Archive for August, 2012

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Morning

h1 Friday, August 31st, 2012

Today at Kirkus, I write about Aaron Reynolds’ Creepy Carrots!, illustrated by Peter Brown, and Michelle Knudsen’s Big Mean Mike, illustrated by Scott Magoon.

Or: Some cute, fluffy bunnies and some dastardly carrots. Here’s the link.

Next week, as always, I’ll follow up with some art from each book.

On the Lives of Ruth Krauss and Crockett Johnson:
My Full Q & A with Author Philip Nel

h1 Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Ruth Krauss and Crockett Johnson on their front porch, 1959. Image courtesy of Smithsonian Institution. Reproduced courtesy of the New Haven Register.

Last week at Kirkus, an abbreviated version of a Q&A I conducted with author, professor, and blogger Philip Nel was posted over at the Kirkus Book Blog Network. We discussed his latest book, a double biography, titled Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss: How an Unlikely Couple Found Love, Dodged the FBI, and Transformed Children’s Literature.

This week here at 7-Imp, I’ve got the interview in its entirety, along with some images from the book. Many thanks to Phil for taking time from his busy schedule to chat with me about this fascinating book.

Let’s get right to it …

Jules: Part of your book’s sub-title is “How an Unlikely Couple…Transformed Children’s Literature.” Given their influential work across multiple disciplines (children’s lit, comics, graphic design, fine arts), what do you think their most enduring contributions are to the field of children’s literature?

Philip: Crockett Johnson’s Harold and the Purple Crayon is the most succinct and profound distillation of imaginative possibility ever created. Understandably, it’s inspired many other children’s writers.


Crockett Johnson. Harold “kept his wits and his purple crayon.” From Harold and the Purple Crayon (Harper, 1955). Text copyright © 1955 by Crockett Johnson. Copyright © renewed 1983 by Ruth Krauss. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Reprinted with the permission of the Estate of Ruth Krauss,
Stewart I. Edelstein, Executor. All Rights Reserved.

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Seven Questions Over
a Late-Night Breakfast with Christian Robinson

h1 Monday, August 27th, 2012

Get out the veggies, eggs, and coffee mugs. Illustrator Christian Robinson is visiting for a late-night breakfast. (Why not? Breakfast for dinner! I say.) Given that he’s a vegetarian—though he admits he kinda misses his bacon—he enjoys “a really good veggie omelette in the morning, usually with avocado, tomato, spinach, and cheddar. Pancakes or toast on the side. A tall glass of fresh-squeezed OJ is a must.” This is all more than good with me, though of course we’re going to have it at night, not to mention I’m bringing some strong coffee to the table, too. (Yes, it’s late, but decaf is just wrong all wrong.)

Christian, who is also an animator, will soon see the release (October of this year) of Renée Watson’s Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills, published by Random House. This is the picture book biography of the African-American cabaret singer and dancer, the daughter of former slaves who faced bigotry herself during her rise to fame at the time of the Harlem Renaissance, yet sang of civil rights and ultimately used her fame and talent to give back to the community. (“After her performances,” Watson writes, “Florence disguised herself so no one would recognize her. She went to hospitals to deliver flowers to patients. And she walked along the Thames River giving money and food to beggars.”)

Robinson’s mixed media illustrations convey emotion with a child-like clarity and seeming simplicity; they are a striking accompaniment to Watson’s words. Today, Christian shares art from this book, as well as lots of other art, and I thank him for visiting.

So, let’s get right to it. Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #294: Featuring E. B. Lewis

h1 Sunday, August 26th, 2012

“One day, while we were near the slide, Maya came over to us. She held open her hand to show us the shiny jacks and tiny red ball she’d gotten for her birthday.
It’s a high bouncer, she said. But none of us wanted to play.
So Maya played a game against herself.”

(Click to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)

Just about everywhere you look these days, you see one campaign or another against bullying. Surely, many of these efforts do some good, though what bothers me is the occasional organization with inherently exclusive inclinations (you can belong to this group, as long as you’re not ____ or _____) mounting such campaigns. Personally, I think it all starts and ends with parents teaching their children that we should all treat each other the way we ourselves want to be treated, and that’s about all there is to it. At the same time, I know these things can be complicated.

Nevertheless, what I always want to say in response to the fight-against-bully campaigns is that there are some great picture books in the world that tell straight-up good stories about kindness and empathy. And storytelling is the way we should go about this, yes? No child wants to be lectured, and who doesn’t want to hear an engaging story? Right? Right!

Cue Jacqueline Woodson’s latest picture book, illustrated by E. B. Lewis. It’s called Each Kindness and will be released in October by Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin. Booklist’s starred review has already described this as a “quiet, intense” book, and they aren’t kidding about the “intense” part. I may or may not have sought the nearest tissue to wipe my goofy ‘ol wet face after having first read it to my own children. Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Doing at Kirkus Today, Plus What I Did Last Week: Featuring Kickin’ National Geographic Photos

h1 Friday, August 24th, 2012

“The white egret / marks time / on / one / leg / then / the / other.”
(Click to enlarge spread; photograph of egret is by Cheryl Molennor)

This morning over at Kirkus, I’ve got a Q&A with author, professor, and blogger Philip Nel, and I ask him about his latest book, Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss: How an Unlikely Couple Found Love, Dodged the FBI, and Transformed Children’s Literature. That link is here, and next week I’ll follow that up here at 7-Imp with some images from the book (as well as Philip’s interview in its entirety).

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Last week, I wrote about the National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry, to be released in September and edited by Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis. That column is here. This is such a beautiful book. You don’t want to miss it. Today I’ve got several spreads from it.


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Board Books I Like Right Now: A Happy Addendum

h1 Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

(Click to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)

Remember how just last night I told you I didn’t have any art from Nikki McClure’s beautiful board book, Apple (Abrams Appleseed, August 2012)? Well, I was just testing to see if you were paying attention. *Ahem* (Not really. After that post, I secured some spreads — with thanks to Appleseed.)

So, here they are. Enjoy.

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Board Books I Like Right Now:
Featuring Agnese Baruzzi, Benjamin Chaud,
Sara Gillingham, and Julie Morstad

h1 Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

“…the shadowy blue of the Unknown”

After I typed that post title, I wondered why it sounded familiar. Well, that’s ’cause the great Adrienne Furness, whose blog I love just about as much as I love the coffee bean and even MORE than finding ten bucks in my pocket that I didn’t know was there, often checks in with her blog readers to write about board books she is currently diggin’. (“Board Books I Like” she calls those posts, this being her most recent one, I believe.)

Well, here are five I am diggin’ right now, too, and I’m going to get right to it. (And next time I’ll pick a post title that doesn’t sound so copycat. But did I mention I love her blog? That post title is my salute to it.)

And I’m going to start with Ramona Bădescu’s Pomelo Explores Color (originally released last year in France as Pomelo et les couleurs), illustrated by Benjamin Chaud and coming from Enchanted Lion Books in October, because an image from this book opens the post today.

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Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Susan Gal

h1 Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Author/illustrator Susan Gal, who began her career in illustration by doing poster and calendar art, followed by work as an animator, is relatively new to creating picture books, and I’m glad she decided to do so. Since her picture book debut in 2009, I’ve followed her titles with interest. As I once wrote here at 7-Imp (and as the Kirkus review noted for her debut title), there is a warmth, not to mention an Ezra Jack Keats vibe, to her artwork. A Keats vibe, yes, but Susan still has a style all her own — as you’ll see in the artwork featured here in the interview today.

Susan’s newest picture book, Day by Day, released by Knopf in July, is a joyous celebration of family and community, which has been met with good reviews all-around. As you can see in the sketch and final spread below, her work can be textured and colorful, though in more than one of her picture books thus far, we see how expert she is at conveying night-time spreads with clarity, warmth, and beauty.

“Day by day, the seasons turn.”
(Click images to enlarge)

Let’s just get right to the interview, since she shares so much artwork today, not to mention we’re having a “fresh-pressed mug of Noble’s Ethiopian ‘Worka’ blend coffee with steamed milk and steel-cut oatmeal with seasonal fresh fruit, topped with toasted almonds.” Mmm. I’m ready to eat and see lots of art.

I thank Susan for visiting. Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #293: Featuring Andrea Dezsö

h1 Sunday, August 19th, 2012

“…My troll fiancée explodes in frustration. MOTL / and I take the treasure and get out of there. / I’m a king now with three kids and a spaniel. I rule / in the daytime,
but at night I’m just a dad who puts / the kids to bed. …”
— From “East of the Sun and West of the Moon”

(Click to enlarge)

Remember how we got a bit dark and grim/Grimm a couple weeks ago? I’m gonna do that again today, because I just can’t pass up the opportunity to post some of the illustrations of Andrea Dezsö.

And, to be clear right off the bat, this is an illustrated book, but it’s not a picture book for young children. This is very much a YA/adult title.

Many of you may have already seen this collection of free verse poems, Ron Koertge’s Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses, released in July by Candlewick. U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis has said it’s “the best antidote I know to the sanctimonious sanitizing of fairy tales.” (Once I read that, I knew I had to read this book myself.)

Here, Koertge isn’t afraid to get gruesome, subversive, and downright nightmarish in his re-telling of 23 classic fairy tales. The blood-red endpapers give you a taste of this, followed by an invitation right off the bat from our author: “Do you want to sleep? Find another storyteller. Do you want to think about the world in a new way? Come closer. Closer, please. I want to whisper in your ear.”

This is the world of Ever After, and this ain’t no Disney.

Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Doing at Kirkus Today, Plus What I Did Last Friday, Featuring Matthew Cordell, Georg Hallensleben, Jon Klassen, Jeff Newman, Christian Robinson, Eric Rohmann, Stephen Savage, David Small, Erin Stead, and Mo Willems (Whew)

h1 Friday, August 17th, 2012

“Tho’ I’m of a darker hue, / I’ve a heart the same as you. … /
For love I’m dyin’, my heart is cryin’. /
A wise old owl said Keep on tryin’. /
I’m a little blackbird looking for a bluebird too. …”
— From Renée Watson’s
Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills,
illustrated by Christian Robinson (Random House, October 2012)

(Click to enlarge)

Today at Kirkus, I write about the National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry, edited by J. Patrick Lewis. That link is here this morning.

* * *

Last week at Kirkus, I talked about the Fall 2012 picture book titles I’ve seen in advance (and that I really like) and which will be released soon. (Here’s the link.) Today, I’ve got a lot of art to showcase, at least one spread from each of the books I mentioned in that column.

A few quick notes: If you like what you see here from Christian Robinson, I’ll have an interview with him relatively soon, not to mention Stephen Savage. I’ll also be showcasing Matthew Cordell’s hello! hello! later, as well as Candace Fleming’s and Eric Rohmann’s Oh, No! And, if you want to see more from Philip and Erin Stead’s Bear Has a Story to Tell, I featured it here at 7-Imp last Sunday.

Finally, I’ll also have a Q & A with Sarah Stewart and David Small within the next month, as well as a post that shows many of David’s early sketches for The Quiet Place.

I think that’s it, though there could be more. There could always be more.

Enjoy the art today … Read the rest of this entry �