Archive for the 'Interviews' Category

My Kirkus Q&A with Deborah Heiligman

h1 Thursday, May 25th, 2017

I thought I knew everything about Vincent, but then I was in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam in the summer of 2011, and I saw a mention of Theo. Next to a painting, it said something about how Theo supported Vincent. I was bowled over. I probably gasped. I had forgotten he had a brother, and I had no idea that Theo had supported him. I knew right away that I wanted to write a book about the brothers someday.”

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What’s that? You want a recommendation for a great book? I’ve got one: Deborah Heiligman’s Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers, published by Henry Holt in April, a book officially geared at the late middle-grade/YA crowd but which I say is for all ages. It’s the best book I’ve read this year, and I’m pleased that Deborah chatted with me about the book over at Kirkus. I enjoyed our conversation.

That is here today.

Until tomorrow …

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Photo of Deborah taken by Matt Peyton.

Pantslessness (Metaphorical and Otherwise) with Pete

h1 Wednesday, May 24th, 2017


“Shortly after breakfast, Pete decided he was a boulder. …”
(Click to enlarge)

I’ve got a BookPage review of Rowboat Watkins’s Pete With No Pants, released by Chronicle Books in early May. I love this book, and you can read why at my review over here at their site.

But there’s more: I chatted with Rowboat about this book. He shares his thoughts about the story and its meaning for him, and the discussion opened my eyes to the book in new and wonderful ways. Let’s get right to it, and I thank him for visiting 7-Imp again.

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Summer Reading with Kwame

h1 Thursday, May 11th, 2017


Here’s my favorite thing that Kwame Alexander says today in our Kirkus chat about how he’s been named the 2017 National Summer Reading Champion for the Collaborative Summer Library Program:

When I asked him what he would say to a kid who tells him summer isn’t for reading, he responded: “I wouldn’t say anything. I’d just read them a poem.”

That Q&A is here.

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Photo credit: Donnie Biggs.

Catching Up with Tim Miller

h1 Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

“In the dust and dirt at the bottom of the spring, the monster grabbed Collin
and dragged him off in the direction of an impossibly huge coin pile.”
— Early character sketch and final art from Mark Riddle’s
illustrated by Tim Miller

(Click to enlarge spread)

Did you all see Mark Riddle’s Margarash (Enchanted Lion), released last November and illustrated by today’s return guest, Tim Miller? It was one of my favorite picture books of 2016, so gloriously bizarre and altogether unlike any other picture book released that year. It’s the story of a monster, named Margarash, who lives “in the deep, dark cave that lies below the cushions and springs of your couch” and one boy’s attempt to outwit him. In the end, it is, as the Kirkus review put it, a “sweet tale of a mutual passion and an unlikely friendship.”

Last Fall, Tim and I started chatting via email about the book, as well as some of his forthcoming books, and we are just now wrapping up that chat. What can I say? I got busy. He got busy. These things take time. Given my lateness in posting, now those forthcoming books are published books. Moo Moo in a Tutu (Balzer + Bray), the story of a curious, adventurous cow and his friend Mr. Quackers, was released last month. And it marks Tim’s debut as both an author and illustrator. We also talk today about his spot illustrations for Tom O’Donnell’s Hamstersaurus Rex books. (Hamstersaurus Rex, the debut, was released last October from HarperCollins, and Hamstersaurus Rex vs. Squirrel Kong releases next month.)

Let’s get right to it! It’s definitely time. I thank Tim for visiting 7-Imp again.

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Looking Elsewhere . . .

h1 Thursday, April 27th, 2017


Like to read picture book imports? I do. Today at Kirkus, I talk to Kendall Storey, Co-director of the new imprint Elsewhere Editions (a new children’s imprint from Archipelago Books), whose three new titles are translated from the Portuguese, French, and Norwegian — and whose next titles will be translated from the Chinese, Finnish, and Estonian. (Pictured above is a forthcoming book illustrated by Roger Mello, the recipient of the 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Award.)

The Q&A is here.

Until tomorrow …

A Mighty, Mighty Peek at Picture-Book Process

h1 Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

One of my favorite things is when illustrator Tom Lichtenheld stops by 7-Imp to talk about the thought processes that go behind his work. (He’s done that at least once before.)

Today, he visits to talk about creating the artwork for Sherri Duskey Rinker’s Mighty, Mighty Construction Site, released earlier this year. This is the sequel to 2011’s Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site (which has a great publication story). Bonafide bestsellers these books are. And this follow-up, which introduces some new characters, delivers the goods. Best of all in this new story, Skid Steer and Mighty Flatbed are explicitly she machines. Attagirls!

Let’s get right to it so that Tom can do his thing. I thank him for visiting.

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My Kirkus Q&A with Kenneth Kraegel

h1 Thursday, April 13th, 2017

In nature, almost every surface is patterned or varied; tree bark, sand, grasses, even snow is made up of individual snowflakes, if you look closely. Human-made materials tend to be more uniform and monotone — plastic, drywall, paper. I think those natural surfaces that show more and more detail the closer you look are extraordinarily beautiful and, I suppose, that is what I am aiming for when I make a picture, a complexity that you don’t see at first glance.”

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Today over Kirkus, I talk with author-illustrator Kenneth Kraegel about his new picture book, Green Pants (Candlewick, March 2017).

That Q&A is here this morning.

I’ll have art from the book here at 7-Imp next week.

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Photo of Kenneth Kraegel taken by Brooke Collier.

Clapping, Jumping,
Singing, and Shouting Before Breakfast

h1 Monday, April 3rd, 2017


If you get a chance to interview the legendary Patricia McKissack, you definitely say yes. I got to chat with her for Tennessee’s wonderful Chapter 16. You can click on the image above to head to the interview and read her words of wisdom.

My Kirkus Q&A with Lorena Alvarez

h1 Thursday, March 30th, 2017

(Click to enlarge photo)


The idea of Nightlights came from a very early memory. When I was a kid, I used to stay awake at night, and I could see little color dots in the dark, like glitter. I used to imagine that I could catch those dots and release them, while drawing any shape I wanted. ”

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This morning over at Kirkus, I talk to author-illustrator Lorena Alvarez about her new graphic novel, Nightlights (Nobrow, March 2017).

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

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Photo of Lorena Alvarez used by her permission.

The Magic Touch of Staying in Closer Touch

h1 Thursday, March 16th, 2017

I’ve got something entirely different over at Kirkus today. Instead of talking to a picture book or middle-grade author or to an illustrator, I talk to a volunteer for a literacy program run by Ann Arbor’s Children’s Literacy Network. This non-profit organization’s program, called Staying in Closer Touch, unites incarcerated parents and their children through children’s books. I heard all about it on a recent visit to Ann Arbor and wanted to write about it, should other literacy non-profits want to learn more.

That Q&A with volunteer Bonnie Schramm is here. (Corduroy is mentioned in our chat. Hence, the image here.)

Until tomorrow …