Archive for November, 2009

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #141: Featuring Rob Dunlavey

h1 Sunday, November 15th, 2009

Welcome to 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks, a 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.

This is an oil pastel and ink painting from the sketchbook of illustrator Rob Dunlavey. I really like that. How about you?

Rob has done editorial illustrations of many kinds and is an aspiring children’s book illustrator. The art at his site drew my eye, and I asked him to stop by today and talk about his work a little and share some art. If you like what you see, don’t miss his site, which includes all kinds of sketchbook images and paintings and his educational, editorial, and advertising work. His children’s book illustrations are here.

Rob: I’ve done editorial illustration most of my career (since 1986). This is probably a throwback to youth and high school days, where I was inspired by political cartoons, comic books, Thomas Nast, and MAD Magazine. I started drawing in pen and ink and did a lot of work for school newspapers and even into college. The odd thing is that I detoured and got a BA and an MFA in Fine Art. I spent years learning printmaking, how to paint (more or less), and make sculpture. When I moved to Boston in 1985, I started developing an editorial portfolio and soon was doing work for The Boston Globe and The Christian Science Monitor. Later on, I developed a more graphic style, using watercolor, and I started getting published in magazines. I got a computer in the late ’80s and started working digitally. Some of the digital work was for computer games and educational software. I also do a lot of digital editorial work, but the last few years have seen a slow-down for me in that market. Here are a few examples that have a whimsical quality. Usually they are about something kind of inscrutable or boring, about banking or fire sprinklers!

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Poetry Thursday and Friday:
Rhyming with Mac Barnett and Adam Rex

h1 Thursday, November 12th, 2009

“Who’s furry, scurries, and has fleas?
Who climbs our counters and eats our cheese?
We’ve set up traps all through the house
But still can’t catch that pesky…
{page turn, of course}

(Click to enlarge spread.)

I was going to post a poem for grown-ups today, but then Mac Barnett and Adam Rex had to up and make one of the funniest books I’ve seen all year and foiled my plans. (This is a book-in-verse, so voila: Poetry Friday post for this week.)

I contacted Adam in my ongoing attempt to check in with the Men of Children’s Lit Who Have Previously Visited 7-Imp and showcase what they’re up to now. (See Sean Qualls here and Lane Smith and David Ezra Stein here.) Adam is one of my top-five, y’all — as in, the We Can Thank Our Lucky Stars They’re Making Books for Children list. Like, der. Regular readers know this, as I often bug him to come stop by 7-Imp and share some art. But, ah well, I’m pointing this out for any new readers who may be out there. And Mac? Thank goodness he’s come along, too.

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Siete Preguntas Durante el Desayuno
con Yuyi Morales

h1 Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

How’d I do? I don’t speak Spanish, but that’s my seven-questions-over-breakfast welcome to author/illustrator Yuyi Morales, who is here this morning for a chat.

I’ve never been in the same room with Yuyi, but I have a feeling that, if I were, I’d be bowled over by her passion for what she does. This is what comes across in her work. Yuyi, who has been awarded the Pura Belpré Illustrator Award three times (2004, 2008, and 2009) and an Illustration Honor in 2004, has created one of contemporary children’s literature’s most unforgettable characters, Señor Calavera, the traditional Mexican skeleton character from the Day of the Dead celebrations and the star of her original trickster tales, Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book (Chronicle Books, 2003) and last year’s Just In Case: a Trickster Tale and Alphabet (Roaring Brook Press). The latter was the 2009 Pura Belpré Illustrator Award Winner, as well as an Author Honor Book, and featured motifs from Mexican culture for each letter of the Spanish alphabet. (Incidentally, to hear her talk about why she chose to bring that particular character to, well… life, you can watch and listen at the interview she gave to At Your Library at the bottom of this post.) The Belpré committee praised Yuyi’s “vibrant, shimmering jewel-tone colors.” That would pretty accurately describe all of Yuyi’s books so far. (Did you see Little Night in ’07? Gorgeous.) I mean to tell you that her art wakes me right up.

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Checking Myself Against The New York Times

h1 Monday, November 9th, 2009

“Then along came the wolf, who knocked at the door. ‘Little Pig, Little Pig,’ the wolf called, ‘let me come in.’ The little pig answered, ‘Not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin!’ So the wolf said, ‘Then I’ll huff and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in!’
And he huffed and he puffed, but he could not blow the house in.”

There are lots and lots of best-of lists that are generated around this time of year in the world of books. My very favorite, not surprisingly, is the New York Times’ list of the Best Illustrated Children’s Books of the year. (Ten titles are chosen.) The 2009 list is out. Sometimes, as an Illustration Junkie, I like to take those lists and see how I fared over the year. Turns out that I’ve featured some art here at 7-Imp from exactly one-half of the chosen titles — or four, really, but was sitting on art from one of them (pictured above) to show you just this week. Hey, not too bad. Right? When’re they gonna hire me as a judge? (I JEST. I’m not that disillusioned.)

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #140: Featuring Peter McCarty

h1 Sunday, November 8th, 2009

This above is one of my favorite illustrations from 2009. (Later in this post, I’ve got the entire spread from which it comes, since you just have to see that, too.) On that bus is one of my favorite characters from 2009, too, the monster of Peter McCarty’s Jeremy Draws a Monster, released by Henry Holt in September. He’s pictured a bit closer up—BOO!—to the left here. Anyone else seen this title yet? I’ve been sitting on these illustrations for months now, hoping that McCarty would stop by for one of my illustrator-interviews, and holding the illustrations for that. But I’m thinking at this point that he’s maybe swamped — but can perhaps stop by one day later. I hope. I’m a fan, particularly of his Hondo and Fabian books, which are a big, big hit in the Danielson household.

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Poetry Friday: One Impossibly Quick—But Fun—Q & A Before Breakfast with Bobbi Katz

h1 Friday, November 6th, 2009

Bobbi Katz; photo credit: Jennifer MayWhy is my Q & A with Bobbi Katz—accomplished poet, writer, activist, and workshop-conductor extraordinnaire (that is, writing workshops for children, teachers, and librarians)—so impossibly quick this morning? Well, I talked a bit about—and featured some illustrations from—her newest title, the ever-so creepy yet also strangely beautiful The Monsterologist: A Memoir in Rhyme, released by Sterling in September, in my recent breakfast interview with Adam McCauley, the book’s illustrator. I had been presented the opportunity to ask Bobbi some questions as well, which I was all about, and I figured I’d work her interview responses into Adam’s interview, making it a sort of joint interview over coffee. Well, then I decided to separate their interviews. Adam had sent so much beautiful art that I didn’t want Bobbi’s answers to get drowned out by all the images. So, yeah. Her interview now comes across as rather brief, and consarnit it all, we don’t get to find out such things as her favorite sound or noise with that wacky Pivot Questionnaire. But maybe she can stop by again another day. I’m happy she’s here, if only briefly, this morning. And I thank her for stopping by. (Don’t miss Tricia’s late-October interview with Bobbi at The Miss Rumphius Effect.)

You still haven’t seen this book yet? Okay, here’s my last attempt to get you to see one of the most beautifully-designed children’s titles of 2009. (I’ll be sure to re-post in this interview some of the spreads from the book that also appeared in Adam’s interview.) It’s also one of the Most Fun of ’09.

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A Family Tree as Only Nelson and Qualls Can Bring It

h1 Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

“My papa is a car man. He makes dented doors and crumpled fenders look brand-new. His shop always smells like paint, and he has to wear a safety mask. When Papa comes home from work, he washes his hands with Lava soap, takes off his big work boots, and stretches out on the living room rug. His feet are a little stinky, but that’s okay. I curl up beside him, and we rest till Mama calls us for supper.”
(Click to enlarge spread.)

Two weeks ago, I decided to check in with some of the Men of Children’s Lit (or, in one case, his publisher) Who Have Previously Visited the Blog and see if they’d let me showcase some of the illustrations from their latest titles. (No slight to the women; it just started out with a couple of men, and then it kept building. Let’s check in with the women next, shall we?) I kicked it off with Lane Smith and David Ezra Stein. Today, Sean Qualls stops by again. He was here in April, one of my favorite 7-Imp interviews, I confess — not only because his art makes me happy, but because he sent tons of illustrations and sketches to share in that post. It’s right up there in the Dave-McKean category for Most Art Sent for a Post. This is a good thing in my book.

And that interview included sketches from the book I’m featuring today, Vaunda Micheaux Nelson’s Who Will I Be, Lord? If you like the cool (in more ways than one — check out his blue palette) spreads you see here, then head on over to that interview to see some of his early sketches for the book.

Nelson’s book, released in October from Random House, is about a young girl, looking ahead to her future, wondering what she’ll be, by looking back at her own family tree.

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Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Taeeun Yoo

h1 Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

This is undeniably backwards, but I’m here to talk a little bit today about a book I have yet to read. It’s called Only a Witch Can Fly (published by Feiwel & Friends in August), and it’s by the prolific and talented Alison McGhee. The illustrations were done by Taeeun Yoo, who has illustrated enough picture books to count on one hand, but whose work I very much like. Every time she illustrates a new title, I’m all over it. (I featured two spreads from Yoo’s The Little Red Fish way back in ’07, when 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks was but a wee babe. As I said then, that book is utterly captivating. And it has a CLOTH COVER, which for some reason makes me squealy.)

I’m eagerly awaiting my library copy of Only a Witch…. Crafted by McGhee as a sestina, it’s been met with rave reviews all around: “This sophisticated picture book is rich with imagination… More personal, quiet, and transcendent than most Halloween books…” from Booklist and “{t}he effortless quiet of McGhee’s words is beautifully matched by Yoo’s pictures — linoleum block prints done in rapturously moody greens and browns” from The New York Times, just to name two. (Plus, when Adrienne tells me a picture book is good, I know I’m gonna like it. And she very much likes this one.)

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One Impossibly Good Article Before Breakfast

h1 Monday, November 2nd, 2009

A quick note this morning, in the category of Interesting to Others Who Are Hip to Kids’ Lit Blogs (well, and also those who are interested in reading about the ever-changing world of contemporary book-reviewing):

Betsy Bird has a great article about children’s lit blogs and their place in the world in the current issue of School Library Journal. Pictured here is the cover. How great is that? Look at those babes. The article is linked online at the SLJ site. It’s here.

Tremendous thanks to Betsy for including 7-Imp in the “Ten Blogs You Can’t Live Without” list. Very flattering, as 7-Imp’s in excellent company there. Most excellent company.

Enjoy the read!

Note: A commenter over at that online article wrote: “Sadly, I understand Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast is ending soon. (Please correct me if I’m wrong!)” Nope, I’ll still be here, as Jama quickly noted in a comment (thanks, Jama!), running my mouth. Eisha is backing out—by choice, but I admit we had too much fun entertaining the notion of staging a fake fight (heh)—but I remain. I’ve got my coffee cup and breakfast in hand, still. Ready and waiting to chat with more folks.

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #139: Featuring Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Tess Bailey

h1 Sunday, November 1st, 2009

Spirit HorseHappy November to one and all, and I hope everyone had a great Halloween yesterday.

I love the first Sundays of every month at 7-Imp, in which either a student illustrator, a newly-graduated illustrator, or someone otherwise new to illustration stops by to share some art. This week we have Tess Bailey, who recently graduated from the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a concentration in Illustration. Tess, who I believe is in Maryland now, is sharing with us this morning some of her thesis art work, which I think is beautiful stuff. Pictured above is Spirit Horse, probably my very favorite piece. Pictured below is Hawaiian Legend (click on that image to enlarge and see more details), followed by a little bit from Tess herself about her work.

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