Archive for April, 2015

Bob Shea and Ballet Cat Before Breakfast

h1 Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Pictured above is a sketch of the stars of Bob Shea’s new early reader series, Ballet Cat. That’s Ballet Cat herself and her best friend, Sparkle Pony.

Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret (Disney-Hyperion) hits shelves early next month. Shea, one of the funniest authors in the field today, captures well the dynamics of play when one friend is a bit more domineering than the other. (I relate all too well. When I was little, it was Daring Donna across the street, who’d try to get me to leap from the playground swing and grab on to the pole on the other side of the swingset.) All’s well that ends well with these two best friends, but things are tenuous for a while there while Sparkle Pony admits that he isn’t fond of ballet, the one thing that Ballet Cat enjoys the most. The text is minimal; the illustrations, uncluttered; the humor, distinctive; and the comic timing, spot-on. Shea captures expressive body language in both characters with simple and bold lines, and he plays with font size to add humor and meaning.

Bob is here today to share some images from the original Ballet Cat pitch (it’s remarkable, as you can see below, how much the story was pared down for what readers hold in their hands), some early sketches, and some final art. We also talk a bit below about the very funny Dinosaur Vs. Mommy (also Disney-Hyperion), which was released last month.

I thank him for visiting.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #427: Featuring Barney Saltzberg

h1 Sunday, April 12th, 2015

(Click to enlarge)

I’ve got a review over at BookPage of Barney Saltzberg’s Inside This Book (are three books), released by Abrams Appleseed this month. That is over here if you’d like to read about the book, and here at 7-Imp today I share a bit of art from the book.

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What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week,
Featuring Marianne Dubuc and Gillian Tyler

h1 Friday, April 10th, 2015

— Spread from Michael Rosen’s The Bus Is for Us!,
illustrated by Gillian Tyler

(Click to enlarge)


“This is the first time I’m taking the bus by myself.”
— Spread from Marianne Dubuc’s
The Bus Ride
(Click to enlarge)

This morning over at Kirkus, I write about Eve Bunting’s Yard Sale, illustrated by Lauren Castillo. That is here.

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Since I wrote here last week about Michael Rosen’s The Bus Is for Us! (Candlewick, April 2014), illustrated by Gillian Tyler, as well as Marianne Dubuc’s The Bus Ride (Kids Can Press, March 2015), I’ve got art from each book today.

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Sketches & Art from Rafael López and Renée Kurilla

h1 Thursday, April 9th, 2015

“… time for a big, floppy / green-leaf umbrella …”
— From Margarita Engle’s
illustrated by Renée Kurilla


“At carnivals, she listened / to the rattling beat / of towering / dancers / on stilts.”
— From Margarita Engle’s
Drum Dream Girl,
illustrated by Rafael López

(Click to enlarge)

Last week over at Kirkus, I talked here with Margarita Engle and Rafael López about Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, March 2015). Today, I’m following up with some early sketches and final art from Rafael.

And since Margarita also saw the release last month of Orangutanka: A Story in Poems (Henry Holt), illustrated by Renée Kurilla, I’ve got some sketches and art from Renée as well. Tanka is an ancient Japanese poetry, consisting of five lines, and in this entertaining picture book, Margarita tells the story of an orangutan who refuses to nap. A great choice for National Poetry Month (this month) and an excellent writing prompt for children, Kirkus calls it a “playful and instructive introduction to a little-known form of verse,” and School Library Journal describes it as a “sprightly introduction to orangutans through nimble wordplay.” Renée’s spirited illustrations, rendered via pencil and ink and colored digitally, are alive with movement and color.

Enjoy the art!

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Won’t You Come Join the Discussion?

h1 Tuesday, April 7th, 2015


On April 15, Parnassus Books here in Nashville will host a roundtable discussion on early literacy at Ensworth School. As you can see from the image above, I’ll be participating in the discussion with author Rosemary Wells, as well as teacher and Calling Caldecott blogger Robin Smith and librarian Sarah Martin. Executive Director of Book’em, Melissa Spradlin, will moderate the discussion.

Here are all the details you need, if you’re interested in attending!

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #426: Featuring The Mad Hatter

h1 Sunday, April 5th, 2015


I’m typing this on Saturday night, and we’ve just returned from a week-long vacation to New York City. I’m pretty worn out, and since I took (most of) the week off from blogging, I’ve got no art today. Since I can’t NOT have images, though, here’s a photo of me and my girls at the Alice statue in Central Park. I figured that was mighty fitting, given the banner at this blog, though I apologize that the Hatter’s in the shadows a bit here.

So, my kicks from the week are legion: Being able to take a vacation to begin with; Central Park; Times Square; Lady Liberty (I have this weird phobia of giant iconic monuments, but she was far away enough on the ferry to not frighten me with her ginormous-ness); a Broadway show; a little girl who was sick for just one day (not a kick that she was sick, but it’s a kick that she wasn’t sick for multiple days); the graciousness of Brian Floca, Sophie Blackall, Edward Hemingway, and John Bemelmans Marciano in allowing us to visit their studio; seeing an old friend; the Met; the planetarium; the library lions; and much more. The biggest kick of all is that it was my girls’ first time to NYC.

Oh, and I ended up in a segment (as in, made an utter fool of myself, but hey, why not?) on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon as my family and I walked past 30 Rock. Given that I’m a huge SNL fan, it was neat to be one degree removed (or however that works) from Fallon, though my secret wish to see SNL’s Kyle Mooney on the streets, filming one of his bizarre short videos, was left unfulfilled. Oh, and I brushed past Kate McKinnon in 30 Rock. WHY DIDN’T I ASK FOR A PHOTO? Oof.

Good to be home, too.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week,
Featuring Holly Clifton-Brown and Laura Cornell

h1 Friday, April 3rd, 2015

— From Miriam B. Schiffer’s Stella Brings the Family,
illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown


“Heather also has two mommies: Mama Jane and Mama Kate.”
From Lesléa Newman’s Heather Has Two Mommies,
illustrated by Laura Cornell

(Click to enlarge spread)

Today over at Kirkus, I’ve got two new and quite wonderful picture books — both about bus rides. They are totally worth the ticket. (I can’t resist that weak pun. Forgive me.)

That link is here.

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Last week, I wrote here about the birthday edition of Lesléa Newman’s Heather Has Two Mommies (Candlewick, March 2015), illustrated by Laura Cornell, as well as Miriam B. Schiffer’s Stella Brings the Family, with art from British illustrator Holly Clifton-Brown and coming in May from Chronicle Books. So, today I have some spreads from each book.


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Margarita Engle and Rafael López on Drum Dream Girl

h1 Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Today over at Kirkus, I talk with award-winning author and illustrator duo, Margarita Engle and Rafael López, pictured above, who have collaborated on a beautiful new picture book biography, called Drum Dream Girl (Houghton Mifflin, March 2015). Oh my, it’s gorgeous.

That Q&A is here, and I will have some art and early sketches from it next week here at 7-Imp.

p.s. My 2011 “breakfast” interview with Rafael is one of my favorites.

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Photos of Ms. Engle and Mr. López used by their permission.