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

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #558: Featuring Maya Christina Gonzalez

h1 Sunday, October 29th, 2017

“… cuando conozco a alguien / me sonrojo tímido como / Marte en martes /
when I meet someone new / I turn red like Mars / on Tuesday …”

(Click to enlarge spread)

If you’re having trouble waking up this morning, today’s illustrations from Maya Christina Gonzalez might just do the trick. I’ve got here today some of her bright, vivid artwork for Francisco X. Alarcón’s Family Poems for Every Day of the Week / Poemas familiares para cada dia de la semana (Children’s Book Press / Lee & Low Books, October 2017).

These are poems, published posthumously (the award-winning Alarcón died last year), celebrating family and community for each day of the week. Evidently, the entries are based on Alarcón’s own childhood experiences with his family. Each entry is published in both Spanish and English, including the fascinating opening author’s note about the days of the week and how their names came about. The book’s playful font and typography keep readers on their toes, and the poems strike various tones. “I can barely open / the shut oysters / of my sleep eyes” on Mondays, Alarcón writes, yet Saturdays are joyous: “I feel thrilled and free / like a hummingbird / in the Garden of Eden.”

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #557:
Featuring Natalia and Lauren O’Hara

h1 Sunday, October 22nd, 2017

Today, I’ve an original, modern fairy tale for you, dear Imps. I’m featuring a story the creators, sisters Natalia and Lauren O’Hara, describe as “a dark fairy tale, inspired by the stories our Polish grandma told on snowy nights.” Hortense and the Shadow (Little, Brown) will be on shelves early next month.

The protagonist of this lyrical, atmospheric tale (which I think would make Florence Parry Heide proud) is a young girl named Hortense (I love this), and she lives “through the dark and wolfish woods” and “the white and silent snow.” Hortense is kind and brave, but she’s also sad and, to be precise about it, quite frustrated — because she would like to be sans shadow. Everywhere she goes, her shadow goes, “tall and dark and crooked,” and she’s weary of it. She even figures that her shadow hates her too. One day, she manages to cleave her shadow via slamming down the sash of a window. The shadow puts up a fight but eventually wanders off in the dusk. Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #556: Featuring E. B. Goodale

h1 Sunday, October 15th, 2017

“Between two windows, there could be a phone,
used for good ideas.”

(Click to enlarge spread)

You all are going to think I’m lazy today, but hear me out.

I’m showing you two spreads from one of my favorite picture books this year, Julia Denos’s Windows (Candlewick, October 2017), illustrated by E. B. Goodale. (This, in fact, is Goodale’s debut.) Oh, how I love it. However, I’m not going to tell you right now why I like it, because that is to-come.

As mentioned previously, I’ve joined the team over at the Horn Book’s Calling Caldecott this year. We are in the swing of things and writing about all kinds of wonderful picture books — and have been for several weeks now. I not only know that we’re going to cover Windows, but I may be the one writing about it. So, I’ll wait for that — but did want to mark the book’s publication this coming week and give you a peek inside.

For now, if you want to read more, I’ll send you to the Kirkus review, which is here.

And more on this book from me later, whether it’s in a couple of months or early 2018. (We will still be blogging at Calling Caldecott in January.)

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #555: Featuring Peter Sís

h1 Sunday, October 8th, 2017

“I figure out how to make clothes that are better for life on an island.”
(Click to enlarge spread)

I’ve got a review over at BookPage this month of what is one of my favorite 2017 picture books, if not my very favorite — Peter Sís’s Robinson (Scholastic, September 2017). JUST LOOK AT THOSE COLORS ABOVE!

You can read about it here at their site, and today at 7-Imp I’ve got a bit of art from the book.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #554:
Featuring Up-and-Coming Illustrator Nari Hong

h1 Sunday, October 1st, 2017

“I love going to the park and looking at flowers with you.”
(Click to enlarge)

The first Sunday of every month (Happy October!) at 7-Imp is for student or debut illustrators, and I’ve got the latter today. Days with Dad, written and illustrated by Nari Hong, will be on shelves in mid-October (Enchanted Lion Books), and this is Hong’s first picture book. It is also, as noted in Hong’s bio on the book’s jacket flap, an autobiographical book.

The book relates some of Hong’s own childhood experiences with her father. Told from her point of view, the book opens with an introduction to her father. “Dad can’t walk,” she tells us. “He hasn’t been able to since he was a baby.” Here, we see a well-dressed man (I love how the endpapers consist of the lapels on the jacket her father wears) in a wheelchair.

The little girl explains how her father often apologizes for his inability to walk. He’s sorry he can’t ride bikes with her — or skate, swim, play soccer, etc. But for each apology he makes, she takes the opportunity to point out what she loves about being with him. They can’t ride bikes, but she loves to look at flowers in the park with him. They can’t ice-skate, but “ice-fishing together is much more fun!” she says. “So what?” is essentially her half-glass-full response to her father. It’s not even as if she has to work at seeing the rosier side of things. It’s as if his inability to walk or run does not at all factor into her enjoyment with him. Who needs puddle-splashing on a cool, rainy day? If your father can stay inside with you and have “rainy day cocoa,” well … that’s even better. Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #553:
Featuring a Brief Elisha Cooper Moment

h1 Sunday, September 24th, 2017

I think I mentioned here earlier that I’ve joined the Horn Book’s Calling Caldecott team. This week, Lolly, one of the Calling Caldecott bloggers, wrote about Elisha Cooper’s Big Cat, Little Cat, released in March. I’ve also written about this book this year, and I’ve even got some art from it here. But I’m using today’s kicks post (mostly, I admit, because I’ve had a busy weekend and am not quite prepared to write about the book I had originally planned on writing about today) to point you to Lolly’s smart thoughts on this wonderful book. That is here.

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

h1 Sunday, September 17th, 2017

(Click to enlarge spread)

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.”
(Click each to enlarge)

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.”

(Click to enlarge spread)

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 �