Archive for January, 2019

Hands Up!

h1 Wednesday, January 30th, 2019

“Ready for takeoff, hands up!”
(Click to enlarge spread)

“Hands up” is a phrase familiar to anyone paying attention to racial discrimination and the Black Lives Matter movement here in the U.S. In her debut picture book, Breanna J. McDaniel takes that phrase and turns it on its head. Hands Up! (Dial Books for Young Readers) — illustrated by Shane W. Evans and on shelves now — is about one young brown-skinned girl moving through her day and the many times she raises her hands for reasons of joy and family and community.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #623: Featuring Paola Escobar

h1 Sunday, January 27th, 2019

“The seeds she has planted, the roots that grew shoots into the open air of possibility, have become a lush landscape into which she steps, as though she has never left.”
(Click to enlarge spread)

In honor of tomorrow morning’s ALA Youth Media Awards, during which the winners of the Pura Belpré Award will be announced, I’m sharing some spreads today from Anika Aldamuy Denise’s Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré (HarperCollins, January 2019), illustrated by Paola Escobar.

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What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week,
Featuring Eva Eland and Svein Nyhus

h1 Friday, January 25th, 2019

” … and sits so close to you, you can hardly breathe.”
— From Eva Eland’s
When Sadness is at Your Door
(Click to enlarge spread)


“Boj is listening. There’s something in the living room. It’s Daddy.
Is Daddy quiet? Is Daddy happy? Is Daddy calm? …”

— From Gro Dahle’s Angryman, illustrated by Svein Nyhus
(Click to enlarge spread)


Today over at Kirkus, I write about two new superb nonfiction books about animals in nature.

That is here.

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Last week, I wrote here at Kirkus about two new books that tackle heavy issues, including a Norwegian import about domestic violence — Eva Eland’s When Sadness is at Your Door (Random House, January 2019) and Gro Dahle’s Angryman (NorthSouth), illustrated by Svein Nyhus and coming to U.S. shelves in March.

I’m following up today with some art from each book.

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Katarina Strömgård’s The Secret Cat

h1 Thursday, January 24th, 2019

“That night, I hear a scratching sound behind the wallpaper. It sounds like something alive — like an animal. Guess my name, a voice purrs through the wall. And then I’ll come to you. ‘What name?’ I ask. My secret name. I think for a few seconds, then whisper ‘Silvring.’ It’s the type of name you have to whisper.”
(Click to enlarge spread)

The author bio for this Swedish import, originally published in 2017 as En hemlig katt, notes that Katarina Strömgård’s favorite books “often inhabit the space between reality and fantasy,” which is an apt description for this picture book beauty. The Secret Cat (Eerdmans) will be on shelves here in the U.S. in early February.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #622: Featuring Ronan Badel

h1 Sunday, January 20th, 2019

I’ve got a French picture book import for you today, dear Imps. This story, written by Alexandre Lacroix and illustrated by Ronan Badel, was originally published in 2014 and was translated by Vanessa Miéville. Dragons in Love (words & pictures/Quarto, January 2019) is all about the thrill (and maybe heartache) of first love.

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What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Red Nose Studio

h1 Friday, January 18th, 2019

Early sketch
(Click to enlarge)


Final spread: “… He’s so nervous he can’t stop shaking, even when he’s onstage, even when he starts to sing. But that shaking, that shaking starts an AVALANCHE of screaming — in a good way! And so it begins: Brand-New Elvis now knows what to do onstage — and he will never forget. It is a thing to behold.”
(Click to enlarge spread; head here to read more
about how Chris created “a shaky Elvis”)

Over at Kirkus today, I’ve got thoughts on bibliotherapy, the debut picture book from a Dutch author-illustrator named Eva Eland, and a Norwegian import (coming in March) called Angryman. The latter is about domestic violence and is unlike any picture book I’ve seen before.

That is here.

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Last week, I wrote here about Jonah Winter’s Elvis Is King! (Schwartz & Wade, January 2019), illustrated by Chris Sickels, aka Red Nose Studio.

Today, I’ve got a bit of art from the book, as well as some early sketches and such from Chris. Chris gave me permission to lift these images from his blog, where he’s written a handful of posts about this book. I link to the corresponding blog post under each image below. Here’s the link to his blog, if you want to read even more about his other projects. A visit to Chris’s site is always rewarding.

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My Heart: A Visit with Corinna Luyken

h1 Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

A final spread from the book: “… and grow.”
(Click to enlarge)

Over at BookPage, I’ve a review of Corinna Luyken’s newest picture book, My Heart (Dial, January 2019), which she both wrote and illustrated. The review is here, if you want to read about the things I like about this book.

Corinna visits today with lots and lots of art (which makes me happy) to talk about illustrating this one and balancing the book’s emotions — its darkness and lightness, as she puts it. Let’s get right to it, and I thank her for visiting.

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A Year in Picture Books

h1 Tuesday, January 15th, 2019


At the Horn Book’s Calling Caldecott today, we look back at Picture Books in 2018. No predictions for the award. We have no crystal ball. But we look at a fabulous year for picture books with a lot to celebrate — and with a note of thanks to our talented guest posters who joined the conversation this year and had us seeing books in new ways.

That is here.

A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks

h1 Monday, January 14th, 2019

Over at Tennessee’s Chapter 16, I’ve written about Alice Faye Duncan’s A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks (Sterling, January 2019), illustrated by Brooklyn artist Xia Gordon. Duncan is a Memphis author and school librarian. You can head here to read about the book, and today here at 7-Imp is a bit of art from it. This is Gordon’s picture book debut.

(Pictured above is Gordon’s portrait of Brooks from the book’s title page spread.)


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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #621: Featuring John Burningham

h1 Sunday, January 13th, 2019

— Illustration above is from Mouse House, originally released in the UK in 2017

I was sorry to hear this week about the death of British illustrator John Burningham, whose picture books have brought me so much joy over the years. He was an immensely talented artist and my very favorite. I’ve read many tributes to him this week — my favorite has been illustrator Polly Dunbar, saying in this piece that his paintings are ones that “make me want to run barefoot, outside, after dark” — and feel at a loss for words to describe what it was about his artwork that I found so dynamic.

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