Archive for the 'Picture Books' Category

Sydney Smith’s Small in the City

h1 Wednesday, November 13th, 2019

Early sketch

Author-illustrator Sydney Smith visits 7-Imp today to share some sketches (lots) from Small in the City (Neal Porter/Holiday House, September 2019). I reviewed this one for the Horn Book, and you can read a portion of that review online here. [Edited to add in December: The full review is posted here.] I love this book, but don’t just take my word for it. It has already won a 2019 New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Book Award, and Sydney also won a Governor’s General Literary Award in Canada.

I’ve also got some final spreads below. I thank Sydney for sharing so many beautiful sketches and such. Let’s get to it. …

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #663: Featuring Angel Chang

h1 Sunday, November 10th, 2019

(Click to enlarge spread)

Dave Eggers’s Most of the Better Natural Things in the World (Chronicle, November 2019), illustrated by Angel Chang, follows a white tiger. She carries a chair on her back, lugging it across the globe and across various landscapes — a gorge, a valley, a lagoon, an alpine lake, a chaparral, a tundra, and much more. Each spread contains the name of each geographic settting. She stops to sit and take in a breathtaking vista (pictured below) that appears in a dramatic double gatefold spread. The book closes with a four-page glossary that gives more information on each landscape.

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The 2019 New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Books, Featuring A Million Dots

h1 Friday, November 8th, 2019

Did you see the announcement a week ago today of the 2019 New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Books? I always look forward to this list. The 2019 books — as chosen by judges Bruce Handy, Jessica Cline, and Jillian Tamaki — are here.

Today, I’m featuring some spreads from one of those books — Sven Völker’s A Million Dots (Cicada, September 2019). The book opens with the one tree you see above, and by the time you are done reading it, you have counted to a million (over a million, actually). And that is because with each page turn, you are doubling the number you see. So, you go from 1 to 2 to 4 to 8 to 16 to 32 to …. You get the idea. All the way up to 1,048,576, which appears in a dramatic gatefold spread. All of this is laid out in Völker’s uncluttered and pleasing graphic style. Yes, a million dots are involved. “[H]ow quickly two (trees) begets 256 (freckles),” writes one of the NYT judges.

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Brendan Wenzel’s A Stone Sat Still

h1 Wednesday, November 6th, 2019

The Horn Book has posted my review of Brendan Wenzel’s A Stone Sat Still (Chronicle, August 2019). That is here, if you’re so inclined to read it.

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


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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #662: Featuring Rudy Gutierrez

h1 Sunday, November 3rd, 2019

Nic plays the double bass and, after a performance at his school (where he pulls off an “epic solo”), he heads to his grandfather’s, the giant instrument strapped to his body like an over-sized backpack. As he wields his way through the busy city streets — managing to carry the instrument as gracefully as possible; getting past a vicious dog; overcoming the rain and disparaging comments from other children (“nice tie, chump”) — he hears music in the city noises (the “whoosh, whoosh” of windshield wipers) and the rain (“plunk, plunk, plunk”) until he’s safe and warm at granddaddy’s. Granddaddy Nic is also a musician, and waiting with him are his friends — a drummer, a saxophonist, and a trumpet player. It’s time to make music.

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On the Road with Barbara McClintock

h1 Thursday, October 31st, 2019

You all know I like to wax rhapsodic about picture books here at 7-Imp. Well, I also review for the Horn Book. And for them, this year, I reviewed Barbara McClintock’s playful and fast-paced (as in, zippy fast) Vroom! (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, July 2019), one of my favorites of 2019. Perhaps one day they will post that review online, but suffice it to say that this is the dynamic tale of Annie, a girl who loves race cars. She lives for speed, and she sets out one day in her race car to take a grand adventure — a journey mostly of the imagination (and it’s a big one), given that in a mighty short span of time she zips all across the country. It’s a spectacular page-turner of a story, featuring indelible images from McClintock (just look at Annie’s hair flying behind her), as well as a pitch-perfect text with not a wasted word.

Again, I’ve more thoughts in my review (and if it is ever posted online, I’ll come link to it here), but for now Barbara visits to share some preliminary images and final art — and to say a bit about what prompted this story. Hint: It has four wheels. (EDITED TO ADD: The review has since been posted online. It is here.)

I thank her for visiting today.

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Sergio Ruzzier on Roar Like a Dandelion

h1 Tuesday, October 29th, 2019

Early drawings
(Click to enlarge)


Title page art for Roar Like a Dandelion

Sergio Ruzzier’s newest book is a special one. Granted, I always like to see what he’s up to in the world of picture books, but Roar Like a Dandelion (Harper, October 2019) is a text from the legendary author Ruth Krauss, who penned over 30 books for children and died in 1993. This is a text that hasn’t seen the light of day until now. (You can read more about that here.) As scholar and author Philip Nel wrote in this post that I highly recommend you read: “For the first time in 32 years, there is a new book by Ruth Krauss!” That exclamation mark is warranted.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #661: Featuring Oge Mora

h1 Sunday, October 27th, 2019

(Click to enlarge)

I’ve a review over at BookPage of Caldecott Honoree Oge Mora’s newest picture book, Saturday (Little, Brown, November 2019). So good, this one. You can head here to read the review, and below are some spreads from the book, as well as a few preliminary images from Oge. I thank her for sharing.

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The Bell Rang

h1 Thursday, October 24th, 2019


James E. Ransome’s The Bell Rang, released very early this year by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, is a book I haven’t written about at 7-Imp in 2019 — but not because I haven’t wanted to. Over at Calling Caldecott this week, guest poster Autumn Allen wrote about it. And I love the way she writes, so I’m sending you her way. If you’re curious about the book, I recommend her thoughtful commentary.

That is here.

A Visit with Calef Brown

h1 Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019

“Mindy’s FAVORITELEVISION / sits upon a ladder. /
She watches the SILLIESTUPIDESTUFF — / it doesn’t seem to matter.”

Today, I’ve a visit from poet and illustrator Calef Brown, who talks about his latest book, Up Verses Down: Poems, Paintings, and Serious Nonsense (Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt, June 2019), as well as the book that came before it in 2015 — Hypnotize a Tiger: Poems About Just About Everything. He discusses why he sees them as companion books; what they have to do with The Tao of Physics and miniature paintings; and how Twitter can spawn a poem. Or two.

I always like to see what Calef, the “inveterate punster” (as Kirkus has called him), is up to. I thank him for visiting today.

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