Archive for the 'Interviews' Category

Vanilla Ice Cream Before Breakfast

h1 Thursday, July 24th, 2014

It’s sometimes hard to come out from behind my stories and articulate reasons for things, as the stories are not written that way. I don’t go into them with a reason or issue — only that the characters will treat each other with respect and tolerance. And that their dogs can do anything they like around the house. The rest will hopefully follow.”

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Over at Kirkus today, I talk to author-illustrator Bob Graham, pictured here, whose books I consistently like. He chats with me about his newest book, Vanilla Ice Cream, coming from Candlewick in August, as well as what’s next for him.

That Q&A is here.

Next week, I’ll have some art from some of Bob’s books.

Until tomorrow …

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Photo of Bob Graham used with permission of Candlewick Press.

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Lisa Brown

h1 Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

It’s a sort of miracle that this breakfast interview is even happening, since both author-illustrator Lisa Brown and I are not morning people. Oh wait, right. It’s a cyber-breakfast, but still … If it were a real, face-to-face breakfast, you can bet that we’d be having our chat over an afternoon snack, despite the name of this blog.

Another thing we share in common? A deep and abiding love for coffee (which certainly helps make our mornings easier), so I’m glad she was willing to come have pretend coffee with me today so that we could see lots and lots of her art. In fact, she says her usual breakfast is “a cup of coffee, then some toast and peanut butter, maybe some fruit smoothie if there is any left over from my husband and son, who will have been awake and functioning WAY before I shuffle into the kitchen in my pajamas, exhausted with the effort of having to wake up and shuffle into the kitchen. Then more coffee.” I can get behind these multiple rounds of coffee.

This year, Lisa saw the release of two illustrated titles, Lemony Snicket’s 29 Myths on the Swinster Pharmacy (McSweeney’s McMullens, February 2014) and Cathleen Daly’s Emily’s Blue Period, which just received a starred Horn Book review.

I love to follow Lisa’s work, and it was good to have a chance here to ask her what she’s up to next. There is a freshness and warmth to her watercolors that can be terrifically child-friendly, but there’s also an edge to many of her books (especially for older readers) and paintings. (She’s doing a sketch a day this year, as you’ll read below, which you can follow here.) As Martha Parravano writes in that Horn Book review, her work can be elegant. Yet she also embraces the enigmatic, as with 29 Myths. And embracing the enigmatic is always good. (Embracing the Enigmatic. Band name. I call it!)

I thank Lisa for visiting this morning and sharing as much art as she does.

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Spreading the Good Word about Visual Literacy

h1 Thursday, June 26th, 2014

In our increasingly visual culture we expect readers to respond to pictures. Yet when children approach third grade, there’s mounting pressure to narrow their reading to chapter books — books with no pictures at all. My mission with the new line of TOON Graphics is to make books for readers ages 8 and up that offer both rich text and captivating image — books that promote both verbal and visual literacy.”

This morning over at Kirkus, I chat with designer and editor Françoise Mouly about the launch of TOON Graphics, and I’ll follow up here at 7-Imp next week with some art from their three debut titles.

The Q&A is here.

Until tomorrow …

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Photo used with permission of Françoise Mouly.

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Kevin Sherry

h1 Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

That really should say six questions over breakfast. And no Pivot Questionnaire, which my visitor today, author-illustrator Kevin Sherry, opted out of. This is fine. He’s a busy guy, because as you can see here, he doesn’t just create books. He also dons his big blue bear head to entertain crowds of dancing children, guitar in hand (which you can read about below).

Kevin’s got a brand-new book out. Let me say first: If, by chance, you aren’t familiar with his books, I’ve got seven words for you. (Wait, that is not half as dramatic as something like two words for you, but moving on …) I’m. The. Biggest. Thing. In. the. Ocean. Those are the seven words and the title of his debut picture book, which is a favorite of mine and such a superb story time choice for the wee young crowd. (I’m lookin’ right at you, story time librarians.) The starred Kirkus review for this book says, no less, that “waves of exuberance” emanate from this book, and it’s true. This debut was in 2010, and ever since then, I watch his new releases with interest. Also, I’ve wanted to interview him since then. Better late than never!

The new book is Turtle Island (Dial, May 2014). It’s about friendship and community, and not surprisingly (for fans of his debut book), opens with “I’m a giant turtle, and I’m as BIG as an island.” For this new story, Sherry penciled, inked, and then painted with watercolors. Oh, and his upcoming new chapter book about cryptids (image below) looks mighty fun, too.

As for our breakfast today, Kevin works morning shift at a restaurant, “so I ended up eating a lot of pieces of baguettes, and I found myself feeling a little sluggish, so I started eating oatmeal with apricots and toasted almonds, ’cause we got the apricots and almonds in the restaurant, and I feel myself feeling better and not being hungry for a while.” I like how he said that in one breath. It might be hard to keep up with him this morning, but I’ll give it a try.

I thank him for visiting and sharing lots of his art. Read the rest of this entry �

Catching Up with Lauren Castillo …

h1 Thursday, June 12th, 2014

I had the opportunity to make five books with Frances before she retired in 2013. During that time, we grew close, and I very much thought of her as my NYC family. She was an extraordinary editor, who always encouraged me to trust my creative instincts, something that isn’t the easiest to do when many people are involved in the making of a book. The faith she had in her authors and illustrators made all the difference, and that kind of trusting collaboration is what leads to the strongest, most successful outcomes.”

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Over at Kirkus today, I talk to author-illustrator Lauren Castillo, pictured here, about her newest picture book, The Troublemaker (Clarion, June 2014), as well as her forthcoming Nana in the City (Clarion, September 2014).

She speaks above about legendary editor Frances Foster, who passed away earlier this week. The rest of our discussion is here.

Next week, I’ll have some art from The Troublemaker, as well as some character studies, etc. from Lauren.

Until tomorrow …

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Photo of Lauren used with her permission.

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Jennifer Yerkes

h1 Tuesday, June 10th, 2014


(Click to enlarge)

This interview has been several years in the making.

Back in 2012, when I juried for the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, I was delighted to see a little book called Drôle d’oiseau, published by France’s Éditions MeMo in 2011. The book went on to receive a Mention for the Opera Prima Award that year. (The Opera Prima Award is given to debut artists.) It also received here in the States the 2013 Gold Medal for the Society of Illustrators’ Original Art award, as it was released in the U.S. by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky as A Funny Little Bird. Jennifer, as you’ll read below, was born here in the U.S. but now makes her home overseas — and has for many years. (So, yes, her debut picture book was published in French yet translated later into her mother tongue, as she notes in a response below.)

The book was described by professional reviewers as fresh, innovative, highly-original, thought-provoking, infinitely clever … I could go on. To say the artwork is spare is an understatement. Yerkes’ protagonist in the book consists of primarily negative space, as you can see in some of the spreads below. Pictured above, in fact, in the spread opening this post is the cover art. (It pains me to put a border around it, but I want you to be able to click on it and see it in more detail, if you’re so inclined, and if I don’t put the border, I think cyberspace adds a big, ugly thick border. Also, please note that if you click on it, the colors in the larger version are slightly off. They’re brighter than they appear in the book.)

Where was I? Oh, it’s a delightful book on many levels, and I’m glad Jennifer’s here to talk about it, to share lots of art, to let us know what’s next for her, and to give us a peek into her sketchbooks. We’re going to have lots of coffee. A typical breakfast for her involves that and then, “about two hours later: four slices of well-buttered toast. Or if I’m lucky enough to make it to the bakery, a cinnamon ‘cross.’” I say we splurge and have all of the above.

I thank her for visiting. Let’s get to it …

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What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week

h1 Friday, June 6th, 2014

Today over at Kirkus, I write about two (relatively) new biographies, Barbara Kerley’s A Home for Mr. Emerson (Scholastic, February 2014), illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham, and Susan Goldman Rubin’s Everybody Paints!: The Lives and Art of the Wyeth Family (Chronicle, February 2014), pictured above.

That link is here, and next week I hope to have art from each book.

Until Sunday …

Separate Is Never Equal: A Chat with Duncan Tonatiuh

h1 Thursday, May 29th, 2014

I get to visit schools in different parts of the country to read and talk about my books. I see that poor schools in poor neighborhoods are mostly attended by Latino and African American students, while wealthy schools in wealthy neighborhoods are mostly attended by white children. Although Sylvia’s story happened 70 years ago, it is very relevant to children today.”

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Over at Kirkus today, I talk to author-illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh, pictured here, about his newest picture book, Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation (Abrams, May 2014). That link is here.

Next week, I’ll have some art from the book, as well as some sketches from Duncan.

Until tomorrow …

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Photo of Duncan Tonatiuh used with permission of Abrams Books for Young Readers.

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Dan Santat
(Your Coffee Pot Will Thank You)

h1 Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

I think many people in the field of children’s lit would agree that author-illustrator Dan Santat is one of the hardest-working people out there. In fact, Minh Le at The Huffington Post said as much recently.

I also happen to think he’s one of the most talented. Carolyn Juris at The New York Times notes what I like the best about his work when she described his mixed-media illustrations as “wild-eyed” and looking “as though they could bound right off the page and onto the screen.” That wild energy is part and parcel of what makes his work so intriguing, and there is often a refreshing irreverence for what your typical grown-up thinks a picture book should be. And his comic timing? I think up-and-coming illustrators could learn a lot about such pacing by studying Santat’s illustrated titles.

His newest picture book, just out on shelves, is called The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend (Little, Brown). It’s a wildly imaginative story of friendship, tender and restrained. “[W]hile his immense talent was always evident, Beekle takes his artistry to a new level,” Le adds over at The Huffington Post piece. Below, Dan shares artwork from this book, as well as some deleted scenes and rejected covers. Read the rest of this entry �

The DVD Extras

h1 Thursday, May 22nd, 2014


(Click to enlarge)


(Click each image to enlarge)

Over at Kirkus last week, I chatted with author-illustrator Jason Chin about his newest picture book, Gravity (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook, April 2014). Today I’m following up with some art from the book, as well as some of the clay models and rejected endings that he mentioned in the column. (Rejected endings! It’s like DVD extras!)

That link is here, if you need a refresher as to what Chin was sharing about the creation of this book.

Enjoy!

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