Archive for the 'Nonfiction' Category

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #707: Featuring Rachelle Baker

h1 Sunday, September 6th, 2020

“Some words, when they CONNECT with the right people, become almost like potions or spells. These words become magical. That’s the way it was with Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm and verbs. She understood, almost intuitively, how and why verbs are not just words about being, but doing. Verbs are words that move the world forward.”

Let’s take a look today at a new picture book about politician Shirley Chisholm, who made history in 1968 by becoming the first black woman elected to the United States Congress. This biography—Shirley Chisholm Is a Verb! (Dial, July 2020), illustrated by Rachelle Baker—comes from author Veronica Chambers, who writes in a closing “personal note” that, as a child growing up in Brooklyn, she remembers seeing posters (“SHIRLEY CHISHOLM FOR CONGRESS”) in her neighborhood. She writes that “because of Shirley Chisholm, I thought, ‘I could be a congresswoman.’ After all, I passed a picture of a woman who looked a lot like me, who had that job.”

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Thanks to Frances Perkins:
An interview with Kristy Caldwell

h1 Thursday, August 13th, 2020

I’m pleased today to welcome illustrator Kristy Caldwell to 7-Imp as part of a blog tour for Deborah Hopkinson’s Thanks to Frances Perkins: Fighter for Workers’ Rights (Peachtree, August 2020). Hopkinson frames this biography of the groundbreaking workers-rights advocate, who served as the U.S. Secretary of Labor (the first woman appointed to a presidential cabinet) for twelve years, with “math questions” for the young readers at whom the book is aimed: “How many yeras will it be until you turn sixty two?” and “What year will that be?” You’ll want to thank Frances Perkins, Hopkinson writes, when you get to that age.

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The Bookman in Zoomland:
A Guest Post from Dean Schneider

h1 Tuesday, August 4th, 2020

A spread from Kwame Alexander’s award-winning The Undefeated,
illustrated by Kadir Nelson: “… who shine / their light for the world to see
and don’t stop / ’til the break of dawn.”

(Click to enlarge spread)

Here’s something a bit different today: I’m pleased to welcome a guest post from Dean Schneider, who teaches English and history at Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee. In his 45-year teaching career, Dean has taught in a variety of schools; served on several book award committees, including the Newbery and Caldecott; and written for several magazines.

Dean is a friend, and during a recent (socially-distanced, of course) visit, he told me about the books he has planned for a history course he’ll teach this school year. I am always interested in hearing Dean talk about his work—he’s an outstanding teacher, and his students are lucky to have him—but I was especially intrigued by what he had to say about teaching during a pandemic and how he wants books to remain in the forefront. As a school librarian by training, I often seek the thoughts of talented teachers like Dean. (For instance, see this recent piece from Donalyn Miller on the importance of continuing to read aloud to students during these uncertain, unsettled times of returning to school during a pandemic.) And when Dean agreed to let me host his thoughts here at 7-Imp, I was delighted.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #702: Featuring Gaku Nakagawa

h1 Sunday, August 2nd, 2020

“My message is very simple: Economic growth and progress must add to
human happiness, not take away from it.”

(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)

Today, dear Imps, I have an unusual picture book import for you. The World’s Poorest President Speaks Out was originally published in Japan in 2014 and will be on American shelves in mid-August, thanks to Enchanted Lion Books. Translated by Andrew Wong, edited (in the original Japanese edition) by Yoshimi Kusaba, and illustrated by Gaku Nakagawa, it is a picture book adaptation of Uruguay President José Mujica’s 2012 speech to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, during which he asked: “Can we really talk about the solidarity of humankind and kindness to each other, or even togetherness, when we are constantly competing to outdo each other?”

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Lift as You Climb: The Story of Ella Baker

h1 Wednesday, July 29th, 2020

(Click image to see spread in its entirety)

I’ve some spreads today from Lift as You Climb: The Story of Ella Baker (Margaret K. McElderry Books, June 2020), written by Patricia Hruby Powell and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. This is a picture book biography of civil rights activist Ella Baker, who taught countless African Americans—but particularly those not in the elite or middle class—about their voting rights and how to exert their invididual voices in the name of freedom. And, as Powell writes in the book’s closing note, “because she worked behind the scenes and didn’t care about the spotlight, nor believed in following a charismatic figure or being followed, she is less known than she should be.”

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Drawing on Walls Before Breakfast

h1 Tuesday, July 14th, 2020

“Here is Keith Haring painting a mural with hundreds of children in Tama City, Japan. Keith draws the outlines and the kids fill them in with their own designs.”
(Click spread to enlarge)

Note that today’s book, as the subtitle tells us, is “a” story of legendary artist Keith Haring. It’s not “the” story of Keith Haring, because it’s not as if only one story could capture his life and his spirit. This subtle word choice is one of many thoughtful details that went into the creation of this spectacular picture book biography.

Drawing on Walls: A Story of Keith Haring (Enchanted Lion, May 2020), written by Matthew Burgess and illustrated by Josh Cochran, opens with the spread pictured above, which so perfectly communicates the essence of Keith’s artistic vision—and legacy. At this page turn, we then meet Keith as a child. …

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The 2020 Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards

h1 Thursday, May 28th, 2020


I had the pleasure of chairing the 2020 Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards with fellow judges Sujei Lugo and Leo Landry. The awards were announced yesterday. The books we fell in love with are pictured here, but you can head here to the Horn Book for more details.

My Chapter 16 Q&A with Vivien Mildenberger

h1 Tuesday, May 12th, 2020


Over at Chapter 16, I’ve a Q&A with Vivien Mildenberger, who illustrated Elisa Boxer’s account of a historic vote for women’s suffrage and what it has to do with an obscure Tennessee woman — The Voice that Won the Vote: How One Woman’s Words Made History (Sleeping Bear Press, March 2020). Mildenberger also illustrated Lori Alexander’s All in a Drop: How Antony van Leeuwenhoek Discovered an Invisible World, published last year and the recipient of a Siber Honor.

The Chapter 16 Q&A is here.

Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks

h1 Thursday, April 16th, 2020

I’ve a review over at BookPage of Suzanne Slade’s Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks (Abrams, April 2020), illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera. That review is here.

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


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Rob Dunlavey on David Elliott’s In the Woods

h1 Friday, March 20th, 2020

Today, illustrator Rob Dunlavey visits to talk about illustrating David Elliott’s In the Woods (Candlewick, April 2020), a poetry collection that explores 15 creatures in their woodland habitats — from little (the millipede) to large (the moose). Elliott kicks things off with the bear and wraps it all up, gracefully, with the deer. In between, there’s awe, humor, and always keen observation in these short, exquisitely crafted poems. Rob’s illustrations eloquently capture the light and shadows of these homes in the woods, and today, he talks about the creation of some of these spreads.

I thank him for visiting. Let’s get to it. Read the rest of this entry �