Archive for April, 2011

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week
(Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Paul Galdone)

h1 Friday, April 29th, 2011

“So he huffed, and he puffed, and he huffed and he puffed,
and at last he blew the house in. And he ate up the second little pig.”

(Click to enlarge)

This morning over at Kirkus, I’ll have a Q & A with author Candace Fleming about her acclaimed new biography for children and teens, Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart. This is one of the best books I’ve seen all 2011, and I wouldn’t be surprised later if it got lots of shiny, pretty awards. The link is here.

* * *

If you missed last week’s column, I wrote a Paul Galdone appreciation of sorts, given the re-release this Spring of some of his folk tale picture books in a series Houghton Mifflin is calling “Folk Tale Classics.” Below are some spreads (each followed by their covers) from the four titles they released this Spring, Three Little Kittens (originally published in 1986), The Three Little Pigs (1970), The Little Red Hen (1973), and The Three Bears (1972). Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �

Nashville Kidlit Drink Night

h1 Thursday, April 28th, 2011

I haven’t posted about Nashville Kidlit Drink Nights in a while. We meet once a month (first Tuesday of each month, beginning at 6:30), and I just figured everyone assumed that, not to mention we have our own ways of communicating about these things. But here I am, touching base quickly all publicly at the blog, with two quick announcements regarding May’s upcoming Drink Night — for any new folks who may be interested in joining us.

This month, we will meet at a new location. We’re no longer at the wonderful Boscos in Hillsboro Village. Last month, we tried the Tavern on 1904 Broadway instead, and it worked out well, so we’ll be there again next week, the first Tuesday of May.

Secondly, this month, we’re going to blatantly copy the upcoming New York City Kidlit Drink Night (since they had such a smart idea) and take donations—a suggested $5, but any amount will do, even if only one dollar—to benefit Reading is Fundamental. Since a bill was recently signed that eliminated funding for RIF, the nation’s largest organization providing free books and literacy resources for children, this cut means that they need folks’ support now more than ever.

So, see you there, I hope:

Tuesday, May 3, 2011
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
1904 Broadway
Nashville, TN

A Nicoletta Ceccoli Sighting

h1 Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

(Click to enlarge)

“The dark side of a nursery rhyme.” I wish I’d written that. That is from a reader over at this Amazon link who has seen Italian illustrator Nicoletta Ceccoli’s Beautiful Nightmares, released by Soleil Editions (France) last Fall. “Don’t let the rosy cheeks and dewy eyes fool you,” this person added. “{T}hese characters are in control of the subliminal messages that abound….”

I’ve got some illustrations from that book to share here this morning, this book which is a must-have for any Ceccoli fans. I’ve had Beautiful Nightmares for a while and have been wanting to share some of these images, but last week I stumbled upon this below video of Nicoletta speaking about her work — in celebration of an overseas exhibit of hers. (She’s speaking in English, incidentally; at first I thought I’d be seriously out of luck and just guessing on the Italian.) So, I thought today I’d share the images along with the video.

7-Imp readers will recognize her work. She first stopped by here in 2008 to share some art and say a few words. I then featured her illustrations here from Kate Bernheimer’s The Girl in the Castle Inside the Museum; here from Debbie Ouellet’s How Robin Saved Spring; and here from Jacqueline K. Ogburn’s A Dignity of Dragons: Collective Nouns for Magical Beasts. (Note: Ms. Bernheimer contributes a short written piece at the opening of Beautiful Nightmares.) Read the rest of this entry �

Jules Has Coffee With Jim Averbeck
Except If She’s Swamped and Ms. Jessica
Wiggebotham-Whyte Pours the Coffee Instead

h1 Monday, April 25th, 2011

When you’re super swamped and have your own writing deadlines and a whole host of other stuff to do, yet you see a picture book like Jim Averbeck’s Except If, released by Atheneum in January of this year, and you really super bad want to feature the book, what do you do? Well, you could email the author/illustrator and tell him exactly how super swamped you are but that you’d love for him to send an in-his-own-words type of feature about the book, along with some art, if he’s so inclined to oblige. So, that’s what I did in this instance. And when you give someone like Mr. Averbeck the freedom to just run with it? Well, you’re in for some fun.

You see, Jim has this very close friend. Her name is Jessica, and she’ll introduce herself in just a moment. Since I was so swamped when this book was first released (yes, this was over three months ago—and I’ve also been sitting on this post about a month now—so I’m happy to finally be bringing it to readers), Jim invited Jessica over to interview him in my stead. I was happy to turn the breakfast table over to her. As you can see below, she has a very festive scarf, for one, which I may beg to borrow. Also her full name is just a KICK to say.

If you haven’t seen Except If yet, know that it’s been described as no less than a “short, sweet, philosophical speculation” (Publishers Weekly), an “existential” and “deceptively simple yet delightful tale” (Kirkus), and “contrarian” fun (Booklist). The book starts with an egg, which is not what you think. It’s not a baby bird, you see, “but it will become one except if it becomes a baby snake.” Readers’ expectations continue to be overturned with successive page turns—and the repeated use of “except if”—in this puzzler of a book, less of a story than a “convergence of fanciful possibilities,” as School Library Journal wrote. Just when readers think the story is going one way, Averbeck provides a narrative detour. Adds the PW review, “{e}ven very young readers will find they’ve succeeded in following a rather convoluted piece of reasoning, clause by clause and picture by picture; it’s a book in which the action unfolds in the mind as much as it does on the page.” I don’t want to give it all away either and spoil your experience reading it, if you haven’t already, but let’s just say it ends as it started — with a pale blue egg and maybe, just maybe, a baby bird.

Okay. Back to work. Jessica’s here to take over—she’s already brewed the coffee—and I thank her. And Jim. For running with it. No except-ifs about that one. Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #216: Featuring Sergio Ruzzier

h1 Sunday, April 24th, 2011

{Edited to Add, Sunday evening: Quick announcement to say that Sergio has been invited to spend a month with Maurice Sendak as part of the Sendak Fellowship, which I believe is in its second year. I didn’t mention that in this post this morning, as I thought it was not-to-be-announced yet, and Sergio himself is too modest to mention it, I think I can safely say. But it turns out it’s okay to announce it, so here I am celebrating Sergio’s good—and well-deserved—news. I believe the fellowship starts in the Fall, and it means Sergio will find himself in Connecticut, sitting next to Maurice Sendak, talking about books, learning from the master himself. Author/illustrator Paul Schmid discussed his experience as a Sendak Fellow here at this fairly recent post, if anyone would like to read more about the experience.}

We’re being greeted this Easter Sunday by Eve Bunting’s and Sergio Ruzzier’s Little Elephant from Tweak Tweak (Clarion Books). I think if I could pinch that elephant’s cheeks, I would. (This is a sentence I never thought I’d type in life.)

Since it’s Easter today, I wonder if I’ll be kickin’ it alone. I hope, where ever you may be, that you’re enjoying chocolate or marshallows or hard-boiled eggs or candy robin eggs or Peeps or dark chocolate bunnies or jelly beans — but just not all at once. I also hope you get to hunt for an egg or two. Preferably the kind with treats hidden inside.

Author/illustrator Sergio Ruzzier is here today, as mentioned, not only to share his Easter egg up there with us, but also to give us a sneak peek into his latest illustrated title, Tweak Tweak, written by none other than the esteemed Eve Bunting, who has written over two hundred children’s books in her career, including Smoky Night, the winner of the 1995 Caldecott Medal, illustrated by David Díaz.

I thought Tweak Tweak was already out, but I see its official release date is May. Ack! This is what I get for being generally disorganized with the stacks of picture books that surround me. I don’t mean to sound all taunting with a book you can’t get your hands on yet, but you won’t have to wait long. Not to mention it’ll also be worth the wait. I was eager to see it myself, as a fan of both Bunting and Ruzzier, and it truly delivers. Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week
(Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring
Too Many People to Count Before Breakfast)
{P.S. I’m Totally Naming My Next Cat “Flash Harry”}

h1 Thursday, April 21st, 2011

From Barbara Lehman’s The Secret Box
(Click to enlarge and see entire spread from which this illustration comes.)

Friday morning over at Kirkus, I’ll have a Paul Galdone appreciation, given the re-release this Spring of some of his folk tale picture books in a series Houghton Mifflin is calling “Folk Tale Classics.” The link will be here then.

* * *

If you missed last week’s column, I covered a whole handful of recent picture book titles that are wordless or nearly wordless, several of them overseas imports. That column is here if you want to read my very brief take on each book. Today here at 7-Imp, I have art from each book to share. That means a whole heapin’ TON of illustrations below for your eyes to take in. You will see (all those names I didn’t have room for up there in this post’s title) artwork from: Barbara Lehman (The Secret Box), who will be visiting 7-Imp in the near future; French graphic designer Cécile Boyer (Woof Meow Tweet-Tweet); Dutch illustrator Loes Riphagen (Animals Home Alone); Bruce Ingman (When Martha’s Away, briefly mentioned in the Kirkus column and the only book there not published this year—in this case, 1995, though Candlewick’s edition came out this year—and this would be the book with the cat named Flash Harry, which made me have to put down the book and laugh a bit); Béatrice Rodriguez (Fox and Hen Together, her sequel to last year’s The Chicken Thief); Arthur Geisert (Ice); Craig Frazier (Bee & Bird), who also will be visiting 7-Imp in the near future; and French author/illustrator Hervé Tullet (Press Here). Again, to read about them, visit last week’s link. To see the art, why, just stick around. It’s all below — some spreads from each title, followed by its cover.

Quick note, though: Just under the spreads from Fox and Hen Together are some words from the book’s author/illustrator, Béatrice Rodriguez. The publisher, Enchanted Lion Books, shared with me an interview Rodriguez has done (for them) about The Chicken Thief, Fox and Hen Together, and (evidently) one more sequel that is to-come. They gave me permission to quote a portion of the interview. So, fans of Rodriguez can catch that below. Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �

A Floyd Cooper Moment. Just ‘Cause.

h1 Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

“Look at these hands, Joseph. Did you know these hands used to make ivories sing like a sparrow in springtime? Well, I can still show a young fellow how to play
‘Heart and Soul’ — yes, I can.”

(Click to enlarge spread)

Will you join me this evening in quickly taking a look at some Floyd Cooper illustrations, just because I love his work so? His latest illustrated title, Margaret H. Mason’s These Hands (Houghton Mifflin, March 2011), tells the story of a grandfather with his young grandson. Mason, in her closing Author’s Note, tells how during the 1950s and early ’60s, African American workers at the Wonder Bread, Awrey, and Tastee bakery factories were not allowed to handle the bread in any way, meaning they were forbidden to operate as bread dough mixers or bread dough handlers. Having learned that story from an old friend and how he and his friends joined together to fight this discrimination, Mason nestled it within this warm picture book tale of a grandfather talking with his grandchild: “Look at these hands, Joseph,” he says to him, pointing out all the many things his hands could do—tie a triple bowline knot in three seconds flat, pluck the ace of spades right out of thin air, and more. But, “{d}id you know these hands were not allowed to mix the bread dough in the Wonder Bread factory?” he asks him and proceeds to tell his tale. Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Zachary Pullen

h1 Monday, April 18th, 2011

If you’ve ever seen a picture book illustrated by author/illustrator Zachary Pullen, you know that his large, full-bleed illustrations do not apologize for taking every inch of space. His richly-colored oil paintings can capture a wide range of emotions and draw in readers. Most of his characters, as you can see below, are large-headed, bold, not afraid to be who they are. Pullen’s exaggerated, somewhat askew perspective adds to this, drawing readers’ attention to the faces of his expressive, larger-than-life characters. “Affectionate caricatures” is how Publishers Weekly described Zak’s style for his illustrations in Richard Michelson’s latest picture book title, Lipman Pike: America’s First Home Run King (Sleeping Bear Press, February 2011). The review also notes many of the exciting “mid-action moments” Pullen chose to depict in many of the spreads. Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #215: Featuring Janice Nadeau

h1 Sunday, April 17th, 2011

“One cool autumn morning a man called Sebastian was passing Miriam’s bakeshop when her sweet-smelling voice came floating through the window. He went inside the shop and bought some cinnamon bread. After that he bought a loaf of bread every day for a year. Then he asked Miriam if she would marry him, and she said yes.”
(Click to enlarge spread.)

Welcome to 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks, a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you.

I responded on a personal level to today’s featured picture book, Cinnamon Baby (Kids Can Press, February 2011) by Nicola Winstanley and illustrated by Janice Nadeau. (Wow. Check out that website for lots more art.) From a professional standpoint—as a children’s librarian, who studied children’s lit in grad school and who is always trying to separate the good children’s books from the not-so-good ones—I love it, too. It resonated with me on both of those levels, that is.

It’s the story of a baker named Miriam, who owns her own little bakery. She makes bread and makes it well: “She made a spicy bread, studded with little peppercorns and basil, and a sweet bread with ginger. She made a light, white loaf with dill, and a crusty brown one with sunflower seeds and honey.” (Mmm. See? The story had me right at the beginning.) The cinnamon bread, her favorite, she always saves for last. While baking, Miriam sings the songs her mother taught her as a child. It’s her beautiful voice and the aromas from her delicious bread that attract Sebastian one day, riding around on his bike, who asks Miriam to marry him. Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week
(Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Lauren Tobia)

h1 Friday, April 15th, 2011

This morning at Kirkus, I take a look at a handful of new picture book titles that are wordless or Mostly Wordless. If you’re so inclined, you can head over there for the low-down. Here’s the link. Next Friday here at 7-Imp, I’ll have art to show from all of those titles.

If you missed last week’s column, I discussed the wonderful-in-many-directions Anna Hibiscus chapter book series from Kane Miller, written by Nigerian storyteller Atinuke and illustrated by British artist Lauren Tobia. Here is that link. Below, I have some of the interior illustrations from the titles to share here at 7-Imp. The color illustration opening this post is from the upcoming Anna Hibiscus’ Song, which is going to be the first picture book about the unforgettable Anna. A little web sleuthing on my part also revealed to me this gorgeous illustration (at Lauren’s site). Read the rest of this entry �