Archive for January, 2010

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Stephen Alcorn

h1 Thursday, January 14th, 2010

It’s a pleasure to have illustrator Stephen Alcorn visiting today: I’ve wanted to highlight his work since I first saw Lee Bennett Hopkin’s America At War in 2008. Stephen is most likely known for his striking relief-block prints, which he manages to infuse with metaphor and great emotion.

But Alcorn also works in watercolors, oils, and mixed-media. And, no matter his medium, you can bet you’ll see his imaginatively-rendered illustrations in books beautifully-designed. Always beautifully-designed.

Take last year’s A Gift of Days: The Greatest Words to Live By (Atheneum), a book of days with an accompanying portrait of a legendary figure, along with a quote from the famous person. Wrote Kirkus, “Alcorn lays this out on each double-page spread with a stunning polychrome-relief block-print bordered with pattern on one leaf and, facing, a week of birthdays and quotes. These images are often brilliantly inventive: Billie Holiday’s camellia has a death’s head in its center; John Lennon {pictured below} is figured as the King of Hearts with a Mozart overlay; Leonardo da Vinci is posed like the Mona Lisa.”

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Some Crazy-Good Art on a Tuesday: Jeremy Holmes

h1 Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

“THERE WAS AN OLD LADY WHO SWALLOWED A SPIDER that wriggled and wiggled and tiggled inside her. SHE SWALLOWED THE SPIDER TO CATCH THE FLY. I don’t know why she swallowed a fly. PERHAPS SHE’LL DIE.”
(Click to enlarge image.)

If I didn’t have the above image caption, would you even guess for one second that this illustration from the German-born yet U.S.-raised designer and illustrator Jeremy Holmes comes from the mother of all cumulative children’s folk songs, “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly”? Yup, it’s one of my favorite creepiest picture book adaptations of the story/song, released in August of ’09 by Chronicle Books.

Well, you could say “book” or you could say—as Drawn! did in October of last year—book-as-objet-d’art. And that’s because this book is … well, let me just show you. It goes a little something like this:

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #149: Featuring Timothy Basil Ering

h1 Sunday, January 10th, 2010

(Click to enlarge spread.)

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.

I’m here once again on a Sunday to share art from a book I was hoping I’d feature in an illustrator interview, but it looks like the interview might not happen. Boo. That’s okay: Let’s go ahead and enjoy the art this morning, shall we?

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Poetry Thursday-Slash-Friday:
If These Walls Could Speak . . .

h1 Thursday, January 7th, 2010

{Note: You can click on that spread to enlarge and see it in more detail; you’ll just have to wait a bit for the download.}

On this Poetry Friday I highlight a book published by Creative Editions (hubba whoa, they make some beautiful books) in August of ’09, written by J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Italian illustrator Roberto Innocenti. It’s an over-sized, lovingly-designed book (as many of Creative Edition’s books are), called The House, which chronicles—via quatrains—the life of a stone-and-mortar house, the “House of twenty thousand tales,” constructed in 1656.

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A Quick Post in Appreciation of Dorothée de Monfreid

h1 Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

“It was a wolf! Felix trembled as he watched the wolf build a great big fire and sit down in front of it. ‘Stay still,’ Felix told himself. And then, suddenly, he heard . . .”

So, I certainly haven’t read all of French author/illustrator Dorothée de Monfreid’s titles. Far from it. I’ve only ever seen I’d Really Like to Eat a Child, written by Sylviane Donnio and published first here in the States by Random House in ’07. (Here is my enthusiastic post about that title.)

Let me be clear, too, that I’m not one of those bloggers who is going to stop talking about 2009 titles, simply because 2010 has presented herself. Oh heavens, no. Clearly, I like to focus on illustration anyway, and so—as I shine a spotlight on Dorothée today—I mention her latest title, which was published in September of ’09, Dark Night, originally published in France in ’07 as Nuit Noire. (O, French, how I wish I had learned you better. “Nuit Noire” is just so fun to say. Say it with me now, dear readers.)

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Does He Really Have to Go?

h1 Monday, January 4th, 2010

{Note: This is Adam Rex’s caricature of Jon Scieszka, revived from my 2007 interview with Jon.}

Oh, I am Generally Not Prepared for this, but I must do this post today, which I am whipping up on the spot and so forgive any errors and my general lack of organization.

Today the kidlitosphere is thanking Jon Scieszka for his wonderful work for the past two years as the nation’s first National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. The position, as you can read there at that link, was created by the Library of Congress in 2008 to “raise national awareness of the importance of young people’s literature as it relates to lifelong literacy, education, and the development and betterment of the lives of young people.”

Immediately after being given his sash, Jon said the following at this School Library Journal interview, which just went to prove how perfect a choice he was:

“A big part of my platform will be to reach reluctant readers and to put their parents at ease, especially those parents who are worried about testing or their kids not reading. I can be the official guy who says, ‘Take a deep breath; relax. Let’s not freak out about these tests. We know kids are having trouble reading. But we’ve got the answer for you. Let’s stop testing kids and beating them with a stick. Let’s try the carrot. Let’s let them read good books, because we’ve got a lot of them. Let’s let kids enjoy reading.'”

Oh thank you thank you, Jon. He also discussed the following things for the past two years, while touring the country:

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #148: Featuring Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Marta Pelrine-Bacon

h1 Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

(Click to enlarge. In fact, you can click to enlarge most of the art in this post.)

Hello, all! And happy Sunday, the first of the DECADE. Kick up your feet and stay for the next ten years or so. 7-Imp’s happy to have you.

I love blogging. If I didn’t, I’d stop. But, having said that, I’ve enjoyed my blog break of sorts over the holidays and got into it so much that it’s taken me DAYS to get this post ready. (I usually whip ’em up in one night.) I’m moving at a snail’s pace, folks. It’s the holiday daze, which must end soon. This I know.

But today’s featured artist makes it really easy to get back into the groove of things. Check this out:

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