Archive for November, 2010

Alfred and I Have a Few Random Announcements
and General Random-ness to Share
(Plus, We Need a Band Already)

h1 Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Here’s Alfred again to help me with a few announcements. If you’re thinking, hubba what? or who shot who in the what now? or what in the what the? or Alfred hubba who? or who said what in the hey now?, that means you don’t tend to make it to the bottom of my 7-Imp interviews. (And this would be okay. I mean it when I tell people, which I do a lot, that it’s almost a science to keep up with children’s-lit blogs these days. It’s hard, isn’t it?) Anyway, Alfred—who came from the pen of author/illustrator Matt Phelan (whom I forever associate not only with good books for children, but also lots and lots of ukuleles) and whom Matt told over a year ago to pack his bags and live here at 7-Imp—is always here to introduce the Pivot Questionnaire. I have finally added Alfred to the “about” page of the blog. See here. I figured that 7-Imp has a new mascot (see here and scroll down for the news), thanks to illustrator Scott Magoon, whom I placed on the “about” page. (The mascot, not Scott himself.) And then I realized poor Alfred has really been a mascot of sorts ALL ALONG. Or at least my good buddy. He and I meet for toast and coffee every morning and discuss what to post. Yes, he looks rather sinister and moderately surly, but he’s really sort of a softie, too.

Also, someone suggested that 7-Imp have its own theme song. Paula of Pink Me even wrote some zippy-quick impromptu lyrics…

SEVEN THINGS! What kind of things they could be any things mostly book things but sometimes they’re other things SEVEN THINGS!!

I made that font big, as I imagine the lyrics being sort of yelled spastically and crowd-goers moshing and such, as if they don’t have one single care in the world. Paula has suggested They Might Be Giants record it (I’ll also agree to The Black Keys, even if they don’t yell), possibly with horns in the arrangement. Maybe a ska treatment, Paula says. Read the rest of this entry �

Cristiana Clerici’s International Spotlight #2:
An Interview with Illustrator Eva Montanari

h1 Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

I may not be able to fly to Italy and have coffee with the ebullient and very smart children’s-lit blogger Cristiana Clerici (pictured below), as I’d like to do, but every once in a blue moon I pull myself together and have something that might resemble a clever idea. And in September of this year, it was to invite Cristiana to 7-Imp, whenever the mood strikes her, to help me shine the spotlight on international picture book titles. Real coffee and meeting Cristiana in person would trump cyber-coffee any day, but I take what I can get. To get the low-down on what I’m calling Cristiana Clerici’s International Spotlights, visit this page of the site.

Today, Cristiana makes blogging easy for me, as she sent me the content for the below interview with Italian author/illustrator Eva Montanari (pictured right), and I had the distinct pleasure of formatting the images and text. The rest is all Cristiana — and Eva, of course, who muses on the creative process; her teaching and turning the “modest and inspired doodles” of her students into narrative threads; exploring the new territories of her art; rediscovering childhood joys in her illustrations; the joys (yes, joys) of making mistakes in one’s art; and lots more. So, I turn the keyboard over to Cristiana (who not only conducts these interviews, but also then translates them for us readers), and I thank her and Ms. Montanari for their contributions to 7-Imp and picture book discussions.

Cristiana: Last summer, I went to Macerata, where illustration classes are held for those who would like to become children’s books illustrators. I had been invited by Ars In Fabula, who organized those courses, to see how their Master works, since it had already brought about excellent results (for instance, just to mention the most recent ones, La Governante by Sara Gavioli, or the new version of I Promessi Sposi by Umberto Eco, published with Scuola Holden and illustrated by Marco Lorenzetti). Read the rest of this entry �

Peter Brown Makes One Really Good Book
About How Children Make Terrible Pets*

h1 Monday, November 8th, 2010

(An earlier, experimental spread from Peter Brown’s Children Make Terrible Pets)

* {Ouch. I know. These are the kinds of unforgivably uncreative post titles you get before I’ve had the sweet brown life blood that is my coffee and when you get as little sleep as I got last night.}

Please allow me, dear readers, to be fixated just one more day on the New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2010 list, announced last week. Yesterday, I featured some spreads from Suzy Lee’s Shadow, and today Peter Brown is back to talk a bit more about his 2010 title, which also made the NYT list, Children Make Terrible Pets (Little, Brown, September 2010). You may remember Peter discussing it (and sharing early spreads and sketches from it) in my April interview with him.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #192: Featuring Suzy Lee
(Again — Hey, I’m a Huge Fan)

h1 Sunday, November 7th, 2010

It’s the first Sunday of the month, when I normally bring my readers an introduction to a student illustrator or someone otherwise new to children’s book illustration, but I’m breaking the rules today. And that would be because my favorite “best of” list of the whole year, no matter what year, came out this week — the New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books list. Here’s the wonderful (very short) round-up for 2010. Ten titles from thousands published during the year that three esteemed judges (including my writing partner-in-crime this year, Betsy Bird) deem the best in illustration. Since I’ve covered quite a few of those books here at the blog this year—and since I only cover what I really like—it may not come as a surprise that I give seven enthusiastic thumbs-ups to the list. Er, I would if, I had seven thumbs, that is.

Now, y’all know I’m a Suzy Lee fan something fierce (as evidenced by this ’08 interview, this post, this post, this post, this post, and … shoot, I give up looking, but there are probably more). You will see on the NYT list that her newest title, Shadow, is on there. I’ve had this book a while and have been marvelling over it. Just when I thought I couldn’t like her work anymore, she up and does a book like this. I finally got around to requesting some spreads from it, just in time for this list’s release. So, that’s what I’m celebrating today — instead of what I normally do the first Sunday of each month. I’m breakin’ the law.

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One (Truly) Impossible Cooking Show Before Breakfast

h1 Thursday, November 4th, 2010

“Hello! I’m Henry, and this is my little sister, Eleanor, but I like to call her Elliebelly. Welcome to our show, Cooking with Henry and Elliebelly. COOKING!…”
(Click to enlarge spread.)

I’ve been sitting on these illustrations and sketches for a while now, so let’s get right to it. I bring to you this morning with great enthusiasm and a not-so-humble opinion:

Seven Reasons Why Cooking with Henry and Elliebelly is one of the Funniest Picture Books I’ve Seen in 2010:

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Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast
# Oh-I’ve-Just-Stopped-Counting: J. Patrick Lewis

h1 Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

I’m sorry for the field of Economics, but happy for children’s literature, that J. Patrick Lewis, once upon a time, jumped careers. Yup, Lewis, who goes by Pat, was a Professor of Economics for thirty years — before devoting himself to full-time writing. I hate to use such a clichéd phrase (do authors roll their eyes at it?) but just have to introduce him by saying I think he’s a national treasure. Truly. If I’m counting correctly, he’s about to hit the 70 mark, as in he’s written almost 70 books, mostly poetry collections, for children. He’s been honored by the American Library Association and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and has established himself as one of this country’s most distinguished children’s poets and authors. He has earned wide acclaim for the vivid language (whether sophisticated and poignant or light-hearted and nonsensical) and lyrical writing of his poetry, written in a wide-range of styles and covering seven skerjillion (to be precise) subjects; his passion for visiting schools and working with children (“Getting children excited about the wonders of poetry—experiencing literature—is the reason I visit schools in the first place,” he writes at his site); and his work that consistently “respects the music of the written word” (also taken from his site). As Booklist once told it like it is, he is simply a “fine poet,” and School Library Journal once wrote, “no one is better at clever wordplay than Lewis.”

And BOY HOWDY have I wanted to have him visit 7-Imp for a long, long time now. And I enjoyed chatting with him so much that I’m going to get right to it. Not surprisingly, I’ve included as much art as I can in this post, including some spreads from two of his latest picture books. Enjoy. And I thank Pat for stopping by and having virtual coffee with me.

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Nashville Kidlit Drink Night

h1 Monday, November 1st, 2010

Just another reminder for any Tennesseans who happen to read the blog that we middle-Tennessee folks have kicked off the monthly Nashville Kidlit Drink Night, which will be the first Tuesday of each month, beginning at 6:30. Tomorrow evening, we meet at a new location, Boscos (in Hillsboro Village).

Last month, at our inaugural meeting, we had a good turn-out (and mostly talked books, OF COURSE), and we hope to see even more kidlit folks each month — whether you’re a blogger, teacher, librarian, author, illustrator, anyone who works in publishing in any way, person who works in no way with children’s lit but is a fan, and whomever else I might be forgetting. And please spread the word. I even started a Google group for those who attended the first night so that we can share children’s-lit-related announcements, as well as remind each other about our monthly gatherings, so if anyone wants on that list, please contact me.

So, see you there, I hope:

Tuesday, November 2, 2010
6:30 to 8:30 p.m. (You’ll still have time to get home to see election results, promise)
Boscos Hillsboro Village
1805 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37212