Archive for the 'Interviews' Category

An Alphabet Adventure Before Breakfast

h1 Tuesday, December 8th, 2020

Lucky for me, things are coming up very Julie today at 7-Imp.

Author Julie Larios and author-illustrator Julie Paschkis (both language lovers) visit today to talk briefly about their newest picture book, Eek!: A Noisy Journey from A to Z (Peachtree, September 2020).

I reviewed this one for the Horn Book, and I don’t think that review will publish till later. But in summary: This is a mighty entertaining alphabet adventure. It is wordless, with the exception of some onomatopoeia and animal sounds. The adventure begins with a sneezing mouse (A is for “achoo”) and ends with that mouse falling asleep safely (Z is for “ZzZzZ”) — and in between there are buzzing bees, chirping birds, a cat, a dog who likes to chase cats, a raccoon on a bike, a pig in a sleek car, a harrumph’ing alligator, a bike accident, some tears but much joy, a parade, a lion (with a mane just right for snuggling mice), and much more.

Read the rest of this entry �

Five questions for Jordan Scott
and Sydney Smith at the Horn Book

h1 Thursday, November 12th, 2020


“It was a beautiful experience. I actually couldn’t make my way through the book on the first read, as it seemed unreal. … What’s truly remarkable about his work in the book is that he really understands the stutter on an emotional and aesthetic level. Emotionally, the artwork almost places the stutter in the background, like a low ambient noise, that hums throughout the book. The stutter is present, obviously, but it’s not the entirety of the child’s experience or identity. It’s hard to explain
how meaningful this is for me.” — Jordan Scott

Over at the Horn Book, I had the distinct pleasure of working with my fellow Calling Caldecott blogger, Martha V. Parravano, to compose some questions for author and poet Jordan Scott and illustrator Sydney Smith about their 2020 picture book, I Talk Like a River.

This exquisite book is one of my favorites this year. (I reviewed it here. And here at 7-Imp, Sydney shared lots of preliminary images from creating this book.)

Head here to read our five-questions chat with them.

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #715: Featuring Sarah Williamson

h1 Sunday, November 1st, 2020

Today, author-illustrator Sarah Williamson visits to talk about creating Elevator Bird (Knopf), which will be on shelves in late November. I’ll let her tell you about the story below.

Sarah’s brightly colored illustrations are filled with the kinds of little offbeat details that make this a book that children will pore over. And fans of the Eloise books may be especially delighted, given the book’s posh hotel setting. Sarah shares some spreads below, as well as some early sketches from the book.

Let’s get to it, and I thank her for sharing.

Read the rest of this entry �

“About My Bear”:
Irene Luxbacher on Once I Was a Bear

h1 Tuesday, October 27th, 2020

Today, I welcome author-illustrator Irene Luxbacher, who talks about her newest picture book, Once I Was a Bear (Scholastic, September 2020), and how her child with autism inspired it. The book tells a story of transition and transformation—one of a bear in the woods, at one with nature, who wakes up to find himself in a big city and heading to his first day of school. (After all, there’s a boy in that bear.)

It’s a tender story of seeking understanding, rendered in soft-focus but vivid colors. A selection of spreads are included below.

I’ll hand it over to Irene. I thank her for sharing.

Read the rest of this entry �

Some Deep Breaths Before Breakfast

h1 Thursday, October 22nd, 2020

“Breath blooms / at tree tips,
like sprouting leaves / on lush spring stems.”

(Click spread to enlarge)

I’ve a Q&A over at Tennessee’s Chapter 16 with local (to me) artist and illustrator Billy Renkl, who—as you will read if you are so inclined to head over to the Q&A—has great respect for the materials he uses to create his layered collage pieces.

Billy has illustrated his first picture book, Diana Farid’s When You Breathe (Cameron Kids, September 2020).

The Q&A is here, and below are some more spreads from the book.

(And if you want to see a bit of his process, head here and click through those photos.)

Read the rest of this entry �

Matt Phelan on Turtle Walk

h1 Tuesday, October 20th, 2020

Author-illustrator Matt Phelan visits today to talk a bit about his playful new picture book for very young readers, Turtle Walk (Greenwillow, October 2020). Librarians and educators, take note: This is your next best pick for storytime for your youngest patrons and students.

Matt, as he notes below, likes the “challenge of making something that is clear and simple, yet can be read again and again.” This particular story—one in which small turtles, much like small children, amble through a year, taking in everything around them (and in a palette of vivid, rich colors)—was inspired by his daughter. He visits today to talk about that and share some images from the creation of the book. As always, a few final illustrations are included here as well.

Thanks to Matt for visiting!

Read the rest of this entry �

Christy Hale on Out the Door

h1 Tuesday, October 13th, 2020

It’s a pleasure to have a visit today from author-illustrator Christy Hale. Her new picture book, Out the Door (Neal Porter Books/Holiday House, October 2020), takes readers to busy Brooklyn. Here, a young girl makes her way to school and back home again, and it’s all about the journey—”out the door, down the stoop, past the neighbors along the block….” As you can tell from the spreads below, it’s an adventure in prepositions (perfect for elementary students in that particular unit of study), but it’s much more. As Christy says below, it’s a book about “the connection between the words ‘commute’ and ‘community.’”

Here’s Christy, in her own words, and a handful of the beautifully textured cut-paper collages from the book.

Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #712: Featuring Ashley Wolff

h1 Sunday, October 11th, 2020

(Click spread to enlarge)

It’s a pleasure today to welcome author-illustrator Ashley Wolff, who talks about a new version of an old book.

Only the Cat Saw was originally published in 1985, and as you’ll read below, Ashley had an opportunity to update it. This new version, on shelves in June of this year (Beach Lane Books), is the story of a small multiracial family on a farm. While they bustle about, getting ready for bed after a busy day, the cat is the only one to see the sun set; fireflies at night; an owl; a shooting star; and more. The text is spare and rhythmic with pleasing repetition, and Ashley’s richly colored illustrations are deliciously textured. Young children, who wonder what their pet sees at night, will delight in this warm, cozy story.

Thanks to Ashley for visiting today to share more about this updated version. And don’t miss her September visit with Jama Kim Rattigan to talk in even more detail about the book. (That is here.)

Read the rest of this entry �

If You Come to Earth:
A Conversation with Sophie Blackall

h1 Monday, October 5th, 2020


(Click image to enlarge)

Author-illustrator Sophie Blackall and I have been chatting back and forth via email about her new picture book, If You Come to Earth (Chronicle), which arrived on shelves last month. It’s an ambitious picture book that asks big questions about life, and it’s funny and poignant and thought-provoking all at once. Our narrator, Quinn, writes a letter via scroll to any aliens who are perhaps considering visiting Earth. What is Earth like anyway? That’s the question Quinn poses. Not a small task, but over the course of 80 pages, they manage to cover a lot of ground.

I asked Sophie about the book’s genesis, and she also talks to me about the challenges of creating a book with such a wide scope—and why the tiny details in such a story matter and matter a lot. A transcription of our chat is below. There’s also lots of the book’s dynamic, exquisite art in our chat, and I thank her for sharing. Let’s get to it! Read the rest of this entry �

Sending You Elsewhere …

h1 Thursday, September 24th, 2020


I’m sending you over to the Horn Book’s Calling Caldecott today.

Last week, we posted a brief chat I had with the 2020 Caldecott Medalist Kadir Nelson, pictured left. If you’re interested in finding out what his Caldecott year has been like that, that Q&A is here.

We have also kicked off our book coverage over there. One book we covered this week is Lesa Cline-Ransome’s and James Ransome’s The Overground Railroad, pictured above. It’s a book I didn’t write about here at 7-Imp this year—but one I really like. So, I’m going to send you over to read Nicholl Montgomery’s thoughs on the book. That is here.

To keep up with all of our other posts there this year, you can always head right to the blog at this link.

See you there!

* * * * * * *

Photo of Kadir Nelson taken by David Walter Banks and used by permisson of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.