Archive for April, 2011

One Impossible Peek Behind
Yuyi Morales’s Artwork Before Breakfast

h1 Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Just in case on Monday (with the visit from author/illustrator Philip C. Stead) we illustration fans—and I use “we” here to mean myself and 7-Imp’s wonderful readers—didn’t get enough of that fascinating process stuff, the peek into the making of our favorite picture books, I’ve got a bit more today with illustrator Yuyi Morales, who visited me in 2009. Yuyi’s latest illustrated title is called Ladder to the Moon (Candlewick, April 2011), written by Maya Soetoro-Ng (who, you will see at this link, is the maternal half-sister of President Obama, and who seems to be making talk show rounds this week to discuss this picture book — or so I’ve noticed when I’ve hit social media sites, though I’ve been too busy this week to watch any of the footage).

Maya’s story, inspired by her daughter’s questions about her late grandmother, opens with a young girl asking questions about her maternal grandmother: “What was Grandma Annie like?” to which the girl’s mother replies, “She was like the moon…Full, soft, and curious. Your grandma would wrap her arms around the whole world if she could.” Read the rest of this entry �

Teddy Bears Over Toasters: Or, Philip C. Stead
Visits and Brings His Own Kickin’ Coffee Mug

h1 Monday, April 11th, 2011


“One afternoon Jonathan’s parents announced, ‘You’re getting too old for a stuffed animal. So we traded your bear for a toaster.’ ‘Oh, no!’ cried Jonathan. Frederick was his best friend. ‘Toasters really are useful,’ they added.
That day Jonathan walked to the old wharf alone.”

(Click to enlarge illustration.)

So, here’s the deal on this early Monday morning at Camp 7-Imp, dear readers. I can say with a moderate amount of confidence that it almost doesn’t matter what I post here at 7-Imp for the rest of 2011, that this will quite likely be my favorite post. No, really. The Great One himself, Sendak, could stop by, and I might actually be all, well, there was that great Jonathan post with Philip C. Stead. (Allright, since it’s Sendak—hypothetically here—the posts may tie for Best 2011 Visits, but you get the idea.)

And here’s why: First of all, I love this new picture book from Stead. More on that in a minute. But also, I love that Phil took the time to compose this post, to share images of not only his illustrations, but his process, the steps it takes to get from point A to point B. Perhaps it’s expressly because I’m not an illustrator that I find that so fascinating, but I do. His wife, Erin—also an illustrator and 2011 Caldecott medalist for A Sick Day for Amos McGee, which Phil penned—did the same back in ’09 when I first saw her work (and knew it screamed SPECIALNESS). She actually visited twice to talk about Amos McGee, but it was this July ’09 post, in which she shared her printmaking process for the book (before it was even out), that I so enjoyed. I appreciate that both of them slow down (I emphasize this, seeing as how we live in a 140-character, hyper-hypo, shortened-attention-span world anymore) and take the time to share in such a detailed manner how they create their magic. (They humbly do not call it “magic,” to be clear, but I can. And do.)

Really, I give long interviews to some illustrators who don’t get as detailed as Phil does below, after I simply said, tell me about making this book. (And why exactly have I not had a breakfast interview with him or Erin? I’ll have to fix that one day.) And Phil gets detailed in the way I like — succinctly-worded and letting the art do most of the talking. As it should be. Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #214: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Rozalind Best

h1 Sunday, April 10th, 2011

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.

Since I like to highlight student or brand-new illustrators to the field on the first Sunday of each month, that was my plan for last week, but I was out of town and shifted things around. Instead, I welcome a student illustrator this week, and her name is Rozalind Best. Pictured above is her rendering of Captain Hook’s ship. Roz is set to graduate soon from The University of Plymouth in the UK, and here she is tell us all a bit more: Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week
(Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Nancy Doniger, Julie Paschkis, Chris Raschka, and Eugene Yelchin)

h1 Friday, April 8th, 2011

My Kirkus column for this week, which is at this link this morning, is all about the chapter book series Anna Hibiscus, published by Kane Miller Books. There are four titles thus far in the series, the latter two having been released just last month, and it wasn’t till these last two were released that I discovered the series as a whole. And I have to say: I can’t yawp about them loudly enough. They are entirely, without skipping a beat, enchanting. So, head on over there this morning if you’d like to read more about them. Next week, I’ll have some interior art from the series to share with you (as they are illustrated chapter books).

And, speaking of illustrations to share, at last week’s column I shared 3.1 new children’s poetry titles. (The “.1″ is all on account of how I only have 600-800 words to express myself over there, which I think is, ultimately, a good thing for me to learn. Economy of expression, that is.) This was all in celebration of the launch of National Poetry Month. If you’d like to read that column (and weigh in with any recommended poetry titles), it’s here. As promised, here are some illustrations from each of those titles (the one opening this post is from Bob Raczka’s Lemonade: And Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word, illustrated by Nancy Doniger, but more on that below), as a discussion of them without a sneak-peek at the art is downright TRAGICAL.

First up, Julie Paschkis’s illustrations (without the text) for Monica Brown’s stirring picture book biography, Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People (Henry Holt, March 2011). Sweet heavenly Chilean poets, I love me some Julie Paschkis art (as evidenced by the number of times she appears on this page of 7-Imp):


ONCE there was a little boy named Neftali, who loved wild things wildly and quiet things quietly. From the moment he could talk, Neftali surrounded himself with words that whirled and swirled, just like the river that ran near his home in Chile.”

Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Sonia Lynn Sadler

h1 Thursday, April 7th, 2011


Cover art for Jen Cullerton Johnson’s Seeds of Change (Lee & Low, 2010)
(Click to enlarge.)

Won’t you join me in welcoming to 7-Imp this morning scratchboard illustrator Sonia Lynn Sadler? Sonia is the recipient of the 2011 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent (Illustrator) Award for her illustrations in Jen Cullerton Johnson’s Seeds of Change, featured here at 7-Imp last August. Kirkus, in describing this book as “{v}ibrant and accomplished,” praised Sadler’s ability to so joyfully celebrate the community spirit that the book’s subject—2004 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan environmental and political activist—brought to those with whom she worked.

Sonia is visiting for breakfast this morning—“a home-made veggie omelet with gouda and a cup of hot tea with lemon” is her meal-of-choice—-to tell me what she’s working on now and to share some art from Seeds of Change, as well as her previous titles. I’m pleased to have her here, and I hope you enjoy all the bright art she’s sharing today. She opts for tea, not coffee, but I dare say I don’t need coffee to wake me up, what with her beautiful images here this morning. Let’s get right to it (mostly ’cause I really want to talk to her, but also ’cause SHE IS BRINGING GOUDA), and I thank her for stopping by. Read the rest of this entry �

A Wealth of Water Before Breakfast

h1 Tuesday, April 5th, 2011


(Click to enlarge spread.)

Here is illustrator Katherine Tillotson, getting ready to make some art. Her most recent illustrated title, written by poet, novelist, and teacher George Ella Lyon, involved paste paper, and so to the stove Katherine headed. I failed to ask Katherine (I blame not-enough-coffee that day) what it was like to read Lyon’s text for the first time and how exciting it must have been to be the illustrator assigned to it. I like Lyon’s work; she had me at this title (for grown-ups) from 1997, and she’s penned many picture books, including last year’s Schneider Family Book Award winner, The Pirate of Kindergarten, illustrated by Lynne Avril.

Described by Publishers Weekly as a “lyrical and bighearted outpouring,” this new title—All the Water in the World, released in March from Atheneum—takes a look at where water comes from and how vital it is, taking a pit stop in “far away / …a different day,” a place with dry grasses, dirt, and dust, a place waiting for “an open gate / in a wall of clouds / for rain sweet and loud / to fill the well / and start the stream.” In fact, it’s the vigorous spread opening this post that follows those two parched, brown spreads. If that doesn’t wake you up impossibly before breakfast, I don’t know what will.

With warmth and a bit of a drawl (a “honey” here and a “honey” there, directly addressed at the reader, ’cause, hey, Lyon is from Kentucky), readers not only learn about the water cycle, but are also reminded not to waste it: “Keep it clear, keep it clean…” Booklist writes in their starred review, “Lots of picture books introduce young children to the water cycle, but few have such an infectious beat and eye-catching illustrations as this title, which begs to be read aloud,” adding that Tillotson’s “beautifully composed, atmospheric digital illustrations” have a kinetic energy about them.

Booklist also noted that Tillotson’s spreads in this book have the “richly patterned and textured look of paint-and-paper collage.” That would be because, as Katherine shows me below, she started out with collage. Here she is for a brief visit to share a bit more about how she rendered these illustrations. I thank her for stopping by. Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #213: Featuring Komako Sakai

h1 Sunday, April 3rd, 2011


“The wind blows, rustling the leaves. Swishh. The meadow sways like the waves of the sea. My tummy sinks into the wave. My shoulders sink in too.”
(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.

As I type this, I’m getting ready to head to Knoxville, Tennessee, for this wonderful conference, so I’m going to keep things short and simple (ahem, short for me, that is) this week. I’ve got things to pack and CDs to pile up in my car for my road trip. (Have bluegrass, can travel.) However, I do hope folks will leave their kicks, as I’ll be back and reading them by Sunday.

Now, normally the first Sunday of each month, I share the work of a student or brand-spankin’-new-to-the-field illustrator, but I’m going to shake things up and do that next week instead. I didn’t want to slight a shiny new illustrator today, since I’m mostly on my way out the door. Instead, I’m pleased to be showing you spreads this morning from Yukiko Kato’s In the Meadow, illustrated by Komako Sakai. I’m a fan of Sakai’s work. I know I’ve not seen everything she’s done and want to correct that. I love Emily’s Balloon (2006) and The Snow Day (2009), though I haven’t seen this one yet (2010). Evidently, she’s super popular in Japan (her home), and I’m happy some of her titles have made it here to the States. Read the rest of this entry �

Quick Note About
National Handlebar Moustache Appreciation Day

h1 Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

Thanks to all of you who played along at this post. Looks like folks were timid about choosing winning captions, so I’ll (somehow) do that soon and post winners early next week. Pinky promise. This weekend is all filled up, but I shall do it soon. (Generally disorganized here. Forgive me?)

Thanks again to those who played. And, if anyone still wants to contribute, go crazy.

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week
(Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Eric Rohmann and a Sneak Peek at his Next Picture Book, Bone Dog)

h1 Friday, April 1st, 2011


“Cute? These mouselets were a hideous shade of pink, and their ribs showed.
They were not cute at all.”

With apologies to T.S. Eliot, April is not the cruellest month. At least not when you celebrate it with the Academy of American Poets.

Today marks the first day of National Poetry Month 2011, and—since I get inordinately excited about it every year—my Kirkus column today celebrates with three new children’s poetry titles I like, including one Honorable Mention (only thusly named, because I didn’t have enough space to talk about four). The column is here.

Pictured left is the 2011 National Poetry Month poster, designed by Stephen Doyle. Click here or on the image itself for more info. You will even see at that page a link to request a free poster. (Also: Check out how other children’s lit bloggers will be celebrating poetry all month.)

If you missed last week’s Kirkus column, I weighed in on Lois Lowry’s newest novel for children, Bless This Mouse, illustrated by Eric Rohmann, a short novel which made me wonder about genres and labels and how, specifically, this field categorizes books with Christian content, so if you have thoughts on the matter, please go weigh in. Read the rest of this entry �