Archive for July, 2012

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week

h1 Thursday, July 12th, 2012

At Kirkus this morning, I chat with the very busy and very talented Dan Santat, staring valiantly to my left here.

That Q & A is here, if you’re so inclined to read it.

Dan has several illustrated titles either just out or about to come out, and he takes the time from his busy schedule to tell me about them — as well as to discuss highbrow humor for children, Hitchcock films, working in black and white, and more.

Tomorrow over there, I’ll be featuring the latest picture book from Hyewon Yum, which is called, Mom, It’s My First Day of Kindergarten! That link will be here in the morning.

What I Did at Kirkus Last Week, Featuring Bryan Collier

h1 Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

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Last week at Kirkus, I chatted briefly with Bryan Collier about his latest picture book, an adaptation of Langston Hughes’s iconic poem, “I, Too, Sing America.” This is called I, Too, Am America and was published by Simon & Schuster in May.

Here is that link.

I’ve got a couple of spreads in this post today. Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #287: Featuring Adam Rex (and the Very Uneventful Announcement of a Tiny Blog Break)

h1 Sunday, July 8th, 2012

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I’m going to be brief today, because I may or may not be on the road or in the air or on the water, and I’m about to take a blog break for a few days, too. (If that “few days” is entirely too vague, well … this is how I roll at 7-Imp. My apologies. I mostly don’t know what I’m going to be posting about till, say, the week before; it all depends on what’s inspiring me. That said, I should be back on Wednesday. I think? Yes, let’s just say Wednesday.)

I do hope that my dear kickers come along and leave their kicks, though it may take me a while to read and respond this week. “A while” is vague, too, huh? Er, sorry? I’ll do my best. And, no matter when I read them, I know I’ll enjoy them. I always do.

Today’s one lonely illustration is from Adam Rex. Hey, wait. I take that back. It might be alone / solo / without its Plus One illustration, but it is, indeed, not lonely — on account of how it’s radiating … well, sheer awesomeness, to be blunt about it. That’s a library I want to visit. Read the rest of this entry �

What I Did at Kirkus Last Week, a Follow-Up (Part Two)

h1 Friday, July 6th, 2012

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Unfinished illustration
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Final art (without text): “And Georgia painted!”
Yuyi: “The first color image shows the pieces I used to assemble the final art. These were all hand-cut, painted individually, scanned, and then composed, cleaned, and ‘repainted’ digitally, until it all looked like the second color piece….”

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Last Friday at Kirkus, I chatted with illustrator Yuyi Morales about her research for Amy Novesky’s Georgia in Hawaii: When Georgia O’Keeffe Painted What She Pleased, published by Harcourt in March. Just a few weeks ago, the book was named a Boston Globe-Horn Book Nonfiction Honor Book.

Here’s that Q & A, and let me also note that Jama Rattigan had a wonderful chat with Novesky in March of this year.

Below are some spreads from the book, as well as some thumbnails and work-in-progress images. Also included is the final question I asked Yuyi for this Q & A. I ran out of room over at Kirkus, but you can read it here.

Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �

What I Did at Kirkus Last Week, a Follow-Up
(Part One); Or: In Praise of Strange, Shaggy Stories

h1 Thursday, July 5th, 2012

“She made sweaters for all the dogs, and all the cats, and for other animals, too.
Soon, people thought, soon Annabelle will run out of yarn.”

Last Thursday at Kirkus, I chatted with the very funny writer and strongman-for-hire Mac Barnett about the fact that his early Spring picture book—Extra Yarn (Balzer + Bray), illustrated by Jon Klassen—up and got the 2012 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award in the Picture Book category. Here is that conversation, if you missed it and are so inclined to read it. (And I’ve been wanting to post about this book all year, having asked Mac and Jon about it back in January. Better late than never, huh?)

Know what, too? I asked Mac, as you can see over there at the Q & A, about the fact that his writing is always described as “quirky,” and he gave such a wonderful response, one I’ll always remember. If you love picture books as much as I do, you also may very well cheer this:

Last month on the radio, I heard a winemaker talking about how his business had changed, starting in the 1980s. Before that, apparently, vintners took pride in the idiosyncrasies of their individual processes and the quirks of their regions. You could take a sip and know that the grapes were grown in this particular terroir, say, and there was such wide and pronounced variety that you could tell the differences between two wines grown 30 miles from each other.

But then that changed. Winemakers started aiming for received notions of the perfect Bordeaux or ideal Cabernet, and things started tasting the same. And this man on the radio was sad, because something had been lost.

Now, during the Reagan years, I was too young to even taste the holy swill in the Communion cup, but I see a similar trend in picture books—and on roughly the same timeline. The same plots get trotted out. Great ideas are shaved and sanded down until they look a lot like a lot of other things on the bookshelf. I like strange stories, shaggy stories, stories with knobby bits and gristle and surprises. And so I’m glad that people think my stories are quirky. All my favorite books have quirks. Although I think it is almost always more interesting to examine why something is quirky than to simply say that it is.

Strange, shaggy stories. YES, indeed.

Here are some more illustrations from Extra Yarn (sans text). [Fun Fact, Which Jon Mentioned in a Previous Email to Me and Which I Hope He Doesn’t Mind Me Sharing Here: The yarn in the book was actually an old sweater Jon scanned in and then colored so that the stitching would be right.]

Enjoy. (Part Two tomorrow…) Read the rest of this entry �

“Someone Please Light a Sparkler for Me”
is Gonna Be the Name of My Next Country Ballad

h1 Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

Here’s an idea for a 4th of July celebration: Grab your favorite child to curl up and read Bryan Collier’s picture book adaptation of Langston Hughes’s iconic poem, “I, Too, Sing America.” This morning over at Kirkus, I chat briefly with Bryan about it. Next week at 7-Imp, I’ll have one more spread from the book.

The Kirkus link is here.

It’s so hot and dry in middle Tennessee that we are banned from the use of fireworks, so someone please light a sparkler for me.

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Meilo So

h1 Monday, July 2nd, 2012

There’s a lot I want to say about how much I enjoy the artwork of illustrator Meilo So (pictured here with her daughter), whether she’s working in watercolors or gouache or pencil, but I’ve spent so much time poring over her artwork that I need to just go ahead and post this interview before I’m found slumped over my keyboard. Really, I’ve been looking all googly-eyed at her website for weeks now.

Though I’ve enjoyed Meilo’s illustrated picture books over the years, it was her work in this Spring’s Water Sings Blue (Chronicle), poems written by Kate Coombs, that made me up and ask her about an interview. (I previously wrote about that book here at 7-Imp during a visit with Kate.) The Horn Book review describes Meilo’s illustrations for Kate’s poetry collection as none other than “splendid.” Indeed, they are. Very nearly breathtaking.

Meilo, who was born in Hong Kong, but now—as you’ll read below—lives in Scotland, has illustrated many beloved, acclaimed books. As I’m wont to do, I’ll let her art mostly speak here; you’ll see included below in our breakfast chat many illustrations from some of her previous titles, including some artwork from two beautiful books not available here in the U.S. The New York Times once wrote that Meilo’s illustrations are “luminous, the colors seeming to shine through the pages like a sunrise through stained glass.” You’ll see a lot of that below. Again, breathtaking.

Clearly, I’m a fan.

And this October, other Meilo fans will be treated to her artwork in Stephanie Spinner’s Alex the Parrot: No Ordinary Bird (Knopf). Here’s a sneak-peek at that: Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #286: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Moira Swiatkowski

h1 Sunday, July 1st, 2012

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Given that here in Nashville we just beat our own record high temps—we got up to 110 degrees on Friday—I’m liking this opening image from Moira Swiatkowski. That girl is in a coat and scarf, by God! If only …

(Moira actually tells me that Me and My Gang can come hang out with her in Cape Cod to cool off. A swim and some ice cream up there. I wish.)

If Moira’s name is familiar to my dear Sunday kickers, it’s because she is one. She’s been “kicking” here on Sundays for a while now. Naturally, I ended up at her site—as I’m sure many of you have at some point—and decided I’d see if she’d like to come share some of her artwork. Lucky for us, she agreed.

I’m going to turn it right over to Moira, who’s going to introduce herself, and I thank her for visiting today … Read the rest of this entry �