Archive for September, 2008

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Paul O. Zelinsky

h1 Monday, September 29th, 2008

Paul with his Belgian waffles; photo credit=Deborah HallenIf you’re a fan of Paul O. Zelinsky’s work, you’re in for a real treat today. Not only did he stop by 7-Imp for breakfast this morning, but he is also over at Just One More Book!! today, chatting with, arguably (or probably not arguably), the hardest working bloggers in the kidlitosphere, Andrea and Mark. Oh for heaven’s sake, do NOT NOT NOT miss that podcast, because Mark and Andrea always bring the goods. Plus some.

And what an honor that he stopped by to chat with us as well. I mean, I’m downright giddy. Over at his website bio, you will read that his first book appeared in 1978 (as well as the fact that, as a sophomore at Yale, he enrolled in a course on the history and practice of the picture book, co-taught by MAURICE SENDAK, whose name I am, yes, yelling, ’cause I find that very exciting), “since which time he has become recognized as one of the most inventive and critically successful artists in the field.” Isn’t that the truth, while also almost sounding like an understatement? How about what Publishers’ Weekly once wrote about him: “Zelinsky is that rare practitioner who can create sophisticated work that adults will marvel at, and that children will joyfully embrace.” Yes, throw in that fan love—adults and children alike—which he has garnered, and…well, you can understand why I’m giddy. He has illustrated or adapted-and-illustrated so many books that we at 7-Imp adore and love and adore some more — as well as lots of other librarians all over the world. Zelinsky has said before, “I’ve…decided that I should be recognized by my unrecognizability.” And some would argue he, indeed, does that well, that his illustrations integrate so well with the text of the book he’s bringing to life with his art, that his versatility is second-to-none. Or, as he once told the Horn Book, he tries to “make the book talk, as it talks to me, and not worry whether it is in my style or not…. I get a kick out of doing each book differently.”

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #82: Featuring Laura Bledsoe

h1 Sunday, September 28th, 2008

Jules: Welcome to 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.

What a pleasure it is for me today to feature artist Laura Bledsoe, who is a former colleague of mine from Knoxville. Laura teaches at the Tennessee School for the Deaf, where—once upon a time for a brief while—I worked as their librarian. Laura, as you can see here, is not only a talented artist, but I can promise you she’s just about the nicest person you’ll meet, and she’s a top-notch teacher as well. Laura, who has been painting for approximately eight years, prefers her acrylics but has worked with oil and chalk pastels as well.

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Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Kelly Murphy

h1 Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

Two illustrator interviews in one week? you might be saying. (If you missed it, Elisha Cooper stopped by on Monday.) Well, why the hey not? You know, dear readers, that I love talking to artists and chatting with them about style and process and paintbrushes and influences and favorite words and inspirations and maybe some chalk here and collage there and oils way over there and so on and what-not. And you know I’m not going to ask them to stop by if I don’t have a particular fan-girl vibe goin’ on for what they do, and with today’s illustrator—Kelly Murphy—well, I love her work. The best thing? She always surprises. And I know Eisha’s a fan, too, so I boldly speak for her. So, yes, I’m so happy Kelly has stopped by for seven questions over breakfast, and how could I wait any longer to share her thoughts on what she does and find out—ooo! ooo!—what she’s up to next. (Hint: One future project involves Jane Yolen, so that makes it doubly exciting.)

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The Superheroes of Olympus at Guys Lit Wire

h1 Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

It’s my turn this month over at Guys Lit Wire. I’m over there today, weighing in on The Mighty 12: Superheroes of Greek Myth by Charles R. Smith, Jr. and illustrated by P. Craig Russell.

The Mighty 12 was released this past Spring by Little, Brown and Company and casts the gods and goddesses of Greek mythology, as you can tell by the cover here, as not unlike the (usually) young, beautiful, scantily-clad superheroes of the comics, ripped bods and all. Over at the post this morning, I’ve got my thoughts on the book, a link to Kelly Fineman’s recent interview with Smith, and a link to the spot on his site in which you can hear him read some of the poems.

If you’re so inclined, here’s the link. So, go read — and discover the wisdom of a “well-placed eagle’s wing.”

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Elisha Cooper

h1 Monday, September 22nd, 2008

Elisha Cooper may say below that he’s not so sweet—and doesn’t necessarily believe children’s books should be either—but he was a joy to interview for many reasons, not the least of which being Eisha and I have always been fans of his picture books. To be sure, he’s written books for the non-child set as well (though I think Eisha and I would both argue his picture books are, indeed, for all ages), including his memoir of parenthood, Crawling (Pantheon, 2006), which the Chicago Tribune called “hilarious and beautiful” and The New York Times described as “bravely honest”; 1995’s “Valentine to the city” of New York, A Year in New York (City & Company, 1995) as well as California: A Sketchbook (Chronicle Books, 2000) and 1996’s cross-country road trip, Off the Road (Villard Books/Random House, 1996); and the personal essays he’s written for publications such as The Morning News (“The Dream Vacation” and “The Bear”), Runner’s World (“Running with Purpose”), and Publishers Weekly (his recent “About the Author,” in which he discusses the agonies of writing one’s own back-flap bio).

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #81: Featuring Andrew Bannecker

h1 Sunday, September 21st, 2008

Jules: Welcome to 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. I have so many images for you today from illustrator Andrew Bannecker, because a) it was very difficult to pick favorite images from all the eye-catching work he does and b) he very graciously sent a whole heapin’ handful of images from which to choose the ones featured today.

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Poetry Friday: The Breathing Respect You Carry

h1 Friday, September 19th, 2008

William StaffordDo you ever read a poem that just absolutely blows you away and you want to yawp about it barbarically on the rooftops of the world but then wonder, hmmmm, did everyone else read this poem when they were, like, two years old and they’re all, ‘Oh please, Jules. I can recite that’? Well, that may be the case today, but this poem is new to me.

It’s called “You Reading This, Be Ready” by American poet William Stafford, pictured here. I have author John E. Simpson to thank for it (this blogger, who goes by “JES”), who apparently frequents Haven Kimmel’s blog, as Eisha and I do. Over at her blog—where my oh my she likes to ask The Big Questions on a regular basis—she asks this week, how are we to live? She shares “the walls of the house” she lives in and then asks her dedicated readers, how are you to live? John’s response was to share this poem, and I saw it there, since I read the comments at Haven’s blog about as devotedly as I read her posts. And I just about passed right the hell out, wondering where—and I mean OH WHERE?!!!—have these words been all my life? I had never seen before this brilliant, little prayer of a poem.

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“RIF” Really Stands for Random Illustrator Feature

h1 Thursday, September 18th, 2008


Know how 7-Imp loves to feature illustrators on Sundays? Well, sometimes I just can’t wait.

Introducing “twenty-something” author/illustrator Julian Hector, whose first book, The Little Matador, was released by Hyperion in July. Julian stopped by to say a few words and share some of his art work:

My name is Julian Hector, and I’m a 25 year old author/Illustrator from Austin, Texas. I went to Parsons The New School for Design in New York City, where I still live. The second I entered the Illustration department at Parsons, I realized that children’s publishing was the place for me, and I quickly became friends with Pat Cummings (she’s easily one of the greatest people I know), who taught the Children’s Book-making class there. From Pat, I learned all about the thirty-two-page picture book format and by my Junior year (2005), I had my first dummy put together. Pat decided to send me out into the business and gave me the contact information to about twelve editors, spread across all the major publishing houses in New York. Initially, only one editor (at Hyperion) replied back to me and agreed to set up a meeting. She and I hit it off immediately, and (after a couple revisions) my first dummy eventually made it to a Hyperion acquisitions meeting where it was denied. At our first meeting though, while looking through my portfolio, my editor was really drawn to an image of a ‘little’ matador giving a bull a flower. She made it clear in several passing emails that she would love to see a story for that character, and after the first dummy was rejected, I got to work writing The Little Matador.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #80: Featuring Jody Hewgill

h1 Sunday, September 14th, 2008

Jules: Welcome to 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.

What a pleasure it is to have here today award-winning Canadian artist Jody Hewgill. Jody first came to my attention when author Tanita S. Davis, aka TadMack at Finding Wonderland, posted this over at Readers’ Rants in July. It’s the cover concept for Tanita’s 2009 novel, Mare’s War, and it was created by Ms. Hewgill. (That cover is pictured here below.) Fortunately, Jody agreed to a Sunday 7-Imp feature. Pictured above and opening our post this morning is “Portrait of a Lady with Fox ” (acrylic on masonite panel — and how much do I LOVE that Jody included her medium of choice for each painting? A whole lot, ’cause a} it’s fascinating and b} I didn’t have to guess, as I usually do). Jody tells us, “{this is a} visual commentary on the environment, and a play on Leonardo da Vinci’s classic painting. It’s a depiction of my vision of a modern classic beauty.”

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Poetry Friday: Bashō x 3

h1 Friday, September 12th, 2008

And now, your moment of zen.Wanna see something cool?

Remember a couple of weeks ago I featured the poem by Sappho, and linked to a page that showed a bunch of different translations of it? It got me kind of interested in the whole process of translating poetry into English, and what vastly different interpretations can result from different translators. Well, I found a web page that shows several of Bashō’s haiku, as translated by three people: R.H. Blyth, Lucien Stryck, and Peter Beilenson. Here’s an example:


From time to time
The clouds give rest
To the moon beholders.


Clouds –
a chance to dodge


Glorious the moon
therefore our thanks, dark clouds
come to rest our necks.

Wild, isn’t it? I think my favorite is the first one — it’s simple and elegant, which is what I generally appreciate about good haiku. But the Stryck version has a sardonic appeal, too. Beilenson’s is a little florid compared to the other two.

For even more adventures in comparing translations, here’s 30 different versions of Bashō’s frog haiku.

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Need more poetry? Of course you do. Go see what the other Poetry Friday posters are up to at Jennie’s Biblio File.