Archive for June, 2011

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #223: Featuring
Jana Christy and John Seven

h1 Sunday, June 12th, 2011

This illustration is from an upcoming self-published picture book from husband and wife author and illustrator team, John Seven and Jana Christy. The book is all about anarchy. How much do I love this idea and its execution?

A lot, I tell you. Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring
Geoffrey Hayes and Agnès Rosenstiehl

h1 Friday, June 10th, 2011

(Click anywhere above to see the spread
from which these panels come in its entirety.)

This morning over at Kirkus, I discuss His Shoes Were Far Too Tight, Chronicle Books’s recently-released collection of Edward Lear poems, “masterminded” by Daniel Pinkwater and illustrated by Calef Brown. The link is here.

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If you missed last week’s column, I wrote an ode of sorts to the TOON Books series (now a Candlewick imprint). These early-reader comics were launched in 2008 by Françoise Mouly and Art Spiegelman, and they deliver on many levels. Here’s the scoop.

Below are some spreads from Geoffrey Hayes’s Patrick in a Teddy Bear’s Picnic and Other Stories (April 2011). Opening this post is a spread from Agnès Rosenstiehl’s new Silly Lilly title, What Will I Be Today? (February 2011). And just below here is the spread that follows that one in the book. (Interested folks can read further about the TOON Books series at this 2008 7-Imp post, as well as this 2009 interview with Geoffrey Hayes, which includes lots of art from his previous TOON titles with the irrepressible Benny and Penny.)

Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Craig Frazier

h1 Thursday, June 9th, 2011

“For eighteen years, Craig Frazier worked as a graphic designer, producing trademarks, brochures, annual reports, packaging, posters, and advertising. He had bustling offices in the San Francisco Design Center, a staff of six, a client list which included companies like Apple, Herman Miller, Nestle, Steelcase, LucasArts, Oracle, and Kia Motors. His award-winning work was regularly featured in the best design magazines…and is held in the permanent collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

And then, five years ago, Frazier threw it all away.”

That’s the beginning of this compelling article by Kirk Citron for a 2002 issue of Graphis. Citron goes on to write:

The remarkable thing about Craig Frazier is that at the peak of his professional career, he chose to start anew. Without any guarantees, without any steady source of income – and with a wife and two children at home depending on him – he decided to follow his heart.

Frazier’s transition from graphic design to illustration has served quite well those of us who enjoy his children’s books. Noting that he felt graphic design was “anonymous,” he made the move to illustration, telling Citron he “couldn’t find the Craig” in the design work he was doing. Now, he is … well, showing us the Craig in his work, clearly bringing his designer’s eye and palette and graphic sensibilities to the task with his high-intensity, bold illustrations in his (mostly) wordless titles. In his latest title (lots of art is pictured below), he uses—as I noted over at my Kirkus column in April—rich, unflinching hues and elemental shapes to depict the travels of a bird and a bee, showing the youngest of readers that perspective alone can alter the very definition of a landscape.

Read the rest of this entry �

I Just Realized This is the Third Time
I’ve Posted About Raschka’s Illustrations in 2011.

h1 Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

I admit that I sometimes envision what it would be like to be the kind of picture-book blogger who just flings up images of spreads from books without any kind of book summary or extended thoughts ‘n’ ramblings about why I like said books. It would be easier and less time-consuming that way. I could even do way more posts if all I’m showing is art. But I just can’t do that. I feel like I owe my blog readers at least a little bit more than just pasting images.

That said, though, it’s late as I type this, yet I want to show you some spreads. So, I shall. And, since it’s past my bed time, all I will say is that a) these are from Chris Raschka’s May title from Schwartz & Wade, called A Ball for Daisy; b) as I’ve already made clear numerous times here at the blog (most notably in my 2009 interview with him, but also note this post’s title), I’m a raging fan of Raschka’s minimalist, vigorously-stroked artwork; and c) I really like this book.

It’s about friendship (a dog and his favorite ball) and loss (ball gets busted by large, over-enthusiastic dog in park) and how a friend can comfort you when you feel such loss (little girl pet-owner pets sad dog, whose red ball is kaput and who is way past the aggle flabble klabble stage and is merely just lying drained on the couch). And how one can make up for such sadness (overenthusiastic dog and his pet owner bring a new blue ball* the next day to the sad dog).

See, if anyone’s gonna tell such a story which, on the surface, involves merely a dog and a ball and make you feel something, Raschka can. I even got fairly verklempt for a moment, in spite of myself. It’s downright moving — and told with such seeming simplicity. And it’s all wordless. Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #222: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Rachel Levit

h1 Sunday, June 5th, 2011

Dude. What is that poor child going to do? That ginormous creature is hungry. I don’t know the answer, but perhaps one day we’ll see them in a picture book. It’s the first Sunday of the month, and that means I shine the spotlight today on a student or brand-new illustrator. Today I welcome a student. Her name is Rachel Levit, and here she is to tell you more about her work and how she hopes to make picture books one day (thereby increasing our chances of discovering the fate of the ice cream cone). Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week, Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Kathryn Brown, Bonnie Christensen, Marc Burckhardt, & John Hendrix
(In Other Words, Lots of Picture-Book Goodness for Fellow Picture-Book Nerds)

h1 Friday, June 3rd, 2011

“The next morning, the chair was empty.”
— From Patricia Rusch Hyatt’s
The Quite Contrary Man,
illustrated by Kathryn Brown (Abrams, May 2011)

(Click spread to enlarge)

That’s one of my favorite picture book spreads from 2011. Yes, indeedy, it is.

This morning over at Kirkus I will be discussing the wonderful beginning reader series from TOON Books (a Candlewick imprint), which has been going strong since 2008. There are two new 2011 TOON titles, and this morning I briefly discuss the latest one. The link is here.

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Last week, I talked about some new picture book biographies. The link is here, if you missed it. Today is when I show you some artwork from each of those titles here at 7-Imp, and I’m going to throw in, at the bottom, some spreads from a book I wanted to mention last week, yet didn’t have the room to mention: Marissa Moss’s Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero (Abrams, March 2011), illustrated by John Hendrix. More on that in a moment.

But, first, here are some illustrations to pore over. Remember, to read about them, hit last week’s Kirkus column. Below is the artwork only. Oh! But also: Bonnie Christensen, who visited me for breakfast here in 2009, not only shares some artwork below from her picture book biography of Andy Warhol, but she talks a bit about it, as well as discusses her process for creating the art. Incidentally, Bonnie also had the opportunity years ago, while working in New York theatre, to perform with Warhol “superstars” Taylor Mead, Viva, and Ultra Violet in The Rites of Spring, written and directed by Taylor Mead, at the Actors Studio. Bonnie addresses that below, too. Bonus!


Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with
James Ransome: Or, How Creating a
Picture Book is Like Making Banana Walnut Bread

h1 Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

“Readers will likely marvel at why such a compelling figure has not received more attention,” writes Publishers Weekly about the subject of one of the latest illustrated titles from James E. Ransome, Before There Was Mozart: The Story of Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-George (Schwartz & Wade, January 2011), written by Lisa Cline-Ransome (who happens to be James’s wife). This picture book biography tells the story of violinist Joseph Boulogne, the son of a white plantation owner and a black slave in the West Indies, born in 1745. Joseph eventually studied music in Paris, became a conductor and composer of his own operas (not to mention quartets, concertos, and ariettas), impressed Mozart himself, and played for King Louis the Sixteenth and Queen Marie Antoinette. (“Never before had a man of color entered the palace to perform for royalty!”)

James, who is visiting me for breakfast this morning to discuss his books and art, rendered this story of an often-overlooked African American figure in rich and colorful mixed media illustrations, several of which are featured below.

“Under Joseph’s direction, les Amateurs outgrew the salons and moved into the Hôtel de Soubise, in the heart of the Paris district called the Marais. Only those wealthy enough to play the five livres for admission could enter the building
to hear the orchestra perform.”

Read the rest of this entry �