Archive for September, 2012

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #299: Featuring Junyi Wu

h1 Sunday, September 30th, 2012

(Click to enlarge)

I’m featuring an unpublished illustrator today, and no, it’s not the first Sunday of the month, when I tend to feature students or folks brand-new to the field of children’s book illustration. But Little Willow emailed this week to point out to me the website of someone named Junyi Wu, and I went all gaga over her artwork and contacted her to see if she could visit today. I think her artwork is so beautiful that I could hardly wait. (Can I get seven cheers for Little Willow?)

Lucky for us, Junyi said yes.

Junyi, who lives in Los Angeles, tells me she works mostly in colored pencils and likes to play around with scale and layers. Below are some of her pieces—delicate, ethereal, otherwordly, and breathtaking, I think, in their clarity—and, when you’re done looking, raise your hand if you fell for them hard like I did.

Here are some Junyi links, if you like what you see here and want to see even more: her website; her blog; and her tumblr.

I’m just gonna hush now and let her artwork do the talkin’. Oh, except to say: Notice how I categorized this post under “picture books.” Junyi isn’t published yet, but hey, I can dream. Right? Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Morning,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Klaas Verplancke

h1 Friday, September 28th, 2012

Early sketch and final spread from Klaas Verplancke’s Applesauce
(Click to enlarge second image)

This morning over at Kirkus, I write about Esmé Raji Codell’s Seed by Seed: The Legend and Legacy of John “Appleseed” Chapman, illustrated by Lynne Rae Perkins. That link will be here.

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Last week, I wrote about Klaas Verplancke’s Applesauce, a 2010 Belgian import published here in the States by Groundwood Books this past July. That link is here.

This morning, I’ve got some spreads from the book, and Klaas also generously shares some early ballpoint-pen sketches. The first three images are character studies based on a self-portrait drawn by Klaas’s son Pieterjan, pictured here, whose questions were the inspiration for the book. Read the rest of this entry �

Lane Smith and Lulu Before Breakfast

h1 Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Early Lulu sketch

“Now, Lulu was an only child, and her mom and her dad gave her everything she wanted. And guess what? Lulu wanted EVERYTHING.”

Last week at Kirkus, I chatted here with author Judith Viorst about her very funny new chapter book for children, Lulu Walks the Dogs, the follow-up to Lulu and the Brontosaurus (the illustration above comes from the latter), both released by Atheneum/Simon & Schuster. We also discussed the enduring popularity of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and and her upcoming visit to Nashville’s Southern Festival of Books in October. In a few weeks, I’ll have the opportunity to meet Judith and introduce her at the Festival, so I’m looking forward to that.

This morning, I follow up here at 7-Imp with some art and sketches from the great Lane Smith, who illustrated both Lulu books. At the Q&A, here’s what Judith had to say about Lane:

I would like to talk worshipfully about Lane Smith, whose illustrations for the two Lulu books are beyond perfect. The girl leaps off the page in all her peevishness and outrageousness; the dinosaur is a model of elegant dignity; and the impossibly goody-good Fleischman and the three dogs in the second Lulu just crack me up.

Children’s book writers sometimes wish that they knew how to draw, so the pictures on the page could look exactly, exactly, how they wished they would look. Lane’s glorious drawings are beyond anything I was even capable of wishing for, and I am awash with gratitude.

Enjoy the art — first from Lulu Walks the Dogs and then a bit from Lulu and the Brontosaurus. Read the rest of this entry �

Catching Up with Ben Hatke
Over Some Amaretti Cookies Before Breakfast

h1 Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Zita’s back!

If you missed this 2011 7-Imp post, let me quickly summarize for you: Zita’s first set of adventures—Ben Hatke’s Zita the Spacegirl, released by First Second Books last year—is the story of a girl who lives on Earth but is transported to another planet when her friend is kidnapped by what can only be described as an alien doomsday cult. In the new world, she meets warrior robots; giant mice; mechanized, spider-like predators, out to get her; a mysterious man, also from Earth, named Piper; a large, lumpy, friendly creature named Strong-Strong; and the Scriptorians, the planet’s first inhabitants, who intend to use Zita’s friend Joseph as a ritual sacrifice to prevent the destruction of their planet. Whew. When it’s all said and done, Zita must make a huge sacrifice in order to help her friend.

In the new adventure—Legends of Zita the Spacegirl, which was released earlier this month and which Kirkus calls “a charmingly dashing interplanetary adventure” and “utterly bewitching”—Zita discovers that she’s now renowned as an intergalactic hero — but also that fame is not all it’s cracked up to be. Complicating matters is the junkyard robot Imprint-o-Tron who impersonates Zita after spotting a Zita poster. And I can’t give the entire story away, should you want to read this yourself, but I will say that Zita goes from hero to fugitive, and she must also learn how to work with the Zita-doppelganger to help save a planet. This tale also involves the mysterious and beautiful Madrigal, not to mention the evil Star Hearts, “interstellar scavengers capable of unassisted spaceflights” and the “scourge of many a planetary system.”

And, boy howdy, does the whole thing end with a big, juicy, delicious cliffhanger, too.

Zita, installment number two, doesn’t disappoint is what it boils down to. Our beloved protagonist is fearless and her adventures are thrilling. Or, in the words of Madrigal, Zita shines in a crisis and inspires loyalty. Yes. That, too.

I thought I’d interrupt all of creator Ben Hatke’s drawing to ask him how easy (or not) it was to write and draw the sequel; how many Zitas we can expect; and lots of other stuff, including ways in which I can bribe him and his family into stuffing me into their suitcase for their next trip to Italy, which may involve cookies. I also include a few questions from my own Zita-crazed daughters. (This is not something I regularly do, lest it become very kids-say-the-darndest-things here at 7-Imp, but I’ll do it just this once.)

On that note and with regard to this wonderful comic at Ben’s site, I have to say that Zita’s adventures went a long way in teaching my six-year-old how to read, given her immense devotion to the books. Now, my first child came out of my womb with a book in hand and nearly went from not-reading to reading fluently, but the six-year-old is learning to read as most children do, and I mean to tell you that she rips through these—way more than most books—because of her giant crush on Zita. To be clear, both girls are bananas over these books, but it’s remarkable how far the two books went in engaging the child still working her way around words in books.

Ben shares lots of art and early sketches from the new book today. I thank him for taking the time to visit 7-Imp again (especially for taking the reins on this interview, which he really did, given my busier-than-normal work schedule right now). Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #298: Featuring Olivier Tallec

h1 Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

I really don’t want to run my mouth too much, honestly, about today’s featured title, Olivier Tallec’s Waterloo & Trafalgar.

And that’s because the book itself doesn’t come out until late next month, and I don’t want to ruin the reading experience for you.

I’ll say this much, though:

Tallec was born in France and worked in advertising before doing children’s book illustration. He’s illustrated about sixty children’s books, many of them brought here to the States by Enchanted Lion Books, who have published this new one. In this, his first wordless picture book, he demonstrates—though he’s got a good track record with it already—his exceptional skills with visual storytelling. Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Morning,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Soyeon Kim

h1 Friday, September 21st, 2012

“You are stardust.”
(Click to enlarge spread)

This morning over at Kirkus, I take a look at Klaas Verplancke’s Applesauce, originally published in Belgium in 2010 and released here in the U.S. by Groundwood Books in July. That link is here.

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Last week at Kirkus, I wrote about Elin Kelsey’s You Are Stardust (Owlkids Books, September 2012), illustrated by Soyeon Kim. That link is here, if you missed it.

Below are more spreads from the book. I also included below a video that depicts the evolution of the book’s artwork (Soyeon’s dioramas).

Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �

Judith Viorst: My Kirkus Q & A

h1 Thursday, September 20th, 2012


This morning over at Kirkus, I chat with author Judith Viorst about her very funny new chapter book for children, Lulu Walks the Dogs, the follow-up to Lulu and the Brontosaurus; the enduring popularity of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day; and her upcoming visit to Nashville’s Southern Festival of Books in October. When asked about her plan for the Festival, she said:

I’ll be reading from my second Lulu book, Lulu Walks the Dogs, and talking a bit about my vast admiration for writers like Sendak and Silverstein, who appreciate and give voice to children’s non-sweetie-pie selves — to their wicked thoughts, wild dreams, and untamed feelings. I, too, like to write about fresh, fierce kids, who maybe, probably, bear some resemblance to my own three sons and seven grandchildren—and to the little girl I once was.

I really like that.

The rest of the Q&A is here — and it includes (a tiny version of) Lane Smith’s wonderful illustration of Fleischman from the new Lulu book. Next week here at 7-Imp, I’ll have even more art and some sketches from Lane.

Have you read both Lulu books? So funny, these chapter books.


The Very Possible Notion of Infinity Before Breakfast
(And Why Grandma Can Usually Save the Day)

h1 Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

“The night I got my new red shoes, I couldn’t wait to wear them to school. I was too excited to sleep, so I went outside and sat on the lawn. When I looked up, I shivered. The sky seemed so huge and cold. How many stars were in the sky? A million?
A billion? Maybe the number was as big as infinity. I started to feel very, very small. How could I even think about something as big as infinity?”

(Click to enlarge spread)

As a child, I used to sit and think about infinity. And the universe. And how the universe might not have an end. And, if it did, what it could possibly look like. I have very distinct memories of wondering about this. If I wasn’t sitting and listening to my stack of 45s with my trusty record player at my side (think: Peaches & Herbs and Donna Summer), I could probably be found sitting there having my mind blown, wondering if the universe just falls off or if there’s a dividing line of some sort that points to hell-if-I-knew-what. (In between my 45s and ruminations on space and utter boundlessness, I watched an episode or two of The Price Is Right.)

This is not unusual. Children think about such abstract concepts, and many of us grown-ups find them difficult to explain. (I am still clueless about the universe’s end, and if I ever find out the answer, I doubt I’ll be able to report back here.) In Infinity and Me, which will be released by Carolrhoda Books next month, Kate Hosford (author) and Gabi Swiatkowska (illustrator) explore this notion — that something can exist with no limits. And they do it well. Read the rest of this entry �

Well, Now. This is a Great Way to Start the Week …

h1 Monday, September 17th, 2012

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I would just like to take a moment, quickly, to squeal over the fact that there’s a new picture book illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski coming out next month, written by Mary Logue (published by Houghton Mifflin). I haven’t read this book yet. It’s not even in my hands at this time (though I see it’s gotten a starred review from Kirkus). But Pamela’s art is such that I get excited by merely the cover alone.

And I just found this out, so I’m squealing publicly.

More on the book soon, I’m sure—OF COURSE I’m going to try to find a copy, by hook or by crook—but I just wanted to share the cover.

Okay, squeal over now. Let us carry on with our day.

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Book jacket posted with permission of Pamela Zagarenski.

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #297: Featuring Edward Hemingway

h1 Sunday, September 16th, 2012

Here’s an illustration from artist Edward Hemingway’s forthcoming illustrated title, Tiny Pie, written by Mark Bailey and Michael Oatman and coming in May from Running Press Kids.

Edward, who paints with oils on canvas and wood, also saw the release this year of Bad Apple: A Tale of Friendship (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, August 2012), all about an apple and a worm who become good friends — and weather hard times, given the funny looks and mean comments they get for being friends in the first place. (Let us not forget the enduring wisdom of the popular mid-’90s bumper sticker.)

Edward is here today to talk a bit about his books, his paintings, and I also couldn’t resist briefly asking him about his heritage. Yes, he’s Ernest’s grandson.

Let’s get right to it, since Edward shares so many images today. And for that I thank him.

P.S. If you read below, you’ll see that this is a very special day for Edward … Read the rest of this entry �