Archive for December, 2012

A Good Time to Be a Quentin Blake Fan

h1 Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Here’s a quick post, given that work is giving me the skunk eye, and it’s filled with art from Quentin Blake. (This post, that is. Not my work, unfortunately.)

If you’re a fan of Blake’s work, there were at least (heaven knows there may be more I’ve missed this year) three book releases in 2012 that will make you happy, and I’m here today to share art from them.

Pictured above is Blake’s Ebenezer Scrooge, post-epiphany and just before telling Bob Cratchit that he’s going to raise his salary. More on that below.

First up: In August, Candlewick released Michael Rosen’s Bananas in My Ears: A Collection of Nonsense Stories, Poems, Riddles & Rhymes. These poems were first published in the U.K. in different years under different titles—Smelly Jelly Fish and Under the Bed in 1986 and Hard-boiled Legs and Spollyollydiddlytiddlyitis in ’87—but are now compiled here for this U.S. release. These are poems divided into four categories, the names following the original book titles, with the exception of the section called “Smelly Jelly Smelly Fish.” The first section is sub-titled “The Breakfast Book,” and it’s followed by “The Seaside Book,” “The Doctor Book,” and “The Bedtime Book.” Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Questions Over Afternoon Snacks
with The Brothers Hilts

h1 Monday, December 10th, 2012

First sketch of Mr. Insomniac

Photo credit: Jessica Chanen7-Imp readers know I like to ask Seven Questions Over Breakfast with creators of picture books here in 7-Imp Land, but today I’m having a late-afternoon/almost-evening snack with illustrators Ben and Sean Hilts, a.k.a. The Brothers Hilts. Now, I failed to ask them about their favorite late-afternoon snack, though for the record, their breakfasts-of-choice are French Toast with a side of bacon (Ben) and eggs over medium with hash browns, not home fries, please (Sean). I’m ever-so good, though, with snacking on these tonight, while we chat and look at their artwork.

Why is this a late-afternoon snack? What did poor breakfast ever do to get snubbed by us three? Well, did you see the picture book The Brothers Hilts illustrated this year, written by Karina Wolf? The Insomniacs is a delicious, late-night tale, if there ever was one, so I think it’s only fitting I post this chat with them as the sun’s slipping away and the moon is sneaking up on us.

Back in July, I wrote over at the Kirkus Book Blog Network about The Insomniacs, so you can head over there (here’s the link) if you want to read more about it. I was happy when the Society of Illustrators awarded Ben and Sean the 2012 Founder’s Award this Fall for their illustrations in this book, which Kirkus called a “quietly magnificent paean to the wonder of nighttime and the solidity of a family unit.” With their shadowy art within, Ben and Sean manage to show how darkness can be “full of life,” which is what the Insomniac family comes to realize in their entertaining, offbeat tale.

Let’s get right to it. I thank Ben and Sean for visiting today and sharing their artwork so generously. Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #309: Featuring Melissa Guion

h1 Sunday, December 9th, 2012

Mrs. Santa

This morning, I welcome new-to-the-field illustrator Melissa Guion. She’s here to share some of her bright, gentle watercolors and talk about her debut title, Baby Penguins Everywhere!, a picture book as much for the parents and teachers of this world as it is for children (as Melissa herself notes below). It tells the story of a lonely penguin, suddenly visited by a gaggle of baby penguins. (Can penguins exist in gaggles? I’m going to pretend they can, even though I think gaggles involve geese.) Finding herself a bit frazzled by all the wee penguins in her care, she comes to understand that she needs a moment’s peace. (Ah, isn’t that the truth if ever the truth was spoken?) She needs, as Publishers Weekly put it in their review, time to recharge, though she comes to appreciate the company of the young penguins, even when it’s chaotic.

I’ll let Melissa tell you more about it — and her work. I certainly look forward to what she brings readers next. Also, please note that Melissa’s online portfolio is here, if you’d like to see more art. Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Up to at Kirkus This Week

h1 Friday, December 7th, 2012

Today at the Kirkus Book Blog Network, I offer up two holiday gift ideas for Children’s Literature Lovers and the Children to Whom They Read. Or two Neat Gift Ideas for People You Actually Like.

To be even more specific, these are gift ideas for the fairy tale lovers in your life.

I write about Philip Pullman’s Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version, released by Viking in November.

I also take a quick look at a new version of Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio, illustrated by Fulvio Testa, one of Italy’s most renowned artists and illustrators, with an introduction by Italian novelist, philosopher, and essayist Umberto Eco (released by the New York Review Children’s Collection in October).

The link is here.

On Being Snowed In (with Amy Hest, Helen Oxenbury, Carin Berger, Eileen Spinelli, and Marjorie Priceman)

h1 Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Illustration from Amy Hest’s Charley’s First Night,
illustrated by Helen Oxenbury


Early sketches from Carin Berger’s A Perfect Day
(Click to enlarge image)


“On Saturday, the icicle on General Toby’s nose reached down to the dimple on his chin. Ice glazed alleyways. Spoken words became puffballs in the frigid air. Page one of the Toby Mills Crier read: COLD SNAP! The Sullivan Sisters served steamy soup and bubbling stew at the Sullivan Diner. In between customers, they knitted mittens as big as flapjacks for all the kids in Toby Mills. Mrs. Moffat—the church soloist—
gargled with salt water every hour to avoid getting a sore throat.”
— From Eileen Spinelli’s
Cold Snap, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
(Click to enlarge spread)


It might be near seventy degrees here in middle Tennessee (I wish I were making that up) here on the fifth day of December, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying—and maybe living vicariously through—good, new picture books that are snowy in nature. I’ve got three today, an image from each posted above with more images and final art below, as well as some sketches from Carin Berger. (Below and to the left is a Helen-Oxenbury puppy from Charley’s First Night.)

Last week at the Kirkus Book Blog Network, I wrote about Eileen Spinelli’s newest picture book, Cold Snap, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman (Knopf, October). That link is here, if you’d like to read all about the book.

I’ve also got here today some sketches and final art from Carin Berger’s A Perfect Day, released by Greenwillow in November. This is the story of a day of unbridled joy, as a group of children revel in new-fallen snow: “The whole world was white.” Berger enchants with her collage art, creating her illustrations atop graph paper, what look like old letters, and other lined paper; in the New York Times (here, where she also writes about Cold Snap), Susan Dominus wrote (and I love this), “Berger creates the backgrounds of her collages using faded old receipts and other ephemera. Children may not even notice the ghostly scrawlings, but for adults they serve as a reminder of the contrast between the concerns of grown-ups (bills, balances, investments) and those of the Finns and Sophies who populate this snowy world.” Berger captures the specific joys of a day of snow play—snow forts, “a wild flurry of snowballs,” sledding, snow angels, going home to “warm hugs and dry clothes and steaming hot chocolate”—with warmth. As mentioned, Carin shares some early sketches and final art below. Read the rest of this entry �

A Late-Night Visit with Illustrator Lee White

h1 Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Fall Walk

This evening I’m handing the blog over to illustrator Lee White, who’s here to share some artwork, including his illustrations for Sophie’s Fish, written by A. E. Cannon and released by Viking in March. Lee, who lives and teaches in Portland (the Art Institute of Portland), has illustrated many picture books and is currently writing his own stories as well.

Sophie’s Fish, which received a starred review from Kirkus, tells the story of Jake, a young boy who promises to babysit his friend Sophie’s fish. The balance of the rest of the book is him worrying himself ragged over everything that could go wrong while taking care of this fish, all wrapped up with a very funny punch line of an ending. All that creative worrying in between Sophie’s request and the final page is quite entertaining, and observant readers will have fun spotting White’s fish all throughout the illustrations. Kirkus, calling it “visually offbeat and beautiful,” wrote:

“Watercolor dominates the mixed media, inventively complemented by collage and drawing. Lines dance playfully around the shapes they’re meant to outline, sometimes sliding off a shape’s edge, sometimes bleeding into the watercolor. Tidbits of collage, sometimes of patterned paper, are fascinating yet never loud.”

There’s lots more from the book below—I’ll close this post with illustrations from the book—but I’ll open with some illustrations from White’s portfolio. (Why not open with random pieces? His work is beguiling.) [Note: The font and text in some of the spreads below from the book are slightly different from the spreads as they appear in the final printed version.]

Enjoy the art. Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #308: Featuring
a Moment with Susan Sorrell Hill

h1 Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

The first Sunday of the month is upon us once again (the last 2012 one, at that — GASP), which means I normally feature the work of a student or debut illustrator. I had the latter lined up for today, but it didn’t quite work out in time. This author/illustrator will, most likely, visit next week instead, which is all good and a-okay and all that. I’m easy like Sunday morning (as I told her — and you’re welcome for that Commodores song now on your brain radio).

Know what I have for you today? I’ll be ever-so brief: Read the rest of this entry �