Archive for April, 2009

City (and Garden) I Love

h1 Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

Want to know about one of my favorite new poetry titles, as we land here today smack dab in the middle of National Poetry Month? Well, I’m going to tell you, as well as show you art from another new picture book title I love (non-poetry, that is).

This is the opening poem from Lee Bennett Hopkins’ new picture book poetry collection, City I Love, illustrated by Marcellus Hall and released by Abrams Books for Young Readers this month. This is a collection of eighteen poems from Hopkins, poems serving as a tribute to the big cities of the world and everything that makes them pop, celebrating the diversity of city life. Hall, whose debut work illustrating a children’s title I evidently missed last year (but just promptly requested from the library), has created art work for many newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, the New Yorker, and Time. In this title, he takes us to specific locales all over the world with his detailed and almost sparkling watercolor cartoons (Tokyo in “City Lights,” Moscow in “Winter,” and New Orleans in the haiku, “Sparrow,” to name but three). The visual thread holding the poems together is the dog-bluebird duo travelling the world in Hopkins’ poems, which range from contemplative to jubilant. The endpapers are composed of world maps, noting the cities which the dog and his companion travel. Map-lovers just might squeal.

I’ve got some spreads from it to show you so that we can let Hopkins’ engaging poetry and Hall’s art (which channels Syd Hoff a bit, and that’s a good thing) do the talking. Click on each spread to see better:

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Seven Questions—And a Little Bit of Soup—Over Breakfast with Calef Brown

h1 Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

The phrase “signature style” gets thrown around a lot when folks are talking about the work of authors and illustrators, and if you ever meet someone to whom the meaning of that phrase is unclear, just show them the work of Calef Brown. The signature in his style is his and his alone, unlike any other. Sure, you can take his quirky wit and very angular illustrations on a flat plane and liken his style to others’ (the wonderful work of Maira Kalman comes to mind, for one), but no one else does creative proportions, purple faces (and almost every other shade imaginable), distinctive elongated noses, and the overall postmodern folk-art vibe quite like Calef. His art has an energy that jumps off the page, and the best thing about his poetry is that you never quite know what you’re going to get. Happy surprises all around.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #110: Featuring Jason Stemple
and Jane Yolen

h1 Sunday, April 12th, 2009

Jules: In a continued celebration of National Poetry Month, this morning 7-Imp welcomes author and poet Jane Yolen and freelance photographer Jason Stemple, who happens to be Jane’s son. Jason’s photography has illustrated over ten of Jane’s previous titles, and their latest artistic collaboration is the beautifully (and cleverly) designed, A Mirror to Nature: Poems About Reflection, released this month by Wordsong. The book features twelve poems, along with Jason’s nature photography, which reflect upon (excuse the bad pun) the doubled images and patterns created by the reflective nature of water. “The first mirror was water: puddles, pools, lakes, quiet rivers,” Jane writes in the opening author’s note.

Pictured here are some wood storks, the only stork species, the book notes, that breeds in North America, and a bird on the endangered species list. Below is Jane’s poem about the wood stork, followed by one more poem-photo pairing from the title, as well as the book’s cover image (a blue heron):

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Poetry Friday: A tiny little spring poem

h1 Friday, April 10th, 2009

First Snow

(Photo: “First Snow” by Andrew Ross Phoenix.)

Hey. I’m keeping it very simple this week. I’m sharing a lovely little haiku that perfectly expresses my mood as I start to see little hints of green peeking out in the pauses between slushy snow showers. I hadn’t realized how starved my eyes have been for GREEN.

Here’s Kobayashi Issa, translated by Robert Hass:

The snow is melting
and the village is flooded
with children.

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This week’s Poetry Friday Round-Up is being brought to you by the letter G, the number 4, and by Carol at Carol’s Corner.

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Dan Yaccarino

h1 Thursday, April 9th, 2009

This is not Dan Yaccarino, but this is one of the objects of his hero worship — Jacques Cousteau, the subject of Dan’s engaging new picture book biography, released last month. This is Dan below, in his VERY fun-looking studio. You can even click on the image to see his robots up close:

Good thing I invited him for a breakfast chat, since breakfast is, “by far, my favorite meal,” he told me, “next to lunch, dinner, and snack time. I’m a savory person, rather than a sweet one (just ask my wife). My favorite omelette is Swiss, mushroom, and onion. Along with that, a toasted bialy, slathered with butter, and an exceedingly strong cup of coffee. Yes, I know, I’m a real health nut.”

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Teen Book Festival 2009

h1 Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

TBF Live!eisha: Remember last spring when I went to Rochester’s Teen Book Festival with Adrienne of What Adrienne Thinks About That? Well, I had such a blast that when she invited me to this year’s festival, OBVIOUSLY I had to take her up on it. Even though it meant getting up early on a Saturday, and driving through wet gloppy rain and snow, and the wind gusts were strong enough to blow my little car right into the guard rail (and very nearly did MANY TIMES – it was only by white-knuckling the steering wheel like a vice and singing very loudly along with Neko Case that I was able to assert my authority over the wayward wheels).

It was totally worth it – this year was even more fun than last.

After the festival, Adrienne and I got yummy sweet potato fries and fried-eggplant sandwiches, then crashed at her house for movie-watching and co-post-writing. So, if I seem even more nonlinear than usual here, you should know that we decided to watch the original 1975 Escape to Witch Mountain while we were writing. Those telekinetically-motivated dancing marionettes were distracting.

But this is being cross-posted on, so maybe Adrienne will clean up her version for you.

* * * * * * *

eisha: Yo! Adrienne! (I’m sorry, that’s always funny to me.)

WordGirl and Captain Huggy-FaceThanks for inviting me to TBF again this year. I think this year’s assortment of authors was even more impressive than the last one, which is saying something. Was there anyone in particular you wanted to see this time around?

adrienne: Well, ROBIN BRANDE, of course, but I was looking forward to seeing a bunch of the rest of them–Sara Zarr, Jenny Han, Kenneth Oppel. It was hard to decide who to go see at the breakout sessions. Of course, the biggest surprise of the day was meeting the creator of my beloved WordGirl (and voice of The Butcher), Jack Ferraiolo. I mean, I guess Jack has written a teen book and whatever, too. But WORDGIRL!

How about you?

eisha: ROBIN BRANDE, obviously. But yeah, Sara Zarr was a big draw for me – I’ve loved both her books so far [see the co-review/interview for proof]. And Daphne Grab – I liked Alive and Well in Prague, New York quite a bit too [see the brief co-review here]. And Sharon Flake and Matt de la Pena – dude, when I was a children’s/YA librarian in Cambridge, I could not keep their books on the shelves. And Linda Sue Park, and Jenny Han, and Kenneth Oppel, and Michael Buckley, and Catherine Murdock [alas! She couldn’t make it]…
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Random Illustrator Feature: Bill Carman

h1 Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Fine DiningTwo really good things came out of our recent Dave McKean interview: First (the obvious), the fact that WE GOT TO CHAT WITH DAVE MCKEAN, for which we gave seven loud WOOT!s; second, that all kinds of folks came along to respond to his art work and unique artistic vision. My very favorite thing about blogging is the community of readers we have here. You all are my colleagues now, since I’m sitting at home, while temporarily away from librarianship, working in my PJs, chasing a couple kids, and blogging from my kitchen. Your collective wisdom and wit and wicked-funny funny-bones play a large part in Making My Day.

But I digress. But only just slightly, because—speaking of comments—a third good thing happened: An artist and professor of art, heretofore unbeknownst to me (he was featured in Blogging for a Cure 2007 by another blogger, but then so were over 175 other illustrators), left a comment at the McKean interview. And, as is often the case, I went exploring at the link to which he attached his name. And I was instantly drawn in by the works on display there at his blog, his alluring contemporary fantastic art. I asked him if he’d like to stop by for one of my Random Illustrator Features, and lucky for me, he said yes. His name is Bill Carman, he received his MFA from Brigham Young University, and—as you’ll read below—he is a designer, artist (as in fine art), illustrator (as in, well…illustration, of course), and teacher. And, as is also often the case, I asked if he’d like to say anything about his work. So, here is Bill Carman, in his own words, and lots of his art work. (Please see alt tags for image titles.)

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Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Douglas Florian

h1 Monday, April 6th, 2009

Here’s Douglas Florian, who is pictured outside his studio on West 52nd Street in Manhattan (“also known as Swing Street,” he told me, “because the jazz musicians used to record there”) and whom I’m happy to welcome to 7-Imp this morning for a breakfast chat.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #109: Featuring a Small Crowd to Help Us Welcome National Poetry Month

h1 Sunday, April 5th, 2009

Jules: Today is full of specialness.

Know how on the first Sunday of each month, 7-Imp usually features a student illustrator or an illustrator otherwise new to the field? Well, not today. We’re gonna shake things up this morning and celebrate National Poetry Month with a handful of visiting poets, as well as a bit of art. (OF COURSE. Gotta have art.) In fact, featured here is Julie Paschkis’ poetry-month poster, which you may have also seen at Jama’s wonderful blog this week. (And that’s because Jama and I are sometimes psychic brain twins.) Many thanks to Julie for sharing. If you missed her interview, posted about this time last year, by all means, go have a look. Her art makes me very happy.

And who are our visiting poets today, who are going to share some never-seen-before poetry here to help us celebrate a month of poems, poems, and more poems? Well, they are Douglas Florian (who will be stopping by this week for a breakfast interview), Sara Lewis Holmes, Julie Larios (whose new poem is featured above), Kelly Fineman, Elaine Magliaro, and Adam Rex. Let’s get right to it, and I thank them for celebrating with us this week, especially since several of these poems were written specifically for today’s celebration.

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Poetry Friday: The poems (and art) I like best

h1 Friday, April 3rd, 2009

I am madly and truly and deeply in love with this illustration, Chris Raschka’s depiction of the Jabberwock (and the “beamish boy” who slays him). You can click on the image to see it along with the classic Lewis Carroll poem, as it appears in A Foot in the Mouth: Poems to Speak, Sing, and Shout, released last month by Candlewick. My poem for today is also from this title, but I’ll get to that in a second.

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