Archive for September, 2017

The Wood Sculptures of Moisés and Armando Jiménez

h1 Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

I’ve got some board book art here at 7-Imp today, though it didn’t begin its life as board book art. It was once a picture book (published in 2007), but the publisher, Cinco Puntos Press, has adapted this to the board book format — and they released it earlier this year. ABeCedarios: Mexican Folk Art ABCs in English and Spanish is by Cynthia Weill and K. B. Basseches, and it features the wood sculptures, some of which I’m showcasing here today, of a Oaxacan family of artists, Moisés and Armando Jiménez. (This was the first book in Weill’s First Concepts in Mexican Folk Art series.)

There’s no shortage of ABC books in the field of children’s literature, but this one stands out on shelves, given the vibrantly sculpted hand-carved figures on each page. The book goes from A to Z, featuring animals with names whose initial letters range from A to Z — from the armadillo, pictured below, to the zedonk (a cross between a donkey and a zebra, of all the things). Each brightly-colored page features the English and Spanish name for each creature, and some pages include notes on the letters themselves. For instance, “Ll is no longer a letter in the Spanish alphabet, but the sound is still in use.” (Way to go, llama.)

I’m taken by these sculptures. Here a few more.

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Calling Caldecott

h1 Tuesday, September 12th, 2017

Hey, everybody. I’m joining the Calling Caldecott team over at the Horn Book. Here’s my post over there from last week where I wave hello to everyone from here in middle Tennessee.

Today is the day we’re kicking off the book-list discussion, asking for readers to suggest the picture books you’d like to see discussed this Fall and Winter. It won’t be just Martha, Lolly, and me over there for the next several months. We plan to invite guest bloggers to keep the conversations fresh and to ensure diverse voices.

So, if you love picture books, head on over there today—here’s the link—and weigh in, if you’re so inclined.

Until tomorrow …

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #551: Featuring Shawn Harris

h1 Sunday, September 10th, 2017

“… Let’s think about and discuss the fact that this is the largest sculpture in all the land, and the most iconic symbol of the United States of America. Let’s talk about the fact that this statue has welcomed millions of visitors and immigrants to the USA.”
(Click each to enlarge)

I’ve a visit this morning from artist Shawn Harris, who is sharing preliminary and final images from his debut picture book, Dave Eggers’s Her Right Foot (Chronicle, September 2017). This one puts a lump in my throat every time I read it, and it’s a book Leonard Marcus has described as “one part stand-up routine, one part ode to the values that we as a nation have long held dear.”

This 104-page book starts out by laying out the history of the Statue of Liberty, and midway through it shifts to posit a theory. The iconic statue’s right foot, Eggers notes—“her entire right leg,” in fact—is in mid-stride. Where is she going? he wonders. Is she heading to a record store, to grab a panini, to Trenton? She is, he suggests, heading straight toward immigrants, “the poor, the tired, the struggling to breathe free. … She must meet them in the sea.” And that’s because …

“Liberty and freedom from oppression are not things you get or grant by standing around like some kind of statue. No! These are things that require action. Courage. An unwillingness to rest.”

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My Kirkus Q&A with Katherine Roy

h1 Friday, September 8th, 2017

I think change starts with education, and since writing/illustrating is my background and my skill set, drawing and informational storytelling is what I have to offer kids. The book and the presentations and my blog are tools, but the dream is to contribute to science and education — to make it dynamic and engaging, one page (or one video) at a time.”

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Over at Kirkus today, I talk to author-illustrator Katherine Roy, pictured above, about her newest picture book, How to Be an Elephant (David Macaulay Studio/Roaring Brook Press), coming to shelves in mid-September.

That Q&A is here.

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Photo of Katherine taken by Brian Futterman.

Wild Side: Art from K. G. Campbell and Sydney Smith

h1 Tuesday, September 5th, 2017

— From Michelle Cuevas’s Smoot: A Rebellious Shadow,
illustrated by Sydney Smith

(Click to enlarge spread)


— From Holly Grant’s Wee Sister Strange,
illustrated by K. G. Campbell

Last week at Kirkus, I wrote here about some wild things of children’s literature — Michelle Cuevas’s Smoot: A Rebellious Shadow (Dial, September 2017), illustrated by Sydney Smith, and Holly Grant’s Wee Sister Strange (Schwartz & Wade, September 2017), illustrated by K. G. Campbell.

I’m following up with some art today.


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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #550: Featuring Mehrdokht Amini

h1 Sunday, September 3rd, 2017

“Say it with me: Yo soy Muslim.
Our prayers were here before any borders were.”

(Click to enlarge spread)

Today, I’ve got some illustrations from Mark Gonzales’s Yo Soy Muslim: A Father’s Letter to His Daughter (Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster, August 2017), illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini. The Booklist reviews says it’s a book that “invites readers into a sacred space.” I love that and how eloquently it captures this book about identity.

This is a loving prayer from Gonzales, a Latino and Muslim poet, to his daughter. Heartfelt and tender, it’s a set of words that expresses pride in cultural and religious heritage, while simultaneously preparing his child for whispers and stares: “[T]here will come a day when some people in the world will not smile at you.” This moment, which comes at the beginning of the book, actually serves as the launching point for her father’s expression of pride in their cultural identity: “On that day,” he tells his daughter, “tell them this: Yo soy Muslim. I am from Allah, angels, and a place almost as old as time. I speak Spanish, Arabic, and dreams. …

The father celebrates, lyrically, the girl’s mother; the rest of the family (including ancestors); their ancient religion (“Our prayers were here before any borders were”); and more. The brightly-colored, patterned illustrations feature the wide-eyed girl exploring her world and culture, and several spreads include her father. How about we let some artwork do the talking?

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What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Mike Curato

h1 Friday, September 1st, 2017

“Some of the island’s old cars purr like kittens,
but ours is so tired that she just chatters like a busy chicken ….”

Today over at Kirkus, I’ve got wildness on the mind. That is here.

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Last week, I talked here with Margarita Engle and Mike Curato about their new picture book, All the Way to Havana (Henry Holt, August 2017). I’m following up here today with some art from the book.

Zoom zoom. Enjoy the art.

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