Archive for the 'Interviews' Category

Some Haiku Before Breakfast …

h1 Thursday, December 11th, 2014

I love the fact that a haiku is designed to capture a moment in time. It allows the reader, and the writer, to savor that moment.

These days, we are bombarded with so much information that sometimes we forget to stop and appreciate the little things.

I also love the challenge of presenting these small moments in just seventeen syllables, with a little twist to make them memorable.”

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Today over at Kirkus, I chat with children’s book author and poet Bob Raczka, pictured above, about writing poetry for children; Santa Clauses: Short Poems from the North Pole, his beautiful new picture book, illustrated by Chuck Groenink; and what’s next on his plate.

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

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Photo of Bob Raczka used by his permission.

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Jen Corace

h1 Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014



 
Illustrator Jen Corace is visiting 7-Imp this morning. Turns out that she takes breakfast pretty seriously, because when I asked about her breakfast-of-choice, she said: “Oh, man. I love breakfast so much. Pretty much all of it’s ‘of-choice.’ At home, what I like most is something called a taco sundae. It’s a crisped-up corn tortilla, refried beans, sautéed kale, and a split, soft-boiled egg on top with hot sauce. Not-at-home I like having someone to go split-sies with — half-savory, half-sweet. I never want a full stack of pancakes or a whole waffle. I want just a bit, and I want that just-a-bit to mix and match with some polenta or over-medium eggs or just-right home fries. So yeah. I love breakfast.”

I actually really love breakfast, too, so let’s do this.

Jen, as you’ll see below, has illustrated a handful of picture books since 2005. (It occurred to me while working on this interview that her children’s book illustration has been around about just as long as I’ve been blogging, yet I had thought her career had started sooner.) I always like to see what Jen will do next. She’s capable of over-the-top fun (see her illustrations for Mac Barnett’s Telephone, which came out this Fall) and dark (Cynthia Rylant’s Hansel and Gretel from 2008), and she has a style all her own. It has an inherent quirkiness I like, though “quirky” is so overused in children’s literature. I may be able to find a better word after we have our coffee.

Here is our taco sundae for breakfast:

Yum. I wish these interviews were real and in-person. Why can’t I do like Seinfeld and drive around and pick up picture-book creators for coffee?

Anyway. Enjoy the chat! Jen sent lots and lots of art.

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Star Stuff with Stephanie Roth Sisson

h1 Thursday, November 27th, 2014

Carl Sagan was prolific. He used to walk around with one of those tape recorders that had a strap and a microphone on a cord and record ideas when they came to him. Ideas just poured out of the guy. I love that image of him wandering around with this, recording his thoughts about this and that. I had many of [his] books to draw on, as well as television, radio, and print interviews. Mostly, I was looking for material that would capture the feeling that he left his audience with — that feeling of wonder and wanting to explore and find out more. ”

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Today over at Kirkus, I chat with author-illustrator Stephanie Roth Sisson, pictured above, about Star Stuff, her new picture book biography of Carl Sagan.

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

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Photo of Stephanie Roth Sisson used by her permission.

Happy Birthday to Let’s Get Busy!

h1 Thursday, November 27th, 2014

This morning at 7-Imp, I’m doing something a little bit different. Matthew Winner, who founded and runs the Let’s Get Busy podcast, is celebrating his 100th episode. He’s been visiting a few blogs to talk about his work, and today he has a cup of cyber-coffee with me to answer some questions about the wonderful resource that his podcast has become.

Matthew is an elementary school librarian and also runs a blog called The Busy Librarian. Today we’re going to focus, though, on his informative podcast. (Lucky me, I even got to visit in August.) Those of you who read my May interview this year with author-illustrator Dan Santat may remember this moment:

I’ve recently become addicted to Matthew Winner’s Let’s Get Busy podcast, where he interviews authors and illustrators in children’s publishing. Everyone should check that podcast out. … I think in about a year, when everyone catches on, it will be one of the most important media sites in the children’s publishing field.

So, here’s Matthew. I thank him for visiting today and congratulate him on 100 episodes! Read the rest of this entry �

Cartoon-Me Interviews Red Panda and Hippo …

h1 Friday, November 14th, 2014


As you can see, I’m doing something totally different today.

That’s the cartoonized version of me up there, interviewing the two main characters of an upcoming graphic novel for children, called Hippopotamister. Springing from the mind of comics creator John Green (pictured right), who lives in Brooklyn and is best known for Teen Boat, his collaboration with Dave Roman, Hippopotamister is Green’s solo debut. It’s a comic geared at younger children and tells the story of Hippo and his friend, Red Panda. They live in the city zoo but head out to get jobs in the bustling world of humans. (Hippo becomes the titular Hippopotamister — just to survive out in the big city.) Red Panda finds the occupational world challenging, and even though Hippo excels at each job he secures, Red Panda manages to get them fired. The book is scheduled for an early-2016 release from First Second.

You can read a great process essay from John here at School Library Journal, as well as this interview at The Beat. (P.S. Mr. Schu got cartoonized, too.)

I thank John for visiting. This makes the second time I’ve interviewed wise-crackin’ animals. (Punk Farm was my first.)

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Art is copyright © 2014 by John Green and used by his permission.

Photo of John Green taken by Ellen B. Wright.

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Rick Allen

h1 Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

It’s such a pleasure to have printmaker and illustrator Rick Allen visit 7-Imp this morning, especially to read his thoughtful responses to my questions below — and, of course, to see his compelling prints as well.

Rick is up in cold, windy Minnesota in a city on Lake Superior’s north shore, and as you’ll read below, it’s just the right place for him to be. His first book was self-published via Kenspeckle Letterpress, which he describes as “original letterpress artwork, giclees, notecards, prints and posters…[with] his creative muse: Marian Lansky.” His other two books were published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and written by award-winning children’s book author and poet Joyce Sidman. The first, Dark Emperor & Other Poems of The Night, received a 2011 Newbery Honor. And I wrote here at Kirkus about their latest collaboration, Winter Bees & Other Poems of The Cold, released just last week. Allen’s illustrations for each are exquisite.

For our fake cyber-breakfast, which I very much wish were real and in-person, Rick’s going to be brave and go for coffee. “Breakfast,” he told me, “is multiple cups of tea, usually black tea of varying strength, depending upon how long I forget it’s been steeping. In the last few years, I’ve been experimenting with drinking coffee in the morning; to make it palatable I generally lash in great quantities of half-and-half, so perhaps it’s coffee-tinted cream that I’m drinking. We had a Swedish great-grandmother, who used to slurp coffee from a saucer into my siblings and me when we were just months old, and it may have taken a half-century to overcome that early cultural conditioning to try coffee, or near-coffee, again.”

I can always help people find their way to coffee!

I thank him for visiting. Read the rest of this entry �

Telling Stories with Marshall Arisman

h1 Tuesday, November 4th, 2014


Martin Wittfooth
(Click to enlarge)


 

Brian Floca
(Click to enlarge)

I have a regular feature here at 7-Imp where I spotlight the work of student or recently-graduated illustrators. In fact, just two days ago my readers and I saw the work of one such new grad, Olivia Chin Mueller.

For these posts, I rely on the recommendations of working children’s book illustrators who also teach, though sometimes students will reach out to me directly. However, it just so happened that—after featuring the work of students from the School of Visual Arts in New York City over the years—I found myself communicating with someone from the school and hearing about a really fabulous upcoming exhibit. I won’t be attending, ’cause hey, I’m way down in Nashville, but I can at least tell my readers about it. (Anyone in NYC wanna go and give me a full report?) It begins today, ends in mid-December, and is called We Tell Stories. It’s an exhibition of work by more than 250 alumni of SVA’s MFA Illustration as Visual Essay program, and here’s how the school describes the exhibit:

Thousands of illustrations, books, comics, graphic novels, animations, products, paintings and more will be on view. In addition, a Children’s Reading Room within the gallery will hold hundreds of children’s books by SVA alumni.

The chair for this Visual Essay program, the first art school program of its kind, is artist and storyteller Marshall Arisman. He founded this program 30 years ago. Arisman has trained the likes of Brian Pinkney, Brian Floca, Sara Varon, Shadra Strickland, Stephen Savage, and more. “Marshall,” Shadra told me, “has such amazing insight and really taught us to trust ourselves and make work that speaks to us as individuals instead of trying to pander to one specific market. I learned from him that, if I made work that really mattered to me, everything else would fall into place. He was right.”

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What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Eva Eriksson

h1 Friday, October 31st, 2014

All storytelling has its backbone in realistic fiction. So many kids, even at a surprisingly young age, are eager to read scary stories. I tried to fill that gap. ‘Scary’ thrills them. It makes their hearts beat faster. … To me, the great sentence is: The door knob slowly, slowly turned. That delicious moment of anticipation, of danger climbing the stairs. I’ve tried to provide those chills, while still resolving each book in a safe way.”

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Over here at Kirkus yesterday, I talked to author James Preller, quoted above, about his Scary Tales series from Feiwel & Friends. The latest, The One-Eyed Doll, was recently released. Perfect for Halloween reading. We also chat about his middle-grade novels and school visits.

Next week, I’ll have some art from the Scary Tales books. They are illustrated by Iacopo Bruno.

Today at Kirkus, I write about some picture book imports — that is, those picture books originally published in other countries but now on American shores. That link is here.

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Last week, I wrote here about two early chapter books, one featured more in-depth on Wednesday of this week. Below are some illustrations from the other book, Rose Lagercrantz’s My Heart is Laughing, illustrated by Eva Eriksson (Gecko Press, May 2014). Enjoy the art.


“It was so high they had to go and find a chair so they could climb up it.
They climbed for hours pretending to be monkeys.”

Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Stephanie Graegin

h1 Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Pictured above is the title page illustration from Nancy Van Laan’s Forget Me Not, released by Schwartz & Wade Books in August. This is the poignant and lovingly-rendered story of a young girl whose grandmother is experiencing significant memory loss. It slowly builds in the story — to the point where she is placed in an assisted living center, while her granddaughter watches with concern. The illustrations were rendered by my visitor today, Stephanie Graegin, pictured below.

As you’ll read below, this is Stephanie’s fourth picture book. (Three were released last year.) She’s also illustrated middle grade novels and is working on her own picture book. Graegin’s warm palettes capture the small moments of life, and I wanted to have her over for a cyber-breakfast to discuss her work and see even more art. Normally, she tells me, she’d have a bowl of cereal. But today we are going to splurge by taking a walk to pick up a bacon and egg dub pie from the Dub Pie Shop across the street, along with a coffee.

I thank her for visiting.

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The Coretta Scott King Awards Book Fair

h1 Thursday, October 16th, 2014

Ever heard of the Coretta Scott King Awards Book Fair? I hadn’t either till I took my children to one of these fairs in Nashville a few months back.

Today at Kirkus, I talk to the Fair’s organizer, Collette Hopkins. She’s pictured above (second from the left) at this year’s Fair with Angelica Washington, author Sharon Draper, storyteller Mama Koku, and illustrator R. Gregory Christie. Collette talks about what the Fair is and how interested teachers and librarians can bring it to their city.

That link is here.

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Image used with permission of Collette Hopkins.