Archive for the '7-Imp’s 7 Kicks' Category

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #552:
Featuring Selina Alko and Sean Qualls

h1 Sunday, September 17th, 2017

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When I was a child, I used to wonder about things like souls and my very identity. That is, I wondered what made me, me and what it would be like if I were born as someone else. Hell, I’m 45 and still wonder about these things sometimes.

Paige Britt’s Why Am I Me? (Scholastic, August 2017), illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko, is a contemplative book that gets at the heart of these questions — without, that is, providing any pat answers or, really, any answers at all. The illustrations feature a busy cityscape, a boy and a girl noticing each other on the subway and wondering, “why am I me … and not you?” The children look out to all the people bustling around them and wonder why it is they are who they are and “not someone else entirely.” They ponder these questions as they pass parks, people making music, people playing sports, and more. In the end, they meet and say hi to one another, and it’s clear a friendship has begun. Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #551: Featuring Shawn Harris

h1 Sunday, September 10th, 2017

“… Let’s think about and discuss the fact that this is the largest sculpture in all the land, and the most iconic symbol of the United States of America. Let’s talk about the fact that this statue has welcomed millions of visitors and immigrants to the USA.”
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I’ve a visit this morning from artist Shawn Harris, who is sharing preliminary and final images from his debut picture book, Dave Eggers’s Her Right Foot (Chronicle, September 2017). This one puts a lump in my throat every time I read it, and it’s a book Leonard Marcus has described as “one part stand-up routine, one part ode to the values that we as a nation have long held dear.”

This 104-page book starts out by laying out the history of the Statue of Liberty, and midway through it shifts to posit a theory. The iconic statue’s right foot, Eggers notes—“her entire right leg,” in fact—is in mid-stride. Where is she going? he wonders. Is she heading to a record store, to grab a panini, to Trenton? She is, he suggests, heading straight toward immigrants, “the poor, the tired, the struggling to breathe free. … She must meet them in the sea.” And that’s because …

“Liberty and freedom from oppression are not things you get or grant by standing around like some kind of statue. No! These are things that require action. Courage. An unwillingness to rest.”

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #550: Featuring Mehrdokht Amini

h1 Sunday, September 3rd, 2017

“Say it with me: Yo soy Muslim.
Our prayers were here before any borders were.”

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Today, I’ve got some illustrations from Mark Gonzales’s Yo Soy Muslim: A Father’s Letter to His Daughter (Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster, August 2017), illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini. The Booklist reviews says it’s a book that “invites readers into a sacred space.” I love that and how eloquently it captures this book about identity.

This is a loving prayer from Gonzales, a Latino and Muslim poet, to his daughter. Heartfelt and tender, it’s a set of words that expresses pride in cultural and religious heritage, while simultaneously preparing his child for whispers and stares: “[T]here will come a day when some people in the world will not smile at you.” This moment, which comes at the beginning of the book, actually serves as the launching point for her father’s expression of pride in their cultural identity: “On that day,” he tells his daughter, “tell them this: Yo soy Muslim. I am from Allah, angels, and a place almost as old as time. I speak Spanish, Arabic, and dreams. …

The father celebrates, lyrically, the girl’s mother; the rest of the family (including ancestors); their ancient religion (“Our prayers were here before any borders were”); and more. The brightly-colored, patterned illustrations feature the wide-eyed girl exploring her world and culture, and several spreads include her father. How about we let some artwork do the talking?

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #549: Featuring Frank W. Dormer

h1 Sunday, August 27th, 2017

It’s a pleasure to have Frank Dormer share some images here today from Firefighter Duckies! (Atheneum), a picture book published in May of this year, which has been met with a host of good reviews. Somehow, I didn’t see this one right away, though I was eager to. When I finally did read it, I was mighty entertained. It opens, delightfully, with some “WEE-OOO-WEE-OOO-WEE-OOO”s. Actually, before readers even get to the title page they see that the duckies of the book’s title have had to climb out of a lovely bubble bath, all in an effort to contain some chaos, as firefighters do. A firefighter’s work is never done, right?

The firefighter duckies are brave and strong and rescue the likes of gorillas in chef hats, whales in trees, rampaging centipedes, and so much more that I just can’t give away. The font is super-sized and means business, and Dormer’s uncluttered, full-bleed spreads with their simple shapes and creative characters are great fun. There’s a ton of humor here; the duckies work themselves hard, because they are brave and strong. But they’re also helpful and kind, saving some lemurs (some smushed-up lemurs, mind you) and maybe even the alphabet. Yes, the alphabet. This is absurd, wildly ridiculous goodness for young readers, and it’s especially appealing, I think, to emerging readers (and is a perfect story-time choice). Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #548: Featuring Natalie Nelson

h1 Sunday, August 20th, 2017

It’s a pleasure to have illustrator Natalie Nelson visiting 7-Imp today. Natalie’s debut picture book was released last year, and below she tells me all about that book, as well as the one that followed early this year (and one coming in 2018). I very much enjoyed each one of these books, especially JonArno Lawson’s Uncle Holland (an illustration is pictured above), and I look forward to what’s next.

I thank Natalie for sharing words and images today. Let’s get right to it. (If you want to see more of her work, her website is here, and her Instagram is @nelsonknatalie.)

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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 �

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 �

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.”

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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.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #544: Featuring Mariachiara Di Giorgio

h1 Sunday, July 23rd, 2017

How about another import today, dear Imps? Last week we had a German one; today is one from Italy.

Professional Crocodile was originally published in Italy this year but is also seeing publication here in the States in early August (Chronicle Books). It’s a book conceived by writer and publisher Giovanna Zoboli, who is also one of the founders of the Italian children’s book publisher Topipittori, and it’s illustrated by Mariachiara Di Giorgio.

In this wordless story, readers follow a crocodile during the course of his day. The illustrations are divided into panels of various sizes, though some spreads are continuous, full-bleed ones. The crocodile dresses and behaves as if human. Di Giorgio’s dynamic city scenes will beguile readers; there’s a lot to pore over and take in, and there’s a good dose of humor in the details. At one point, when the crocodile hops on a crowded train, we see mostly humans but also a few other animals. Hmm. … Where is he heading? child readers will wonder.

He’s actually heading for the zoo. Once there, he removes his clothes in a locker room and then waltzes right into his enclosure where, on the final spread, humans gape at him through a glass partition. Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #543: Featuring Suzy Lee

h1 Sunday, July 16th, 2017

“This beautiful day …”
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I’ve got a review over at BookPage of Richard Jackson’s This Beautiful Day (Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum, August 2017), illustrated by Suzy Lee.

That is here, and below are a couple more spreads from the book.

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