Archive for October, 2020

A Fort on the Moon

h1 Thursday, October 29th, 2020

Early sketch


A final spread: “When you travel to the moon, you must go very fast, faster than
you’ve ever gone. The Earth, far behind you, looks like a marble.”

(Click spread to enlarge)

I’ve a review over at BookPage of Maggie Pouncey’s A Fort on the Moon (Neal Porter Books, November 2020), illustrated by Larry Day. I looooove this one, but I guess you can go read my review—which is here—if you’re so inclined to find out why.

Below are some illustrations from the book, and Larry also visits to share some preliminary images, including some original thumbnail sketches. “They were in color from the beginning,” he tells me. “I felt color was going to play a big part of this story. That helped.”

Big thanks to Larry for sharing.

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“About My Bear”:
Irene Luxbacher on Once I Was a Bear

h1 Tuesday, October 27th, 2020

Today, I welcome author-illustrator Irene Luxbacher, who talks about her newest picture book, Once I Was a Bear (Scholastic, September 2020), and how her child with autism inspired it. The book tells a story of transition and transformation—one of a bear in the woods, at one with nature, who wakes up to find himself in a big city and heading to his first day of school. (After all, there’s a boy in that bear.)

It’s a tender story of seeking understanding, rendered in soft-focus but vivid colors. A selection of spreads are included below.

I’ll hand it over to Irene. I thank her for sharing.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #714: Featuring James Otis Smith

h1 Sunday, October 25th, 2020

Black Heroes of the Wild West: Featuring Stagecoach Mary, Bass Reeves, and Bob Lemmons, released by Toon Graphics last month, is the first book that James Otis Smith has both written and illustrated. It’s a book that shines a light on Stagecoach Mary, Bass Reeves, and Bob Lemmons—in three separate sets of comics. But there’s also a good deal of additional information provided, particularly in the book’s detailed backmatter. It all adds up to a book that gives readers a perspective on U.S. history that is not often seen and spotlights Black figures in history that have been routinely overlooked. The caption for the painting A Dash for the Timber (1889), which is included in the book’s introduction, says it all: ” … [R]enowned painter of the West Frederic S. Remington shows cowboys as a group of white men. In fact, a large number were Mexican or Native American, and as many as one-third were African American.”

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Crow and Snow

h1 Friday, October 23rd, 2020

I know we see a lot of snowman-friend-melts stories in children’s lit, but Robert Broder’s Crow and Snow (Simon & Schuster, October 2020), illustrated by Olivier Tallec, handles the trope in a way I find truly funny and moving. I reviewed it at BookPage.

That review is here, and you can see some spreads from the book below.


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Some Deep Breaths Before Breakfast

h1 Thursday, October 22nd, 2020

“Breath blooms / at tree tips,
like sprouting leaves / on lush spring stems.”

(Click spread to enlarge)

I’ve a Q&A over at Tennessee’s Chapter 16 with local (to me) artist and illustrator Billy Renkl, who—as you will read if you are so inclined to head over to the Q&A—has great respect for the materials he uses to create his layered collage pieces.

Billy has illustrated his first picture book, Diana Farid’s When You Breathe (Cameron Kids, September 2020).

The Q&A is here, and below are some more spreads from the book.

(And if you want to see a bit of his process, head here and click through those photos.)

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Matt Phelan on Turtle Walk

h1 Tuesday, October 20th, 2020

Author-illustrator Matt Phelan visits today to talk a bit about his playful new picture book for very young readers, Turtle Walk (Greenwillow, October 2020). Librarians and educators, take note: This is your next best pick for storytime for your youngest patrons and students.

Matt, as he notes below, likes the “challenge of making something that is clear and simple, yet can be read again and again.” This particular story—one in which small turtles, much like small children, amble through a year, taking in everything around them (and in a palette of vivid, rich colors)—was inspired by his daughter. He visits today to talk about that and share some images from the creation of the book. As always, a few final illustrations are included here as well.

Thanks to Matt for visiting!

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #713: Featuring Kasya Denisevich

h1 Sunday, October 18th, 2020

“My ceiling is someone’s floor, and my floor is someone’s ceiling.”

Today, it’s a pleasure to share some spreads from Neighbors (Chronicle, September 2020), the debut picture book from Kasya Denisevich, a Russian-born author-illustrator now living in Barcelona. These illustrations were rendered in ink, and the book’s typeset is called Kasya Hand—a font created from the author’s handlettering.

“[I]f you stop to think about it … My ceiling is someone’s floor, and my floor is someone’s ceiling.” A young girl moves into a new apartment—number 12 in Building 2 at 3 Ponds Lane. She considers who lives in the building: “If I could stretch my hand through that wall, I could actually touch someone. And that someone is my new neighbor!”

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Sugar in Milk

h1 Thursday, October 15th, 2020

“But my friends and my family were all back home.”
(Click spread, which is sans text, to enlarge)

I’ve a review over at BookPage of Thrity Umrigar’s Sugar in Milk (Running Press Kids, October 2020), illustrated by Khoa Le.

That review is here, and below at 7-Imp today are some spreads from the book.

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Christy Hale on Out the Door

h1 Tuesday, October 13th, 2020

It’s a pleasure to have a visit today from author-illustrator Christy Hale. Her new picture book, Out the Door (Neal Porter Books/Holiday House, October 2020), takes readers to busy Brooklyn. Here, a young girl makes her way to school and back home again, and it’s all about the journey—”out the door, down the stoop, past the neighbors along the block….” As you can tell from the spreads below, it’s an adventure in prepositions (perfect for elementary students in that particular unit of study), but it’s much more. As Christy says below, it’s a book about “the connection between the words ‘commute’ and ‘community.’”

Here’s Christy, in her own words, and a handful of the beautifully textured cut-paper collages from the book.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #712: Featuring Ashley Wolff

h1 Sunday, October 11th, 2020

(Click spread to enlarge)

It’s a pleasure today to welcome author-illustrator Ashley Wolff, who talks about a new version of an old book.

Only the Cat Saw was originally published in 1985, and as you’ll read below, Ashley had an opportunity to update it. This new version, on shelves in June of this year (Beach Lane Books), is the story of a small multiracial family on a farm. While they bustle about, getting ready for bed after a busy day, the cat is the only one to see the sun set; fireflies at night; an owl; a shooting star; and more. The text is spare and rhythmic with pleasing repetition, and Ashley’s richly colored illustrations are deliciously textured. Young children, who wonder what their pet sees at night, will delight in this warm, cozy story.

Thanks to Ashley for visiting today to share more about this updated version. And don’t miss her September visit with Jama Kim Rattigan to talk in even more detail about the book. (That is here.)

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