Archive for December, 2008

Seven Reasons to Go Buy or Blog About
a Horse Book Today

h1 Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

So, I’m hardly a saint for buying two books for Flying Horse Farms today, and I don’t need a round of applause for doing so. But this post is my attempt to try to convince you to do the same. Hey, if you’ve got a blog and a barbaric yawp for the world, you’ve got a rooftop on which to scream your yawp, so why not use it for something good?

Flying Horse Farms is a camp and year-round retreat center for children with serious illnesses and their families. It’s an Ohio-based 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization and working to become a member of Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Camps, the world’s largest family of camps for children with serious illnesses. I got that from this post at author Sara Lewis Holmes’ blog, Read Write Believe. In that post, she announced that she has started a library of camp- and horse-related books for the organization. Sara’s own niece has been battling cancer for two years now. Sara talked with the director of the camp, and they decided that it would be great to have books about horses (non-fiction and fiction-books-about-horses) available at several spots around the camp—the stables, the craft room, the main activity hall, the cabins, the dining hall, etc. Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #95: Featuring Lauren Castillo and Jeffrey Levi Palmer

h1 Sunday, December 28th, 2008

* * * Edited to add on Sunday evening: Kicks will stay up on Monday so that any late-comers can come a-kickin’ . . . * * *

Jules: Hello? Anyone out there? I just swept away the cyber-cobwebs and am ready to post for the first time in a week. For the holidays, I took a blogging break in every way — no posting, not even reading my favorite book blogs (so, hey, if something big happened, please point it out to me and/or send me a link, since you can assume I’m way way behind on your blog). We here at 7-Imp hope everyone had a wonderful holiday — and a restful and peaceful one, as well.

It’s safe to say I’m flying solo today, since I know for a fact that Eisha’s not home. More on that in a minute . . . I’m also keeping things simple this week with just one lovely image from Lauren Castillo, whom I interviewed, you may remember, back in April, and whose illustration work I love. This is Lauren’s wintery holiday greeting, Fox in the Snow, which she is graciously allowing me to post here this Sunday. I’m digging it in a big way right now, since it was about, oh, sixty-five degrees in middle Tennessee yesterday.

I also have to throw in one more image, though. Remember when I featured my friend and former colleague, photographer Jeffrey Levi Palmer, last month? Well, he snapped this on his holiday travels, I believe it is (I failed to ask him exactly where), and he’s also allowing me to share today. I love this. I don’t know if someone decided to go vegetarian, or if he (or she) has a sweetie with a very colorful nickname. I love that somewhere there’s the object of someone’s great affection who answers to such a meaty moniker. I think a story needs to be written about this couple.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #94: Featuring Karla Gudeon and John Burningham and David Ezra Stein
(and In Which Eisha and Jules Send Season’s Greetings and Such)

h1 Sunday, December 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. Absolutely anyone is welcome to list kicks, even if (or especially if) you’ve never done so before.

And this week we’re kickin’ it holiday-style as 7-Imp’s greetings of the season and happiest-of-holidays wishes to you. The first image above, since Hanukkah this year begins at sundown today, is from artist Karla Gudeon, whose medium is dry-point engraving, a kind of hand-pulled printmaking (along with watercolor). Karla has stated that she uses “concepts culled from a lifetime of joyous Jewish experiences to create works that evoke warm responses and a familiar sense of shared human experience and common bonds.” The piece of art work opening the post, entitled To Life, as well as the ones pictured below—Sabbath Peace, The Whole Mishpochah (mishpochah being the Hebrew word for “family”), and Repairing the World—are courtesy of R. Michelson Galleries in Northampton, Massachusetts, owned by poet and children’s book author Richard Michelson.

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Poetry Friday: O Christmas Tree

h1 Friday, December 19th, 2008

snow on juniper treeI want to share a very good Christmas poem with you guys – but I can’t. At least, I can’t transcribe part of it here and then tell you to “click here to read the rest.” It’s a shape poem (actually, a shape sonnet, if you can believe it) and in WordPress it’s just a pain in the ass to try to get the spacing right.

So… Please click here and read “Sonnet in the Shape of a Potted Christmas Tree” by George Starbuck. I’m sorry I’m forgoing the usual excerpt, but I’ll tell you that it has delicious words like “fury-bedecked” and “glitter-torn” and “bonbonbonanza.” Please take my word for it. It’s good. You’ll like it. Pinky-promise. And… Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Beautiful Solstice.

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Laura is on Poetry Friday Round-Up detail at Author Amok. You’ll want to see what she’s got.

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with
Stacey Dressen-McQueen

h1 Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

Here’s something new I learned: Illustrator Stacey Dressen-McQueen is, in the grand scheme of things, fairly new to children’s literature. As in, she has five books under her belt. I’m a fan of her work (in fact, I reviewed one of her illustrated titles at 7-Imp back here in ’07), but I had assumed, as I’m wont to do, that there existed a big long line of books she’s illustrated that I had never seen. Turns out I’ve seen most of them. And that’s lucky for me, because—as Publishers Weekly put it when reviewing Candace Fleming’s Boxes for Katje—Stacey’s illustrations resonate with joy and fellowship. Here is one of the illustrations from that title, Stacey’s first illustrated title from ’03, which tells the story of a young Dutch girl who writes to her new American friend in thanks for the care package sent after World War II:

I find Stacey’s stylized folk art to be mesmerizing. Her work is bold and expressive and the textures and patterns so vibrant that I want to reach out and touch the pages. Yet her illustrations never overwhelm the text. Read the rest of this entry �

The Christmas Rose

h1 Monday, December 15th, 2008

I’m stopping in quickly this evening to share some art from what I think is one of this year’s most fascinating holiday reads, especially if you’re an illustration junkie, as I am: the re-discovered German tale of The Christmas Rose, written over eighty years ago by Sepp Bauer and illustrated by Else Wenz-Viëtor, who was born in 1882 and died in the early 1970s.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #93: Featuring Leslie Evans

h1 Sunday, December 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. Absolutely anyone is welcome to list kicks, even if (or especially if) you’ve never done so before.

Today we welcome illustrator Leslie Evans, whose linoleum block prints from Carole Gerber’s Winter Trees adorn our post today; thanks to Charlesbridge, who published this title this past June, we have some more spreads from this lovely book below. This book is all about the wonder of winter and its trees, as seen through the eyes of a young boy and his dog, taking a walk in the snow, exploring shapes and textures and colors and the life of the trees: “Trees that once had leaves are bare. / They’re dressed instead in lacy white. / Snow dusts their trunks / and coats their limbs / with flakes that outline them with light.” We see—through the boy’s eyes—the maple tree, the beech, birch, and oak, as well as the yellow poplar, evergreen, and more. The book even closes with a spread about how to identify trees in winter.

It’s a quiet, little wonder, this book. The verse is uncluttered and reverent, and Leslie’s brightly-colored block prints, decorated with watercolor and collage (with some digital enhancement, as well), are striking. Kirkus Reviews called it a “subtle, stylish wintry nature walk” and a “visually striking, cozy winter read,” and Booklist wrote, “{t}he blend of play, science, poetry, and art is beautiful.”

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Poetry Friday: To Music

h1 Friday, December 12th, 2008

The other day I heard Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins and Strings in D Minor (2nd Movement). This piece of music pretty much stops me in my tracks every time. I think it’s transcendently beautiful. It also always reminds me of the scene in the film adaptation (from way back in ’86) of Mark Medoff’s Children of a Lesser God in which James Leeds, played by William Hurt, is trying to describe that exact piece of music to his girlfriend, who is deaf, played by Marlee Matlin (for which she won the Oscar, damn skippy). Knowing that he loves the piece, she’s put the record on, walked into the room, and signed, “show me the music.” He tries, but he can’t quite find the words, so to speak.

And then that reminded me of the scene in Philadelphia (from not so far back as ’93), in which Tom Hanks’ character is asking Denzel Washington’s character if he’s ever heard Maria Callas sing La Mamma Morta. And the music moves him so much that he stands up with his IV drip to listen and tries to describe it and lets the music wash over him and the camera’s swinging around him slowly and then red washes over it all and the filming is just so GORGEOUS and it makes me cry so hard like a blubbery fool that the first time I saw it in a dark theater, I thought I’d BUST.

Same for that Children of a Lesser God scene. They are both so moving in that here are two mere mortals trying to capture the very ineffability of music. Valiant efforts, indeed, but can we really do that?

Well, Rainer Maria Rilke tried. I’m always drawn to those poets and authors and musicians who try to articulate the inexpressible, who venture out beyond all words into that mysterious realm. And Rilke is rather the master of all that, yes? Those two cinematic memories—brought to me by a serendipitous moment of Bach on public radio this week—invited Rilke’s “To Music” to mind, which has always been one of my favorite poems. “Music: breathing of statues. Perhaps: silence of paintings. You language where all language ends.”{*} Ah. Sublime. Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Impossible Interviews Before
Breakfast #78: Judy Blume

h1 Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

Jules: So, Eisha, JUDY BLUME IS HERE! I know you’re as excited as I am that she’s stopped by 7-Imp for a short interview. It really is a kick to be a part of her blog tour, isn’t it? (The previous stops—and one remaining one—on her tour are listed at the bottom of this post for those who want to read further.)

And that would be because she was such an integral part of my childhood and the childhood of many readers our age(ish). Her engaging writing—which addressed questions we had about life and love and relationships in an honest and open manner—as well as her willingness to tackle matters in children’s lit deemed taboo by many other authors have made her not just a luminary of children’s literature, but also a household name. (To have your books be so entrenched into popular culture that they can be the subject of a Saturday Night Live skit goes a long way toward illustrating that latter point. This happened just this past weekend in “The Lost Works of Judy Blume” with guest host John Malkovich. If any of our readers missed it, have a similarly warped sense of humor, and want to see it, it’s posted here.)

Judy’s written over twenty-five novels for children and teens, and her book sales have exceeded approximately seven SKERJILLION. (Just slight hyperbole there. Her Wikipedia entry says 80 million.) She also has been awarded the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters; has been selected by the American Library Association for its Margaret A. Edwards Award for her contributions to young adult literature; and has received the Library of Congress Living Legends award in the “Writers and Artists” category for her significant contributions to America’s cultural heritage. Impressive, to say the very least.

But, really, she’s just so…well, so flippin’ cool as the trailblazing, pioneering author she’s been over the years. She’s written books that have stayed with readers like us for most of our lives. As I’ve written before here at 7-Imp, she possesses a spot-on ability to nail the embarrassments, tensions, worries, headaches, and even joys of growing up and, in particular, sibling relationships — and with humor and sensitivity. And she’s still writing great books.

For those reasons, I’m humbled and flattered and even nervous that she’s here today. Does that make sense, Eisha, or do I sound like the total goober fan that I am? Read the rest of this entry �

10 Tips for the Parent of Ricky, the Reluctant Reader

h1 Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

Hey, everyone . . . Remember when author/illustrator Maxwell Eaton III stopped by last week during his blog tour for seven questions over breakfast? Well, as part of that tour, he also paddled his way over to The Well-Read Child and did a guest post over there. Eventually, I would have made it over there to read that, but I have Jeremy to thank for leaving a comment here and telling us to go check it out and that Maxwell had posted this great series of reluctant-reader tips in a comic format.

I went. I saw. I loved it. Since Maxwell told me I could post it as long as it was okay with Jill Tullo over at The Well-Read Child, I up and asked her. (I didn’t want to steal her thunder, steal her awesome guest post over there.) Well, Jill very graciously told me that of course I could post it over here, too.

Maxwell introduced these illustrations over at Jill’s site with the following:

In discussing reluctant readers I’ve decided to be a ‘wreluctant writer’ and quickly sketch out a few tips for any parents out there with their own little Ricky at home. Of course, I’m not a child behavior or literacy expert, but I do remember what it was like to be at the age where getting me to read was like taking me to get a haircut (a long, drawn out, hopeless battle where fifteen bucks goes down the drain and somebody’s ear gets cut). Oh to be twenty-three again. Anyway, I hope these little suggestions help or, at the very least, don’t result in any lawsuits. Then I’d have to reluctantly read the fine print on the subpoena, and that isn’t fun at any age. Enjoy!

Again, Jill’s post in its entirety is here. Many thanks to Jeremy and Maxwell — and to Jill for sharing. As someone who has worked in school libraries, this makes me nod my head enthusiastically and say amen a lot.

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