Archive for February, 2010

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #156: Featuring Susan Gal

h1 Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Pictured here is Susan Gal’s Dog Gone, painted in 2009 (charcoal and digital collage). Some of you may remember this Poetry Friday post in which I shared two spreads from this debut illustrator’s first picture book, Night Lights (2009), which was met with more than one starred review. Susan—who began her illustration career as a poster and calendar artist, followed by animation work for Disney—is here this morning to say hello and tell us what’s next for her. Her second picture book with Random House will be released this May. It’s called Please Take Me for a Walk, and since I’ve got an early copy of it, I can vouch for its deep, deep charms. It’s a title about friendship and community, as seen through the eyes of a gregarious pup, and it’s cozy and fun. I said before, and I’ll say it again: Gal’s work to me is reminiscent of one of her idols, Ezra Jack Keats. (I also see online, as I compose this post, that Kirkus made the same comparison and also compared her work to Margaret Bloy Graham’s, though they add, “the images manage to be both fresh and familiar.” Graham, as you can see below, is another of Susan’s artistic idols.) Susan’s charcoal and digital collage spreads are warm and intimate. I love what I see in her two titles thus far and am eager to see where she goes from here.

Without further ado, here’s Susan to say hi and share a bit more art: Read the rest of this entry �

Poetry Friday

h1 Friday, February 26th, 2010

I promise I haven’t forsaken Poetry Fridays. I do so love Poetry Fridays. But, hey, I’ll be back with an entry soon. And you know what else? All kinds of other folks are sharing poetry today. Jone’s hosting the Poetry Friday round-up, if you feel like exploring…

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Matt Tavares

h1 Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Author/illustrator Matt Tavares is joining me for breakfast this morning, and here’s why I’m happy about it:

My Picture Book Moods change. I love some good abstract children’s book illustrations some days; I love the postmodern on others. I love me some funky and even some cartoony, depending on my mood, and I like minimalism done well. Sometimes my mood is very Rashcka; other days, very Kadir. Some days, it’s gotta be detailed, ornate Barbara McClintock or nothing at all. You know me (and you get the point): While I have my favorite styles and illustrators, I also am an all-around Picture Book Nerd who likes to take it all in — as long as it’s done well. And when I want to see a master watercolorist working in realism, someone who paints—as The Washington Post once put it—with a real sense of solidity (and usually taking on quite “monumental subject matter”), one illustrator I go to is Matt. In writing about his illustrations for Doreen Rappaport’s Lady Liberty, James McMullan wrote in The New York Times, “Tavares creates images with a pageantlike grandeur. He achieves this by arranging the figures in classically simple compositions and through his use of light.” Spectacular is what the work in that book is…

Read the rest of this entry �

Coffee with Kathi and Kelly, Singin’ the Blues…

h1 Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

I’m having cyber-coffee this morning with Kathi Appelt and Kelly Murphy. However, since I’m feeling a bit under the weather (You know how getting the flu shot can momentarily give you flu-like symptoms? Yeah. That.), I’m going to keep this introduction short. It goes something like this: Kathi wrote a picture book, which Kelly illustrated, and it was published last December by HarperCollins. It’s called Brand-New Baby Blues. I actually haven’t read it yet. That’s right. Haven’t read it yet, though I’ve seen snippets here and snippets there. But I still wanted Kathi and Kelly to visit and talk a bit about the book, as I generally like what they do and am interested in getting my library copy soon. I know, I know: I usually give you my opinion of a book, but humor my temporarily achy self here. When I read the book later, if I think your happiness as a reader is in jeopardy, I’ll come back and warn you. Somehow, I doubt this.

The book, all about a young girl’s attempts to acclimate to life with her baby brother, which prompts her to sing the blues of the picture book’s title, is “funny and concise,” wrote Kirkus. Here’s what else they said:

…the rollicking rhyme bounces along, accepting the frustration natural to the situation, while gently allowing the girl’s love of and appreciation for her brother, as well as her anticipation of a future playmate, to gradually shine through. The process is complemented by the illustrations, which modulate in palette from angry blues and greens to sunny yellows, while serene compositions replace off-kilter ones. Older brothers and sisters will easily identify with this jaunty heroine and profit from her realizations — an excellent choice for a new older sibling.

So, without further ado, I welcome Kathi and Kelly. Since Kelly’s up, getting us some biscotti for our coffee, Kathi is up first: Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #155: Featuring Paul Schmid

h1 Sunday, February 21st, 2010

Anyone else see this review over at A Year of Reading? That’s Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s latest title, published by HarperCollins last month and illustrated by Paul Schmid. It’s called The Wonder Book, and it’s…well, a little wonder, to be precise about it. I love children’s books that do word play well (as it’s ever-so easy to screw up), and this is one. I’m happy to feature Paul this morning, who is making his debut in picture books with this title. Amy says—in that video you see linked in Franki’s post—that Paul’s illustrations perfectly “capture the essence and flavor of this book. It’s almost as if his style was created for this book. I cannot imagine The Wonder Book looking any other way.” Score.

The Wonder Book, which—as the publisher likes to point out—is tremendously browse-able, has poems, lists, (clever, as already mentioned) word play, the less famous friends of Mary Mack, Prince sdrawkcaB (a poem actually best read backwards, as in last line first and first line last), palindromes (including the “Too bad I hid a boot” Paul shares below), half-birthday celebrations, a dinosaur with a killer vocabulary (Tyrannothesaurus Rex, who talks everyone to death), a word play in four acts, some moments of clarification, a Rhyming Summary of the Universe, and lots and lots of wonderings. To be opened and read in any spot you’d like, as noted, it’s actually a good title for a lazy, wondering Sunday morning, I have to say. Publishers Weekly has already noted the “Silversteinian effect” of the book, in case your brain is also yelling WHEE! WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS!, as mine was when I first saw the book.

Read the rest of this entry �

Judith Kerr’s New Book, Usurping Tigers, and a Few Random ’09 Picture Book Reprints That Interest Me

h1 Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

“Four bears cooked a squid and squidgeberry stew…”

I’m doing another quickie In-Appreciation post today. Okay, well: Doing an In-Appreciation post about British writer (though German-born) Judith Kerr after having only read two of her books kinda makes me a poseur. But I very much love the two books, and I’d like to explore her work further. As you can read here, she’s also known for her Mog series, as well as the children’s novel When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit. She’s also well-known for this title…

Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Jeff Newman

h1 Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

I’ve got my cereal bowl ready this morning, as I’m having Lucky Charms with author/illustrator Jeff Newman. I have to say: I like this interview. I want to take it to the zoo to visit hippos and rhinos. I like Jeff’s responses, particularly his…well, his economy of expression. (The good kind, that is. I’ve had some interviewees exhibit an economy of expression coupled with an obvious apathy for the interview, but Jeff is both to-the-point and friendly.) And I am happy about all the art he’s sharing this morning. In my world, Jeff is one of children’s literature’s newest sensations: In a just world, I think he’d Go Places. His art work and storytelling are fresh and funny and like no other’s.

I admit I haven’t read his first book (Jeff lists his books below), but when Hippo! No, Rhino came out in ’06, looking easily like a book that might have been published when I was but a wee babe, it quickly became one of my favorite picture books from that year. (And there are precisely seven skerjillion picture books about zoos in this world; that one’s probably my favorite of all.) Most of the story in Hippo! No, Rhino, as well as his new title, is told through the illustrations, School Library Journal calling it a “clever exercise in promoting visual literacy.”

Wait. What was that? Did I mention his new title? Well, let’s get right to it. I can’t wait any longer. I love his new picture book so much. I really do. If it had a neck, I’d hug its neck. My favorite picture book thus far in 2010 this one is. It’s called… Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #154: Featuring Sergio Ruzzier

h1 Sunday, February 14th, 2010

My Valentine’s Day gift to everyone this morning involves some illustrations from Sergio Ruzzier’s newest title, Hey, Rabbit!, published by Roaring Brook Press. (I had it in my head that it was published at the end of last year, but online sources tell me it’s coming out in a few days. Shows you what I know.) Since this is a sweet, unassuming tale of friendship that I very much like, a peek at the art is my Heart Day gift to you all, my friends.

Read the rest of this entry �

Here’s to the Voakes…

h1 Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Here’s a quick sneak-peek at a picture book coming from Candlewick later this month.

I’ve previously declared here at 7-Imp my deep and abiding love for the work of British author/illustrator, Charlotte Voake. I always get a little hyper when she illustrates a new title. Coming here to the States in a few weeks (first published in the UK, I suppose it was, in ’09) is Steve Voake’s nonfiction picture book, Insect Detective, illustrated by Charlotte. Evidently, Steve is Charlotte’s cousin. He’s also written some YA titles and is the author of an early-chapter-book series I love, but more on that in a moment.

Pictured here is the book’s beautiful cover… Read the rest of this entry �

Seven (Give or Take) Questions Over Breakfast
with Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

h1 Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Yesterday, in an interview at Cynsations conducted by Jenny Desmond Walters for SCBWI Bologna 2010, children’s book historian, author, and critic Leonard Marcus, when asked what future historians might have to say about children’s literature today, said: “{They’ll} have a lot to say about comics and graphic novels and how and why they went from being vilified to being regarded as mainstream.” It’s in large part thanks to this morning’s visitors to 7-Imp that they went from panned to praised. Created by two-time Newbery Honor-winning Jennifer L. Holm and her brother Matthew Holm, 2005’s Babymouse #1: Queen of the World (all books in the series are published by Random House) was the first graphic novel to be named an ALA/ALSC Notable Children’s Book, and the subsequent books in the series have made it one of contemporary children’s literature’s most successful series (and “one of the best characters going,” wrote Kirkus in 2008). To boot, the series was not only this funny, exciting new introduction to the graphic novel format, but also that rare bird in the graphic-novel category at that time: A series for girls. As they’ve stated in a previous interview, Jennifer was unimpressed with most of the female characters that were featured in the comics she read as a kid; thus Babymouse was born (though, as they’ve also stated in interviews before, boys are pretty crazy about the series, too).

Read the rest of this entry �