Archive for November, 2020

The Bear and the Moon

h1 Monday, November 30th, 2020

Today, I’m featuring one of my favorite picture books of 2020 — Matthew Burgess’s The Bear and the Moon (Chronicle, September 2020), illustrated by Cátia Chien.

My Horn Book review of the book is here, if you’d like to read more about it.

And here today at 7-Imp, I’ve got some of the book’s beautiful spreads. Cátia also visits to share some early sketches and partial storyboards. I thank her for sharing.


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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #719: Featuring Jason Chin

h1 Sunday, November 29th, 2020

Jason Chin’s newest picture book, Your Place in the Universe (Neal Porter Books/Holiday House, September 2020), is the kind of book that tiny-me would have looooooved. As a child, I’d sit and think about the immeasurable vastness of the universe and wonder what, if anything, was at the edges of it. Chin’s book is all about scale, size, and distance — on our own planet and in the universe as a whole. And he expertly, and beautifully, structures this small book about such a big cosmological subject — no small task, indeed.

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Chris Raschka’s The Blue Table

h1 Tuesday, November 24th, 2020

(Click spread to enlarge)

With minimal text (the entire book is comprised of two sentences), a consistent aerial perspective, and watercolor and cut-paper collage illustrations in warm yellows and blues, author-illustrator Chris Raschka brings readers a story of friends and family coming together to give thanks. The Blue Table (Greenwillow, October 2020) brings us a small family at the table. Later, another family joins. We see their hands only, as they gather — “thankful … around the blue table.”

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #718: Featuring Mike Orodán

h1 Sunday, November 22nd, 2020

“Over, under, across, through. Around the world, construction crews build overpasses, underpasses, bridges, and tunnels — ways for people to get from one place to another. But what about the animals that live in these places?”

This is the opening of Katy S. Duffield’s splendid Crossings: Extraordinary Structures for Extraordinary Animals (Beach Lane, October 2020), illustrated by Mike Orodán. Readers see creatures of all stripes misplaced by human-made constructions for the purposes of transportation — animals fearfully traversing under giant bridges, freezing in a car’s headlights, hiding from construction equipment, and more. But we also read that around the world, “in search of solutions, animal lovers come together.”

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Sun Flower Lion

h1 Thursday, November 19th, 2020

I’ve a review over at the Horn Book of Kevin Henkes’s newest picture book, Sun Flower Lion (Greenwillow, September 2020) — dedicated, no less, to the great Barbara Bader. That review is here.

And here at 7-Imp today are some illustrations from the book.


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Some Food for Thought (Before Breakfast)

h1 Wednesday, November 18th, 2020

Over at Calling Caldecott today, Jonathan Hunt and Elisa Gall return for their “what the hell/why the hell” series to ask: What the hell is didactic intent anyway?

The Caldecott criteria state the award is “not for didactic intent”—not to mention we librarians in library school are taught that message-driven books are not to be respected as quality literature—yet there have been a handful of books in recent years that are affirmations of identity (including racial identity) and self-worth and books with social justice messages and/or characters with minoritized identities. These books often get labelled as didactic by librarians, but Jonathan and Elisa ask: Who is getting centered (and not centered) in these conversations? Didactic for whom? “Our culture, media, and society” Jonathan writes, “constantly send me messages of affirmation and a reader who does not get these messages would have different reading needs than mine.”

Head here to join the conversation.


h1 Monday, November 16th, 2020

(Click cover to enlarge)


Over at the Horn Book’s Calling Caldecott, I have the pleasure of writing about a handful of exceptionally good 2020 international picture books. Since Calling Caldecott is Caldecott-focused, we call them “Caldenotts” (a phrase coined by Thom Barthelmess). They are books from this year that are not eligible for the Caldecott Award, because they were originally published in another country or are illustrated by someone not living here in the U.S.

I love to follow picture book imports and was happy to write the post. It is here.

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #717: Featuring Seou Lee

h1 Sunday, November 15th, 2020

Let’s take a look at a picture book debut, shall we? Seou Lee is an author and animator, and thanks to Arthur Levine’s new imprint, Levine Querido, we get to see her try her hand at picture books. Bye, Penguin! (October, 2020), orginally published in Korea, is a (nearly) wordless adventure — a penguin’s inadvertent (but very thrilling) one.

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Five questions for Jordan Scott
and Sydney Smith at the Horn Book

h1 Thursday, November 12th, 2020


“It was a beautiful experience. I actually couldn’t make my way through the book on the first read, as it seemed unreal. … What’s truly remarkable about his work in the book is that he really understands the stutter on an emotional and aesthetic level. Emotionally, the artwork almost places the stutter in the background, like a low ambient noise, that hums throughout the book. The stutter is present, obviously, but it’s not the entirety of the child’s experience or identity. It’s hard to explain
how meaningful this is for me.” — Jordan Scott

Over at the Horn Book, I had the distinct pleasure of working with my fellow Calling Caldecott blogger, Martha V. Parravano, to compose some questions for author and poet Jordan Scott and illustrator Sydney Smith about their 2020 picture book, I Talk Like a River.

This exquisite book is one of my favorites this year. (I reviewed it here. And here at 7-Imp, Sydney shared lots of preliminary images from creating this book.)

Head here to read our five-questions chat with them.

“Sometimes people do amazing things
and no one remembers their names. …”

h1 Wednesday, November 11th, 2020

(Click cover to enlarge)

I’ve a review over at the Horn Book of Marie’s Ocean: Marie Tharp Maps the Mountains Under the Sea (Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt, September 2020), written and illustrated by Josie James.

That review is here, and below are some illustrations from the book.


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