Archive for February, 2012

Mooshka. Paschkis. Before Breakfast.

h1 Tuesday, February 28th, 2012



“In the sketches, I indicated roughly where there would be certain colors and developed the patterns later. All of the patterns that appear in the borders are in the quilt (Mooshka). So I did this illustration first.” –
Julie Paschkis on
Mooshka: A Quilt Story

Yes. Me grunt. No time talk. Me knee-deep in manuscript edits.

No, really. I can try to be a bit more eloquent. AHEM. [Straightening my spine, clearing my throat here, generally pulling myself up from my slump over my keyboard] …

Right. Before I get back to manuscript edits, here’s a quick post to say that, when it is released in March (not long from now), I highly recommend finding a copy, by hook or by crook, of Julie Paschkis’ Mooshka: A Quilt Story (Peachtree). What a beauty this picture book is. And Julie is here today to share some images and a few early sketches from it, as well as talk a bit about it. Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #270: Featuring Steven Salerno

h1 Sunday, February 26th, 2012


(Click to enlarge and see entire spread from which this illustration comes)

Today, I shine the spotlight on a nonfiction picture book, called Brothers at Bat: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team (Clarion Books), written by Audrey Vernick and illustrated by Steven Salerno. It’ll be released in early April.

Baseball is not a sport that I play (though I enjoy it), and it’s not a sport that I watch either. (We’ve been over how you don’t want me in a room when I’m rooting for a team, right?) But I love this book, because it’s really not only about baseball. It’s about brotherhood (literally and figuratively, I might add).

I love the opening:

When winter’s chill melts into spring, back doors swing open and slap shut as kids just home from school run outside—mitts, bats, and balls in hand.

In one New Jersey town near the ocean, back in the 1920s and ’30s, you could hear the same door slam over and over. Three brothers raced out. Out went three more. And more … And still more.

Yup, the Acerra family had “twelve baseball-playing brothers,” as well as four sisters. (In the spread where Vernick notes that “most people thought sports were just for boys” back then, Salerno depicts the sisters playing determinedly at their own game of ball with a broom and ball of yarn. I like that.) Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Maira Kalman

h1 Thursday, February 23rd, 2012


“One day, while walking through the park on my way to breakfast I saw a very tall man. He reminded me of someone, but I could not think who.”
(Click to enlarge)

Hi, dear 7-Imp’ers. I’m starin’ down some manuscript edits this week. How are you all? Once this round of manuscript edits is done, I hope to post a bit more on a weekly basis here in the land of 7-Imp.

But for now …

Tomorrow morning over at Kirkus, I give a brief run-down of the BolognaRagazzi Awards, since the 2012 winners were announced just this week. But I also step back to describe what in the hubba-what the Bologna Children’s Book Fair is all about (as well as the four categories in the Ragazzi Awards), since I realize that to even the most hard-core children’s lit aficionado in this country, it might be a bit of a mystery.

For those interested in seeing the 2012 winners, they are as follows (note three American titles make Mentions this year in two different categories!) —

That Kirkus column will be here tomorrow.

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For last week’s column, which is here, I wrote about Maira Kalman’s Looking for Lincoln. You can read about it at that link, and today I share some art from it. Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Erin Stead

h1 Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

This isn’t the first time illustrator Erin Stead has visited 7-Imp. About a year prior to the release of her Caldecott-winning A Sick Day for Amos McGree, written by Philip C. Stead (who happens to be her husband), she visited to share some early art and the tools she used to make the illustrations for the book. I have to say, when it won the 2011 Caldecott, you would have heard me screaming, had you been standing outside my home (yeah, I screamed that loudly in happiness and enthusiasm, but wait … why are you standing outside my home?), because back then, in 2009, my smart readers (who possess such good taste) and I all recognized it as the special picture book that it is. (To boot, she visited again in 2010, the year the book was actually released, to share even more.)


“or maybe it was the bears and all that stomping, / because bears can’t read signs / that say things like / ‘please do not stomp here— /
there are seeds / and they are trying’ “

(Click to enlarge)

Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #269: Featuring Shane W. Evans

h1 Sunday, February 19th, 2012


(Click to enlarge)

I know that tomorrow we celebrate President’s Day and that Martin Luther King, Jr. Day has already passed, so forgive my blatant disregard of the calendar here. But I wanted to show a few illustrations from a book I meant to highlight in January. (Not to mention we should celebrate King any day of the year. For a more presidential post, should that be your desire today, see my Kirkus column from yesterday.)

Shane W. Evans’ We March, released last month by Neal Porter/Roaring Brook, is the simple and elegantly-told account of one family’s march in the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Filled with just nine short sentences (and I mean some as short as “We sing”), Evans lets the focus here be on the people involved, shining a spotlight on their determination and spirit. I love what Evans does with lines (what the Publishers Weekly review calls his “angular characters”) and how you can see his very brushstrokes on the characters’ faces — and even in the textured backgrounds. (The art I’ve got here today, though not a lot and not full spreads, speaks way better than I, so be sure to take a look.)

With a palette getting progressively warmer as the story unfolds, it culminates in a luminescent spread of King himself giving his historic speech, the sun rising in shimmering yellows behind his head. It’s lovely. Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring LeUyen Pham

h1 Thursday, February 16th, 2012


“A stick is an excellent thing. / If you find the perfect one, /
it’s a scepter for a king. /A stick is an excellent thing…”
(Click to enlarge spread)


Early thumbnail for above spread
(Click to enlarge)

For this week’s Kirkus column, which will be here tomorrow, I take a look at Maira Kalman’s latest picture book, Looking at Lincoln. (You can also head over here to Jama Rattigan’s side to read about it.)

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If you missed last week’s column, I wrote about Marilyn Singer’s latest poetry collection, A Stick Is an Excellent Thing, to be released by Clarion at the end of the month and illustrated by LeUyen Pham. That link is here.

Today I feature some spreads and early thumbnails from the book, courtesy of Ms. Pham. Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �

Back on Tennessee Soil …

h1 Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

I had the great pleasure of jurying the 2012 BolognaRagazzi Award for the 2012 Bologna Children’s Book Fair in Italy. I’m now back from my visit to Bologna—needless to say, I slept like a log last night—after having looked at nearly a thousand illustrated books from all over the world with fellow jury member and French book designer Raymond Stoffel, as well as Professor Antonio Faeti, chair of the jury and all-around brilliant human being.

To say that I am grateful and thrilled to have seen so much beautiful international children’s book art would be a serious understatement.

Here I am pictured in front of Giannino Stoppani, the world’s most perfect children’s bookshop. One day I am going to go back to Italy with my pillow and sleeping bag to just MOVE IN to this shop and sleep there amongst the books.

Later, I will share more pictures from the inside, and I’ll tell you more about it then, too. I am waving now to Grazia Gotti, who owns the shop and reads 7-Imp daily. (And I say “ciao!” in my best Italian accent, though it will probably sound a bit twangy, no matter how hard I try.) I was flattered to learn she and her colleagues read 7-Imp on the other side of the world, and it was great to meet them and to spend the day in their shop.

I also finally got to meet in person the dear, sweet Cristiana Clerici. More on that soon, too.

The 2012 BolognaRagazzi Award winners will be announced soon. Exciting! Until then, I set off to get caught up on everything else.

Back soon …

Like Butter …

h1 Tuesday, February 14th, 2012


“Rabbit hides in shadow / under cloudy skies /
waiting for the moonlight / blinking sleepy eyes.”

(Click to enlarge)

I’m just back from being out of town, and jet lag is my enemy.

Okay, so maybe I lined this post up before I left, and I suspect that jet lag will be my nemesis today, but I wanted to share this art with you. This will be short and sweet.

I like to see the illustrations of painter and illustrator Laura Dronzek. There is a soft, dream-like quality to her work that draws me in. Helen V. Griffith’s latest book, Moonlight (Greenwillow, February 2012), illustrated by Dronzek, is about a rabbit waiting for the moon, as you can see above: “Rabbit hides in shadow /under cloudy skies / waiting for the moonlight / blinking sleepy eyes.” When the moon comes out, it covers Dronzek’s night-time scenes in luminescent rays. “Moonlight slides like butter,” Griffith’s write, taking the butter analogy all the way to the book’s end. A “butter trace” is left in the sky, it covers the mountainside, it covers the trees, it “sucks at twigs and branches / like a butter bee,” and more. Indeed, the light “butters Rabbit’s dreams” till he wakes.

It’s a poem of a picture book, though I suspect the butter motif may not be for everyone. For me, it works, and Dronzek’s rich, graceful illustrations shimmer with color, particularly the buttery light. The artwork, bordered with those thick, yellow lines (see below) and rendered in acrylics, are soothing and warm, even given the darker, night-time palette.

And I have trouble imagining how Griffiths’ final line, with the accompanying joyful spread, wouldn’t put a huge smile on the face of a young child: “Rabbit dances in the field / butter on his head!”

Here are two more spreads (without the text). Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #268: Featuring
Kara LaReau and Scott Magoon

h1 Sunday, February 12th, 2012


“They dined on twigs and bark and clover and cabbage.”

Welcome to the Valentine’s Day 2012 edition of the 7-Kicks list.

One of my favorite things in all of PictureBook-dom is when Kara LaReau and Scott Magoon join forces and make books together. Today, both Scott and Kara are visiting to share images and early sketches from the two most recent books on which they collaborated, and they’re also here to say a bit about these books, their work together, and what’s next for each of them.

Their very most recent picture book, Mr. Prickles (pictured here)—what Publishers Weekly called a “tale of misfits” (aw, I have a soft spot for misfits)—was released at the tail end of last year (from Roaring Brook), and it’s the “quill-fated love story” of two porcupines. Porcupines are “very hard to get close to,” so poor Mr. Prickles has a difficult time making friends. He tries, he fails, he gets lonely, and he even gets prickly-angry. (The other woodland creatures are downright mean to him.) That is, till he meets Miss Pointypants. And then (just in time for your Valentine’s-Day read), love is in the air.

As you are wont to get with a LaReau/Magoon collaboration, there’s humor, emotion, and lots of style. It’s also got a pulsing heart at its center without being overly schmaltzy about it.

And, if you missed it last summer, don’t forget to take a look at their other collaboration, Otto: The Boy Who Loved Cars, also released by Roaring Brook (but in June of last year). Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Kevin Henkes

h1 Thursday, February 9th, 2012

'And they were right. Penny remembered her song. Beautifully.'I’m getting ready to head out of town for a bit, but I can’t leave my 7-Imp readers hanging. This means that today I’ve got a bit of art for you; tomorrow, my Kirkus column will be up (over in Kirkus-land, of course); and Sunday, I’ll have the kicks post up, even though I won’t be around to respond. (How could I leave my kickers hanging? I’ve not once done that! Only wild aliens will keep me from posting on Sundays, I tell you.)

Tomorrow morning over at Kirkus, I shine the spotlight on Marilyn Singer’s upcoming picture book poetry collection, A Stick is an Excellent Thing, illustrated by LeUyen Pham. That link will be here first thing in the morning.

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Last week at Kirkus, I discussed Kevin Henkes’ upcoming book, which is actually his debut as a beginning-reader author/illustrator. It’s called Penny and Her Song and will be released by Greenwillow at the end of February. That column is here, if you missed it. Pictured here today are three interior illustrations from the book. Enjoy …

Read the rest of this entry �