Archive for March, 2010

Visiting the Farm with Elisha Cooper

h1 Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

If I may say so myself, here’s dedication for you: I seem to have the rotten ‘ol stomach bug from which my husband suffered over the weekend. Since 90% of this post on Elisha Cooper’s brand-new picture book, Farm (to be released by Orchard Books in April), was already done before the unwelcome visitor arrived, I’m going to go ahead and post. Yes, it’s four a.m. (you know when you’re too sick to sleep properly?), and I sit here—barely vertical, since food is my sworn enemy right now—with my trusty laptop we’ll call…um…Trusty.

Now, I had planned for this introduction here to Elisha’s new book to be so eloquent and beautiful and pitch-perfect that you 7-Imp readers would say to yourselves, “Selves: Now, why in the big wide world won’t some professional review publication hire Jules to write for them?” It was going to be stupendous and awe-inspiring and leave you misty-eyed and perfectly nail this beautiful book.

No? Well, maybe one day.

For now, you’ll have to accept this humble introduction — and believe me when I say this picture book is worth your time. It is a detailed, intimate look at a contemporary farm, one that looks at modern family farms with a clear eye and with great reverence. It’s luminous is what it is. When I first got my review copy, I recall gasping lightly at that gorgeous cover. And spending about five minutes just taking in the colors and composition and all-around Elisha goodness. If the room weren’t spinning lightly, I’d do my usual bit in which I tell you what the professional reviewers have said about the book thus far, but you can hit a site like Barnes and Noble (my favorite for compiling reviews clearly in one spot, though supporters of independent bookstores should know I always link to IndieBound when I can).

“After a storm, the farm swells with sound. The corn rustles. The cattle bellow. A tractor echoes in and out. Birds quarrel. Bugs hum. Their hum is constant. Even the clouds seem to make sound as they bump across the sky. For a quiet place,
the farm is not so quiet.”

(Click to enlarge spread.)

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #160: Featuring Red Nose Studio

h1 Sunday, March 28th, 2010

“The Break of Dawn was a happy little tugboat. Her captain and crew was Cap’m Duffy St. Pierre, a crusty old sailor. Together they tugged the Garbage Barge
down the East Coast of America…”

(Click to enlarge spread.)

Here Comes the Garbage Barge (Schwartz & Wade Books, February 2010) is one of the most striking picture books I’ve seen this year. I’m rather ashamed to say I had the chance to interview both the author, Johah Winter (who wrote, amongst other great titles, this fabulous book), and Chris Sickels of Red Nose Studio, who created the art for the book, but I’ve had so much on my plate lately that I had to turn down that opportunity. This PAINS me. And I really hope that I can chat with them at a later date. At the very least, I have two spreads from the book to show you today.

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Poetry Friday: Feeding my Coffee Habit
with Author/Illustrator Barney Saltzberg

h1 Friday, March 26th, 2010

This morning, I welcome children’s book author and illustrator Barney Saltzberg, who has published more than thirty books in his career thus far, as well as released two CDs of children’s music. Barney also teaches a class on writing and illustrating picture books at UCLA. He’s here this morning to talk a bit about his brand-new picture book, All Around the Seasons (Candlewick, February 2010), as well as share some art from it. The energetic book, in the words of Kirkus, is a rhyming salute to the four seasons. School Library Journal adds: “The illustrations, done in acrylic and pencil, have a childlike simplicity that should appeal to young children. Emerging readers might also like to try this book, as the simple verse and large, clear font are easy to read without crowding the pictures.”

With regard to coffee, Barney says he and his wife “users,” not drinkers. This I love. “Every morning I make espresso for whomever is in the house,” he told me, “which sometimes feels like a B&B. I refer to my coffee corner as Barnbucks.” So, I’m going to have a seat at Barnbucks here—yes, I’ve invited myself over—while Barney tells us a bit about his new title. Thanks to Barney for letting me visit…

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Just pointing out brilliance when I see it…

h1 Thursday, March 25th, 2010

…Go read this from Kristen McLean over at pixie stix kids pix.

And then have a good day.

See you tomorrow.

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Oliver Jeffers

h1 Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Can you imagine me here with my 7-Imp notepad, and I’m making a check on it? I’m checking off the name of illustrator and painter Oliver Jeffers, as I’ve always wanted him to visit 7-Imp and have coffee with me over breakfast. Honestly, I’m not that organized. No such 7-Imp notepad exists; it’s more like a scattered mess of chicken-scratch notes on my desk, but you get the idea.

I’m going to fall back on the old tired but true List of Seven Reasons It’s Good to Have This Particular Visitor Here Today:

1). Oliver’s Lost and Found (Philomel, 2006) is one of my Top Best Most Favorite Adored Beloved Treasured Apple-of-My-Eye picture books in all the world. Ever read it? It includes these two chaps . . .

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #159: Featuring Julie Paschkis

h1 Sunday, March 21st, 2010

If I re-named this blog, I dunno, Seven Impossible Julie Paschkises Before Breakfast, I’m quite certain regular 7-Imp readers wouldn’t be surprised. (I know the title would need some work.) I’ve featured Ms. Paschkis’ art many times before here at the blog, and it’s evident I’m a huge fan.

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Poetry Friday: The 3 a.m. Request for Water

h1 Friday, March 19th, 2010

This poem comes from Deborah Garrison’s 2007 collection of poetry entitled The Second Child (Random House). This is not re-printed with permission. I hope you all won’t have to visit me in Poetry Jail. The poems are funny, tender, and honest, and some of them send goosebumps up my arms. My commentary this morning will not go beyond that. I simply leave the poem for you to enjoy.

“A Drink in the Night” by Deborah Garrison:

My eyes opened
at once for you were standing
by my side, you’d padded
in to ask for a drink in the night.

The cup was—-where?
Fallen down, behind?
Churning in the dishwater, downstairs?
Too tired to care, I cupped
my hand and tipped it
to you. You stared, gulped,
some cold down your chin.
Whispered, “Again!”

O wonder. You’d no idea
I could make a cup.
You’ve no idea what
I can do for you, or hope to.
You watched, curious and cool,
as I cupped some up
to my own lips, too,
then asked,
“Why does it taste better?”

The Poetry Friday round-up is being held this morning over at Some Novel Ideas.

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Chris Wormell

h1 Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Strong lines. Gorgeous hues. Sheer artistry. Dramatic. Exquisitely-crafted. Elegant. Pitch perfect. Oh, I could go on. Those are descriptors that have been applied by various and sundry professional reviewers to the books crafted by British author/illustrator Chris Wormell. In all my picture book nerd-dom, Wormell is one illustrator whose titles I’ve followed with a keen eye for the past several years. He’s a class act and makes some truly beautiful books. Many of his books are either dramatic tales of clever, fearless child protagonists or animal tales in one form or fashion, and most of his work has been rendered in lino cut prints, wood engravings, or watercolor. No matter the medium, it’s striking — his bold strokes and elegant compositions.

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Can’t Pinch Me Today

h1 Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

I pulled this Kevin-Hawkes illustration, one of my favorites from 2008, from the 7-Imp archives in order to not get cyber-pinched today. You may remember that this comes from The Road to Oz: Twists, Turns, Bumps, and Triumphs in the Life of L. Frank Baum (Knopf Books for Young Readers, September ’08), written by the very talented author of a whole slew, to be precise, of award-winning biographies for children, Kathleen Krull.

I simply never tire of looking at that illustration.

My kindergartener told me yesterday that her class set out some leprechaun traps. I find this a disturbing and dramatic turn-of-events for the poor little guys, but let’s hope they survived this morning.

And a happy St. Patrick’s Day to you. I’ll be back tomorrow with an interview. Until then…

Monday’s Post In Which Chris Barton and Tom Lichtenheld Join Me to Talk About Their New Book

h1 Monday, March 15th, 2010

Will someone hire me as librarian-for-the-day just so I can share Chris Barton’s and Tom Lichtenheld’s new title, Shark Vs. Train, with a group of children, followed by Bob Shea’s 2008 title, Dinosaur Vs. Bedtime? I think it quite possibly could be the Loudest and Most Entertaining Story Time in Recent History.

But I’m here to focus on the former title, released by Little, Brown earlier this month. In fact, as mentioned in my tremendously creative post title up there, the author and illustrator are joining me for late-night cyber-coffee to discuss the book. And its illustrator, Tom Lichtenheld (you do remember this wonderful madness, don’t you?), will share some rejected spreads from the book, once the coffee starts brewing. Yup, these spreads have little post-it notes on their backs that say “kick me.” But rejects have never been so welcome, I say. You’ll see why below.

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