Archive for the 'Intermediate' Category

My Morning Chat with Laurie Keller
(Where’s My Doughnut Anyway?)

h1 Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

It’s tricky to try to guess what kids will think is funny, so I usually just write what I think is funny and hope that they’ll think so, too. Sometimes silly lines will come to me right away, but other times it takes me weeks to get the right ‘angle’ or ‘voice’ that I’m looking for. Watching movies that make me laugh helps — like Monty Python and the Holy Grail (talk about slapstick!), Strictly Ballroom, The Jerk, Airplane!, Young Frankenstein and anything by Christopher Guest. If there are parts I’ve written that aren’t as funny as I would like, I can’t always pinpoint what isn’t working right away, but eventually the right mood hits and I can usually figure out how to fix it.”

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This morning over at Kirkus, I chat with author-illustrator Laurie Keller. I do that annoying thing people do where they ask what it’s like to write humor, but hey, she was up for answering.

That link is here. Next week, I’ll follow up with some illustrations from her new Arnie the Doughnut chapter books.

Until tomorrow …

Loïc Dauvillier on the Duty of Remembrance

h1 Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Marc Lizano and I were wondering about our roles as fathers in the duty of remembrance. We are fathers and we are also authors. Soon enough, we wondered about our roles as authors in passing on the memory of things. We started from a principle that knowing past events can help to avoid repeating them.”

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This morning over at Kirkus, I chat briefly with author and comics writer Loïc Dauvillier.

Dauvillier’s latest graphic novel for children, illustrated by Marc Lizano and Greg Salsedo, is called Hidden (First Second). Subtitled A Child’s Story of the Holocaust, it’s the story of a young Jewish girl living in Paris during the Holocaust, and it will be released in April.

That chat is here this morning.

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Image of Loïc Dauvillier used by permission of First Second.

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 �

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 �

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 �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #362: Featuring Robert Byrd

h1 Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

“The crowds at the Hartford jail were even greater than those in New Haven.
Evidently Africans like ourselves were a novelty, and so people streamed into the jail, often traveling long distances, to see what we looked like.”

(Click image to see spread in its entirety, including the text)

Just the other day at Kirkus, I wrote about some 2013 Picture Books That Got Away — that is, those books that during the year I had planned to write about here at 7-Imp or over at Kirkus, yet for one reason or another I didn’t get to them.

One book I wanted to include in that list, yet I knew I’d be writing about it today, is Monica Edinger’s Africa Is My Home: A Child of the Amistad (Candlewick, October 2013), illustrated by Robert Byrd. This is a lengthier picture book, geared (if you heed such labels) at slightly older readers. (“10 to 14 years old” is how the publisher thinks of it.) This is the fictionalized story of the real-life child named Margru, who later became known as Sarah Kinson, taken from her home by slave traders in Mendeland, West Africa, “one of the greenest places on earth,” in 1839. At the age of nine, Margru’s father decided she would go as a pawn to work for the family of a man in her village. This would occur in exchange for rice, given that the village in which Margru and her family lived was suffering greatly from drought and famine. “At the next harvest,” her father told her, “I will return what I owe and you will come home.” Margru did as she was told, only to find soon after that she was “in a line of captives headed for the coast.” Slave traders transported Margru and many other West Africans, including three other children, to Cuba and later to the U.S. on the Spanish slave ship called the Amistad.

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 �

What I’m Up To at Kirkus Today,
Plus What I Did Last Week,
Featuring Nikolai Popov, David Roberts,
Fabricio VandenBroeck,
Ian Wallace, Linda Wolfsgruber,
and a Whole Bunch of Comic Book Artists

h1 Friday, October 4th, 2013

From “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” an English tale; Art by Graham Annable

This morning at Kirkus, I write about an intriguing international import called Laughing Penguins, written by Jesse Goossens and illustrated by Marije Tolman. That link is here.

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Last week, I wrote about a handful of story collections (of one sort or another). That’s here, and this morning I have art from each book. For each one, you’ll see some art, followed by its cover.

Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �

With a Mighty Hand

h1 Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

This morning over at Kirkus, I chat with Asheville artist Daniel Nevins about creating the artwork for Amy Ehrlich’s With a Mighty Hand (Candlewick, August 2013), which consists of Ehrlich’s adaptation of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, told as a single narrative. Sub-titled The Story in the Torah, it’s one of the most beautifully designed books I’ve seen this year.

That link is here, and next week here at 7-Imp I’ll have a bit of art from it.

Until tomorrow …

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Photo of Daniel Nevins used with his permission.

“To Face the Lions”

h1 Thursday, September 26th, 2013

From “Sleep Charm”: “This bed is the perfect bed. / Sink into its healing /
cloud-softness, / cheek against cool pillow-white. /
Forget anything you ever wanted, / hoped, or feared. …”

Last week, I chatted here at Kirkus with author and poet Joyce Sidman about her newest poetry collection, What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms & Blessings (Houghton Mifflin), to be released in early October. The book is illustrated by two-time Caldecott Honor recipient Pamela Zagarenski.

Today here at 7-Imp, I’ve got two spreads from the book (including the poems), as well as some details from some of Pamela’s paintings. I thank Pamela for sharing them.

Also below is one question for Joyce I didn’t have room for in last week’s column, as well as a trailer for the book, which features even more of Pamela’s artwork.

*[This post's title comes from "Song of Bravery," one of my favorite poems in the collection: "...But here I go--- / bones clicking quietly together, / blood flowing dutifully / from heart to hands and back again--- / here I go, stepping out / through the door / of my own shadow: / into the glare of the arena / to face the lions."]

Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �