Archive for April, 2012

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #278: Featuring R. Kikuo Johnson

h1 Sunday, April 29th, 2012

(Click to enlarge)

In the Summer of 2011, I wrote at Kirkus about TOON Books. Today’s post is about a new TOON title, R. Kikuo Johnson’s The Shark King, so if you’re thinking, TOON hubba WHAT? and what is Jules going on about NOW?, then you can head on over to that Kirkus column to get the low-down on this imprint.

And I like this new title. I do. You won’t see anything else like it this year. Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Doing at Kirkus Today, Plus What I Did
Last Week, Featuring Bonnie Christensen,
Violeta Dabija, Jui Ishida, and Brian Lies

h1 Friday, April 27th, 2012

From I. C. Springman’s More
(Houghton Mifflin, March 2012), illustrated by Brian Lies

This morning at Kirkus, I take a look at two picture book protagonists who make me laugh in Adam J. B. Lane’s Stop Thief! and Judith Rossell’s Oliver. If you’re so inclined to read it, the link is here this morning.

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Last week, I wrote about some good, brand-new picture books for Earth Day. That link is here, if you missed it and want to read more. Below is some art from each book, including some early sketches and work-in-progress images from I. C. Springman’s More, illustrated by Brian Lies.

Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �

Willie, Bill, Lucy:
What Amy Schwartz Brings Readers in 2012

h1 Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

From Amy Schwartz’s Lucy Can’t Sleep
(Neal Porter/Roaring Brook, August 2012)
(More images below)

Author/illustrator Amy Schwartz visited 7-Imp for a breakfast chat in June 2010. It was there that I reiterated what I love most about her picture books: her attention to detail. The types of details, that is, upon which young children tend to focus. So, it’s with eagerness that I turn toward any of her new picture book releases.

And if you’re a fan of her books, it’s a good year to be one. (For all I know, she has even more 2012 releases; I failed to ask her this.) In February, Holiday House released Willie and Uncle Bill, and in August Neal Porter/Roaring Brook will release Lucy Can’t Sleep. I’ve seen a copy of both, including an F&G of the latter, and both are a delight. And today at 7-Imp Amy’s sharing a couple of early sketches from one of the books.

You’ll often read reviewers use the word “understated” for the humor in Amy’s books. It’s true. “Droll,” too — and, as I’ve said previously here at Camp 7-Imp, I love a Good Droll. You could easily use both descriptors for Willie and Uncle Bill, a series of three stories about a young boy, mostly silent, and his very outgoing, flamboyant uncle, mostly not-silent and full of good cheer and style.

When the doorbell rings three times, as it does at the start of each story, Willie and his mother know that Uncle Bill has arrived for babysitting. Uncle Bill has relatively big, dramatic hair. He loves to cook. He’s all about pink, polka-dotted (or otherwise exuberant and funky) shirts and wears a frilly apron when he is busy in the kitchen. He is who he is, wonderfully left-of-center, without ever trying too hard to be so. (“Some people,” wrote Walt Whitman, “are so much sunshine to the square inch.” Yeah. I can tell that’s Uncle Bill.) Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s New Avatar

h1 Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

How do you like my new friend here?

That was created by author/illustrator Aaron Zenz, and he appears in this post Aaron wrote on Monday about some of his favorite blogs.

I can’t possibly thank Aaron enough for the kind words about 7-Imp. Oh my. Best part is the company I’m in.

Naturally, I begged for a copy of the Zenz-inspired Mad Hatter to feature here at 7-Imp. It’s now on this page of the blog, left to posterity. (Um, I sound like I’m retiring, but you reader-Imps know what I mean.)

Thanks again to Mr. Zenz!

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with John Hendrix

h1 Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

John HendrixI’ve written about author/illustrator John Hendrix previously at 7-Imp. Today, though, he’s joining me at the breakfast table, his breakfast-of-choice being only “about five gallons of coffee.” (I can go for that. I’m sturdy with my coffee intake. I feel confident I can handle it.)

And I believe I’ve previously used the word “galvanic” when describing his art.

Well, it is. Have you seen his artwork?

His sweeping spreads are indicative of an artist who started out in editorial illustration — with spreads, Kirkus once wrote, that “combine the iconic and the realistic to compress the visual storytelling into one heightened image.” Or “larger-than-life,” if you’re School Library Journal. And it’s true: John knows how to get your attention, as you can see below in the mixed-media illustrations featured today. There’s an edgy, sometimes darker side to his art, too, that makes you look twice. (And, I must mention, he often hand-draws his text, as you can see in some examples below.)

Most recently, John has brought readers the illustrations for Deborah Hopkinson’s A Boy Called Dickens. That was published by Schwartz & Wade in January, and back then I invited John over for a breakfast chat. I may just now be getting to it, but better late than never. He shares art and early sketches below from Hopkinson’s book, as well his other three previously illustrated titles and other art from here and from there.

So, let’s get right to it, and I thank him for visiting. Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #277: Featuring Polly Dunbar

h1 Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

I always look forward to new picture books from Polly Dunbar (who visited 7-Imp back in ’08).

Kirkus calls her newest, Arthur’s Dream Boat, released by Candlewick in February, a “real attention-getter.” In this book, Dunbar asks child readers to consider what is real and what is but a dream.

Arthur awakes one morning to recall an amazing dream. He’s got a sailboat on the mind — in more ways than one. He’s dreamt of one, not to mention there is a tiny sailboat perched on his head. (“A few years ago,” Dunbar notes in the book’s back-flap bio, “I was sitting on Brighton beach, looking out to sea. There was a small boy in the water and a boat far away on the horizon. For one magic moment, the boat looked as though it was perched on the boy’s head. I remember thinking, I’m the only one who can see that boat on his head; it must be a dream boat. And I drew a quick sketch.”)

He sets out to tell family members about his “amazing” dream, but no one is quite listening. Observant readers will notice that the boat is increasingly embellished with features he sees on or near his own family members—the rainbow-colored fish food his mother is tossing into the aquarium becomes the “polka-dotted sails,” and the baby food his sister is flinging around the kitchen becomes the “golden flag”—as well as other nautical clues, including a message in a bottle on the family’s kitchen table. Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Doing at Kirkus Today, Plus What I Did
Last Week, Featuring Rebecca Cool and Marie Lafrance

h1 Friday, April 20th, 2012

“This is the sun that kisses the clouds / that cried the rain that soaked the seeds /
that slept in the soil, all dark and deep, / in Isabella’s garden. /
These are the shoots that seek the sun / that kissed the clouds that cried the rain / that soaked the seeds that slept in the soil, / all dark and deep, in Isabella’s garden.”

(Click to enlarge slightly)

“‘Mama, can I keep her until Izzy Pippik returns?’
‘Who says he’s coming back, Shaina?’
‘He has to, Mama. She’s so beautiful.’
Winking at Shaina, Grandpa took Mama’s hand. ‘What’s it going to hurt?’ he asked.
Mama sighed. ‘For a few days, maybe.'”

(Click to enlarge and see entire spread)

This morning over at Kirkus, I suggest some good picture books for Earth Day — new titles, that is.

Here at 7-Imp today, I’m showing you some illustrations from one of the books I had intended to include in that column, the very beautiful Isabella’s Garden (Candlewick, March 2012), written by Glenda Millard and illustrated by Rebecca Cool, both from Australia. You may be wondering why I didn’t include that book in the column, if I had intended to do so. What can I say? My brain took a wee nap. I like Isabella’s Garden so much that it was going to lead off my column, in fact. For real. But then, since I have an excess of picture books in my home, I was all, oh! But look over here at this one! Ooh, look at THAT one! Hold up, here’s another …. And pretty soon I was just spinning in circles and had forgotten about my beloved Isabella’s Garden, which all resulted in my hand meeting my forehead.

But I share it with you today — just over here at 7-Imp, instead of at Kirkus. Below is a bit more about the book, as well as one more beautiful spread from it.

The Earth Day Kirkus column is here this morning.


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Last week, I wrote about Aubrey Davis’s A Hen for Izzy Pippik—that link is here—illustrated by Marie Lafrance (Kids Can Press, March 2012). Both author and illustrator are Canadian. Below are some more illustrations from the book. (And you can see a few more spreads from the book here at Lafrance’s blog.)

Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �

“There has never been a time when more people
with talent were clamoring to make picture books…”

h1 Thursday, April 19th, 2012

This morning over at Kirkus, I’ve got a short Q & A up with author, historian, and critic Leonard S. Marcus. We’re discussing his (wonderful) new Candlewick title, Show Me a Story! Why Picture Books Matter: Conversations with 21 of the World’s Most Celebrated Illustrators. This will be released in early May. And picture book fans won’t want to miss it. Not if you can help it at all.

I interview a lot of people here at 7-Imp, but I have to say I was a bit nervous talking to Marcus. He’s only insanely talented in about seven hundred different directions (to be not-dramatic-at-all about it), and he writes so well about our special, beloved picture books. (“Our” meaning me and my dear impish blog readers, given that we’re all picture book junkies.)

So. Right. That’s all to say that I am a huge fan of his books and writings in general — and everything he has contributed to children’s literature.

The link is here this morning. Come join the fun. I ask him about surprises, contemporary picture books, e-books, whether or not he thinks Don Draper is really ready to settle down, and what he’s researching now. I may not have asked him about one of those. You’ll have to read the Q & A to find out.

A Zippy-Quick Q & A
with Kent Brown of the Highlights Foundation …

h1 Thursday, April 19th, 2012

A Highlights Foundation writing session
(including an Eric Rohmann sighting — he’s also seated with Suzanne Bloom, Lindsay Barrett George, Melanie Hall, and Floyd Cooper)

I’m doing something a bit different for 7-Imp today.

This March, I had the pleasure of being a faculty member (well, sorta — I was a Special Guest instructor) at a Highlights Foundation writers’ workshop up in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. The Foundation is changing the way they’re doing things, given the construction of a new facility at their Honesdale site, and wanted folks to help get the word out, and I said I’d be happy to contribute with a short Q & A with Kent Brown, Executive Director of the Highlights Foundation.

(If you’ve ever wondered about the Foundation faculty—for their writers’ workshops, that is—go no further than here and prepare to be impressed.)

So, here’s the deal, dear Imps: The Highlights Foundation has led in the past a week-long writers’ workshop at the Chautauqua Institution in New York state. However, at the Honesdale campus in Pennsylvania, they are happy to have completed work on a brand-new facility. As a result, they decided to focus on what they can provide writers and illustrators using the Honesdale space alone. Read the rest of this entry �

One Very Funny Bed-Time Struggle Before Breakfast

h1 Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

(Click to enlarge)

Sheer and utter laziness is what I bring you today, dear Imps. Well, laziness of a sort. I have some illustrations to showcase today, but as for my thoughts on the book, I’m going to direct you to Betsy Bird’s recent review of the same title.

And that’s for several reasons: 1) I’m sleepy right now but really want to yawp about what a good book this is; 2) what a good book this is!; and 3) Betsy … well, shoot, y’all. She is such a detailed and thoughtful reviewer. (And her INTROS! The intros to her reviews, I always note, are so well-penned. That’s an art and a science right there, nailing an intro and snagging the reader. But I digress.) Once I read her review, I thought, hmmm…what she said. So, I’m going to just shoo you on over to her review — after you take in these spreads, that is.

The book in question? Coralie Saudo’s (also an illustrator) My Dad is Big and Strong, But… This is a French import, originally published in 2010 as Mon Papa, Il est Grand, Il est Fort, MAIS… As I’ve said before, thank goodness for Enchanted Lion Books and their eye on international titles. Translated by Claudia Zoe Bedrick and illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo, this one is a true delight.

In this table-turner of a picture book, a father gives his young son the kind of hell … er, fuss that children like to give the parental units at bedtime. (Think: I’m scared of the dark; one more story, PLEASE; and can I sleep in here with you?) And it’s funny. (Dad all curled up under the covers, scared of the dark, still in his hat and tie? It’s a hoot, I say.) And, as Betsy writes, the art is oh-so European. Or at least you get the sense right off the bat that you’re likely not dealing with a picture book born in the States. Here’s part of what she writes: Read the rest of this entry �