Archive for October, 2014

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Eva Eriksson

h1 Friday, October 31st, 2014

All storytelling has its backbone in realistic fiction. So many kids, even at a surprisingly young age, are eager to read scary stories. I tried to fill that gap. ‘Scary’ thrills them. It makes their hearts beat faster. … To me, the great sentence is: The door knob slowly, slowly turned. That delicious moment of anticipation, of danger climbing the stairs. I’ve tried to provide those chills, while still resolving each book in a safe way.”

* * *

Over here at Kirkus yesterday, I talked to author James Preller, quoted above, about his Scary Tales series from Feiwel & Friends. The latest, The One-Eyed Doll, was recently released. Perfect for Halloween reading. We also chat about his middle-grade novels and school visits.

Next week, I’ll have some art from the Scary Tales books. They are illustrated by Iacopo Bruno.

Today at Kirkus, I write about some picture book imports — that is, those picture books originally published in other countries but now on American shores. That link is here.

* * *

Last week, I wrote here about two early chapter books, one featured more in-depth on Wednesday of this week. Below are some illustrations from the other book, Rose Lagercrantz’s My Heart is Laughing, illustrated by Eva Eriksson (Gecko Press, May 2014). Enjoy the art.

“It was so high they had to go and find a chair so they could climb up it.
They climbed for hours pretending to be monkeys.”

Read the rest of this entry �

Preparing Your Supply of Light

h1 Thursday, October 30th, 2014

“Ripe mango / Fresh mango / Yellow mango / Mango in-between / Mango clusters / Balance yourself below the branch / Produce more mangos / That taste of honey and delight / For the lovers of the universe / All while preparing your supply of light”
(a poem from Maríe-Andriele Charlot)

This morning, the New York Times Best Illustrated Books list for 2014 was announced. It’s here. I get excited every Fall about this list. If you love picture books, it’s a kick to see these lists, because how often are picture books celebrated on a national scale? I was happy to wake up and see the list had been announced.

You can see 2014 posts about nearly all of these books in the 7-Imp archives, but this morning I highlight one book I was particularly happy to see on this list, which I hadn’t yet blogged about. In fact, just yesterday I had connected with the publisher, thanks to wonderful Ellen Myrick of Myrick Marketing and Media, to try to secure some illustrations from the book to feature here at 7-Imp, because I really like it. And this morning, those images came through, so what good timing. Enjoy the art today! And congrats to the illustrator for being on the NYTimes list.

The book is called Haiti, My Country. Originally published in 2010, this English edition (March 2014) comes to us by way of Fifth House Publishers. It was illustrated by a Canadian artist, name Rogé. You can see more of his beautiful work here. The book is a series of poems, written by young people of Camp-Perrin in Haiti. For several months, the illustrator, who lives in Quebec and who was evidently awarded the Governor General’s Literary Award for Illustration in 2006, worked on these portraits. The book primarily focuses on the joy in their lives, though as the publisher writes so vividly, “misery often storms through Haiti” (earthquakes, floods, and other natural disasters). There are some exceptions, such as with the striking short poem: “Magnificent country becomes / Broken land / All smiles are lost.” But, as one young poet writes, there is always hope: “On the distant horizon, the sun disappears / To refresh our souls. / We observe the sea and the sky / In harmony, awaking tenderness within us.”

Here’s another illustration: Read the rest of this entry �

When Terrifying Leaps of Faith Pay Off:
An Art- and Sketch-Filled Q&A with Abby Hanlon

h1 Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Last week at Kirkus, I wrote about two new chapter books for children, and today I’m going a bit more in depth with one of them, Abby Hanlon’s Dory Fantasmagory, released by Dial earlier this month. (I promise to have some art here at 7-Imp from the other chapter book this coming Friday.)

I’m smitten with Dory Fantasmagory, but you can read why in that column, if you’re so inclined. Today, Abby—who was featured here at 7-Imp back in 2012 at the release of her debut picture book—visits to share some illustrations from the book, some early sketches, and to talk about Dory a bit.

I thank her for visiting. Read the rest of this entry �

The Making of Viva Frida: Yuyi Morales’ Photo Essay

h1 Monday, October 27th, 2014

Yuyi Morales’ Viva Frida, released by Neal Porter/Roaring Brook in September, has been called “an ingenious tour de force” (Horn Book) and a “haunting beauty” (Publishers Weekly) and has been described as “resonant” (School Library Journal) and “luminescent” (Kirkus). The book is a visually rich tribute to artist Frida Khalo. As the starred Publishers Weekly review notes, in this book Frida is presented “less as a historical figure than as an icon who represents the life Morales holds sacred; Frida lives because she loves and creates.” (I’m quoting that in particular, because I think that reviewer really nails it there.)

To call the illustrations multi-media ones somehow seems an understatement: Yuyi used acrylic paints, photography, and stop-motion puppets made from steel, polymer clay, and wool to create these vivid 3D tableaus. To pull it all together, she relied on her computer, but then you can get the details on that below, since I had asked Yuyi a while back if she wanted to share a bit of behind-the-scenes images on the making of this beautiful book. I’m so glad she obliged. As you can see, she sent what is essentially a spectacular photo essay—her words and her images—on the creation of this book, one of the most beautiful picture books I’ve seen all year.

I thank her for sharing. Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #403: Featuring Virginia Lee Burton

h1 Sunday, October 26th, 2014

Did you all know that this year is the 75th anniversary of the publication of Virginia Lee Burton’s Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel? Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has released an anniversary edition, and I have a wee bit of art today from it — in the name of celebration.

So much has been written about this book, and many of you likely know it well. One thing I’d like to add on its birthday is this: If you have never read Barbara Elleman’s Virginia Lee Burton: A Life in Art—and if you enjoying reading about picture books and picture book creators—then I highly recommend it. Elleman, the founding editor of Book Links, opens the book, published in 2002, with the wonderful story of Dick Berkenbush, a story my late co-author, Peter D. Sieruta, once blogged about and a story we included in Wild Things: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Litearture (“The Boy Behind the Asterisk” in the “Hidden Delights” chapter).

I love what Elleman says here about Mike Mulligan, which is really a statement about Burton’s talents as an illustrator: Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week (the Halloween Edition), Featuring Gerald Kelley, Harriet Muncaster,
Greg Pizzoli, and Laura Vaccaro Seeger

h1 Friday, October 24th, 2014

— From Carol Brendler’s Not Very Scary,
illustrated by Greg Pizzoli


“I don’t know where my mom goes. She’s always my mom, but I think that sometimes she just needs a break from being a witch.”
— From Harriet Muncaster’s
I Am a Witch’s Cat
(Click to see spread in its entirety)


— From Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s
Dog and Bear: Tricks and Treats


— From J. Patrick Lewis’
M is for Monster: A Fantastic Creatures Alphabet,
illustrated by Gerald Kelley

We’re celebrating Halloween today, 7-Imp style, with lots of artwork.

Last week here at Kirkus, I did a round-up of some good, new Halloween titles. Today, I’ve got some art from each one. All the art, all the info, and all the covers are below. Greg Pizzoli even sent some early dummy images for his illustrations for Carol Brendler’s Not Very Scary.

Today over at Kirkus, I write about two of my very favorite brand-new early chapter books for children (and both are illustrated). That link is here.

Enjoy the art …

Read the rest of this entry �

Drawing Blind with Philip C. Stead

h1 Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

“SEBASTIAN sat high on his roof—something he was never supposed to do.
‘There is nothing to see on my street,’ he thought. ‘Nothing to see at all.'”

(Click to enlarge)

Author-illustrator Phil Stead is visiting today to chat with me about his newest picture book, Sebastian and the Balloon, released by Neal Porter Books/Roaring Brook earlier this month.

This is the story of a young boy who sets out on an adventure with “all the things he would ever need” and charts a course for the skies — in a balloon he’s built from his grandmother’s afghans. Along the way, he meets a bear (a real one), who joins him in the balloon, yet it’s popped at the beak of a “very tall bird.” Turns out, though, they’ve landed on the house of three elderly sisters, who mend the balloon and help the boy, the bear, and the bird shoo away some pigeons on the other side of the mountain near where they live. The pigeons have gathered on the “most perfect roller coaster,” which together the crew fixes up for an exhilarating ride.

Phil chats with me below about how he made his art, letting nature take its course on your illustrations (and embracing humor error), and leafless trees needing company too. (P.S.: You can see a few other spreads from the book in this June 2014 7-Imp post.) Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Stephanie Graegin

h1 Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Pictured above is the title page illustration from Nancy Van Laan’s Forget Me Not, released by Schwartz & Wade Books in August. This is the poignant and lovingly-rendered story of a young girl whose grandmother is experiencing significant memory loss. It slowly builds in the story — to the point where she is placed in an assisted living center, while her granddaughter watches with concern. The illustrations were rendered by my visitor today, Stephanie Graegin, pictured below.

As you’ll read below, this is Stephanie’s fourth picture book. (Three were released last year.) She’s also illustrated middle grade novels and is working on her own picture book. Graegin’s warm palettes capture the small moments of life, and I wanted to have her over for a cyber-breakfast to discuss her work and see even more art. Normally, she tells me, she’d have a bowl of cereal. But today we are going to splurge by taking a walk to pick up a bacon and egg dub pie from the Dub Pie Shop across the street, along with a coffee.

I thank her for visiting.

Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #402: Featuring David Mackintosh

h1 Sunday, October 19th, 2014

(Click to enlarge)

Happy Sunday, all …

Right here over at BookPage, I reviewed Lucky from British designer and illustrator David Mackintosh, released by Abrams this month. Below, I’ve got some art from it, ’cause you know we just GOTTA take a peek inside the pages.

Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Jon Klassen

h1 Friday, October 17th, 2014

“So they kept digging.”
(Click to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)


“‘I have a new idea,’ said Dave. ‘Let’s split up.’ ‘Really?’ said Sam.
‘Just for a little while,’ said Dave. ‘It will help our chances.'”

(Click to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)

This morning over at Kirkus, I’ve got some good reads for Halloween — mostly picture books but a couple of books for older readers, too.

That link is here.

* * *

Since I wrote last week (here) about Mac Barnett’s Sam and Dave Dig a Hole (Candlewick, October 2014), illustrated by Jon Klassen, I’ve got two spreads, pictured above.

See that second illustration? I highly recommend you head over here to Cynthia Leitich Smith’s blog to read Mac and Jon’s conversation about the emotional landscape (so to speak) of that spread. It’s a good, good read in many directions.

Click here to see the book’s cover: Read the rest of this entry �