Archive for the 'Interviews' Category

Owl Sees Owl, and I See Rob’s Sketchbook

h1 Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

Illustrator Rob Dunlavey is here this morning to talk about creating the illustrations for Laura Godwin’s Owl Sees Owl, released this month by Schwartz & Wade. (Pictured above is an early sketch.) Godwin constructed this story of an owl’s night-time adventure (home, journey, and home again) in the form of a reverso. The text is spare and the illustrations, wondrous. It’s a story possessing a quiet, lovely restraint, and I find that with repeated reads, I spot something new and rewarding.

As you’ll see in some of the images below, it’s also a fitting book for the arrival of Autumn. (To read more, head here to the Horn Book, which featured its starred review of the book as this week’s Review of the Week.)

I thank Rob for visiting to give us a peek into his sketchbook and show some final art. Let’s get to it.

[Incidentally, I got to meet Rob earlier this month, while traveling, and see his sketchbooks in person. Needless to say, his sketches are even better up close and in hand.]

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A Moment with the Art of Edel Rodriguez

h1 Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

“… By the time of his bar mitzvah, Lenny could make the gesture easily with either hand. His fingers looked like the letter shin, which, he’d learned in Hebrew school, was the first letter of the word shalom, or “peace,”
Shaddal, one of the names for God.”

I’m following up last week’s Kirkus Q&A with author Richard Michelson and illustrator Edel Rodriguez with a bit of Edel’s art from Fascinating: The Life of Leonard Nimoy, on shelves this month from Knopf.


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Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Bethan Woollvin

h1 Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

Earlier this Spring, Peachtree brought readers the debut picture book from Bethan Woollvin, pictured here, who is a recent graduate of the Cambridge School of Art in England. I wrote about this book, Little Red, here over at Kirkus, because it’s a well-crafted debut. (Back in 2014, it up and won the Macmillan Children’s Book Competition over in the UK.)

And then I was curious to see more art from Bethan and learn more, so I invited her over for a 7-Imp cyber-breakfast. “If I could have any breakfast,” she tells me, “I’d go all American on you guys and have the full waffle-bacon-syrup deal, but since I’m not in New York, I’ll stick to porridge with strawberries.”

YUM. This is good with me. I’ll throw in some coffee. Also good with me is seeing more art from Bethan and getting a peek into her Little Red sketchbook. So, let’s get right to it.

And I thank her for visiting.

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Living Long and Prospering in the World of the Arts

h1 Thursday, September 15th, 2016


When I speak to children or to aspiring authors, I always advise them to listen carefully when their parents and grandparents and best friends and best friend’s parents talk about their lives. ‘Everyone has a story to tell,’ I say. ‘Just remember to write it down.’ And yet why did it never occur to me to write down Leonard’s story?”

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Over at Kirkus today, I talk to author Richard Michelson, quoted above (and pictured above, with Leonard Nimoy), about Fascinating, his new picture book biography of Leonard Nimoy (Knopf, September 2016). Illustrator Edel Rodriguez also joins us. Born in Cuba, Rodriguez (pictured right) came to America in 1980 during the Mariel boatlift and learned English from, partly, watching Star Trek with his cousins.

That Q&A is here this morning.

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Photo of Richard Michelson and Leonard Nimoy taken by Sylvia Mautner Photography and used by permission of Richard Michelson. Photo of Edel Rodriguez used by his permission.

Chris Raschka on Home at Last

h1 Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

Chris: “Perhaps our best time together was on my second visit when we spent two long days side by side on her sun porch, each in our own wicker chair.
Vera drew all day, and much of the night.”

It’s a pleasure to share some thoughts and images from Chris Raschka today. Just this month, Greenwillow Books released Home at Last, written by Vera B. Williams and illustrated by Chris. This was the last book Vera worked on before her death last October. You may have seen the wonderful Horn Book cover story from the May/June issue of this year, in which Lydie Raschka, Chris’s wife, writes about their collaboration. Today, Chris shares a bit more, including some of Vera’s sketches for the book. (His paintings for the book are based on her sketches.)

The story is about a boy, adopted by two dads, and the boy’s efforts to acclimate himself to his new life. It is tender and heartbreaking but, ultimately, joyful. I thank Chris for sharing a bit about the process today. I find it fascinating to see, in particular, the early sketches and Vera’s own drawings. Let’s get right to it.

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Well, That Was Fun . . .

h1 Monday, September 12th, 2016


It was fun to be a guest on a podcast whose episodes I never ever miss. That would be the Horn Book’s (relatively new) podcast.

Thanks to Roger and Siân for having me when I was in Boston last week. You can click on the image above to hear our chat, if you’re so inclined.

Seven Questions Over a
Post-Dinner Snack with Torben Kuhlmann

h1 Monday, September 5th, 2016

When German illustrator Torben Kuhlmann’s debut picture book, Lindbergh: The Tale of a Flying Mouse, was released here in the States two years ago, the New York Times described it as a “splendid debut.” Last year, Kuhlmann followed that up with Moletown, also met with glowing reviews (“gorgeous, mesmerizing artwork,” wrote Booklist), and this month readers will meet a star-gazing mouse in Armstrong: The Adventurous Journey of a Mouse to the Moon, a visual feast over 120 pages long, which tells the story of a moon-bound mouse.

Kuhlmann studied illustration and design in Hamburg and still lives in northern Germany. It’s thanks to NorthSouth Books that we readers here in the States can see his books. Since I’ll be traveling tomorrow morning, he’s joining me, not for breakfast, but a post-dinner snack. (He said his breakfasts almost always consist of a hot cup of coffee and several kinds of bread with jam, so I’m good with having that for our snack. Coffee any time is good. Also, jam. Always jam.)

It’s a good thing to see all his art, and I thank him for sharing. Let’s get right to it.

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Jen Bryant on Six Dots

h1 Thursday, September 1st, 2016

Every narrative is the culmination of a lot of experimentation. For this story, I did know that I wanted readers to feel as if they were experiencing a lot of what Louis was going through as he lost his sight and grappled with what the rest of his life would become because of that.”

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Over at Kirkus today, I talk to author Jen Bryant, pictured here, about her new picture book, Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille (Knopf, September 2016), illustrated by Boris Kulikov.

That is here this morning. You can see art from the book at this 7-Imp post from earlier this year.

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Photo of Jen taken by Amy Dragoo and used by her permission.

Mac and Adam on How Your Book Was Made

h1 Monday, August 29th, 2016


I chatted over at Tennessee’s Chapter 16 with Mac Barnett and Adam Rex in advance of their visit next week to Parnassus Books here in Nashville. We talked about their new picture book, How This Book Was Made (Disney-Hyperion, September 2016); Chloe and the Lion, which was published in 2012 (here is where Adam visited 7-Imp back then to talk about that one); honky-tonk; and more. You can click on the image above to head to Chapter 16’s site and read our chat.

Wanna see some art from How This Book Was Made? You can head to this 7-Imp post from earlier this year. Scroll down a bit. Voilà!


On “Double Treasures” with René Colato Laínez

h1 Thursday, August 4th, 2016

The beauty of multicultural books is that they open new doors and windows for readers who are outside the culture. They can live, explore, and enjoy other cultures as they read amazing stories. For the majority of children and adults who were born in the United States, an ‘alien’ is indeed someone from outer space, and they do not associate it with immigrants or immigrant status. For me, as a writer of multicultural children’s literature, it is always important to write authentic stories where my readers can learn and discover the immigrant experience and the experience of living in two cultures.”

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Over at Kirkus, I talk to author and teacher René Colato Laínez, pictured here, about his newest picture book, Mamá the Alien/Mamá la extraterrestre, published by Lee & Low last month.

That chat is here.

Until tomorrow …

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Photo of Mr. Laínez used by permission of Lee & Low Books.