Archive for December, 2008

Wabi sabi: “Simple things are beautiful.”

h1 Monday, December 8th, 2008

A warm heavy bowl
comfortable as an old friend —
not fine, smooth china.

Mark Reibstein, Wabi Sabi

Pictured above is Wabi Sabi, the cat in Mark Reibstein’s beautiful new picture book, Wabi Sabi, illustrated by Ed Young and published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers this October. She’s sitting with her master, who has trouble explaining what Wabi Sabi’s name means when her visitors ask. “That’s hard to explain,” she responds, shaking her head.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #92: Featuring Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Eric Orchard

h1 Sunday, December 7th, 2008

“Winters can be very long in the Arctic. It’s good to have something to read.”

— Eric Orchard

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 — can you EVEN believe it’s the last one of the year? — and so it’s time to feature a new or student illustrator. Canadian illustrator Eric Orchard isn’t exactly new to illustrating, but I will join the Vancouver Sun in describing him as “a first-class up-and-coming illustrator,” which they did in October of this year when discussing Anything But Hank!, written by Rachel Lebowitz and Zachariah Wells and published this year by Canadian publisher Biblioasis.

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Poetry Friday: I take my waking slow

h1 Friday, December 5th, 2008

*yawn*Here’s the thing about insomnia: it doesn’t just make you tired. It shades everything with a hint of the surreal. After enough nights of lying there watching the hours blink by on the alarm clock, the boundaries between awake and asleep get blurry. I’ll glance at the time on the computer screen at work and realize I have no idea what I’ve been doing for the past hour. I’ll be reading on the couch and doze off, continuing the story in a dream, then wake up and wonder why the story I’m reading doesn’t make sense anymore. I feel a little like Billy Pilgrim, like I’ve come unstuck in time.

I don’t mean to whine – I know my circadian rhythm will settle down eventually. This is just one of those things I’m prone to. Sometimes I get bouts of insomnia when I’m worried or excited about something, and I can’t get my brain to shut up long enough for me to fall asleep. Sometimes it seems to happen for no reason at all. But I think this time it was set off by crossing the international date line a couple of times within a week – my sleep cycle was totally messed up, and I haven’t managed to get it back on track yet. But it’ll pass.

Lines from this poem (a villanelle, one of my favorite forms) keep drifting around behind my eyes. I love it, not just for the irresistible rhythm, but for the dreamy, synesthesia-like atmosphere created by linking all those incongruous sensations. Here’s “The Waking” by Theodore Roethke:

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Click here to read the rest. And then head on over to Mommy’s Favorite Children’s Books, where Karen is handling this week’s Poetry Friday roundup.

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Cece Bell

h1 Thursday, December 4th, 2008

If I were more organized I would have declared this Blog Tour Week here at 7-Imp. First, Maxwell Eaton III stopped by, kicking off his tour at 7-Imp, and now Cece Bell is here in the midst of her own tour (if you’re interested in winning some original Cece art at the close of her tour, be sure to check out that link). I think Maxwell and Cece are a good pair of illustrators to show up beside one another during a one-week span, seeing as how they both create your more light-hearted, cheerful, cartoon-esque, colorful, fun-filled fare — books with uncluttered, spare styles and simple, rounded shapes for the youngest of picture book readers, yet ones that rely on their visual humor to snag the reader. Cece, who’s joining me for “buttered toast and hot chocolate” this morning, has certainly created books without a sock monkey as the protagonist, but there’s no question she’s better known for her tales of one of those old-fashioned, hand-crafted toys made from, you know, socks and fashioned to look like, you know, monkeys (all those titles published by Candlewick). Since 2003, Cece’s brought us three tales of Sock Monkey, beginning with Sock Monkey Goes to Hollywood: A Star is Bathed, which Publishers Weekly described as Cece’s “imaginatively silly debut.” Bouncy, breezy, “as light as cotton candy” (that would be School Library Journal on Sock Monkey Boogie Woogie: A Friend is Made) — these are descriptors for Cece’s tales. And, whew, what would we (and the children. THINK OF THE CHILDREN!) do in this world without our bouncy and breezy?

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Aaaahhh, Summer in December

h1 Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

This is a Quickie Post in Grand Appreciation of a Great Opening Paragraph.

I’ve been reading Polly Horvath’s newest novel, My One Hundred Adventures. No, really. I know I’ve been talking about picture books and illustrators A LOT lately here at 7-Imp, but I do still read novels, too. Anyway, it’s wonderful, and I love Horvath’s writing (er, 99.9% of the time). My One Hundred Adventures, published by Schwartz & Wade this September (and which, incidentally has been met with all kinds of starred reviews and comments such as “a masterful novel of considerable beauty” and “Horvath…at her finest”), tells the story of twelve-year-old Jane, who lives on the beach with her mother and siblings — and who longs for adventures. The novel centers around one particular summer in Jane’s life, one that involves a ride in a hijacked hot air balloon—with Nellie Phipps, preacher and very amateur psychic—and a falling-Bible mishap on said ride; babysitting a group of rowdy children as a result of the falling scripture; meeting a handful of men, one of whom could be her father; and more. Oh, and I’m not even done with the book. I’m sure there’s much, much more to come.

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Seven Questions Over Breakfast (Marshmallows Included) with Maxwell Eaton III

h1 Monday, December 1st, 2008

Maxwell Eaton IIIHere’s Maxwell Eaton III. He’s rowing his way to my kitchen so that I can ask him seven questions over breakfast. Make that seven questions over “a big glass of orange juice, a big glass of whole milk, and a bowl of dry cheerios.” Maxwell adds, “if I could somehow suck more nutrients out of that meal than actually exist, I’d probably eat it three times a day for the rest of my life. Oh and please add a cup of coffee with way too much artificial creamer in it. But make it a small cup, because if I have too much, I’ll have to throw in the towel on drawing for the day. Shaky hands!”

Well, OF COURSE, I’m going to have coffee, the brown life-blood, and he deserves it after that strenuous rowing adventure. I’ll take good ‘ol-fashioned half-and-half, thanks very much, but—as a courteous hostess—I’ll have “way too much artificial creamer” on hand for Maxwell. See him again to the left here? He’s excited about his new book and is ready to chat. In fact, this is Day One of a blog tour Maxwell is undertaking; scroll down to the bottom of this interview for the remainder of his blog tour schedule. I’m happy to be kickin’ it all off here at 7-Imp.

Maxwell Eaton III is the creator of the the Max and Pinky picture book sagas, two of which have been covered here at 7-Imp (here and here), all published by Random House, and what Kirkus Reviews has called “a warm affirmation of budship.” Max and Pinky are best buds (“Always have been. Always will be”). Pinky loves Max just a little bit more than he loves marshmallows. Which is a lot.

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