Archive for November, 2013

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus a Podcast During Which I Ramble a Little Bit

h1 Friday, November 29th, 2013

Because Kirkus deadlines don’t stop for Thanksgiving, I decided to write about a book I thought might be a fitting Thanksgiving read. And that would be Isobel Harris’ Little Boy Brown, illustrated by French graphic designer and illustrator André François and originally published in 1949. My thoughts on that book are here, and next week I’ll follow up with some art from it (though one illustration, which is also the cover illustration, is pictured right).

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Today, I’m giving some attention to board books, since those poor guys don’t really get enough attention (at least compared to picture books and novels). I’m chatting with the publishing director of Abram’s Appleseed Books, Cecily Kaiser, about board books and what makes a good one. That link is here.

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Lastly, this week for Picture Book Month (which is coming to a close), I chat with podcaster Katie Davis about picture books. I might just ramble a bit about Uri Shulevitz, Maurice Sendak, Barbara Bader, Katherine Paterson, Harry Allard’s and James Marshall’s Grandfather Stupid, picture books as “acts of mischief” (as Patricia Lee Gauch describes it), favorite picture books of 2013, and more.

That is here.

Thanks to Katie Davis for dealing with my low-tech old-skool phone skillz.

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LITTLE BOY BROWN. First American edition published in 2013 by Enchanted Lion Books. Copyright © 2013 by Enchanted Lion Books for this reprint edition. Illustration reproduced by permission of the publisher.

A Grimm Kind of Morning

h1 Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

From “The Brave Little Tailor”:
“So saying, he took a rope and an axe with him, went out into the forest,
and told the men who were escorting him to stay behind.
He didn’t have to search for long before the unicorn appeared,
racing straight towards the tailor as if to impale him on its horn.”

Since I wrote here last week at Kirkus about a new collection of fairy tales from The Brothers Grimm, illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger and published by Minedition—it’s called Tales from the Brothers Grimm, and it’s beautiful—I’ve got some art from it today.

But I’ve got another treat.

Also from Minedition this December will be The Brothers Grimm’s Hansel and Gretel, illustrated by Sybille Schenker and adapted by Martin West. Now, to read about it, you can go here to Kirkus‘ starred review. (Yes, I’m kickin’ it over to them, ’cause I have a giant stack of work giving me the skunk eye.) They call it nothing less than “gorgeous” and “sumptuous.” It really is both things, more of a coffee-table book than one you want to give, say, a toddler — given things like its thick cover stitching, die cuts, and vellum pages. The stark, black silhouettes throughout the book set a splendidly eerie tone, and the highly-patterned color illustrations that appear (not pictured below) are striking. Below is some art from that book, too.

Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #358: Featuring Susan L. Roth

h1 Sunday, November 24th, 2013

Those of you who follow the wonderful blog Calling Caldecott over at the Horn Book site will recognize today’s book, since they recently posted about it. In fact, I first read about it over there and felt inspired to feature it here.

Written by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore and illustrated by Roth, Parrots Over Puerto Rico (LEE & LOW, September 2013) is an unusual book in that it serves as both a history of the island of Puerto Rico, as well as a history of the Puerto Rican parrot. This vertically-oriented book—and that’s the cover above, text-less and all—tells how they “lived on this island for millions of years, and then they nearly vanished from the earth forever.” The authors go back as far as 5000 BCE to document the first people on the island and those people, the Taínos in 800 CE, who named the parrrots iguaca after the cries the creatures make. As the authors continue to lay out with great clarity the history of the island and those who came to settle there, they highlight the threats the birds have faced over the years, including red-tailed hawks, black rats from settlers’ ships, honeybees, deforestation, hunters and trappers, birds called pearly-eyed thrashers, and more. By 1967, well after the island became a territory of the United States, only twenty-four parrots lived in El Yunque, a national forest in northeastern Puerto Rico:

Puerto Ricans looked up and saw that their iguacas were almost gone. People had nearly caused the parrots to become extinct. Now people started to help the parrots stay alive.

Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Rachel Isadora

h1 Friday, November 22nd, 2013

(Click to enlarge)

Lisbeth Zwerger! Lisbeth Zwerger!

This is how most of her fans, including me, respond when they hear she has a new book out. My Kirkus column today is about that and is here.

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Last week (here), I wrote about Rachel Isadora’s newest picture book, Old Mikamba Had a Farm (Nancy Paulsen Books, October 2013). I’m following up with some illustrations from the book today, including the one pictured above.

Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �

A Trip to Europe with
Lauren Castillo and her Sketchbooks

h1 Thursday, November 21st, 2013

The book’s endpapers
(Click to enlarge)

I don’t know about you, but I could look at the illustrations of Lauren Castillo all day. So, I’m happy this morning to have some artwork from her here at 7-Imp.

Last week, I chatted over at Kirkus with author Kate Banks, whose latest picture book was illustrated by Lauren — City Cat, released by Frances Foster Books/Farrar Straus Giroux just this week. So, more on the book and my chat with Kate is here, but today I follow up with Lauren, who is sharing (in her words) “a little of everything: cat studies, on-location drawings, early sketchbook studies, some reference inspiration, final sketches, and final art.”

Incidentally, Lauren has also blogged about this book. She took a trip to Europe in 2009 to “gather inspiration through sketches and photographs.” Here are those posts. (Here also is the book’s trailer.)

Enjoy the art, and many thanks to Lauren for sharing. Read the rest of this entry �

Aye Aye, Captain Cat

h1 Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

“Captain Cat loved cats. There were more cats on board his ship, the Carlotta, than there were sailors in his crew — which was why his sailors called him Captain Cat.”
(Click to enlarge spread)

“‘Hooray!’ cried the Queen of the island when she saw she had a visitor.”
(Click to enlarge spread)

It’s a quick art stop today with two spreads here from Inga Moore’s Captain Cat, released last month from Candlewick.

I reviewed this one over at BookPage. That link is here.

Today, I just wanted to share a bit of art as a follow-up to the review. I enjoy Moore’s picture books.

Until Thursday …

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CAPTAIN CAT. Copyright © 2013 by Inga Moore. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA on behalf of Walker Books, London.

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #357: Featuring Emily Winfield Martin

h1 Sunday, November 17th, 2013

“…Who set their misfit table / For a feast that never ends.”
— Sketches and final art

(Click each to enlarge)

Mmm. I want some of what they’re having for breakfast.

Hi, all. I’m doing one of those BookPage numbers today. What I mean is: I reviewed a new picture book over at BookPage, and I could just leave it at that. But you all know I get kind of twitchy when I don’t share art from the books about which I write, so I always follow up those BookPage reviews (and my weekly Kirkus columns) with art and (if I’m lucky) sketches from the books — over here at 7-Imp, that is. It’s just an extra, Art-Fan step for me—no one asks me to do it, but I just can’t help it—so humor me.

The book I reviewed is Emily Winfield Martin’s Dream Animals, published by Random House in October. So, to read all about it, head over here to BookPage’s wonderful site.

And then come back here, if you’re so inclined, to take in the sketches Emily’s sharing, as well as some final art from the book.

Enjoy! Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Anne Villeneuve

h1 Friday, November 15th, 2013

“‘I’ve had ENOUGH!’ she cries. ‘I’m leaving.'”

“‘Mama,’ says Loula, ‘I’m going to Africa.’ ‘Wonderful,’ sings her mother
while practicing her role for the opera. ‘Just don’t catch a cold.'”

This morning over at Kirkus, I have some thoughts on Rachel Isadora’s newest picture book, Old Mikamba Had a Farm.

Next week, as always, I will have some art from it here at 7-Imp.

That Kirkus link is here.

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Last week, I wrote about the latest picture book from Canadian author/illustrator Anne Villeneuve, Loula is Leaving for Africa (Kids Can Press, September 2013).

That link is here.

Here today at 7-Imp (above) is a bit of art from it.

Until Sunday …

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LOULA IS LEAVING FOR AFRICA. Copyright © 2013 by Anne Villeneuve. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Kids Can Press, Toronto.

A Morning Chat with Author Kate Banks

h1 Thursday, November 14th, 2013

To me, the perfect picture book is a spontaneous creation, inspired by an invisible and mysterious muse not to be found in the marketplace.”

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It was a pleasure to chat with author Kate Banks, pictured here. My brief Q&A with her is posted over at Kirkus this morning.

Kate’s newest picture book is City Cat, illustrated by Lauren Castillo, so I asked her about that book. But since Kate’s first books were published in the 1980s, I thought I’d also ask her how she thinks the picture book fares today. Part of her response is above.

And all the rest is here.

Next week here at 7-Imp, I’ll have some of Lauren’s art from City Cat.

Until tomorrow …

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Photo of Kate Banks used with permission.

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Aaron Becker

h1 Monday, November 11th, 2013

(Click to enlarge photo)

See that? Author/illustrator Aaron Becker and Those Clever and Brave Children from Aaron’s Journey are waiting for me to join them for breakfast out in the garden. I think this has become, hands down, my favorite interview picture from this year. (Aaron says he dines on Peanut Butter Captain Crunch when he’s feeling particularly brave, and I see he has some cereal bowls waiting for us.)

Aaron is having a good year. If you follow picture books closely, you’ve probably already noticed this. Journey, his debut picture book, was very recently named one of the New York Times’ Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2013. In fact, he just illustrated a special cover for yesterday’s children’s issue of the New York Times Book Review. Journey has also been met with glowing reviews all around (mostly starred reviews), has been awarded the 2013 platinum “Best Book Award” by the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio, was nominated for Best Picture Book in the Goodreads Choice Awards, has been garnering Caldecott buzz, and was called nothing short of a “masterwork” by Sarah Harrison Smith in the New York Times.

Back in August, when I chatted briefly with Aaron about this book over at Kirkus, I shared that I found myself with a very early copy of Journey after this post from last year when I sort of stumbled upon Aaron’s artwork and website. I loved it so much that one morning I, no kidding, called an emergency picture book coffee-shop meeting with two friends who love picture books as much as I do, ’cause I just had to show them this book. We sat over our cups of strong coffee and ooh’ed and aah’ed a lot.

And I still think it’s special.

Even though we’ve had that short Kirkus chat this year, I still wanted Aaron to come over for a 7-Imp breakfast, ’cause 7-Imp breakfasts mean we see way more art.

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