Archive for April, 2012

Seven Questions Over Breakfast
with Laura Vaccaro Seeger

h1 Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Author/illustrator Laura Vaccaro Seeger has been called the “the Queen of the Concept Book” (the Horn Book), a title she’s earned with a slew of unique and exceedingly clever picture books, ones that make the ordinary extraordinary on many levels. For her 2007 title, First the Egg—which earned her a 2008 Caldecott Honor, as well as a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor—Sara London in the New York Times wrote that the “playground of perception seems to be Seeger’s most natural arena,” calling that book “a feat of ingenuity.” And you could say that ingenuity has driven many of her other beautifully-designed picture books as well (many using die-cuts), all pictured below, books in which children naturally delight in learning. “I have always been fascinated with concepts,” Seeger stated in her 2007 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award acceptance speech for Dog and Bear: Two Friends, Three Stories, “and making books is a way for me to share with children new ways to learn and conceptualize. It is my wish that my books will help children discover concepts, not just learn them — from the alphabet to colors to opposites; and on to the idea of negative space and the power of seeing, guessing and anticipating, and finding answers.”

But smart concept books aside, Seeger has also brought readers one of children’s literature’s most unforgettable and lovable duos, Dog and Bear. “What do a frisky dachshund and a slightly timid stuffed bear have in common?” she writes at her site. “They are best friends.” Dog and Bear appeared in 2007—winning many honors, including the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award for Best Picture Book—in three short and endearing stories, perfect for early readers. That book was followed by two more volumes of Dog and Bear tales, stories that emanate warmth and humor.

Laura’s newest title, Green (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook Press, March 2012), also including die-cuts, has been met with rave reviews all-around and has even generated Caldecott buzz this early in the year. It’s just that good. Pamela Paul describes it as “one of those deceptively simple picture books that to the casual bookstore browser can seem to be about nothing much at all. But the reader who settles down and slowly pages through its gorgeous acrylic paintings or, better yet, reads it aloud to a young child, will find rich rewards.” In this one, Laura explores the color green, and I boldly say that you really must get a copy of this in your very own hands and read for yourself. Laura also says a bit more about it below.

I’m so glad Laura’s at the 7-Imp breakfast table this morning. Turns out that breakfast is her favorite meal of the day. (That makes two of us.) “Usually,” she told me, “I have two eggs over easy, half a grapefruit, a hollowed-out bagel with a little butter, and tea or coffee. Then I’m pretty much set for the day, unless, of course, there’s sushi on the menu later!”

I’ll set the table, while I get the basics from her before our breakfast chat. I thank her for visiting. Read the rest of this entry �

“Just one single speck of hot pepper
makes a dragon snort sparks.”

h1 Monday, April 16th, 2012

So, as a follow-up to yesterday’s post, this may or may not be what happens when dragons and jalapeño peppers mix:

Best spread in the book. Click to embiggen it and see it in detail.

Until tomorrow…

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DRAGONS LOVE TACOS. Copyright © 2012 by Adam Rubin. Illustrations copyright © 2012 by Daniel Salmieri. Published by Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin, New York. Spread reproduced by permission of publisher.

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #276:
Featuring Daniel Salmieri (Er, Part One!)

h1 Sunday, April 15th, 2012

“Just remember: Dragons hate spicy salsa.
Before you host your taco party with dragons, get rid of all the spicy salsa.
In fact, bury the spicy salsa in the backyard so the dragons can’t find it.”

(Click to enlarge spread)

Do you know those really funny picture books that don’t get in the way of their own humor, that perhaps don’t even get how very funny they are, much like that wicked funny friend you have, who cracks you up yet doesn’t realize how wicked sharp her own wit is? Or perhaps doesn’t even know the power of her own goofy and how extremely entertaining it is to everyone around her?

Or, better yet, here are the words of the late, great James Marshall on the matter:

“[H]umor, which I do—comedy—is very tricky. You can’t show how hard you work. You can’t call attention to yourself. You can’t show the wheels turning. It’s got to be like a balloon that floats up into the air. You don’t make the reader, the viewer aware of anything but the story.”

Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Doing at Kirkus Tomorrow,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Michael Emberley

h1 Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Tomorrow over at Kirkus, I’ll have some thoughts on A Hen for Izzy Pippik, written by Aubrey Davis and illustrated by Marie Lafrance. That link will be here in the morning.

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Last Friday, I weighed in on Mary Ann Hoberman’s Forget-Me-Nots: Poems to Learn by Heart, illustrated by Michael Emberley. That column is here. Pictured above is Emberley’s illustration for Theodore Roethke’s “Dinky.” Below are some more spreads from the book.

Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �

Following Up on a Q&A from Last Week,
Featuring Illustrations from:
John Parra, Jim Burke, Sophie Blackall, Michael Slack, Jeffrey Stewart Timmins, & Kelly Murphy (whew)

h1 Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

“I was a typist, nothing more. / I loved my life, I hated war. /
But it was war that stole from me / my job, my life, serenity…”
— From “The Captive,” Pat’s poem about Mitsuye Endo, illustrated by John Parra

(Click to see spread in its entirety and to read the poem)

Hi, dear Imps. (It was decided in this past Sunday’s kicks post that my readers shall be called “Imps,” per the special one and only Little Willow, and I like this name for my readers. A lot.)

I’ll be heading to Massachusetts this week for work, so I’ve got just a couple of follow-up posts this week here at 7-Imp. This is better than an announcement saying, I’ll be away all week and so I got nothin’ for ya, which I had initially planned. A couple of follow-up posts is about all my busy week of travel will allow, though I have a growing list of breakfast interviewees to have over for coffee. I’ll get to those soon. Promise.

Last week, I conducted a short Q & A over at Kirkus with Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis, pictured left at a school visit. The brief interview is here, if you’re so inclined to read it.

Today, I’ve got some art from some of the books he mentioned in that interview—some books already released and some not yet on shelves—because I simply can’t NOT post art. (You’re welcome for that annoying sentence construction. It’s late as I type this. What can I say?)

Pictured above, as noted in the caption under the image, is an illustration by John Parra for “The Captive,” Pat’s poem about Mitsuye Endo, who was a Japanese-American interned during World War II. That comes from When Thunder Comes: Poems for Civil Rights Leaders (Chronicle), to be released this Fall and with illustrations from John, Jim Burke, R. Gregory Christie, Tonya Engel, and Meilo So. Another illustration from that is below, as well as spreads from several other books.

Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #275:
Featuring Anita Lobel and Jan Thomas

h1 Sunday, April 8th, 2012

“The Rabbit family sat down to bowls of delicious vegetable soup. Yum!
The happy rabbits were hungry no more.”

(Click to enlarge spread)

Happy Easter / Passover to one and all … Since I have children who do the Easter thing (egg hunts and such), I have bunnies for you all this morning.

To be exact, I’ve got Jan Thomas’s Easter bunny (plus one eager skunk) and Caldecott Honor winner Anita Lobel’s bunnies-plural. Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Morning,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Claire A. Nivola

h1 Friday, April 6th, 2012

“So much of diving is an all-too-brief glimpse below the surface. Sylvia had always wanted to know what it was like to live in the sea, to be a part of the daily life of the underwater world. … Using a small flashlight at night, she noticed that the day fish ‘tucked in’ to the same nooks and crevices the night fish had just vacated, each fish often returning time and again to its same resting place—just as we do!”
(Click to enlarge spread and see in its entirety)

This morning over at Kirkus, I write about Mary Ann Hoberman’s Forget-Me-Nots: Poems to Learn By Heart, illustrated by Michael Emberley. The link is here.

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Last week, I took a look at Claire A. Nivola’s newest picture book, Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle. That link is here.

I’ve got some more spreads from the biography today, and Claire is also here to say a bit about her research for this beautiful book … Read the rest of this entry �

I Chat with the One Currently Wearing
the Children’s Poet Laureate Sash

h1 Thursday, April 5th, 2012

At Kirkus today, I’ve got a Q & A with the reigning Children’s Poet Laureate, J. Patrick Lewis, who—as you can see here—enjoys a little bubble gum with his breakfast.

“Though the evidence seems convincing—the numbers don’t lie—that children’s poetry has seen more robust days,” Pat told me, “it is difficult to credit that when one is met at every venue with such overwhelming affection and rapt attention. Young children can’t spell ‘laureate,’ much less know what it means, but somehow they imagine they are shaking hands with some sort of Pied Piper, as every children’s poet who makes school visits can confirm.”

You can read the rest here.

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Photo re-posted from my November 2010 interview with Pat.

A Brief Visit with Margaret Chodos-Irvine
(Or: Thunder is the Sound You Hear
If Jules Doesn’t Get Her Coffee in the Mornings)

h1 Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Early sketch and final spread:
“The thunder CLATTERS and BANGS. Brannon hides again.”

(Click to enlarge spread)

I’ve got some spreads and early sketches/images this morning from Caldecott Honor winner Margaret Chodos-Irvine (pictured left is one early sketch), whose printmaking work has graced many a picture book. I’m always eager to see her new illustrated titles. This one, Dinosaur Thunder (Scholastic), written by Newbery Honor author Marion Dane Bauer, will be out in May, but I saw an early copy and fell for it.

And Margaret’s here today to share some images from the book as a work-in-progress — as well as some final spreads. (I am hoping some time in the near future, she’ll also stop by for a breakfast interview. I wave my hypno-spiral anyway in an attempt to talk her into it.)

Dinosaur Thunder is the story of Brannon and his imaginative reactions to thunder. “When lightning flares in the faraway sky and clouds growl like lions waking…” Well, this young boy’s big brother Chad does a happy jig in the middle of the room—thunder just does that to some people—but Brannon is scared and looks for a place to hide. He gets various responses from the adults in the house about what thunder really is, and as adults are wont to do sometimes, they confuse him. “Don’t be scared … That thunder is only a big cat purring,” says his father. But, you see, the neighbor’s cat once tried to scratch Brannon, and his imagination runs wild. Read the rest of this entry �

‘Cause Sometimes You Just Need
Some Manic Cartoon Art Before Breakfast…

h1 Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

(Click to enlarge)

Okay, it’s well after breakfast, but perhaps for you brunchers …

Here’s a quick addendum to yesterday’s post, which included some art from Dan Krall.

Dan has another illustrated book coming out in July, called Skeleton Cat. It’s written by Kristyn Crow and published by Scholastic.

Since it didn’t quite fit in yesterday’s long post, I share a couple of spreads from it today.

Until tomorrow . . . Read the rest of this entry �