Archive for January, 2013

Lots of Art from Melissa Sweet
Makes for a Good Mid-Week Treat

h1 Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

“That’s right—Clara. She calls out from the front of the hall.
The crowd lifts her to the stage, where she shouts in Yiddish:
‘I have no further patience for a talk—I move that we go on a general strike!’
And she starts the largest walkout of women workers in U.S. history.”
(Click to enlarge spread)

[Friday note: This post has been edited to add some thoughts from Melissa on each picture book. “When I look at these images and think about these people, their passion, drive and determination,” Melissa told me, “I can’t believe my great good fortune to dive into their lives. I hope kids will feel the same way.”]

Last week over at Kirkus, I had a chat with author/illustrator Melissa Sweet about her latest projects. Those include Michelle Markel’s Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909, just released by Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins (a spread is pictured very tippy-top), and Jen Bryant’s A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin (also pictured above), released by Knopf in January.

That Q&A is here. You’ll see that I also asked her a bit about Susan Hood’s Spike, the Mixed-up Monster, released last Fall by Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, since it was recently named a Highly Commended honor book for the 2013 Charlotte Zolotow Award. (Pictured left is an actual axolotl, which Melissa describes as “preposterously cute.”) And I also mentioned Alicia Potter’s Mrs. Harkness and the Panda, another 2012 title (Knopf), the fascinating picture book biography of socialite explorer Ruth Harkness, who brought back the first live panda to the United States. (Such a beautiful book, even if I gave my copy away to my eight-year-old’s classmate, who loves pandas. How could I not? I never got around in 2012 to blogging about this book, but better late then never. I mean, really. The book’s final spread, which is toward the bottom of this post, the one with a photo of Mrs. Harkness’ back and the panda? That spread was one of my 2012 favorites. I’m so happy it’s here at 7-Imp today.)

All that’s to say that today I have art from each of these books, even one of Melissa’s sketches from Spike. I thank her for sharing, and I hope you all enjoy it. Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Paul Schmid

h1 Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Some “early workings of style” from
Paul Schmid’s upcoming
Oliver and his Alligator

Author/illustrator Paul Schmid has visited 7-Imp a couple times in the past, but I welcome him back today for seven questions over breakfast. Paul has three forthcoming picture books in 2013 (there could even be more), and—lucky for me—I saw some early copies of each.

Find your favorite toddler or preschooler for sharing Perfectly Percy, to be released this week by HarperCollins. (If the web links I’m seeing are correct, that one is released today, which I didn’t even plan, but I guess my timing is lucky.) This book answers the question of precisely what happens when a porcupine has a deep love of balloons. Oh yes, balloons. The sturm und drang of Percy’s predicament is both funny and sweet, while never saccharine. And his solution? Just right. As with many of his previous books, Paul delivers here with soft pastels, endearing characters, and confident line work in a story that will resonate with very young children.

Following Percy’s tale this year will be Randall de Sève’s Peanut & Fifi Have A Ball, also aimed at the youngest of picture book listeners and to be released this April from Dial. This well-crafted tale nails a particular predicament of siblings, and Paul talks a bit below about his thoughts behind his illustration choices. Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #315: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Gabriella Barouch

h1 Sunday, January 27th, 2013

“There was an Old Man with a beard, / Who said, ‘It is just as I feared! /
Two Owls and a Hen, / Four Larks and a Wren, /
Have all built their nests in my beard!'” — (Edward Lear)

(Click to enlarge)

Lately I’ve been featuring quite a few student illustrators or illustrators new to the field, haven’t I? I guess it’s because, as I noted the other day, it’s still January, and I still have a lot of new F&Gs and picture books to go through, and until then, I’ll shine the spotlight on the young ‘uns. Plus, I really enjoy seeing their work.

Today, I welcome Israeli artist and illustrator Gabriella Barouch, who works digitally. I emailed her, after seeing the artwork she shares here today, to clarify: “You mean that you start out with pencil on paper, right? And then you muck around with the art, using your computer?” Nope, she said. It’s all digital. Even her sketches. Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Up To at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Jed Henry

h1 Thursday, January 24th, 2013

(Click to enlarge spread)

Today over at Kirkus, I’ll have a Q&A with author/illustrator Melissa Sweet, in which we’ll discuss two of her brand-new picture book titles, as well as a bit more. That link is here.

As Vicky Smith wrote here at Kirkus this week, Black History Month is just around the bend. Wisely, she added: “[H]ere’s hoping that the industry does not forget or neglect books by and about African-Americans for the next 11 months.” Since teachers and librarians will be looking for new titles for the dedicated month-long celebration (and beyond, we hope), tomorrow at Kirkus I take a look at some new picture books for this annual February observance. That link will be here.

* * *

Last week, I wrote (here) about Jed Henry’s Cheer Up, Mouse! (Houghton Mifflin, January). Today, Jed visits to share art (a spread is pictured above), including a progression of images that shows the birth of the book jacket art. I thank him. Let’s get to it … Read the rest of this entry �

Coffee with Kaila EunHye Seo

h1 Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

I feel like I’m sort of stuck in the limbo of January. It’s a brand-new year, and I’ve got huge stacks of Spring picture book F&Gs to read (once I get organized), but not yet a lot of new hardback picture book titles. I’m still trying to get a sense of what’s new and what’s coming out. (I’m very excited, I might add, about the upcoming ALA Awards announcements, too. The big Caldecott decision is less than a week away. Have you been following Calling Caldecott? I hope so.)

And all of that is to say that today, instead of looking at a new book or established artist, I’m going to give the spotlight over to an aspiring illustrator, who is joining me for coffee. And maybe her cats are joining us, too. As you can see above, one of them already has dibs on coffee. (The other one is just outta luck.)

Let’s get right to it. Her name is EunHye Seo, and she goes by “Kaila.” She comes to 7-Imp by way of illustrator Kelly Murphy, who was once her instructor and who tells me that Kaila was last year’s SCBWI winter conference student scholarship award-winner. Kaila’s going to tell you about herself and share some art. I thank her for visiting. Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #314: Featuring Priya Kuriyan

h1 Sunday, January 20th, 2013

I’m doing something different this Sunday.

Usually, I feature artwork from an illustrator, but today I’m shining the spotlight on International Book Giving Day, which has its own Web presence here and which will be February 14. I like the official poster, featured above, which has artwork from Priya Kuriyan.

Here’s the low-down on the big day, straight from their Web site:

“International Book Giving Day is a volunteer initiative aimed at increasing children’s access to and enthusiasm for books. International Book Giving Day’s focus is on encouraging people worldwide to give a book to a child on February 14th. We invite individuals to 1) give a book to a friend or family member, 2) leave a book in a waiting room for children to read, or 3) donate a gently used book to a local library, hospital or shelter or to an organization that distributes used books to children in need internationally. In addition, we encourage people to support the work of nonprofit organizations (i.e. charities) that work year round to give books to children.”

I think that’s just about the perfect way to spend Valentine’s Day.

Dear Imps, feel free, if you’re so inclined, to spread the word about this initiative. If you or other people you know even want ideas on how to contribute further, there are some great ideas listed here. (You can even purchase bookplates at the International Book Giving Day Zazzle page.)

P.S. Travis Jonker’s post about this is way more fun. Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Up To at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Øyvind Torseter

h1 Friday, January 18th, 2013

“My cheek is against Daddy’s cheek, close to his breathing. After a while he says: ‘Tomorrow we’ll chop down the big spruce. It will fall to the ground with a crash.
That’ll be fun, won’t it?’ ‘Mmm,’ I say. Daddy likes chopping down big trees.
I know that. ‘What about the red birds?’ I ask. …”

(Click to enlarge spread and see full text)

Today over at Kirkus, I weigh in on Jed Henry’s Cheer Up, Mouse!, released this month by Houghton Mifflin. That column is here today.

* * *

Last week, I wrote here about My Father’s Arms Are a Boat (Enchanted Lion, February), originally published in Norgwegian in 2008 and written by Stein Erik Lunde and illustrated by Øyvind Torseter. Today, I’m following up with some art.

Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �

A Peek at Bob Staake’s Drawing Table

h1 Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

Some of Bob Staake’s Bluebird models
(Click to enlarge)

As a follow-up to my Kirkus Q&A last week with author/illustrator Bob Staake, today I’ve got a handful of images — some early and final pieces of art from both Bluebird, coming out this April from Schwartz & Wade Books, and Look! Another Book!, released at the end of 2012 from Little, Brown. Bob is also here to explain how he responds (on some books) to insanely tight schedules. (Note for Staake fans: He’s got a site up that is especially for Bluebird. Here’s the link.)

I’m also including one question and response that I didn’t have room for over at the Kirkus Q&A.

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

A Poetry Break

h1 Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

“At first you’ll joy to see the playful snow, /
Like white moths trembling on the tropic air, /
Or waters of the hills that softly flow /
Gracefully falling down a shining stair. …”
— From Claude McKay’s “To One Coming North”

(Click image to see spread in its entirety)

I’m preparing for two presentations about children’s literature this week, on top of my regular work, so I’m going to be brief today. I share some artwork here from Karen Barbour, rendered in watercolor, ink, and collage, from African American Poetry (January 2013, though technically the copyright date is 2012), the latest in Sterling’s Poetry for Young People series.

Edited by Arnold Rampersad (Stanford University) and Marcellus Blount (Columbia University), this is a collection of poetry celebrating the works of African Americans over the last two hundred years. Blount selected the poems, and Rampersad writes the informative introduction. There’s a wide range of poetry here from the likes of Langston Hughes, Lucille Clifton, Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and many more well-known names, as well as some lesser-known poets. Each poem opens with an annotation, which includes biographical info.

As the Kirkus review notes, one interesting thing about this collection is that “[a]typically, the editors steer largely clear of explicit racial or religious themes in their selections,” with but a couple of exceptions.

See? I really was brief. For once. ‘Cause I really do have my work cut out for me this week. Here’s another piece of Karen’s artwork from the book. (Note: The final illustration as it appears in the book is slightly different from the one below.)

Until later … Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #313: Featuring Angela Dominguez

h1 Sunday, January 13th, 2013

It’s kicks #313 on the 13th in 2013.

Surely that means something?

Ah well. I am declaring it means only good things.

Today at 7-Imp I welcome a debut author/illustrator, named Angela Dominguez (pictured left with Hugo), who is originally from Mexico City but now lives in San Francisco, where she also teaches at the Academy of Art University. Angela’s debut picture book will be released this March from Dial Books. Let’s Go, Hugo! tells the story of a bird who prefers walking to flying. He’s not trying to be different for the sake of it; he’s actually afraid of flying. Not that Dominguez opens the book this way. “Hugo was content to live on the ground,” she writes, but we readers ease into the notion that he’s really beset by fears.

Things change when Hugo meets Lulu, the same day he’s building a model (on the ground, of course) of the Eiffel Tower. When Lulu tells him they can fly to the Eiffel Tower and see the real deal, Hugo’s got all kinds of excuses as to why he won’t go. Just when things start to feel really hopeless for Hugo (since Lulu does what she can, but nearly gives up on him) … well, I can’t give the entire story away, but if you’re interested in reading it, it’ll be on bookstore and library shelves, come Spring.

The illustration note on the copyright page indicates that Dominguez uses “Canson paper, ink, [and] tissue paper … on illustration board.” Angela’s here today to tell us a bit more about this and her work, so let’s get right to it. I thank her for visiting. Read the rest of this entry �