Archive for August, 2009

Time-Travelling and World-Hopping with Laurel Snyder

h1 Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

“Suddenly they were in a small room, surrounded by stacks and stacks of money. Neither Henry nor Sam was willing to take his hand from the wall, but Sam reached down and groped in a bag at his feet. When he drew out his hand, his fingers were wrapped tightly around a bundle of old-fashioned-looking money. He cackled, ‘Now, this is fun! I could loot all day! At last I understand why my mean old papa ran back to the sea and the ships and the suckers!'”

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That’s Sam. He’s the son of Blackbeard, the scourge of the seas. The little boy with him, Henry, and his little sister and his best friend and his best friend’s big sister have discovered a wall—a magic wishing wall in the middle of a cornfield, no less—that will take them where ever they’d like to go in Laurel Snyder’s briskly-paced adventure novel, Any Which Wall, illustrated by LeUyen Pham and released by Random House in May. Young Henry, very curious to meet a pirate, asks the wall if he and his time- and space-travelling crew can be tranported to a pirate house, where they can all meet “a really bad pirate, the worst pirate in the world!” Arrrgh! Well, Henry gets a nice little lesson in semantics when he meets, indeed, a very bad—as in, lousy—pirate: Blackbeard’s son “did not look like a pirate in the least. He was clean-shaven and neat as a pin, as well washed as Merlin had been filthy.” (Yup, the gang got to meet Merlin earlier in the book. Score. Emma also meets Guinevere, pictured below, a passionless “flat-voiced queen who breaks butterflies and cries without tears…”)

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One-Shot World Tour: Southeast Asia
and Jan Reynold’s Cycle of Rice, Cycle of Life

h1 Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

“Parades of brightly dressed people carrying plates of luscious fruit and flower offerings on their heads follow priests in pure white sarongs as they walk
to the temple for the planting celebration…For hundreds of years
these ritual gatherings have linked all the people in the watershed…”

This is one of many beautiful photographs taken by award-winning author and photographer Jan Reynolds, pictured below. Jan’s work has appeared in publications such as National Geographic, The New York Times, and Outside magazine.

But she’s also the author of many nonfiction books for children, including the Vanishing Cultures series, photo-essays for children about cultural diversity. The books in the series have been recognized as Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People and selected for the Kids’ Pick of the List by the American Bookseller’s Association. Jan is also a skier, mountain climber, and all-around fearless adventurer. She holds the world record for women’s high-altitude skiing, was part of the first expedition to circumnavigate Mount Everest, and performed a solo crossing of the Himalaya. And that’s just scratching the surface of her world adventures.

Here are but a couple more of her beautiful photographs from an ’06 title: Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Holly Meade

h1 Monday, August 10th, 2009

The illustrator of one of my favorite picture books ever, the 1997 Caldecott Honor winner Hush!: A Thai Lullaby by Minfong Ho, is here this morning for a breakfast chat. Woodblock artist Holly Meade has illustrated almost thirty picture book titles in her career, launched in 1992, including what I thought was one of 2008’s most outstanding picture books, David Elliott’s On the Farm, published by Candlewick. (My ’08 review is here).

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #127: Featuring Dave McKean

h1 Sunday, August 9th, 2009

“You hear music? / Dancers too? / I can hear them. / Well, can you? /
They play tunes / Beyond compare, / Dancing through my crazy hair.”

(Click to enlarge spread — and all others in this post.)

Jules: You want to know what I’ve noticed lately here at 7-Imp? I’ve noticed that I’ve been posting quite a bit of art from illustrators or author/illustrators whom I’ve already interviewed or in some way featured previously. Robert Neubecker. Adam Rex. Grace Lin. Jeremy Tankard. Ed Young. Dan Santat. Jarrett J. Krosoczka. Whew. The list goes on. I wouldn’t feature them in the first place if I didn’t love their work, and I always end my correspondence with them (on, say, interviews) by inviting them to stop by any time, since I like to keep up with what they’re doing (and since I also otherwise try to do what I can to feature new artists). Well, Dave McKean is no exception. You may remember that he stopped by this year in March — with quite possibly the Most Art Ever in a 7-Imp Interview, as in you can just take your time in going to get yourself a cup of coffee or pipin’ hot tea while that interview LOADS. (And his art is so beloved all over the world that the 7-Imp McKean-interview gets linked to from places like this on a pretty consistent basis. Man, I wish I could read ’em.)

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Poetry Friday: Incubus

h1 Friday, August 7th, 2009

Incubus Hey, wanna read something disturbing? Kinda spooky? Good. Check this out. It’s “Incubus” by Craig Arnold:

The chain uncouples, and his jacket hangs
on the peg over hers, and he’s inside.

She stalls in the kitchen, putting the kettle on,
buys herself a minute looking for two
matching cups for the lime-flower tea,
not really lime but linden, heart-shaped leaves
and sticky flowers that smell of antifreeze.
She talks a wall around her, twists the string
tighter around the tea bag in her spoon.
But every conversation has to break
somewhere, and at the far end of the sofa
he sits, warming his hands around the cup
he hasn’t tasted yet, and listens on
with such an exasperating show of patience
it’s almost a relief to hear him ask it:
If you’re not using your body right now
maybe you’d let me borrow it for a while?

It isn’t what you’re thinking. No, it’s worse.

Click here to read the rest.

I don’t have much to say about this yet, because I just discovered it myself, and I’m still trying to get my mind around it. I’ll tell you this much, though: I like it. I think it works, either as a literal supernatural tale, or as a metaphor for a specific kind of bad relationship.

What do you think?

(p.s.: In case you hadn’t heard, Craig Arnold disappeared a few months ago while hiking solo in Japan. So, while thinking about this poem, maybe also spare a thought for the sudden loss of a young talent, and condolences for his friends and family.)

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Since I’m all about telling you what to do today, I suggest you should check out what the other poetry peeps are posting too. Tricia’s on round-up duty at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Jules’ Local Spotlight: Shellie Braeuner

h1 Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

This is illustrator Robert Neubecker’s cover art for first-time author Shellie Braeuner’s Great Dog Wash, released by Simon & Schuster in July. Remember when East Tennessee author/illustrator Lisa Horstman stopped by in early July? I’ll say again: 7-Imp seems to have readers all over the world, but it’s particularly thrilling for me to shine the spotlight on local (to me) authors, and Shellie is even closer, y’all. (We’re talkin’ Tennessee here; you know I have to say “y’all.”) Shellie, the recipient of the Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories Children’s Book New Author Contest, lives right here in Nashville, Tennessee. She’s here to say a bit about herself today, and Robert—who, you may remember, stopped by last year, making all kinds of illustrators envious of his lovely studio—sent me some art from the book. You all know already how I feel about Robert’s art, but I’ll also say that again: His art, brimming with life and color and possessing a child-like sensibility, makes me happy, indeed. It’s like Marc Simont on a digital Crayola high. And I don’t think there could have possibly been a better choice than Robert for illustrating Shellie’s title.

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Pig Tale

h1 Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

“Snort! He grew bigger and bigger and bigger until he burst free.”
(Click to enlarge spread.)

What would most of the world’s children’s librarians and teachers do without Caldecott medalist Gerald McDermott’s tales? He’s not here today, having coffee with me. (Bummer. I can’t always get my way.) I hope he can stop by 7-Imp one day soon, but this post is sort of a tribute to his books by way of his latest title, Pig-Boy: A Trickster Tale from Hawaiʻi (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Pig-Boy—drawn from the stories of the shape-shifting Kamapuaʻa, a divine trickster-hero in Hawaiian mythology—was released in April.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #126: Featuring Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Emilio Santoyo

h1 Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

Jules: These are artist Emilio Santoyo’s boys of summer. Emilio, a freelance illustrator and designer from California, is visiting this morning, as it’s the first Sunday of the month when I like to shine the spotlight on student illustrators or illustrators just moving beyond student-dom.

There is a certain manic energy and seeming spontaneity to Emilio’s work that drew my eye. And with such bright, happy colors, too, which kind of wink at us beneath his edgier pieces. Emilio graduated from the Art Center College of Design in 2007. Since then, he has been doing freelance illustration and design for small and big clients.

“Projects I take on,” Emilio told me, “can be as small as contributing a weekly comic for a newspaper, new product for my online store, to working on a full-blown commercial for a bank. I love new challenges, and that’s what keeps me moving.” Check out Emilio’s derby: Read the rest of this entry �