Archive for March, 2013

More from Sean Qualls …

h1 Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

“Stars, / Stars, / A necklace of stars …”
— Sean’s sample piece for the Estate of Langston Hughes,
before he began work on the book, followed by the book’s final spread

(Click each to enlarge)

Last week, I chatted briefly with Sean Qualls about his latest book, Lullaby (For a Black Mother), to be released by Harcourt next week. It’s a picture book adaptation of a Langston Hughes poem, originally published in 1932.

The Q&A was here. Today, I follow up with some art. Enjoy.

Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Randy Cecil

h1 Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

Though he usually eats a fairly healthy breakfast, he tells me, today author/illustrator Randy Cecil, pictured here with Lucy, is joining me for waffles and coffee. I see that I have the ability to make people downright indulge at the breakfast table. Now, where is that syrup? Mwahahahaha … ha … ha … [Evil laugh … fading … out.]

I am pleased Randy is visiting, as I’ve enjoyed his picture books over the years—he’s illustrated over twenty thus far—especially 2008’s Duck. (Oh! Duck! “It snowed so much, Duck almost disappeared.” Oh, hell. Where are my tissues? What a beautiful story it is.) And just last year (when Randy and I originally started talking about this interview, but life has a habit of getting in the way of blogging), he illustrated Barbara Joosse’s Lovabye Dragon from Candlewick Press (all but one of his books have been via Candlewick), which I also enjoyed. And so did the professional reviewers. “What’s not to like?” wrote Pamela Paul last Fall in the New York Times, calling it “one of a welcome wave of books that let girls play with beasts that once kept company solely with boys.” Paul adds: Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #321: Featuring Charles Vess

h1 Sunday, March 10th, 2013

“…The other cats gathered in their circle, only this time, instead of calling up cat dreams, they had a dying girl in the middle of them. Lillian wasn’t aware of any of this. She was falling up into a bright tunnel of light, which was an odd experience,
because she’d never fallen up before. She hadn’t even known it was possible.”

I admit I’m not thoroughly familiar with his work (I’m primarily familiar with his picture book collaborations with Neil Gaiman), but every time I see a book illustrated by Charles Vess, I remember how I’d like to showcase some of his art here at 7-Imp. Well, better late than never. I finally am today.

Vess has illustrated the latest from Charles de Lint, The Cats of Tanglewood Forest, a novel for children released by Little, Brown this past week. A beautifully designed book, it tells the story of Lillian Kindred, a young girl who lives with her aunt near Tanglewood Forest, filled with wild cats, and who wakes from a forest nap one day to discover she’s been turned into a kitten. The magical cats of the forest have performed this feat, all in lieu of Lillian dying of a snakebite. Lillian is returned to human form, thanks to the magical Old Mother Possum, and then discovers that, as a result, her aunt has perished. Thus begins Lillian’s journey to right things, a complicated journey that involves meeting a whole cast of mysterious characters from the forest and tons of twists and turns (a rather “twisty story,” Kirkus calls it). All of this is wrapped up in classic folktale motifs, giving the story a very traditional feel, and includes Native American characters and motifs as well.

Vess’ illustrations are lithe, lavish, and detailed, some positively glowing from the page. (His use of light is striking.) His landscapes are nearly breathtaking, and he captures tension between characters well, with elegant lines and deep earth tones all throughout.

Here are some more illustrations from the novel. I’ll let the art speak for itself. Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Up To at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Priscilla Lamont

h1 Friday, March 8th, 2013

“‘Hold tight with both hands!’ screamed Mellie, and it lifted them as they ran,
so that they hardly felt their feet touch the sand. They felt nothing but the huge tug of the strings in their hands, and they saw nothing but sky. For a long time, an unmeasurable amount of time, it was like running in an airy dream.”

This morning over at Kirkus, I discuss the latest picture book from Don Brown, who continually brings young readers top-notch nonfiction picture books. His latest is Henry and the Cannons: An Extraordinary True Story of the American Revolution. That link is here.

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Last week, I wrote about Hilary McKay’s Lulu chapter book series, which is simply all kinds of delightful. That link is here, and today I follow up with art from Priscilla Lamont — illustrations from both Lulu and the Dog from the Sea (Albert Whitman & Company, March 2013) and Lulu and the Duck in the Park (September 2012).

Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �

A Brief Visit with Sean Qualls

h1 Thursday, March 7th, 2013

This morning over at Kirkus, I’ve got a Q&A with author/illustrator Sean Qualls, pictured here, about his latest picture book, Lullaby (For a Black Mother).

Lullaby (For a Black Mother) is a picture book adaptation of a Langston Hughes poem, originally published in 1932.

I asked Sean about what it was like to illustrate such a project, as well as what’s next for him.

Next week here at 7-Imp, I’ll follow up, as always, with some spreads from the book.

The Q&A is here.

Until tomorrow …

(Photo credit: Angela Qualls.)

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Molly Idle

h1 Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

If you haven’t seen Molly Idle’s newest wordless picture book—Flora and the Flamingo (Chronicle, February 2013), pictured above—and you are a true blue picture book fan, you should take a look, especially if you like to see an illustrator show you how line and movement can tell a story. (The book also includes flaps—see here for a demonstration—which really seem to serve a purpose and aren’t just there for kicks and grins.) If you don’t believe me, check out these review excerpts: Kirkus, for one, praises Idle’s “[c]ourageous use of white space” and the “flowing, musical quality of the illustrations” (“one can almost hear the 3/4 beat of a waltz in the background,” the review adds); Publishers Weekly calls it “seamless and dynamic visual storytelling”; and in her detailed review Betsy Bird called it no less than a “perfect amalgamation of wordless storytelling,” noting its “likable (or at least understandable) characters, and an artistic sensibility that will make you forget its unique formatting and remind you only of the classic picture book days of yore.” Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #320:
Featuring Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Liz Starin

h1 Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

It’s the first Sunday of March, and on these first Sundays I like to shine the spotlight on a student or debut illustrator. Today, Liz Starin is visiting, and I sure do love the art she is sharing here today.

You may be familiar with the blog Liz runs with two other illustrators, Pen & Oink. (More on that below.) If you like to read about illustration, you really must check out their site. Their posts are carefully-crafted, and it’s generally a wonderful, entertaining place to visit.

I would introduce you to Liz by telling you a bit about her, but she shares generously below, including how she went from Scientist to Illustrator with regard to career goals. I thank her for visiting, and I really hope we see her in picture books one day very soon. Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Up To at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week,
Featuring Steven Guarnaccia

h1 Friday, March 1st, 2013

“When Pop left to be a soldier, I wanted to go with him. ‘I’m brave,’ I told Pop.
‘I know, Mikey,’ he said, patting my shoulder. ‘And you’ll need to be,
’cause it takes just as much courage to stay behind.'”

(Click to enlarge spread)

Last week at Kirkus, I wrote about Deborah Hopkinson’s Knit Your Bit: A World War I Story (Putnam, February 2013), illustrated by Steven Guarnaccia. That link is here. Up above, I’ve got one full spread from the book — for those of you who want to take a brief peek inside.

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This morning at Kirkus, I have a handful of reasons I think Hilary McKay’s Lulu chapter book series, imported from the UK, is worth checking out.

And that link is here.

Enjoy, and see you on Sunday.

KNIT YOUR BIT: A WORLD WAR I STORY. Copyright © 2013 by Deborah Hopkinson. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Steven Guarnaccia. G. P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin, New York. Spread used with permission of the publisher.