Archive for the 'Interviews' Category

Road Trip! A Whiskers Hollow Adventure:
A Q&A with Steve Light

h1 Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021

(Click image to enlarge)


Get out your fountain pens! Steve Light is here.

Pictured above is an early character sketch from Steve Light’s Road Trip! A Whiskers Hollow Adventure (Candlewick, February 2021). This is a picture book with its own delightfully distinct world, one that Steve had fun building and tells me about below in our art-filled chat today. It’s a wooded world we enter, with animals zipping around in tiny cars on interconnected tree branches (there’s even an acorn car); characters with intricate homes in the trunks of trees; a heading dose of mud; and good friends. Oh, and there are endpapers that feature maps so that little hands can orient themselves — and, as Steve discusses below, even create their own imaginary adventures with locations not in this story.

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The 2021 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour:
A Q&A with Khoa Le and Jane Yolen

h1 Tuesday, February 9th, 2021

(Click cover to enlarge)

I’m happy to be a part of the Association of Jewish Libraries’ 2021 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour with a visit today from author Jane Yolen and illustrator Khoa Le. Their book, Miriam at the River (Kar-Ben, 2020), won a 2021 Sydney Taylor Picture Book Honor.

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Peter Sís on Nicky & Vera: A Quiet Hero
of the Holocaust and the Children He Rescued

h1 Thursday, January 28th, 2021

“Nicky set up an office in a hotel in Prague. He made lists of children. …”
(Click illustration to enlarge)

Over at BookPage, I’ve got a review of Peter Sís’s Nicky & Vera: A Quiet Hero of the Holocaust and the Children He Rescued (Norton Young Readers, January 2021). That review is here.

I also had the pleasure of asking him some questions about this remarkable book. That Q&A is here.

Below are some spreads from the book.

(And if you’re wanting more Sís today: Here is my 2019 7-Imp interview with him, and here is an excellent NPR piece, posted yesterday, about the new book.) Read the rest of this entry �

Juliet Menéndez’s Latinitas

h1 Thursday, January 21st, 2021

(Click image to enlarge)

In the introduction to her book, Latinitas: Celebrating 40 Big Dreamers (Godwin Books/Henry Holt, February 2021), author/illustrator Juliet Menéndez writes that she wishes she had, as a child, discovered the women she features in this book. She adds: “When I first had the idea … I was working as an art teacher in Upper Manhattan. Like me, most of the students at the time were bicultural and had families from places like the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. But as I walked through the halls, the posters on the walls were of historical figures like Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, and Dalí. I asked myself: What if some fresh, new faces, that looked more like my students, were up on these walls?” This was the birth of her book, which features women from all over Latin America and the U.S. and includes life stories that go back as far as the 17th century.

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Bear Island: A Conversation with Matthew Cordell

h1 Tuesday, January 19th, 2021

It’s a pleasure to have a chat today with author-illustrator Matthew Cordell about his newest picture book, Bear Island (Feiwel and Friends, January 2021), a moving story about loss and working one’s way through the emotions involved. It’s a story that, as the Publisher’s Weekly review puts it so well, “respects grief’s slow pace.”

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Shawn Harris on A Polar Bear in the Snow

h1 Tuesday, January 12th, 2021

It’s a pleasure to have a visit today from illustrator Shawn Harris, who discusses not only the genesis of A Polar Bear in the Snow (Candlewick), written by Mac Barnett and released at the end of 2020, but also how he created the illustrations for the book.

“There’s a polar bear in the snow. … Where is he going?” With engaging, appealing sentences and striking cut-paper artwork, the story brings readers a polar bear’s adventure, one of play and movement and joy.

I thank Shawn for sharing images and videos (all videos are captioned) about his artistic process. Let’s get right to it. …

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #725: Featuring LeUyen Pham

h1 Sunday, January 10th, 2021

On shelves now is LeUyen Pham’s newest picture book, all about living during the pandemic — Outside, Inside (Roaring Brook). I’ve seen quite a few books published in response to COVID-19, but I think this one does a superb job of capturing the ways in which the pandemic has wreaked great havoc, while also acknowledging the hope that one day this will all end. To be blunt, I’m not fond of the books that spin the pandemic in only positive ways, such as the hey, we may be stuck inside, but we get to spend more time together! approach. (People have died. Let’s do a better job of reading the room.) I would highly recommend handing LeUyen’s book to a child, though. It gets it.

I’ve a review of the book over at BookPage. That is here, if you’d like to read more about it.

I also got to ask LeUyen all about making the book. That chat—in which she talks about cataloging the world as it is (“Outside, Inside was the first time I really allowed myself to paint exactly what I saw”)—is here.

And here at 7-Imp (below) are some spreads from the book. Read the rest of this entry �

Visiting The Book of Life podcast

h1 Monday, January 4th, 2021


Today, I’m sending you over to The Book of Life, a podcast focused on Jewish children’s literature. I had a chat with Heidi Rabinowitz about the Sydney Taylor mock awards blog, which is called The Sydney Taylor Schmooze and was started in Spring 2020 by Heidi, Susan Kusel, and Chava Pinchuck. For the podcast episode, Heidi talked to me about Calling Caldecott (the Horn Book’s mock Caldecott blog that Martha V. Parravano and I co-run); Amy Seto Forrester about Guessing Geisel (the mock Geisel blog); and Steven Engelfried about Heavy Medal (School Library Journal’s mock Newbery blog).

Heidi asked us for advice on running a mock awards blog, and she also asked us about our favorite books, both secular and Jewish, from 2020.

The episode is here.

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.

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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.