Archive for the 'Interviews' Category

A Visit with Don Tate …

h1 Monday, January 26th, 2015

Author-illustrator Don Tate, who visited 7-Imp for breakfast back in 2011, is back today to talk about his upcoming picture books. As it turns out, I had an opportunity to do one of those so-called cover reveals for his book Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton of Chapel Hill, which will be on shelves from Peachtree in the Fall. (Yes, FALL! I know. Seems so far away.) And then it turned into an opportunity to ask him about the book (I read an early PDF version) and to show some spreads from it, and I’m all for that. Even better. To boot, Don is even sharing some images from another forthcoming book, written by Chris Barton, called The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch (Eerdmans), which I believe will be on shelves in April. So you’ll see that below too.

Poet is the story of George Moses Horton, the first African American poet to be published in the South. Horton’s story is a remarkable one, and Don talks a bit below about why. Let’s get right to it, especially so that we can see more of his art.

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

Finding Spring with Carin Berger

h1 Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

In Finding Spring, a little bear named Maurice strikes off on his own in search of Spring, instead of hibernating. It is a story about seeking and about the magic of discovery. It is about those empowering childhood adventures that I remember so vividly – those moments of exploration without an adult supervising. It is also about the elusiveness of that which we seek and the happy accidental discoveries along the way.”

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This morning over at Kirkus, I chat with author-illustrator Carin Berger about her new picture book, Finding Spring (out on shelves next week). Carin has actually already visited 7-Imp to talk about the book, over a year ago, but more on that next week — when she’ll share a bit of art from the book over here.

That Q&A at Kirkus is here.

Until tomorrow …

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Photo of Carin used with her permission.

A Peek at Nicole Tadgell’s Drawing Table

h1 Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

“As the tea cooled down, their conversation heated up. … [T]hey weren’t afraid to
stand up for their beliefs. In fact, they loved a good fight!”
– Rough sketch, final sketch, and final art (without text)

(Click second image to enlarge)

Illustrator Nicole Tadgell (pictured left) is visiting 7-Imp (for a third time — you can check the archives for her previous visits) to share artwork and early sketches from Suzanne Slade’s Friends for Freedom: The Story of Susan B. Anthony & Frederick Douglass. This book was released back in September (Charlesbridge), but better late than never.

Slade’s story, rife with source notes and an impressive Selected Bibliography at the book’s close, describes the friendship between the two legends. Everything about this was scandalous for the times: “It wasn’t proper for women to be friends with men,” Slade writes. “You weren’t supposed to be friends with someone whose skin was a different color than yours.” But their friendship endured for over 45 years. She even highlights their 1869 public argument when the Fifteenth Amendment gave black men, but not women, the right to vote. While Slade emphasizes their passion for civil rights and social justice, the heart of the book is their friendship, during both good and bad times.

Nicole’s delicate watercolors, as the Booklist review notes, bring readers a good deal of historical context for Slade’s words. Today, Nicole shares some preliminary images and a bit of final art from the book. “It is interesting to look at the journey from rough pencils to finished art,” she tells me. “Often things change dramatically, but the spirit of the scene stays the same. I really love how this book turned out! I feel that I’ve helped bring two historical figures to life for kids to learn and hopefully inspire them to read further about how both Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony helped change America –- in part, by simply being friends.”

I thank her for sharing. …

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A Peek at Pat Cummings’ Process

h1 Thursday, January 15th, 2015

Early thumbnail
(Click to enlarge)


Pat: “This is the scene when Beauty has returned home, overstayed her visit, and has
a bad dream about the Beast dying in the castle garden, because she’s broken her promise. The round symbol repeated on the base of her bed is her family motif that I wanted to suggest one of the west African Adinkra symbols.”

(Click to enlarge)

I’m following up today at 7-Imp with some art from H. Chuku Lee’s Beauty and the Beast, illustrated by Pat Cummings and published by Amistad/HarperCollins earlier in 2014. I talked with them both at Kirkus last week (here) about this book, and as always, I wanted to be sure to share some images from it. I thank Pat for sharing some final art, as well as for including some early thumbnails and other preliminary images (plus a bit of explanation as to what the images are).

Enjoy. …

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Seven Questions Over Shots with Nick Bruel

h1 Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

(Click to enlarge)


Author-illustrator Nick Bruel is serious about breakfast. When I ask him what pretend-breakfast-of choice we’ll pretend-have over pretend-coffee this morning, his answer is detailed (right after my own breakfast-lovin’ heart):

Choice? Well, the finest breakfast dish I ever had was an oatmeal crème brulee from a hotel somewhere in Miami. It was dessert; it was breakfast; it was oatmeal; it was sugary; it was delicious, and I’ve never had anything like it since. But my typical breakfast of choice is some nice, fresh, untoasted sourdough bread and a quality olive oil for dipping. I especially like a mushroom-roasted garlic oil that comes from a shop in Tarrytown, NY, called Pure Mountain Olive Oil.

Years ago when I traveled in China, my favorite breakfast dish was what Westerners here call congee, which is a hot rice porridge accompanied by at least half a dozen small dishes filled with assorted items, like egg or pickle or vegetables. You scoop out some of the hot rice mush into your bowl and add whatever you feel like from the smaller dishes. If you do it right, it can be delightful.

I have a lot to say about breakfast. I like breakfast.

Nick’s Bad Kitty, one of children’s literature’s most refreshingly naughty characters, appeared ten years ago—“Bruel’s little black star is perhaps the hammiest, most expressive feline ever captured in watercolors,” wrote Kirkus at the character’s debut—and it’s safe to say things haven’t been the same for Bruel since. Bad Kitty’s adventures began with a picture book, which then turned into a bestselling chapter book series.

But Nick started out with picture books and returns to them, in part, this year with the release this month of A Wonderful Year (our purple friend above comes from this story), already the recipient of a handful of positive reviews, some starred.

Nick talks about that new book, and much more below, and I thank him for visiting. As you’ll read, we may have a few shots with our coffee. (What? I’m up for just about anything.)

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A Chat with H. Chuku Lee and Pat Cummings …

h1 Thursday, January 8th, 2015


These two. If I were only half as cool as they are …

Go see for yourself. That’s H. Chuku Lee (left) and Pat Cummings (right). We talk at Kirkus today about their 2014 picture book collaboration, Beauty and the Beast, which Chuku wrote and Pat illustrated. They’re a husband-and-wife team, and here’s hoping Chuku ends up writing more; this was his children’s book debut, though he has had a long and distinguished career in journalism. (Actually, he told me, though there wasn’t room for it in the Q&A over there, that he is developing several ideas for other stories, so that’s good news.)

Pat, as you’ll read over there, has illustrated over 30 books in her career and also teaches Children’s Book Illustration at Pratt and Parsons. I’ve wanted to interview her for years now, and I really enjoyed this Q&A. Next week here at 7-Imp, she’ll share some art from the book.

The Q&A is here.

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Photos of H. Chuku Lee and Pat Cummings used with their permission.

A Bear, a Truck, an Unreliable Narrator,
and Julia Sarcone-Roach (a Few Hours After Breakfast)

h1 Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

Author-illustrator Julia Sarcone-Roach is visiting 7-Imp today, you all, and it’s pretty much made my day.

Over at BookPage, I reviewed her newest picture book, The Bear Ate Your Sandwich, released just this week. The review is here, if you want to know my thoughts (I’m quite smitten with this book), and if you want to know more about the story.

Julia shares here at 7-Imp some spreads from the book, some dummy pages, and some behind-the-scenes peeks, too. She created the illustrations using acrylic paints and pencil, and I could stare at them all day. The colors, o! the colors!


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Last Stop on Market Street:
A Visit with Matt de la Peña & Christian Robinson

h1 Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

There’s a brand-new picture book in this brand-new year that I like an awful lot. It’s Matt de la Peña’s Last Stop on Market Street, illustrated by Christian Robinson (pictured above), and I’ve reviewed it for BookPage.

That review is here, and I like the book so much that I wanted to follow up here at 7-Imp with some art and preliminary images from Christian, as well as some words from Matt (pictured right) about the book.

So, all of that is below—Matt’s responses to a small handful of questions I sent him and Christian’s behind-the-scenes images—and I thank both of them for sharing.

Let’s get right to it. … (Oh, and if you read the review over at BookPage, you’ll see some spreads from the book there, too!)

Jules: Can you talk about how this story came to be?

Matt: A few years ago, Steve Malk (my agent) sent me a link to some art by Christian, saying, “You gotta check this guy out. He’s incredible.” This was before Steve had even signed Christian. Steve has impeccable taste, so I was excited. But when I clicked on the links, I was blown away. The work was so fun. And expressive. And quirky. But what struck me most was the depth. The soul. There was one piece that especially moved me. It was a boy on a bus with his grandmother.

Nana and CJ
(Click to enlarge)

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Seven Questions Over Breakfast with David Roberts

h1 Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

photo taken by Lynn Roberts MaloneyI couldn’t let 2014 go by without posting this interview with British author-illustrator David Roberts. I’ve enjoyed his books over the years, but he also provided spot illustrations for Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature, the book I wrote with Betsy Bird and the late Peter D. Sieruta, which was released in August of this year (Candlewick Press). David filled our book with a set of very entertaining startled bunnies, one pictured above (it’s hard to pick a favorite, but she may be it), and he also did the cover art, the image at the very bottom of this Q&A.

So, it’s the very last day of the year, but I managed to get this interview in here just in time.

As you’ll read below, David has illustrated more than 150 books (picture books and beyond), some—but not all—originally published in the UK and then released here in the States, thanks to publishers like Abrams and Candlewick. I appreciate David taking the time to talk about his work this morning and share some art. For breakfast, he told me that every Friday he has breakfast at Joe’s Kitchen near where he lives in South London: poached eggs on brown toast with bacon and tomatoes. He also said he’d always make room for a Danish pastry, but I’m all about the toast this morning (with coffee, of course), even if it’s not Friday, so we’ll have that while we chat.

Without further ado, here’s David …

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Making History Come Alive at Christmas

h1 Thursday, December 25th, 2014

Getting a kid to say ‘this person who lived a hundred years ago is basically just like me’ is a wonderful thing to take away from a war story a century ago.”

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If freelance writing deadlines don’t stop for the holidays, the least I can do is tell you about John Hendrix’s new picture book, all about the true story of a 1914 Allied-German Christmas truce on the front lines during World War I. It’s called Shooting at the Stars: The Christmas True of 1914.

I’ll have art from the book at 7-Imp soon — maybe even this Sunday. For now, I talk to John, pictured here, about the book over at Kirkus, a hundred years after the events themselves.

That is here.

Merry Christmas, all!

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Photo of John used with his permission and taken by Kevin Roberts.