Archive for the 'Interviews' Category

A Visit with Larry Day

h1 Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

“… Yes, they said, that youngster Roosevelt is going to do big stuff—
exactly like his famous, older cousin, President Ted.”

(Click to enlarge spread)

Illustrator Larry Day is in 7-Imp Land today to talk about creating the artwork for Suzanne Tripp Jurmain’s new picture book (Dial, January 2016), Nice Work, Franklin!. The book—which kicks off the story of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency by emphasizing how much he idolized his cousin, President Theodore Roosevelt—is a lively account of FDR’s challenges and successes as President. Jurmain brings readers an accessible text filled with engaging anecdotes about FDR’s life.

Larry, who has illustrated many books about American history, talks here today about the artwork, what a Wolff pencil is, and why he likes illustrating nonfiction in general.


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En Pointe with Barbara McClintock

h1 Thursday, March 17th, 2016

When my sister was in college near Minneapolis, she took me to see the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater. This was the first professional dance performance I’d ever seen. I was hesitant and had no idea what to expect. The magnificent Judith Jamison was the featured dance soloist. She dominated the stage, creating shapes and patterns. Judith performed the solo dance — Cry, a 15-minute homage to black women, choreographed by Alvin Ailey for his mother and for Judith. Judith expressed grief, loss, redemption, and joy as eloquently as any novelist. I loved dance from that moment on. I’d wanted to make a book honoring my sister and her love of dance for a long time. And that profound first introduction to dance has left a fascination with Judith Jamison and her artistry.”

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Over at Kirkus today, I talk to author-illustrator Barbara McClintock, pictured above, about her newest book, Emma and Julia Love Ballet (Scholastic, February 2016). That chat is here.

I’ll have some art from it at 7-Imp next week in a follow-up post.

Until tomorrow …

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Photo of Barbara used by her permission.

Hannah. Sugar. Kate.

h1 Thursday, March 10th, 2016

Do you remember reading here, 7-Impers, all about Kate Berube? When I posted that back in 2013, she was not yet published. That is, incidentally, one of my very favorites of the up-and-coming illustrator posts.

Well, Kate’s debut picture book is out. I’ve got a review (it’s here) at BookPage. It’s called Hannah and Sugar and was released by Abrams this month. As a follow-up, Kate visits today to talk about the book and share early images and art, etc. “Generally,” she says, “I will draw and draw and draw a character until I find one that strikes me. This [pictured left] was that drawing for Hannah.”

Let’s get right to it. I thank Kate for sharing. I really enjoyed reading her thoughts and, especially, seeing her preliminary images. (And I can’t wait to see what she does next.)

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Philip C. Stead Shares a Short Essay on
Anxiety and the Making of Ideas Are All Around

h1 Tuesday, March 8th, 2016


(Click to enlarge)

Over at BookPage, I reviewed Philip C. Stead’s newest book, Ideas Are All Around, published this month by Neal Porter Books/Roaring Brook Press. That review is here if you want to read a bit about what the book is about (and why I like it).

Phil visits today to talk about learning what art is, how he made the illustrations for this one, and how he’s unsure how to answer your question about which parts of the book are real (and which are not).

Let’s get right to it. I thank Phil for visiting.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #473: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator Helen Zughaib

h1 Sunday, March 6th, 2016

Out of the Box

My guest today is artist Helen Zughaib, who was born in Beirut. Helen says she knew she wanted a life of painting and making art when she was very young and cites Matisse, Rousseau, Mondrian, and Jacob Lawrence as influences. Growing up primarily in the Arab world, she says, also influenced her — “the light, the patterns and colors on carpets, tiles, and buildings that surrounded me.”

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My Q&A with Mildred D. Taylor

h1 Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

I always wrote, even in high school, but my work had been rejected many times. I was living in Los Angeles, working as a proofreader, when a friend told me about the contest, sponsored by the Council on Interracial Books. I heard about the contest on a Thursday, and the deadline for submissions was the following Monday. I spent the weekend rewriting a story I’d been working on, typed it at work on Monday (my co-workers covered for me!), and got to the post office just in time to mail the manuscript.”

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Over at Kirkus today, I talk to author Mildred D. Taylor, the winner of the 1977 Newbery Medal for Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

The novel’s birthday is being celebrated in more ways than one—a writing contest and an exhibit at the Brooklyn Public Library—and all of that, plus my chat with Taylor, is at Kirkus today at this link.

Until tomorrow …

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Photo of Mildred D. Taylor used by permission of Dial Books for Young Readers.

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Christy Hale

h1 Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

(Click to enlarge)

Pictured above is one of Christy Hale’s beautiful illustrations from Cindy Jenson-Elliott’s Antsy Ansel: Ansel Adams, A Life in Nature, coming to shelves in September of this year. “This was Ansel’s front yard,” Christy tells me, “the Golden Gate Headlands before there was a bridge. I work traditionally in collage, pasting down papers and stylized photographic elements. Line work and addition layers are added in Photoshop.”

It’s a pleasure to have Christy visiting 7-Imp for a cyber-breakfast this morning. She is pictured here with Jerry Pinkney, who was her illustration teacher at Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute. Pinkney must be proud. Christy went on to forge herself an impressive career in this field — not only illustrating but also writing, designing, art directing, and teaching. She talks more below about that work, as well as shares more images from Antsy Ansel — and lots of other artwork.

“A book is architecture of the imagination,” she noted in her 2013 Boston Globe-Horn Book Nonfiction Honor acceptance speech for the wonderful Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building, which she both wrote and illustrated, and her work over the years has sparked the imagination of many children. As a former school librarian and now a parent, I look forward to any book with her name on the cover. Her richly textured illustrations are ones to pore over.

Since she usually switches her breakfast up between oatmeal/berries/almonds and scrambled eggs, I say we have all of the above. And coffee, because she says there’s always coffee. Looks like we’re aligned on that.

Let’s get to it, and I thank Christy for visiting. …

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A First Second Graphic Novel Preview,
Featuring Art from Mike Cavallaro, Joe Flood,
Faith Erin Hicks, Bryan Konietzko, George O’Connor,
Alex Puvilland, and Maris Wicks

h1 Thursday, February 25th, 2016

From Bryan Konietzko’s Threadworlds,
coming in 2017

Last week I spoke here at Kirkus with First Second’s Editorial Director, Mark Siegel, about graphic novels and ten years of First Second Books.

Today, I’m following up with art — a sneak peek at some upcoming graphic novels from First Second.


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A Visit with Dasha Tolstikova

h1 Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016

“My name is Dasha. I am twelve years old.”
(Click to enlarge)

Last year, I read Dasha Tolstikova’s A Year Without Mom, released by Groundwood Books in October. Dasha and I started a conversation about this book at year’s end, and life (as it is wont to do) got in the way quite a bit, interrupting our chat, but we finally wrapped it up and I’m posting it today. Better late than never.

I featured Dasha’s artwork here back in 2013, and it’s wonderful to be talking about this book today. A Year Without Mom is what Maria Russo in the New York Times Book Review called a “perceptive story about change, aloneness, ambition and, ultimately, resilience” and Kirkus Reviews called “fascinating and heartfelt.” This 176-page illustrated book follows Dasha herself through a year in Moscow with her grandparents after her mother goes to America to study advertising. Politics are touched upon—essentially, Gorbachev’s leave with Yeltsin taking up the reins—but the book also tells the universal story of a middle-schooler. Crushes, the dynamics between friends, school — all of this without her mother near.

Dasha visits today to talk about this book and what’s next on her plate. I thank her for sharing.

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Getting Graphic with Mark Siegel

h1 Thursday, February 18th, 2016

[W]e’ve rounded another corner, and the conversation is getting more interesting. It used to be all about the graphic novel format — every other news article on a graphic novel for a while was ‘oh wow, it’s comics, but it’s good,’ which sometimes got a bit insulting to all these prodigious authors doing remarkable work. But now it’s about substance, and it’s about author voice. It’s about the writing, as you say, about immigration, or the speeding up of modern life, or about getting married, or growing up with a disability, or simply growing up — about the human experience, in other words. Which is a far more vital conversation than endlessly discussing a format.”

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Over at Kirkus today, I talk to the Editorial Director of First Second Books, Mark Siegel. First Second is celebrating a decade of making high-quality graphic novels for children and teens.

That link is here, and I’ll follow this up next week with some art here at 7-Imp.

Until tomorrow …

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Photo of Mark Siegel used by his permission.