Archive for September, 2011

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Paul O. Zelinsky

h1 Thursday, September 29th, 2011

“The scissor scores the cardboard, and the wrapping is ripped off. Now StingRay comes out of her crispy nest of tissue paper and is pulled into the bright light of what she knows, just knows somehow, is a kitchen. White cabinets. A jar of spoons and spatulas. Finger paintings stuck to the fridge with magnets.
A kid smiles down at her. StingRay smiles back.”

Tomorrow morning over at Kirkus, I’ll have a Q & A with author Catherynne M. Valente about The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, one of this year’s most talked-about children’s novels. Two local friends and fellow children’s lit aficionados joined me on this interview. (The questions they contributed are way better than anything I could ever conjure up.) An abbreviated version goes up at Kirkus tomorrow, and next week at 7-Imp, I’ll have the interview in its entirety — along with some of the book’s illustrations from Ana Juan.

The link will be here tomorrow. {Ed. to add on Friday: The link is here.}

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If you missed last week’s column, I wrote about Emily Jenkins’ latest set of stories about StingRay, Lumphy, and Plastic — Toys Come Home: Being the Early Experiences of an Intelligent Stingray, a Brave Buffalo, and a Brand-New Someone Called Plastic, released by Schwartz & Wade this month. That column is here.

Opening this post is an illustration from the book from Paul O. Zelinsky (who visited me for breakfast in 2008 with one of my favorite breakfast interview photos EVER). Paul is also sharing one more image below, a sketch page showing possible images for Toys Come Home, which he submitted to The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression’s online children’s book auction. This is an auction of children’s art that culminates during Banned Books Week (September 24 to October 1).

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I’ll Be Back Later This Week, ‘Cause…

h1 Monday, September 26th, 2011

I’ve been prepping for this. Local friends, come join me.

Until later …

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #238: Featuring Sophie Blackall
and a Handful of Illustrators and Designers
(I’ll Explain, Promise)

h1 Sunday, September 25th, 2011

Happy Fall, one and all.

This morning, I’m featuring illustrations from two books meant for grown-ups, Sophie Blackall’s Missed Connections: Love, Lost & Found (from which the second illustration above comes) and Graphic USA: An Alternative Guide to 25 U.S. Cities (from which Austin designer Bryan Keplesky’s wonderful don’t-shave image above comes), edited by Ziggy Hanaor and with art from various illustrators and designers — but two books with exciting art, nonetheless. And exciting art, which talented illustrators and designers create, is what 7-Imp is all about, yes? I’d like to think so.

And can I just say that these two books are super-rad-neato-skeeto, to be erudite about it? They really are. I love them.

First up …

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What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Ole Könnecke

h1 Friday, September 23rd, 2011

At Kirkus this morning, I weigh in on Toys Come Home (Schwartz & Wade, September 2011), the third set of stories about Stingray, Plastic, and Lumphy, written by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky. The link is here.

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If you missed last week’s column, I discussed a picture book so funny that I’ve been evangelizing it with nearly every kid I see lately. Seriously, I’ve been reading a lot at my daughters’ school (read to the kindergartner’s class, read to the second grader’s class, and read to first graders in the library), and I’ve taken this book every time. Each age group has responded so positively to it. Meaning, they laugh very loudly (as do I), since this one is so cleverly done and so. very. funny. The book is Anton Can Do Magic, an international import from Gecko Press, originally published as Anton kann zaubern in Germany in 2006 and translated for this first American edition by Catherine Chidgey. It was written and illustrated by Ole Könnecke. Since it’s about magic, I like to whip out my magic nickel after reading it to kids, though I can never quite get that trick right. (I’m supposed to make the nickel disappear, you see, but I keep accidentally shrinking it, and who is gonna take a tiny nickel as currency, I ask you?)

Here are some illustrations from this wonderful picture book. Enjoy.

“Anton wants to do some magic. He wants to make something disappear. A tree.”
(Click to enlarge spread)

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A Peek into Kadir Nelson’s Heart and Soul

h1 Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

(Click to enlarge and see in detail)

What can I add to the discussion about this already much-lauded book, Kadir Nelson’s Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans (Balzer + Bray, September 2011)?

The book takes on nothing less than African American history from the founding of America to Barack Obama’s Democratic nomination for President. Actually, I didn’t have enough coffee before breakfast today and I take that back: Nelson, as noted in the book’s closing timeline, goes back in the first chapter (“Declarations of Independence”) to 1565 when Africans first arrived in North America as slaves of Spanish colonists. An elderly African American female serves as the book’s narrator—“You have to know where you come from so you can move forward…it’s important that you pay attention, honey, because I’m only going to tell you this story but once”—and she takes us back to when her own grandfather, Joseph (“Pap”), was captured in Africa in the year 1850 at the age of six and brought to America.

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Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Beth Krommes

h1 Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

“It is bold . . .”

A spiral, that is. Spirals are bold. And warm and safe. And protective. And beautiful and mysterious. And much more. All depending on the creature or object in nature in which they are residing.

These spirals in nature are the focus of the latest picture book from poet and author Joyce Sidman, Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature, to be released by Houghton Mifflin next month. The illustrations for this book, which Kirkus called no less than “[e]xquisitely simple and memorable,” were rendered by Caldcott Medalist Beth Krommes, pictured here, who is joining me for a cyber-breakfast this morning.

Beth tells me that at 6 a.m. daily, she has strong black coffee and locally-made bread, toasted with butter. She had me at strong coffee, though I might sneak some cream into my mug during her visit this morning.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #237: Featuring Alison Friend

h1 Sunday, September 18th, 2011

Today, I’m featuring an illustrator whose latest picture book title I haven’t seen yet. It comes out in October, and I don’t have an early copy, but a) I like what I see and b) it’s written by Phyllis Root, and boy howdy and howdy boy does she have a great track record with picture books. So, it’s with confidence that I say: I bet this book is goooood. If I’m wrong, one of my readers can come back later and scold me. I guess.

The book I speak of is called Scrawny Cat (Candlewick), and its illustrations come from Alison Friend, who lives and works in Sheffield, England. Alison, who previously worked in greeting cards, illustrated her first picture book in 2010, Maxine Kumin’s What Color Is Caesar?, also published by Candlewick.

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What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Rosalyn Schanzer

h1 Friday, September 16th, 2011

(Click to enlarge)

This week at Kirkus, I’m discussing one of the funniest picture books I’ve seen all year, a German import from Gecko Press, titled Anton Can Do Magic. That link is here this morning.

If you missed last week’s column, I conducted a short Q & A with illustrator Amy June Bates, the Chair of the jury for the Society of Illustrator’s 2011 Original Art award. That link is here. In October, closer to the opening of the Original Art exhibit, I’ll have an interview here at 7-Imp with Rosalyn Schanzer, who won the Gold this year for her book Witches! The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem (National Geographic, September 2011). But for now, I open this post with one of the many illustrations she sent me for the interview, one moment from the book. (It’s imp-tastic, isn’t it?)

Here is a group shot of us jury members after a long (but wonderful) day of looking at over 500 picture books.

Front row, from left to right: Hyewon Yum, me, Sophie Blackall, Cecilia Yung, Erin Stead; Back row: Scott Gustafson, Amy June Bates, Sean Qualls, John Bemelmans Marciano.

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Illustration copyright © 2011 by Rosalyn Schanzer and used with permission.

Photo of 2011 Original Art jury by Laurent Linn and used with permission.

A Look at Richard Peck’s Secrets at Sea
With Lots of Help from Illustrator Kelly Murphy

h1 Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

“A ship too big for the marble to contain…”

Here’s a little story:

I read a galley of Richard Peck’s Secrets at Sea (Dial Books) this summer, and then I got busy with my own manuscript deadline. As in, super duper big-time suh-wamped.

But I really loved this very funny book, Peck’s animal fantasy / comedy of manners — an illustrated novel with art from Kelly Murphy. I read it out loud to my young daughters, and we all enjoyed it (though, I have to say, I think they’d get even more of the sophisticated humor in it when they’re a bit older). So, when I sat down today to post about it—I’ve got some of the book’s interior art to showcase today, as well as a few words from Kelly about what it was like to illustrate this and some of her early sketches—I really figured this post would come well after the book’s release. But, no, I see here that it’s scheduled to be released in mid-October.

I have mentioned many times before here at 7-Imp that I’m incredibly disorganized, right? When it comes to blogging, that is. I think a 7-Imp Administrative Assistant would do me well. I’d give this person all the coffee he or she wants, too. I mean, Alfred is handy, and he does tell those wicked funny knock-knock jokes, but between me, you, and the cyberspace gatepost, he dozes a lot on the job.

Anyway. The other challenge is to describe this book when I read it so many months ago, but I’ll do my best here: Read the rest of this entry �

Jack for Ambassador! In Which My Friends Join Me In
Some Impossibly Excessive Fangirl’ing Before Breakfast

h1 Monday, September 12th, 2011

See my special tee shirt that I’m wearing today for a special reason? And I’m wearing it in solidarity this morning with two other friends, sportin’ the exact same haute couture. What in the actual what the? you may be wondering. Let me explain.

It goes a little like this: Whenever author Jack Gantos very simply either writes or speaks, cyberspace chatter amongst myself, blogger/public librarian Adrienne Furness (What Adrienne Thinks About That), and blogger/school librarian Camille Powell (BookMoot) enthusiastically ensues — all on account of our most sincere (and long-time) fan-dom. Jack has written a new novel, Dead End in Norvelt, which I covered over here in a July Kirkus column (and followed up here at 7-Imp with an interview with the man himself). This book sees its official release today. Adrienne, Camille, and I exchanged many emails about the book over the past few months (we were lucky enough to have early copies of it) and discussed how much we enjoyed it. Natch. This didn’t surprise us.

But I also had the distinct pleasure of hearing Jack speak in April at The University of Tennessee, and I contacted Adrienne and Camille, my number-one fellow Jack-fans, at that time to say, “I saw Jack speak again, ladies, and once again I was reminded why it is that I decided to study children’s lit in the first place.” Because, you see, hearing Gantos speak will do that for you, as well as make you laugh so hard that you think you’ll nearly split in half. (Thank goodness for his wicked and refreshing sense of humor.) His words are just invigorating is all there is to it. The three of us chatted about, as always, his general awesome-ness as a force in children’s lit, given this new novel and his appeal as a speaker. So . . . Read the rest of this entry �