Archive for the 'Interviews' Category

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.”

Read the rest of this entry �

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.

Read the rest of this entry �

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.

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Ben Clanton

h1 Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Pumpkin granola with vanilla almond milk. Sourdough toast. And a cup of hot apple cider with caramel. Mmm. That’s the breakfast I’m having this morning with author-illustrator Ben Clanton.

Once upon a time—2010, to be exact—Ben visited 7-Imp before he was even a published author and illustrator, and it’s good to have him back. As you’ll read below, Ben has several picture books under his belt and more on the way. His brand-new picture book, Rex Wrecks It! (Candlewick, September 2014), is filled with what the Kirkus review calls a joyous energy. And I know for a fact that it is a story-time hit.

I love, in particular, to see Ben’s pencil and watercolor drawings (there are many in this interview today), and guess what? He recently started a Facebook page showing off his darker doodles. It’s called—you guessed it—”Dark Doodles,” and it’s here. Want to see one? Ben posted this just last night.

Perfect. It is nearly Halloween, after all.

Ben seems to be enjoying the new Facebook page, and so do those who have gone to visit it (including me). “I’m always careful about which sketchbooks to bring to signings and school visits,” he tells me. “Often there are dark things amongst the oodles of cute.”

So, to see both the dark and cute, keep reading below. Ben sent tons of art (which is how you win this blogger’s heart). I thank him for sharing. Read the rest of this entry �

Circle, Square, Moose, Bingham, Zelinsky.

h1 Thursday, October 2nd, 2014



 


 


 


 


 


 

This morning over at Kirkus, I chat with author Kelly Bingham and illustrator Paul O. Zelinsky at the release of Circle, Square, Moose, the sequel to 2012′s Z Is for Moose. Kelly and Paul are pictured here. So is Moose. But of course.

That Q&A is here.

Next week here at 7-Imp, I’ll have a bit of art from the book, as well as some Zelinsky sketches.

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Author photo of Kelly is by Marty Bingham and used with permission. Photo of Paul O. Zelinsky also used with permission.

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Hadley Hooper

h1 Tuesday, September 30th, 2014


“Would it be a surprise that you grew up to be a fine painter
Who painted red rooms …”

Over at BookPage, I had the pleasure of reviewing Patricia MacLachlan’s newest picture book, The Iridescence of Birds (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook, October 2014), illustrated by Hadley Hooper, pictured left. I fell hard for this book, you all. It’s probably my favorite from this year. It’s simply exquisite in every way. I won’t go on. If you want to know what the book is about and why I love it so, that BookPage review is here.

I’m happy that Hadley obliged when I asked if she’d like to visit 7-Imp for a cyber-breakfast and talk more about her illustration work, this book, and what’s next for her. Best of all, she sent lots of art. This is her second picture book (her first being Shana Corey’s Here Come the Girl Scouts!, published in 2012), though she’s hardly new to illustration. She’s spent years as an editorial illustrator for magazines and newspapers.

When I ask her about breakfast, Hadley says, “well, I’m in Denver where we have A LOT of choices for morning coffee, perhaps because the night before we had A LOT of choices for craft beers. So, there are many opportunities to frustrate a barista with orders like a triple dry cappuccino or shots of espresso over ice. We’ll wait to eat until later if that’s okay!” I’m good for an espresso, though I’ll take mine hot. Let’s get right to it so that we can see more of Hadley’s art.

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

Greek Gods and Fearsome Blizzards:
A Visit with John Rocco

h1 Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014


“I was the only one light enough to walk on top of the snow.”
Spread (without text) from Blizzard
(Click to enlarge)


“Zeus got angry and decided to destroy the entire race. I mean, Come on.
How bad could the humans have been?”

(Click to enlarge)

Pictured right is author-illustrator John Rocco in 1971. With him is his sister, Denise, and their dog, Toby-Tyler. This photo is the inspiration for John’s newest picture book, Blizzard (Disney-Hyperion), which will be released at the end of October. Blizzard tells the true story of John’s winter of 1978, when New England, as he explains in a closing author’s note, was slammed with one of the biggest snowstorms in its history. At first, it was all a bit thrilling and fun—we’re talkin’ school lets out early, snowdrifts cover doors, and tunnels and secret rooms are dug under piles of snow—and much hot cocoa (with milk!) was consumed. Then, things started to get a bit scary, but the young boy in the tale (John himself) heads out bravely to gather groceries for his family, as well as his neighbors, since as you can see above, he was “the only one light enough to walk on top of the snow.” It’s an adventure tale with cheer and heart, and at its core it’s a story about the resiliency and bravery of children.

Today, John is sharing some early drawings from the book, as well as some final art and a couple of other surprises. To boot, he’s throwing in four of his paintings from Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods, released by Disney-Hyperion in August.

Enjoy the art … Read the rest of this entry �