Archive for the 'Interviews' Category

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Wendell Minor

h1 Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

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Author-illustrator Wendell Minor, self-described bird- and cloud-watcher, “takes his young readers very seriously,” wrote Jean Craighead George, Newbery Award-winning writer for children, in a personal reminiscence of Minor before her death in 2012. “Just as he wants them to see the buffalo or crane in its accurate environment, he wants them also to feel that this animal is so loveable that it must be saved.”

This reminiscence appears in Wendell Minor’s America: 25 Years of Children’s Book Art, the catalog that accompanies the art exhibit of the same name, appearing at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Massachusetts until May 26, 2014.

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As Stephanie Haboush Plunkett, the Chief Curator and Director of the museum, notes in the introduction to the catalog, Minor sold his 1955 Chevy in order to pay for his studies at the Ringling College of Art in Florida after first deciding that he wanted to pursue his life-long love of art (by the time he reached fourth grade, he knew he’d be an artist one day) and eventually moved to New York in 1968 “with little more than his portfolio in hand.” Since then, he’s illustrated over 50 children’s books (see here) and was last year awarded, along with his wife Florence, the The New England Independent Booksellers Association’s President’s Award for lifetime achievement in arts and letters.

Minor brings readers what historian Leonard Marcus describes in the catalog as his own unique Americana. This, he writes, is “a Minor passion born of the artist’s rural Illinois upbringing. For him the Midwest is not a blank patchwork of ‘fly-over states’ but rather a fertile proving ground that has inspired generations of human struggle and transcendence.” Illustration for Minor, Marcus adds, is no less than an act of “total immersion,” as he digs deep into his research and fine tunes every possible detail.

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A Conversation with James McMullan

h1 Thursday, March 6th, 2014

Remember this award-winning picture book?

Its illustrator, James McMullan (pictured here), who has led a long and distinguished career in graphic design and illustration, has written a new memoir. It’s a fascinating read, and today over at Kirkus I chat with him about this book.

It’s called Leaving China: An Artist Paints His World War II Childhood and was released this month from Algonquin. McMullan was born in North China, the grandson of UK missionaries who had settled there, and in this book he recounts his childhood in brief, impressionistic vignettes accompanied by paintings — first, his privileged life and then his father’s departure for the war, followed by his and his mother’s attempts to escape Japanese occupation.

It’s a book aimed at teens (given that it was published by Algonquin’s young-readers imprint), but as many reviewers have noted, adults would enjoy it as well.

Our chat is here today.

And next week here at 7-Imp, I’ll have a couple of paintings from the book.

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Photo of Mr. McMullan taken by Phillip Lehans and used by permission.

Notes from a Colorful Interview …

h1 Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Early in January, I chatted with author-illustrator Lois Ehlert for BookPage about her newest book, The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life (Beach Lane Books, March 2014), which is an exceptionally good book.

Not surprisingly, as noted in the interview, when I called her up, she was surrounded by scraps and paints and paintbrushes — and she was busy creating, happy to be doing so. It was a genuinely inspiring interview; when I got off the phone, I wanted to make something myself.

BookPage has posted the interview. It’s here. I really enjoyed my conversation with her, and I want to give The Scraps Book to every child I know. If you read it, you’ll understand why.

Best part about the interview? You know how I always follow up columns I contribute at other places with art here at 7-Imp? I get kinda twitchy if I don’t, because I love to see picture book art up close and as big as possible. I don’t have to do that here, because BookPage posted spreads from the book so nice and big. (I was so excited when I saw it that I called to thank them for that.) Go take a look!

‘Til tomorrow …

Catching Up with Shadra Strickland …

h1 Thursday, February 20th, 2014

This morning over at Kirkus, I chat with illustrator Shadra Strickland about her latest illustrated picture book, which you can spot in the photo above, as well as other projects she has going now and what’s next on her plate. That is here this morning. Next week, I’ll have some art and sketches from the new book.

Until tomorrow …

“All exaggeration must be restricted
to the first twenty-four hours past sunrise …”

h1 Thursday, February 6th, 2014

What draws me is a sense of kinship: I like and understand people who venture out to do impossible things, and I feel a bond with those who cannot live without nature, raw and untamed. Those who have a bit of lake water in their veins.”

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Today over at Kirkus, I chat with picture book author and tall-tale queen, Anne Isaacs.

Her newest book, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes, is Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch (Schwartz & Wade, February 2014), and it’s funny stuff.

That Q&A is here.

Next week, I hope to have art from the book to share.

Until tomorrow …

Photo used by permission of Anne Isaacs.

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #366: Featuring Christian Robinson

h1 Sunday, January 26th, 2014

This past week, a review I wrote for the wonderful folks at BookPage was included in a round-up of theirs, which you can read here. My contribution was a review of Patricia Hruby Powell’s Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker (Chronicle Books, January 2014), illustrated by Christian Robinson. What an excellent book this is. So, you can read all about it here, and today Christian, whose artwork gives me hope for the future of illustration, visits to share early cover designs, storyboards, and photos of some of his original art from the book. I thank him for sharing.

(As a reminder, Christian visited 7-Imp in 2012, and it’s still one of my favorite interviews.)

Enjoy! Read the rest of this entry �

Keeping Promises with Nicola Davies

h1 Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

I meet a lot of kids in my work, kids who have had various kinds of bad starts in life, and I wanted a story that says that a bad start doesn’t mean a bad end, change is possible, and taking power in your hands to change the world is possible”

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This morning over at Kirkus, I have a chat with British picture book author and zoologist Nicola Davies. I’ve enjoyed her books over the years, and her newest, The Promise, illustrated by Laura Carlin, will be out from Candlewick in early March. This one isn’t nonfiction; it’s actually an adaptation of a short story, and it’s Carlin’s debut picture book. There is more at this link.

Until tomorrow …

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Photo of Nicola Davies used by permission of Candlewick Press.

KNOCK KNOCK: My Dad’s Dream for Me

h1 Thursday, January 9th, 2014

I feel books in general—and children’s books, in particular—should not only reflect a child’s experience, but also open other children to new worlds and perspectives. I believe we will ultimately create a more loving and humane world when we continue to expose our children at an early age to the experiences of others that may be different from them, while at the same time affirming those children who are experiencing difficult childhoods.”

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Hear, hear.

Over at Kirkus this morning, I chat with actor, singer and writer Daniel Beaty about KNOCK KNOCK: My Dad’s Dream for Me (Little, Brown), illustrated by Bryan Collier and released at the tail end of last year.

That is here.

Next week here at 7-Imp, I’ll have some of Bryan’s art from the book.

Until tomorrow …

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Photo of Mr. Beaty used with permission of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

A ‘Rather Dryly Witty Fellow’
Shares Some Art and Dummy Images

h1 Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Early dummy image for the cover of Little Santa
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Final art: “And you know the rest of the story.”
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Last week at Kirkus, I chatted here with author-illustrator Jon Agee about a few things, including his newest picture book, Little Santa (Dial, October 2013). Today, I’m following up with some art from the book, as well as some dummy images Jon sent along (which he explains in the Q&A, but I’ll be sure to put captions below each of those images).

Jon also talked in one response about picture book publishing in the early ’80s “when publishing was a quieter, slower, leaner business, and the editorial staff still held reign over sales and marketing. I was a complete unknown, and yet I could meet face-to-face with editors, like Frances Foster and Margaret McElderry. Or receive inspiring rejection letters from Walter Lorraine and Gordon Lish.” He shares below one of those rejection letters. It’s from Walter Lorraine.

Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �

My Morning Chat with Jon Agee

h1 Thursday, December 12th, 2013

This morning over at Kirkus, I chat with author-illustrator Jon Agee, pictured here.

We talk about his newest picture book, Little Santa, released by Dial in October. Jon also looks back at publishing picture books over the years; considers Maurice Sendak’s contributions to picture books, as well as to his career; discusses what contemporary picture book artists inspire him …

… and more!

Next week here at 7-Imp, I’ll have some more art from Little Santa, as well as some early dummy images from Jon.

That Q&A is here.

Until tomorrow …


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Photo of Jon Agee used with permission.