Archive for November, 2012

What I’m Up to at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week,
Featuring Birgitta Sif

h1 Friday, November 30th, 2012

“Oliver felt a bit different.”
(Click to enlarge)

“The next day, as he was playing tennis on his own . . .”
(Click to enlarge)

Today over at Kirkus, I write about Eileen Spinelli’s Cold Snap, illustrated by two-time Caldecott Honor-recipient Marjorie Priceman. That link is here this morning.

Last week’s column was devoted to Birgitta Sif’s Oliver. (Misfits unite! Oh, and introverts, too!) Here is that link, and today I’ve got two spreads (above) from the book.

* * * * * * *

OLIVER. Copyright © 2012 by Birgitta Sif. Spreads reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

[Must I Type Words Here to Spoil the Silence?]

h1 Thursday, November 29th, 2012

“I say to you today, my friends, that even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.”

“With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together,
knowing that we will be free one day.”

“And when this happens, when we allow freedom [to] ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands
and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: …”

“Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

(Click each spread to enlarge)

Read the rest of this entry �

Two Quick Notes of the Stephen and Steven Variety

h1 Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

A couple of quick 7-Imp notes here, while I drink my coffee, which I keep meaning to share (the notes, that is, though I’m always happy to share my coffee, too … come on over) …

First up, regarding the video above: I admit that here in 7-Imp Land, I tend to fly by the seat of my pants. I never really have a schedule for what I’m going to post when, but I can say that it will be very likely that my first “breakfast” interview of 2013 will be with author/illustrator Stephen Savage. That’s ’cause he’s still busy trying to find Walrus and couldn’t quite meet with me for breakfast this month.

Nah? My excuse not working? Okay, really what happened is that we had started planning—good heavens, this was such a while ago that I can’t even remember how long—a video interview. Oh, we were gonna do such fun things with this video interview, I tell you! But … well, the above video (just us planning things out) is effectively as far as we got. (Look how psychedelic the thumbnail image is. Aren’t you intrigued? Those special effects, needless to say, were all Stephen’s doing.)

Now, let me tell you … this Stephen Savage … he missed a calling in film direction, but let’s just say I’m not exactly a video ninja, so we happily decided to do a straight-up, traditional written breakfast interview instead. (Stephen had infinite patience with my video-bumbly self.) We’re going to do it in early 2013, since his new illustrated title with Lauren Thompson will be out then. So, I look forward to that in January: He will tell us more about the new book, as well as about Little Tug (pictured above), which was released in October and which I hope you’ve seen.

Secondly, a note for fellow picture book junkies: In the November 2012 issue of Book Links, there is a wonderful interview with author and illustrator Steven Kellogg by teacher and reviewer (and Nashvillian!) Dean Schneider. (Dean has written and done many good things in this field—do you have all day for me to list them?—but this, written with Robin Smith, makes me cheer every time I see it.) Here’s an excerpt, Steven’s thoughts on picture books:

“The picture book is the art form designed specifically for kids, and it has everything to do with shaping their aesthetic judgment; introducing them to the whole world of art; encouraging them to sharpen their visual literacy. …”

…to which I say, amen. Here is a link to the full article. As you can see, a subscription is required to read it, but I bring it to readers’ attention here, should your local library have access — and because it really is a great interview.

Until tomorrow…

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Steve Light

h1 Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

(Click to enlarge)

I’m slowly inching my way toward the holidays. I have to ease my way in, given the rampant commercialism. (Am I just a grinch for letting it wear me out? I guess that’s a question for another day.) But I do gladly share above this work-in-progress image from Steve Light’s The Christmas Giant, released by Candlewick in 2010. (I covered it here at 7-Imp a couple years ago, if you’d like to see some final art from it.)

Steve is visiting this morning in what is—triumphantly (to me anyway, since I’ve missed them)—the return of the 7-Imp breakfast interview! I got really super swamped with manuscript revisions for a bit there, so I haven’t done a breakfast interview in a while, but for now I’m back to a normal (for me) schedule. For this, I roll out the red carpet for Steve.

Steve tells me way more about his career below over breakfast (“truck-stop” eggs), and he shares lots of art, for which I thank him. His very latest picture book, also released by Candlewick (October), is the charming story of a young girl, named Zephyr, who loved airplanes and one day hoped to fly one of her own. (Yes, it makes me happy that this little girl is into planes, and guess what? Her dad also wears an apron and cooks, and her mama is the one in the shop—or maybe it’s a garage—with tools repairing things. Take that, gender sterotypes.) I couldn’t sleep at night if I gave away the entire story of Zephyr Takes Flight, in case you want to read it for yourself, but it’s an entertaining story that tips its hat to more than one kind of flight (actual flight, as well as flights of the imagination) and brings us an irrepressible picture book protagonist in the free-spirited Zephyr.

And Steve’s swirly, elongated lines and playful perspectives and proportions are perfect for this tale of flight. Let’s get right to it so that we can see more artwork. Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #307:
Featuring Adam Rex and Rafael Yockteng

h1 Sunday, November 25th, 2012

The finished Mac and Adam puppets from Mac Barnett’s Chloe and the Lion
with pictures by Adam Rex


“Here’s Jimmy. He’s the guy with the shoes.”
— From Jairo Buitrago’s
Jimmy the Greatest, illustrated by Rafael Yockteng
(Click to enlarge)

Since it’s almost December (GASP!), I decided to devote today’s post to two 2012 picture books that I really liked a whole heapin’ lot, yet I had never gotten around to posting about. I do manage, I think, to post about picture books here at 7-Imp in a relatively timely manner, but these two fall into the better-late-than-never category. Here, I post about them before I see that the year has all sneaky-like ended on us — and in my own little effort to tip my hat to this pair of 2012 picture book beauties.

Those two books? Jairo Buitrago’s Jimmy the Greatest, illustrated by Rafael Yockteng and released by Groundwood Books back in April (first published in Spanish in 2010), and Mac Barnett’s Chloe and the Lion, released by Disney Hyperion in the same month — with pictures from Adam Rex.

I’ve got art from Jimmy the Greatest, and for Chloe and the Lion, Adam Rex visits briefly to share art, early sketches, thumbnails, and such. Let’s get right to it… Read the rest of this entry �

Misfits Unite

h1 Friday, November 23rd, 2012


This morning over at Kirkus, I write about Birgitta Sif’s Oliver, released by Candlewick in October. Sif is a debut author/illustrator, originally from Iceland.

That link is here.

Until Sunday …

One Very Possible Art-Filled Visit
with Barbara McClintock Before Thanksgiving

h1 Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

“As the girl in pink on the milk-white horse
Cantering over the sawdust course.”
— From
Leave Your Sleep

Last week at Kirkus, I chatted briefly with the very talented Barbara McClintock about her illustrations for Ellen Bryan Obed’s Twelve Kinds of Ice (Houghton Mifflin, November 2012), as well as her artwork for Leave Your Sleep, a selection of classic children’s poetry first adapted to music in 2010 by Natalie Merchant. (This, I must add, is a CD my children and I have enjoyed immensely. To say that Merchant’s meticulously-researched adaptations of these poems to music are impressive would be 2010’s biggest understatement.) This beautiful new picture book collection was released by Frances Foster Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux earlier this month.

Today, I follow up with some artwork and images from Barbara, mostly from Leave Your Sleep. Barbara shares here her inspirations for some of the artwork, as well as some sketches and even some home and studio shots. I thank her for sharing.

I hope all my American blog readers have a great Thanksgiving … Eat nine kinds of pie. Read the rest of this entry �

Some “EE-OOO!”s and “Thump! Thump!”s
and “YO! YO! YO!”s Before Bedtime …

h1 Monday, November 19th, 2012

Early sketches from Rabbit’s Snow Dance
(Click to enlarge)

Who has read James & Joseph Bruchac’s Rabbit’s Snow Dance, illustrated by Jeff Newman and released early this month by Dial? Raise your hands, please. If not, may I boldly recommend tonight that you find a copy and experience it? There. I just did.

This picture book, sub-titled A Traditional Iroquois Story, is a read-aloud treat. Telling the story, a traditional Native American fable (ever-so perfect for winter), of why Rabbit’s once long, beautiful tail is now stubby-short, the Bruchacs (father and son, both storytellers) incorporate engaging chants and rhythms into the text (“I will make it snow, AZIKANAPO! I will make it snow, AZIKANAPO!” and “EE-OOO! Thump! Thump! EE-OOO! Thump! Thump! YO, YO, YO! YO, YO, YO!”), daring you not to tap your foot as you read. I don’t want to give away the story here, but there’s a lot of humor here, especially given our protagonist’s excessive pride.

The artwork here is by Jeff Newman, who visited for breakfast in 2010. I always like to see what Newman is up to. There are some final spreads at the bottom of this post, as well as some sketches, storyboards, and dummy images, so you can get a good sense of Newman’s style with this one. Check this out, too, something I wish so super bad I’d written: The Publishers Weekly review of Rabbit’s Snow Dance wrote, “Newman’s influences are comparatively modern—think Mary Blair with a touch of Hanna-Barbera.” Right? RIGHT. That fits. That works. It totally and entirely does. You can see this below in the images he shares.

[Note: As for the three different storyboard versions below, Jeff writes: “… Storyboards 2 and 3 are evolutions of the same approach, which ended up in the final book. However, the first storyboard shows an entirely different version of the book, which would have essentially been the same scene repeated throughout the book. So, rather than the scene changing, we’d see the animals moving over the landscape, and how the weather changes it.”]

Enjoy the art, and I thank Jeff for sharing today. Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #306: Featuring Jayme McGowan

h1 Sunday, November 18th, 2012

The Buskers

The best thing that came out of writing about Elin Kelsey’s You Are Stardust, illustrated by Soyeon Kim, which I did here at 7-Imp in September, was that I met Jayme McGowan. (Well, I cyber-met her, though I wish I could say we had actual coffee together.) She contacted me after reading that post to tell me she also works in cut paper/3D art, and then I visited her site and knew I’d want to feature her at 7-Imp some day very soon.

Today’s the day!

I’m going to give it over to Jayme now, since she tells us all about herself and her work below, as well as her most exciting news — that her debut picture book is to-come soon. I thank her for visiting 7-Imp today … Read the rest of this entry �

Kadir Nelson is Brilliant,
but Then I’m Sure You Already Know That

h1 Friday, November 16th, 2012

Today at Kirkus, I write about Schwartz & Wade Books’ new I Have a Dream with the exquisite oil paintings of Kadir Nelson.

That link is here.

Until Sunday …