Archive for March, 2014

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Chris Van Dusen

h1 Friday, March 14th, 2014

“It was a pretty good plan. And so those eight great minds rolled up their sleeves,
and they yanked and they tugged.”
(Click to enlarge spread)

This morning over at Kirkus, I have a bit of a Shel Silverstein appreciation. That is here.

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Last week, I wrote here about Mac Barnett’s newest picture book, President Taft Is Stuck in the Bath (Candlewick, March 2014), illustrated by Chris Van Dusen. As a follow-up today, I have two spreads.

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A Quick Art Break, Watercolor-Style

h1 Thursday, March 13th, 2014

“… I remember my aunt Gladys’s house next door. It was also a big stone house, but it smelled different from ours, like old milk, and there was randomness in the way that everything was placed as though it had been dropped in haste wherever it was.
There was also a crucific on the living-room wall.
It was an object that was missing from our living room. …”

(Click to enlarge)

Since I chatted at Kirkus last week (here) with author-illustrator and graphic designer James McMullan about his new memoir, Leaving China: An Artist Paints His World War II Childhood (Algonquin, March 2014), I am following up today with two watercolors from the book. Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Wendell Minor

h1 Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

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Author-illustrator Wendell Minor, self-described bird- and cloud-watcher, “takes his young readers very seriously,” wrote Jean Craighead George, Newbery Award-winning writer for children, in a personal reminiscence of Minor before her death in 2012. “Just as he wants them to see the buffalo or crane in its accurate environment, he wants them also to feel that this animal is so loveable that it must be saved.”

This reminiscence appears in Wendell Minor’s America: 25 Years of Children’s Book Art, the catalog that accompanies the art exhibit of the same name, appearing at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Massachusetts until May 26, 2014.

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As Stephanie Haboush Plunkett, the Chief Curator and Director of the museum, notes in the introduction to the catalog, Minor sold his 1955 Chevy in order to pay for his studies at the Ringling College of Art in Florida after first deciding that he wanted to pursue his life-long love of art (by the time he reached fourth grade, he knew he’d be an artist one day) and eventually moved to New York in 1968 “with little more than his portfolio in hand.” Since then, he’s illustrated over 50 children’s books (see here) and was last year awarded, along with his wife Florence, the The New England Independent Booksellers Association’s President’s Award for lifetime achievement in arts and letters.

Minor brings readers what historian Leonard Marcus describes in the catalog as his own unique Americana. This, he writes, is “a Minor passion born of the artist’s rural Illinois upbringing. For him the Midwest is not a blank patchwork of ‘fly-over states’ but rather a fertile proving ground that has inspired generations of human struggle and transcendence.” Illustration for Minor, Marcus adds, is no less than an act of “total immersion,” as he digs deep into his research and fine tunes every possible detail.

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Reading the Sea with Ellen Prentiss

h1 Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

“Each day at dawn, at noon, and at twilight, Ellen lifted her sextant from its flannel nest and took her measurements. In the evening, she went belowdecks to
the great oak table, where she ran her daily calculations. …”

(Click to enlarge and see full text)

I hope to be back tomorrow with an interview, but for now here’s a quick art stop:

I recently wrote a review for BookPage of Tracey Fern’s Dare the Wind: The Record-Breaking Voyage of Eleanor Prentiss and the Flying Cloud, illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully and released by Margaret Ferguson Books/Farrar Straus Giroux in February. The review is here.

As always, I’m following up with some art here at 7-Imp. (My 2012 breakfast interview with McCully is here.)

Enjoy … Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #372: Featuring Toni Yuly

h1 Sunday, March 9th, 2014

“through the flowerbed …”
— From
Early Bird

Good morning, dear kickers. Today, we are visited by debut author/illustrator (and librarian!) Toni Yuly, who proves, as you can read below, that it’s never too late to get your start in children’s literature.

I’m going to get right to Toni, since she talks here about her work and how she got into picture books. But first let me say that her debut picture book is called Early Bird. It was released by Feiwel and Friends in January. The illustrations for this story for very young readers were rendered in pen and ink and digital media; Yuly uses thick lines and bright colors, and the text is well-suited to beginning readers. In their starred review, Booklist writes, “it’s unusual for a book this straightforward to accomplish several things, but this succeeds,” describing this as a book that makes learning fun.

In this post today, Toni shares some images from Early Bird; her greeting card collection, Kokoro; and her current project and next book, called Night Owl.

Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week,
Featuring Chris Case and Isabelle Malenfant

h1 Friday, March 7th, 2014

“‘Ms. Wilson,’ Jacob said proudly, “I’m the princess.'”
— From
Jacob’s New Dress

— From Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress

This morning over at Kirkus, I write about Mac Barnett’s newest picture book, President Taft Is Stuck in the Bath, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen — and why I think it might be great for your Information Literacy 101 lesson with elementary students. (I’m talkin’ to you, school librarians.) That link is here.

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Last week, I wrote about two brand-new picture books that are about so-called gender-nonconforming boys — Christine Baldacchino’s Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress, illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant (Groundwood Books, May 2014), and Sarah and Ian Hoffman’s Jacob’s New Dress, illustrated by Chris Case (Albert Whitman & Company, March 2014). That link was here, and today I’ve got a bit of art from each book.

Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �

A Conversation with James McMullan

h1 Thursday, March 6th, 2014

Remember this award-winning picture book?

Its illustrator, James McMullan (pictured here), who has led a long and distinguished career in graphic design and illustration, has written a new memoir. It’s a fascinating read, and today over at Kirkus I chat with him about this book.

It’s called Leaving China: An Artist Paints His World War II Childhood and was released this month from Algonquin. McMullan was born in North China, the grandson of UK missionaries who had settled there, and in this book he recounts his childhood in brief, impressionistic vignettes accompanied by paintings — first, his privileged life and then his father’s departure for the war, followed by his and his mother’s attempts to escape Japanese occupation.

It’s a book aimed at teens (given that it was published by Algonquin’s young-readers imprint), but as many reviewers have noted, adults would enjoy it as well.

Our chat is here today.

And next week here at 7-Imp, I’ll have a couple of paintings from the book.

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Photo of Mr. McMullan taken by Phillip Lehans and used by permission.

The Dandelion’s Tale:
A Visit with Illustrator Rob Dunlavey

h1 Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

” … and the fun I’ve had talking with the squirrels
as they look for food in the morning.”

Illustrator Rob Dunlavey (who is not a new visitor to 7-Imp) is here this morning to talk about his artwork for Kevin Sheehan’s debut picture book, The Dandelion’s Tale, to be released by Schwartz & Wade next week. In fact, this is Rob’s picture book debut as well.

I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, should any of you want to read this for yourselves and let the story unfold without spoilers (though I do have excerpts from the text under final spreads below). This is a moving story of friendship and loss and memory. I really like it, and there are several things about both the story and the illustrations that make me think of picture books of yore — almost as if this book popped up from the 1950s and planted itself in the 21st century. In their starred review, Kirkus calls it “radiant,” describing Kevin’s writing as luminous and Rob’s artwork as lyrical and reassuring. They also note that this is a story about “the power of storytelling to keep a loved one’s memory alive.” Yes, that. It really is a powerful story about very deeply-felt things.

Here’s Rob to talk a bit about creating the illustrations for this one … Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #371: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Jaime Kim

h1 Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

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It’s the first Sunday of the month, which means a student illustrator will share some artwork this morning. Today it’s Jaime Kim, who is one of the winners of this year’s SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) Student Illustrator Scholarship. This means, I believe, that she will soon head to New York City to meet picture book artists, editors, and art directors, so what a great time to feature her work.

Jaime is a student at the Maryland Institute College of Art, is originally from South Korea, and has lived in the U.S. since the age of 18.

She tells us more about herself below, too, so let’s get right to it, and I thank her for visiting.

Jaime: There once was a little girl who could not sleep very well, because she was afraid of the dark. Then, one day her fear went away after she received a complete collection of picture books as a gift from her parents. Her fear went away when her mother read a picture book to her, and she could sleep easily at night.

This is a story of my childhood, and this is how picture books first became part of my life. Read the rest of this entry �