. I had a chat with Heidi Rabinowitz about the Sydney Taylor mock awards blog, which is called The Sydney Taylor Schmooze and was started in Spring 2020 by Heidi, Susan Kusel, and Chava Pinchuck. For the podcast episode, Heidi talked to me about Calling Caldecott (the Horn Book’s mock Caldecott blog that Martha V. Parravano and I co-run); Amy Seto Forrester about Guessing Geisel (the mock Geisel blog); and Steven Engelfried about Heavy Medal (School Library Journal’s mock Newbery blog).

Heidi asked us for advice on running a mock awards blog, and she also asked us about our favorite books, both secular and Jewish, from 2020.

The episode is here.

An Alphabet Adventure Before Breakfast

h1 Tuesday, December 8th, 2020

Lucky for me, things are coming up very Julie today at 7-Imp.

Author Julie Larios and author-illustrator Julie Paschkis (both language lovers) visit today to talk briefly about their newest picture book, Eek!: A Noisy Journey from A to Z (Peachtree, September 2020).

I reviewed this one for the Horn Book, and I don’t think that review will publish till later. But in summary: This is a mighty entertaining alphabet adventure. It is wordless, with the exception of some onomatopoeia and animal sounds. The adventure begins with a sneezing mouse (A is for “achoo”) and ends with that mouse falling asleep safely (Z is for “ZzZzZ”) — and in between there are buzzing bees, chirping birds, a cat, a dog who likes to chase cats, a raccoon on a bike, a pig in a sleek car, a harrumph’ing alligator, a bike accident, some tears but much joy, a parade, a lion (with a mane just right for snuggling mice), and much more.

Read the rest of this entry �

Five questions for Jordan Scott
and Sydney Smith at the Horn Book

h1 Thursday, November 12th, 2020


“It was a beautiful experience. I actually couldn’t make my way through the book on the first read, as it seemed unreal. … What’s truly remarkable about his work in the book is that he really understands the stutter on an emotional and aesthetic level. Emotionally, the artwork almost places the stutter in the background, like a low ambient noise, that hums throughout the book. The stutter is present, obviously, but it’s not the entirety of the child’s experience or identity. It’s hard to explain
how meaningful this is for me.” — Jordan Scott

Over at the Horn Book, I had the distinct pleasure of working with my fellow Calling Caldecott blogger, Martha V. Parravano, to compose some questions for author and poet Jordan Scott and illustrator Sydney Smith about their 2020 picture book, I Talk Like a River.

This exquisite book is one of my favorites this year. (I reviewed it here. And here at 7-Imp, Sydney shared lots of preliminary images from creating this book.)

Head here to read our five-questions chat with them.

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #715: Featuring Sarah Williamson

h1 Sunday, November 1st, 2020

Today, author-illustrator Sarah Williamson visits to talk about creating Elevator Bird (Knopf), which will be on shelves in late November. I’ll let her tell you about the story below.

Sarah’s brightly colored illustrations are filled with the kinds of little offbeat details that make this a book that children will pore over. And fans of the Eloise books may be especially delighted, given the book’s posh hotel setting. Sarah shares some spreads below, as well as some early sketches from the book.

Let’s get to it, and I thank her for sharing.

Read the rest of this entry �

“About My Bear”:
Irene Luxbacher on Once I Was a Bear

h1 Tuesday, October 27th, 2020

Today, I welcome author-illustrator Irene Luxbacher, who talks about her newest picture book, Once I Was a Bear (Scholastic, September 2020), and how her child with autism inspired it. The book tells a story of transition and transformation—one of a bear in the woods, at one with nature, who wakes up to find himself in a big city and heading to his first day of school. (After all, there’s a boy in that bear.)

It’s a tender story of seeking understanding, rendered in soft-focus but vivid colors. A selection of spreads are included below.

I’ll hand it over to Irene. I thank her for sharing.

Read the rest of this entry �

Some Deep Breaths Before Breakfast

h1 Thursday, October 22nd, 2020

“Breath blooms / at tree tips,
like sprouting leaves / on lush spring stems.”

(Click spread to enlarge)

I’ve a Q&A over at Tennessee’s Chapter 16 with local (to me) artist and illustrator Billy Renkl, who—as you will read if you are so inclined to head over to the Q&A—has great respect for the materials he uses to create his layered collage pieces.

Billy has illustrated his first picture book, Diana Farid’s When You Breathe (Cameron Kids, September 2020).

The Q&A is here, and below are some more spreads from the book.

(And if you want to see a bit of his process, head here and click through those photos.)

Read the rest of this entry �

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!

Read the rest of this entry �

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.

Read the rest of this entry �