Archive for the 'Interviews' Category

Katherine Applegate: My Kirkus Q&A

h1 Thursday, August 20th, 2015

I don’t think there are many middle-grade children’s books that talk about the ‘working poor’ — about the stresses that come when parents juggle multiple low-paying jobs and there still isn’t enough food on the table or maybe even a place to call home. Children may not know what being ‘food insecure’ means, but they understand much more than we give them credit for, especially when it comes to money.”

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Over at Kirkus today, I talk to author Katherine Applegate about her new middle-grade novel, Crenshaw (Feiwel and Friends), coming to shelves next month.

That conversation is here.

Until tomorrow …

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Photo of Katherine used by her permission.

Keeping the Fires Stoked with Antoinette Portis

h1 Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

Early sketch and final art: “Hurry!”
(Click to enlarge spread)

Author-illustrator Antoinette Portis joins me this morning for a lovely, long chat before breakfast. Last month over at BookPage, I reviewed Antoinette’s newest picture book, Wait (Neal Porter Books/Roaring Brook Press, July 2015). That review is here.

Today, Antoinette talks all about the book and its evolution; her experience as a Sendak Fellow; the fine art of being content with discontent; her upcoming picture books (with art from each to share!); and much more. I thank her for visiting, and let’s get right to it.

[Please note that the colors in the larger versions of each image, should you choose to click on them, are slightly brighter than they appear in the book.]

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In the Canyon with Ashley Wolff

h1 Thursday, August 13th, 2015

Author-illustrator Ashley Wolff is visiting today to share some sketches and art from Liz Garton Scanlon’s In the Canyon, published by Beach Lane this month. (Pictured above is an early sketch.) Liz and I talked about this book, as well as her new middle-grade novel, at Kirkus last week.

Ashley also shares here today some pictures of a hike she took. Here’s what she told me:

[It’s a] real-life hike from rim to river to rim my sister and I took in April of 2014. It’s a really long haul, and both rangers and signs like [the one below] discourage anyone from trying to do it in one day, but we are two, stubborn Wolff women. We started down the South Kaibab Trail before 7 a.m. and returned to the rim after 8 p.m. — 16 miles round trip and a mile’s elevation gain and loss. We didn’t take enough water or food, so at the little store at Phantom Ranch we begged a $10 off the nice attendant, a guy named Bob. We bought all the salty snacks he had, and then he handed us a SASE. Naturally, we mailed him back a $20!

The sketches [below] include a series from very roughest to finish, my main character before I found a model, and some sketches of the lovely Willa. She is also the niece of Daniel Handler and Lisa Brown.

I thank Ashley for sharing art today. Enjoy!

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8 at 7-Imp: A Visit from Elisha Cooper

h1 Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

Author-illustrator Elisha Cooper is classin’ up the ol’ blog today with a visit to talk about his newest picture book, 8: An Animal Alphabet (Orchard Books/Scholastic, July 2015).

This is my kind of alphabet book, I tell you what. It’s filled with lovely Elisha-Cooper surprises. (First things first: When you get a copy, remove the dustjacket if you can.) As you’ll read below from Elisha, for each letter of the alphabet he’s painted animals whose names begin with that letter. And on each page, one animal is pictured eight times, and it’s the reader’s job to find those animals. The back of the book includes two glorious “Did you know?” spreads that lay out fun facts about each animal in the book. There’s a bit of additional info there, too, but I’ll leave that for you to discover.

It’s a beautifully designed book, and if you like to see Elisha’s graceful watercolors as much as I do, you’re in for a treat with this one. His composition choices on these spreads are superb. It’s a truly outstanding alphabet book and has garnered a big pile of starred reviews already.

Here’s more from Elisha about the book, and I thank him for visiting.

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Catching Up with Liz Garton Scanlon

h1 Thursday, August 6th, 2015

It became clear to me that [my character’s] family had religious traditions and that she was going to be reckoning with the comfort and the challenges of those traditions as part of her coming-of-age. Then, as Paul fleshed out as a science kid, I realized that faith and science were going to get to play off of each other, which I thought was awesome (and daunting). I worried that readers on ‘either side’ would be offended, but I really believe that discussions around religion and science are way too polarized, so it felt both true and worth it to look at them in a true and blurrier way.”

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Over at Kirkus today, I talk to author Liz Garton Scanlon about her first middle-grade novel, The Great Good Summer (Beach Lane Books), released this May.

We also talk about her forthcoming picture book, In the Canyon (also Beach Lane Books), illustrated by Ashley Wolff and coming to shelves this month.

That conversation is here.

Next week, I’ll have some art and early sketches from In the Canyon, thanks to Ashley.

Until tomorrow …

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Photo of Liz used by her permission.

A Visit with Artist Keith Mallett

h1 Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

“And let’s say one day when you were a little older,
you sat right down at a black piano and you commenced to play …”

There’s a new picture book biography on shelves, Jonah Winter’s How Jelly Roll Morton Invented Jazz (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook Press, June 2015), illustrated by Keith Mallett (pictured right). The book opens in a tremendously inviting way:

Here’s what could’ve happened if you were born a way down south in New Orleans, in the Land of Dreams a long, long time ago.

Let’s say you had a godmother, and she put a spell on you because she was a voodoo queen. …

Voodoo queen? Hoo boy, my attention is piqued.

Author and illustrator go on to lay out the musician’s early life and rise to fame, as well as his contributions to jazz. They address the whole who-invented-jazz conundrum—“And, to tell the truth of it, maybe Mister Jelly Roll didn’t invent jazz, not exactly, ’cause it took a lot of cooks to make that stew … but he sure did spread it around the towns”—and in an informative closing author’s note [“How Jelly Roll Morton (Might Have) Invented Jazz”], Winter goes into more detail about this and what distinguished Morton from his fellow musicians. Robin Smith captured the book well in the Horn Book’s review: “Much like jazz itself, Winter has created a book filled with ebbs and flows, rhythm and rhyme, darkness and light, shadow and sunshine.”

This is Mallett’s first picture book, though he’s been an artist and designer for more than thirty years. His acrylic paintings in this bio, bustling with energy and filled with beguiling shadows, are rich and reverent. He’s visiting today with some art (sans text) and early sketches from the book — and to talk a bit about his work. He even shares a bit of other art (not from this biography). I thank him for visiting.

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Globe-Hopping with the Lewins

h1 Thursday, July 9th, 2015

As children we were both fascinated by a book called I Married Adventure by Osa Johnson. It’s about her and her husband Martin’s travels to wild places around the world. We both aspired to their kind of life, and our childhood dreams came true. Our book is the culmination of all our travels. … We wanted to make this a true representation of what it felt like to be in these places. It would be less than honest if we made all our adventures look like a piece of cake.”

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Over at Kirkus today, I talk to Betsy and Ted Lewin, pictured here, about their new book, How to Babysit a Leopard: And Other True Stories from Our Travels Across Six Continents (Neal Porter Books/Roaring Brook, June 2015).

That link is here.

Next week, I’ll have a few of the watercolors from the book.

Until tomorrow …

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Photo of the Lewins used by their permission.

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Michael Emberley

h1 Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

Well, dear readers, it’s been a while since I’ve done a breakfast interview. Since I’ve been teaching this summer, it takes me longer to get to these more time-intensive Q&As. My visitor today, illustrator Michael Emberley, deserves an award (or a free breakfast perhaps) for his patience with me. We started talking last year about doing this interview.

And I’m really glad we got around to it. I enjoy seeing his illustration work, and I really enjoyed chatting with him and hearing his responses to these questions. Emberley, the son of legendary illustrator Ed Emberley, has been illustrating since 1979. He was born and raised in Massachusetts but now makes his home in Ireland, near Dublin. (I highly recommend taking time to read this page of his site, where he talks about why he started illustrating and why he decided to stick with it: “I began illustrating because I needed money, but now I truly appreciate what I do. I can keep myself from being bored by doing a variety of book projects and using different techniques. This is more difficult than mastering one style but it is the only way for me.”)

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A Conversation with Emily Hughes

h1 Thursday, June 25th, 2015

The idea of sustainability, respect and nurturing of the land, is not a foreign concept to me, especially because in Hawaii there are lots of traditional morals linking to the earth. …

‘Malama ka aina’ means to respect the land, and they are strong words that resonate in the islands. ‘Ua Mau ke Ea o ka Āina i ka Pono’ is the state motto of Hawaii, and I think shines closer to the book: ‘The life of the land is perpetuated by righteousness.’”

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Over at Kirkus today, I talk to author-illustrator Emily Hughes, pictured here, about her newest picture book, The Little Gardener (Flying Eye Books, August 2015), as well as last year’s Wild.

That link is here.

Next week, I’ll have some art here at 7-Imp from each book.

Until tomorrow …

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Photo of Emily used by her permission.

Bright Skies with Aimée Sicuro

h1 Thursday, June 18th, 2015

“With the city suddenly darkened,
Phoebe and Dad sat in the store, listening to the rain. …”

Since I chatted last week (here) with author Uma Krishnaswami about her newest picture book, Bright Sky, Starry City (Groundwood, May 2015), I’m following up here today with some spreads from the book, which was illustrated by Aimée Sicuro.

Enjoy the art.

(Note: Some of the text in the spreads featured below varies slightly from the text in the final copy of the book.)

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