Archive for July, 2011

Today’s Summer Blog Blast Tour Schedule

h1 Thursday, July 14th, 2011

I had intended to post the Summer Blog Blast Tour schedule each day of this week, and that didn’t happen. Here is today’s, though (the schedule, that is, for July 15, 2011):

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Geneviève Côté
(The 2011 Summer Blog Blast Tour Edition)

h1 Thursday, July 14th, 2011

(Click to enlarge image)

I’m so pleased to be showcasing the artwork of Canadian illustrator Geneviève Côté today for the 2011 Summer Blog Blast Tour, since I’ve followed her career with interest over the past several years, even covering several of her titles here at 7-Imp. (If you’re thinking “blog blast tour”…hubba wha?… it’s basically a whole bunch of interviews with authors and illustrators at a whole bunch of blogs during the week.) As I’ve written before here at the site, there is a luminescence to Geneviève’s work that draws me in. (With You Always, Little Monday positively glows in more ways than one.) And I like her loose, delicate lines, the vibe to her work that seems both fragile and free-spirited, and her expressive characters. There is a lot going on in her art, yet she manages to make it look effortless.

Geneviève is a French-speaking Canadian, who lives in Montreal, but she’s joining me way down here in Tennessee for lots of coffee. Lots. See? Her breakfast-of-choice is: “Fruit, toast and coffee. And coffee. And coffee.” Best. Answer. Ever.

(You all do know that I just like to pretend, right? And that all these interviews are cyber? I’ve had more than one illustrator ask me once, prior to an interview, how exactly we’re supposed to meet up in person. I wish there were an actual 7-Imp Central with a 7-Imp Breakfast Nook and actual breakfasts with actual coffee brewing, but alas, I’m not magic enough to pull that off. In fact, sadly I’m not magic at all. But, hey, imagination is a beautiful thing. And that will suffice. Onwards, then.)

I can certainly make pots of coffee for the two of us, while she gets out her sketchbook and paintings to share this morning. I thank her for visiting and gracing the blog with her illustrations today. Let’s get right to it…

[Quick note about the rest of the many interviews happening in the Summer Blog Blast Tour: You can see the master schedule here at Chasing Ray. Colleen Mondor is doing a wonderful job of linking to all the interviews going on this week at that ginormous schedule. At the bottom of this post is the rest of today’s schedule, too. Enjoy.] Read the rest of this entry �

Six Very Possible Bandits Before Breakfast

h1 Monday, July 11th, 2011

“When the sun goes down and the moon comes up,
beware of the bandits that prowl through the night.”

(Click to enlarge)

I love the very premise of Johanna Wright’s new picture book, Bandits, to be released by Neal Porter/Roaring Brook in mid-August. The book features a family of raccoon bandits who prowl through the night. Well, here … Let me quote for you the official LOC book summary: “Raccoons wreak havoc on a town during the night, rummaging through garbage cans, stealing food, and then running off into the hills to enjoy their loot.”

Yup, that’s it. I love that. Wright brings us the naughtiest of all woodland creatures, appealing to the mischievous, playful, wayward side of children.

(And I must note, that in the spirit of Johanna’s new book, I am posting this not around breakfast, as I usually do, but just a bit after midnight. It is only fitting.)

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Summer Blog Blast Tour 2011

h1 Monday, July 11th, 2011

The Summer Blog Blast Tour is going on this week, and I was remiss in not mentioning it earlier. (I blame my manuscript deadline.)

You can head over here to Chasing Ray, if you’re so inclined, for the master interview schedule for the week. I’ll be welcoming Canadian illustrator Genevieve Côté on Thursday for this summer’s round of interviews.

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #227: Featuring
Pamela Dalton, Schereschnitte, and Coffee-Colored Art

h1 Sunday, July 10th, 2011

“We praise you for our Brother Sun, who in his radiant dawning every day reminds us that it was you who brought forth light.”
(Click to enlarge)

Since I mention Katherine Paterson, the reigning National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, below in my kicks, it’s only fitting that I share some spreads today from her picture book adaptation of Saint Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Creatures, illustrated by Pamela Dalton. In Brother Sun, Sister Moon, released in March from Chronicle’s Handprint Books, Paterson reimagines the nearly 800-year-old hymn of praise from Saint Francis, originally written in the Umbrian dialect of Italian and also known as the Canticle of the Sun, which celebrates life — everything from Brother Sun to Sister Moon and “all our Sister Stars who clothe the night” to even the courage given us “in this world of hatred and war.”

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What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Jack Gantos

h1 Friday, July 8th, 2011

This morning at Kirkus, I’ve got a short Q&A with graphic novelist, author, and picture book illustrator George O’Connor, and we primarily discuss his latest graphic novel in the Olympians series from First Second Books, Hera: The Goddess and her Glory.

This Q&A is an abbreviated version. I’ll have much more from George—and will showcase some of his art—next Friday here at 7-Imp.

The Kirkus link is here this morning.

* * * * * * *

the one. the only. jack gantos.Last week, I weighed in on the latest novel from Jack Gantos, Dead End in Norvelt, to be released this September from Farrar, Straus and Giroux. (Yup, I’m primarily focused anymore on illustration and picture books here at 7-Imp, but in Kirkus’s Book Blogger Network, I’ve got the “children’s” category to write about, which is more than just picture books, so I make an attempt to cover middle-grade novels over there as well.) That link is here, if you missed it last week and are interested in reading more about the novel. I asked Jack to join me for breakfast this morning, a short Q&A of his own on this novel and what’s next from him.

Jack visited in 2007 as well, and that interview is here. That would be when he said, after I asked what he’s working on next, “I’m working on a series of books that are making me very uncomfortable, which is a good sign. When I write a book that I think everyone is just going to love, then I know I’m on the wrong track.” That right there would be one thing I love about his writing.

Also, when I read his response below about reading a book slowly, I quite literally jumped up and cheered. I know I write in hyperbole here at 7-Imp and you very likely DO NOT BELIEVE ME, but no really, I jumped up and cheered and high-fived an imaginary Jack Gantos and might have even done an imaginary fist bump with an imaginary Jack, too. This would be during the part below where I use the phrase—for about the googleplexth time in one month (how’s that for hyperbole?)—“a day and age of increasingly rigorous standardized testing,” another entry in my Grumpy Old Woman series.

I thank him for visiting today. Without further ado, I welcome Jack with a strong cup of coffee (maybe just a bit of this thrown in — why not?) …

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A (Quickie) Random Illustrator Feature: Alison Lester

h1 Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

“Perhaps Zelda was too old for such a hard journey, thought Nina. She bit her lip and led Zelda to the stream, where the horse drank deeply and picked at the water grass. ‘Come on, girl,’ Nina whispered. ‘Please be strong.'”

Alison Lester. Evidently, she’s one of the most popular and well-read author-illustrators in Australia. Her work is new to me, though. Since you know I like to focus on international illustrators when I can, I thought I’d shine the spotlight on some illustrations from her newest title, at least here in the States. Released this February by NorthSouth but originally published in Australia in 2009 (seven cheers for these publishers who bring us these over-the-seas imports), Running with the Horses is a text-heavy picture book (Publishers Weekly writes it has “the sweep of a novel”), which tells the war-time drama of a young girl and her widower of a father fleeing from their home in Vienna. Actually, we only know that they “lived in a palace that stood in the heart of a graceful old city,” but the book’s closing author’s note tells us that the story was inspired by the rescue of the Lipizzaner stallions from the Spanish Riding School in Vienna during World War II.

Nina lives with Viktor, her father, and they flee with Karl, an old family friend, soon after the story begins. Everything has closed, including the Royal Academy of Dancing Horses where Nina and her father live, due to the “war raging across the world.” Nina’s favorite old carriage horse, Zelda, is left abandoned in the street. When they must suddenly leave for her grandparents’ home, she is determined to bring Zelda along. The story chronicles their dangerous journey through the city, pass borders, through forests, over a bridge with a “yawning hole {gaping} above the ravine,” through the snow, and more. Zelda almost doesn’t make it, but determined Nina makes sure the horse stays with them.

“Lester,” writes Publishers Weekly, “draws humans and horses as doll-like figures in {black-and-white}, then places them against luxuriously colored, theatrically scaled backdrops, giving the illustrations the curious feel of a puppet performance.” Indeed, with such drawings in front of these dramatic backdrops—often actual photographs—the illustrations inhabit a rather three-dimensional quality.

But, since the art speaks louder than my words (and I have a manuscript deadline giving me the skunk eye), here are some more spreads from the book. Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Questions Over Breakfast
with Kady MacDonald Denton

h1 Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

I was asked a while ago to speak to parents at a children’s festival of reading in Knoxville, Tennessee. I had free reign to talk about picture books in any way I wanted. I was this close to just taking Bonny Becker’s A Visitor for Bear (Candlewick), illustrated by today’s visitor, Canadian illustrator Kady MacDonald Denton, and using it as a model for pretty much How Perfect a Picture Book Can Be.

Or, more precisely (and without my usual hyperbole), letting it serve as an example for the long list of ways in which picture books can delight and why we read them with children: To summarize here—impossibly and before breakfast—it is funny (particularly, Bear’s melodramatic stances and impressive vocabulary), entertaining, and a terrific read-aloud; it has very real, very memorable characters that not only stay with you a long time, but that you also want to visit and re-visit; it is moving without being syrupy-sweet about it, and readers establish a real emotional connection with Bear and Mouse (pictured left), the book’s only two characters; there is a so-brilliant-it-could-be-a-picture-book-case-study extension of Becker’s well-crafted story by Kady’s endearing illustrations, yet both author and illustrator leave a gap between pictures and text, thereby giving mental and visual breathing space to the child reader; and, well, I could go on…. It’s one of my favorite picture books, and in the year of its release, 2008, this book most assuredly fell into the Oh-How-We-Wish-She-Were-an-American category. With all respect to Canada, there was much gnashing of teeth as we American picture book aficionados (*cough*, nerds) realized that Kady MacDonald Denton was not eligible for the Caldecott. To be clear, however, it was a New York Times bestseller, received the 2009 Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Text and the 2009 E.B. White Read Aloud Award for Picture Books, was a Wanda Gág Book Award Honor Book, and much more.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #226: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Monica Ramos

h1 Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

It’s the first Sunday of the month, which means I shine the spotlight on an Illustrator of the Future (Future Future Future … That’s me doing a dramatic echo.)

And boy howdy am I happy to bring you the work of Monica Ramos, an illustration student at Parsons The New School for Design, who was born and raised in the Philippines. (I straight up dedicate this post to Tarie.) Below is the first of two illustrations from a children’s book Monica created, called Forest Girl. “She’s wild and brave and loves eating berries,” Monica says. “A little deer is her best friend.”

(Click to enlarge)

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