Archive for December, 2012

One Very Possible
2012 7-Imp Retrospective Before Breakfast

h1 Sunday, December 30th, 2012

It’s time to look back, dear Imps, on what happened at 7-Imp during 2012 and look at who graced the site with their presence—all with my buddy here, Alfred—simply because I am a hopeless nerd, who enjoys recaps. As I’ve said during the past couple of years, including during 2011’s recap, this is fun to me. Also, it satisfies the tremendous picture book junkie in me.

Since 7-Imp is devoted to contemporary illustration—with a particular focus on picture books—these end-of-year recaps can be an awful lot like looking back at the state of picture books during a given year, even though I certainly didn’t have the time to cover every book I wanted to discuss. I’m not promising any kind of analysis or commentary here on picture book-dom in 2012, by any means. I just like to kick back and see who has visited and what insightful things they had to say, as well as look at some wonderful illustrations. Besides, I don’t consider 7-Imp a review blog. There are lots of other blogs who are very good at that. As I write at this page of the site, I like to think of it as a sort of literary salon where authors and illustrators stop by, after getting a cup of cyber-coffee, to share their craft — and where illustrators wake us up with art.

All of that is also one way of saying, as I did last year: This long post is good for browsing, especially if you like to see picture book art.

And, because I occasionally like to give the 7-Imp platform over to student illustrators or up-and-coming illustrators, you’ll see more experienced authors and illustrators, even the award-winning ones, sharing space here with the illustrators of the future … future … future. [Say that with an echo.] I think it’s a) important to give newbies the spotlight and b) it’s fun, too.

If I take a look at what was new to 7-Imp in 2012—before we look at who visited, that is, and all kinds of artwork—I run the risk of actually sounding organized, which I’m not. Or as if I’m someone who blogs 40 hours a week, which I’m also not. Since blogging comes after my children, the work-that-pays, and other things that allow me to have a life, I’m kind of scattered, have no real 7-Imp Action Plans, and you should just see my system of organization (chicken-scratch-scrawled Post-it notes stuck all over my very messy desk).

(This is precisely what I said last year, but it bears repeating. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, that is Frank Viva’s rodent up above from September’s A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse. I rather covet his winter hat there.)

But … let me give this a shot anyway, an attempt to ponder what was new in 2012: Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #311
(New Year’s Edition): Featuring Elisa Kleven

h1 Sunday, December 30th, 2012

(Click to enlarge)

Instead of featuring a brand-new picture book today or an up-and-coming illustrator, I’ve got artwork from one of my favorite picture book artists, Elisa Kleven.

The new year is upon us, and when I thought about sharing artwork as we edge up on 2013, some art that would buoy our spirits, I immediately thought of her.

Elisa sent me a handful of illustrations, and it was hard to choose which to share (for many reasons, I’m going to keep this post relatively short and sweet this week), but I chose the one above, and these two: Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Doing at Kirkus Today

h1 Friday, December 28th, 2012

You all know how I like to do 7-Imp year-end recaps (here was last year’s), on account of being a ginormous nerd? I’m working on 2012’s now. I enjoy doing them.

In the meantime, though, I took a break to write, over at my Kirkus column, about two juicy-good early 2013 picture book titles:

That link is here this morning, if you’re so inclined to read it.

[Note: I just discovered that it’s best to read those columns using Internet Explorer — that, if you use Google Chrome, as I tend to do, some text gets cut off. Just noting this for any readers.]

Until later …

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #310: Featuring
Selina Alko (And a Handful of Other Visitors)

h1 Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

“Mountains of gifts are placed under the tree for eight nights of Hanukkah,
plus Christmas Day. How lucky am I?”

(Click to enlarge spread)

This morning, I welcome author and illustrator Selina Alko to tell us all a bit about her latest picture book, Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama, a story about a family who merges two holiday traditions. Sadie, the young girl narrating the story, has a father who has always celebrated Christmas, a mother who has always celebrated Hanukkah, and they annually combine the traditions of each holiday event in order to teach their daughter about both. Selina—using gouache, collage, and colored pencil, which result in such appealing textures here—lays it all out on the pages of this book with vibrant colors and great joy. She’s here today to share some artwork from the book (sans text), as well as early dummy images, and to tell us the story behind the book.

Toward the end of this post, I’ve also got some holiday illustrations from several illustrators, just ’cause I’m an illustration junkie and couldn’t help it. Let’s get right to it all … Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Up to at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Poly Bernatene

h1 Friday, December 21st, 2012

“Cursing loudly, Bradley struggled free of the thorny stems. He had barely caught his breath when six sleek, stripy shapes came bounding toward him out of the snow. …”
(Click to enlarge spread)

This week at the Kirkus Book Blog Network, I didn’t write about a picture book, as I usually do. I still have last week’s events in Connecticut on my mind, as many of us do, and wrote a bit about that. That link is here today.

* * *

Last week, I wrote about Jonathan Emmett’s The Santa Trap, originally published in Great Britain in 2009 but released this year here in the U.S. by Peachtree. It’s illustrated by Poly Bernatene, who lives in Argentina and teaches at the Buenos Aires School of Fine Art. If you’d like to read about it, that link was here last Friday, and today I share some art from it.

Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Rebecca Cobb

h1 Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Poor Santa. Looks like he’s having a rough time.

That illustration comes from Richard Curtis’ The Empty Stocking, illustrated by Rebecca Cobb, who is visiting for breakfast this morning. “My favourite breakfast,” she told me, “is a banana and some toast, and I don’t like tea or coffee, but I do like the comforting idea of a warm drink, so I always drink hot water instead.” I gotta have my coffee, but I like the way she thinks. Comforting, indeed. I’m setting out some hot water for her and my own coffee mug.

If Rebecca’s name isn’t familiar to you, that’s because she lives and works in the UK. But you all know I like to see what illustrators across the big, wide pond are doing.

Rebecca has both written and illustrated some of her own titles and has also collaborated with authors such as Helen Dunmore and UK Children’s Laureate Julia Donaldson. Rebecca’s Missing Mummy, a picture book about the death of a young boy’s mother, was shortlisted for the 2012 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal.

I thank her for visiting this morning and sharing her art. Let’s get right to it.

Read the rest of this entry �

An Ashley Bryan Moment

h1 Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

“‘Oh, come with me!’ the boy exclaimed. / My stable’s a warm place. /
‘My animals will welcome you, / I’ll sweep and clear a space.'”

(Click to enlarge spread)

So, I was going to write all about Ashley Bryan’s beautiful, new picture book, Who Built the Stable? A Nativity Poem, released by Atheneum in October. Then I remembered that this Q&A with Ashley, conducted by Jenny Brown, is over at the Kirkus Book Blog Network. Therefore, I send you over there, should you want to read more about the book. (And here, for the record, is Kirkus’ starred review of the book.)

Here’s an interview excerpt: Read the rest of this entry �

Please, Meet Mr. Ethan Aldridge.

h1 Monday, December 17th, 2012

(Click to enlarge and see in more detail)

And, look! He has style, too.Sometimes you’re just minding your own business, trudging along and doin’ your work, when lo and behold, an email from an aspiring illustrator appears in your in-box. And then, after reading the friendly email, you click on the illustrator’s site. And you say to yourself when you see the art work at said site, holy wow. This guy is going places.

And then you think, after seeing this exciting, new artwork: THIS. This is a large part of why I blog. Getting to see, and subsequently share, artwork like this from illustrators of the future [future … future]. (In brackets is the echo, which you yourself can provide, unless you’re reading this at work in a quiet library, in which case you should probably just provide the echo in your head alone, lest you disturb your patrons.) And then you think: If only I were all-powerful and ran the world, dang, I’d get this guy an agent and a book deal already.

Or at least this happens if you’re me and you get an email from art student Ethan Aldridge. Alas and alack, I am not all-powerful (blast it), but I can at least show you his artwork and see if any of you want to ooh! and ahh! along with me, ’cause I sense some serious potential here. Here’s part of what Ethan wrote in his initial email to me:

I am working on becoming a children’s book illustrator. It is a career I have been interested in ever since the age of five (so my mother tells me). Some of my fondest childhood memories are of sitting in my backyard, pouring over Peter Sís’s illustrations in Jack Prelutsky’s The Dragons are Singing Tonight, totally enchanted. Ever since, I have wanted to create such beautiful books (apart from a brief stint where I wanted to become a stage magician). The college I am currently attending, while having a wonderful art department, is fairly small and lacks programs that focus on illustration. As a result, I have had to self-teach myself much of the art of picture books.

Read the rest of this entry �

Instead of My Usual Sunday Kicks,
Some Brief, But Heartfelt, Thoughts …

h1 Saturday, December 15th, 2012

I did have planned for today illustrations from a children’s book and seven of my own separate kicks, as is the tradition here on Sundays at 7-Imp, but I still feel very hushed over the tragic news on Friday. Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Up to at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Fulvio Testa

h1 Friday, December 14th, 2012

“‘Pinocchio, come up here where I am!’ shouted Harlequin. ‘Come throw yourself into the arms of your wooden brothers!’ At this affectionate invitation, Pinocchio leapt from the back of the pit into the expensive seats, then jumped again
from the expensive seats onto the orchestra conductor’s head,
and then sprang from there onto the stage.”

Today, over at the Kirkus Book Blog Network, I have some thoughts on my favorite new holiday picture book. That link is here.

* * *

Last week, I wrote about Philip Pullman’s Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version (Viking Adult, November), as well as Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio, released in October by the New York Review Children’s Collection, translated from the Italian by Geoffrey Brock, and illustrated by Fulvio Testa, one of Italy’s most distinguished artists and illustrators. You can read all about both books at that link, and today I follow up with some of Testa’s art from Pinocchio.

Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �