Archive for the 'Intermediate' Category

My Q&A with Jonathan Auxier

h1 Thursday, July 21st, 2016

‘What is the point of a storybook?’ is actually a really difficult question to answer because, at the end of the day, stories are largely frivolous: They don’t fill an empty belly or suture a wound or shelter the lost. And yet every reader knows that something almost mystical transpires when the right reader finds the right story. I was trying to articulate the meaning of that transaction. Ultimately, I found the easiest way to answer the question was to invert it and ask ‘What happens if we lose our storybooks?’ And that question became the foundation of the entire novel.”

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Over at Kirkus today, I talk to novelist Jonathan Auxier, pictured here, about his newest book, Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard (Abrams/Amulet, April 2016).

That is here this morning.

Until tomorrow …

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Photo of Jonathan used by his permission.

 

Some Witches Before Breakfast

h1 Thursday, June 16th, 2016


“… They all breathe hard from the run. A little harder than usual, because of what is looming above them: the long staircase that leads to the parlor of Zia Pia,
fortune-teller and healer.”


 
Last week at Kirkus, I chatted here with John Bemelmans Marciano about his new series, illustrated by Sophie Blackall, The Witches of Benevento. I follow up today with some of Sophie’s art from the books.

Enjoy!

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Mischief with Marciano

h1 Thursday, June 9th, 2016

Over pie and coffee, I pitched Sophie a couple ideas. One was nothing more than a setting—a small city in southern Italy I had visited a dozen years earlier. The thing about Benevento is that it was totally infested with witches of all kinds, and for generations kids had to learn strategies on how to avoid them just to get through their day.”

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Over at Kirkus today, I talk to author-illustrator John Bemelmans Marciano, pictured here, about The Witches of Benevento, his new chapter book series illustrated by Sophie Blackall.

That is here this morning. Next week at 7-Imp, I’ll follow up with some art from the series.

Until tomorrow …

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Photo of John used by his permission.

 

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #485: Featuring Alexis Deacon

h1 Sunday, May 29th, 2016



 
I’ve got some art today from author-illustrator Alexis Deacon’s first graphic novel, Geis: A Matter of Life & Death. (“Geis,” a Gaelic word for a taboo or curse, is pronounced gesh.) It will be on bookshelves in July from Nobrow Press. [Edited to Add, 5/30/16: Alexis has illustrated this graphic novel, though Geis is still the first he’s both written and illustrated.]

Let me back up a bit and say that I love to see Alexis’s work, and I was happy to see he’d done a graphic novel. (I just read this 2014 Guardian piece about him and very much enjoyed it, if anyone wants to learn a bit more about him.) This is what the publisher calls a supernatural historical fantasy and is the first in a trilogy. Readers are promised at the book’s close that “soon” we will be able to read Book Two, A Game Without Rules.

The book opens with the death of the great chief, Matarka. Her will declares that “there would be a contest. Fate would choose the one fit to take her place.” Calling upon the Gods, fifty souls are summoned at night — to the confusion of everyone. Thus begins the contest to see who will become the ruler of the island.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #483:
Featuring Jeffery Boston Weatherford

h1 Sunday, May 15th, 2016


” … Of more than 400,000 pilots trained / by the CPTP, only 2,000 are black; / less than half of a percent. / Yet 2,000 dreams of flight / are finally off the ground.”


 
Today I’ve got a bit of art from Carole Boston Weatherford’s newest book, You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen, illustrated by Jeffery Boston Weatherford and released by Atheneum this month. This is a series of poems, aimed at middle-school readers, about the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II.

The poems are powerful, Weatherford bringing to life with vivid language the voices of these aviators, the first African-American military pilots of the war. She writes in a second-person voice—“You see the posters: Uncle Sam Wants You. / If only that meant in the cockpit.”—which brings the reader into the poems with an immediacy. It’s a very effective technique, as it gives space for the reader to imagine him or herself in the events Weatherford’s precise poetry conjures. The poems cover a wide range of tones, as Weatherford notes the pilots’ struggles, as well as their accomplishments. “[Weatherford’s] skill with language,” notes the Kirkus review, “provides clear voices for the trainees, and cultural specifics provide additional texture and deepen understanding of the young men.” The review closes: It’s a “masterful, inspiring evocation of an era.”

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What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring
Peter Brown, Milan Pavlovic, and Jillian Tamaki

h1 Friday, May 13th, 2016


“There was only one place Brightbill could have gone. The robot gravesite.
So Roz galloped northward.”
— From Peter Brown’s
The Wild Robot


 

“‘He’s here!’ she yelled, and ran outside. The moment her father stepped out,
Gertie threw her arms around him, and he
hugged her back so hard he lifted her off the ground.”
— From Kate Beasley’s
Gertie’s Leap to Greatness,
illustrated by Jillian Tamaki


 

“While I was spying on them, kind of wondering what Kabungo would say next, Miss VeDore looked up and said in her whispery way, ‘Have a seat, dear. And … some tea?'”
— From Rolli’s
Kabungo, illustrated by Milan Pavlovic


 
Over at Kirkus today, I write about Sergio Ruzzier’s new picture book, This Is Not a Picture Book! (Chronicle, May 2016). That is here. I’ll follow up next week with some art and preliminary images from the book.

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Last week, I wrote here about four new novels, and since three of them are illustrated (Peter Brown’s The Wild Robot, published by Little, Brown in April; Kate Beasley’s Gertie’s Leap to Greatness, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki and coming by way of Farrar, Straus and Giroux in October; and Rolli’s Kabungo, illustrated by Milan Pavlovic and published by Groundwood Books in April), I’m sharing some art from them today. (Peter Brown threw in some early sketches, too.)

Enjoy!

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Two Things on This Thursday

h1 Thursday, April 14th, 2016



 

Today over at Kirkus, I’ve got a Q&A with former Simon & Schuster editor Emma D. Dryden, who now runs her own editorial consulting firm and who talks to me about her new picture book. That chat is here.

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Last week at Chapter 16, I talked to author and illustrator William Joyce about his new children’s novel. That conversation is here, or you can click the image above.

Until tomorrow!

My Q&A with Mildred D. Taylor

h1 Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

I always wrote, even in high school, but my work had been rejected many times. I was living in Los Angeles, working as a proofreader, when a friend told me about the contest, sponsored by the Council on Interracial Books. I heard about the contest on a Thursday, and the deadline for submissions was the following Monday. I spent the weekend rewriting a story I’d been working on, typed it at work on Monday (my co-workers covered for me!), and got to the post office just in time to mail the manuscript.”

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Over at Kirkus today, I talk to author Mildred D. Taylor, the winner of the 1977 Newbery Medal for Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

The novel’s birthday is being celebrated in more ways than one—a writing contest and an exhibit at the Brooklyn Public Library—and all of that, plus my chat with Taylor, is at Kirkus today at this link.

Until tomorrow …

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Photo of Mildred D. Taylor used by permission of Dial Books for Young Readers.

A First Second Graphic Novel Preview,
Featuring Art from Mike Cavallaro, Joe Flood,
Faith Erin Hicks, Bryan Konietzko, George O’Connor,
Alex Puvilland, and Maris Wicks

h1 Thursday, February 25th, 2016


From Bryan Konietzko’s Threadworlds,
coming in 2017


 
Last week I spoke here at Kirkus with First Second’s Editorial Director, Mark Siegel, about graphic novels and ten years of First Second Books.

Today, I’m following up with art — a sneak peek at some upcoming graphic novels from First Second.

Enjoy!

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A Visit with Dasha Tolstikova

h1 Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016


“My name is Dasha. I am twelve years old.”
(Click to enlarge)


 
Last year, I read Dasha Tolstikova’s A Year Without Mom, released by Groundwood Books in October. Dasha and I started a conversation about this book at year’s end, and life (as it is wont to do) got in the way quite a bit, interrupting our chat, but we finally wrapped it up and I’m posting it today. Better late than never.

I featured Dasha’s artwork here back in 2013, and it’s wonderful to be talking about this book today. A Year Without Mom is what Maria Russo in the New York Times Book Review called a “perceptive story about change, aloneness, ambition and, ultimately, resilience” and Kirkus Reviews called “fascinating and heartfelt.” This 176-page illustrated book follows Dasha herself through a year in Moscow with her grandparents after her mother goes to America to study advertising. Politics are touched upon—essentially, Gorbachev’s leave with Yeltsin taking up the reins—but the book also tells the universal story of a middle-schooler. Crushes, the dynamics between friends, school — all of this without her mother near.

Dasha visits today to talk about this book and what’s next on her plate. I thank her for sharing.

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