Archive for the 'Picture Books' Category

Chris Barton on Dazzle Ships . . .

h1 Thursday, August 17th, 2017

I love research, and in the case of this book, my main research challenge wasn’t the volume of information or number of sources. … Instead, the big challenge was navigating the potential for tangents and sprawl in my search for a through-line.”


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Over at Kirkus today, I talk to author Chris Barton, pictured here, about his newest picture book, Dazzle Ships: World War I and the Art of Confusion (Millbrook/Lerner, September 2017), illustrated by Victo Ngai.

That Q&A is here.

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

Until tomorrow …


Jacques Goldstyn’s Letters to a Prisoner

h1 Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

(Click to enlarge slightly)

Just earlier this year (here in April), I wrote about Jacques Goldstyn’s Bertolt, released by Enchanted Lion Books. I was pleased to see that he has another translated title this year on American shelves (translated from the French, as Jacques lives in Montreal). The wordless Letters to a Prisoner (Owlkids Books), originally published in 2015 as Le prisonnier sans frontières, will be on shelves in mid-September.

The story, told entirely via Goldstyn’s spacious loose-lined pen and watercolor illustrations, begins with peaceful protesters. Goldstyn depicts the messages on the signs they hold via abstract symbols: Their signs have red dots, and the gun-toting military they oppose are in all blue and speak in blue squares. When violence breaks out, one man is thrown into prison. He dreams of freedom and seeing once again the child with whom he protested (I assume it’s his daughter), and he marks the days of his prison stay on his wall. When a bird brings him a letter, the guard rips it up. The persistent bird brings many more, yet the guard carries them all away and sets them afire. One striking spread shows “We are with you” in the smoke, rendered in over ten different languages. Clearly, the prisoner has become a hero of sorts, the recipient of a letter-writing campaign. The rest of the book leaves the prison walls, Bertolt showing readers the support the prisoner has from all walks of the world. And I can’t very well give away the ending, but it’s a moving one.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #547: Featuring Rebecca Green

h1 Sunday, August 13th, 2017

I always enjoy sharing the work of debut artists, but I also like showcasing the work of local artists. I have one illustrator today, Rebecca Green, who is both things. She sees her debut this September in How To Make Friends with a Ghost (Tundra), and she lives here in middle Tennessee (Nashville). In fact, she’s painted a story time mural for Parnassus Books—you can see pics in this post from the bookstore—and I can’t wait to see it in person.

How To Make Friends with a Ghost is a sweet and quirky faux how-to guide on creating lasting friendships with ghosts, beginning with a girl who is “found” by a ghost (on account of being sweet, warm, and kind) and ending with the same girl as an elderly woman, still hangin’ with her spectral friend. In the end, the woman becomes a ghost herself and the two remain friends “even after the end.” In the hands of Rebecca, this is not as dark and grisly as it might sound; her gouache and colored pencil illustrations, rendered in a subdued gray and red palette, communicate tenderness. This is, more than anything else, a friendship story. Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Floyd Cooper, Matthew Cordell, Hadley Hooper, and Jeanette Winter

h1 Friday, August 11th, 2017

— From Philip C. Stead’s The Only Fish in the Sea,
illustrated by Matthew Cordell


“Zaha’s designs don’t look like other designs. Her buildings
swoosh and zoom and flow and fly. ‘The world is not a rectangle.'”
— From Jeanette Winter’s
The World Is Not a Rectangle:
A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid
(Click to enlarge spread)


“… Rodney was inside, but he wanted to be outside. …”
— From Carmen Bogan’s
Where’s Rodney?,
illustrated by Floyd Cooper

(Click to enlarge spread)


“Lulu climbs the tallest trees in the neighborhood …”
— From Liz Garton Scanlon’s
Another Way to Climb a Tree,
illustrated by Hadley Hooper

(Click to enlarge)


At Kirkus this morning, I’ve got a French picture book import. That is here.

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Last week, I wrote here about Liz Garton Scanlon’s Another Way to Climb a Tree (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook, August 2017), illustrated by Hadley Hooper; Carmen Bogan’s Where’s Rodney? (Yosemite Conservancy, August 2017), illustrated by Floyd Cooper; Philip C. Stead’s The Only Fish in the Sea (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook, August 2017), illustrated by Matthew Cordell; and Jeanette Winter’s The World Is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid (Beach Lane, August 2017).

I’ve got art from each book today — and, in some cases, some preliminary sketches.

Enjoy! Read the rest of this entry �

This Is How We Do It

h1 Thursday, August 10th, 2017

I talked to Matt Lamothe last week at Kirkus (here) about about This Is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from around the World (Chronicle, May 2017).

Today here at 7-Imp are some spreads from the book.

Until tomorrow …

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Next Year

h1 Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

“I remember that morning. So different from all the other mornings: Cool. Clear.
A run-to-my-cousin’s-house-and-play-outside, windless, hopeful day …”

Know what I like to see, dear Imps? The artwork of Gary Kelley. (Here’s a 2014 case-in-point.) He has illustrated a new picture book, coming to shelves next month. Ruth Vander Zee’s Next Year: Hope in the Dust (Creative Editions) is a stark and stirring tribute to the horrors of the American Dust Bowl in the 1930s. But, ultimately, it’s a story of hope (as the sub-title tells us), this story of one family’s extended struggle with dust and drought and a boy who grows into adulthood, determined to preserve the land his family owned.

The author captures with precise and evocative language the before-and-after of the traumatic events of the Dust Bowl. In the opening spread, a young boy plays with his friends: “I remember that morning,” the book opens. It’s Black Sunday, April 14, 1935. It was a “windless, hopeful day.” The next spread shows the same illustration on the book’s cover. It’s a dramatic moment, “like midnight in the middle of the day.” The wordless spread following that is utter blackness, save the family’s tiny home at the bottom of the spread, engulfed in darkness. Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #546: Featuring Bob Shea

h1 Sunday, August 6th, 2017

“Well, things are plenty scary right here. See? A kitty drinking milk!
Maybe it’s the kind of kitty that doesn’t like hugs? That’s scary!”

It’s a pleasure to showcase some art and preliminary images today from Bob Shea’s The Scariest Book Ever (Disney-Hyperion, July 2017). Remember last year’s The Happiest Book Ever? Well, now it’s time to get PETRIFIED. Maybe a bit panicky . …

Or maybe not. Maybe it’s the ghost protagonist of this very funny book who is scared. He even intentionally pours some orange juice on himself so that he can disrobe and avoid heading into the scary dark woods without the reader (who sees these scary woods on the title page spread). He knows, after all, there’s a dark hole in the forest, and that “nothing good ever comes out of a dark hole!” Even when the reader is given an opportunity to tell the ghost that it’s an adorable bunny who pops out of said hole, the ghost is still wary. This interaction with the reader continues, the ghost breaking the book’s fourth wall the whole way — and young readers will be thrilled to be one-up on the protagonist, privy as they are to the happy goings-on in the forest — the bunny plans for a spooky, but ADORBS (of course), costume party. Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Eva Lindström

h1 Friday, August 4th, 2017

This morning over at Kirkus, I’ve got new August picture books that celebrate creative thinkers and problem-solvers and out-of-the-box thinkers of many types. That is here.

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Last week, I wrote here about Eva Lindström’s My Dog Mouse (Gecko, August 2017), originally published in New Zealand in 2015 and translated by Julia Marshall. Today here at 7-Imp, I have some art from the book. (Some of these colors are a bit off, FYI. They’re slightly brighter than they appear in the book.)

Until Sunday …

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Around the World with Matt Lamothe

h1 Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

The choice to use real children, instead of made-up characters for the book, felt like a natural way to make the experience of a different culture authentic and relatable. I remember as a kid learning about other cultures in books, and a typical page would show ‘Pierre lives in Paris and loves to eat baguettes.’ … By using real kids, not only does the reader learn about cultural specificity, but they also see that people are individuals within their culture and that they have their own unique day that may or may not line up with prevailing cultural expectations.”

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Over at Kirkus today, I talk to Matt Lamothe, pictured here, about This Is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from around the World (Chronicle, May 2017).

That Q&A is here. Next week, I’ll have some art from the book here at 7-Imp.

Until tomorrow …

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #545: Featuring Beatrice Alemagna

h1 Sunday, July 30th, 2017

“So I followed them down a path and found dozens of mushrooms. The air was so damp. I knew the smell from when I was small—my grandparents’ basement.
My cave of treasures. I felt a sense that there was something special close by.
That I was surrounded.”

(Click to enlarge spread)

Author-illustrator Beatrice Alemagna is someone whose named has appeared often at 7-Imp over the years, given that I’ve done a whole heapin’ lot of interviews in the years I’ve been blogging, and many, many illustrators have named her as an inspiration.

Today I’m featuring her new book — well, new to U.S. readers. On a Magical Do-Nothing Day was originally published in France last year but is on American shelves now, thanks to HarperCollins. It’s the story of a girl whose day is being ravaged by some serious ennui. She and her mother visit a cabin in a forest, while the girl’s Dad stays back in the city. Who knows what is going on there and why the father isn’t with them, but the girl misses him.

It’s a rainy day, and like a lot of contemporary children, the girl is captivated by the tiny, hand-held device in her hands that allows her to play a game — specifically, one that allows her to destroy Martians. “Actually, I was just pressing the same button over and over,” Alemagna writes. Her mother, working at a laptop, growls at her and takes her electronic device and hides it. The girl finds it and heads out. It’s one of those days where an utter lack of creativity takes over, at least on the part of the girl, and she and her mother most definitely need some time away from one another.

Read the rest of this entry �