Archive for June, 2009

Poetry Friday: Breaking through a sheet of sugar

h1 Friday, June 12th, 2009

NO! Don’t eat it! Run away!I love fairy tales. And I love fairy tale adaptations and allusions, especially when they don’t shy away from the darkness of those original stories.

That’s why I was so pleased to discover “Gretel in Darkness” by Louise Glück. It uses brilliant imagery to put a sobering spin on the classic tale by imagining what comes next — after the witch is killed, the mother is dead, and the kids are back at home, safe and sound. It’s not exactly “happily ever after” – and really, how could it be? What child could really make it through such a story (poverty, abandonment, kidnapping, slavery, cannibalism, and murder) emotionally unscathed? How does a girl grow up in a world where all the mother figures see infanticide as a reasonable means to fill one’s belly?

Poor Gretel. One suspects that she’ll never really find her way out of those woods.

Here’s an excerpt:

This is the world we wanted.
All who would have seen us dead
are dead. I hear the witch’s cry
break in the moonlight through a sheet
of sugar: God rewards.
Her tongue shrivels into gas. . . .

Click here for the rest. You’ll be glad you did.

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This week’s Poetry Friday Round-Up is being hosted by Brian Jung at his blog, Critique de Mr. Chompchomp. I’m serious. How great is that name?

Quick Art Stop: Giselle Potter and Emily Jenkins’ Sugar

h1 Thursday, June 11th, 2009

I’m doing another Quick Art Stop, this week with a few illustrations from Giselle Potter. I interviewed her almost exactly one year ago and told her, as I often tell interviewees, to stop by again any ol’ time. I recently went knockin’ on her cyber door, in fact, to see if she could share some spreads from the latest Emily Jenkins’ title she illustrated, Sugar Would Not Eat It, released by Schwartz & Wade in May.

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Seven Questions Over Breakfast
with Edwin Fotheringham

h1 Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

Edwin FotheringhamFirst of all, I don’t want to embarrass him, but I’d like to take this interview with illustrator Edwin Fotheringham, pictured above, and use it as an example for all future interviewees of how to do a Q & A, my friends. As I tell folks when I do these seven-questions-over-breakfast interviews, I blog on the side. On the side, that is, of my work-work and spending time with my children. So, I send the same questions out to everyone. I wouldn’t be interviewing someone in the first place if I didn’t love his or her work and know a lot about it, but if I customized everyone’s questions all the time, I’d never have time to do any interviews at all. So, I always say: Take these general questions and run with them and show us who you are and what your work is about. And boy howdy, did Edwin (who also goes by “Ed”) do that. And for that I thank him.

Secondly—and I’ll keep this short so that we can get right to his interview—I’m very happy he stopped by for a breakfast chat, because I am really crazy in love with his art. He has illustrated two children’s titles thus far in his career, after doing a lot of really fabulous editorial work, which he’s been doing for over fifteen years. (If you visit his site, you will be rewarded with lots of art.) I have enthusiastically yammered about these two children’s titles here at the blog already. Since he talks about them below and I have some art from them, I’ll skip summarizing them, except to say: Ed has wowed the critics, wowed readers, and wowed me. As Betsy Bird put it this week in her halfway-mark Newbery and Caldecott predictions, “his fame has been steadily rising. His technique is superb. His style well-suited to the picture book genre.” (Right. That marks the seven-skerjllionth time I’ve quoted Fuse recently, but she really knows her picture books.) School Library Journal described his art work in his second illustrated title, Shana Corey’s Mermaid Queen, as “glorious.” Yeah. That, too.

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Wild Ride

h1 Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Last week, I read about the blog Terrible Yellow Eyes over at Fuse’s site. At this blog, which makes my eyeballs pop out of my head and fly straightaway across the room, various artists are contributing their own works, created in tribute to Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. Hey, wait. It just occurred to me: Tomorrow is Sendak’s birthday. This I know because of my excessively geeky Sendak fan-dom. I should be posting this tomorrow, but I’m not. Well, we’ll just wish him happy birthday one day in advance.

Anyway, back to the blog. It is run by one Cory Godbey, and—as one of my favorite blog-readers and bloggers, John E. Simpson, put it last week—this project possibly “smacks of blasphemy to some folks… but not to me.” I’m with John. I think the site is a beautiful thing. Here’s one of my favorites — by Adam Volker.

Here is what Terrible Yellow Eyes is all about, in Cory’s words:

Over the coming weeks and months I’ll display a growing collection of works created by invited contributing artists and myself.

We share a love and admiration for Sendak’s work and the pieces we present here are done as a tribute to his life and legacy.

Remember this feature I did on illustrator Bill Carman in April? Bill gave me his permission today to post his contribution to Terrible Yellow Eyes, Wild Ride, here at 7-Imp. Take a look.

And happy birthday—one day early—to The One and Only…

{Note: Speaking of Betsy Bird and Sendak, as I have in this post, did you all see James Preller’s interview with Betsy last month, in which she said that the book-creator she’s dying to meet is Sendak, yet “if I met him I’d just flap my gums for a while and be destroyed by his single withering glance.” Heh. That made me laugh outloud. I’m not going to pretend I’ve not dreamed of meeting—or even interviewing—him, too, but well…he’s SENDAK, people. So, right now it remains just a dream. A very lovely one.}

Random Illustrator Feature: Jennifer Sattler

h1 Monday, June 8th, 2009

Have you all seen Sylvie yet? Here she is, the star (you can tell she doesn’t mind being in the spotlight) of Jennifer Sattler’s new title, Sylvie, published by Random House at the end of last month. Sylvie’s story has a lot in common with Petr Horáček’s Silly Suzy Goose (from ’06): Sylvie, the wee flamingo, looks at her family one morning, all very pink, and then takes a look at the rest of the very colorful world and wonders why she is pink. “Well, dear,” her Mama tells her, “we’re pink because the little shrimp we eat are pink.” Sylvie then takes it upon herself to change her hue by nibbling on palm leaves (thus turning green), some grapes (turning herself purple), some chocolate…You get the picture. Here she flies by a kite…

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #118: Featuring Duane Smith and
Janet Halfmann

h1 Sunday, June 7th, 2009

“Men, women, and children ran out onto the deck of the Planter. Robert, standing straight and proud, stepped forward and raised the captain’s hat high in the air. He shouted that he had brought the Union a load of Confederate cannons.”

— From Seven Miles to Freedom: The Robert Smalls Story

Jules: Happy first-Sunday-of-the-month to one and all. First Sundays here at 7-Imp means a student illustrator or artist otherwise new to the field of children’s lit will get the spotlight. This morning we have illustrator, designer, and art instructor (inspiring children, thank goodness, to “think conceptually as well as independently”) Duane Smith, who studied at Pratt Insitute and currently lives in Brooklyn. This morning, I’ve got some of his art work from Janet Halfmann’s Seven Miles to Freedom: The Robert Smalls Story, published by Lee & Low Books last year. Janet is also here this morning to say a bit about the book.

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Some More Cartoons For You

h1 Thursday, June 4th, 2009

In yesterday’s post, or my attempt to spread some laughs this week via cartoon art, I intended to include a few more titles, but I talked long enough for two of them. So, here’s my Part Two to that post, celebrating the cartoon-style of illustrating in picture books currently on shelves.

The art opening this post is from Jean Van Leeuwen’s Chicken Soup, illustrated by David Gavril (Abrams, May 2009), which Publishers Weekly described as a “marvel of suspense and silliness” and a “kid-pleasing read-aloud.” All the chickens are on the run, because the farm-yard rumor mill is that Mrs. Farmer has pulled her big cooking pot off the shelves and is about to make some chicken soup. All the chickens, that is, except for Little Chickie, who has the sniffles, and you know how that goes: One doesn’t much feel like skedaddling out of a henhouse and all across the farm when one has a cold in her beak. “Run anyway!” advises Red Hen. And so Little Chickie runs. Lots of sneezing is involved, since—every time the animals think they’ve got themselves well-hidden—Little Chickie lets loose with a raucous “AAH-CHOO!”

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Some Cartoons For You

h1 Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

I don’t know about you, but the news this week — both from my little sphere of friends and the world-at-large — is bringing me down. Reminding me that life is, simply and fundamentally, un-flippin’-fair. (How about that infixing there?) I thought, for that reason, I’d shine a spotlight today on some light-hearted cartoon-esque picture book titles. Wait. There is no “esque” about it. These are illustrators working very much in a cartoon style. Perhaps they will contribute a laugh to your day. They certainly try, and they certainly did so for me.

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A Quick Art Stop: Pamela Zagarenski

h1 Monday, June 1st, 2009

This is art from illustrator Pamela Zagarenski. I fell in love with her detailed, intricate, folk-art-esque mixed-media art—with the highly stylized characters therein—the first time I saw it. Have you all seen Joyce Sidman’s Red Sings from Treetrops: A Year in Colors, the most recent illustrated title of Pamela’s? It was released by Houghton Mifflin in April, and it is a wonder. It’s a poetry collection which celebrates the changing of the seasons — but through the lens of color. And I mean color in ways you hadn’t considered experiencing it — hearing, tasting, and even smelling it.

Red sings
from treetops:
each note dropping
like a cherry
into my ear…

And, in Summer, “Yellow melts / everything it touches . . . / smells like butter, / tastes like salt.”

If you’re not familiar with Sidman’s work, you’ll be treating yourself to read more of her titles. Check out these links for more information: Read the rest of this entry �