Archive for July, 2008

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with William Bee

h1 Thursday, July 31st, 2008

William BeeWhen author/illustrator William Bee released his second book, And the Train Goes… (Candlewick, 2007), Kirkus Reviews described it as “{a} fresh, visually arresting read-aloud with a lovely old-time feel.” You could say that about William’s other two books as well—Whatever, released by Candlewick in 2005, and this year’s Beware of the Frog (also Candlewick)—but you’d be simplifying his books and his style a bit much by calling them old-timey. There is a modernity to his style as well, what with his ultra-stylized design sense — not to mention the demented, deadpan humor and spirit of at least two of his books thus far (the very Pierre-esque Whatever and the warped almost-fairy-tale world of Beware of the Frog). Kirkus even wrote about Beware of the Frog that it joins “the rapidly swelling ranks of seemingly innocuous tales for younglings in which main characters are suddenly killed off.” (If you’re thinking what in the what the?, you need look no further than Tadpole’s Promise or Ugly Fish as but two examples.)

There are actually many things about William’s style as an illustrator that appeal to me — not just this ability he has to veer from quite demented to totally traditional (as Publishers Weekly pointed out, And the Train Goes… is filled with what they called “English archetypes,” and have you used this book as read-aloud yet? Wonderful, I say). There’s also his web site in which you learn…well, nothing about his books but an awful lot about a few of his favorite things (staying home, giraffes, 1978, tape measures, London buses, Michael Caine, supersonic planes). Dare I say it? Dare I employ the so-overused-it-barely-registers-meaning-anymore “quirky”? Okay, he’s quirky. There. I said it.

random image from Bee's site

So, yeah, my interest was piqued, and I snagged an over-breakfast interview with him. (William tells me we’ll be very disappointed with his breakfast-of-choice: “I usually have half a litre of water and a banana. On Sundays, I sometimes go mad and have two slices of toast with butter and Tiptree Jam, and a cup of tea — ‘Yorkshire’ tea with milk and two sugars.”) Read the rest of this entry �

For Knoxville

h1 Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

For Knoxville and the members of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church after this tragic event last weekend:

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{Taken from Honeybee: Poems & Short Prose, Greenwillow, 2008; posted with gracious permission from Naomi Shihab Nye.}

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Edward vs. Jacob: The Great Twilight Debate
(featuring Eisha and Dana in the first ever
7-Imp Smackdown)

h1 Monday, July 28th, 2008

Seriously, people, do not even look below this line if you haven’t read the books but think you might someday. Spoilers abound, and we make no apology for it. How could we have a proper debate otherwise? Right? Anyway.

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Breaking Dawn.Since my abduction into the Twilight cult a couple of months ago by my friend Dana Koster, I have frequently commented here on the way this series of books has taken over my life. I know I’m not alone. As Dana put it at her blog, there’s something about “the characters and the intensity of the relationships between them” that makes for very compelling reading. Compelling in the same way that, say, crack is compelling to some people.

The particular relationship that elicits our obsession the most would have to be the complicated love triangle that has formed between our mortal heroine Bella, her vampire boyfriend Edward, and her werewolf best friend Jacob. When last we saw them [SEE, SPOILERS STARTING ALREADY. GET OUT WHILE YOU CAN, TWILIGHT VIRGINS], at the end of Eclipse, Bella and Edward were engaged, with Bella having convinced him to turn her vampy after the honeymoon. Jacob, having confessed his love MANY TIMES and been ultimately, but sorrowfully, spurned by a very conflicted Bella, was wolfing it off into the hills, contemplating a future gone feral.

The fourth, and (sorta maybe) final book of the series, Breaking Dawn, is due to be released in a very few days. Dana and I have already reserved our copies for the local big chain bookstore’s release party* (look, she even found thematically appropriate earrings!) and are looking forward to devouring it next weekend, and then finally getting our lives back. But in the meantime, we keep getting into discussions (arguments) about what we want to happen in BD and which man (ahem) Bella should end up with – she’s firmly in Jacob’s camp, while I’m an Edward girl. Since the second edition of Eclipse comes with iron-ons so that readers can publicly declare their loyalty to Team Edward or Team Jacob, we obviously aren’t the only ones discussing (obsessing over) this issue. I mean, look at the response Robin got when she asked about it. So, I suggested we bring it to the blog in the form of a public debate, and see what happens.

(*Apologies, but I tried to reserve it at the local indie and they didn’t seem to understand that I needed it precisely at midnight on its official release date. I ordered something less urgent from them to atone, okay?)

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New Moon (book 2)eisha (representing Team Edward): It seems almost superfluous for me to even have to state a position here, since Team Edward is SO OBVIOUSLY GOING TO WIN. I mean, hello, did you read New Moon? Bella CANNOT live without Edward. It has been scientifically proven, what with all her abdominal pain and needing to fall off motorcycles and cliffs to hear his disembodied voice in her head and all. It would be the highest of follies for Meyer to put us through reading about what losing Edward does to Bella, and then make us go through it again. Will not happen.

dana (representing Team Jacob): But that’s exactly the point! Love isn’t supposed to kill you and leave you broken, it’s supposed to raise you up and make you happy and not, you know, crush your identity. True Love is great and all, but is it really True Love when your boyfriend won’t let you see your friends? I mean, controlling much? At least with Jacob, Bella has an identity. She’s hurt, but she’s her own person. She has her own interests, she can see who she wants – she’s not a tiny moon orbiting Planet Edward, she’s just… her.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #73: Featuring Rima Staines

h1 Sunday, July 27th, 2008

Jules: Yes, that’s a clock. A beautiful clock. But I’ll get to that in a minute. First of all…

Happy Sunday to all! It’s a new week, and—as usual here at 7-Imp—we’re taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week—whether book-related or not— that happened to you.

This week we’re celebrating with Rima Staines, U.K.-based illustrator, painter, maker of things, and teller of tales, “inspired most of all by stories and by the edge of things, strange and odd and dark yet familiar.” Rima told me, “I grew up in an artistic household and now scrape a happy living making {my} art.” Rima has always loved to combine words with her images and likes to play with language and rhyme. Her fledgling stories are aimed at child-adults and adult-children, and her paintings are reminiscent of an old medieval-coloured folktale world where things are not quite as they seem. She is living for the moment in the hills of Scotland, building a home on wheels with her boyfriend to live and travel and write stories in. At Rima’s site, The Hermitage, you can see many of her sketches, drawings, paintings (watercolors and oils on wood and paper), and prints (She’s also started experimenting with stop-motion animation and, for the near future, has plans for making a puppet show and at long last writing and illustrating the tales that have been stored in her head, as she put it.) And you can see clearly that, as her site’s bio puts it, she’s always “had one foot in Early Medieval Europe.” The rest of her bio sums up well what you get when your eyes take in one of her paintings or drawings:

“Rima’s curiosity leads her through the many worlds of words, languages and lettering, books and stories, puppetry, nature and interesting people, music, superstitions, folklore and fairy tales, and most of all the otherness that can be found on the periphery of our lives, the strange and grotesque, the absurd and unnerving…that topsy turvy in between place…”

As for that lovely clock pictured above…Rima has recently announced that her newest creative venture is clock-making—or making “unique original oil paintings on rustic chunks of wood” and making them tick, as her new site, Once Upon O’Clock, explains—since she has “a delight in Heath Robinson-like contraptions, automata and all things that clink and clonk, I love to paint folk tales in medieval hues, and make things from wood.” I cannot even BEGIN to tell you how much I want to start saving my pennies for a Rima-clock and how very much in love I am with the web site, because not only do I love the sound of a good, hearty clock ticking, but when you launch the site, there’s this wonderfully bizarre and discordant clock song of sorts that plays, which I’ve been listening to repeatedly as I type this. If you like a good clock like I do (which is an affinity that’s difficult to explain), you’ll enjoy it as well.

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Poetry Friday: Not for prudes. Maybe not for vegetarians*, either.

h1 Friday, July 25th, 2008

WHAM!The other night I was hanging out with The Poets Upstairs in their apartment. We were talking books and poetry (surprise!) and they asked if I’d heard of Phyllis Janowitz. “Nope,” I said. Well, they said, this will not do. She’s a professor of theirs at Cornell, and they feel very strongly that she is AWESOME and should be more widely known. Then Dana read the first part of this poem, “Veal,” to me, and my jaw dropped. “That IS awesome,” I said. They pushed me out the door with two of her books and some blueberry buckle. Or was it the lemon blueberry tart? I forget – they were both delicious. But the POEMS, people! Oh. My. God. I find myself in total agreement: we should all know who Phyllis Janowitz is.

See what you think:

I love to watch the butcher
wipe the sharp
blade on his
apron stained
with fresh blood. I’m
going to marry him


the side of beef split open
he tenderly spreads
it like a woman’s legs
between smeared fingers
stroking the cold smoothness

from his fingertips
———–bloody red
drops on the floor spotting
the sawdust there fluffs of fat
lie covered decently
the meat is red and lean.

Want more? Here’s the rest. And spread the word.

(*I’m a vegetarian. I still like the poem. I’m pretty sure it’s not really about meat.)

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Yay! Our sisters in two-girl-blogdom, Franki and Mary Lee, are hosting this week’s Poetry Friday roundup at A Year of Reading. Thanks, ladies!

One Very Possible (and Completely Not Book-Related) Co-Adventure Before Breakfast: Being Brave Already

h1 Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

Jules: So, Eisha, as you know, when we featured Laini Taylor’s lovely ladies this past Sunday, I ended up — long story how — at this artist’s blog, Diary of a Self-Portrait. (That, incidentally, is my favorite “about me” portion of anyone’s blog ever. It’s amazing how much we know about Jessie when she writes merely: “I paint. I write. I love strong coffee, being outside, my dogs, and snow. My dreams are vivid.”)

And, as you also know, Jessie — back in October of last year — launched a Be Brave project, based on this notion:

And all kinds of people joined her, prompting her in early July to do this again. She wrote:

And so I’ve come to the conclusion that it is time to revisit the Be Brave Project and to invite you, once again, to join me in doing so.

I will whole-heartedly return to this project on Monday, July 21st…And I will blog about my experience here, as often as I’m able to.

I want to make it very clear, however, that there is no beginning and no end to this project. If you decide to join in, there are no rules except for the ones you create for yourself…


Do this for yourself.

Make a commitment for the length of time that best suites YOUR needs–one day, one month, one year, one moment…it’s all up to you, and you alone. 😉

The “brave” or “scary” things that you choose to do can be as big or little as you want them to be. Sometimes it’s the little things that can be the most scary (and beneficial)!

(not to quote Nike, but…) Just do it.

Be on your own schedule. You don’t need to make a commitment until YOU are ready.

This is your unique journey–make it whatever you want it to be.

And that would be when I emailed you and said, hey, at the risk of sounding like Dr. Phil here, don’t you think this’d be fun? I have always loved that notion, that Roosevelt quote, and I’m tired of being a wussy-butt about some things. And, lucky for me, you said yes. Read the rest of this entry �

Boys of Steel at Guys Lit Wire

h1 Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

I’m going to keep this short, because it almost pains me to post on top of Eisha’s and Adrienne’s very fun post from yesterday. Scroll down a bit if you missed it then and take in the conversation, dear readers.

I’m over at Guys Lit Wire today with a bit about Marc Tyler Nobleman and illustrator Ross MacDonald’s new picture book biography, Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman, released just this week by Knopf Books for Young Readers — and already met with a handful of starred reviews. It’s all about Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the two unsung heroes who created Superman. And I conducted a short Q & A with Nobleman as well; I didn’t give him the usually rather lengthy and Pivot-y 7-Imp treatment, since I’m guesting at another blog, but I did chat with him a bit about his new book — as well as his next project, a book for older readers about the uncredited co-creator and original writer of Batman.

Plus, you can find out who exactly a pionerd is if you go read what Marc has to say. “Pionerd” is currently my new favorite word.

Here’s the link. Enjoy!

Co-review: Eisha and Adrienne Adore Jenna Fox, and So Should You

h1 Monday, July 21st, 2008

The Adoration of Jenna Fox. Notice how the butterfly’s left wing is damaged.eisha: Hey, all. I talked the fabulous Adrienne of What Adrienne Thinks About That into co-reviewing The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson with me. Here’s the result. It’ll be cross-posted on both our blogs today (here’s the link to hers). We tried to avoid major spoilers, to keep it safe for anyone who hasn’t read it. We mostly succeeded. We also managed to work in references to a bunch of other similarly-themed YA books, so this is almost a reading list post. Yay! Enjoy.

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adrienne: I go about almost nothing systematically, least of all my reading, which, for someone who considers herself a student of literature, is completely haphazard. My approach is to keep around large numbers of books I am interested in for one reason or another and then to wander from one book to another with no goal other than to consume as many as I possibly can while putting minimal effort into things like eating and cleaning my house. Over the last few months, though, I can’t help but notice that much of my reading has consisted of reading whatever Eisha’s been reading a couple weeks after she’s read it. I think there are two reasons for this: 1. Eisha is awesome, and 2. we both like the supernatural. (Speaking of which, Eisha, have you seen how the truth is going to be out there again this summer? So exciting–and OMG I love Scully’s new hair.) Anyway, this is how I read Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy, Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, and Daniel Waters’ Generation Dead. It’s also how I wound up reading The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson, a crafty bit of science fiction that hits the same territory as Nancy Kress’s Beggars in Spain and Nancy Farmer’s The House of the Scorpion in a way that won’t threaten people who are put off by the phrase “science fiction.” This sci fi deception begins with a splendiferous cover that screams “I’M COOL! I’M COOL!” in soothing blues and greens while staying completely true to the story and its themes.

Eisha, I’m going on. Want to hit us with a summary? Should we use Jules’ marquee tag to post a spoiler alert? Do you agree that Henry Holt and Co. should give jacket designer Meredith Pratt a raise and more covers to design? WHAT ABOUT SCULLY’S NEW HAIR????

eisha: You flatter me. But it’s true, we do have similar tastes in books (and apparently in defunct-TV-shows-making-a-big-screen-comeback, too – YAY!), so I totally love that you keep biting my reading list. Now we have SO MANY BOOKS TO TALK ABOUT. I’ll try to stick to Jenna Fox for now, though.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #72: Featuring Laini Taylor

h1 Sunday, July 20th, 2008

Jules: We’re so nerdy-excited to be featuring author and artist Laini Taylor and her Laini’s Ladies today. And that’s ’cause dang-it-all if she isn’t just a huge inspiration to us all. For serious, check out the art page at her site: Collage. Oil paints. Stamps. Paper dolls. Mosaics. Clay. Garden art. Mixed media and digital art work. Drawings. Stationery. And her beautiful Laini’s Ladies, which are the focus of this kicks feature today.

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Dear Chuck Palahniuk,

h1 Saturday, July 19th, 2008

Snuff. *sigh*Hey, baby. We need to talk. I just finished your new book, Snuff, and there’s some things I need to say to you. It’s not going to be easy, so, just… *sniff*… just listen, okay?

I’m sorry, Chuck. You know I’ve loved you for a long time – hell, I feel like I’ve been with you forever – but I think, honestly, maybe we’ve grown apart. I’ve suspected it for a while now, but after this last book… I’m sorry. I just can’t do this anymore.

The thing is, I wouldn’t have read this book at all if I hadn’t already been in love with you. Remember the first time? Fight Club? God, that was amazing. Back then, that whole repetitive, minimalist thing you do seemed so bold, so dangerous. So hot. And I seriously, no kidding, learned so much about men from that book.

Fight Club. Read it.Survivor. Read it too.And then Survivor – whoa. Maybe even better. I loved everything you had to say about the commodification of religion. And Fertility is a great heroine. The way Tender kept listing all those horrific cleaning tips didn’t feel like a gimmick; it actually made sense for a character who’d been raised to be a wage-slave for his religious cult, cut off from any sense of his own humanity. Being raised a Jehovah’s Witness, myself, I totally related.

Invisible Monsters was pretty good. I didn’t full-on LOVE it like I did the first two, but it was still pretty amazing, and so different. A supermodel with half her face shotgunned off, on the lam with her tranny brother and her ex-cop maybe-gay ex-boyfriend… I do remember thinking it was a weird book for a straight man to write. Ha.

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