Archive for August, 2010

One Picture-Book Roundtable Discussion
Before Breakfast with Author Boni Ashburn at the Lead
(featuring Kelly Murphy, Maggie Lehrman, Chad W. Beckerman, and Julia Denos)

h1 Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

I love this post, yet I can’t take credit for the idea.

You all remember 2008′s Hush, Little Dragon (Abrams), written by Boni Ashburn and illustrated by Kelly Murphy, yes? I loved this delightfully subversive, subtly ghoulish little wonder, what the San Francisco Chronicle called “Sweeney Todd for the sandbox set” (it brought “a welcome tartness to mother love,” wrote the Washington Post), in which a mama dragon and her wee dragon settle down for the night (set to the tune of Hush, Little Baby), pondering which of the villagers in their medieval home they will snack upon in the way of a bed-time treat.

Well, Boni has written a sequel, released by Abrams this March, in which we visit the same dragons and village, and this time it’s set to the tune of Over in the Meadow, making this one a counting book, as well. Over at the Castle brings Boni and Kelly together again. And when I asked Boni about visiting 7-Imp to talk about the new title, she had a pretty kickin’ idea, and that would be to ask three other folks the same four questions she answered, in order to bring us unique perspectives on the process of picture-book-making: the illustrator, Kelly Murphy (who rendered this title in acrylic, oil, and gel medium); the editor, Maggie Lehrman; and the art director/book designer, Chad W. Beckerman. I love the idea so much I want to build a wayback machine and actually go to the prom, taking the idea as my date. (Shut up! No, I didn’t go. My contrarian friends and I filmed a horror-movie spoof that night instead, but I digress.) I even think it’d be fun to consider doing similar posts in the future. Kudos to Boni for the idea!

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #182: Featuring Béatrice Rodriguez

h1 Sunday, August 29th, 2010

{Note: Click on this image to see the entire spread from which it comes.}

When I did this…oh, about a month ago, I guess it was, I found myself telling those in attendance about a lot of wordless picture books. I realized that a lot of my favorite titles from this year (as well as in general) are true “picture books”: wordless gems. This morning, I’m featuring one of those — and one of my favorite picture books of 2010.

I first read about Béatrice Rodriguez’s The Chicken Thief (Enchanted Lion Books, May 2010)—originally published in France in 2005 as Le Voleur de Poule—at Betsy’s blog, in which she described it as “one of the lovelier picture book offerings of the year,” adding that it’s charming and very French and is an “epic cross-country chase, {which} reads like The Bremen Town Musicians meets The Fugitive.” The wonderful Paula at Pink Me also covered this one: Read the rest of this entry �

Three Impossibly Talented Illustrators Before Breakfast

h1 Thursday, August 26th, 2010

I’ve decided—after Tuesday’s visit with Hiroe Nakata—to feature even more picture books this week that are perfect for your wee’est of children, as Hiroe’s illustrated titles are. I’m talkin’ some more preschool fare from three picture-book creators that rarely, if ever, steer you wrong for this age range: Ashley Bryan, Lois Ehlert, and Denise Fleming. All three of them brought us some colorful (in more ways than one) titles this year. In terms of palette, I mean to say it’s like a rainbow spontaneously combusted this morning here at 7-Imp.

That opening image comes from Ashley Bryan’s picture book adaptation of Cecil Alexander’s beloved hymn, “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” released at the beginning of this year by Atheneum. Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Hiroe Nakata

h1 Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

I feature a lot of illustrators here at 7-Imp, but I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve given something like a full-length interview to an illustrator like Hiroe Nakata, visiting this morning (and pictured here with her young daughter), who creates illustrations almost exclusively for preschoolers. To be sure, she’s illustrated books for older readers, too, but for bright, inviting, sunny art work geared towards the very young, Hiroe won’t let you down.

Publishers Weekly once described Hiroe’s watercolors as “ebullient,” and that pretty much covers it. Title after title, her light-infused watercolors, typically depicting warm, loving families at play, engage the youngest of child readers — or listeners. Hiroe’s illustrated titles are great choices for intimate lap-time reads with wee children.

I invited Hiroe for a breakfast chat to find out how she got started, where she’s been, and what she’s up to now. Her breakfast-of-choice is Eggs Benedict with fries (mmm, I wholeheartedly endorse that), and I’ll bring the strong coffee. I thank her kindly for stopping by.

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I, For One, Am a Book Nerd Every Weekend

h1 Monday, August 23rd, 2010

I posted this yesterday at the blog, but it was at the very bottom of the post, so here again, in the name of shouting about a wonderful thing, is an early flyer for Nashville’s upcoming Southern Festival of Books, an annual three-day literary festival hosted every October by Humanities Tennessee. Check out the line-up, and that’s not even all the children’s and YA authors that will be in attendance. Whether you live in the South or not, consider a visit to Nashville in October. (I’m on a committee this year to help out with the children’s and YA author visits and events, yet I’ll be out of town for the actual festival. HORREURS! I’ll miss Mo and Jon and Kerry and Sara and Tom and everyone else, but it’s still fun to help prep.)

MID-MORNING ADDENDUM: Please note! Woot! (It’s particularly painful that I’m going to miss the screening of this film, but I can wait patiently.)

LATE-MORNING ADDENDUM, BUT I’M PROBABLY JUST TALKING TO MYSELF: I do get to see this documentary on that Sunday. Woo and hoo! Who’s gonna join me?

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #181: Featuring Sean Qualls
and Shadra Strickland

h1 Sunday, August 22nd, 2010


“… I look out the window / and I see the whole block swimming in water. / Furniture, clothes and toys are swirling in the flood. / Roofs are crumbling and windows are shattering. / Big winds have come and trees are breaking. / And all I can see is more water rising. / So I look away and I squeeze Jasmine’s hand / real tight because now
I am scared too.”

(Click to enlarge spread.)


“Her voice was light and springy. Her beat was perfectly in time with the band. Soon even the noisemakers in the second balcony were holding on to every word. The feeling of being listened to—oh, it was a salve to Ella’s sore heart.”
(Click to enlarge.)

I should probably open a kicks post, dear readers, with an image that is not as intense as that very first one, but I really love that spread from Shadra Strickland. It’s quite moving, yes? This comes from Shadra’s latest illustrated title, written by debut picture book author Renée Watson. And then, below that, we’ve got an illustration of Ella Fitzgerald from illustrator Sean Qualls to scatter some joy; that comes from Roxane Orgill’s forthcoming picture book biography of Ella Fitzgerald. Both Shadra and Sean have new illustrated titles out and have both been featured at the blog before—each multiple times—so I invited them over this morning for a show-us-what-you’re-up-to-now post.

And, since there’s quite a bit of art this morning, let’s get right to it. Read the rest of this entry �

When Size Matters

h1 Thursday, August 19th, 2010


“As time went by, the little creatures learned to hide from the Big Scary Monster.
He soon got bored because he couldn’t find anyone to scare.”

(Click to enlarge spread.)

Since, after Tuesday’s post, I’ve still got monsters on the brain, let’s check in quickly with another monster title this morning. This one comes from British author/illustrator Thomas Docherty, who was once shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal. Originally published in 2009, Big Scary Monster was released in the U.S. in July by Templar Books, an imprint of Candlewick.

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Whiny-Child Vindaloo and a Jackass of a Jackass:
The Slightly Demented of 2010

h1 Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

I thought I’d check in quickly this week to add to the ever-growing list of Slightly Demented Picture Books. Some of you may remember that librarian and blogger extraordinaire Adrienne Furness and I discussed our favorite slightly demented titles back in April of 2008, and I’m always happy when I see titles to mentally add to the list. (For the record, I’m speaking for myself here. For all I know, Adrienne may not care for these titles. I’ll just have to ask her, won’t I? Any excuse to talk to Adrienne.) 2010 brings us a couple I want to feature today. I’m talkin’ the wickedly funny, the mighty irreverent, the subversive little gems that surprise you. Sure, there’s a place for The Sweet and the Cute, but you all know I have a big, cushiony, pillowy, feathery soft spot in my heart for the subversive little gems, too.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #180:
Featuring Marije and Ronald Tolman

h1 Sunday, August 15th, 2010


(Click to enlarge spread.)

I’m so pleased to be featuring the illustrations this morning from one of my top-five favorite picture books of 2010. Oh yes, I have formed such a geek-tacular list in my head! The presentation I made weeks ago at The University of Tennessee’s Center for Children’s and Young Adult Literature—about my favorite picture book titles thus far in 2010—forced me to really consider my very bestest favorites from the year, and this book is one of them. It was actually published in 2009 in Belgium as De Boomhut, but Lemniscaat, an imprint of Boyds Mills Press, published the first U.S. edition this year.

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Random (Quickie) Illustrator Feature: Joseph Kelly

h1 Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Because I had less time for blog-writing last weekend, today’s post is another quickie art-stop post. Have you all seen yet Marjorie Blain Parker’s A Paddling of Ducks, illustrated by Joseph Kelly? Published by Kids Can Press in March, it’s subtitled Animals in Groups from A to Z. And, it occurs to me just now, wouldn’t it be fun to pair with this, seeing as how both books feature collective nouns for creatures (whether real or imaginary)? Woot! Good times.

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