Archive for September, 2008

Abecedary of Awful

h1 Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

Alphabet picture books and picture books in rhyme are—admit it—very difficult to do and often done quite poorly. Raise your hand if you pick up an alphabet book and then wonder with a bit of ennui what the author could possibly manage to pull off for the letters “x” and “z” this time.

Well, here’s what I found to be a breath of fresh air when it came to alphabet picture books AND in rhyme: Linda Ashman’s M is for Mischief: An A to Z of Naughty Children (Dutton Children’s Books, July ’08), illustrated by Nancy Carpenter. Really, you will not hear me praise books-in-rhyme very often. Not ’cause I raise my nose at them — but because they’re very difficult to do well. But Ashman does it well here and does it with style. Naughty style. Ooh, sizzle! Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #79: Featuring Jeff Miracola

h1 Sunday, September 7th, 2008

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.

As you know, we feature students of Illustration or brand-spankin’-new illustrators the first Sunday of every month.
Today’s featured illustrator, Jeff Miracola, isn’t exactly new to illustration—he’s been working as a freelance illustrator since 1993 for companies such as Wizards of the Coast, Inc., Hasbro, Inc., Upper Deck Entertainment, Electronic Arts, Inc., ImagineFX Magazine, Advanced Photoshop Magazine, and many more—but he is new to children’s books, so we’re featuring him today. Welcome, Jeff!

These illustrations today are from Jeff’s upcoming thirty-six page picture book, Welcome to Monster Isle, written by Oliver Chin and to be published by Immendium this month. The book is about a family’s vacation gone haywire when a perfect storm tosses their skipper’s tiny boat off course. Seven castaways are stranded on an uncharted desert island. A boy named Finnegan, his sister, his parents and his dog, Howl, venture into the wild and encounter a zootopia of mythical creatures with names like the Yowie and Ogopogo. Super-keen. Or, as Jeff puts it: Read the rest of this entry �

Poetry Friday: Brewin’ the Blues

h1 Friday, September 5th, 2008

When I worked as an educational sign language interpreter, I can’t tell you how many classes I interpreted at the college level — even the graduate and post-doctoral level (not because I’d have to kill you if I told you, but because it seems like I did a lot). One of them was a Women’s Studies course, and I remember the students had to give presentations on the life of a famous woman (I’m sure the assignment was more complicated than that, but I don’t remember the hand-flapping details of that one). One student presented on the life of Billie Holiday, and I remember thinking: Damn. She had it bad. Reeeeeal bad. Raped at the age of ten, frequent visits to a Catholic reform school and a mother who could hardly take care of her, a hard drug addiction, jailed on drug charges, relationships with abusive men, and much more.

But that’s not much to remember. Hey, you take your Latin courses, your Epidemiology, your Theatre History, your Anatomy, your Sports Psychology, and your Trig—all of which I interpreted plus some—and you forget the details. But I do remember thinking, I’ve GOT to get a good biography on Billie, whose music I’ve always lurved.

Lucky for me, the insanely talented poet and children’s book author Carole Boston Weatherford has just written what she calls a fictional verse memoir of Billie’s life, Becoming Billie Holiday (Boyds Mills Press/Wordsong, October 2008), Weatherford’s young adult book debut with illustrations from Floyd Cooper. Read the rest of this entry �

Battle for the Planet of the Imps*

h1 Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

Remember how I indicated in 7-Imp’s blog-identity-crisis post that I’ve had less time lately for reviewing books? Well, that’s still the case, but I figured I could touch base with our dear readers and share what it is I’m reading now — or at least have lined up to read. And my focus today is going to be sequels, ’cause Eisha had this great idea a while back to have a 7-Imp Sequel Week. As you can see, sometimes we have great ideas and then it takes a bit of time for life to slow down for us to make them happen. But in the meantime, here are some sequels I’m either reading or have read or am getting excited about reading (and don’t forget Adam Rex’s Frankenstein sequel, which Kelly Fineman and I already covered):

Traction Man Meets Turbodog by Mini Grey (Knopf Books for Young Readers; on shelves in September, I believe) — Traction Man is back! Guess how many starred reviews it’s gotten already? Five — from the The Horn Book, School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Kirkus, no less. There may even be more stars floating around for it, for all I know. Bottom line is it’s great. Traction Man and his faithful pet Scrubbing Brush are back for more heroic rescues — this time Traction Man must rescue Scrubbing Brush, since the family chucked him after a trip to the northwest slope of Mt. Compost Heap (“it’s just so unhygienic, it must be FULL of germs…”), though it takes Traction Man a while to figure this out while he’s off having adventures with the battery-operated Turbodog. In Grey’s further tributes to the imaginative play of children—not to mention the very real bonds wee ones have with their toys—Traction Man meets up with Handbag Dwellers, the Lone Sock, the Grand Sofa Canyon, the Dark and Terrible Underworld of the Bin and its Evil Creatures and Bin-Things, and much more. How much do I love Mini Grey’s books? Let me count the ways. And she’s supposed to stop by for a seven-questions-over-breakfast interview soon, so we’ll chat with her more then. Read the rest of this entry �