Archive for the 'Picture Books' Category

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week,
Featuring Salina Yoon

h1 Friday, April 4th, 2014


“With flyers stacked high, Bear set off.”


 
I know I shouldn’t use the word “nerd” to describe someone who merely has a deep and abiding passion for something—it’s not entirely fair—but there’s just no two ways about it: My column over at Kirkus today is for fellow picture book nerds. As in, you’d have to seriously geek out over illustration to appreciate it.

That link is here. The best part is where Alex Spiro says, “we did this because it mattered.” Ah. Gotta love publishers who take such care with picture books.

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Last week, I wrote here about Salina Yoon’s Found. Today, I’m sharing some of her art from the book.

Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �

My Morning Chat with Laurie Keller
(Where’s My Doughnut Anyway?)

h1 Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

It’s tricky to try to guess what kids will think is funny, so I usually just write what I think is funny and hope that they’ll think so, too. Sometimes silly lines will come to me right away, but other times it takes me weeks to get the right ‘angle’ or ‘voice’ that I’m looking for. Watching movies that make me laugh helps — like Monty Python and the Holy Grail (talk about slapstick!), Strictly Ballroom, The Jerk, Airplane!, Young Frankenstein and anything by Christopher Guest. If there are parts I’ve written that aren’t as funny as I would like, I can’t always pinpoint what isn’t working right away, but eventually the right mood hits and I can usually figure out how to fix it.”

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This morning over at Kirkus, I chat with author-illustrator Laurie Keller. I do that annoying thing people do where they ask what it’s like to write humor, but hey, she was up for answering.

That link is here. Next week, I’ll follow up with some illustrations from her new Arnie the Doughnut chapter books.

Until tomorrow …

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Petr Horáček

h1 Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

The Bologna Children’s Book Fair may be over, but I’m still on an international kick here at 7-Imp. Today, I welcome author-illustrator Petr Horáček, born in Czechoslovakia and currently living in England.

Horáček has been making picture books for over ten years now, one reviewer even describing his vibrant and textured mixed-media paintings and collages as “strangely beautiful.” It may not be surprising to many to read below that Petr gets great inspiration from the work of Eric Carle. In fact, he describes having first seen Carle’s work as a life-changing moment, indeed. Both illustrators work in bright colors and craft stories that are gentle and reassuring to the youngest of readers. In fact, as you’ll also see below, Petr has many a board book under his belt, including some new ones coming from Candlewick this Fall — and he has passionate opinions about the role of board books in children’s lives.

It turns out that breakfast is Petr’s favourite meal of the day and always has been. “Both my parents worked,” he tells me. “They had already gone when our neighbour woke me up. The large lady pushed her head around the door, said ‘good morning,’ and disappeared. I had to wake up, get washed, and go to the kitchen, where on the table was hot cocoa and bread, spread with butter, honey, or jam. The radio was playing music approved by the communist government, and a voice coming from the radio was telling us that it was nearly 7 a.m. and, therefore, time to go to school.”

Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #375: Featuring Manuel Monroy

h1 Sunday, March 30th, 2014


“‘Why are you doing that?’ asked Chepito as his mother stood at the stove, cooking eggs and frying beans. … ‘These eggs and beans will make you really strong.’ …”
(Click to enlarge spread)

Today’s featured book won’t be out till June. Yes, June! Sorry to be posting about it so early — I try not to make a habit of this.

Why Are You Doing That? (Groundwood Books) is a picture book for very young readers, written by Elisa Amado and illustrated by Manuel Monroy. Elisa is an author and translator, born in Guatemala. Manuel is one of Mexico’s most celebrated illustrators. It’s a companion to their first picture book, What Are You Doing? (2011).

In this book, a young boy, named Chepito, explores his environment one morning—from his mother, cooking breakfast, to his neighbors, flattening dough and milking cows and feeding chickens—all the while asking in his sing-song way (as if he’s a bird), “Why are you doing that … What for? What for?” All the patient, accommodating adults answer him; this is a gentle read about curiosity and rural communities and not only where food comes from, but also how we nurture our bodies and the animals that feed us. It even closes with a short glossary. Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week,
Featuring Kady MacDonald Denton and Rosemary Wells

h1 Friday, March 28th, 2014


One of Kady MacDonald Denton’s early sketches for
Liz Garton Scanlon’s
The Good-Pie Party


An illustration from Rosemary Wells’s Stella’s Starliner


 
This morning over at Kirkus, I write about Salina Yoon’s Found. That link is here.

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Last week, I wrote (here) about Liz Garton Scanlon’s The Good-Pie Party, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton (Scholastic, April 2014), and Rosemary Wells’s Stella’s Starliner (Candlewick, March 2014).

Today, I’ve got a bit of art from each book, as well as some early sketches from Kady.

Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �

Solving Puzzles with Jonathan Bean

h1 Tuesday, March 25th, 2014


Early car studies
(Click to enlarge)

Just last week at Kirkus, I wrote about two new picture books that are about children and their families moving. After that posted, did you hear me smack my forehead way over here in Tennessee for having completely forgotten to include Deborah Underwood’s Bad Bye, Good Bye (Houghton Mifflin) in that post? Illustrated by Jonathan Bean, it’s a wonderful picture book with a spare, rhyming text about the range of emotions children can feel when moving away from friends to a new home in a new location. The book’s strength, writes the Kirkus review, “is in the emotional journey that’s expressed with a raw honesty.” It’s true, oh-so true. Look closely, if you get a copy of this in early April, when it’s released. The boy whose family is moving rages on the day they get in the car to drive away. Be still, my heart. (No fear. Things are looking up for him at the book’s close.)

One of the reasons I think I forgot it, though, is that I knew I’d be doing a post in the near future about, in particular, the illustrations for this book. And the illustrations are captivating. I mean, what Bean does with the depiction of light alone in this book … wow.

Regular readers of my blog know I always like it when Jonathan Bean visits to talk about how he creates the illustrations for his books. In this one … well, here’s what Jonathan had to say about it:

The illustrations are made in a somewhat old-fashioned way. Instead of pre-set CMYK colors (cyan, magenta, yellow, black), I picked Pantone colors from a book of paint swatches, similar to what you find in a home paint shop. This allowed me to create a particular mood, depending on the colors I chose. However, it also meant that it was my job to pre-separate the art (separate the illustrations into four colors, corresponding to the traditional CMYK.) This was a lot like solving a complicated puzzle, since each illustration required four paintings, a separate painting in black and white for each color. The rewards for the extra hassle are consistent and deeply saturated colors throughout the book — an effect CMYK can’t match.

Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Klaas Verplancke

h1 Monday, March 24th, 2014



 
Klaas Verplancke simply doesn’t have breakfast without a single or double espresso. If he has his way, he also has a glass of champagne to kick off his day.

I’m down with both espressos and champagne, so we’ll pretend to have some here, as we chat today.

Now, all my illustrator interviews are pretend. Someone once asked me how I manage to do these interviews when folks live all over the globe; they truly thought I was meeting them for breakfast in person. I WISH. I’d be game for a children’s-lit version of Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Oh, would I!

But, even if these weren’t cyber-interviews, I’d still have to have a pretend breakfast with Klaas, because he’s in Bologna this week for the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. And if I can’t be there (which I can’t — I’m very much sitting in my home in middle Tennessee), I can at least bring my readers some art from over the pond, as they say — in honor of the fair. Verplancke himself lives and works in Belgium.

As you’ll read below, Klaas has been illustrating for years, yet only a couple of his children’s books have been brought here to the U.S. In 2012, we got to see Applesauce (which I wrote about here at Kirkus), originally published in Belgium in 2010 and released here by Groundwood. I like that book, but I won’t go on about it here; you can read why at that link. Applesauce was included in the Society of Illustrators’ Original Art exhibit in 2013, and it received a bronze medal at the No. 10 Picture Book Show at 3×3.

I think Verplancke’s work is best summed up by illustrator Steven Guarnaccia: “[His] work is strange, yet strangely comforting. Beautifully crafted, and beautifully bonkers.” Yep. What Guarnaccia said.

This morning, Klaas shares lots of thoughts on children’s books, lots of passion, and lots of art below, so let’s get to it. I’m curious to know what he’s up to now. I thank him for visiting 7-Imp.

(Note: Klaas may be the first interviewee—I think? There have been many interviews here over the years—to ever direct a question at other illustrators, if anyone wants to chime in. See question #7.) Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #374: Featuring Katherine Tillotson

h1 Sunday, March 23rd, 2014

This morning, we’re going to meet a dog, who is—in the words of illustrator Katherine Tillotson—a little more than a scribble and a smudge.

Shoe Dog (Richard Jackson/Atheneum Books for Young Readers), written by Megan McDonald and illustrated by Katherine, hits bookshelves next week. It tells the story of one very enthusiastic dog, adopted from a shelter, who loves to chew shoes. His owner—whom McDonald calls She, Herself—scolds the dog, but he repeatedly gets into trouble. Shoe Dog most certainly loves his cozy and warm home, where he’s so happy to be, but he struggles to behave. No worries. She, Herself eventually comes up with just the right solution, involving a cat. Of sorts.

Katherine is here today to tell us how she created the illustrations for this story — and what inspired her to do so. The story, particularly the artwork, are nothing short of “totally ebullient,” as the starred Kirkus review puts it. Shoe Dog is all action, energy, and bounce—I mean, right? Just look at him up above there—and it’s fascinating to read how Katherine put him together, as well as to read about the tools she used for everything that surrounds our naughty, but loving, protagonist.

So, let’s get right to it. I thank Katherine for sharing. Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week,
Featuring Douglas Florian and Diane Goode

h1 Friday, March 21st, 2014



“The boogie man is coming. / I can hear him in the night. /
He has chains he likes to rattle / when my mom turns out the light. …”

(Click to enlarge spread)

Above: A poem and drawing from Douglas Florian’s Poem Depot,
followed by a spread from Karma Wilson’s
Outside the Box,
illustrated by Diane Goode

This week at Kirkus, I’ve got two picture books all about moving — Liz Garton Scanlon’s The Good-Pie Party, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton, and Rosemary Wells’s Stella’s Starliner. This is something my family needs to do—move into a slightly bigger space, that is—but it’s so stressful to think about, this ginormous task of schlepping all your stuff from one place to the next, that the subject quickly gets changed every time it comes up.

That’s to say: Moving is not for the faint of heart. In many ways, as these stories tell us.

Also, we don’t often see families who live in trailer homes in picture books, but we do in one of these.

That column is here this morning.

And since my column from last week, a tribute to Uncle Shelby himself, included mention of Douglas Florian’s Poem Depot: Aisles of Smiles (Dial, February 2014), as well as Karma Wilson’s Outside the Box: A Book of Poems (Margaret K. McElderry Books, March 2014), illustrated by Diane Goode, I’ve got some art from each today. (First up is one more spread from Outside the Box, followed by some more poems and drawings from Florian’s book.)

Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �

Loïc Dauvillier on the Duty of Remembrance

h1 Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Marc Lizano and I were wondering about our roles as fathers in the duty of remembrance. We are fathers and we are also authors. Soon enough, we wondered about our roles as authors in passing on the memory of things. We started from a principle that knowing past events can help to avoid repeating them.”

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This morning over at Kirkus, I chat briefly with author and comics writer Loïc Dauvillier.

Dauvillier’s latest graphic novel for children, illustrated by Marc Lizano and Greg Salsedo, is called Hidden (First Second). Subtitled A Child’s Story of the Holocaust, it’s the story of a young Jewish girl living in Paris during the Holocaust, and it will be released in April.

That chat is here this morning.

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Image of Loïc Dauvillier used by permission of First Second.