Archive for February, 2017

Roguery Before (and After) Breakfast
with Art from Sergio Ruzzier

h1 Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

Coming to shelves in early March is the deliciously-titled Tales for the Perfect Child (Atheneum), written by the late Florence Parry Heide and illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier. This is a reissue with Ruzzier’s spot illustrations; these eight stories were originally published in 1985 with illustrations by Victoria Chess. In July, that collection of stories will be followed by nine more stories from the same duo in Fables You Shouldn’t Pay Any Attention To (also from Atheneum).

These stories are vintage Heide — rife with mischief and delightful devilry. They’re a breath of fresh air, especially in this day and age of hyper helicopter parenting. Tales consists of the stories of Ruby, Arthur, Gertrude & Gloria, Harry, Bertha, Harriet, Irving, and Ethel; they are brought to life in Ruzzier’s signature style as ducks, pigs, cats, and the like. There are stories of whining, procrastination, deceit, and more — all tales of children attempting to one-up the adults in their lives by perfecting their misconduct. “Good whiners,” for instance, “make it very hard for anyone to think of anything else,” Heide writes in the story of Harriet, a kitten, who whines so perfectly that she gets precisely what she wants. (Heide notes in the beginning of the story: “Some children hardly ever whine. Can you believe that? So of course they never get to be very good at it.”) Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #523: Featuring Holly Hobbie

h1 Sunday, February 26th, 2017

Today, I’ve got some art from Holly Hobbie’s newest book, A Cat Named Swan (Random House, February 2017). This is one for pet-lovers of all stripes, but especially cat fans — and a story about pet-adoption that is sweet but never saccharine. (P.S. I still can’t get over Hobbie’s Hansel and Gretel from 2015. SO CREEPY-GOOD. There’s art from it here at 7-Imp in a conversation about scary books I had with Betsy Bird, Travis Jonker, and Minh Lê.)

(Also, it’s always so bizarre for me to even type “Holly Hobbie,” since my favorite doll as a kid—like, I never let it go and it ended up with this warped and misshapen rubber face from all my hugging—was a Holly Hobbie doll.)

I love how A Cat Named Swan opens: “Then he was alone.” Hobbie drops us right into the center of a story with little to no context about how a kitten ends up deserted. But that context doesn’t matter: The crux of the story is that the kitten’s family is suddenly gone, and he is stuck alone on dangerous streets. He ends up in a shelter and actually quite likes it. (“The new place was safe. Boredom was better than misery.”) And then it happens: He is “swept away” by a family, who names him Swan and calls him Swansie, and acclimates to his new home and surroundings.

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What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Ekua Holmes

h1 Friday, February 24th, 2017

“How to Write a Poem,” celebrating Naomi Shihab Nye,
written by Kwame Alexander

(Click to enlarge spread)

This week over at Kirkus, I’ve got two French picture book imports on the mind. That is here.

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Last week, I wrote here about Kwame Alexander’s, Chris Colderley’s, and Marjory Wentworth’s Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets (Candlewick), illustrated by Ekua Holmes and coming to shelves in March. I’m following up today with a couple of spreads from the book (one above and one below).


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The Art of Mike Cavallaro

h1 Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

(Click to enlarge and see page in its entirety)

Last week at Kirkus, I talked to author Adam Rapp (here) about his new graphic novel, Decelerate Blue (First Second, February 2017). Today, I’m following up with some art from the book, which was illustrated by Mike Cavallaro.


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Matt Cordell on Wolf and Bob … and More

h1 Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

I’ve got a review over at BookPage of Matthew Cordell’s January 2017 picture book, Wolf in the Snow (Feiwel and Friends). That review is here, and I invited Matt for a chat that we started early in the year to talk about the book, how it’s changed over the years (you’ll read below that he started working on it in 2013), what else he’s up to (including Liz Garton Scanlon’s and Audrey Vernick’s Bob, Not Bob!), and more.


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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #522: Featuring
Jason Carter Eaton, Mark Fearing, and Gus Gordon

h1 Sunday, February 19th, 2017

— From Jason Carter Eaton’s The Catawampus Cat,
illustrated by Gus Gordon


“Vlad and Törr couldn’t agree on whose horde got the popcorn kernels and whose got the half-eaten sandwiches. So they each declared crumb war on the other.
Their battles raged all night long.”
— From Jason Carter Eaton’s
Great, Now We’ve Got Barbarians!,
illustrated by Mark Fearing
(Click to enlarge spread)


Author Jason Carter Eaton is a funny guy. Case in point is his newest picture book, Great, Now We’ve Got Barbarians! (Candlewick, February 2017). I’ve got a review over at BookPage—that review is here—and, because you know I get twitchy if I can’t show you art, this morning I’ve got a couple of spreads from the book right here at 7-Imp. The book was illustrated by Mark Fearing.

But THERE’S MORE. While we have Jason on the mind, I thought I’d also show some illustrations from his next book, on shelves in March, The Catawampus Cat (Crown Books for Young Readers). This one is illustrated by Australian artist Gus Gordon (who visited 7-Imp way back in 2010 and whose art from 2013’s Herman and Rosie is here). Gus sent some spreads (sans text) from the book. I love this book, which has a lot to say about seeing the world from one’s own unique angle, and I think that pretty much Gus was the perfect illustrator for this one. It is filled with laugh-outloud details for those who look closely enough. (In fact, I’m opening this post with a tiny detail from one of the spreads, though it’s hard not to open with an image of the catawampus cat himself. Anyway, in this spread, which you’ll see below, a whole bunch of townfolks appear, but this little moment—which you’ll miss if you blink—made me laugh out loud. I think that both Jason and Gus must understand what a funny word “pants” is.)

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What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring
Jessixa Bagley, Marie-Louise Gay, and Lane Smith

h1 Friday, February 17th, 2017

“‘Well, how about building a fort?’ asked Ma Badger. ‘We already made one,’ said Tic. ‘Then we invaded it, and it fell apart,’ said Tac.”
— From Jessixa Bagley’s
Laundry Day


“It WAS a perfect day for Squirrel.”
— From Lane Smith’s
A Perfect Day
(Click to enlarge spread)


— From Marie-Louise Gay’s
Short Stories for Little Monsters
(Click to enlarge spread)

I’ve got poetry on the mind over at Kirkus. That is here this morning.

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Last week, I wrote here about three entertaining picture books, where being up to no good is pretty great — Jessixa Bagley’s Laundry Day (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook, February 2017), Marie-Louise Gay’s Short Stories for Little Monsters (Groundwood, March 2017), and Lane Smith’s A Perfect Day (Roaring Brook, March 2017). I’m following up with art from each book today, and both Lane and Marie-Louise sent some sketches and other art as well. (Marie-Louise and Lane also share a little bit about what inspired their respective books.)


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My Kirkus Q&A with Adam Rapp

h1 Thursday, February 16th, 2017

[O]ne day I saw this older Asian man walking very slowly in the Astor Place area. If a fellow pedestrian came toward him—while engaged with their smartphone, head down, thumbs pummeling their smartphone screen—the Asian man would wave his hand right in front of their face. It was startling, but it actually forced people to look up and consider where they were going and whom they might be walking toward. I thought the guy was a genius. He was starting a revolution of sorts. Stop. Look up. Consider another human being. Connect. I think that was the moment when the idea for the book came to me.”

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Today over Kirkus, I talk with Adam Rapp about his new YA graphic novel, Decelerate Blue (First Second, February 2017), illustrated by Mike Cavallaro.

That Q&A is here this morning.

I’ll have art from the book here at 7-Imp next week.

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Photo of Adam Rapp taken by Sham Hinchey.

Hello, Readers in Ann Arbor . . .

h1 Monday, February 13th, 2017


The Children’s Literacy Network in Ann Arbor, Michigan, asked me to come speak this week about picture books, why I love them so, and why I write about them. This will be at Literati Bookstore there in Ann Arbor.

If you live in or near Ann Arbor, I would love to see you there on Thursday, February 16, 2017, at 7:00 p.m. Here is more information.

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #521: Featuring Melissa Castrillon

h1 Sunday, February 12th, 2017

I’ve got a review over at BookPage of Nina Laden’s If I Had a Little Dream (Paula Wiseman Books, February 2017), illustrated by Melissa Castrillon. That is here, if you’d like to read all about the book.

This is a snug, gentle book, and it’s Castillon’s debut as an illustrator. Here are a couple more spreads.

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