Archive for December, 2011

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Jonathan Bean

h1 Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Often, when I do these illustrator interviews, I think I’m super familiar with the work as a whole of the artist I’m Q-&-A’ing, but then I make the good discovery that there’s a title or two I’ve missed, which sends me running to my local library or bookstore to find them. In the case of today’s interview, though, I’ve read every book author/illustrator Jonathan Bean has illustrated and have followed his career with great interest. He’s done only a handful of books and he took a bit of a break as well. But I’m so happy he’s back with a new illustrated title, One Starry Night, released by Margaret K. McElderry Books in October of this year — the second picture book by the talented Lauren Thompson that he has illustrated. I happen to think it’s beautiful—just take a look at one of the spreads, pictured here (I love that palette)—and I’m really drawn in general to his work.

“…and a dove watched over her doveling my love is bright…”

That was a rather long-ish way of saying I’m extra pleased he’s visiting for breakfast this morning and sharing sketches and artwork. Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #259: Featuring
One Very Possible and Very Festive
2011 Holiday Illustration Before Breakfast #7

h1 Sunday, December 11th, 2011

“And the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto her, and said, Hail, thou art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed are thou among women…”
(Click to enlarge)

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.

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What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week &
One Very Possible and Very Festive
2011 Holiday Illustration Before Breakfast #6

h1 Friday, December 9th, 2011

“As the children finished the song, they opened their bags and threw handfuls of white feathers up into the air, as high as they could. The congregation burst into applause.”
(Click to enlarge spread)

This week at Kirkus, I take a look at Inga Moore’s A House in the Woods. That link is here this morning.

If you missed last week’s column, I wrote about Lita Judge’s Red Sled. My breakfast interview with Lita was yesterday, and it includes several spreads from this beautiful picture book.

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In keeping with my promise this month to post some 2011 holiday illustrations, this morning I’ve got my favorite spread (above) from John Harris’s Jingle Bells: How the Holiday Classic Came to Be (Peachtree, October 2011), illustrated by Adam Gustavson. This fictionalized picture book tells the story of James Lord Pierpont, a Unitarian music director in Savannah, Georgia, in the 1850s, whose church was being harassed for allowing former slaves to attend services. Pierpont, originally from Boston and also struggling with the sweltering Georgia heat, composed the song for his daughter, Lillie, who had never seen snow. Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Lita Judge

h1 Thursday, December 8th, 2011

In her career as an author/illustrator—not her first, by any means, since she once dug dinosaur bones, as well as worked as a geologist for the Forest Service—Lita Judge (pictured above, making curtains with help from her cat, Pu) has brought readers a handful of insightful nonfiction picture books. A visit to the web site devoted to her debut title proves her devotion to high-quality nonfiction for children, not to mention I’ve seen an early copy of her upcoming Spring 2012 Roaring Brook Press title, Bird Talk: What Birds Are Saying and Why, which is beautiful. (No doubt she was inspired by her ornithologist grandparents, as well as her parents who were, as she notes below, wildlife photographers.)

But her latest title, released this November by Atheneum, is a work of fiction. Red Sled (my thoughts on it are over at last week’s Kirkus column) has been met with starred reviews across the board, the official Kirkus review even calling it nothing less than “pure genius.” There are so many well-crafted 2011 picture books for the current Caldecott committee to pore over and discuss, and who knows … perhaps this one is at the top of their stack. It certainly wouldn’t surprise me at all if it were.

This isn’t Lita’s first visit to 7-Imp (see here and here), but it’s a treat to have her sit down at the breakfast table today. I do quite a few of these cyber-breakfast interviews, but I have to say this one was a particular pleasure to format, given Lita’s thoughtful answers, the artwork and images she shares, and her obvious passion for illustration and picture books. I am also struck by how much of her life is so truly entrenched in the natural world — not mostly separate from it, as it is for so many of us. (Well, I guess I should speak for myself here.)

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One Very Possible and Very Festive
2011 Holiday Illustration Before Breakfast #5

h1 Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

“Tonight, the sixth night of Chanukah, our seven candles call out like vendors’ chants, like parents’ voices, echoing among the tenements
where faith burns bright amid a new generation.”

(Click to enlarge)

I’m sticking to my original rules today and only featuring one illustration from today’s featured holiday book. Above is one of the fold-out pop-up spreads from Michael J. Rosen’s Chanukah Lights (Candlewick, September 2011), illustrated/paper-engineered by Robert Sabuda.

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Over and Under the Snow

h1 Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

“Over the snow I glide. Into woods, frosted fresh and white.”
(Click to enlarge)

Here’s a quick post to celebrate a wintry title I really like. Over and Under the Snow (Chronicle Books, October 2011), written by Kate Messner and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal, is what Kirkus calls “utterly charming, and informative, to boot” and Publishers Weekly calls both “informative” and “evocative.”

In this book, a young girl explores the snowy woods with her father. As they ski, seen above, he tells her all about the various animals that live under the snow after she first spots a red squirrel, “a flash of fur,” and asks where he went. “Under the snow is a whole secret kingdom, where the smallest forest animals stay safe and warm,” her father tells her. “You’re skiing over them now.” Read the rest of this entry �

One Very Possible and Very Festive
2011 Holiday (Sort of) Illustration Before Breakfast #4

h1 Monday, December 5th, 2011

I lied again. I have more than one illustration from today’s book. I’m also bending the rules a bit: Today’s book, I must clarify, is not officially a holiday title. It’s about elves, though, and I’m sorry, but these elves make me think of Christmas. They just do.

Run, little elf.The Helpful Elves, based on a poem by 19th-century German poet and painter August Kopisch and illustrated by Beatrice Braun-Fock, was originally published in German as Die Heinzelmännchen. The story comes from an old German tale (Cologne) about little house gnomes, or the Heinzelmännchen, who do chores for the folks in Cologne while they sleep at night. A 2011 English version was brought to us by Floris Books in September. Again, not a holiday book, but I feel like featuring these handy elves anyway. Please just humor me here. Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #258: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Elizabeth Zunon

h1 Sunday, December 4th, 2011

“I snip a patch of color and add a cut-out face. / Oh! I glue on jazzy blue for sky and add another face. / People walk into my work as if it’s always been their place. / My hands sing the blues when I paint and cut and paste. / I never know what I’ll create when I paint and cut and paste. / I use paper, fabrics, photos,
and nothing goes to waste.”

(Click to enlarge)

It’s the first Sunday of the month (the last first-Sunday of 2011, GASP!), and so that means I’m shining the spotlight on a student or debut illustrator. In today’s case, I’ve got the latter. Elizabeth Zunon, who was born in Albany, New York, but grew up in West Africa, attended RISD. Jeanne Walker Harvey’s My Hands Sing the Blues: Romare Bearden’s Childhood Journey, published by Marshall Cavendish in September, marks Zunon’s debut as a picture book illustrator, which Hazel Rochman at Booklist called “handsome” and a “lively introduction to the artist for young children and for older readers, too.”

With a text “loosely based…on the concept of the blues,” as Harvey writes in her closing Author’s Note, the book is told (nearly sung) from the point-of-view of Bearden as an adult, looking back on a particular time in childhood during which he left North Carolina to take a train trip with his parents to Harlem. Having to heed Jim Crow laws, his family knows they must head North: Read the rest of this entry �

One Very Possible and Very Festive
2011 Holiday Illustration Before Breakfast #3

h1 Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

“On the second day of Christmas
my true love gave to me two thatched huts.

Traditional homes in Africa are made from natural materials such as wood, mud and grass. The walls are made of mud. The roofs are made from bundles of grass or reeds. Animals have their own shelters, sometimes made from thorny bushes.
These are known as kraals or bomas.”

(Click to enlarge spread)

I lied. I’ve actually got two illustrations here.

In my quest to feature 2011 holiday titles this month, today I feature an illustration from A Stork in a Baobab Tree: An African Twelve Days of Christmas (published by Frances Lincoln in September), written by Catherine House and illustrated by Polly Alakija, a British artist living and working in South Africa (and who previously lived in Nigeria). An author’s note states that the idea for the book came to House when she heard her own children singing African words to the traditional holiday carol, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” while they were living as a family in Zimbabwe.

No partridges, pipers piping, or gold rings. In this one, we’re treated to market traders, bright khangas, grazing goats, storytellers, woven baskets, and more. We keep drummers, though, as well as some dancers. The book includes, as you can see above, informational facts about Africa, and a closing author’s note indicates which African country is represented on each spread. Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week &
Some Very Possible and Very Festive
2011 Holiday Illustrations Before Breakfast #2

h1 Friday, December 2nd, 2011

“‘Jingle bells, Jingle bells, Jingle all the way.’ While Adelaide hopped, Kathryn sang. Just then a big dog came along. He barked at Adelaide. ‘WOOF! WOOF!’ It scared Adelaide. She had never seen such a big dog before. High into the air she leaped. Then she hopped down the street at top speed. ‘Not so fast, Adelaide,’ Kathryn said. But Adelaide was too frightened to slow down. She hopped faster and faster.
She jumped over people’s heads.”

(Click to enlarge spread)

This morning at Kirkus, I’m taking a look at Lita Judge’s newest picture book, Red Sled. Such a good book, but I tell you why over there. The link is here. (Note: Next week I’ll feature an interview with Lita.)

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Yesterday, I featured a festive holiday illustration from the one and only Brock Cole — all in the name of a last-minute idea to feature some 2011 holiday titles during the month of December. For today’s featured title, I’ve got more than one illustration. Hey, if it’s James Flora, it’s hard to pick just one.

Commercial artist Jim Flora’s Kangaroo for Christmas was originally published in 1962 by Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc, but the art was restored (digitally) for this October 2011 re-release by Enchanted Lion Books.

A young girl named Kathryn receives a huge box on her doorstop the day before Christmas. “I hope it’s full of candy,” she says. But something inside is scratching. Turns out it’s none other than a kangaroo. “She’s just exactly what I’ve always wanted. I’ll call her Adelaide, and she’ll be my best friend,” the girls says to her dumbfounded father. On the way to visit Kathryn’s Grandma, a dog barks at Adelaide and scares her. She begins to hop very fast over the town and generally causes some serious mayhem. Kathryn and her new pet do eventually arrive at Grandma’s, who has a solution to the problem at hand.

Here are some more spreads. Enjoy! Read the rest of this entry �