Archive for July, 2008

Poetry Friday: Kay Ryan, obviously.

h1 Friday, July 18th, 2008

Kay RyanHey, ya’ll. We’ve got a new Poet Laureate: Kay Ryan. I suppose a lot of people will be posting her stuff today, so I won’t do a big thing about her. I’ll just say that I haven’t read that much of her stuff yet, but what I’ve read so far I generally like. Some of it I really love. She’s got a sharp sort of wit, a coolly detached voice, and a deceptive brevity that seems more straightforward than it is. Here’s an example, “Full Measure:”

You will get your full measure.
But, as when asking fairies for favors,
there is a trick: it comes in a block.
And of course one block is not
like another. Some respond to water,
giving everything wet a little flavor.
Some succumb to heat like butter.

You can read the rest here. This poem is especially resonant with me right now. I’m one of those people who has a strong creative impulse, but so far hasn’t really found an expressive medium in which I feel confident. I’ve tried quite a few: dance, theatre, writing, photography, guitar… but I didn’t excel at any of them. So I feel like my block is still mostly untouched, just sitting there, waiting for me to figure out how to get at it.

It’s probably something I just wouldn’t expect. Like, découpage.

Anyway. Congrats to Kay Ryan: thanks for sharing your full measure with us.

The inimitable Kelly Fineman is handling this week’s round-up, bless her. Go see.

Seven Impossible Tri-Reviews Before Breakfast #5: Featuring TadMack, Julie Marchen, and The Wild

h1 Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

Hey, folks. We’ve got a super-spectacular treat (for us) today. We have the extreme pleasure of tri-reviewing with the vivacious TadMack (a.k.a. author Tanita S. Davis) of… well, of lots of blogs, but we’re maybe most fond of Finding Wonderland, one of the other awesome two-girl book blogs we keep tabs on.

The book we’re talking about is Out of the Wild, Sarah Beth Durst’s follow-up to last year’s fun middle-grade modern fantasy, Into the Wild.

If you’ve read Into the Wild, you’ll remember that 12-year-old Julie Marchen, daughter of Rapunzel, lives with a bunch of escaped fairy tale characters and has to help keep guard over The Wild, the enchanted forest that is the source of all our favorite stories. It gets loose anyway, and she barely manages to rein it back in and save the citizens of her town from becoming characters themselves, having to re-enact the fairy tales over and over for eternity. But to do so, she had to leave her mother’s Prince – the father she’s never known – still trapped in his story.

In Out of the Wild, he is, without apparent explanation, freed by The Wild and deposited into Julie’s bedroom. While Rapunzel and the other escaped characters have had 500 years or so to acclimate to the real world and learn to blend in, Prince is still every inch the fairy tale hero. So when some weird stuff starts to go down, involving a kidnapped princess and a rogue fairy turning people into pumpkins, he jumps into action to save the day. But here’s the thing: every time one of the reformed characters does something fairy-tale-ish in this world, they make The Wild grow. So Julie takes off after Prince to try to control the damage his heroics are doing to their ability to keep it contained. Before too long it becomes clear that someone must have set these events in motion in a deliberate attempt to free The Wild, and Julie & Co. have to use every trick at their disposal to figure out how to stop it from taking over the world. Read the rest of this entry �

Ooo! Ooo! We have a new Mad Tea Party image!

h1 Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

Hey, guess what? Anyone else remember when illustrator Frank Dormer created a Mad Tea Party image specifically for us and how ga-ga we were over it? We promptly put it on this page of our site, the one that lists our illustrator interviews and lists all the artists and illustrators we’ve featured in one way or another here at 7-Imp. If you’re like us and haven’t had your coffee yet and are too tired to click and look, let us show you here what the top of that page looks like:


Well, every Sunday we feature the art work of different illustrators/artists, and a couple weeks ago, we featured Argentinian illustrator Fernando Falcone. We opened that feature with his Mad Tea Party image, created in ’06, posted here at his site in all its terrifying and arresting beauty. (That makes us sound a bit like a bad Calvin Klein ad, but…well, just look at it.) We boldly asked him, despite not speaking Spanish ourselves, if we could include that image in the header of another one of our blog’s pages, and he said YES, dear friends! So, we have one more kickin’ Mad Tea Party image to add to our collection — with a brunette Alice, nonetheless.

We decided to include it on our Author Interviews page. Isn’t it just perfect? Oh, still no coffee yet? Here’s what it looks like:

We extend precisely one kerjillion thanks to Mr. Falcone for the use of that illustration.

Many thanks to Jules’ husband, our personal tech support, for manuevering these images into those headers and making ’em look so great there.

AND…a whole heapin’ bunch of thanks to Little Willow, who pointed Falcone out to us in the first place. She’s got our back and is all the time pointing us in the direction of great Alice images.

We hope to eventually have a Mad Tea Party image we’re absolutely in love with for each page of our blog (though we’ll always leave the classic Tenniel on the very front page). And no rush. We’ll get there one day. These things of beauty take time.

P.S. For fun: Jules re-discovered an old email the other day in which someone pointed out another Mad Tea Party image — one by illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi, created when he was in high school, complete with Elton John as the Mad Hatter. Wanna see? Go here, and scroll down.

7-Imp’s Identity Crisis

h1 Monday, July 14th, 2008

Jules: Yep, we’re having an identity crisis here at 7-Imp. Actually, we had one. Ultimately, it’s turned out to be a really good thing.

So, here’s my deal: Blogging has always been something I’ve done for fun; that means it has to fall behind my family and my work. My workload has recently doubled, and I’ve had to re-prioritize. I simply don’t have time to post a review of almost every book I read, which is pretty much what I have been doing for almost two years now.

To summarize: When I didn’t work so many hours, things looked like this —

  1. My family and friends.
  2. Work that pays.
  3. Blogging.

Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #71: Featuring Jen Corace

h1 Sunday, July 13th, 2008

Happy Sunday, everyone!

So, what do you do when there are tentacles in your hallway?

Jules: We’re featuring the illustrations of artist and freelance illustrator Jen Corace this week, and we’re excited to be doing so. Some of you may have seen this Spring’s Little Hoot, released by Chronicle Books, another pairing of Jen and author Amy Krouse Rosenthal (who also created Little Pea in ’05). I’m actually not terribly familiar with Little Pea (I read it once and liked it is about all I can say on that), but I’ve got a copy of Little Hoot, and it’s . . . well, a hoot. Go check it out. When Betsy Bird reviewed it in January, she wrote: “Here’s the deal with illustrator Jen Corace… uh… she’s awesome. Not very descriptive but whatcha gonna do? Maybe it’s her design background and alternative feel, but when Corace illustrates a book, that book has done been illustrated, consarn it.” We couldn’t agree more.

Let’s pause for another moment of Jen awesome-ness: Read the rest of this entry �

Poetry Friday: Another Leda

h1 Friday, July 11th, 2008

black swanOnce again, The Poets Upstairs have come through for me in my time of need. I was just thinking how I felt like I was in a Poetry Friday rut, just lazily digging up old favorites instead of seeking out new stuff. And *poof* – without me even saying anything, Dana lent me a book of poetry by one of her professors, Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon. The book, Black Swan, opens with an amazing piece, “Leda,” that simply begged to be shared with you all. From that headspin of a first line to the sharp irony of the last, it charges the old myth with a fierce energy. The taut, vivid imagery puts you there in that swampy Florida heat. You know this girl. And you could just about cry for her.

By the way, I can’t help but notice that I was also reminded of Leda by Dana’s poem “Nesting,” featured back in April. Does this mean something? Do I have a Leda problem? Do I need to start watching out for swans? And while we’re on the subject… seriously, how was that supposed to even work? Is their… equipment… you know, compatible?

Sorry, that was random. And gross. Back to Poetry Friday now. Here’s the opening of “Leda:”

Imagine Leda black–
skinny legs—–peach-switch
scarred—–vaselined to gleaming
like magnolia leaves—–Imagine
a teenager—–hips asway like moss
switchin’ down a dirt road
Florida orange blossom
water behind her ears
her tight sheath-skirt
azalea pink

Please read the rest of the poem here. Even though they left out the cool line-spacing that’s used in the book. And there are a couple of typos, which saddens me more than I can express. It’s still awesome.

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Lisa Schellman is keeping a vigilant eye on this week’s Poetry Friday roundup. Thanks, Lisa.

Picture Book Round-Up, Part One

h1 Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

I really intended for this round-up to include several more titles, but I’m doing what I can here with a new project for work that’s taking a considerable chunk of time and a storytelling gig on Tuesday. I’m off to practice my story one more time, but for now, here are three new titles, released this Spring, that are sure to entertain in one fashion or another. Perhaps tomorrow I can add some more titles to the mix. Enjoy!

by Emily Jenkins
Illustrated by
Pierre Pratt
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
April 2008

This dog’s tale from Emily Jenkins and Pierre Pratt has Publishers Weekly saying that the picture book duo prove one more time that “author and illustrator are brilliantly simpatico.” Well, who would argue that? This is the story of Dumpling, “a dog of enormous enthusiasm, excellent obedience skills—and very little nose.” Yup, Dumpling’s smart and skilled at dog tricks and oh-so loving (she goes into “paroxysms of joy” when her people come home), but she can’t smell a thing and—as a result—has no friends (seeing as how dogs like to sniff around one another to get intimate). When the family moves to the country, Dumpling finds herself with an expansive new back yard and a doghouse. After encountering a skunk who sprays her multiple times, Dumping heads back inside, much to her family’s dismay (amusingly enough, they try a handful of tricks to get the skunk smell off the dog, most of them the determined mother has read “somewhere”). When Dumpling heads back out, she gets sprayed again, though she shares a meal with the skunk: “She couldn’t smell anything, so she didn’t care.” And so it goes—family tries another technique to get rid of the skunk funk and Dumpling heads back outside. Dumpling is bummed to discover his new friend has disappeared — or so he thinks. Turns out the skunk is waiting for him in his doghouse. A friendship is born: “And though she sometimes got sprayed, when the skunk was startled or in a cranky mood, Dumpling never minded a bit. She couldn’t smell anything, so she didn’t care.”

Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #70: Featuring Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Maris Wicks

h1 Sunday, July 6th, 2008

Late-Sunday Addendum: Why don’t we leave our kicks post up on Monday? It was a holiday weekend, and some folks might not have been able to come kickin’ with us. So, if you didn’t, feel free to do so on Monday. Come on, you know your kicks-lists brighten our days.

Plus, we want to show Maris’ art work to more people.

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Jules: Well, happy holiday weekend to one and all on this Sunday with the kickin’ numerology goin’ on (“7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #70”). It’s the first of the month again when we here at 7-Imp highlight the work of student illustrators or those new to illustration. This week we welcome Maris Wicks, whose above illustration is a re-imagining of Wonder Woman. “I submitted this to an on-line contest (Project: Rooftop) that challenged artists to redesign Wonder Woman’s costume,” she told us. Maris, who graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design, has found herself drawn (excuse the unintentionally lame pun) to the world of comics, as she explains below.

Read the rest of this entry �

Co-Poetry Friday: A Painfully Bad, Wretchedly Awful Original Poem in Two Voices

h1 Friday, July 4th, 2008

Author Lynn Hazen asked us a good while ago to create a really bad poem for the Bad Poetry Friday contest she has going on over at her Imaginary Blog. We thought this sounded like a mighty fun thing to do, though M.T. Anderson is a tough act to follow with his touching poem about Peg. One-legged chickens. Pre-scrambled eggs and all that.

So, Eisha and I decided to write a sucktacular poem in two voices. Lynn is going to post it today, or so she said last night over at her fun blog. This means our Poetry Friday entry today is yet-to-come. Since I just KNOW you’re sitting on the edge of your seat waiting for our obscenely bad poem, I’ll update this post later.

In the meantime, Happy Poetry Friday, happy firecrackers and grilling out and such, and visit In Search of Giants for the poetry round-up today.

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Addendum: Here it is. Happy (Bad) Poetry Friday to all . . .

How to Get to Zimbabwe in Your Station Wagon

h1 Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

I was going to talk and talk about some killer new picture books today, but I simply didn’t have time yesterday to formulate a halfway-coherent post.

Instead, I’ll direct you over to The Morning News (which is always wonderful) where recently, as in two days ago, severely talented writer and illustrator Elisha Cooper—and, most recently, author of ridiculous/hilarious/terrible/cool: A Year in an American High School, which I’m currently reading—published an essay on the dream vacation for him and his family. And it’s not what you might think. The Bahamas? The shore? Nah, they flew all over the world without leaving their neighborhood, something to which I can relate this summer. If you’d like to read the essay, a short read, it’s here.