Archive for March, 2021

Juana Martinez-Neal on Zonia’s Rain Forest

h1 Tuesday, March 30th, 2021

“In Zonia’s rain forest, green and full of life, she visits old friends and meets new ones.
‘Good morning!’ she says one, two, three, four times.”

(Click spread to enlarge)

Meet Zonia. She “lives with those she loves in the rain forest, where it is always green and full of life.” The rain forest calls to her every morning, and we readers follow along as she explores, following a vivid blue butterfly all the way. This is the latest picture book from Juana Martinez-Neal, Zonia’s Rain Forest (Candlewick), publishing this week. Juana visits 7-Imp today to share some images from her trip to the Amazon rain forest and to give us a peek into the creation of these illustrations.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #736: Featuring Jason Chin

h1 Sunday, March 28th, 2021

“We are in the old Pontiac, the red paint faded by years of glinting Ohio sun,
pelting rain, and biting snow.”

(Click spread to enlarge)

I’ve a review over at BookPage of Andrea Wang’s beautiful Watercress (Neal Porter Books, March 2021), illustrated by Jason Chin.

I’ll send you here to read it, and below are some spreads from the book.

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Journey Around the Sun:
The Story of Halley’s Comet

h1 Thursday, March 25th, 2021

James Gladstone’s enchanting and informative Journey Around the Sun: The Story of Halley’s Comet (Owlkids, March 2021), illustrated by Yaara Eshet, may be the first picture book you read told from the point of view of Halley’s Comet.

“I have seen your past,” the book opens. “And I will see your future, the next time I take that sunlight journey.” Halley’s Comet speaks to readers, recounting the various ways that people throughout history have understood the celestial object. Gladstone and Eshet take us from the time of Aristotle to the space age — with many stops in between.

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Seeing the World Through a Poet’s Eyes …

h1 Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021

— From Fran Nuño’s The Dance of the Bees, illustrated by Zuzanna Celej


— From Mark Karlins’s Kiyoshi’s Walk, illustrated by Nicole Wong

I’m sending you to BookPage today, where I have a profile of two books that are love songs to haiku — Mark Karlins’s Kiyoshi’s Walk (Lee & Low, March 2021), illustrated by Nicole Wong, and Fran Nuño’s The Dance of the Bees (Cuento de Luz, February 2021), illustrated by Zuzanna Celej and translated from Spanish by Jon Brokenbrow.

That is here.

And below are some spreads from each book. Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #735: Featuring Dung Ho

h1 Sunday, March 21st, 2021

“My eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea are a revolution.”
(Click spread to enlarge)

On the first spread of Joanna Ho’s Eyes That Kiss in the Corners (Harper, January 2021), we see a young girl on her way out of the house, backpack on her shoulders. We see her from behind. She pauses by a mirror. What does she think when she sees her face? As she waves to classmates on the next spread — once again, we see her from behind — she notes that their eyes are shaped differently than hers. “I have eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea,” we read when we finally see her face on the following spread (pictured below). She stares proudly at the reader. The girl is Asian, and she loves her eyes, which are just like her Mama’s and her Amah’s and her sister’s.

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Like a Giant

h1 Thursday, March 18th, 2021

“In the morning, a giant will wake up.” This shape-shifting giant visits a child in a puffin hat, and the two set out on an adventure — through the woods, over the ocean, in the mountains, across deserts and towns and islands — that lasts the length of one day. They “discover ruins, cliffs, fossils, jungles, corn fields and parks.” They see flora and fauna that enchant them. It’s a sensory adventure: They “feel the sun and the rain” and the “cool of the night.” With joy, they sneak back home at night — and plan to do it again the next day.

This is Like a Giant (Tate, March 2021), a French picture book import from Marc Daniau and Yvan Duque.

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Tiny Kitty, Big City: A Visit with Tim Miller

h1 Tuesday, March 16th, 2021

It’s a pleasure to have a visit once again from author-illustrator Tim Miller, who takes a deep dive here into his newest picture book, Tiny Kitty, Big City (Balzer + Bray, March 2021), and shares some process images as well. The story, told in short and punchy two-word phrases on each spread, is one of a stray kitten who eventually finds a home — but not after wandering, lost and during winter, throughout New York City. It may be crowded and loud and scary for the tiny creature, but kitty is brave — and survives, thanks to the kindness of strangers.

This book is a love song to cats and New York City. It nearly hums with the magic of the Big Apple in winter, all brought to life in Tim’s vibrant, spacious, and unfussy cartoon style. I thank him for visting today to talk about the gouache (and cat hair) illustrations, how this story was born, and much more. Let’s get to it.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #734: Featuring Elizabeth Haidle

h1 Sunday, March 14th, 2021

I’m taking a break from picture-book spreads today (though I’ll be back very soon with some) to share this sun from illustrator Elizabeth Haidle. It’s in honor of spring coming and the first buttercup I saw in our yard this week. It’s in honor of hopes that we’ll all get the vaccine sooner than we expected, thanks to Biden’s efforts and the news he shared this week. And it’s posted as we note the one-year mark of first coming to terms with the pandemic and heading inside to socially isolate. Whew. It’s been a long year, but the sun is coming out. Soon, we may even be able to hug a friend again.

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Your Mama: A Conversation with
NoNieqa Ramos and Jacqueline Alcántara

h1 Thursday, March 11th, 2021

As you can read below in today’s 7-Imp visit with author NoNieqa Ramos and illustrator Jacqueline Alcántara, Your Mama (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) — on shelves next month — sprung to life when Ramos decided to “approach a trope with a fresh perspective.” In this case, that trope is the tried-and-true “yo’ mama” joke, often used to disparage someone and their mother. Here, Ramos and Alcántara turn that joke on its head and pay tribute to mothers everywhere — in particular, an independent, brown-skinned, single Latinx mother who is all. that. And then some.

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Susan Kusel’s The Passover Guest:
A Visit with Illustrator Sean Rubin

h1 Tuesday, March 9th, 2021

“Muriel loved Washington in the springtime. The white buildings stood out crisply against the green lawns. The cherry trees burst into pink blossoms at the Tidal Basin.
She could feel Passover in the air.”

(Click spread to enlarge)

Susan Kusel’s The Passover Guest (Neal Porter Books/Holiday House, January 2021), illustrated by Sean Rubin, is a reimagining of the great Uri Shulevitz’s 1973 picture book adaptation, The Magician. (In 1904, Polish writer Isaac Leib Peretz orginally published “The Magician” as a short story in Yiddish.) And it is a breath of fresh air, infused with her love of Uri’s book, a childhood favorite of hers; Passover; Washington, D.C. and its cherry blossoms; and the Lincoln Memorial. The book’s richly colored tableaux are brought to us by Sean Rubin, who visits today to talk a bit about the process of illustrating this one.

In the book’s opening spread, seen above, we meet Muriel, who loves Washington in the spring and can “feel Passover in the air.” But it’s 1933, and families everywhere are suffering. Her own family cannot buy all the food necessary for their Passover seder. As she walks home one evening and passes the Lincoln Memorial, she sees “a strange figure dressed in rags, juggling on the steps of the monument.” After she puts a penny in the hat at this feet, he tells her to hurry home.

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