Archive for October, 2011

“You can start having strange thoughts in trees”;
Or, Curiously Good Books from Around the World

h1 Thursday, October 13th, 2011

“Curiously good books from around the world,” I should state right off the bat, is the slogan of sorts from Gecko Press, a New Zealand-based publisher of English versions of award-winning international children’s books. (Their books are distributed here by Lerner Publishing.) I freely lifted their words, because precisely what I’m doing here at 7-Imp today is taking a look at some curiously good books from around the globe—from various publishers, Gecko Press and beyond—that have been imported here. The image opening this post is from French illustrator and artist Laëtitia Devernay’s The Conductor, but more on that below.

One of the reasons I love to keep my eye on what picture book creators on the other side of the world are doing is because it’s often wildly different from the picture books we see here in the States. Many of the books you’ll see below, for one, tackle some pretty heavy subject matter (death, conformity, oppression), and while we have picture books like that here in the U.S., let’s face it: We don’t see them often. At least we don’t see it done in the same way as some of these international artists and illustrators, though I suppose it could be argued that at least one of the titles below isn’t necessarily a book for children. (If anyone wants to discuss that, I’m game!)

Let’s get right to it. There are quite a few titles to highlight below and lots of art to show. Enjoy.

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One Author’s Experiment in Marketing
(With Art Thrown in for Fellow Illustration Junkies)

h1 Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Would you like to hear one very possible story of smart and ballsy self-promotion before breakfast (though I’m hardly the first children’s-lit blogger to post about it)? Once upon a time, there was a talented author who believed in his manuscript, and he decided to take advantage of his robust online presence to drum up some interest in it.

Marc Tyler Nobleman is the author of more than seventy books for children—in fact, those 7-Imp readers with superb memories may recall that he chatted with me in 2008 about his picture book biography, Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman—and he’s super psyched about the subject of his latest manuscript, which has yet to be picked up by a publisher. This nonfiction book he’s written, Thirty Minutes Over Oregon, tells the story of Nobuo Fujita, who … well, let me just share here the flap copy Marc created for the book:

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One Very Possible Purple Elephant Before Breakfast

h1 Monday, October 10th, 2011

I admit, given today’s post, that I’m feeling rather sentimental and nostalgic, if one can be nostalgic after blogging for just a little over five short years.

You see, when 7-Imp was first born and back when I was blogging with my best bud forever, Eisha Prather, our interview with author/illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka (back when our images were disturbingly and fearfully small) was really one of our first interviews. Eisha and I were—and still are—fans of Jarrett’s books (especially Punk Farm — I’m sorry, but does it get any cooler than that book?). And, ever since then, he’s been a friend to 7-Imp and has visited on many occasions, which always makes all the little imps here at 7-Imp happy. (Okay, it’s just me, but I can pretend there are little imps at blaine.org that drive the action, can’t I?) I’m happy to say he’s visiting again today.

And Jarrett’s got a brand-new book out—Ollie the Purple Elephant, to be released tomorrow by Knopf—and I immediately fell for the friendly purple protagonist, as well as the serious Scooby-Doo vibe the plot is sportin’. Ollie, a lone purple elephant, finds himself living with the loving McLaughlin family. But when Ginger, the family cat, conspires with the downstairs neighbor, Mr. Puddlebottom—Ollie puts a crimp in their style for different reasons—he finds himself travelling with the circus and wondering if he’ll ever see his beloved new family again. Throw in some crime-fighting, and you’ve got one boisterous tale. “With bright, friendly acrylic art that recalls Krosoczka’s earlier work,” writes Publishers Weeky, “…the author offers a fast-paced and surreal tale with twists aplenty.”

Jarrett’s here to talk about Ollie and how, truly, it is a special book for him in more ways than one, but first, I must note that he has a few other reasons to be extra-jubilant these days: Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #240: Featuring Kevin Hawkes

h1 Sunday, October 9th, 2011


“The strange old owl awakens / in the middle of the night, / looks up at the moon / that’s already out of sight, / polishes his glasses, / gives the cat a wink, /
and writes these silly poems / with invisible ink.”

(Click to see entire spread)

I’m happy to be highlighting a wonderful poetry collection today, a picture book called A Little Bitty Man and Other Poems for the Very Young, published by Candlewick in August. This is poetry from Danish poet Halfdan Rasmussen, who was known during his career for his playful children’s verses, as well as his poetry for adults, often about social issues and human rights issues. Before his death in 2002, he granted Marilyn Nelson—poet, children’s book author, translator, and National Book Award finalist—permission to produce English versions of his works. Pamela Espeland joined Marilyn in translating this collection of verses for children, and illustrator Kevin Hawkes provides the altogether joyous and inviting pastel illustrations, rendered in acrylic and charcoal pencil.

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What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week,
Featuring Catherynne M. Valente and Ana Juan

h1 Friday, October 7th, 2011


“September ran…. With every step, she could feel her legs getting skinnier and harder, like the trunks of saplings. With every step, she thought they might break. In the Marquess’s shoes, her toes rasped and cracked. She had no hair left, and though she could not see it, she knew her skull was turning into a thatch of bare, autumnal branches. Like Death’s skull. She had so little time.”

This morning over at Kirkus, I’m shining a spotlight on Nursery Rhyme Comics from First Second Books. The link is here.

Last week’s column was an abbreviated Q & A with author Catherynne M. Valente, the author of this year’s much talked-about children’s novel, first published online, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, released by Feiwel and Friends in May. Here today at 7-Imp I bring you the interview in its entirety, peppered with lots of beguiling illustrations from the book, created by the one and only Ana Juan. Two friends and fellow children’s-list aficionados joined me on this interview: Kate Pritchard, Associate Editor at BookPage, and Shannon Stanton, a Librarian/Media Specialist here in the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools. I thank them very much for joining forces with me and for the good questions they contributed.

And I thank Cat for visiting. {NOTE: This interview is spoiler-tastic. Just sayin’ as a warning—for those who haven’t read the novel yet—that there are plot spoilers below.} Read the rest of this entry �

Let’s Get One Thing Straight Before Breakfast…

h1 Thursday, October 6th, 2011

Her name is Elizabeth, thank you very much.

And Elizabeth is the star of a delightful new picture book from author Annika Dunklee (born in Sweden but now residing in Canada) and Canadian illustrator and comic book artist Matthew Forsythe. It’s called none other than My Name Is Elizabeth! (Kids Can Press, September 2011), and Kirkus has called it “wonderful,” adding: “This…is close enough to perfect in its tone, pacing and interplay between words and pictures.” They’re right, you know. Oh, and “close to perfect” Pamela Paul called it in the New York Times in August. Not bad for the picture book debut from both author and illustrator.

Elizabeth Alfreda Roxanne Carmelita Bluebell Jones really loves her first name. She likes that it is nine letters long. She likes all the neat things her mouth does when she says it. She likes that there is a queen named after her. “But I don’t like it when people call me names other than ELIZABETH.” Lizzy? Liz? Beth? Betsy? Stop it already. Please. (As the Kirkus reviewer also notes, she isn’t bratty in her requests. She’s polite, please and thank you very much.) She’d just love for you to call her by her beloved name. It’s really that simple. It’s Elizabeth, and she’d like you to stick to it. Read the rest of this entry �

Top Dog

h1 Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Here’s a quickie post about a picture book I have totally developed a huge crush on, Stephen Shaskan’s A Dog Is a Dog, released by Chronicle Books this month.

I’ve got so many other books I want to post about, too, so I’ll be brief, and I’m mostly here this morning to show you some spreads from it anyway.

This is a winner of a picture book for your youngest of readers or especially for those needing a great story time title for wee audiences, whether in a school or public library or classroom.

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Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Marc Rosenthal

h1 Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

My visitor for breakfast this morning—designer, editorial illustrator, children’s book illustrator, and sequential artist Marc Rosenthal—has a brand-new illustrated title coming out … well, actually today. (Really. I don’t plan these things. I’m hardly that organized and haven’t even seen the book yet. I just have really lucking timing sometimes.)

But I have to say: He illustrated an early-2011 title that I still claim to be one of the funniest books of 2011. You haven’t forgotten it, have you, dear readers? Written by Eileen Rosenthal, Marc’s wife, I Must Have Bobo! (Atheneum, January 2011)—as I wrote in January—is the story of a straight up showdown between one young boy, Willy, and the family cat, the dilemma being that the object of their affection is one beloved sock monkey, named Bobo. Bobo, however, can only be with one creature at a time. In a book full of subtlety and understatement, which was also Eileen’s picture book debut (so promising, too, and I’m eager to see what she brings us next), Marc brings Willy and Earl (the aforementioned and very funny cat) to life with warmth and wicked humor, nailing the emotions of a young child. The Kirkus review wrote that it’s “an exercise in self-recognition and empathy for the intended audience.”

So, back to today’s release: You can read a bit more about it below and see a sneak-peek inside it. It was written by Alison McGhee and is called Making a Friend. As I said, I haven’t seen it, but according to IndieBound anyway, its publication date is today. And the School Library Journal reviews tells me this:

The digitally manipulated pencil illustrations have a retro look and are reminiscent of the work of Louis Slobodkin. There is a lot of white space, particularly on the pages where only the boy and the snowman are depicted, giving the impression that they are in their own special private world. A simple but deeply nuanced story that should resonate with children.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #239: Featuring Shelley Davies

h1 Sunday, October 2nd, 2011


(Click to enlarge)

Happy October, one and all. I think this may be my favorite month of all, and I cannot believe October of 2011 is already here.

Since it’s the first Sunday of the month, I’ve got a beginning illustrator visiting today. Painter and illustrator Shelley Davies is not new, by any means, to making art, but she’s got her mind set on doing children’s book illustrations and is here today to share some of her artwork. Shelley lives on the western coast of Canada with her family (here’s her self-portrait)—pictured above is her own Mad Hatter tea party—and I’ll let her tell you all about her background and what she wants to do next:

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