Archive for June, 2009

A Brief Visit with Salvatore Rubbino
and his Walk in New York

h1 Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

“We stop again. This building’s not as tall as it is W I D E. Dad tells me it’s the
NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY. ‘And meet the library lions!’ he says.
‘They guard the books inside.’…
(Click image to enlarge.)

Anyone else seen Salvatore Rubbino’s A Walk in New York and wanna share in my enthusiasm for this book? You know what I love most about this one, all about a young boy’s first visit to Manhattan with his father? The cheer in the book practically drips from the pages: The young boy, in all his excitement to see the big city, exudes a joy that is infectious. “I can tell who the visitors are,” he says in this first-person narrative: “{W}e’re the ones who keep stopping to look up!”

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #121: Featuring Chris Barton
and Tony Persiani

h1 Sunday, June 28th, 2009

“One brother wanted to save lives. The other brother wanted to dazzle crowds.
With Day-Glo, they did both.”
— From Chris Barton’s
The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer’s Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors
(Click image to enlarge.)

Jules: Happy Sunday to all, and welcome to 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #121, featuring illustrator Tony Persiani and author Chris Barton, who has—in the past—joined us for some kickin’ here on a few Sundays (Chris, that is). It’s a pleasure today to have both Tony and Chris here to say a few words and show us some art from their new title, The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer’s Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors, to be released by Charlesbridge in July. The Day-Glo Brothers, which is both the author’s and illustrator’s picture book debut, tells the story of Joe and Bob Switzer, who were born at the turn of the last century, who were opposites in many ways, and who—“by accident”—invented totally new fluorescent colors: Fire Orange and other glowing reds, yellows, greens, and more, which they came to call “Day-Glo” colors.

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Poetry Friday: (invisible girl)

h1 Friday, June 26th, 2009

The Great War by Rene MagritteFunny thing happened this week: I (along with MANY other people, including everyone I work with) was informed that, due to one person’s negligence and another person’s wickedness, our sensitive personal data has been released into the ether. Like, the kind of data you steal someone’s identity with. On our employer’s covering-their-asses advice, I immediately placed one of those fraud alert thingys on my credit info and checked out my credit report. So far, so good. But it’s still very scary; and as I keep hearing from other people, if anything does happen with my credit, the damage could be permanent. Evil-data-thieves may get to change identities like they’re changing underwear, but as a law-abiding citizen I’m apparently stuck with mine for life.

This is certainly the most concrete reason I’ve had for wishing that weren’t true, but it’s not the first time I’ve wanted to be able to start all over and wake up in a different life. Wouldn’t it be great to be an unknown quantity, a blank slate? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to escape from myself for a while, to fly under everyone’s radar — including my own — and be really truly free?

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A Visit with Debut Author/Illustrator Johanna Wright

h1 Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

I’m in one of my let’s-shine-the-spotlight-on-a-new-author/illustrator moods today, so I invited newcomer Johanna Wright over. I’m taken with her debut picture book, The Secret Circus (Roaring Brook Press, March 2009). You know how when you were a kid and the notion of miniature, underground, secret worlds was just about the coolest thing ever? Yes? Or was it just me?

Well, The Secret Circus is all about a world so shh-shh-secret that only the mice can find it. And it’s in sparkly Paris, no less, so it’s even better. A tiny circus. With tiny acrobats. Mice acrobats. Who tame big ol’ cats. In fact, that’s the spread opening this post, “the scariest page in The Secret Circus,” Johanna told me. “The mouse audience looks quite worried.”

Here they are eating their giant popcorn, which Johanna says she’d also like to do:

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Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Jan Thomas
(In Which Adrienne and Fuse Also Join Us for Oatmeal)

h1 Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

This is author/illustrator Jan Thomas with her Public Relations Officer and Security Chief. She’s here with her canine staff today to chat over breakfast with what I’ll call the Jan Thomas Appreciation Society. And that would be Yours Truly and two of the country’s best children’s librarians (all hyperbole—which regular readers know I’m guilty of—aside), Adrienne Furness of What Adrienne Thinks About That and Betsy Bird over at A Fuse #8 Production. Adrienne has written posts like “My Profound Love of Books by Jan Thomas”; Betsy has written reviews like this in which she’s declared things like, “All right. That’s it. I can’t take it anymore. Could we please please PLEASE just get it over with and declare Jan Thomas some kind of national treasure / picture book genius?” and “Thomas has that rare gift for synthesizing a book down to its most essential parts”; and I’ve posted about Jan’s work a bit as well—having turned into such a big fan of her titles, thanks to Adrienne—but the 7-Imp Jan-Thomas sightings are hardly tantamount to my fan-dom. So, I decided I wanted to shine the spotlight on her, too. And when I—lucky me—snagged her for an interview, I asked Adrienne and Betsy if they’d like to contribute some questions and/or say a bit about their own ardent devotion to Jan’s books.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #120: Featuring John Burningham
and Malcolm the Cat

h1 Sunday, June 21st, 2009

(Click to enlarge.)

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.

And Happy Father’s Day to all our papa-readers out there!

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Poetry Friday: A Small Dragon

h1 Friday, June 19th, 2009

Just when I thought that, for once, I’d chosen a poem written for adults, I inadvertently chose one this week that, evidently, has been adopted by the children’s poetry world as well.

This comes from British poet Brian Patten. It was first published in Love Poems (Flamingo/HarperCollins, 1990) and intended for an adult readership, though Patten has written children’s poetry as well.

I love this short, outstretched hand of a poem. I don’t want to go on too much about what it means to me, as I think a great deal of its appeal is its ability to invite the reader in, leaving room for many interpretations. I called it an outstretched hand, but it can also be a dare. An accusation. A wink. And so much more. Enjoy.

“I’ve found a small dragon in the woodshed.
Think it must have come from deep inside a forest
because it’s damp and green and leaves
are still reflecting in its eyes.

I fed it on many things, tried grass,
the roots of stars, hazel-nut and dandelion,
but it stared up at me as if to say, I need
food you can’t provide…”

You can read the rest here.

Today’s Poetry Friday round-up is being hosted by Carol at Carol’s Corner.

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with
Pamela Zagarenski

h1 Thursday, June 18th, 2009

Illustrator Pamela Zagarenski is here this morning for a breakfast chat. Together, she and poet Joyce Sidman created one of my favorite picture books thus far this year—if not my very favorite—Red Sings From Treetops, released by Houghton Mifflin in April. You can read a bit more about it here — in a short post I did early this month. Red Sings is a poetry collection that brilliantly, in more ways than one, celebrates colors as you’ve never quite seen them celebrated before.

Pamela’s delicate and inventive mixed-media illustrations have been seen in two previous poetry collections — Maxine Kumin’s Mites to Mastodons: A Book of Animal Poems from 2006, as well as 2007’s This is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness, also by Joyce Sidman (“her skill as a poet accessible to young people is unmatched,” wrote School Library Journal about Sidman), and both released by Houghton Mifflin.

Since Pamela sent over one hundred images for this interview (I never really counted the images in the Dave McKean interview, but this might rival it), I’m going to get right to it, and we can find out what’s next for her and why she talks to her paintings (which I get. I really do.) For breakfast this morning, she’s having lots and lots of tea. “I get up really early (4:30-5:00),” she told me, “to paint, sketch, work on my computer. I have one, two, and sometimes three really big cups of tea, preferably with lots and lots of almond milk. I just love tea — always have! I don’t get hungry until later in the morning, but when I do, I like fruit, nuts, and raisins and brown rice or quinoa.”

Let’s get the basics from Pamela while we wait for our tea to steep, and I thank her for stopping by. And ESPECIALLY for the whole heapin’ ton of beautiful art.

{Note: I’m not going to put titles under each illustration, for different reasons, but The Really Eager and Curious can right-click on the images themselves—and then go to “properties”—to at least see JPEG names, as basically sent to me by Pamela and which are often the illustration titles as well. Also note that some of these images are details of larger illustrations. Most of these illustrations are hyperlinked to larger versions, too, so click the image itself to see in more detail.}

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Random Author/Illustrator Feature: Philip Stead

h1 Monday, June 15th, 2009

This illustration here, which I adore on many levels, comes from Philip Stead. Philip’s debut picture book, Creamed Tuna Fish and Peas on Toast, won’t be out until this September-ish. I haven’t seen an early copy either. But a little birdy told me about Phil’s site, I visited, and I liked what I saw. I invited him over for one of my Random Illustrator Features, and—fortunately—he was interested in a visit.

Philip’s about to tell us a bit about Creamed Tuna Fish, a book with the sort of collage illustrations (and funky title) I like to see. This above image, though, is from his current work-in-progress, Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat, which looks equally intriguing and which he also discusses below. So, here he is, and I thank him for stopping by.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #119: Featuring Our Own Little Mad Tea Party: Henry Cole, Erica Perl, and Linda Urban

h1 Sunday, June 14th, 2009

“Now Mouse was really, really, really, really mad. Standing-still mad. Mouse did not hop. He did not stomp. He did not scream or roll on the ground. He stood very, very still. ‘Impressive,’ said Hare. ‘What control,’ said Bear.
‘Are you breathing?’ asked Hedgehog.”
— From
Mouse Was Mad (Click image to enlarge.)

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. Say that seven times fast.

This week we have one illustrator, Mr. Henry Cole (who has worked on more than fifty books and whom Erica Perl calls “a national treasure,” and I’d have to agree), and two authors, Ms. Perl herself and Linda Urban, whose stories Henry has illustrated this year in Linda’s Mouse Was Mad (pictured above) and Erica’s Chicken Butt! Know what? Yeah, I said chicken butt.

If you haven’t seen these titles yet and especially if you live and/or work with preschool children, I’m here to say that if you manage to get yourself copies and take a gander, you won’t be disappointed. Erica (who penned this very funny picture book in 2006) brings us Chicken Butt!, released by Abrams in April. She’s adapted into picture book form the classic school-yard rhyme, turning it into a call-and-response between a frustrated father, just trying to read the newspaper on a lazy afternoon, and his son, who manages to let a tattooed chicken—with, yes, a butt—follow him home. Publishers Weekly describes Henry’s art work in this one as “wryly effervescent as ever,” and Kirkus calls the book’s romp “a powerful piece of cacophony.” As for Linda’s Mouse Was Mad, released by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in May and met with great reviews all-around, well…move over, Sophie. (Okay, so she doesn’t really have to move over. That’s a great book, too.) This is a tale of a wee, WEE—but determined—mouse who is literally hoppin’ mad and trying to find just the right way to vent his anger. Mouse is also painfully adorable, but—as Kelly Fineman’s already put it—don’t tell him, because “being told one is adorable when one is angry is cause for still more rage.” Linda is the author of 2007’s A Crooked Kind of Perfect, and this is her first picture book.

As you can see, I’ve got a bit of Henry-art today. I had wanted to include this in my posts last week (here and here), shining a light on cartoon illustrations, but I knew that Erica and Linda would be stopping by today to say hi. So, here they all are. Let’s get to it — before we go kickin’ . . .

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