Archive for April, 2007

Picture Book Review —
The Boy Who Cried Wolf: Extreme Makeover

h1 Thursday, April 19th, 2007

Wolf! Wolf!
by John Rocco
Hyperion Books for Children
March 2007
(library copy)

This is a sly little take on the Aesop fable about the boy who cried “wolf!” But Rocco turns the tables here, making the wolf — not the boy — center stage. And he places the characters in a pastoral Chinese setting (“Under a canopy of wind-swept trees and cherry blossoms, the wolf sports a Chinese silk jacket of the type seen in old Fu Manchu movies, the boy wears a topknot, and the neighbors who complain about the boy’s false cries sport queues and silk caps,” Publishers Weekly’s review points out).

Rocco’s striking wolf is old, arthritic. He’s too worn out and slow to chase animals and catch and consume birds (his jacket is adorned with the traditional Chinese symbol for longevity), so he attempts to grow his own food in a garden. Alas and alack, this doesn’t go too well (too many weeds). Fumbling with his hysterically primitive hearing aid one day, he hears the titular character of the classic Aesop story crying “WOLF! WOLF!” He creaks his way up the mountain in all his confusion (“the old wolf didn’t have any friends on any mountain,” so he’s not quite sure who’s calling for him). A LOVELY double page spread, wordless, of the wolf crossing a footbridge in a gorgeous spot of the wood, rife with cherry blossoms, follows. Loveliness, loveliness, I tell ya. I know I use that word entirely too much, but Rocco smacks us upside the head with The Lovely. It’s a smorgasbord for the eyes. Sit down and take a bite. It’s almost breathtaking in spots. Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #21:
Barbara Kerley (and one really cool-lookin’ iguanodon)

h1 Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

7-Imp is pleased to be the inaugural stop on Barbara Kerley’s current blog tour.* This is Barbara, of course, pictured here from 2004 on a Paris stop — the Eiffel Tower’s carousel, to be exact — which was part of her trip to London to finally see Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins’ dinosaurs (see below for a photo from that visit), Hawkins being the subject of one of her picture book biographies. So, yes, she’s setting aside some time this month to chat with bloggers about her new novel (and writing/life in general). The novel is called Greetings From Planet Earth (Scholastic; April 2007), and we’re here to tell ya, folks, that it looks really interesting. You can read all about it below (as well as some other forthcoming titles), since Barbara has stopped by for a cyber-visit here at 7-Imp. Read the rest of this entry �

Middle-Grade Books Round-Up, Part One
(Including One Scrotastically Testacular Book)

h1 Tuesday, April 17th, 2007

Hi there, one and all. We’ve been reading a whole slew of intermediate-aged novels and decided we’d review them in a round-up post. Some are newer than others (yes, you’ll see that we’re just now getting to titles like The Higher Power of Lucky and Rules, but better late than never, eh?). And, you know, we here at 7-Imp never really addressed Scrotumgate (or what Kristen McLean at pixie stix kids pix aptly called “the Great Scrotum Kerfuffle of 2007“). So, in honor of speaking out against those adults who feel “discomfort . . . {about} . . . references to body parts in children’s literature. . . {and the} fear of giggling” and in defense of scrotums as children’s literacy tools (in the words of Susan Patron herself), we’ll try to use at least one scroadjective in each review of this round-up — such as, the profoundly erudite “scrotastically testacular ” in the title of this post. (And we hope the authors of each book below will forgive us and will know that we have only the utmost respect for them).

And when we say “intermediate” or “middle-grade,” keep this in mind: more or less. All the below titles pretty much fit into the “ages 6 to 12” category, if we must use categories; Mary Hanson’s new book is for the younger set, while Rules and Lucky technically get labelled “9 to 12” a lot. But blah blah blah, what matters is that these are some brand-new titles or titles from the previous year (with which we’re getting caught up) that will appeal to your older elementary and middle-grade students and that we think are worth your time for one reason or another. Enjoy! (Oh, and look for a Part Two soon — we’ve got even more to say) . . .

How to Save Your Tail: *if you are a rat nabbed by cats who really like stories about magic spoons, wolves with snout-warts, big, hairy chimney trolls . . .
and cookies, too

by Mary Hanson and illustrated by John Hendrix
Schwartz & Wade Books
April 2007
(review copy)

What It’s About: A cookie-lovin’ rat (named Bob) manages to save himself from being devoured by two hungry cats, Brutus and Muffin, by serving them cookies and telling them fairy tales about his family. Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #20:
Blue Rose Blogger and Author/Illustrator Anna Alter

h1 Monday, April 16th, 2007

Welcome, Dear Readers.  This week we continue our series of interviews with the Blue Rose Girls by talking to the uber-talented, delightful author/illustrator Anna Alter. (Yup, in case you’re wondering, that does indeed seem to be a knitting, flying monkey that she’s drawing there.)

Let’s face it: we’re all fascinated by artists. Especially those of us who have a huge appreciation for art without any actual artistic talent of our own. What’s cool about Anna, besides her lovely illustrations and stories, is the way she shares her process and techniques with the rest of us through her blog posts and outstanding website. It gives us left-brainers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of all the hard, tedious work and meticulous research that goes into creating all those gorgeous picture books we love. For example, check out these two posts that show us the step-by-step creation of an illustration for an upcoming book, from sketch to finished painting. And here, where she experiments with various apparel choices for a character.  Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #6

h1 Sunday, April 15th, 2007

It’s time for another installment of 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks . . . For those new to our series, this is where we all stop in every Sunday to report seven (more or less is fine) Good Things that happened to you (or that you read or saw or experienced or . . . well, you get the picture) this week.

* * * * * * * Jules’ list * * * * * * *

1) Elaine Magliaro’s dedication of an original acrostic poem to me and Eisha. Thanks again, Elaine!

2) MotherReader’s lovely tribute to Kurt Vonnegut.

3) The opportunity to chat with authors and illustrators and editors and other bloggers because of this blog. Eisha and I really enjoyed chatting with Alvina Ling (how multi-faceted is she?) and John Green (who is just so stinkin’ nice) last week, and this week we will feature interviews with author/illustrator Anna Alter (who amazes me) of The Blue Rose Girls and Barbara Kerley of The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins and Walt Whitman: Words for America (two very lovely, lovely books out of a handful of great books she’s written). Why can’t these people pass some of their talent over to me? If only it were that simple . . . Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #19:
John Green — Printz Winner, Nerd Fighter,
WorldSuck Decreaser.

h1 Friday, April 13th, 2007

We know it’s Poetry Friday, but we thought we’d shake things up with Something Unexpected for the end of this week (forgive us, National Poetry Month). It’s probably pretty obvious that we here at 7-Imp think that random author and/or illustrator interviews (as in, the interviewee may not necessarily have a new title to promote) are always interesting and fun. If you’re a fan of the person being interviewed, it’s a nice, little surprise to suddenly see them pop up when you least expect them. Like we did with M.T. Anderson — who is holding Jules’ head, you may remember (dude, I need to remember to ask for my head back) — and Jarrett J. Krosoczka. They had no new books to plug. We just like them a whole, whole lot. The fact that they’re both on Fuse #8’s list of Hot Men of Children’s Literature (#19 and #25, respectively)… coincidence.  Yup.  Sheer coincidence.

Same goes for John Green (HMOCL #6… What? What? It’s coincidence, I tell you!). We are fans of his writing, which tends toward an irresistible mash-up of buddy novel, bildungsroman and love story told through evocative imagery and dead-on dialogue. We are also fans (as is the rest of the world, it seems) of Brotherhood 2.0, the daily video blog he and his brother, Hank, have undertaken, which has graced the world with such gifts as …In Your Pants, Nerd Fighters, and the Foundation to Decrease WorldSuck.  Oh, and this riveting edge-of-your-seat adventure as John Green and M.T. Anderson bravely (and illegally) explore the legendary forbidden ruins of downtown Detroit. Ooh . . . Perhaps the most classic Brotherhood 2.0 moment of all was when John was caught on film when receiving the phone call in January of this year about the Printz Honor for 2006’s An Abundance of Katherines.

Read the rest of this entry �

Picture Book Review: The Pride That Goes Before
The Fall (and a coochie-coochie-coo cute crocodile)

h1 Wednesday, April 11th, 2007

I promise that I actually do have a stack of American picture books by American authors and illustrators here to review. Go, USA! and all that. But, with my growing interest in international authors and illustrators, I have to share just one more — this one by a French author and illustrator duo. Oh là là, indeed.

“Droll” seems to be an adjective appearing in a lot of my picture book reviews these days. So, yes, let’s just lay it all out on the table: I like droll. I do. This book is très droll. Very funny. Makes me laugh out loud. And here’s why: As Emilie Coulter put it so well, “French author-illustrator team Sylviane Donnio and Dorothée de Monfreid have perfectly captured the hubris of childhood” in this picture book, entitled I’d Really Like to Eat a Child (first American edition, 2007; Random House; translated by Leslie Martin). I love it. That’s right up there with Allard’s and Marshall’s (may he rest in peace) The Stupids Die in the name of great children’s book titles that draw the wee ones’ attention and that make overly nervous parents squirm. Read the rest of this entry �

Picture Book Review: The 108th Sheep by Ayano Imai

h1 Tuesday, April 10th, 2007

Just why oh why have I not heard of Ayano Imai ’til now? What beautiful illustrations in this little charmer called The 108th Sheep, which I could tack on to my recent short, little post about international books, since this was originally published in Great Britain in ’06 but is just now showing up here in the U.S. (published by Tiger Tales, an imprint of ME Media, March 2007). Imai, according to this wonderful link about her at the Tokyo Chapter of the SCBWI site, was born in England, later spent some time living in the U.S., and then resettled in Japan to study Japanese painting. This is her first picture book (which I suppose is the answer to my first question). And oh my it’s pretty. Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #18:
The Bloomable Blue Rose, Alvina Ling

h1 Monday, April 9th, 2007

Welcome to Episode 2 of our series of interviews with the Blue Rose Girls.  Today we’re getting to know Alvina Ling:  children’s book editor, blogger, adventurer, and yet another person to add to our list of Bloggers We Wish We Could Hang Out With In Person, ‘Cause She Seems So Freakin’ Cool.

Why is she cool?  Let us count the ways…

First:  She has TWO blogs.  There’s her own personal one at Bloomabilities, as well as being a member of the BRGs.  Talk about multitasking… 

Second:  She’s been immortalized as a children’s book character!  Lately she’s been contributing a series of “How I Met…” posts on the BRGs tracing her individual connections with each of the other members.  The first describes how her childhood friendship with Grace Lin eventually became the basis for Grace’s novel, The Year of the Dog, which Alvina edited.  How beautiful is that?

Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #5

h1 Sunday, April 8th, 2007

It’s time for another installment of 7 Imp’s 7 Kicks . . . For those new to our series, this is where we all stop in every Sunday to report seven (more or less is fine) Good Things that happened to you (or that you read or saw or experienced or . . . well, you get the picture) this week.

*eisha’s list*

Grace Lin1* Thursday I met Grace Lin. She did a program at my library. In spite of woefully low attendance, and a bizarre series of mishaps that made the day feel slightly cursed (she even had to ride in my cute-but-trashy car Phoebe), she was utterly gracious and adorable and interesting and wonderful, and I think the children who did attend had a very nice time indeed. As did I.

Read the rest of this entry �