Archive for the 'Adult Non-Fiction' Category

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #412: Featuring John Alcorn

h1 Sunday, December 28th, 2014

John Alcorn, Christmas card, 1958

Before 2015 gets here, I want to take some time today to tell you all about a book I really enjoyed this year, John Alcorn: Evolution by Design, edited by Stephen Alcorn and Marta Sironi, and published in 2013 by Moleskine. (I believe it was published here in the U.S. this past summer.) And, fortunately, I’ve got some art from it to share here at 7-Imp.

This is a beautifully-designed (book-lovers, take note) and quite comprehensive tribute to artist, designer, and children’s book illustrator John Alcorn, who died in 1992. (Back in 2012, I featured a bit of his children’s book illustrations.) Sironi, a researcher at the Centro APICE at Milan University, writes the book’s foreword, and the book’s opening piece, “Reflections on the Life and Art of My Father John Alcorn (1935-1992)” is from his son, Stephen Alcorn, also an artist and children’s book illustrator (whom I interviewed here in early 2010). In this opening piece, Stephen writes in detail about his father’s career and, with great reverence and a personal touch (the book also includes family photos), lays out the evolution of his father’s work. “At the time of writing,” he notes, “nearly a quarter of a century has gone by since my father’s passing, yet despite the passage of time, his work remains as culturally relevant today as the day it was created.”

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It’s here!

h1 Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

I guess I failed to mention here at my very own blog yesterday that I had a book release! I blame the bunny on the left. Yes, he knows he’s in trouble.

Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature, written with Betsy Bird and the late Peter D. Sieruta, is out from Candlewick Press. If you’re at all interested in reading it, the website we created for the book has ordering information here. And we’ve been posting daily over there stories that were cut from the book. It’s been fun. I’ve enjoyed writing at that site with Betsy, though of course we wish Peter were still with us. So super bad do we wish that. (On that note, don’t miss this special event, if you live near Oak Park, Michigan.)

Starting today, we are also sharing videos from authors and illustrators over at the Wild Things site. They’ll be telling behind-the-scenes stories about their upcoming 2014 books. We’re doing that, because … well, Wild Things is really a celebration of the children’s books we know and love, so this seems a fitting way to celebrate. Today’s video is from author N. D. Wilson, and boy howdy is it a treat (especially around moment 2:43 where N. D. quotes Beowulf’s opening lines, which pretty much just made my week).

For those of you near Nashville, I will have a book launch tomorrow night at Parnassus Books. Here’s the low-down. There will be wine, thanks to Dan Hutchinson at The Wine Shoppe at Green Hills. (I cannot WAIT to see which wine he chooses for our book — and why!)

Also, I’d like to quickly add that this has been one of my favorite write-ups about the book. Tracy is a talented writer.

Until tomorrow!

* * * * * * *

WILD THINGS!. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by David Roberts. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #379: Featuring David Roberts

h1 Sunday, April 27th, 2014

Hi, all. I usually feature the work of others here at the ol’ blawg, but today I’m doing something a bit different.

As many of you know, I’ve finished up work on a book that I wrote with Betsy Bird and the late Peter D. Sieruta. It’s called Wild Things: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature. It will be published in August. Candlewick has made a press release for the book, which includes a Q&A with me and Betsy.

I shared this press release on Facebook and Twitter and other such wild and wacky social media-type places, and I don’t want to annoy the everlovin’ life out of everyone by going on and on about this book. But it occurred to me this week that I hadn’t shared the press release here at 7-Imp. So, that’s what I’m doing today.

It’s here in all its red and white glory.

All throughout the book, we will have cute, fluffy bunnies (you’ll understand why when you read the book), as seen above, and those were created by British illustrator David Roberts, who also did the cover art. (Do check out his website, if you’re so inclined, ’cause you’ll have fun.) Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Up to at Kirkus This Week

h1 Friday, December 7th, 2012

Today at the Kirkus Book Blog Network, I offer up two holiday gift ideas for Children’s Literature Lovers and the Children to Whom They Read. Or two Neat Gift Ideas for People You Actually Like.

To be even more specific, these are gift ideas for the fairy tale lovers in your life.

I write about Philip Pullman’s Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version, released by Viking in November.

I also take a quick look at a new version of Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio, illustrated by Fulvio Testa, one of Italy’s most renowned artists and illustrators, with an introduction by Italian novelist, philosopher, and essayist Umberto Eco (released by the New York Review Children’s Collection in October).

The link is here.

On the Lives of Ruth Krauss and Crockett Johnson:
My Full Q & A with Author Philip Nel

h1 Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Ruth Krauss and Crockett Johnson on their front porch, 1959. Image courtesy of Smithsonian Institution. Reproduced courtesy of the New Haven Register.

Last week at Kirkus, an abbreviated version of a Q&A I conducted with author, professor, and blogger Philip Nel was posted over at the Kirkus Book Blog Network. We discussed his latest book, a double biography, titled Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss: How an Unlikely Couple Found Love, Dodged the FBI, and Transformed Children’s Literature.

This week here at 7-Imp, I’ve got the interview in its entirety, along with some images from the book. Many thanks to Phil for taking time from his busy schedule to chat with me about this fascinating book.

Let’s get right to it …

Jules: Part of your book’s sub-title is “How an Unlikely Couple…Transformed Children’s Literature.” Given their influential work across multiple disciplines (children’s lit, comics, graphic design, fine arts), what do you think their most enduring contributions are to the field of children’s literature?

Philip: Crockett Johnson’s Harold and the Purple Crayon is the most succinct and profound distillation of imaginative possibility ever created. Understandably, it’s inspired many other children’s writers.


Crockett Johnson. Harold “kept his wits and his purple crayon.” From Harold and the Purple Crayon (Harper, 1955). Text copyright © 1955 by Crockett Johnson. Copyright © renewed 1983 by Ruth Krauss. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Reprinted with the permission of the Estate of Ruth Krauss,
Stewart I. Edelstein, Executor. All Rights Reserved.

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“Love loves difficult things”:
Peter Sís’ The Conference of the Birds

h1 Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

(Click to enlarge)

If you’re a regular reader here at 7-Imp, you’re most likely a devoted follower of children’s picture books and contemporary illustration. This also means you likely know the work of author/illustrator Peter Sís — and probably know it well. Today, I feature his first book aimed at adult readers. (You’ll see in the below video that Sís sees it as a book for all ages, though—as he put it—the market determined it was for adults.) Fans of Sís may not be surprised to read it’s a feast for one’s eyes, elegantly illustrated and lovingly rendered.

And it’s bold. And that’s because in this October release from Penguin Press, The Conference of the Birds, Sís takes an ancient Persian poem, approximately 4,500 lines long, and extracts its very essence—in this beautifully-designed book (o! the very paper it’s printed on!) with Sís’ signature illustrations, geometrically beguiling and full of symbolism—in a manner that is accessible for modern readers. (Note the timeliness of the “upheaval” spread below.)

The poem, written by Persian Farid Ud-Din Attar in 1177 (Sís notes he was first inspired by this 1984 translation from Dick Davis), tells the story of a gathering of the birds of the world, who have no king and who set out on a quest—as suggested by the hoopoe, the wisest of them all—to find the legendary Simorgh. Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #238: Featuring Sophie Blackall
and a Handful of Illustrators and Designers
(I’ll Explain, Promise)

h1 Sunday, September 25th, 2011

Happy Fall, one and all.

This morning, I’m featuring illustrations from two books meant for grown-ups, Sophie Blackall’s Missed Connections: Love, Lost & Found (from which the second illustration above comes) and Graphic USA: An Alternative Guide to 25 U.S. Cities (from which Austin designer Bryan Keplesky’s wonderful don’t-shave image above comes), edited by Ziggy Hanaor and with art from various illustrators and designers — but two books with exciting art, nonetheless. And exciting art, which talented illustrators and designers create, is what 7-Imp is all about, yes? I’d like to think so.

And can I just say that these two books are super-rad-neato-skeeto, to be erudite about it? They really are. I love them.

First up …

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A Quick Cup of Coffee with Roger and Martha
and a Peek at A Family of Readers

h1 Thursday, October 28th, 2010

I’ve got three coffee cups out this morning to tell you what book has, arguably, replaced this as my favorite gift for friends having babies (well, maybe I can get both books for them), not to mention anyone who tells me they want to study children’s literature. In September, Candlewick released A Family of Readers: The Book Lover’s Guide to Children’s and Young Adult Literature, written by Horn Book editor Roger Sutton and executive editor Martha V. Parravano. It’s a wonderful read, and the book’s very premise was a smart one: As Roger writes in the introduction, “your passion for reading isn’t necessarily accompanied by a knowledge of children’s books, and that’s where we come in.”

As the sub-title tells you, this is a guide to children’s literature for those families passionate about reading — yet who may not know how to navigate the sometimes overwhelming world of children’s lit. “It is a book,” he writes later, “for readers, people who need books as much as food or air, and whose idea of the perfect vacation and/or evening meal is to have more time to read.” Even calling it a “guide” is somewhat misleading. To be sure, it’s a guide, yes. But this isn’t your go-to book for those parents who don’t read and suddenly decide they want their kids to. Don’t expect shallow lists of how-to’s and what-to-read’s (or, as Roger writes, “not bland lists of dos, don’ts and surefire recommendations”). Refreshing, indeed. This is a collection of well-crafted essays (Naomi Shihab Nye on poetry, Jon Scieszka on humor, Mitali Perkins on girl books), many previously printed in The Horn Book, about children’s literature, touching mainly upon, as Roger writes, how to give children the skills and opportunities to read, how to create books that both interest and respect them, how to allow children ownership of their reading, and how to know when and how to guide young readers, as well as knowing how to leave them alone already, when they need it. Read the rest of this entry �

Because I Don’t Share
My Favorite Book Excerpts Enough…

h1 Thursday, January 28th, 2010

After I shared this news in mid-December, a dear friend sent me, as a thoughtful congratulatory gift, Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. Now, I know this was published in 1994 and lots of writers have probably long leaned on Lamott’s wise advice. In other words, I’m sixteen years late to the party here. But, yeah. I’m reading it for the first time ever. And I love the below excerpt so much on so many levels that I’m going to share it today. And then—while we’re on the subject of glorious imperfections, which we will be—I’m going to follow it with a novel excerpt Eisha once shared with me years ago in a card she gave me, which I also love so much that it’s been hanging in my kitchen all these years.

(And, since Lamott mentions addictiveness, I’m picturing my addiction-of-choice above.)

This post is sort of like a cheap Dollar-Store copy of the kind of goodness you get at John E. Simpson’s blog on Poetry Fridays — interrelated poems, excerpts from novels, song lyrics, even videos/music, etc., though I’ve just got some book excerpts here and though this post doesn’t deliver half as well as John’s do. (Here is but one example.) His cyber-bungalow can be one of your best Poetry Friday visits.

I hope you enjoy the below excerpts as much as I do… Read the rest of this entry �