Archive for December, 2010

A Bit of Picture-Book Globe-Hopping Before Breakfast
(With an Extra Thumbs-Up for Lola and the Rent-a-Cat)

h1 Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Title page illustration from Yona Tepper’s Passing By,
illustrated by Gil-Ly Alon Curiel (Kane Miller, January 2010)

Pack your bags, bring some coffee, and join me on a quick peek at some picture book titles from around the world. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now, so let’s get right to it.

We’ll get to the illustration opening this post in a second. First, let’s travel to Iran. In February of this year, Frances Lincoln Children’s Books released a collection of stories from Iran, titled Pea Boy. Read the rest of this entry �

I’m Just Sharing a Random Excerpt from
My Current Read Inasmuch as It’s Wonderful in About Seven Different Directions Before or After Breakfast

h1 Monday, December 13th, 2010

Hansel and Gretel came together like two magnets meeting, like meteors that have been screaming through space toward this one moment of collision. They met in the middle with a bang, and instantly their feet went out from under them on the slick roadway. They landed, hard, in a puddle of icy mud.

They stared at each other, sitting in the puddle.

Lost and then found.

Dead and then alive.

Covered in mud.

Sitting on their behinds in three inches of filthy water.

And they began to laugh. They threw their arms around each other and laughed until tears streamed down their faces. They sat, freezing, muddy, in a puddle in the middle of the road, with the gray sky overhead, and their parents’ castle waiting just a few miles away. They sat there and held each other until their arms ached.

‘Where have you been?’ Hansel asked as they pulled themselves out of the puddle.

‘How are you alive?’ Gretel asked at just the same moment.

So they climbed up on an oxcart and told each other about every single thing that had happened since the day of the hunt in the Lebenwald—and some things twice.

And as they talked and laughed and gasped and talked some more, Ivy and Betty {the oxen} drew them closer and closer to home.

Hansel and Gretel are coming to the hardest part now.

It’s true that they’ve been nearly eaten by a cannibalistic baker woman; and they’ve talked to the fiery sun and to the child-eating moon and to the kind stars; and they’ve journeyed to the Crystal Mountain; and that Gretel has cut off her own finger, and caused somebody to be boiled alive; and that Hansel has been turned into a beast and been shot and skinned and gambled away; and that he went to Hell and dressed up like the Devil’s grandmother; and that he’s been chased by the Devil himself and has held an old man’s hand as he died.

It’s true they’ve done all those things.

But sometimes, coming home is the hardest thing of all.

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #197: Featuring
Javaka Steptoe and Print Mafia

h1 Sunday, December 12th, 2010

“Like no one before him, Jimmy Hendrix taught his guitar to sing, scream, laugh, and cry. He learned to use it as an artist uses paint, creating new worlds with the colors of sound. To the heart and soul of the blues he added the restless energy of rock ‘n’ roll. His playing became bold as lightning. Wild as the waves.
Free as the wind through the trees…”

(Click to super-size spread.)

Things are coming up Very Rock-And-Roll at 7-Imp this morning. I knew I wanted to feature some art from Gary Golio’s vibrant new picture book biography of the young Jimi Hendrix, Jimi Sounds Like a Rainbow (Clarion Books, October 2010), illustrated by Javaka Steptoe. And then at the last moment, I remembered the late Melissa Duke Mooney’s The ABCs of Rock, published by Tricycle Press in October — and with illustrations from Print Mafia. Lucky for me, I was able to get spreads from each to share with readers this morning. So. Are you ready to rock?

Am I a colossal nerd for just typing “are you ready to rock?” Yes. I am.

How about: Are you ready to go to eleven, which is one louder? There we go. Spinal Tap references, speaking of hard-core rock-and-roll, make everything better.

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Interview Goodness

h1 Thursday, December 9th, 2010

A reminder: To see this week’s Winter Blog Blast Tour schedule, it is posted here. Scroll down to the bottom of that post. I’m updating the interview links as they go live.

Poetry/Haiku Thursday/Friday:
Cinnamon Geraniums and the Rainingest Rain

h1 Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Well, okay. Goofy post title, I know, but I haven’t had coffee yet. Not to mention I just couldn’t make up my mind. Today’s featured poetry anthology includes haiku—not just traditional poetry—and I’m going to post before Poetry Friday begins, so there ya go. Hence, my funky post title is what I’m trying to say. Anyway. I never promised to be coherent. (Did I?)

“Come with rain, O loud Southwester! / Bring the singer, bring the nester; /
Give the buried flower a dream; / Make the settled snow-bank steam…”

I love it when it rains. Really. I’m one of those chuckleheads who grins to herself when the forecast calls for days and days of it.

In July of this year, Charlesbridge released a poetry anthology dedicated to such days, One Big Rain: Poems for Rainy Days, compiled by Rita Gray and illustrated by Ryan O’Rourke, a title “well suited to a drizzly afternoon,” as Publishers Weekly wrote.

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Some Impossibly Beautiful Needlework
Before Breakfast: Interview with Illustrator
Salley Mavor (the Winter Blog Blast Tour Edition)

h1 Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

{Quick note for any newbies: Blog blast tours are when many children’s-book bloggers interview children’s and YA book authors over the course of a week, following one huge master schedule—which I’ve included at the bottom of this post—and we all get very link-happy and post about one another’s interviews in an effort to spread the word about great books. Enjoy.}

This September, illustrator and creator-of-beautiful-images, Salley Mavor, brought readers A Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes (Houghton Mifflin), and it truly is one of the most outstanding picture books you’ll see this year (in my enthusiastic opinion). A 64-page volume of classic nursery rhymes, Salley painstakingly and stunningly rendered all of the illustrations in needlework, what she calls her fabric relief collage. And it’s a jaw-dropper of a picture book. If you haven’t seen Salley’s work before now, let this be the first book of hers you see. “Rarely have classic childhood verses been depicted with so much care and detail — and fabric,” wrote Publishers Weekly. “Loosely organizing the rhymes over the course of the day, starting with morning themes and closing with bedtime rhymes, Mavor creates a miniature world using wool felt, various stitching techniques, and found materials like acorn caps and seashells… Mavor’s intricate and colorfully embroidered work of art makes even the best-known childhood poems feel special and new again.”

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Nashville Kidlit Drink Night

h1 Monday, December 6th, 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 again at Boscos (in Hillsboro Village).

For the last couple of meetings, we’ve had a good turn-out, 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 have started a Google group 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.

Perhaps we can indulge this month in some rum-laden eggnog. Or maybe even—in tribute to my second favorite holiday picture book ever—I can convince the person next to me to join me in some cognac, as Raymond Briggs’s surly Father Christmas, pictured above, prefers. I bet he’s got either that or “a good drop of ale” in that thermos of his on that book cover.

See you there, I hope:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Boscos Hillsboro Village
1805 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37212

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #196: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Amanda Laurel Atkins

h1 Sunday, December 5th, 2010

Silver in E Minor

Jules: It seems like just a moment ago I was talking about the first Sunday in January, and here we are facing the first one of December. Crazy talk, I tell ya. And, as my dear readers know, the first Sunday of the month means I shine the spotlight on a student or new-to-children’s-books illustrator. Today, I welcome Amanda Laurel Atkins, who shakes things up with some portraiture this morning. (I don’t think I’ve featured a portrait artist since the talented Jody Hewgill in 2008, but don’t quote me on that.)

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Cristiana Clerici’s International Spotlight #3:
Il Grande Alfredo by Spider (aka Daniele Melani)

h1 Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Jules: It’s time to welcome again Cristiana Clerici (pictured here) for another international picture-book spotlight. Today, she’s reviewing a 2010 Italian picture book, written and illustrated by Spider. Yes, Spider. Also known as Daniele Melani. And this is all Cristiana’s doing—this entire post—and I’ll try not to intrude, but can I just say now right off the bat, hubba whoa to the very surreal art pictured below (not to mention the Beckett-esque tale)? Okay, I said it. Done. It’s some eye-popping stuff, and I love that Cris (I’m gonna call her Cris, as if we’re best friends way over in Italy who have cappuccinos and, I dunno, hazel cinnamon rolls and mini frittatas every morning while gabbing about picture books in a small, rustic cafe in some remote Italian town) … Where was I? Oh, I love that Cris stops by here to show us what unpredictable and peculiar (this is a compliment) stuff is happening in contemporary picture books over in Europe. In case you missed it earlier, to get the low-down on what I’m calling Cristiana Clerici’s International Spotlights, visit this page of the site.

I thank her kindly for contributing today. You can click on each image below to super-size it and see in more detail.

Il Grande Alfredo by Spider, Orecchio Acerbo Editore, 2010

Cristiana: The Great Alfredo is the greatest clown of all time: he performs incredible acrobatics, he tells irresistible jokes, he does anything he can to make his public laugh. Why, you are wondering? Because laughing is good for your health. It’s scientifically-proven data, and the Great Alfredo is the scientist of laughter. Read the rest of this entry �

On Nailing the Kid-Friendly: Author Cynthia
Leitich Smith — With Lots of Art from Barry Gott

h1 Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

(Hoo boy. I haven’t had my coffee yet this morning, but I think I’m awake now. How ’bout you?)

My oldest child screamed as a baby. A LOT. No, I mean really. People say that about their kids, but I mean to tell you it was for no discernible reason and at all times. To the notion of the “witching hour,” or babies crying for the same period of time every day in the early evening, she gave the middle finger and said she could do it way better and longer. Unless mama was holding her. If not, she was taking it out on the world somethin’ fierce. It’s like she created her own kind of whacked-out colic — to some kind of pathological degree, or so it seemed at that time. (Dr. William Sears has a name for this, which comes closer to anything else I’ve ever read and rather saved me at that time, and for that reason, I will hug that man’s neck if I ever meet him. But I digress — and remarkably so.)

Pictured above in that invigorating illustration is Holler Loudly. He would have put my screamin’ wee babe to the test. Not to mention his tall-tale adventure is much funnier.

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