Archive for the 'Interviews' Category

Partying with Fox + Chick

h1 Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

I’m hosting a party for The Party today. That is, author-illustrator Sergio Ruzzier visits to talk a bit about his new picture book, a collection of three stories called Fox + Chick: The Party: And Other Stories (Chronicle, April 2018). He also shares some preliminary images and artwork from the book.

As you will read below, this is a series of three stories about two endearing characters, Fox and Chick, with the promise of a second book to come next year. As you will also read below, Sergio returns to comics for the book’s format, and the results are wonderful. This is a set of stories that follows in the grand tradition of Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad stories or James Marshall’s George and Martha stories. Only the comics format differs. You know you have in hand a book that will strike a chord with developing readers, much as Lobel’s and Marshall’s books did, when the personalities of the book’s duo are so clearly established on the first page of the first story in merely four small panels. (Chick is fussy and somewhat mercurial; Fox is centered and possesses an everlasting patience for his small friend.)

I’m going to move over now and give Sergio the 7-Imp mic, because you will learn more about the three stories within the book from his words and art below. I thank him for sharing. Read the rest of this entry �

A Peek at the Creation of The Funeral

h1 Thursday, April 19th, 2018

“There was an organist who looked about a hundred years old.
She played a swirling song, and people in the front of the row
began to move out of the church.”

(Click to enlarge)

I’m following up my Kirkus Q&A from last week with Canadian author-illustrator Matt James with some roughs, sketches, reference photos, work-in-progress images, and final artwork from The Funeral (Groundwood, April 2018). That is below.

Enjoy! And thanks to Matt for sharing.

Read the rest of this entry �

Hello Lighthouse: A Visit with Sophie Blackall

h1 Tuesday, April 17th, 2018

I’ve got a review over at BookPage of Sophie Blackall’s beautiful Hello Lighthouse (Little, Brown, April 2018). That is here, if you’d like to read more about the book.

Here at 7-Imp, Sophie visits to tell me a bit about the book, her research for it, and her process. I thank her for visiting and sharing lots of art. Let’s get right to it.

Read the rest of this entry �

My Kirkus Q&A with Matt James

h1 Thursday, April 12th, 2018

I want Norma to show that these moments can hit us all differently and that there is a serious complexity to the way we all process something like death — in this case, the death of a distant relative.

The truth is, though, that this book came into being because I had a chance to observe my kids in situations that were more or less the same as the ones that Norma and Ray find themselves in. Mix in a fair amount of recollection — I remember my first funeral vividly, especially the fact that I felt really guilty for not being sad enough — and a little bit of invention, and you get The Funeral.”

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Over at Kirkus today, I talk with Canadian illustrator Matt James, pictured here. His newest picture book, The Funeral (Groundwood, April 2018), is the first one he’s both illustrated and written.

The Q&A is here. Next week, I’ll follow up here at 7-Imp with more art from the book.

Until tomorrow …

Juana Martinez-Neal on
Alma and How She Got Her Name

h1 Tuesday, April 10th, 2018

“‘I love books and flowers . . . and you, too, Daddy!'”
(Click to enlarge spread)

It’s such a pleasure to have author-illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal visit 7-Imp today to talk about her new picture book, Alma and How She Got Her Name, which is publishing simultaneously in both Spanish and English (Candlewick) this week. Juana, fresh on the heels of winning a 2018 Pura Belpré Illustrator Award for Susan Middleton Elya’s La Princesa and the Pea, was born in Peru and is the daughter and granddaughter of painters. (She discusses this below.) Now living in Arizona, she sees with this book her debut as an author.

And what a book it is, this story of one girl, Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela; her very long name; and what she learns from her father about that name and her family heritage. It’s a book celebrating cultural identity in specific ways while, simultaneously, inviting children, no matter where they’re from, to consider their own family stories. Its distinctive palette (which Juana also discusses below), soft and endearing illustrations, and beautiful lettering make it sing. It’s a beauty, this one, with inviting, uncluttered spreads and a protagonist whose charms will draw in readers (particularly, preschool-aged ones, those more likely being read to) like a magnet.

I thank Juana for visiting 7-Imp today to share lots of art (including the art of her father and grandfather) and to talk about the book. Read the rest of this entry �

My Kirkus Q&A with Qin Leng

h1 Thursday, March 29th, 2018

I enjoyed drawing from a very early age, and even before I enrolled in Film Animation, I always loved to draw children. Their energy, spontaneity, the purity and honesty of their emotions—all of that makes them the best subjects to portray. They have such an incredible range of expressions and emotions. When I decided to break into the field of illustration, I didn’t even need to think where I wanted to try out my luck first. Children’s book publishing was the only place I wanted to start.”

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Over at Kirkus today, I talk with illustrator Qin Leng, pictured here, who was born in Shanghai, grew up in France, and now lives and works in Toronto. Her newest picture book is Jessica Scott Kerrin’s The Better Tree Fort (Groundwood, March 2018).

The Q&A is here. Next week, I’ll follow up here at 7-Imp with a bit more art from the book.

Until tomorrow …

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Photo of Qin Leng taken by Lian Leng.

What If… Mike Curato Used Mixed-Media to Make a Book?

h1 Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

Illustrator Mike Curato visits 7-Imp again today to talk about how he created the illustrations for Samantha Berger’s What If… (coming to shelves in early April from Little, Brown). As you’ll read below, his process was a bit of a wild ride (involving no less than marshmallow fluff mortar and “a clown car of never-ending leaves”), fitting for a book about the power of imagination and the drive to create, no matter what stands in one’s way. In the book, written in a buoyant rhyme, we meet a girl who tells readers about her commitment to creativity, no matter the obstacles facing her.

Let’s get right to it. I thank Mike and Samantha for sharing, particularly Mike for a peek into his process. …

Read the rest of this entry �

Adrian Simcox Does Not Have a Horse:
A Visit with Marcy Campbell and Corinna Luyken

h1 Monday, March 26th, 2018

“I also thought, he had the most beautiful horse of anyone, anywhere.”
(Click to enlarge spread)

Dear 7-Imp readers, I try not to do that thing where I write about a book you can’t yet retrieve from a library or bookstore shelf, but I have an opportunity to talk to debut author Marcy Campbell and illustrator Corinna Luyken about Adrian Simcox Does Not Have a Horse (Dial), which will be on shelves in August. And I have an opportunity to show you some of the art from it. And I didn’t want to pass up those opportunities, because I’ve seen an early copy of this book and think it’s worth sharing.

This is a story about compassion, class (in more ways than one), perspective, truth, and the stories we tell ourselves. Chloe does not believe her classmate Adrian Simcox when he tells everyone he has a horse. She knows that someone who gets free lunches at school can’t afford to board and take care of a horse. How could he pay for it? Where would he even keep a horse? Chloe gets increasingly angry as Adrian continues to talk about his horse. She wants him to tell the truth and even calls him out on the playground. Read the rest of this entry �

Hello Again, Roz . . .

h1 Monday, March 19th, 2018


I’ve a review over at Chapter 16 of Peter Brown’s newest novel, The Wild Robot Escapes (Little, Brown, March 2018). If you’re so inclined to read it, you can click the image above to head there.

Baby Raven Reads: My Kirkus Q&A

h1 Thursday, March 15th, 2018

Over at Kirkus today, I talk to Dr. Rosita Worl (pictured here), President of Sealaska Heritage Institute in Juneau.

Several years ago, the Institute developed Baby Raven Reads, a groundbreaking, culturally-based program promoting early literacy and school readiness for Alaska Native children. I’ve seen a selection of their 2017 picture books, vividly-illustrated traditional tales by writers and illustrators from the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska. Dr. World tells me more about the Institute and Baby Raven Reads in our chat today.

Pictured above is the cover of Shanyaak’utlaax: Salmon Boy, which was awarded the 2018 Best Picture Book from ALA’s American Indian Library Association. I will have some art from that, as well as from some of their other titles, in a follow-up post here at 7-Imp next week.

The Q&A is here.

Until tomorrow …

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Photo of Dr. Worl by Scott Areman, courtesy of Sealaska Heritage Institute.