Archive for August, 2008

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #78: Featuring Hyewon Yum

h1 Sunday, August 31st, 2008

Jules: I really, really hope that folks are around this weekend, despite it being a holiday weekend, to see the art work of our featured illustrator today, Hyewon Yum, who studied painting, printmaking, and illustration at both Seoul National University and the School of Visual Arts in New York.

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Poetry Friday: Sappho

h1 Friday, August 29th, 2008

I’ve been rereading Salinger this week, which means I’ve been reading a lot of references to Sappho. I know, she’s a weird choice for Poetry Friday, because we only really have one complete poem from her, and then a bunch of tantalizing fragments that are kind of hard to quote effectively. But whatever. Read the one we have, and weep for what has been lost:

Sappho by Charles Mengin“The Hymn to Aphrodite” (Fragment 1; literal translation by Henry Thornton Wharton)

Immortal Aphrodite of the broidered throne, daughter of Zeus, weaver of wiles, I pray thee break not my spirit with anguish and distress, O Queen. But come hither, if ever before thou didst hear my voice afar, and listen, and leaving thy father’s golden house camest with chariot yoked, and fair fleet sparrows drew thee, flapping fast their wings around the dark earth, from heaven through mid sky. Quickly arrived they; and thou, blessed one, smiling with immortal countenance, didst ask What now is befallen me, and Why now I call, and What I in my mad heart most desire to see. ‘What Beauty now wouldst thou draw to love thee? Who wrongs thee, Sappho? For even if she flies she shall soon follow, and if she rejects gifts shall yet give, and if she loves not shall soon love, however loth.’ Come, I pray thee, now too, and release me from cruel cares; and all that my heart desires to accomplish, accomplish thou, and be thyself my ally.

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Click here for this translation, as well as several attempts to translate it into verse. I like the straight-up version best, though.

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Charlotte’s got this week’s Poetry Friday round-up over at her Library. Check it out. (Sorry, bad pun.)

He’s baaaaaack: Co-review of Adam Rex’s new Frankenstein book with Kelly Fineman, Poetry Goddess

h1 Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

Your average, run-of-the-mill diet won’t work for witches, you know…
From the “Special Advertising Section” of Adam Rex’s
Frankenstein Takes the Cake

Jules: Excuse the decidedly uncreative post title. Not enough coffee yet. You think I’m joking with my severely cheesy “Instant Human: Just Add Coffee” mug? I’m not.

I’m happy to be joined today by Kelly Fineman of Writing and Ruminating in discussing the new monstrous poetry anthology from Adam Rex, Frankenstein Takes the Cake (Which is Full of Funny Stuff Like Rotting Heads and Giant Gorillas and Zombies Dressed as Little Girls and Edgar Allan Poe. The Book, We Mean — Not the Cake), the sequel to 2006’s Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich (And Other Stories You’re Sure to Like, Because They’re All About Monsters, And Some of Them Are Also About Food. You Like Food, Don’t You? Well, All Right Then) — both books published by Harcourt. (And how much do you love those titles, Jules? you ask. A whole heapin’ lot.) As I noted a few weeks ago here at 7-Imp, if you haven’t read that prequel, well there’s a hole in your life too big and awkward for us to even address. But Kelly has joined me today to talk about the new poetry anthology, so let’s get right to it…

This, by the way, is also posted over at Guys Lit Wire today if you’re so inclined to read it over there. But this post here includes pretty much sorta the same content and same images, so you get to take your pick.

Also: This may be the first and only time you’ll read the words “Adam Rex” and “The View” in the same sentence. I could have never predicted that.

Also: Adam Rex is a superspy.

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Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Lane Smith

h1 Monday, August 25th, 2008

This is Lane Smith with his wife and book designer extraordinnaire, Molly Leach. We told him this would be one of our breakfast interviews, but we didn’t expect him to attempt to take a chunk out of his own face. But that’s the thing with Lane: You never know what to expect. After gently talking him into lowering the fork and having something else for breakfast, he’s considering either oatmeal or Cheerios, fresh OJ, and one small cup of decaf, adding that it’s a boring breakfast. For the record, we don’t think it’s boring, but we’ll just pretend he didn’t say decaf, which is the devil’s blend. But, hey…to each his own.

Here are 7-Imp’s Seven Reasons Why We’re Super-Nerdy Excited That Lane Smith is Here Today For a Chat:

1). He has a Bachelor of Awesome. See below.

2). He is one of the most inventive, most unpredictable (in the good way), most entertaining, and most imaginative contemporary illustrators whose work displays a tremendous respect for children and possesses a sharp, irreverent, wisecracking humor. Cases in point (just some of many): 1991’s Glasses (Who Needs ‘Em?); 1995’s Math Curse, written by Jon Scieszka; 2001’s Baloney (Henry P.), received and decoded by Scieszka; and 2004’s Science Verse, also by Scieszka — all published by Viking.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #77: Featuring Maggie Stiefvater

h1 Sunday, August 24th, 2008

Jules: Welcome to 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks, our weekly meeting ground for 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.

You know we really love featuring illustrators and artists here at 7-Imp, and we like to pride ourselves on featuring all different styles of art. And it’s not often that we feature art that hasn’t been created for a children’s book, though we love doing that, too. And I can’t remember that we’ve ever featured art like today’s — straight-up realistic portraits of animals, rendered in colored pencil. These are from artist, author, and musician Maggie Stiefvater, who calls herself an “equestrian artist…Suffice to say,” she writes at her site, “I draw and paint a lot of horses…I take my horse portraits very seriously. It seems to me that if you want an exact replica of what any horse looks like on a given day, there are plenty of cameras out there to help you with that. You need an artist only if you want to capture the mood of the day, the character of the horse, the feeling of the moment frozen in time. There’s a point where the camera just doesn’t cut it. That’s where an artist steps in.”

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Poetry Friday: Recipe for Green

h1 Friday, August 22nd, 2008

We had so much fun with our Jane Yolen interview this week that we thought we’d top off the week with one of her poems. If you missed our interview, you’ll see that she shared two as-yet-unpublished ones with us, so head over there if you missed those. The below poem is from Here’s a Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry, a wonderful collection of poems for the very young, collected by Jane and Andrew Fusek Peters and illustrated by Polly Dunbar. The 7-Imp love for this anthology has been fierce — here’s a review, and here’s our interview with Polly Dunbar (not to mention I’ve run my mouth about this book in many other posts here, and I’ve bought a copy for each and every baby shower I’ve attended since the book was released. It’s the perfect gift for a wee newborn, the best to-grow-with-them gift).

Here’s one of my favorite poems from the book, Jane’s “Recipe for Green”: Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Impossible Interviews
Before Breakfast #77: Jane Yolen

h1 Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

Jules: Eisha, Jane Yolen’s here! I have to say that this is a big ‘ol highlight in our short, little existence as 7-Imp. Wouldn’t you agree?

And here’s one reason why it’s exciting: As I have been working on her interview, reading and then re-reading her responses, reading other interviews with her online, reading all about her, I am struck by her generosity as a writer. I mean, she’s THE one and only Jane Yolen. She’s as prolific a writer as they come, having written over 250 books; Newsweek declared her America’s Hans Christian Andersen (and someone else declared her a modern-day Aesop, though I’m not sure who); she’s written in just about every genre for every age, from board books to books for adults (even songbooks — and didn’t she write a comic book, too?); she’s an accomplished poet; she’s been awarded many an honor, including a Caldecott, a World Fantasy Award, two Christopher Medals, a Jewish Book Award, a Golden Kite Award, and much more; she’s written books that children are in love with and crazy about, including her dinosaur books with illustrator Mark Teague and The Devil’s Arithmetic; she’s written one of the top-five best picture books that’s ever existed (in my not-so humble opinion), Owl Moon; she is a former president of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America and served on the board of directors of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators for more than twenty-five years; she is admired and respected by all kinds of readers, from folktale nerds (and I say that lovingly) to science fiction geeks (ditto) to historical fiction nerd-geeks (I say that lovingly and respectfully); she has collaborated with a whole slew, to be precise, of illustrators and other children’s book authors, including her own grown children…oh heavens, I could go on.

Where was I? Yes, so she’s, to put it bluntly, AMAZING…and yet she takes the time to speak and read to children (and write to them); she advises other authors; she has a very robust online presence…I could go on again. I’m just struck by how this graceful, immensely talented…well, I’ll say it: living legend (as cliché as that sounds) takes the time to share her wisdom. And she’s modest, to boot. I mean, really…check out the below photo of her sitting and talking to those child readers (next to the big ‘ol Teague dinosaur). I dare say that photo sums up nicely what Jane is all about: sharing the love of reading with the wee ones of the world. I love that picture.

Know what I mean, E? Whew. Are you still with me? Do you have a favorite Yolen book, or is it too flippin’ hard to pick?

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For Your Listening Pleasure…

h1 Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

A fabulous conversation with Walter Dean Myers—and his work with teens—at NPR this morning:

“The kids were writing such negative stuff about themselves that I began to collect photographs to show how beautiful they actually were,” he says. “I used the photographs in a number of different books.”

Myers also looks back to when he was a young man in Harlem who knew he wanted to write — and meeting Langston Hughes for the first time. Having studied only white, British writers in schools, he tells NPR’s Juan Williams, “He didn’t look to me like a writer because he wasn’t white.” …It’s a great piece. Enjoy.

Now back to your regularly scheduled blog-reading.

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #76, Part Two:
A Visit with Ursula Vernon (and Nurk)

h1 Monday, August 18th, 2008

As many of you know, we feature the work of illustrators/artists every Sunday here at 7-Imp, as well as gather together to list what we call our “7 Kicks” of the week. Yesterday, our featured artist was Ursula Vernon, but I moved her feature to today, since I didn’t want our partying down yesterday to distract from her illustrations. Thanks to Ursula for being so flexible and giving me the okay to do that.

As she puts it at her site, Ursula is a freelance illustrator, artist, and creator of weird thingies. “I live in North Carolina, with too many art supplies and a cat,” she adds. Ursula uses a wide variety of media in her artwork, “generally some combination of acrylic ink, fluid acrylic, watercolor, gouache, colored pencil, etc.” – as well as some digital maneuvering. Metal & Magic is the site where Ursula displays her art work. She is the creator of a number of comic projects, including Digger, which was nominated for an Eisner Award. She is also the creator of the short comic Irrational Fears for older children and adults, and the Little Creature stories for teens and adults. Pictured above is a sneak peek — an illustration from Ursula’s Dragonbreath, “which should be forthcoming next summer from Penguin Dial, ” she told me.

The way in which I became familiar with Ursula’s work is through her first children’s book, Nurk: The Strange, Surprising Adventures Of A (Somewhat) Brave Shrew, released this Spring from Harcourt, which Ursula both wrote and illustrated and which I enjoyed. (I’d love to hear from others who have read Nurk, since I don’t recall seeing a lot of blogging about it, though I certainly do my fair share of getting-behind-on-blog-reading, so maybe I missed some posts.)

Nurk tells the story of a mostly-brave shrew, who packs up a few pairs of clean socks and sails off on an accidental adventure, guided by wisdom found in the journal of his famously brave and fierce grandmother, Lady Surka the warrior shrew. In fact, his grandmother’s portrait hangs in Nurk’s front hallway, and “it was the first thing anyone saw when they entered his house. (Since the portrait showed her brandishing a severed head, this was a bit of a shock for first-time visitors, but Nurk’s love for the portrait was undimmed.)”

Check out this bit from Chapter One, which tells us a lot about Nurk and, well, had me at word one: Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #76: Featuring Eisha’s Birthday!

h1 Sunday, August 17th, 2008

Welcome to 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks, where we invite everyone to share 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. And we feature some lovely illustrations. Today is special:



You knew I’d use a marquee tag for that, right?

I’m throwing you a birthday tea party (with apologies to Sir John Tenniel):

Eisha, thanks for being my BFFABBBE — that’s Best Friend Forever And Best Blog Buddy Ever (expressed in my best fifth-grader manner)! And that’s BFF since…well, wow, for about seventeen years now. And my BBBE for two.

Here we are — Then and Now: Read the rest of this entry �