Archive for June, 2015

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Douglas Florian

h1 Friday, June 12th, 2015

“Drawing dragons isn’t hard.
Drag a dragon to your yard.”

(Click to enlarge spread)

Today over at Kirkus, I’ve got a round-up of some very summer’y picture books, and that link is here.

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Since I wrote here last week about Douglas Florian’s How to Draw a Dragon (Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster, April 2015), I’ve got some spreads from it today.


[Please note: The type in the spreads pictured here differs from the type in the final version of the book.]

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Exploring the Skies with Uma Krishnaswami

h1 Thursday, June 11th, 2015

The picture book is such a fabulous form! The great joy of writing picture book text is that I can hold the whole idea in my mind at once, all the way through the process of writing and rewriting. It’s like working with a small jewel.”

Today over at Kirkus, I talk with Uma Krishnaswami about writing picture books, her teaching, and her newest book, Bright Sky, Starry City, illustrated by Aimée Sicuro.

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

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Photo of Uma is used by her permission.

Have You Seen What Steve Light’s Up To?

h1 Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

(Click to enlarge)

There is something about the intricate and beautiful pen illustrations of Steve Light that makes my eyes very happy — and would have made kid-me very happy too. He’s visiting today to share a tiny bit of final art from his latest book, Have You Seen My Monster? (Candlewick Press, April 2015), as well as a handful of early sketches from the book. (Pictured above is one of his beginning character designs.) Steve drew the illustrations in ink (using a Mont Blanc 149 with a B nib that “flips” to a fine line), and he colored them using inks as well.

This book is a follow-up to last year’s Have You Seen My Dragon? (see this 2014 7-Imp post), and hidden in this book, as a young girl tries to find her monster friend at the county fair, are color-enhanced shapes of all types. We’re talkin’ parallelograms, nonagons, curvilinear triangles, and more. These aren’t the typical shapes you see in most concept books for children.

And here’s a special treat: Steve shares below some sketches from two forthcoming books, both out next year.

Let’s get right to it, and I thank him for sharing.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #435: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Sarah Kaufman

h1 Sunday, June 7th, 2015

“Even the huge rhinoceros is walking on stilts.”
(Click to enlarge)

I’ve got some local talent today, Nashville artist Sarah Kaufman, whose picture book The Circus (Greenleaf Book Group) is out on shelves. She will also have a book launch next Saturday, June 13, at Parnassus Books at 2:00 p.m., where she will do a reading and answer questions.

As you’ll read below, Sarah used some of her existing paintings to create this book. I had the pleasure of meeting her in person recently, and she has a real passion for children’s literature and learning even more about picture book-making. (This is the first picture book she’s both written and illustrated.) She has a BFA in Painting and an MAT in Education and taught for many years. She’s a big believer in nurturing children’s creativity: “Look at art, make art, read books, and write stories,” she says. “That creativity is in everyone; it just needs a little encouragement.”

Below, she tells us more about herself and shares some paintings from the book. I turn things over to her now, and I thank her for visiting.

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What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring
Steve Jenkins, Rick Lieder, and Emmanuelle Walker

h1 Friday, June 5th, 2015

— From Helen Frost’s Sweep Up the Sun,
illustrated by Rick Lieder

(Click to enlarge spread)


“Cherries, berries. / Pluck and feed. / Leaving a dropping / full of seed.”
— From April Pulley Sayre’s
Woodpecker Wham!,
illustrated by Steve Jenkins

(Click to enlarge spread)


“C is for cranes, both whooping and crowned.
C is for cockatoos, crests abound.”
— From Jean Roussen’s
Beautiful Birds,
illustrated by Emmanuelle Walker

(Click to enlarge spread slightly)

This morning over at Kirkus, I write about Douglas Florian’s How to Draw a Dragon. That link is here.

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I am following up today here at 7-Imp with art from three books I wrote about here last week — Jean Roussen’s Beautiful Birds, illustrated by Emmanuelle Walker (Flying Eye Books, March 2015); Helen Frost’s Sweep Up the Sun, illustrated by Rick Lieder (Candlewick, March 2015); and April Pulley Sayre’s Woodpecker Wham!, illustrated by Steve Jenkins (Henry Holt, May 2015).

Enjoy the art.

Please note: The text in some of the Woodpecker Wham! spreads below differs from what was printed in the final book. My image captions show the final text.

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The Many Sides of Sophia

h1 Thursday, June 4th, 2015

“Sophia’s birthday was coming up, and she had five things on her mind —
One True Desire and four problems.”

Since last week over at Kirkus, I chatted with Jim Averbeck and Yasmeen Ismail about One Word from Sophia, coming to shelves in mid-June from Atheneum Books for Young Readers (that Q&A is here), I’ve got some art and early sketches from Yasmeen today.

I thank her for sharing.

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Marvin Bileck and Ashley Bryan:
One Unique Collaboration Before Breakfast

h1 Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

“Spades for the circling turrets / Clubs for the towers above /
Diamonds for sparkling windows / And hearts for love …”
(Click to enlarge)


Do you know one reason I like to keep my eye on what Alazar Press is doing? They have previously published the work of Ashley Bryan (see this older 7-Imp post), and they’re doing it again this year. But this time it’s a very unusual collaboration they’re bringing into the spotlight, one that’s been 50 years in the making.

The book is called By Trolley Past Thimbledon Bridge and was released in early May. Once upon a time, Marvin Bileck—illustrator of Rain Makes Applesauce, a 1965 Caldecott Honor Book—created the illustrations for the only children’s manuscript written by Virginia Woolf. However, her estate withdrew the text after more than a decade of Marvin’s work. Ashley Bryan then stepped in to collaborate with Bileck on a new text, securing the help of the legendary Jean Karl, who founded Atheneum Books for Young Readers. Still, though, the book has taken decades to see light of day — and now it is on shelves, thanks to Alazar.

“When [Bileck] told his friend Ashley Bryan,” an opening note from Bileck’s wife states, “they began playfully bantering back and forth with words here and there, in and out of the drawings, and that’s how By Trolley Past Thimbledon Bridge came into being.” It’s a set of ten poems with a hand-lettered text all throughout the book, as well as Bileck’s delicate, whispery illustrations. “Bileck and Bryan capture the stuff of dreams in this mesmerizing and multifaceted pageant,” writes the Kirkus review.

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