Archive for the 'Intermediate' Category

The Horn Book’s
“Year in Words and Pictures — and Stories”

h1 Tuesday, August 2nd, 2022


I promise I’ll be back with art on Thursday, but for now I direct you to the Horn Book’s website if, by chance, you missed their wonderful ALA coverage. If you go here, you can read things like 2022 Caldecott, Newbery, and Coretta Scott King speeches (including a profile of the late Floyd Cooper). And you can head here to read all about “The Year in Words and Pictures — and Stories,” which takes a look back at last year in the world of children’s literature.

(No one at the Horn Book asks me or pays me or bribes me to share this here. I just reeeeeally appreciate their coverage.)

More later this week!

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #801: Featuring Molly Brooks

h1 Sunday, July 3rd, 2022

Hello, Imps! I’m going to continue with a theme this week — I posted mid-week about a new children’s graphic novel that I love — and share some spreads today from yet another graphic novel, Kathryn Ormsbee’s Growing Pangs (Random House, May 2022), illustrated by Molly Brooks and colored by Bex Glendining and Elise Schuenke. This is the story of Katie, who is a rising sixth grader. She’s homeschooled (I love the way this graphic novel takes on the stereotypes that homeschooled students often face), and she struggles with worry — OCD, to be precise. It’s good stuff, and I have a review over at the Horn Book, should you want to read more about it.

That is here, and below are some spreads.


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Rachel Elliott’s The Real Riley Mayes

h1 Tuesday, June 28th, 2022

Happy Pride Month! It’s not over yet. Let’s celebrate with Riley Mayes. She’s the star of a new graphic novel from Rachel ElliottThe Real Riley Mayes (Balzer + Bray, May 2022). I’ve got a review of this one over at the Horn Book. A starred review — because it’s that good.

That review is here, and below is some art.


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“The Newbery and Art” at the Horn Book

h1 Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022


It was my pleasure to contribute a piece to the Horn Book’s recent issue (the May/June 2022 issue) celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Newbery Award. I wrote about the Newbery and art, which involved me lugging home, multiple times, a trunk full of award-winning illustrated novels and picture books, all in the name of research. Lovely.

That article is here, or you can click the image above, a screenshot from their site.

The Velveteen Rabbit: A Visit with Erin Stead

h1 Thursday, May 12th, 2022

A color sketch
(Click image to enlarge)

When I was a child, I read Margery Williams’s The Velveteen Rabbit (or How Toys Become Real), originally published in 1922, over and over again — so often that I can still recite the book’s first paragraph by memory. I remember feeling chilled by the description of Nana, who “ruled the nursery.” I remember her “swooping about like a great wind” and being short-tempered and careless with the toys. It was my first lesson in how an author can depict so much about a character via their actions alone. I remember the Skin Horse’s words. And I was mesmerized by the fairy.

A reader can certainly have a nostalgic longing for a book they read as a child, but is the book good? I am all the time talking to my picture book grad students about this — about not letting that kind of thing get in the way of evaluating a book on its merits. For me, this book endures. This is why I was excited to see that Erin Stead has illustrated the 100th anniversary edition of the book, released in April by Doubleday. Erin put it well in this NPR piece: “The part that we all remember about talking about what’s real – that really carries with you for the rest of your life with all of the relationships you have, all the friendships that you’ll make, and all the times that people aren’t necessarily kind to you. There’s a lot of insecurities. There’s a lot of figuring out how you belong. It’s hard to shake a story that’s that honest.”

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The Waiting Place

h1 Tuesday, May 10th, 2022

“Matin is five. He is from Afghanistan. His waiting place is a field of shipping crates turned into homes, just below a misty mountain where ordinary people picnic and hike. …”
(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)

You’d be hard-pressed to find a children’s book this year as driving, urgent, passionate, and deeply felt as The Waiting Place: When Home Is Lost and a New One Not Yet Found (Candlewick, May 2022), which comes from author Dina Nayeri and photographer Anna Bosch Miralpeix. The book chronicles Nayeri’s and Miralpeix’s 2018 visit to Katsikas, a refugee camp near Ioannina, Greece.

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My Chapter 16 Q&A with Carsen Smith

h1 Monday, March 21st, 2022


It was very fun to talk for Tennessee’s Chapter 16 to comedy writer Carsen Smith about the new sci-fi series she co-wrote with James S. Murray — Area 51 Interns.

Our chat is here.

My Chapter 16 Q&A with Kathlyn J. Kirkwood

h1 Tuesday, January 25th, 2022

Over at Tennessee’s Chapter 16, I talk to Kathlyn J. Kirkwood about her new middle-grade memoir in verse.

In Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me ‘Round: My Story Of The Making Of Martin Luther King Day (Versify, January 2022) with illustrations by Steffi Walthall, Kirkwood shares memories of her growing civic awareness and activism as a teenager in Memphis as well as her decades-long struggle to turn Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday into a national holiday.

Our chat is here.

Photo of Dr. Kirkwood is © Padrion Scott, Sr. / P. Scott Photography.

Dulcinea in the Forbidden Forest

h1 Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021

“The witch sighed. She had always found young children exhausting. She looked up.
‘All right then. What do you wish for?'”

I love to see the books of author-illustrator Ole Könnecke, so I was happy to see that Gecko Press has released here in the States his illustrated chapter book, Dulcinea in the Forbidden Forest (September 2021). This modern fairy tale features a quick-thinking protagonist named Dulcinea. She knows not to ever enter the enchanted woods next to her home, but … well, sometimes you have to face your fears in order to save your father.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #761: Featuring
My Chapter 16 Q&A with Kathi Appelt

h1 Sunday, September 19th, 2021

Kathi Appelt’s newest middle-grade novel, Once Upon a Camel, is the epic story of a camel, some baby kestrels, and the immense power of stories. I had the opportunity to chat with Kathi about this book over at Chapter 16. Our chat is here.

The novel is illustrated by Eric Rohmann. Check out that striking cover above.

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