Archive for January, 2013

Laying the Foundation for a Great Picture Book

h1 Friday, January 11th, 2013

One of Jonathan’s early studies from the book
(Click to enlarge)

I love this post so much, and it’s all thanks to author/illustrator Jonathan Bean.

Last week over at Kirkus, I wrote about his newest picture book, Building Our House, released by Farrar, Straus and Giroux this month. (That link is here.) I discussed why I really like this book, but today I’m here to follow up with some art from the book.

I always do this, as I get twitchy if I don’t get to share art. (Pictured right is a cutting from one of the book’s spreads.)

However, Jonathan also went out of his way today (I’m yelling that in excitement) to share early studies, sketches, some process shots, and even photos of his family building this house back in the ’70s. There’s even more than all that.

For all this, I raise my coffee mug to Mr. Bean. Sharing lots of images that show us picture book fans (me and my imp’y readers) how a book was made is how you win over this blogger. Shoot, I’ll even buy him a cup of coffee if I ever meet him in person. And a cookie, if he wants one.

Let’s get right to it. There’s lots of good stuff to see here, especially if you like his style, his art, his books—all of the above—as much as I do.

Note: Jonathan also visited The Horn Book recently for their five-questions series. That link is here. Best part? Roger Sutton asks, “What is the most useful home repair tip you know?” to which Jonathan replies, “I know from personal experience that humming a soothing melody helps unclog a drain.”

Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Up To at Kirkus This Week

h1 Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Today over at Kirkus, I’ve got a brief Q&A with author/illustrator Bob Staake about his upcoming Spring picture book release from Schwartz & Wade Books, Bluebird, pictured left, which is simply stunning. (I was lucky enough to see an early copy.)

I also ask him about December’s Look! Another Book! (Little, Brown), which is the very fun sequel to 2011’s Look! A Book!, as well as what’s next on his plate.

That Q&A is here.

Next week here at 7-Imp, I’ll follow up with some sketches and artwork from Bob.

Tomorrow at Kirkus, I take a look at My Father’s Arms Are a Boat (Enchanted Lion), originally published in Norgwegian in 2008 and written by Stein Erik Lunde and illustrated by Øyvind Torseter. That link will be here in the afternoon on Friday. (Notice that Kirkus has all spiffy-like redesigned their site.)

Until then …

Some Impossibly Giant Bees Before Breakfast

h1 Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

Here’s a quick post, since work awaits me, one more title from 2012 to look at before we get knee-deep into 2013.

Last September TOON Books released David Nytra’s The Secret of the Stone Frog, and if you missed it, I highly recommend finding a copy. As you know (or if you don’t, you can read this 2011 column I wrote), TOON Books brings us early-reader comics, so what we have here is technically an early reader. This could also be classified a graphic novel, as Nytra lays out the action in panels.

This is the story of Leah and Alan, who inexplicably wake up in the forest beneath a giant tree. Not knowing which way is home, a rhyming frog, made of stone, suddenly appears to assist. “Stay on the path!” he tells the siblings. On their journey, they encounter giant bees, who steal words and are the pets of a strange woman (clearly a run-away from a lost Lewis Carroll tale), living in a giant house in the middle of nowhere. After their escape, they stumble into an orchard with a trio of snappily-dressed lions (“Why, James, it appears that a few children have SPROUTED in our garden!”), who introduce them to giant rabbits. The children hop onto the rabbits for an exhilarating ride to a tunnel, where things get even stranger. Fear not; they make it back home, but I can’t ruin the entire read for you. Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Stephen Savage

h1 Monday, January 7th, 2013

See that video? Those are outtakes from my attempt with author/illustrator Stephen Savage (pictured left with Trinka in his studio) to do a video interview. He had the great idea of doing a breakfast interview with video or iPhone cameras—just me and him, back and forth—but you can see how well that went. At least we had fun with finger puppets and Play-Doh.

We eventually gave up the idea of a video chat, but I found all our old videos last night, all our failed attempts, and created this, not really knowing what I was doing at all with the movie-making software, as you can tell by the absence of good things like music and smooth transitions. (When our back-and-forth questions and answers were done, had we actually pulled it off, Stephen—who knows what he’s doing with video—was to create the video interview.) The choppy, clumsy nature of what I made above shows you one of the reasons we never pulled it off. One day. One day, I say, I’ll learn all about makin’ movies. Watch your back, Scorsese.

But, hey, it was really fun chatting with him face-to-face for a while there. Plus, as a friend said, it’s impressive how we get nothing accomplished in the nearly four-minutes of footage. Also, it’s seriously fun to witness Stephen’s changing hairstyles here.

Stephen’s here this morning instead for the old-fashioned, regular breakfast interview at the 7-Imp salon. His timing is good, given that he has a new illustrated title out. Lauren Thompson’s Polar Bear Morning was just released by Scholastic this month, and it’s the follow-up to 2004’s Polar Bear Night (also by Lauren), which was one of the New York Times’ Best Illustrated Books of the Year. Polar Bear Morning has already been met with a starred review from Kirkus, who praises its “clever composition,” noting that the “deceptive simplicity of the playful graphic design masks great sophistication.” Indeed. What they said.

It’s good to have Stephen here, given that at the release of 2011’s Where’s Walrus? (Scholastic), which he both wrote and illustrated, I was hankerin’ for him to visit over coffee. (Turns out that simply “coffee” is his breakfast-of-choice, too.) If somehow you missed this acclaimed book in 2011 … well, there are some spreads from it featured below. It’s a visually delightful, “incongruously silly” (The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books) keeper. Last year’s Little Tug (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook) was also a visual treat; as you can see with the art he shares in today’s interview, Stephen has a background in editorial illustration, and his crisp, bold artwork is well-suited to the big, round eyes of the youngest of readers.

See what I mean? See these beautiful spreads from Polar Bear Morning, rendered via linoleum block printing? Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #312: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Sairom Moon

h1 Sunday, January 6th, 2013

Today’s the first Sunday of the month, so I welcome a student illustrator. Her name is Sairom Moon, and though she’s originally from South Korea, she comes to 7-Imp by way of her instructor at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), illustrator Shadra Strickland.

Let’s get right to Sairom’s introduction, in her own words … Read the rest of this entry �

One Very Possible House-Raising After Breakfast

h1 Friday, January 4th, 2013

Today over at the Kirkus Book Blog Network, I have some thoughts on Jonathan Bean’s newest picture book, the excellent Building Our House. That link is here.

(Incidentally, this particular column will also appear in the print version of Kirkus — the January issue.)

Next week here at 7-Imp, I’ll follow up with lots of images from Jonathan, including photographs, early sketches, and final art.

What I Did at Kirkus Last Week,
Featuring Suzy Lee and Adam Rex

h1 Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

(Click on image to see entire spread from which it comes)

Squeak. Grunt. Stumble. That’s how I feel my words are today, since I took a sort of holiday blog break there, didn’t I? (That is, with the exception of my ginormously nerdy 2012 recap, but I think those are fun.)

But here I am, and fortunately today I don’t have to compose that many words, since this is a follow-up post to last week’s Kirkus column. It was over there last Friday that I wrote about the good thing that happened when author Neil Gaiman and author/illustrator Adam Rex collaborated. I’m talking specifically about Chu’s Day, released by HarperCollins in early January. Chu is pictured right, mid-sneeze. I know what you’re thinking: THE PRECIOUS. Yes, he appears adorable. But no, my dear imps, keep outta the way of that boy’s sneeze, I tell you. (As a reminder, we got a sneak-peek of this book back in July of 2012.)

I also weighed in on debut author (and editor) Jesse Klausmeier’s Open This Little Book, illustrated by Suzy Lee and released by Chronicle. (An illustration from it is pictured at the tippy-top of this post.) That column is here, if you missed it last week and are so inclined to read.

Today, I’m here to share art, since I start to get twitchy if I don’t get to showcase picture book art from the books about which I write.

Also, there are two special treats today: Adam shares early sketches from Chu’s Day, and for Open This Little Book … well, you’ll see the treat below.

Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �