Archive for July, 2007

The Picture Book Round-Up That Will Make Me
Die a Little Bit Inside, Part One

h1 Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

Yes, dramatic post title there, but I got your attention, didn’t I?

Perhaps, for all I know, none of our readers remember this, but I hardly forget promises to myself: I vowed to read and review as many picture books as I could this year. And, believe me, I’ve been reading them, but I’m so dreadfully behind on reviewing them. I have finally come to accept that I can’t review these titles in the manner in which I normally review picture books (rambly like this or round-uppety and rambly like this). Yes, my favorite kidlitosphere reviewers are really detailed (that’s one reason, I’m sure, that Fuse is a kidlitosphere superstah; I mean, her reviews are fabulously thorough). But, in order to get to these leaning stacks of picture books at all, I’m just going to have to try my best to be short and pithy. Or, wait, as Yoda said, “Do… or do not. There is no try.”

So, short it will be. Which is why I’m going to die a little bit inside. And there might even be another post like this (hanging my head in shame) in an effort to get caught up.

But at least it might actually work — I might be able to move past these stacks and start anew on more picture book titles coming to me, since I’m still determined to keep up with new titles and reviews.

Here goes nothin’:

Yo, Jo!
by Rachel Isadora
April 2007
(library copy)

To not give this one a detailed review might make me die inside the most, but enough of that . . . The text in this one is nothing to sneeze at, to say the least, but you really will want to see this one for Isadora’s colorful, dyamic oil and collage illustrations (including clever use of newsprint). Collage seems so popular now, but Isadora really does it up right. If collage illustrations were my thing, I’d be afraid to look at this book, lest it put me to shame. Let’s put it that way. This one’s about a young African-American boy named Jomar who lives in an urban neighborhood (Isadora not holding back on things like litter and graffiti but counterbalancing it with the warmth of the neighborhood in her bold, bright color choices) and greets his multicultural neighbors and friends with hip-hop slang, such as “S’up!”, “Faboo!”, “Def!”, “Check out the B-boy!”, and “Off the heazy!” There’s some high-fivin’, hand-slappin’, music-jammin’, roller-blading, and ball playing, all simply showing the camaraderie that exists in this boy’s neighborhood, as he waits for his Grandpa to show. And, when he does, he hints that he’d like Jomar to speak to him in a more conventional manner, to which the boy replies “I love you, Grandpa.” (Yet, then the grandfather turns to Jomar’s older brother to say, “Yo, Frankin, you chillin’ with us?” in an effective, wink-wink ending). The book, a perfect preschool read-aloud, bounces with energy, and Jo brings to mind a contemporary Peter à la Ezra Jack Keats’ world. Perfection this one is (if I’ve used an image of Yoda, I have to — at the very least — try to talk like him).

So, how am I doin’? That one was too long. Okay, I’ll do better. Read the rest of this entry �

The Road Goes Ever On and On . . .

h1 Tuesday, July 17th, 2007

For my brother, Don Walker, Jr.:
October 9, 1970 to July 17, 1999

* * *

“Suddenly the River swept round a bend, and the banks rose upon either side, and the light of Lórien was hidden. To that fair land Frodo never came again.

The travelers now turned their faces to the journey; the sun was before them, and their eyes were dazzled, for all were filled with tears. Gimli wept openly.

‘I have looked the last upon that which was fairest,’ he said to Legolas his companion. ‘Henceforward I will call nothing fair, unless it be her gift.’ He put his hand to his breast.

‘Tell me, Legolas, why did I come on this Quest? Little did I know where the chief peril lay! Truly Elrond spoke, saying that we could not foresee what we might meet upon our road. Torment in the dark was the danger that I feared, and it did not hold me back. But I would not have come, had I known the danger of light and joy. Now I have taken my worst wound in this parting, even if I were to go this night straight to the Dark Lord. Alas for Gimli son of Glóin!’

‘Nay!’ said Legolas. ‘Alas for us all! And for all that walk the world in these after-days. For such is the way of it: to find and lose, as it seems to those whose boat is on the running stream. But I count you blessed, Gimli son of Glóin: for your loss you suffer of your own free will, and you might have chosen otherwise. But you have not forsaken your companions, and the least reward that you shall have is that the memory of Lothlórien shall remain ever clear and unstained in your heart, and shall neither fade nor grow stale.’

‘Maybe,’ said Gimli; ‘and I thank you for your words. True words doubtless, yet all such comfort is cold. Memory is not what the heart desires. That is only a mirror, be it clear as Kheled-zaram. Or so says the heart of Gimli the Dwarf.'”

— J.R.R. Tolkien; The Fellowship of the Ring

That pretty much says it all.

May he continue to rest in peace.

Tell-An-Author-{uh, Slash Illustrator}-You-Care Day

h1 Monday, July 16th, 2007

Jules here. Eisha’s blog vacation has officially begun, as she makes her Big Move to New York. Best of luck to her. I’m here this week, and next week when Eisha returns, I’ll take a bit of a break myself. I don’t have a Big Move planned, but boy howdy does my wrist need a break from too much typing, and my to-be-read piles are about to smother me (not a bad problem to have, though). So, I’ll enjoy having time to get caught up.

Now for today’s post: Emily at …whimsy… has taken the bull by its horns and created her very own important day, entitled Tell-An-Author-You-Care Day (go read that post, because it involves the interesting story behind what gave Emily this idea to begin with). Hmm, not a bad idea, huh? Here’s what Emily suggests we do (any or all of the following) on this day:

“1). Write a letter or email to a favorite author. I think JK Rowling and Stephenie Meyer receive plenty of fan letters. Think of an author you love that may need a little boost.

2). Write a positive review on Amazon and, if you want to, link to it in your blog.

3). Buy a book by a favorite author and give it to someone who will enjoy it.

4). Profile an author in your blog. I’m not talking just another review. Tell us a little about the author and mention at least one of his/her books that you love.”

I’m choosing an author/illustrator, the creator of my favorite picture book thus far this year, Jeremy Tankard, O Bringer To Us of Grumpy Bird. Yes, even though this year we’ve seen:

Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #19: Featuring Matt Phelan

h1 Sunday, July 15th, 2007

Happy Sunday to all! Just look at that beautiful illustration this week, compliments of Matt Phelan. The latest issue of The Horn Book includes Susan Patron’s Newbery Medal acceptance speech, and she talked briefly in that speech about having chosen Matt as the illustrator for The Higher Power of Lucky (lauding “his thoughtful, tender, and delicate pictures”). And we here at 7-Imp were reminded how much we like his art work and illustrations, so we contacted him and he agreed to share the above image from his upcoming book, Very Hairy Bear by Alice Schertle (to be published in September by Harcourt).

Read the rest of this entry �

We Need a Time-Out.

h1 Saturday, July 14th, 2007

It’ll be just like this.We’re busy people. Eisha’s moving. Jules is a full-time mom to two very energetic girls. And we’re getting a little overwhelmed by our TBR piles. We’ve noticed a trend of people taking little blog-vacations this summer, and we think it’s an excellent idea.

So here’s what’s happening (verb!): Eisha is going on blog-break from this Sunday, July 15th, through Saturday July 21st. We’ll both tune in to do our weekly 7-Kicks post for Sunday, July 22nd, and then Jules will tap out until the following 7-Kicks post on Sunday, July 29th.

Note: We will both still do the 7 Kicks list tomorrow, and we’re excited (again) about our featured illustrator! . . .

We’re hoping that this tag-team approach will allow us to maintain the high-quality blog services that you, our valued readers, have come to expect from 7-Imp. We thank you for your patronage, and look forward to posting scintillating, thought-provoking book reviews, interviews and randomness for your continued reading pleasure.

Poetry Friday: Leaving you with a little Bashō

h1 Friday, July 13th, 2007

Cambridge CommonThe hardest part about leaving Cambridge, besides the excellent friends, and the ridiculously adorable preschoolers in my storytimes, and the great patrons I’ve had the pleasure of serving… besides all that, the hardest thing is that I feel like I’ve just barely experienced it at all. For most of the four years I’ve been here I’ve been working full-time, and getting my MLIS, and for a while there I had a part-time job in addition to the full-time gig. So, I’ve been busy. And now that I’m leaving, I’m suddenly aware of all this stuff I’ve never done here. I still feel like a recent arrival, not a proper Cantabridgian. And I’m a little sad about it. It makes me feel like… well, like this haiku by Bashō:

In Kyoto,
hearing the cuckoo,
I long for Kyoto.

Like I’m already missing Cambridge, even though I haven’t actually left yet. Ah well. Maybe I’ll get better acquainted with Ithaca.

Goodbye, Boston!

h1 Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

Mmm…In case you haven’t heard, I’m moving to Ithaca, NY really really soon. Next week, in fact. And I had sort of thought in the back of my mind for the past month that I’d throw a goodbye party for myself, but now my apartment is full of boxes and is a hostile party environment. So, I’m suggesting a loose sort of public gathering of all my friends and friendly co-workers and my husband’s friends and anyone who reads the blog and happens to be in the area this coming Saturday.

Yeah, this Saturday. I’m a little late-notice with this, I realize. I’ll totally understand if you already have plans.

Anyway, if you’re interested, here’s what you need to know:

WHEN: Saturday, July 14th, starting at 6:30ish
WHERE: Grendel’s Den in Harvard Square, Cambridge
WHO: You. Me. Anyone you want to invite.

Hopefully I’ll see you there!

Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #36:
YA Lit’s favorite ecogeek, Hank Green of
Brotherhood 2.0

h1 Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

Since 2007 seems to be The Year of Brotherhood 2.0 — in the realm of the kidlitosphere — we thought we would take some time to chat with the one-half of the popular online video project who has nothing to do with children’s or YA lit but has worked his way into the hearts (aw!) of many YA readers (teens and adults alike), Mr. Hank Green. Hank is a champion Nerd Fighter and WorldSuck Decreaser (as his brother John is, whom — to be fair — we randomly interviewed in April, you may remember). Plus, he sings a lot. So, we thought, why not chat with him about his passion for environmental issues, Brotherhood 2.0, and his secret wish to be a rock star? Lucky for us, he was game.

Actually, lucky for all of us, because as our readers showed when we brought up the idea of interviewing Hank, the blogiverse definitely wants to know more. His alternately hilarious and thought-provoking posts on B2.0 have created quite a fan base, and we’re all curious about the Helen Hunt-ode-composing, sock-puppet-wielding, Wikipedia-entry-having, Strawberry Hill-drinking, black-eyeliner-wearing-in-his-misspent-youth half of the Brotherhood.

You’ll notice, though, we refrained from asking the “boxers or briefs” question. Maybe next time.

Read the rest of this entry �

YA review: Before I Die by Jenny Downham

h1 Tuesday, July 10th, 2007

Can I take a moment to tell you about an outstanding novel by a first-time YA author (I have no idea if this is the cover that will be chosen for the book’s late September publication here in the U.S., but I found it here at Amazon UK)? I received an advance reader’s copy of a novel entitled Before I Die by Jenny Downham. I’m sure that a whole slew of blogs were notified about this book and its marketing campaign. My curiosity was instantly piqued, as there is a “Dear Reader” note in the front of the proof, written by editor David Fickling. He calls this novel “literary gold dust”; says that David Fickling Books is publishing it zippy speedy quick by modern publishing standards (Fickling doesn’t think the public should be kept waiting any longer); urges us to read it; and writes that it’s “searing, unsentimental, and honest and at the same time almost shockingly affirming of life.” Oh, and rights to the book were very quickly sold in “no fewer than TEN languages, in less than two weeks.”

Allrighty then. Fickling’s excited about this book. And he does have a track record that is nothing to sneeze at. Honestly, though, I was thinking, nah, I don’t want to be reading the same book as every other kidlit blogger in America. I’m a fiercely independent reader. I don’t need this swaying. Well, then I read the first page and was immediately hooked. And then I found it damn near unputdownable. Really, I read this in record time myself, and — with two wee children in my life — I only have little windows of time for reading. I must have read it while driving or sleeping or, I dunno, maybe I actually never slept. I don’t remember. I just know that I devoured it (really, I devoured it in no time after first receiving it; I just held off on the review for a bit for a myriad of reasons). Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #35:
A Year in the Life of Nancy, a.k.a. Journey Woman

h1 Monday, July 9th, 2007

This interview with Nancy R. Kienzler, a.k.a. Journey Woman, is another great example of why we love this blogger interview series: You get to learn things about some of your favorite bloggers that you may have never guessed. In this case, who knew that the market researcher calling you on the phone after you have just sat down to dinner is passionate about poetry and blogs about it daily?

And what great timing we seem to have at 7-Imp to have decided to feature Nancy one day after her one-year blogiversary. We had no idea it was July 8 (and one day after we celebrated ours), but we’re pleased the timing worked out that way. Happy blogversary to Journey Woman! Be sure to go read her blogversary post, because she’s having a Lives in Letters Contest to celebrate.

And, speaking of that post, it almost serves as the perfect introduction to this interview you’re reading. She runs down all the highlights of her first year of blogging and all the things about Journey Woman that make it worth your time to visit (by the way, read here and here if you’ve ever wondered about her blog’s title). Here are seven of her blog’s regular features, though Nancy is quick to add, “‘regular’ is a relative term.” Yes, of course, seven. Let’s call it . . .

Seven Impossible Reasons It’s Worth Visiting Journey Woman:

Read the rest of this entry �