Archive for November, 2008

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #91: Featuring Mei Matsuoka

h1 Sunday, November 30th, 2008

Jules: We have Mei Matsuoka to thank for this wintery-yet-warm illustration this morning as we prepare to list our kicks. Mei, as you can read here at her site, is half English and half Japanese (born in Tokyo and moved to England at age eleven), graduated from Kingston University in London with a degree in Illustration, is also an animator, collects hats and wears toe socks, and is learning Philosophy. I’m rather partial to bios like that, which provide random, appropros-to-nothing fun facts. Somehow, they tell us more about a person than the lengthier, more formal ones. Feel free to leave one or two or seven random fun facts about yourself in your kicks. Me? I collect suns. And I once saw The Hoodoo Gurus live.

That opening image is from Mei’s most recent title Footprints in the Snow, originally published in Great Britain in 2007 but published here in the U.S. this year by Henry Holt. Here’s Wolf at his writing table:

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Poetry Friday: Bonds of Gratitude

h1 Friday, November 28th, 2008

'The First Thanksgiving,' painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863–1930); image in the public domain

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving with their loved ones. I didn’t have nine kinds of pie after all, but I did have some pumpkin pie and red wine and made sure to watch this, so all was good.

J. Patrick Lewis has stopped by on this Poetry Friday to share another poem from his forthcoming Countdown to Summer: A Poem for Every Day of the School Year, to be published by Little, Brown next year. This poem was first published in Cricket Magazine, November/December 2008:

“The Menu at the First Thanksgiving, 1621”

The Pilgrims likely brought no pigs across:
That first Thanksgiving they would eat no ham,
No mashed potato, sweet potato, yam,
For lack of sugar, no cranberry sauce.
Corn on the cob would not have been around.
A pumpkin pie? Not even in their dreams.
And yet the bounty was a match, it seems,
For this historic day on hallowed ground.
Wild turkey, goose, duck, swan, partridge and crane,
Cod, bass, herring, bluefish and eels released
Uncommon bonds of gratitude. That feast
Would be their last. They never met again—
The Indians and Pilgrims—to break bread.
But that Thanksgiving Day they were well-fed.

I don’t have much more to say, since—as I type this on Thanksgiving evening—I’m still very full from what you could call a feast, I suppose — except that I very much like that poem and appreciate Pat stopping by and sharing today and that the above painting is American painter Jean Leon Gerome Ferris’ “The First Thanksgiving,” and that the rights to the poem are all Pat’s.

See you all on Sunday for your kicks. Until then . . .

Dispatch from Seoul

h1 Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

Me at the N Seoul Tower.Hey, everybody. Despite oversleeping by an hour and a half on take-off day, two majorly-delayed flights, and two somewhat diabolical taxi drivers trying to convince me that my hotel shuttle had already left the airport, I made it safely to Seoul.

This is me at the N Seoul Tower, which sits on top of a mountain in Namsan Park. I took this pic Tuesday afternoon, which hasn’t even happened for you yet. I’m comin’ at ya from 14 hours into the future, people! I am so pitifully jetlagged at this point that I let some Israeli guy talk me into climbing onto a random SUV for a better chance of getting both my short-ass self and the tower in the same picture.

I did go into Kyobo Bookstore, but they wouldn’t let me take pictures. Too bad, because they had a great little display of the Harry Potter and Twilight books in Korean. That would have been a much more 7-Imp-appropriate image to share. Alas! You’ll have to make do with me and a big metal pole.

No pole-dancing jokes! C’mon, you guys, my mom reads this blog too.

If you’d like to see more pics of my adventures-in-progress, I’m on Flickr.

Happy Thanksgiving . . .

h1 Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

. . . dysfunctional-family style! This Thanksgiving art work is from illustrator Sophie Blackall (interviewed back here in August). I don’t know about you, but I’d like to get to know the story of that family. (To see a bigger and animated version with a holiday greeting, go to Sophie’s site. And thanks to her for allowing us to share this here as well.)

We at 7-Imp wish everyone a wonderful holiday, as folks are probably travelling today or getting ready to travel or greeting family or thawing their turkeys or tofurkeys or what-have-you.

Here’s to what we in our household anyway call “our gratefuls” (my girls say their “gratefuls” every night before a meal). I hope there are many gratefuls in your life this year. Eisha and I are thankful for our readers, all the willing folks who subject themselves to interviews, all the great books and art we’ve seen thus far this year, all the kicks our readers have come to share, all the illustrators who share their art with us, all our kidlitosphere peeps, and oh-so much more. And, of course, I’m super-nerdy grateful for Eisha’s friendship. (See the above post for her Seoul report!)

Happy Thanksgiving, and I hope to see you on Poetry Friday of this week — if I’m not too stuffed with nine kinds of pie to come and share a poem or two.

XO to all . . .

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Amy June Bates

h1 Monday, November 24th, 2008

Amy June BatesAmy June Bates has illustrated many books in her career, but it wasn’t until I saw a copy of The Dog Who Belonged to No One by Amy Hest (published by Abrams this September) that my attention and interest in her work was piqued. It’s not that this is the first beautiful set of illustrations she’s ever done. Hardly and far from it. It’s that I finally realized that I’ve been a fan for years, frankly, but hadn’t quite put her name and her work together. Yes, humor me here. It was my own Amy Bates Epiphany, and I’m glad I had it.

I then contacted her to see if she’d like to show us even more of her art work and chat over a 7-Imp cyber-breakfast, and lucky for us all, she said yes. Really and truly and madly and deeply, I’m just so excited to show you her art work today. I’m rather giddy, and I haven’t even had my coffee yet.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #90: Featuring Jackie Morris

h1 Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

Jules: Award-winning author/illustrator Jackie Morris is visiting us this morning, and we’re so glad she’s here. Jackie, who trained as an illustrator at the Bath Academy of Art in England, now lives here in Wales and has won international acclaim for the many books she has written and illustrated. I struggle to find the words to describe her art work without sounding…well, totally trite, and I ended up deciding to go with words of praise from School Library Journal about her illustrations, since they nail it: “The undeniable beauty of the delicate watercolor illustrations, with their dramatic use of line, coupled with soft, earthy tones, lend the characters and landscapes dignity and timelessness.” Yeah, what they said.

Jackie, who—as SLJ indicates—works in watercolors, is sharing some new art work with us this morning, too, which is particularly exciting. This opening illustration above is to be the cover from Tell Me a Dragon, written and illustrated by Jackie, to be released next Fall. Isn’t it beautiful? Here are some more from that forthcoming title:

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Poetry Friday: “We clearly saw the world for what it was…”

h1 Friday, November 21st, 2008

…too brightly shining, circular, unadorned.It’s funny how a little shift in perspective can make the ordinary seem not-so. In preparation for my impending trip to Korea, I got a new camera. Of course I had to road-test it a little to make sure I knew how to use it. And looking at familiar little things around my neighborhood through the LCD screen makes me notice details I would normally tune out — the last scraggly brown leaves on the trees, the odd green color of the railing on the bridge over a little creek, a beer bottle caught against the rocks in the current.

I wonder what Korea will look like to me. The only other time I’ve ever been outside the country (Greece, 1997), I remember how even the most mundane stuff took on a surreal quality because the cultural filter was so different. Billboards, TV, menus, conversations I overheard in shops and on the street… since I couldn’t understand the language, what drew my attention were details of shape and color, sound and movement, facial expressions and gestures. Nuances that would normally be lost since I’d be focused on the meaning of what was being said, if I were even paying attention at all.

That’s the idea that drew me to this poem. I love how well it captures the sensation of the familiar rendered bizarre, as well as the idea that sometimes you need to change your point of view to truly see. Here’s “Waving Goodbye” by Elizabeth Spires:

The world bends us to its purpose.
In the public gardens, we found
a “gazing globe” balanced
on a waist-high pedestal,
a silver ball a foot in circumference,
reflecting sky and ground,
ourselves as we stood above it.
We stared into its depths,
as in a crystal ball,
our faces large and wild,
arms and legs unnaturally small,
as if a spell were on the world,
or, finally, we clearly saw the world
for what it was: too brightly
shining, circular, unadorned.

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Holly Cupala is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday Round-up at her blog, Brimstone Soup.

(How much do I love that blog name? A LOT. Seriously, I am so jealous she thought of it and I didn’t. I’m trying to be cool about it here, but I WANT IT. Jules, I think we should steal it. “Seven Impossible Bowls of Brimstone Soup Before Breakfast.” Yes? Yesss. HOLLY, WATCH YOUR BACK. Just sayin’.)

Seven Questions Over Breakfast
with (Wow!) Robert Neubecker

h1 Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

{Note: Don’t miss the Winter Blog Blast Tour 2008. Read here for more information over at Chasing Ray.}

I was all prepared to tell you about Robert Neubecker’s wonderful brand-new illustrated title, Monsters on Machines (Harcourt), a rhyming picture book written by Deb Lund, which “has just about everything a child could hope for,” in the words of Publishers Weekly (as in, hilarious, creepy monsters—with names like Stinky Stubb and Dirty Dugg and who eat things like Monsteroni and cheese during their lunch break—on construction equipment and building a Custom Prehaunted “with thistles for lawn”) . . .

. . . when I realized that he’s got more than one illustrated title out this year. Shows you what I know. But I’m glad I figured this out, since I love me some Robert Neubecker art.

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Stitchin’ and Pullin’ with McKissack and Cabrera

h1 Monday, November 17th, 2008

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #89: Featuring Jeffrey Palmer

h1 Sunday, November 16th, 2008

Jules: Here’s what I highly recommend you do right now: Click here on the web site of the photographer we’re featuring today, and turn it up, man. For serious, crank it. To eleven even. Get your groove on. Don’t you just love that tune-age? I mean, the web site is beautiful and designed like nobody’s business, but the addition of that funky groove really gets me. Most of the time, if I visit a web site and the song won’t go away, even when I click on a new link, I want to hurl something across the room, but not with that groove. Be still my hips, that makes me dance all over the room.

And that would be the web site of a friend and former Knoxville colleague of mine (as in, that first career I haven’t visited in a while, sign language interpreting), Mr. Jeffrey Levi Palmer. Jeff is also a photographer, and his work makes me spew forth many superlatives. He’s really talented with the camera, not to mention a terrifically friendly, inordinately smart guy. And this morning—taking a break from illustration—we’re going to feature some of Jeff’s photography.

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