Archive for July, 2013

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Aaron Zenz

h1 Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

Today, I’m having breakfast with author/illustrator Aaron Zenz, whose work is very much geared at toddlers and preschoolers. And this, I think, is something I don’t do enough here at 7-Imp — invite to the breakfast table, that is, those whose work is geared specifically at the crowd of very, very young, wee ones.

This isn’t Aaron’s first visit to 7-Imp. His bright, slapstick illustrations for The Hiccupotamus are featured in this older post (2009). As you’ll read below, that was Aaron’s debut title, and it’d be perfect for a preschool read-aloud or for the very youngest of listeners, filled with spot-on rhymes as it is, all hyper-outrageous and fun. His colorful, uncluttered colored pencil illustrations are gentle and full of cheer. As I’ve written before, your lap-sitters will take in these images with big, happy eyes. “Breezy” is a descriptor Kirkus has used to describe his art.

Aaron also visited here in 2011, showing some art from his newest title then, Chuckling Ducklings (which Betsy Bird also covered the same year).

And, as those of you who regularly read blogs probably know, his family’s book review blog, Bookie Wookie, is one of the greatest treasures of the so-called kidlitosphere.

Aaron’s having cereal with me this morning, since he describes himself as a cereal man. “I eat cereal all day long,” he said. “Breakfast. Lunch. Snacks. Our family sits down all together every day for a big dinner, but outside of that meal, I tend to eat cereal, cereal, cereal. And in particular, I have to have cereal for breakfast. If I eat something else instead—a doughnut or a bagel or pancakes—I’ll feel off for the rest of the day.”

Cereal it is—I’ll set out my most colorful cereal bowls for his visit—and I’ll get out some coffee for myself.

I thank Aaron for visiting. Let’s get right to it. Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #341: Featuring Matt Phelan

h1 Sunday, July 28th, 2013

Last week, I read Matt Phelan’s newest graphic novel, Bluffton (Candlewick, July 2013), and then turned right around and re-read it multiple times. ‘Cause it’s really good and worthy of the second (and third … and fourth …) looks.

I can promise you that you haven’t seen a book like this in a long while, nor will you see one like it any time soon. And I’m talking about the story. The format is nothing new: It’s Matt working in graphic novel format, once again, which he’s done before in very award-winning ways (2009’s The Storm in the Barn and 2011’s Around the World).

This is the story of a young boy named Henry Harrison. It’s the turn of the 20th century in the quiet, little town of Muskegon, Michigan, and it’s the launch of a summer that will change his life forever. Arriving by train in their sleepy town, where Henry helps his father at his family-owned hardware store, is a troupe of vaudeville actors, including young slapstick star Buster Keaton (legend-in-progress) and his family. Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Up To at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week,
Featuring Angela Dominguez

h1 Friday, July 26th, 2013

(Click to enlarge spread)

This morning over at Kirkus, I write about Jean E. Pendziwol’s beautiful new picture book, Once Upon a Northern Night, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault. That link is here.

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Last week, I wrote here about Angela Dominguez’s Maria Had a Little Llama/María Tenía Una Llamita, to be released next month by Henry Holt.

Here are a couple of sketches and spreads from Dominguez. Enjoy.

Read the rest of this entry �

Goodnight What Again?

h1 Thursday, July 25th, 2013

Earlier this week at the New York Times, I read Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic’s “I’m Tired of Reading Out Loud to My Son, O.K.?”

It got me thinking about a few things, so my Kirkus column today is a response to what she wrote. It’s here.

Until tomorrow …

Catching Up with Cordell

h1 Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Pictured above is author/illustrator Matthew Cordell’s contribution to Peter Reynolds’ International Dot Day.

Matt’s had a busy year, what with several illustrated picture book releases. I thought I’d give 7-Imp readers a sneak peek inside a few of them, as well as some ALA drawings. (I’ll explain below.) Let’s get to it. Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #340: Featuring LeUyen Pham

h1 Sunday, July 21st, 2013

(Click to enlarge)

Raise your hand if you’ve seen Deborah Heiligman’s new picture book biography of Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdös, who died in the mid-’90s but remains a cult figure in the world of mathematics. I knew nothing about Erdös till I read this book, and what a good picture book it is. It’s called The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdös, and it’s illustrated by LeUyen Pham. (Pictured above are some of LeUyen’s sketches of Erdös throughout his life.)

I wrote about it very recently here at Kirkus, so today I’m following up with some art and sketches from LeUyen. Part of what I wrote in that column is that into her sharp, colorful illustrations for this book, LeUyen incorporates a good deal of math — from harmonic primes on Page 1, floating through the white space, as young Paul chases after them, to prime numbers on the final spread, part of the very fabric of the buildings, just waiting for observant eyes to discover them. In between, we see theorems, equations, graphs, and much more, all waiting to be found on nearly every spread. Pham explains all the math and all the art in a very lengthy and informative illustrator’s note at the close of the book.

Here are some final spreads and early sketches. Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Up To at Kirkus This Week

h1 Friday, July 19th, 2013

Today at Kirkus, I write about Angela Dominguez’s Maria Had a Little Llama/María Tenía Una Llamita, to be released next month by Henry Holt. That link is here.

I’m in beautiful Knoxville, Tennessee, today speaking about the “best” picture books thus far of 2013 for a workshop at the Center for Children’s and Young Adult Literature at the University of Tennessee. I’ll be back on Sunday with some art and sketches from LeUyen Pham from the picture book I wrote about in this Kirkus column last week.

See you then.

A Peek at the Desk of Vanessa Brantley-Newton

h1 Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

Last week at Kirkus, I chatted with author/illustrator Vanessa Brantley-Newton. That link is here. Today, I share some of her sketches and final art from both Amy Novesky’s Mister and Lady Day: Billie Holiday and the Dog Who Loved Her (Harcourt, June 2013)—the above sketch is from that one—as well as Marie Harris’s The Girl Who Heard Colors (to be released by Nancy Paulsen Books in September).

I also include here the response to one question that didn’t quite fit in last week’s Q&A.

Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with
Chris Sickels (a.k.a. Red Nose Studio)

h1 Monday, July 15th, 2013

This morning I’m going to have cyber-breakfast with artist Chris Sickels, who creates sculptural and 3D illustrations and who illustrates children’s books (amongst other creative projects) under the name Red Nose Studio. I wish it weren’t a fake breakfast, and that’s because his breakfast of choice is, he told me, “the chocolate zucchini bread that my lovely wife Jennifer and my daughter Ava make together. Pair that bread with a cup of French press coffee, and that is the bee’s knees for me.” If I ever actually meet him in person, I’m going to remind him of this moment and hit him up for the zucchini bread and French press coffee. Coffee-lovers don’t forget such things.

Today’s post includes lots of Chris’s process images, a photographic sneak peek into how he created the art for his latest illustrated title, Jennifer LaRue Huget’s The Beginner’s Guide to Running Away From Home (pictured left), which was released by Schwartz & Wade Books last month. You may remember his 2010 illustrated title, which I covered here at 7-Imp — Here Comes The Garbage Barge, written by Jonah Winter and also published by Schwartz & Wade. To see art from that book, you can visit that 2010 7-Imp post (or even this one), but with the exception of some portfolio pieces at the close of this interview, all the images here today are from The Beginner’s Guide, a tale both funny and moving (the same illustration below that nearly brought Chris to tears, when making it, does the same for me when I see it) and which School Library Journal calls “imaginative and subversive.”

Let’s get right to it so that you can see how Chris creates his intricate worlds and also what’s next on his plate. I thank him for visiting 7-Imp today. Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #339: Featuring Kevin Cornell

h1 Sunday, July 14th, 2013

Final spread from Count the Monkeys
(Click to enlarge)

I’m going to be ever-so brief in my explanation of these images today, only because I have already written about this book over in another location. I recently reviewed for BookPage Mac Barnett’s latest book, Count the Monkeys (Disney/Hyperion, June 2013), illustrated by Kevin Cornell. And I could just send you to my review and stop there, but you all know I start to get downright twitchy unless I also share picture book art, so today I’m following that review up with some art from Cornell, as well as some sketches he sent along.

Kevin Cornell is a UK illustrator (and unitasker). Don’t let the “mediocre” bit fool you.

So, at the risk of looking lazy today, here are my thoughts on the book (which will also give you a sense of what it’s about, of course), but today here in 7-Imp Land is some art — before my kicks, that is.

Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �