Archive for the 'Picture Books' Category

Reading Picture Books in 2020

h1 Wednesday, October 7th, 2020

Head on over to the Horn Book’s Calling Caldecott today, if you’re so inclined, for a post about what it’s been like to read picture books during a pandemic—specifically, what it’s been like to read so many picture books on screens this year. (Oh, page turns, we miss you!) We also want to know what your year of reading and sharing picture books has been like. Have you seen less picture books this year because of social distancing? If you’re a teacher or librarian, how has the pandemic affected your reading this year? Are you a reviewer who has seen more picture books on PDFs this year? Come and join the conversation! We would love to hear from you.

That post is here. Hope to see you over there!

If You Come to Earth:
A Conversation with Sophie Blackall

h1 Monday, October 5th, 2020


(Click image to enlarge)

Author-illustrator Sophie Blackall and I have been chatting back and forth via email about her new picture book, If You Come to Earth (Chronicle), which arrived on shelves last month. It’s an ambitious picture book that asks big questions about life, and it’s funny and poignant and thought-provoking all at once. Our narrator, Quinn, writes a letter via scroll to any aliens who are perhaps considering visiting Earth. What is Earth like anyway? That’s the question Quinn poses. Not a small task, but over the course of 80 pages, they manage to cover a lot of ground.

I asked Sophie about the book’s genesis, and she also talks to me about the challenges of creating a book with such a wide scope—and why the tiny details in such a story matter and matter a lot. A transcription of our chat is below. There’s also lots of the book’s dynamic, exquisite art in our chat, and I thank her for sharing. Let’s get to it! Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #711: Featuring Kenneth Kraegel

h1 Sunday, October 4th, 2020

I love the newest book from author-illustrator Kenneth Kraegel. It’s a board book called This Is a Book of Shapes (Candlewick, September 2020), and it is suprising and fun and subversive.

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Reading Recommendations Before Breakfast

h1 Thursday, October 1st, 2020


I love to be a part every July of the Center for Children’s and Young Adult Literature’s (CCYAL) “Best of the Best” conference at the University of Tennessee, in which I gather with other librarians and book critics to discuss the most outstanding books we’ve seen in that year. Because of the pandemic, we didn’t gather this year. But after asking each of us presenters to name a few favorite books of the year, the CCYAL still created a list. If you’d like to see everyone’s recommendations (books published, generally speaking, in the latter part of 2019 and first half of 2020), the list is here. You can also click on the image above to be taken to the list.

Happy reading!

Carson Ellis’s In the Half Room

h1 Tuesday, September 29th, 2020

“Half a rug on half a floor
Half a knock on half a door”

(Click spread to enlarge)

Here’s a quick post to send you over to my Horn Book review of Carson Ellis’s In the Half Room (Candlewick), coming to shelves next month.

That review is here.

Below are a couple more spreads from the book.


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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #710: Featuring Jaime Zollars

h1 Sunday, September 27th, 2020

Dragons, anyone?

Jaime Zollars’s The Truth About Dragons (Little, Brown, September 2020) is, at heart, a friendship story. More specifically, it’s about the ways in which we perceive others. “The stories about dragons are true,” we read on the first spread: They are a danger. But this is not a book for rushing through; look closely as you turn each page. You’ll see dragons … in mismatched socks. Dragons in the cafeteria. Dragons in a library. Dragons in music class. And, if you look even closer, you’ll see dragons who have turned—or are turning—into classmates. Could it be the first day of school?

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Sending You Elsewhere …

h1 Thursday, September 24th, 2020


I’m sending you over to the Horn Book’s Calling Caldecott today.

Last week, we posted a brief chat I had with the 2020 Caldecott Medalist Kadir Nelson, pictured left. If you’re interested in finding out what his Caldecott year has been like that, that Q&A is here.

We have also kicked off our book coverage over there. One book we covered this week is Lesa Cline-Ransome’s and James Ransome’s The Overground Railroad, pictured above. It’s a book I didn’t write about here at 7-Imp this year—but one I really like. So, I’m going to send you over to read Nicholl Montgomery’s thoughs on the book. That is here.

To keep up with all of our other posts there this year, you can always head right to the blog at this link.

See you there!

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Photo of Kadir Nelson taken by David Walter Banks and used by permisson of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Jashar Awan’s What a Lucky Day!

h1 Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020

Debut author-illustrator Jashar Awan’s What a Lucky Day! (Norton Young Readers), coming to shelves next month, is a book about assumptions. We all know the old saying about the act of assuming. Awan’s story is a much more eloquent—and entertaining—take on the whole matter.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #709: In Tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg

h1 Sunday, September 20th, 2020

Hello, dear Imps. It seems like it wasn’t that long ago that I was saying that I had plans for a Sunday post that I was temporarily setting aside so that I could mark the death of an American luminary. I’d like to do this again. I’m taking this space here today, given the news of the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, to mark this profound loss.

On social media, I noticed that various children’s book illustrators were paying tribute—with either previous illustrations of Ginsburg or ones they’d drawn on the spot when they heard the sad news this weekend. I’m sharing some of those here today. (I know there must be many, many more, but here is just a small handful.)

Pictured above is a painting from illustrator Rahele Jomepour Bell, who says this is “the piece of her I made while I was thinking about her.” Here are some more tributes. …

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A Chapter 16 (and 7-Imp) Visit with David Wiesner

h1 Thursday, September 17th, 2020

Early sketch of Cathy


— A final illustration from Robobaby
(Click image to see spread in its entirety)

Over at Chapter 16, I have a Q&A with author-illustrator David Wiesner. He and I chatted via phone recently about his career; his newest picture book, Robobaby; and more. That Q&A is here.

But also! Here at 7-Imp, David gives us a deep dive into the making of Robobaby. That is below, should you be interested in that after reading the Chapter 16 piece.

I thank him for sharing.

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