Archive for August, 2009

An Illustrator I Like to Watch These Days

h1 Monday, August 31st, 2009

It’s galvanic illustrations like this that make John Hendrix’s career one I like to watch these days. He very obviously does not shy from drama, wouldn’t you say? (Click to enlarge.)

“Like a great fuming tornado, John swept across the plains
to fight for Kansas. He fought many battles on those windy plains, but it was a dark night along Pottawatomie Creek that made him notorious.”

I love that spread. On many levels. (And not just ’cause I think John Brown here weirdly resembles Bruce Campbell just a wee little bit, which is neither here nor there, so let’s move on.) I don’t think we’re ever going to see John Hendrix do dainty, and that’s a-okay with me. (Publications like the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists don’t need dainty anyway, right?)

Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #130: Featuring Jean Gralley

h1 Sunday, August 30th, 2009

Jules: This is the castle—high, high in the air and from long ago—of King Yonderfel: “King Yonderfel ruled the castle and he ruled it splendidly. All day long he stood at the gate, calling ‘Come in, come in!’ to all who passed by, and never ever turned anyone away.” As a result, his castle was a happy place, not to mention very crowded.

Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Impossible Interviews
Before Breakfast #83: Chris Raschka

h1 Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Once upon a time, in reviewing author/illustrator Chris Raschka’s 2001 picture book title, Waffle, Publishers Weekly wrote that Raschka “captures the essence of a mood with the merest hint of text and the briefest of brush strokes.” This is one reason I’m such a fan of his work: His minimalist approach, that ability to say so much with one wild, graceful squiggle here and one loose dab of line there and unbridled, vigorous sweeps of color all over, all which add up to Raschka’s inimitable quirky style. “Quirky,” to be sure, gets over-used in the world of children’s lit and risks making the artist sound too precious, but Raschka’s quirky is far from precious or darling. His impressionistic style is unfettered (without overpowering the text, mind you) and leaps off the page with an infectious energy, affection, humor, and—most importantly—what comes across as a keen respect for the child reader.

Read the rest of this entry �

David Small’s Stitches

h1 Monday, August 24th, 2009

Last year, Caldecott-Medal winner David Small was here for seven questions over breakfast, and he mentioned Stitches as one of his forthcoming titles, sharing this sketch here at that time (June ’08):

In today’s post are some panels from the completed book, his new graphic novel memoir for adults, to be released in early September from W.W. Norton & Company. The publisher likes to call it a “silent movie masquerading as a book” — and a tale of redemption, which it most certainly is. And one wrapped around my favorite theme, as I’ve said so often at the blog that you’re probably tired of reading it: The power of art to transform and heal.

But there are also some truly terrifying moments in this book of survival, including the ones pictured just below. The young David is six and has gone with his brother and mother to pick up their father at the hospital where he works. David’s wandered to the fourth floor and meets “the little man in the jar,” who later haunts his dreams:

Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #129: Featuring Charles R. Smith, Jr.

h1 Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

Jules: Welcome to 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks, 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.

Today, I’m pleased to welcome novelist and poet and photographer and biographer Charles R. Smith, Jr. As you can see here, Charles has written books for just about every age, including Twelve Rounds to Glory: The Story of Muhammad Ali, which received a 2008 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award, and which was illustrated by the very talented Bryan Collier (Candlewick, 2007). He also wrote last year’s The Mighty 12: Superheroes of Greek Myth, illustrated by P. Craig Russell, which I covered last year at Guys Lit Wire.

I picked up a copy of Charles’ latest illustrated title, My People, about a month ago; it sat on the “new books” shelf at my local library and gleamed at me from afar, calling me across the room. This is one gorgeous book. Released by Ginee Seo Books in January of this year, My People is Charles’ picture book adaptation of Langston Hughes’ famous 1923 poem of the same name: Read the rest of this entry �

Our Children Can Soar:
A Brief Chat with a Whole Slew of Talented People

h1 Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

“Rosa sat . . . so Ruby could learn. Ruby learned . . . so Martin could march.”
(Click to enlarge spread.)

This is Ruby Bridges, who was only six years old—during the American Civil Rights struggle of the early 1960s—when she became the first African American child to attend an all-white school in the South. For this, she had to live with threats to her life on a daily basis and face teachers unwilling to instruct her. She is captured for all eternity in Norman Rockwell’s famous painting; he depicted her on her first day of school, surrounded by U.S. marshals as a result of the court-ordered desegregation of public schools in New Orleans. Going to kindergarten with the federal law enforcement agency at your side: This was her reality.

Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Pascal Lemaitre

h1 Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

When I asked author and “silly chick” Andrea Beaty what she thought about the work of Belgian illustrator Pascal Lemaitre, who has illustrated three of her titles thus far, and she said that he “is so funny and original and his art is brilliant,” I found myself nodding along. “The thing that constantly amazes me,” Andrea added, “is how simple his illustrations seem, but they have so much going on. Even after reading one of our books over and over, I find new details that crack me up!”

I love Pascal’s work. There is an understatement to it that charms and a seeming simplicity. But, as Andrea said, there’s much to take in. Best of all, as you can see from some of the illustrations on display in this interview, Lemaitre knows how to embrace the softer elements of childhood, yet isn’t afraid to embrace his Inner Grimm — and if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that I’m a fan of those authors and illustrators who do so, seeing as how it really is good for children to face these kinds of fears. See what I mean? This is from Ogre noir by Édith et Rascal, published in France in 2006. Yikes:

Read the rest of this entry �

There’s Still Time to Wish Eisha a Happy Birthday…

h1 Monday, August 17th, 2009

…and that’s ’cause today is actually her birthday. I simply got things started a little early yesterday. If you want to add your birthday greetings/wishes to the ones from Sunday, by all means, visit yesterday’s post.

I’ll be back tomorrow with an illustrator interview — at least if all goes as I plan. (Well, you know. The zombies could come before then. One just never knows these things.)

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #128: Featuring Eisha’s Birthday!

h1 Sunday, August 16th, 2009

Happy Sunday, everyone! Those are coffee bean cupcakes that I’m cyber-giving to Eisha today, because Monday is her birthday! I got her blessing to take over today’s post and celebrate it one day early with our kicker-friends. She graciously agreed to type her kicks in the comments later, like everyone else, so that I CAN EMBARRASS HER on her birthday. Mwahaha. You know we do this every year, and I don’t know about Eisha, but I actually find it challenging each year to find new and creative ways to humiliate her. So . . .

Read the rest of this entry �

Poetry Friday: In Which I Share a Friend’s Poems

h1 Thursday, August 13th, 2009

I’m here to share some poems a friend of mine wrote a couple years ago. His name is Chris Lance. Chris is not a full-time writer. He actually lives and works at the Austin Zen Center and is about to undergo training in the priesthood. But I think when he does sit down and write, he creates some great stuff. I’ve read a bit of his earlier poems from years ago, and when he told me recently he’d written some new poetry, I suggested he share some on a Poetry Friday. I was pleased to hear he was up for it.

I don’t want to sit here and analyze my friend’s poetry too much, but I will say this: I love how his poems strike out on such a clear and accessible note and then often surprise you. And I like how they can sometimes be so gentle and startling, all at once. I chose three to share today. Thanks and mwah! to Chris. Enjoy.

Read the rest of this entry �