Archive for the 'Intermediate' Category

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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A Moment with Gene Luen Yang,
National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

h1 Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

I’m not normally in the habit of posting other people’s interviews in full at my site, but what the hell, I’m doing so today.

And that’s because I was very excited to hear on Monday of this week that graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang (pictured left in his self-portrait) was named the 5th National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

Below is a five-question chat he had with Gina Gagliano at First Second Books. I’m merely hosting them here today.

I can’t wait to hear more from Gene in his two-year term as Ambassador.

As the new Ambassador of Young People’s Literature, what changes would you like to see in America’s reading culture?

Gene: I want us to diversify our reading in every sense of the word “diverse.” I want us to read stories from different cultures about different topics in different formats. I want every person to read at least one book that others don’t expect them to like, at least once a year.

What draws you to YA books and literature?

Gene: I started in the comic book industry, which isn’t as tightly categorized into age demographics as the traditional book market. I didn’t really think of myself as a YA author until I began publishing with First Second Books. They looked at my stuff and decided it fit best in Young Adult.

I think they’re right. My friend and fellow author Marsha Qualey says there’s an equation at the heart of all YA:

Power + Belonging = Identity

Most of my stories are about that equation.

What do you like better — hardcovers or paperbacks?

Gene: You know, I’ve never really thought about it. Each format has its advantages. Hardcovers feel solid and substantial in your hand. Paperbacks are more portable.

I do a lot of my reading on the go these days, so I guess right now I prefer paperbacks.

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What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week

h1 Thursday, December 24th, 2015



 

I write about picture books for Kirkus, but sometimes … well, you read a children’s novel so great that you ditch your plans and write about that novel instead. That’s what I’m doing today over at Kirkus, writing about Katherine Rundell’s The Wolf Wilder. That is here.

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And, because freelance writing deadlines don’t stop for the holidays, I’ll have a column up over there tomorrow about my favorite Christmas picture books — one is a long-time favorite (Burningham!), and the other is an older one I just discovered this year. That will be here on Friday.

See you Sunday!

A Conversation with Özge Samanci

h1 Thursday, December 10th, 2015

I was afraid of making this book. It was perfect in my mind. I did not want to try and ruin it. But the idea was burning in me. … Living with a book in my mind that long was painful. It was like dragging a heavy suitcase wherever you go.”

 

Today over at Kirkus, I talk to Özge Samanci, pictured here, about her debut book, the graphic memoir Dare to Disappoint: Growing Up in Turkey.

That Q&A is here today, and next week here at 7-Imp I’ll follow up with some art from Özge’s book.

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Photo of Özge Samanci taken by Shirley Adams and used by permission.

Of Moons and Magic with Melanie Crowder

h1 Thursday, October 29th, 2015

I was … rolling around the idea of negative emotions—grief, regret, shame—and how we allow them to form the walls that imprison us.

I wondered what that prison might look like if it were a tangible thing — and how a person would ever find their way free.”

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I chat with author Melanie Crowder today over at Kirkus about her new middle-grade novel, A Nearer Moon (Atheneum, September 2015).

That Q&A is here.

Until tomorrow …

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Photo taken by Tiffany Crowder and used by permission of Melanie.