Archive for August, 2012

What I Did at Kirkus Last Thursday, Featuring Jordan Crane, Etienne Delessert, Matt Furie, Lisa Hanawalt, Amy Martin, Clare Rojas, and Vladimir Vagin

h1 Thursday, August 16th, 2012

“…She cries tears in a bottle she keeps in her boot.”
— From Jordan Crane’s
Keep Our Secrets (To Be Read in a Whisper),
a 2012 McMullens’ title
(Click to enlarge)

Last Thursday at Kirkus, I chatted with Brian McMullen, who created the McMullens children’s book imprint over at McSweeney’s, now in its second year. Brian serves as Art Director and imprint editor and is the namesake for the imprint. That link is here, if you missed it and are interested.

Today, I follow-up, as always, with some art. This time I’ve got some illustrations from a handful of McMullens titles’, both from this year and last.

Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �

A Bowl of Rice, Miso Soup,
and Pickled Vegetables with Komako Sakai

h1 Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

(Click to enlarge spread)

If you’re a fan, as I am, of the illustrations of Komako Sakai, the above spread might make you happy. It’s a sneak-peek at her newest illustrated title, which Enchanted Lion Books will release this November, a re-telling of Margery Williams’ Velveteen Rabbit.

Komako Sakai's self-portraitKomako is here this morning—with huge thanks to translator Yuki Kaneko (who also translated Yukiko Kato’s In the Meadow, which Sakai illustrated, and The Velveteen Rabbit)—to share with me a cyber-bowl of rice, miso soup, and pickled vegetables. To the left is her self-portrait.

Here is precisely what I love—with thanks to the New York Times for the words—about Komako’s artwork. For her 2009 title, The Snow Day (Arthur A. Levine Books), David Barringer over at the NYT wrote: “The art in The Snow Day is unpretty and mesmerizing. This world is dark, heavy, unsentimental and thick with…the bittersweet solitude of snow.”

“Unpretty and mesmerizing” might also cover some of Komako’s other titles (though heaven only knows she’s capable of breathtaking beauty as well)—the vibe in her books sometimes communicates such—but rest assured this is a compliment. Flying in the face of the notion that all children’s books should be light or cute (I don’t know about you, but I’ve met the parents who think all children’s lit should be such), Komako lays out her stories with honesty and an emotional resonance, never patronizing to child readers and triumphantly tapping into all shades of their inner lives.

Her artwork is also a force of nature — at times grainy, at times soft and muted, and at times with vivid, vigorous brushstrokes. (For the latter, see the artwork at the bottom of the post for In the Meadow).

Komako lives and works in Japan, and only a handful of her titles have been imported here to the States. It’s with eagerness that I look forward to her version of The Velveteen Rabbit. And I thank her (and, once again, the translator) for doing this short Q&A with me. I also thank the Japanese publisher Fukuinkan, who made this Q&A possible, as well as Enchanted Lion Books for facilitating it all.

Let’s get right to it. Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #292: Featuring Erin and Philip Stead

h1 Sunday, August 12th, 2012

“Bear helped Mouse find seeds on the forest floor.”

Yesterday at Kirkus, I rambled incessantly about Fall 2012 picture books for which I’ve already fallen and fallen hard. Since I like to follow Kirkus columns one week later with 7-Imp posts that feature art art and lots of art—if I don’t post lots of art, I start to get twitchy—I started gathering at least one spread from each book to feature here at 7-Imp later this week.

But then when I ended up with more than one spread from the new book Bear Has a Story to Tell (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook), written by Philip C. Stead and illustrated by Erin E. Stead, I couldn’t resist the urge to go ahead and post about it today. It will be released relatively soon anyway (early September).

If I gave away the entire story here, I’d not be able to sleep at night for having ruined the reading experience for you. So, I’m going to do something rare and unusual for long-winded me: I’m going to just list a small handful of things about it that I like. I’ll list seven of them (at the risk of looking formulaic here), given the blog’s title. (Why not?) Then, I’ll just let the beautiful art speak for itself. Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Will Hillenbrand

h1 Thursday, August 9th, 2012

“This particular morning, the bear saw something on the flat rock in the clearing outside his cave. ‘What is that?’ the bear said. It was orange and long and pointy
and had green bushy leaves at one end.”

(Click to enlarge and see full spread)

This morning at Kirkus, I have a brief conversation with Brian McMullen, who created the McMullens children’s book imprint over at McSweeney’s, now in its second year. Brian serves as Art Director and imprint editor and is, as you may have guessed, the namesake for the imprint. That link is here.

Tomorrow at Kirkus, I’ll have some thoughts on Fall 2012 picture book titles I’m extra-eager to see. Actually, they’re titles I’ve already seen—books for which I got a sneak peek at some F&Gs—and whose releases I anticipate with downright glee. (I had fun writing this. I got crazy-inspired and wrote it a while back, but Kirkus wanted to post it now-ish, closer to Fall release dates.) That link will be here on Friday morning.

* * *

Last week, I wrote about the utterly charming Bear in Love (to be released by Candlewick in mid-August), written by Daniel Pinkwater and illustrated by Will Hillenbrand. That is here, if you missed it last week and are so inclined to read more about it.

Here’s one more spread from the book. Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �

Bear Despair: Or, What Happens
When Bullies Forget Teddy Bears Are Sacred

h1 Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

Just in case you’d forgotten or it’s never occurred to you, never—and I mean don’t EVER—take the beloved, cuddly stuffed teddy bear away from an actual bear.

Gaëtan Dorémus’ Bear Despair, a wordless international import, shines a light on the dangers of doing so. Originally published in France as Chagrin d’ours during 2010, it will be released here in the U.S. from Enchanted Lion Books in mid-August.

And, my, it’s funny. And, as always, I love seeing what picture book creators in other countries are doing.

Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #291: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Jördis Brier

h1 Sunday, August 5th, 2012

“She left the house, sad and disappointed,
to go on a quest in order to find her brothers.”

(Click to enlarge)

It’s gonna get dark and heavy and raw around here this morning, y’all.

However, if you look at 7-Imp’s home page right now, you’ll see some cute, fluffy dogs; some endearing cats; a screamingly adorable baby bear; a dancing egg; and even more happy happy joy joy (the wonderfully creepy bats from The Brothers Hilts being the one exception). So, I say it’s high time we got ominous and grim (and Grimm) around here, don’t you think? Hey, it’s only fair, and it’s my turn, says The Sinister, given last week was a heartwarming story about books.

That’s to say: If you’re still sipping your coffee and aren’t in the mood to read about bones and blood and angry ravens tearing at someone and straight-up murder as only fairy tales (or, in this case, fairy tale adaptations) can tell ’em, consider yourself warned now.

It’s the first Sunday of the month, which means we get to look at the work of a student or brand-new illustrator, and today I’ve got a German student of illustration, named Jördis Brier, who was actually once a student of American illustrator Shadra Strickland. One of Jördis’s classroom projects (not yet published) is the subject of today’s post, and I’m going to let her tell you more about it. Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Questions Over Afternoon Tea with Ashley Wolff

h1 Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

“Baby Bear sees red.”
(Click to enlarge)

I have already posted this year (back in March) about Ashley Wolff’s beautiful Baby Bear Sees Blue, pictured above, which was released in February by Beach Lane Books and is a book you’ll see on several folks’ Caldecott prediction lists already.

Ashley, pictured left, is visiting today for what was supposed to be a breakfast interview, but I’ve changed it to afternoon tea, given that I’m posting later in the day. Her breakfast-of-choice had been tea with milk. (Then, after a daily dog walk on the hill, she has coffee around 10:00 a.m., some plain yogurt, almonds, and Kashi Go Lean, all mashed up together.) But I still say this can be our afternoon snack. All of it. Mmm. I’ll just sip some coffee, while she has her tea.

Ashley, as you can see below, has illustrated or both written and illustrated many titles in her career—she’s best-known for her illustrations for Joseph Slate’s Miss Bindergarten titles—and she’s worked in a variety of media. Publishers Weekly once described her illustrations as “sturdy” and “genially observed.” No matter what medium she’s using, her colorful spreads provide many details for little eyes; much like Baby Bear’s world in her latest title, there is much to explore and see in her artwork.

And, speaking of artwork, since she shares quite a bit of it below, let’s get right to it. I thank her for visiting today. Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week, Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring A Visit with Victoria Jamieson

h1 Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

Early sketch from Victoria Jamieson’s Olympig!

Tomorrow at Kirkus, I write about the new picture book from Daniel Pinkwater and Will Hillenbrand, Bear in Love, which surprised me. That link will be here in the morning.

* * *

Last week, I wrote about Victoria Jamieson’s Olympig! and why it surprised me, too. That link is here.

Today, as always, I follow up with more art, including early sketches from Victoria. Victoria is also here to talk a bit about the book. Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �