7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #36: Featuring Rotraut Susanne Berner

h1 November 11th, 2007 by Eisha and Jules

{Note: Please see the post below this one for today’s Robert’s Snow schedule — and one really kickin’ snowflake from 2004}

Jules: So, I’m going to try to keep things short this week, since the last two illustrator-feature portions of our kicks lists were loooooong. Interesting, but long. And that’s not to slight illustrator Rotraut Susanne Berner, whose illustration (one of many) from Jutta Richter’s The Cat: Or, How I Lost Eternity is featured here. If you’re not familiar with this German illustrator, I wouldn’t be surprised. I wasn’t, but I saw her illustrations in this unusual, little book, which I just finished, published by Milkweed Editions and translated from German by Anna Brailovsky, and I liked them. Not to mention I like to highlight international illustrators when I can, though I’ve done a rather pathetic job of it this year, despite my best intentions.

This is a quite distinctive, very philosophical-in-nature read, technically categorized in intermediate fiction but definitely an adult cross-over title as well. I love how Joyce Carol Oates described it as being not unlike “a Grimm fairy tale recast by Franz Kafka.” It’s about Christine, an eight-year-old girl, whose daily walk to school takes her past a talking alley cat, whose insights always give her something to ponder. I like this review of it I found after reading it (I love to read my reviews when I finish a book) and what they call the book’s striking and “odd starkness.” The book was named one of “The Best Seven Books for Young Readers for November 2006” by German Radio.

Richter — apparently a household name and celebrated author in Germany and with many books to her credit — has won several awards, including the German Youth Literature Award (Germany’s only state-sponsored prize for works of fiction), the Herman Hesse Prize, and the Pied Piper’s Prize of Hamelyn. Her other title, The Summer of the Pike, looks very, very intriguing to me (I did a web search and read about it here — why did I do that? It looks so interesting!), but it’d be sheer buffoonery for me to add it to my way-past-toppling-over, starting-to-take-over-my-house to-be-read pile. Anyone else read it (it was published last year in the U.S., also by Milkweed)?


By way of explanation for any new folks (who we hope will leave their lists), our weekly 7 Kicks list is the meeting ground for listing Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week (whether book-related or not) that happened to you.

*******Jules’ kicks*******

First, happy birthday to my grandmother, Grace (“Mom-Mom”), who turns 96 today! She was born on 11/11/11. Dig that numerology. Here are my kicks:

1). Alkelda sent me a great CD of songs to jump around to! Wahoo! We were going to be exercise accountability buddies and report back to one another when our bit of exercise for the day was done, and though she is kicking ass on regular exercise, I am not. But, since I told her that the only excercise I seem to be able to sneak in is dancing around with my daughters (like Sara dancing around the room to many of the tunes on “Graceland”), she sent me a CD of very awesome songs — Dead or Alive, Men Without Hats . . . oh my, it’s fun!

2). Seeing “Donnie Darko” this week, though I’m six years late in getting to it. Whoa. And, dude, I want that soundtrack.

3). When Jon Scieszka said in our interview this week that what turns him off are “dickpipe adults who underestimate kids.”

4). Phyllis Root’s answer to the Pearly Gates question.

5). Naomi Shihab Nye. She was lined up for an interview this week, but she is unable to do it right now after all and was so. incredibly. nice. about. it. that you just wouldn’t believe it. I mean, long story, but her kindness was overwhelming. It was seeping through cyberspace into her emails to me. Am I surprised? No.

6). The new series “Project Song” on NPR’s All Things Considered: “The challenge: Write and record a song — in two days. (We provide the studio and the inspiration.)” . . . The first challenge was undertaken by Stephen Merritt, and I heard it last week. Fascinating.

7). Getting a random review copy of this drawing/painting/
coloring book
by Taro Gomi from Chronicle Books in the mail. I didn’t ask for it, so I was a bit surprised. But, man, it takes me back to the Anti-Coloring Books I used to color in and draw in as a child. Anyone else remember these? I think I still have some. Barry Manilow was featured in a lot of my drawings then (I outed myself here as a childhood fan of Barry — wait, who am I kidding? I was hugely crushing on him — and Eisha told my Barry-winked-at-me story here). Here: I just made a Barry image for us all. I feel like I’m ten again . . .

***eisha’s kicks***

. . . {speechless} . . .

Um, how exactly am I supposed to focus on my kicks with a big-red-hearted-Barry Manilow staring at me? Dude. Stop it! Stop staring at my kicks!


I actually had a really great week. Lemme tell you about it:

1* I got a phone call from a local college about a librarian position that I hadn’t even applied for. They’re a member of a regional network, and I’d applied for an office position there, so someone passed along my resume. I had a phone interview this week, and they’ve already asked me back for a 2nd, in-person interview.

2* And one of the positions I actually did apply for also called and asked for an interview. Woo! Finally, after four months, I’m starting to feel like I might actually be a librarian again soon.

3* In the meantime, that financial firm I’m temping in asked me to stay a couple more weeks. Everyone there is so nice to me and so complimentary – it’s incredibly gratifying, and has been exactly what I needed to boost my confidence back up during this long, soul-sucking spell of unsuccessful job hunting.

Allyson’s Angels4* B. and I went to a lovely dinner party at one of his fellow prof’s farmhouse out in the country. It was a “newbie” dinner for new faculty, and the food and company was excellent. Also, since they’re waaaaaaay out in farm country, when we came outside to the car we just had to stand around in the cold for a while and stare at the stars. We even saw the Milky Way. Amazing what you miss by living in a city.

5* I discovered a yummy new local wine: Wagner Semi-dry Riesling. Ally, the Littlest AngelApparently the Finger Lakes wineries are known for their rieslings, which just so happens to be my favorite kind of wine. And this one is really, really good.

6* We’ve started to make plans to go home for the holidays, and I’m getting so excited at the thought of seeing my family again. Particularly a certain precious punkin’ nephew of mine.

7* Speaking of my family… my uncle got a ton of my family members together to form a team in my late aunt’s honor at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Nashville. He got them all tie-dyed t-shirts with their team name, Allyson’s Angels, on them. (That’s everybody in the top photo, and my cousin’s ridiculously beautiful daughter Ally on the bottom.) I’m sad I didn’t get to go, but I’m so proud of everyone who did.

So, those are our kicks. How about you? Got anything kicky to share? Please do!

30 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #36: Featuring Rotraut Susanne Berner”

  1. Ladies,

    Thanks for your kicks of the week. Eisha, I too, like a good crisp Riesling. It’s an underrated wine.

    I don’t have seven kicks–but that’s okay because I have three super kicks:

    1. Last Sunday, my husband and I went to the reception for the Robert’s Snow artists at the Danforth Museum of Art in Framingham, Massachusetts. There were nearly a dozen of the artists there. We also saw some of the most beautiful of the 2007 snowflakes that haven’t been posted yet at the Robert’s Snow auction site.

    2. On Tuesday evening, Grace Lin and I went to hear author Sy Montgomery at Boston College. She’s written some topnotch nonfiction for kids. I absolutely loved her book THE GOOD GOOD PIG, which she wrote for adults. I had heard Sy speak at the Simmons College Children’s Literature Institute in July and couldn’t wait to see her again.

    3. On Wednesday evening, our reading council held its fall dinner meeting. A panel discussion with the Blue Rose Girls was the first event in our 2007-2008 Speaker Series. We had never done a panel discussion before–and I wasn’t sure how it would go over. Well, it was ouststanding! A smash! One of the best events we’ve ever had!

  2. Eisha: Good luck with those interviews/call-backs!
    Jules: I’m still trying to remember to use dickpipe – such a great word.

    1. I “sold” a poem for inclusion in a book by Laura Purdie Salas. Her book, Write Your Own Poetry, comes out from Compass Point/Capstone comes out in January. (Payment=5 copies. Woot!)

    2. David Lubar came by for the WBBT on Wednesday, and was both funny and informative. Hooray!

    3. I wrote a Jane Austen poem this week (finally), after a bit of a drought on that front. I hope it means I’m back up on the horse, so to speak.

    4. I went fabric shopping and got cute fabrics with which to make pincushions. I hope to bust out the iron and the sewing machine today and get some done!

    5. My poem, “A Hanukkah Game”, is in the December issue of Highlights, which must have started shipping to subscribers because I got an email from a reader already.

    6. I finally started dealing with some of my filing. I had hoped that filing gnomes would show up and deal with it, but no dice.

    7. My workshop proposal for the New England SCBWI conference was accepted, so I’ll be leading a double session on writing poetry. Huzzah!

  3. Wow, Elaine! Those are some super kicks. I really wish I could have seen all you BRGs in your panel discussion – I bet it was truly outstanding.

  4. Well, this is a first. I just had a Kick while writing my kicks list. I started to tell you about something, when an idea mugged me. I thought it was a blog post, so I opened Blogger and started dumping there, so I wouldn’t forget to write it up later. You know what? It’s a poem! So forgive me, I’m on a poem high right now…it’s kind of like a sugar buzz.

    Okay, so that was #1.

    2. I fixed my son dinner at midnight last night. He said it was delicious. Normally, I tell him to make a sandwich, but hey! I had the teriyaki meatballs, and the whole wheat couscous and the pineapple all there. I just had to put them together.

    3. I went to the DC Kidlit Drinks Night last night. Woo-hoo! Only five of us, but they were a GOOD five! And next time, we’ll have more. I think the Longstockings are going to blog about it.

    4. An hour long phone call with my sister. We laughed about how we used to talk as teenagers about such ethical dilemmas as: would you date Jesus?

    5. Reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian. God! The chops.

    6. Stealthily taping a poem to the gazebo railing. I wonder if it’s still there.

    7. WBBT. Connie Willis. Gabrielle Zevin. Jack Gantos. And on and on. It rocked, here and everywhere.

  5. Sara, I’m glad the kicks inspired your muse, and I love that you say she mugged you.

    Kelly, if you find the filing gnomes, send them to my house. Congrats on Jane-writing again and your poem and the conference….and, well, all your kicks are quite kicky.

    Elaine, WAH! I wanna see the BRGs do a panel discussion, too. Awesome. I’m glad it went well.

  6. Hey, Kelly, I figured out what happened to your filing gnome:

    Gnome-be-gone sculpture by David Conlon

  7. Jules and Eisha, great interviews this week. Am forwarding the Jon Scieska quote and interview to a friend. Eisha, sending good thoughts your way for the library job.
    My kicks:
    1. The public library and I book talked two readers’s choice lists to fourth and fifth grade. A teacher told me later how much she appreciated it.
    2. Staying home last Monday to work on NBPTS stuff. It was a productive, wonderful day.
    3. Wrote haiku and posted at Deowriter.
    4. Haircut and color yesterday.
    5. Email back and forth with Annette Simon. To think, I almost did not ask how to get a hold of her.
    6. Rearranging the “classroom” part of the library.
    7. Tee shirt idea: “You say eccentric like it’s a bad thing.”

  8. I forgot to say: Men Without Hats! Alkelda, will you make me a CD, too?

    And eisha: stock up on Riesling. You’re going to be celebrating a new job soon. As sure as you saw the Milky Way.

  9. Jone, heh. I like that tee. Who sells it?

  10. No one sells the tee yet….maybe I can figure out how to do Cafe Press. Wouldn’t it be fun to wear?
    I want in on the CD action as well. I need lively music.

  11. 1. My new Growing Bookworms newsletter is up to 45 subscribers! And it’s totally motivating me to produce content, especially reviews, for the blog. Or, I might be crossing the line into obsession a bit, but it feels right anyway.
    2. Emailing old friends about the newsletter produced some delightful catching up.
    3. I had a great visit with my brother last weekend, and into early this week.
    4. I finally read Clementine by Sara Pennypacker. And I think that she rocks. (Oh, and Jules, I also got a kick out of the Squiggles book – I’m going to blog about it, even though it’s not the kind of thing I usually feature).
    5. I got a draft of my NCTE presentation ready. Which is good, since it’s, you know, next weekend.
    6. I fixed a couple of technical problems that I was having with my Treo (also good, since I’ll be traveling next week).
    7. I finally started physical therapy for my injured knee. Seems like I have a long way to go, but I’m determined to get back to being able to go for walks. I miss my walks.

    Happy Sunday, everyone!

  12. Sara, your positive thoughts are greatly appreciated. As is your suggestion to stock up on Riesling – I may need it just as much if I don’t get a library job soon. Oh, and the D.C. Kidlit Drink Night? Jealous. Very very jealous.

    So… would you date Jesus?

    Jone, I also love the t-shirt idea. And congrats on the successful booktalks. It’s cool you can collaborate with the public library for that kind of thing.

    Jen, I hope the P.T. does the trick and gets you walking again soon. And congrats on the Growing Bookworms newsletter success!

  13. Eisha: THAT explains the gnome absence/delinquency.

    Jone: That T-shirt logo rocks.

    Alkelda: I wanna hear the CD too.

  14. Just a quick note to say yay for cats. I’m not feeling 100% and I don’t have a lot of kicks to list. I am going to a production of Les Miz shortly. Not going to miss that.

  15. What a week’ it’s been. Everyone is doing such amazing things. Here’s my list.
    1. Celebrating my blog’s one year anniversary this week. So many people stopped by to congratulate me. That was amazing.
    2. My sister and her family arrived on Wednesday night for visit. What fun! Good meals (in and out), good company and fun.
    3. Saturday afternoon in front of the fire watching movies with my sister after everyone else had left.
    4. Most of my Christmas shopping is done and wrapped and ready to ship. PHEW!
    5. My Pride and Prejudice purse finally came this week. It’s gorgeous!
    6. My brother and his family are coming for Thanksgiving. This means I will have seen all of my family members in the last 6 weeks. I am so lucky.
    7. WBBT, Poetry in Place, Robert’s Snow – all amazingly fun things going on in the kidlitosphere.
    I could go on, but I wont bore you. It’s been a great week. I hope the week ahead finds all of you well.

  16. Ack, I started my comment, and then my computer ate it. It obviously doesn’t understand about kicks.

    Jules, Donnie Darko is one of those films that doesn’t make sense to me, but I love it anyway. I was just reading about Richard Kelly’s new film, Southland Tales, and I very much want to see it.

    Eisha, The only reason someone wouldn’t hire you is because something’s wrong with them.

    Sara, I want to eat that meal you made for your son. Just reading about it made me hungry.

    Little Willow, I hope getting out to a show recharges you and that this week is more kick-ful.

    Tricia, All your Christmas shopping done? Woo hoo! That is a feat!

    My kicks:
    1. I finished an eight-week memoir class I’ve been taking at Writers and Books here in town this past week. I wasn’t sure about it when I registered, but it was great—got me thinking about some new things, which is always good.
    2. We had a children’s department staff meeting on Friday that started out really badly but ended up pretty well. I felt like we accomplished something, which, you know, how often does that happen in meetings at work?
    3. I got to vote—yay, democracy!
    4. It snowed! (Just a little.)
    5. A friend came and helped me take care of some fall yard work that really needed doing today. We had fun, and we got a ton of work done in short order. It was a reminder of how tremendously lucky I am in so many ways.
    6. I finally, finally watched disc 2 of season 2 of Extras. That show is so good, but some points on this particular disc were really painful to watch. I also appreciate that they always put good special features on Ricky Gervais shows.
    7. I went ice skating for the first time this fall/winter. I’m not a particularly good ice skater, but I love the way that every once in a while when I’m skating everything kind of clicks and I’m relaxed and in a groove, even if it is only a few minutes here and there.

  17. Jen, good luck at NCTE, and congrats on the newsletter reception.

    Little Willow, enjoy the show. I’ve always loved that to-love-another-person-is-to-see-the-face-of-God line in that show (did I get it right?).

    Tricia, I still covet your purse. Happy blog birthday again.

    Adrienne, that class sounds great. Are you going to get right on that memoir? I’d read it.

  18. Jules, Alkelda–Men without Hats?! How fun!

    Eisha–I hope you’re going on all those winery tours. It makes for a fun, fun afternoon. Fingers crossed for your job!


    Jen–Congrats on the newsletter and hope your knee gets better soon.

    LW–I can’t wait to hear what you think of Les Miz. It is incredible.

    It’s so fun to catch up on what’s happening with everyone over here. Big Kick!

  19. Tricia, HAPPY BLOG BIRTHDAY! And I’m so impressed by the early Christmas shopping I don’t even know how to express it. It’s not even Thanksgiving, woman!

    Adrienne, thanks! I’ll start quoting you on my resume. And I’m also intrigued by the memoir class, and hope you do something with it. And Extras – I hear you. Sometimes that show does hurt. But… Ian McKellan explaining how to act is maybe the funniest thing ever.

    Vivian, howdy! And thanks for the crossed fingers. Nope, no official tours yet, just trying a new bottle here and there. You’re right, though, I really should get out there and see some of the wineries.

  20. Oh, and Little Willow – I also hope you get back to your usual perky self soon, and enjoy the show!

  21. I came back to read more lovely lists and realised I forgot to check mine posted OK last night – it seems to have been eaten. I think it was the html at the end. Here is a non-html version:

    1. I bought new shoes for the first time in ages, and they are lovely red leather rather than sensible black! And the shopping in London element offset some of the angst surrounding finding shoes to fit me.
    2. To continue the materialistic theme, I bought a bicycle through a tax-saving scheme called cycle to work. I haven’t ridden a bike for about ten years but have bought a very comfy one and am looking forward to trying it out. I also have a helmet in case I have forgotten how to ride and fall off.
    3. My fairly regular visits to London for work have started to make me feel a lot more confident with varying paths to different destinations and tube stations. I looked confident enough walking the other day that someone asked me for directions – unfortunately I didn’t realise the square the man wanted to visit was actually the one I was going to so I wrongly said “I have no idea sorry!”. Woops. At least I didn’t see him when I was waiting in the foyer of the building I was going to 🙂
    4. We went to Sheffield for the weekend to visit family and also enjoyed some nice Derbyshire countryside.
    5. As much as I am getting tired of the cold weather, I do enjoy some moments of it, such as sitting inside a warm room eating nice food and looking out at the autumn landscape. And feeling the cold air on my face after I’ve been walking for a while and have warmed up.
    6. We now have more TV shows and movies on DVD than we have time to watch them
    7. I had lots of lovely long book reading sessions this week. I always read every day but this week was lovely decadent, ignore-the-unwritten-emails, go-to-bed-later-than-is-wise reading, which I haven’t really been doing during the week recently.

    *(any UK residents wanting bikes should ask their employers if they’ll undertake what seems like minimal paperwork for them as you end up saving about a third of the cost – google cycle to work and you’ll find a website abou it)

  22. I’m late! And everyone has such fabulous kicks lists…Tricia, I might have to hate you for finishing your Christmas shopping, especially since I haven’t even started my Christmas knitting…sigh. Eisha, good luck on the job front, and Jules, “dickpipe”? I’m still sniggering.

    Mine pale in comparison, but it was still a pretty good week.

    1. The conference paper is now the right length. No word on whether it’s any good, but I feel as if it’s almost ready.
    2. Ordered a lovely, comfy sleep sofa for the office/guest room. After 14 years in this house we are getting it in shape!
    3. New (to us) car coming soon…
    4. I’m really looking forward to my trip to Minneapolis. How many books do you think I can get Neil Gaiman to sign?
    5. Did some cleaning/purging of the bookshelves and discovered some things I’d meant to read and haven’t yet–woo-hoo!
    6. Like Sara, I just read *Part-Time Indian* and loved it.
    7. I also read Libba Bray’s Great & Terrible Beauty and Rebel Angels–great stuff!

    Jone, I want that t-shirt, too!

    Happy Monday, everyone!


  23. Jules and Eisha, I think I am going to wind up doing some things with the memoir. I’m not sure about book-length things. I’m going to start with essay things and see where it goes.

    And, OMG, Eisha, I should save this for next week’s kicks, but I can’t. Chocolate from these people appeared at the Leaf and Bean today:


    I am in love with that yummy, yummy fair trade chocolate in the pretty, pretty wrappers. Could be bad. They have it right by the cash register, which makes it hard to ignore.

  24. Vivian, thanks for visiting.

    Emmaco, glad you got some luxurient reading hours in. I’m jealous (in a happy-for-you way). Little kids don’t make that so easy sometimes, but I try to after they go to bed.

    Libby, congrats on conference-paper progress! When do you go to Minneapolis? I really need to just go visit your blog and see if you’ve already stated that.

    Adrienne, yay! One day I’ll be reading your memoir in Barnes & Noble or something — right next to the stand with fair trade dark chocolates in pretty wrappers.

  25. Vivian, et al: The show was very impressive. I was so proud of the cast members that I knew, and I shared that with those I saw today.

    Adrienne: I think your blog name would make a good memoir title. 🙂

    I’ve never been ice skating or on ice in any form.

    Jen: You are going to rock the NCTE.

    jules: Yes, you did, I believe!

    Tricia: Happy blogiversary!

    eisha: I can’t wait to feel better.

  26. Here I am, very late,and behind on blog-reading. Kelly and Sara, if you’d really like a mix cd, please email me (you know where to find me!) and give me a sense of your music tastes. I actually just wrote “musical tastes” back there, but I’m afraid I don’t have any musicals in my collection (anymore) besides Cabaret, Hans Christian Andersen and Annie (the last one was at my daughter’s request).

  27. […] it’s pretty kickin’, very reminiscent of The Anti-Coloring Books of my childhood, as I mentioned previously at 7-Imp. Anyway, you or your child has to enter the contest if you wanna win, so go read all about […]

  28. I found the nice cat drawing on your site and liked very much to hear about your interest in international illustration. I must confess: I am married to the cat illustrator and editor of a series of illustrated books (which you can find on my website).

  29. OK, this is my website: http://www.tolle-hefte.de

  30. […] Anyone else notice that The Cat: Or, How I Lost Eternity, which we featured here recently, was awarded a Batchelder Honor? Congratulations to Milkweed! And one more P.S.: […]

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