Archive for the 'Interviews' Category

A Chat with Jeanne Birdsall

h1 Thursday, May 14th, 2015

Because both Skye and Batty grew out of parts of my personality (as did Jane and Rosalind, though not so much), some of the tensions between the two sisters came from internal struggles of my own. … [W]riting about Batty’s struggles was hard. I had to spend a lot of time re-living scared and lonely parts of my childhood.”

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Over at Kirkus today, I talk to author Jeanne Birdsall, pictured here, about the latest novel in the Penderwick series, The Penderwicks in Spring (Knopf, March 2014).

That link is here.

Until tomorrow …

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Photo of Jeanne taken by William Diehl and used by her permission.

A Visit with Ovi Nedelcu

h1 Tuesday, May 12th, 2015


From the sketchbooks


 
You may have seen this recent Horn Book article by Betsy Bird on illustrators who come from an animation background. Today’s visiting illustrator, Ovi Nedelcu, is one of those, and he’s here today to share artwork and talk about his experiences.

Ovi, a character designer and story artist who lives in Portland, has been working in animation full-time for the past fifteen years for various studios, such as WB, Disney, Cartoon Network, and Sony — but mostly at LAIKA, working on both Coraline and The Boxtrolls. He’s not new to publication—his first published work was for DC comics back in 1998, and since then he’s published a comic book series and has illustrated a couple of picture books—but Just like Daddy (POW! Kids Books), out on shelves now, is his debut as an author-illustrator. It’s the story of one preschooler’s grand perceptions of his father’s day, juxtaposed with the everyday reality of his 9-to-5 job. It’s a warm story propelled by Ovi’s expressive cartoon art.

Ovi also talks about the book below, so let’s get right to it. I thank him for visiting. Read the rest of this entry �

Author Tracey Baptiste on The Jumbies

h1 Thursday, April 30th, 2015

The stories about jumbies were part of regular conversations when I was growing up. People talked about La Diablesse and douen and all the other, as if they’re walking down the road or lived at your neighbor’s house. They were very much alive to me, even though I knew they were probably just stories. And I also read and listened to fairy tales, which were just as scary, but they were also in books that were so beautifully illustrated, and I felt like all the kids who grew up hearing jumbie stories got cheated. Where were our fairy tale books? Where were our beautiful illustrations? I figured I’d have to make those books myself.”

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Over at Kirkus today, I’ve got a middle-grade novel on the mind. I talk to author Tracey Baptiste, pictured here, about her newest novel, The Jumbies (Algonquin, April 2014), a book unlike any other you’ll read this year.

That link is here.

Until tomorrow …

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Photo of Tracey taken by Latifah Abdur Photography and used by her permission.

Of Sentient Cakes
and Hairy Hands with Rowboat Watkins

h1 Wednesday, April 29th, 2015


Author/illustrator Rowboat Watkins and I had a long conversation about his picture book, Rude Cakes, coming to shelves in June from Chronicle Books — and I’m posting the conversation today. The book is the surreal story of cheeky, impudent cakes (words I never thought I’d string together)—throw in some cyclopses with some unexpected behavior traits—and it’s funny and entertaining. There are some spreads from it in our chat below. (Pictured above is a sketchbook image.)

Rowboat and I also talk below about picture books and elbow room; Sendak (Rowboat was a Sendak Fellow several years back); giant paper legs growing up hallways; resolute poodles; four-horsepower Super Rosengarts, both metaphorical and very real; the severities of plain white walls; and much more. This is essentially a conversation for the die-hardiest of die-hard picture book fans—I can’t promise the absence of a digression or two—and I enjoyed every second of it. Later in our chat, Rowboat writes:

Anything that betrays its own messy history of becoming itself makes my eyes widen.

… which I’d pretty much like to tattoo on my forehead.

Let’s get to it, and I thank him for visiting. Read the rest of this entry �

On Mistakes, Art-Studio Endorphins, and
Serving the Story with Illustrator Tom Lichtenheld

h1 Tuesday, April 28th, 2015



 
Illustrator Tom Lichtenheld visits 7-Imp this morning to share the backstory of the illustrations for Beth Ferry’s Stick and Stone, released earlier this month by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. It’s the story of two friends who stand up and look out for each other, and it’s been met with positive reviews, Booklist writing that the two characters “are a delight to know” and that the “irresistible cadence of the text should make this a repeat favorite.” (This is an especially good story-time read, I might add, for the youngest of listeners.)

I thank Tom for sharing the story of the illustrations. It’s certainly a good read for those of you who, like me, like to hear about picture-book process.

Let’s get right to it. I now hand the site over to Tom. …

Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Marie-Louise Gay

h1 Tuesday, April 21st, 2015


“I shake my ideas around and turn them upside down and look at them flying out the window like a flock of birds. Suddenly, I know who lives in the forest … a giant,
a shy young giant with birds nesting in his hair. His story starts here …”


 
If you saw last year’s Any Questions?, written and illustrated by Canadian Marie-Louise Gay, who has been nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award and the Hans Christian Andersen Award, you may recognize the above illustration. It’s from the book, and it’s Marie-Louise herself, hard at work in her studio. (Some of my favorite illustrator interviews have been the ones where artists send illustrated “author photos,” but I digress.)

Any Questions?—a finalist for Canada’s 2014 Governor General’s Literary Award for Children’s Illustration, as well as a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year and a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year—was released last August by Groundwood Books, and it was then that I contacted Marie-Louise about an interview. I’ve admired her work over the years, and then along comes this excellent book, an exploration of what it means to be creative, as well as imagined conversations with children about writing and creating art — ones based on real conversations she’s had at school visits over the years. Booklist praised the book’s “empowering” message — “that creativity is messy and fun!” Hear hear.

Yes, that was last year. Sometimes I get busy. But better late than never. But she’s also just released (this month, in fact) the adventure novel The Traveling Circus, written with her partner, David Homel, and also published by Groundwood. So, I meant to post this interview so late. Yes, I MEANT TO DO THAT. (Ahem.)

Read the rest of this entry �

Margarita Engle and Rafael López on Drum Dream Girl

h1 Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Today over at Kirkus, I talk with award-winning author and illustrator duo, Margarita Engle and Rafael López, pictured above, who have collaborated on a beautiful new picture book biography, called Drum Dream Girl (Houghton Mifflin, March 2015). Oh my, it’s gorgeous.

That Q&A is here, and I will have some art and early sketches from it next week here at 7-Imp.

p.s. My 2011 “breakfast” interview with Rafael is one of my favorites.

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Photos of Ms. Engle and Mr. López used by their permission.

Oksana Lushchevska: An International Collaboration

h1 Monday, March 23rd, 2015

What a treat I have for readers today, especially those of you who, like me, enjoy following international picture books. In fact, next week is the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in Italy (how I wish I were going!), so the timing of this post is particularly good.

Today, I welcome Oksana Lushchevska, a PhD student in Reading, Writing, Children’s Literature, and Digital Literacy in the Department of Language and Literacy Education at The University of Georgia. She is contributing a guest post on contemporary Ukrainian children’s literature. Oksana’s doctoral research is focused on international children’s literature, and she also translates picture books from Ukraine into the English language, some of which have been awarded the Bologna Ragazzi Award. She also works with a private publishing house in Ukraine, creating bilingual picture books for children.

Oksana reached out to me to see if she could write here at 7-Imp about Ukrainian picture books. “I strongly believe that contemporary Ukrainian children’s literature might be of interest in the U. S.,” she told me, “especially bilingual picturebooks and award-winning translations.”

I was so pleased she contacted me; I’m glad to have met her, if only online; and I am grateful she is contributing this post today, especially since it’s filled with art. She calls this piece “Contemporary Ukrainian Children’s Picturebooks: Why Shouldn’t We Welcome Them?” Let’s get right to it …

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Oksana: First of all, I am very thankful to Jules for this wonderful opportunity to introduce contemporary Ukrainian picturebooks on her marvelous blog, which I’ve been following for quite a while. To briefly introduce myself, I’d say that I can surely call myself a children’s literature enthusiast, and my involvement in children’s literature is multifold. I must admit that all my activities often divide my daily routines into two parts: my “Ukrainian” phase of the day and my “American” phase of the day (because of the seven-hour time difference). It is sometimes really challenging, but is also very interesting!

I am currently a third-year PhD student at the University of Georgia, researching and studying U.S. and international children’s literature. Together with my academic advisor, Dr. Jennifer Graff, I am serving as a columnist for the “How Does That Translate” column. Additionally, I regularly contribute to the IBBY European Newsletter, which focuses on contemporary Ukrainian children’s literature. From time to time, I am doing children’s book reviews for Bookbird, WOW, JoLLE, the WGRCLC Blog, and several Ukrainian literary websites. Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #424: Featuring C. G. Esperanza

h1 Sunday, March 22nd, 2015


“With her trunk she grabbed a brush and joined my little game.”


 
This morning at 7-Imp, I welcome artist C. G. Esperanza (Charles, pictured right), whose newest book is from Sky Pony Press. Red, Yellow, Blue (And a Dash of White, Too!), a promising author-illustrator debut, was released this month. Charles has previously illustrated Tania Grossinger’s Jackie and Me: A Very Special Friendship (Sky Pony Press, 2013), a story that is partly about famed baseball player Jackie Robinson, and he lives in the South Bronx. He tells me and 7-Imp readers more about himself below, and we get to take a look at some more art from Red, Yellow, Blue (And a Dash of White, Too!), as well as some early sketches from the book and a few of his other portfolio pieces.

For those who want to see even more of Charles’ work, his Instagram/Twitter handles are both @CGEsperanza.

I thank him for visiting.

P.S. If you want to read Charles’ thoughts on why picture books are the new Hip Hop, head over to his piece at Afropunk.

Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Benji Davies

h1 Tuesday, March 17th, 2015


“Almost … asleep….”
– From Jory John’s
Goodnight Already! (Harper, December 2014)
(Click to enlarge)


“… But he said they must take the whale back to the sea, where it belonged.”
– From
The Storm Whale (Henry Holt, September 2014)
(Click to enlarge)

I always open my “breakfast” illustrator interviews with art — but usually just one image. I have two images today, though, from British illustrator Benji Davies, because I couldn’t pick.

The first image is from his latest illustrated book here in the States, Jory John’s Goodnight Already!, which was released at the tail end of last year.

And that second image? It’s from The Storm Whale, which Benji both wrote and illustrated and which was released last Fall here in the U.S. (2013 in the UK). I wrote about that book here at Kirkus last year, and I couldn’t get over then what a beautiful illustration the one above, in particular, is. (That happens also to be the U.S. cover for the book.) And I still can’t get over it. Scroll back up and take a moment to enlarge that illustration and soak it in. Ah.

So that’s why I have two Benji art moments up there.

Benji—who, as you will read below, has been making picture books and board books for years now—is here for breakfast this morning. “Definitely with eggs,” he told me. “Preferably Benedict.” How’d he know I can’t start my day without eggs? Also, not without coffee. So, I’ll get that brewin’ while I get the basics from him before we chat over breakfast.

I thank him for visiting. (And if you want more, there’s Matthew Winner’s February podcast with Benji.) Read the rest of this entry �