Archive for October, 2008

Poetry Friday: Shakespeare to Seoul

h1 Friday, October 17th, 2008

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as performed by Yohangza Theatre Company from Korea. This has nothing to do with what my husband is doing in Seoul, but it looks cool. Click to learn more.My husband happens to be in Seoul, South Korea at the moment. I took him to the airport Wednesday morning, and he’ll get back on Monday afternoon. It’s not that long to be apart, especially for us – he’s a theatrical set designer, and frequently travels for weeks at a time for his design gigs. But it is definitely the farthest apart geographically that we have ever been – even before we knew each other. So I’m feeling a little sentimental, and wanted to choose something with him in mind. Here’s Sonnet XCVII from the patron saint of all thespians, William Shakespeare:

How like a winter hath my absence been
From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!
What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!
What old December’s bareness everywhere!
And yet this time remov’d was summer’s time,
The teeming autumn, big with rich increase,
Bearing the wanton burthen of the prime,
Like widow’d wombs after their lords’ decease:
Yet this abundant issue seem’d to me
But hope of orphans and unfather’d fruit;
For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,
And thou away, the very birds are mute;
Or if they sing, ’tis with so dull a cheer
That leaves look pale, dreading the winter’s near.

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My ol’ pal Becky at Becky’s Book Reviews (who has the most beautiful header in all of book-blogdom) is handling the Poetry Friday round-up this week. Do pay her a visit, won’t you?

Random Illustrator Feature:
Kevin Hawkes and the Road to Oz

h1 Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

Look at this moment of loveliness above, brought to us by illustrator Kevin Hawkes. I am such a fan of his work, so I’m pleased to share a couple of illustrations from his most recent illustrated title, what Publishers Weekly calls a “cheeky yet informative biography,” The Road to Oz: Twists, Turns, Bumps, and Triumphs in the Life of L. Frank Baum (Knopf Books for Young Readers, September ’08), written by the very talented author of a whole slew, to be precise, of award-winning biographies for children, Kathleen Krull. And, as someone who has a big honkin’ space in her heart devoted to the Oz characters (translated: as a child, I was obsessed with the books and film adaptation)—even though I’d agree with Trull in her Storyteller’s Note at the close of this book that “the quality of {Baum’s} books was uneven”—I love that stunning opening illustration, in particular. School Library Journal wrote about Hawkes’ work in this book, “Hawkes’s merry paintings of the author and his characters invoke the magic of Oz within the great author’s real-world setting.” Merry, indeed.

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The Post In Which Jules Wishes She Had…Oh, Say, Five More Hours in Each Day Just for Reading

h1 Monday, October 13th, 2008

I really want this post to be my thoughts on M.T. Anderson’s The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume II: The Kingdom on the Waves, which is being released tomorrow, the 14th. But, nooooo, I’m a slow reader these days, what with a busier schedule, and I’m still re-reading Octavian I so that I can be fully prepared for Octavian II. It’s just taking longer than I thought, as in I HARDLY deserve this ARC I’ve had since, whew, June or something. I believe Eisha’s read the sequel, and—once I’m done—perhaps we can co-review, just as we did the first one (back in our newborn days of blogging. I mean, wow, that’s kinda old. We weren’t even sitting up then and we probably still had those weird fontanelles on our heads).

But the least I can do is remind those fans of the prequel that the second book is released tomorrow, not something I normally announce, but I’m excited about reading this one. If you finish it before I do, what with my snail-paced reading rate of late—or have already read it—then do come and tell us what you think. We’d love that.

In the meantime, you have two things to tide you over: Our March ’07 interview with Anderson, which remains one of my favorites, which is one of the first author interviews we ever did, and in which he’s holding my disembodied head AND you have this recent video of him talking very briefly about the sequel. Many thanks to Adrienne for that video link.

There are also these early (online) reviews — just a handful of many, I’m sure:

There’s also this link. Before anyone screams at me for it being the link to a huge bookchain and not an independent bookstore, please note it has four reviews from KLIATT, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and Kirkus — as well as an older audio interview (approximately thirty minutes) with the author.

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #84: Featuring Sher Fick

h1 Sunday, October 12th, 2008

'Birthday Girl,' 2007

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.

This week we’re going to take a break from featuring a children’s book illustrator (but will get back on the illustration track next week with Dan Santat) and feature the work of Nashville artist (and serious Haven Kimmel fan), Sher Fick. To the left here is her self-portrait. Sher, who received her B.F.A. in Fine Art (Painting/Sculpture/Art History), has worked as an art teacher, muralist, freelance artist, and museum curator. She has also worked on projects with Nashville artist Adrienne Outlaw.

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Poetry Friday: For My Brothers

h1 Friday, October 10th, 2008

Yesterday would have been my brother Donnie’s 38th birthday. I miss him fiercely.

He was many wonderful things to many people and brightened others’ lives in many ways, and one of the things he did was play classical guitar. He had just taken a break from earning his doctorate at The University of Memphis when he died. He made beautiful music. There are lots of pictures of him at recitals, all decked out in a tux. But this battered old one here, which I just scanned after I pulled it out of its frame, has always been my favorite. It’s a picture of him that someone snapped probably without him knowing it. He’s playing on the back deck of the little house we lived in when we were in high school. Bless my soul and yours, too, wasn’t he handsome?

This poem has always made me think of the way he played. I think I’ve shared it before here—maybe possibly perhaps—but it’s a beautiful piece of writing, always worth sharing again: Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Mini Grey

h1 Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

I’m so pleased that British illustrator Mini Grey has stopped by for breakfast this morning here at 7-Imp. If you were to ask me who I thought some of the most inventive, imaginative illustrators working today were, why, Mini’s name would most assuredly come up. She’s a favorite of mine, delivering mixed-media visual treats at each turn, whether it’s the detailed world of the unstoppable Traction Man, what Publishers Weekly called the swashbucklin’ nursery-rhyme romance of The Adventures of the Dish and the Spoon, or the cookie carnage of Ginger Bear. Best of all, there is a slightly twisted humor to her work, which I love, a twinkle in the eye, a little bit of mischief, a refusal to talk down to children. She always intriques, and she always keeps you on your toes.

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Random Illustrator Feature —
and this one’s inside the Slidy Diner

h1 Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

Remember how “RIF” in my world really stands for “Random Illustrator Feature”? Well, I’m back with another RIF, this time with an illustrator who visited us once before. This week, I saw a copy of Laurel Snyder’s first picture book, Inside the Slidy Diner (Tricycle Press, October 2008), illustrated by Jaime Zollars. Jaime stopped by 7-Imp this past February to show us some of her beguiling art work but wasn’t able to share Slidy Diner art at that time, so she’s stopped by today to share some.

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“Shaft,” as you’ve never quite heard it . . .

h1 Monday, October 6th, 2008

This has nothing to do with books, but I enjoy this so much that I’m going to post it here — bring it out of its obscurity, buried in the comments from yesterday’s post, and feature it here. Thanks to Kathe, one of our readers, for sharing it. I found this a great way to start my week, as in: People on the West Coast may have heard me hoot-laughing.

Here’s the link from which it comes. This is Isaac Hayes’ “Shaft,” as performed by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain:

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #83: Featuring Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Lauren Minco

h1 Sunday, October 5th, 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.

It’s the first Sunday of the month, so it’s time to feature a new or student illustrator. Today we welcome Lauren Minco, an illustrator who balances teaching, freelance illustration, and showing her work in galleries. Here are a few words from Lauren, and how about that mysterious mermaid above?

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Poetry Friday: Charles Simic can visit my library any time.

h1 Friday, October 3rd, 2008

Illustration from The Possibility of Angels by Peter Malone.I just saw Charles Simic, recent Poet Laureate, give a reading at Cornell. He was amazing. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I didn’t expect him to be so… funny. I don’t think I really got his poetry until I heard him read it. He’s got this fabulous mix of accents from a well-traveled life: childhood in Yugoslavia, youth in New York City and Chicago, and now he lives in rural New Hampshire. And in a brusque, matter-of-fact, self-deprecating way, he told these stories about how he came to write the poems he read. For example, his book of prose poetry, The World Doesn’t End, came about because he had to write a four-page autobiography for an encyclopedia, and he kept imagining “more interesting versions” of his own life. His delivery just made everything click for me. As the professor who introduced him said, if you are not familiar with his poetry and books, your life is diminished – but don’t worry, that’s what bookstores and libraries are for. I would have added – and Poetry Friday.

So here I am, doing my part, sharing one of the poems he read. It has now become one of my favorites, for obvious reasons. It’s called “In the Library”:

There’s a book called
“A Dictionary of Angels.”
No one has opened it in fifty years,
I know, because when I did,
The covers creaked, the pages
Crumbled. There I discovered

The angels were once as plentiful
As species of flies.
The sky at dusk
Used to be thick with them.
You had to wave both arms
Just to keep them away.

Click here to read the rest, so you’ll know what I mean when I say:

Oh yes, the books are whispering. I hear them too, Miss Jones.

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Guess who’s on Poetry Friday round-up? It’s Stacey and Ruth at Two Writing Teachers. Ya’ll know it’ll be good.