Archive for the 'Interviews' Category

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.

One Picture-Book Roundtable Discussion
Before Breakfast #6: Featuring Team Snappsy

h1 Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

I’ve got a review here over at BookPage of the debut picture book from Julie Falatko, illustrated by Tim Miller. It’s called Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book!), released by Viking this month. Pictured above is one of Tim’s early character sketches.

Today, in another edition of the 7-Imp Picture-Book Roundtable Discussion, Julie, Tim, and the book’s editor, Joanna Cardenas, join me to talk about the book. (The art director was super swamped and had to bow out.)

If you’re a regular 7-Imp reader, you may remember when Tim visited back here in 2013 — back before publication. It’s so great to see his debut. As I note in my review, I like this book, so let’s get right to the conversation. (My favorite part comes down to a tie between “Truman Capote Chicken” and a mention of Fellini Satyricon.)

I thank all the creators for taking the time to chat about it.

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On Picture Books and Mix Tapes with Jessixa Bagley

h1 Monday, February 15th, 2016

My interview with author-illustrator Jessixa Bagley, where (delightfully) she likens the planning of her career to the art of the mix tape, will be in the current print issue of Kirkus. But I see they’ve posted it online too. Click the image below to head to our chat:


Until tomorrow!

Bloom — And a Visit with David Small

h1 Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

“Once upon a time, in a beautiful glass kingdom,
there lived an unusual fairy named Bloom. …”

(Click to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)

Over at BookPage, I’ve got a review here of Doreen Cronin’s Bloom, illustrated by David Small (Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum, February 2016).

As a follow-up to that, David is sharing today some early sketches/images from the book, as well as some thoughts about those preliminary images, and I’ve got some final spreads from the book too. (Please note that, in the final spreads, the colors appear slightly darker/bolder than they do in the book. Ah, computers.)

I thank David for sharing. Enjoy!

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My Chat with Rachel Isadora

h1 Thursday, February 4th, 2016

I love telling stories, and I would say that writing and illustrating for children is not really different from writing or illustrating for adults. The plots might be more complicated, but the messages and connections with the reader are the same. That is why children and adults share joy when experiencing a book together.”

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Over at Kirkus today, I talk to author-illustrator Rachel Isadora, quoted here, about her new book — and about her career of making picture books for children, which began in the ’70s.

That link is here.

Until tomorrow …