Archive for the 'Nonfiction' Category

Jason Chin: On Gravity and Temperamental Gouache

h1 Thursday, May 15th, 2014

These paintings were done in watercolor and gouache, and let me tell you gouache can be really frustrating. It was really temperamental, and to be honest, when I handed in the book, I swore I’d never use it again. Of course, for my next book I pulled out the gouache and used it again.”

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Over at Kirkus today, I talk to Jason Chin, pictured here, about his newest picture book, Gravity (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook, April 2014). That link is here.

Next week, I’ll have some art from the book, as well as some of the rejected endings that Jason talks about in the piece.

Until tomorrow …

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Photo of Jason Chin by Deirdre Gill and used with permission.

What I’m Up to at Kirkus This Week

h1 Friday, April 18th, 2014

This morning over at Kirkus, I take a look at Maira Kalman and Daniel Handler’s Girls Standing on Lawns, to be published by the Museum of Modern Art in early May. It made me want to find my own family photos of girls or women standing on lawns, which are in that piece over at Kirkus. Pictured above is my maternal grandmother.

That column is here today.

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Pictured above is Dr. Alan Rabinowitz. I chatted with him at Kirkus yesterday about his picture book, A Boy and a Jaguar (Houghton Mifflin), illustrated by Catia Chien and also set to be released in early May. “This story,” Rabinowitz tells me, “is not just about a stuttering boy who studied jaguars, but about all children who feel sad, abused, or misunderstood by the world at large ….” It’s a remarkable story. That Q&A is here.

Until Sunday …

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Photo of Alan Raboniwitz by Steve Winter and used with permission.

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #373:
Featuring Sophie Benini Pietromarchi

h1 Sunday, March 16th, 2014

(Click to enlarge)

In The Color Book, to be released by Tara Books next month, Sophie Benini Pietromarchi explores color with child readers in a multitude of ways. “If you ask me,” she writes on page one, “I would have preferred to color quietly, instead of talking. I’m marking this great white page with blue ink, but ideally, I would rather not have written any words at all. Color speaks for itself better than words can — you can ‘feel’ color, and it goes straight to your heart.” But despite this, she notes, she wrote the book to invite children to “get to know colors” — by playing with them, contemplating their subtleties and meanings, considering the emotions that they evoke. It’s what she calls a color dance.

It’s a book both poetic and practical. She opens by relaying the feelings she remembers from her childhood — all based on colors. She then explores what colors are capable of by creating a character for each one (the Red Dragon, Mrs. Brown Snail, etc.), and she further discusses colors and moods by devoting an entire chapter to them. In the book’s second section, “The Basics,” she discusses such things as primary colors, complementary colors, and contrasting colors. And she closes the book by suggesting readers create their own books that explore color; her suggestions for readers’ color books are detailed, and child readers could easily follow along.

Pietromarchi, who both wrote and illustrated the book, uses collages, photos, and found objects in nature to lay it all out, and with an infectious passion for art, she invites readers to make connections and create art meaningful to them.

Here are a few more spreads … Read the rest of this entry �

A Quick Art Break, Watercolor-Style

h1 Thursday, March 13th, 2014

“… I remember my aunt Gladys’s house next door. It was also a big stone house, but it smelled different from ours, like old milk, and there was randomness in the way that everything was placed as though it had been dropped in haste wherever it was.
There was also a crucific on the living-room wall.
It was an object that was missing from our living room. …”

(Click to enlarge)

Since I chatted at Kirkus last week (here) with author-illustrator and graphic designer James McMullan about his new memoir, Leaving China: An Artist Paints His World War II Childhood (Algonquin, March 2014), I am following up today with two watercolors from the book. Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Jeff Kulak

h1 Friday, February 28th, 2014

“What Makes Different Cuisines Different?”
(Click to enlarge and see entire spread)

This morning at Kirkus, I write about two brand-new picture books (one from Groundwood Books and one from Albert Whitman & Company) about what one of the authors calls gender-nonconforming children — in both cases, these are about boys who, in particular, like to wear dresses. That link is here, and next week I’ll have art from each book.

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Last week, I wrote here about Sarah Elton’s Starting from Scratch: What You Should Know About Food and Cooking (Owlkids Books, March 2014), illustrated by graphic designer and artist Jeff Kulak. I’ve got a bit of his art from that book here today.

Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #370: Featuring William Grill

h1 Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

“After 16 long months, the crew had found solid ground. Dehydrated and hungry,
each man ate and drank until he was full. But their troubles were not over yet,
as the coastline was exposed to the elements, and a cruel blizzard set in for days …”

(Click to enlarge)

Today’s featured book is Shackleton’s Journey (February 2014), written and illustrated by British artist William Grill. This is a book that marks the centenary since polar explorer Ernest Shackleton’s 1914 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, his attempt with a crew of men to make the first land crossing of Antarctica. It was considered the last expedition of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.

Now, let me make something clear about this book right up front. The copy of this book that I have is incomplete. Long story, but think of it as like a sampler, so I will not be able to provide anything like a traditional review. (As noted on this page of my site, I don’t consider 7-Imp a traditional review blog anyway—my focus is more on illustrations—but still … just making clear that I haven’t seen the book in its entirety yet.)

Anywhoozles, with nonfiction it’s especially important to note the back matter of books; in particular, you must ask if the author included his/her sources. I can’t tell you that about this book, since my copy is not complete, but I can tell you the art is beautiful, and that’s going to be my focus today. Also that it comes from Flying Eye Books, the children’s imprint of Nobrow Press, who care about high-quality book production and design. This means it has things like an illustrated cloth spine. (Happy sigh.)

And how about that illustration above? HOO BOY. Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Jon J Muth

h1 Friday, February 21st, 2014

(Click to enlarge)

This morning over at Kirkus, I write about a nonfiction children’s title, Sarah Elton’s Starting from Scratch: What You Should Know About Food and Cooking (Owlkids Books, March 2014). It’s especially good for the budding, young chefs in your life. That link is here.

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Last week, I wrote about Jon J Muth’s Hi, Koo! (Scholastic, February 2014). That link is here, and today I’m following up with some art from the book.

Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Pamela Dalton

h1 Friday, January 3rd, 2014

(Click image to see spread in its entirety)

Today at Kirkus, I write about Rukhsana Khan’s King for a Day, illustrated by Christiane Krömer. That link is here.

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Last week at Kirkus, I wrote here about Katherine Paterson’s Giving Thanks: Poems, Prayers, and Praise Songs of Thanksgiving (Chronicle Books, October 2013), illustrated by Pamela Dalton. Today I’ve got some spreads from the book for those of you who want to see some of the poetry and prose inside, as well as Dalton’s intricate Scherenschnitte.


Read the rest of this entry �

A Peek at Steve Jenkins’ Desk

h1 Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

“Look for colors. Is it time? Are they ripe? Scan up. Scan down. Paw and claw and pull. Find … huckleberries. Rake them with your teeth. Purple your snout.”

Last week over at Kirkus, I chatted with author April Pulley Sayre about her newest picture book, Eat Like a Bear (Henry Holt, October 2013), illustrated by Steve Jenkins. What a good book it is, and I really enjoyed hearing April’s thoughts on the writing of it. That Q & A is here.

Today I’m following up with some art from the book (without the text in the spreads), as well as some sketches from Steve.

[Please note: Some of the colors in these spreads are slightly off, as they appear here online.]


Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Up To at Kirkus Today,
Plus What I Did Last Week,
Featuring Daniel Nevins and Marije Tolman

h1 Friday, October 11th, 2013

“And Jacob said to Rebekah, his mother, ‘But Esau is a hairy man and I am a smooth man. If my father touches me, he will think me a thief and I will bring upon myself his curse and not his blessing.’ His mother said, ‘Your curse, my son, will be upon me. Now, listen and go; bring them to me.'”
(Click to see spread in its entirety)

“Flamingoes obtain their color from the shrimp and algae they eat.”
(Click to enlarge)

Today at Kirkus, I write about Amy Schwartz’s newest picture book, Dee Dee and Me. Regular 7-Imp-goers will know I really like Amy’s picture books, and with this new one she, once again, doesn’t disappoint. That link is here.

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Last week at Kirkus, I chatted here with Asheville artist Daniel Nevins about creating the artwork for Amy Ehrlich’s With a Mighty Hand (Candlewick, August 2013). Today, I’ve got a little bit of art from the book, including the image at the very top of this post.

And I also wrote here about Jumping Penguins, an international import written by Jesse Goossens and illustrated by Marije Tolman. Featured here today is some art from that book, too. (Please note that some of the spreads featured here from this book are different from the English-language version — both art, in some instances, and text. The cover is also slightly different.)

Read the rest of this entry �