7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #44: Featuring Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Ashley Smith

h1 January 6th, 2008 by Eisha and Jules

Jules: Welcome to our first kicks list of 2008! 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. As our readers and fellow kicks-listers know, we feature a different illustrator every Sunday when we gather to list our kicks. But one of my New Ideas in ’08 is to feature — on the first Sunday of every month — a student illustrator or a newly-graduated illustrator wanting to break into children’s books. I am excited about this idea more than I can say, the opportunity to see tomorrow’s children’s book illustrators. Who doesn’t wanna see some new blood? Plus, maybe the next Maurice Sendak or Ruth Krauss will pass our way. I’m just sayin’. You never know. And it’s thanks to Jarrett J. Krosoczka and Anna Alter (thank you! thank you!), to whom I turned for assistance, that I already have some students (or new grads) lined up for the next couple of months. Oh, and as for this week’s featured illustrator — our first one ever in this new feature — I have Little Willow to thank. She pretty much just read my mind and emailed and said, “look at this new illustrator’s site I just stumbled upon?” That Little Willow is puh-sychic.

So, let’s get right to it. Who has graced our post this week? Her name is Ashley Smith, and she just graduated in December from Brigham Young University – Idaho with a BFA in Illustration (“Upon writing this — 22 days, 10 hours and 37 minutes later — I am thrust into the harsh realities of post-graduation-freelance-job-search,” she told us, “but I am certainly not complaining. A vacation from the frenetic vigors of five years of deadlines has been a welcome change; however, my creativity thrives on those deadlines, so I am looking forward to a new life defined by them”).

Ashley gave me free reign — wahoo! — to choose my favorite images from her site (Eisha giving me her blessing to do so alone, since she’s still got a broken computer), and three that I chose, including Hansel and Gretel above (I’m diggin’ those ominous icicles and trees and the feeling of utter doom they knock around in my chest. Brrrr. And there’s chocolate syrup on that there roof. Creepy), are part of a series of fairy tales illustrated for Ashley’s Senior Project/Show. These three paintings were done in acrylic, painted on illustration board. Here are the other two, The Nightingale and The Emperor’s New Clothes:

I know it’s hard to see that second emperor well (but I just love that perspective and had to pick it), but believe me when I say he’s wearing boxers with hearts on them. You can get a better view of the illustration at Ashley’s blog, as well as see other illustrated fairy tales from that senior show.

I was also drawn to the below illustration, entitled “Looking Back” and not categorized under children’s illustration at her site. About this one, Ashley wrote:

The “Looking Back” piece was done in acrylic and oil and is somewhat of a self portrait, although it ended up not resembling me much. I could expand in some ultra-artistic philosophical explanation of how it represented a turning point in my life, but, needless to say, it was a “looking forward” moment rather than a “looking back.” That painting inspired me to shift my focus in the direction of children’s illustration. Currently, I am working on expanding my portfolio and getting myself noticed. My attempts at marketing myself have been somewhat successful and will hopefully pick up in the future.

Here’s what else Ashley had to say about her work:

I love the children’s world of art and literature, and it is a world in which I am destined to belong. My childhood obsession sprung from the nightly ritual of curling up to dad with my favorite tome and imagining the stories and worlds that he created. Favorites were — and still are — Little Bear, Roald Dahl, Curious George, Madeline, Beatrix Potter, Syd Hoff, the Frog and Toad Books, and the Francis Series. I draw artistic inspiration from Peter de Sève, LeUyen Pham, Brett Helquist, Quentin Blake, N.C. Wyeth, Jessie Willcox Smith, Howard Pyle,
Norman Rockwell, Degas, John Singer Sargent, and many, many more.

We’d really like to thank Ashley for stopping by and sharing her art work, especially for being the first new grad to be featured in this New Idea of ’08! Next week we’ll get back to featuring our usual, more established illustrators, but look for a student or new grad the first Sunday of every month. Oh, and happy graduation to Ashley, and BEST OF LUCK to her! I would not be the slightest bit surprised to pick up a title illustrated by her one day. And maybe one day soon. Be sure to check out her current site (I believe she’ll have a newer, re-vamped one soon).

* * * * * * * eisha’s kicks * * * * * * *

Hey, all! Long time no blog! I’ve missed you all terribly. As you know, the husband and I were traveling through the south during the week surrounding Christmas, and then… we got home, and I discovered that my beloved computer has died. Or at least, she seems to be in a coma, and I’m not sure whether she’ll recover. So I’ve had to sneak cybertime on my husband’s computer here and there, when he’s not using it for work. I apologize for being so scarce around here lately, but I’ll try to figure out a way to keep up my half of the blog until I can replace my poor Roxy (what, you don’t name your computers?). Mad props to Jules, as always, for covering my butt.

Anyway, I’ve got plenty of kicks to report despite my computer woes:

1* Well, obviously, Christmas was awesome. I saw all my extended family, and most of the husband’s too. And Jules and her family came over for my family’s big get-together thing. It was excellent.

2* My nephew is huge! He’s almost walking, and has this hysterical laugh that sounds kind of like Ernie from Sesame Street.

3* Not to be shallow, but I got lots of great presents this year. My mom got me an incredibly cute little coat that I’ve already gotten complimented on by a complete stranger, Jules gave me a gorgeous scarf, and my husband got me… cowgirl boots! Yay!

4* Even though, once again, we were beset by a snowstorm on the way home and had to stop at a hotel to wait it out (we should really pay more attention to weather reports…), we made it home safe and sound.

5* I’ve started a new temp job and I’m loving it. I’m kind of an office grunt at Cornell, sorting through application materials and stuff. Everyone there has been very sweet to me.

6* The Nonfiction Picture Books Nominating Committee for the Cybil Awards came up with their shortlist a full 3 days early. I’m not telling what’s on it, though – you’ll just have to check in with the Cybils blog on Monday to find out. It’s a great list, though, and the group did a fabulous job despite having difficulties tracking down some of the nominated titles, and oh yeah… having an organizer whose computer died the last week of deliberations.

7* Being on the YA panel has been a hoot, too. I’ve read some great books and had scintillating discussions about them with some awesome fellow bloggers. I’m a little sad to see that part end. However, now I’m totally ready for my fantasy binge.

* * * * * * * Jules’ kicks * * * * * * *

1). Ashley’s illustrations and lining up new, young-blood illustrators for the following months!

2). JON SCIESZKA GETTING KNIGHTED AMERICA’S FIRST CHILDREN’S LAUREATE!! This is momentous, people. Could there have been a better choice? (Hint: That’s a rhetorical question. Just humor me. Ask it as if Chandler Muriel Bing would). Even better? His response: “I’m honored that people would think of me, especially since I had a book with ‘stinky’ in the title.” {I am using yet again this caricature of Jon, created by the one and only Adam Rex, with Adam’s permission — and, hey, speaking of Adam, did everyone see this? And this? I’m embedding a kick in a kick. So totally fair, I say} . . .

3). Go here. It’s a .pdf file for the Spring ’08 catalog for Roaring Brook Press. Go to page 13. Read “Things to Do If You Are a Pencil.” It’s by Elaine Magliaro! Wahoo! I can’t wait to see that anthology. Congrats, Elaine! (Lots of “!!!”s here, but she’s “!”-worthy) . . .

4 and 5). Reading advance copies of the new Toon Books from The Little Lit Library, what are essentially beginning reader books in comic book format. Yes, comics designed for children ages four and up. The first one, Benny and Penny: Just Pretend by Geoffrey Hayes, will come out in April. I haven’t been able to kid-test it on a group of children, but my two children have been PLAYING Benny and Penny ALL DAY after I read this little gem of a thing to them. Go here to see sample pages for Benny and Penny (and then you can click on the others, too). I’ll review these three new Spring titles later, closer to their publication date, but I’m thinking these folks are on to something.

Also: Starting Lulu Atlantis and the Quest for True Blue Love by Patricia Martin (Schwartz & Wade Books) this morning and, thus far anyway, falling completely in love. I hope it doesn’t go downhill; O! That’d make me so sad. So far, so good entirely enchanting . . . Just when I think that I should perhaps focus on solely picture books, for my part, here at 7-Imp — just to give myself more focus and less work — a novel (technically, a collection of stories) like this comes along that I wanna gush about.

6). Lots of Poetry Friday goodness, including this poem Susan Thomsen found; this poem that TadMack shared; and this poem that HipWriterMama shared. Last, but not least, THIS (!!) at Lookybook, which Little Willow featured on Poetry Friday this week (How to Paint the Portrait of a Bird by Jacques Prévert and newly-illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein). I can’t wait to see this book (and David Elzey already reviewed it here).

7). Anyone else remember when I went on about stumbling upon singer/songwriter-musician Nicole Atkins, describing her as sort of Dusty-Springfield-meets-Morrisey-and-then-they-stumble-into-Roy-Orbison-in-a-bar-and-then-have-a-gin-and-tonic-with-Edith-Piaf? Well, that was just after seeing her stunning performance on Letterman. I actually got her CD, “Neptune City,” for Christmas. I can’t. stop. listening. to. it. Here is a new video of hers I found. I don’t really care for videos much (I don’t know how the performer can take him or herself seriously, standing there vogueing and singing all wistfully to, uh, no one), but I love this song. And the song’s totally rearranged in this video. All new. All different than how it is on the CD. Her voice slays me.

What are your kicks this week?

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32 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #44: Featuring Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Ashley Smith”

  1. Welcome to 7-Imp Ashley. I wish you a long and successful career in children’s books. Your illustrations are gorgeous.

    Eisha, welcome back. It’s good to hear from you again. Good luck with the computer woes. Congrats on the new temp job, too. Jules, I’m totally with you on Jon Scieszka.

    As for my kicks:

    1. I’m blogging at PBS Parents as a guest expert this month, talking with people about children’s books. So far it’s been a LOT of fun. Some of my Kidlitosphere friends have stopped by, and I’m having discussions with new people, too.
    2. My awesome MG/YA nonfiction nominating committee for the Cybils finalized their short list this weekend. No, I can’t tell you what it is yet, but I promise, it’s excellent. I’m eagerly awaiting the YA Fiction list, because I’ll be judging over there, with another great committee. Such an exciting time for children’s book fans!
    3. We had a fun game night with friends last night, the first time I’ve been out in over a week, after being sick over New Year’s.
    4. It remains a ludicrously amazing time to be a Boston sports fan. Enough said about that.
    5. I’m going to copy Jules’ kick about Jon Scieszka. I’m happy about the mere existence of the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature position. The fact that they picked someone who clearly cares about doing whatever it takes to get kids reading is awesome! Oh, and Scieszka is going to be local children’s bookstore Hicklebee’s later this month, and I’m going to try to meet him.
    6. We finally got a significant amount of rain here in Northern California. We need the water, and it was kind of cool having a big storm. Of course, I only lost power for 30 minutes, so that’s easy for me to say – I know that it wasn’t as fun for other people.

    OK, I’m too tired to think of seven. Happy New Year, everyone!!


  2. Lovely work, Ashley! I’m glad that I sent that email to Jules. I saw your work and wanted to share it with someone who would appreciate it – and, boom, psychic moment.

    eisha: Healing thoughts to Roxy. (Mine, also female, is named Sunday.) Best wishes at the new job!

    Jules: “Are these rhetorical questions? And if so, can anyone join in?” Thank you for giving me an excuse to type up a quote from Wish You Were Here by Catherine Clark (which comes out in March, which I read today, which I’ll be reviewing tomorrow) because I really like that quote.

    Lookybook = good times.

    Hmmm. Now I have to think of my kicks. Hmm. In the order they occurred:

    1) Having a day off. Completely off. That was nice.
    2) Completing my Best Books of 2007 post. That took some time.
    3) Receiving many lovely packages and pieces of mail on Thursday.
    4) Being named in Sarah Dessen’s Friday Five. Wow.
    5) Appreciating shelter.
    6) Walking four miles this afternoon because I felt like it.
    7) Believing that good things are around the corner.


  3. As this week was about writing like a demon on the AK flying memoir but not getting it ready for my agent and also looking at the majestic mess that is the “put all the holiday stuff back into the big storage area” pile, I really can’t say I’m feeling kicky at the moment.

    In other words – next Sunday I should have great kicks, right now I have unfinished kicks! ha!

    I did want to say that I love your idea for highlighting promising artists and these pictures – WOW! Great stuff, and a truly excellent idea.

    Oh – and I am doing a Wicked Cool Overlooked Book post for tomorrow, so anyone who wants to join in, drop me an email or comment so I can link to you!


  4. JEN, WAHOO! I just read that feature finally — at PBS, that is (and bolded the link in your comment so that everyone else can see it easily and go read it!). And it’s great to see that! If I’d had my coffee already this morning, I’d be jumping up and down here at my computer. And I’m so glad you linked to it, ’cause I still hadn’t seen it yet. I remember you mentioning it, but — sigh — I’m perpetually behind on blog-reading. It completely slipped my mind to go to your blog and look for that link, even though I went to your blog the other day. Der. Thanks!

    And, as a Cybils judge in YA, I bet you’re going to have a ton of fun. It’ll be hard, I bet, but fun. I can only imagine — with all the great titles this year.

    Little Willow, thanks for your kicks. I am going to link to your Best Books list, ’cause I read that this week and was, as usual, impressed by you: http://slayground.livejournal.com/315879.html. Everyone, Little Willow’s even got Picture Book and Best Illustration categories!

    Thanks, Colleen, for the heads up about WCOB. Hmmm, I’ll have to think about that and try. I hope your unfulfilled kicks become a reality next Sunday. As for cleaning up Christmas stuff, just follow Adrienne’s lead. One of her new year’s resolutions, which I can so totally get behind, is to keep her house untidy.

    Thanks for coming to see Ashley, everyone. Isn’t her stuff striking? And I really am super-nerdy-excited about featuring students/new grads in illustration. If I get a huge response, shoot, maybe we can do it more often than the first Sunday of every month — maybe I could do random days in the workweek, too.

    I love that Ashley’s self-portrait, meant to be a “looking forward,” remained a “looking forward” while she looks “back,” as she had just decided to focus on children for an audience, as if she’s looking back on childhood. Ah well, I just think it’s beautiful.


  5. I LOVE the new feature idea, and I love Ashley’s work.

    Eisha, So sorry to hear about Roxy. I miss you when you aren’t blogging.

    Jules, I am so jealous that you got to look at those Toon Books.

    My Kicks:
    1. Like Eisha, I am excited about the Nonfiction Picture Book shortlist for the Cybils. It’s been fun seeing all the other publicly available shortlists and commentary out there this week, too.
    2. Because it’s the new year, I have a brand-new materials budget and can buy books for the library again. I put in a ridiculously huge order on Jan. 2; I can’t wait for it to come in.
    3. My friend who lives in Germany is home for a visit, and I got to spend some time with her yesterday.
    4. Then I went to another friend’s house for a John Hughes film fest. Very fun.
    5. Friday night, my BFF and I went out shopping and to dinner, just us girls. That’s always a kick.
    6. A friend got me a tin of chocolate-covered popcorn for Christmas, and I finally opened it up a few days ago. So yummy…
    7. …which means it’s a good thing that I’ve gotten back into my exercise schedule this week, because–wow!–calories.


  6. Happy New Year!

    Love Ashley’s work and am looking forward to meeting lots of new artists. What a great idea! I’m drooling over those beginning reader comic books, and I’m totally psyched about the Jacques Prevert book thanks to LW.

    Yay, Eisha’s back! (Picturing her in a cute coat and cowboy boots.) Hope Roxy feels better soon.

    It’s been a nice first week of 2008:

    1. Finally finished Sherman Alexie’s “Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian.” Now I know what everybody’s been raving about. Wow.

    2. Speaking of Poetry Friday, I was blown away by cloudscome’s sonnet, “Red Berries.”

    3. Posted my first “Writer in the Kitchen” interview with Gail Piernas-Davenport, and dallied with some black eyed peas.

    4. Barbara O’Connor awarded me with a ROAR from the Shameless Lions Writing Circle.

    5. Received two books I had won from blogs recently — “Piper Reed, Navy Brat” by Kimberly Willis Holt (thanks again, Jules), and Daniel Mahoney’s “A Really Good Snowman” (thanks, Kris B.)!

    6. Barack Obama.

    7. My long lost former roommate in London found me through my blog!

    Have a great week!


  7. Hello all and happy new year! It’s great to see everyone back and bragging about all the great things happening to them. I love this look at a new artist. Here’s my list.

    1. Original poems this week by Elaine and cloudscome.What inspirations they are!
    2. My students return in one short week. I’ve missed them and am ready to get going.
    3. My new blog! It’s called Open Wide, Look Inside. It will definitely have more of an orientation for teachers, but will still be about books and poetry.
    4. Winning an iPod grant. I have a brand new 80GB video iPod to experiment with, as well as a very cool microphone so that I can begin podcasting. Cool and a bit scary all at once.
    5. Nonfiction picture books and the shortlist. I worked with an amazing panel putting the list together, and can’t wait to see what the judges think of them.
    6. Tonight I’m participating in a conference call with a few of the nominating panel folks so that it can be recorded for Just One More Book!! You’ll get to hear us talk about our favorites and a few books we liked that didn’t make the cut.
    7. Reading lots of great books over the break.

    Have a wonderful week!


  8. Ashley–lovely, lovely, lovely. I look forward to seeing your career blossom before our eyes.

    My 7 Kicks for the Week:
    1. My nine-year-old daughter, who has had a steep academic climb since her arrival in the US two years ago, is completely enthralled by Pippi Longstocking (new Lauren Child illustrated edition, xmas gift). We’re already on Chapter 3.
    2. Adam Rex’s website: it has a great page about Smekday and his blog has a link to a laughing baby youtube vid that I’ve shared with everyone I know.
    3. Open Wide–Tricia’s new blog. I can’t wait.
    4. All the Cybils shortlists–lots of great books to check out–and lots of affirmation for titles I’ve loved this year.
    5. Thursday morning, before school started, I had to hold my feet still and not do a happy dance when I overheard this conversation of boys talking up Cirque Du Freak to one another. Boys who love basketball, and rap music, and books!!
    6. Megan, at Read Read Read, linked to one of my book blurbs.
    7. Esme is back and posting great recommendations again.


  9. Adrienne, I’m not in a library right now, but when I was, I remember the thrill of book ordering and, especially, when the books arrived. It was like Christmas, getting big boxes of new titles. And I’m glad, Adrienne, you got to spend time with good friends. Ain’t nothing better than that, pretty much.

    Jama, congrats on your well-deserved ROAR nod. 7-Imp got this before the holidays, and since I’m perpetually behind on blog-reading, I just discovered it LAST NIGHT. What a goober I yam. But we appreciate the acknowledgement from HipWriterMama, and we’re very flattered. Thank you, Vivian!

    But, I digress. Yes, cloudscome’s poetry always delivers a good read. I missed her sonnet and will have to go read. And I’ll go back and link to it in your comment if you don’t care.

    Tricia, I’m excited about your new blog. And congrats on the grant!

    Hi, Amy! Enjoyed your kicks. #5 is particularly great!


  10. Jules, I don’t think you’ve ever had a bad idea, but this new blog feature is surely one of your most stellar ones. Yea! I’m going to look forward to the first Sunday of the month, or more, if you do more.

    Kicks:
    1. My daughter and her boyfriend cooked for us and two other families on New Year’s Eve. I mean, an ENTIRE DINNER, plus TWO desserts. We had the second dessert, double-chocolate souffles, with champagne at midnight.
    2. Watching Once with my husband. I knew he’d love all the guitars and song-writing, and he did.
    3. I boxed at the gym, which I haven’t done for a long time. I was sore for three days, but um, I do love hitting a big old bag and making it swing.
    4. A friend invited me to speak at a regional conference for media specialists. Whee!
    5. I’m reading three books at once: poetry, MG and adult. I’m wondering if I can keep this up all year.
    6. Just knowing that I get to read and discuss poetry books all month with my fellow Cybil judges.
    7. My niece (the one battling cancer) got tickets to Hannah Montana given to her by a wonderful nurse. She’s also responding to her new treatment, and they hope to do a stem cell transplant this spring. If you pray, please pray for her.


  11. Oh, and Eisha, “Lulu Atlantis and the Quest for True Blue Love” —what a fab title. And I LOVE that cover.


  12. Hey, Sara . . . thanks for the feedback. I love this idea, too. I kinda do want to do it more often.

    Okay, so your daughter ROCKS — and rawks, too. Chocolate and champagne at midnight sounds scrumptious. And do you know that I’ve always wanted to learn to box? At the risk of sounding like I have anger issues, which I don’t think I do (who me, dammit?), I’ve often thought everyone needs a punching bag in their garage — just for bad days you know? Especially mothers of young children, who can be so irrational that you want to pull your hair out.

    And congrats on that invitation to speak. They’ll love you.

    I’m glad your niece is responding to treatment well right now. Will keep her in thoughts and prayers.

    And, as far as I know, Eisha’s not reading Lulu. That’s me. I just read the third story (during my Sunday morning time-away-from-children bubble bath read-fest), and I’m actually slowing down, ’cause there’s only one more left and I DON’T WANT IT TO END.


  13. Sara, What a gift those Hannah Montana tickets were for your niece! All the years my husband was in treatment, I was continually stunned by how wonderful and caring so many of the medical people were. It’s such a devastating disease and I’d think it would be so hard to look at every day, but the people we encountered behaved with such kindness and compassion. It’s that kind of thing that reminds me that the world is a good place.

    And keep us posted on that stem cell transplant. I certainly will pray for her. The lead up to stem cell is a little intimidating, but I know so many people who have done it and gone into remission, some really amazing stories.

    Jules, I am totally rocking the keeping the place untidy thing today. I have all of the boxes that the Christmas stuff is supposed to go in out, I have most of the decorations near the boxes, and I have gone into another room with my computer, a book, and a cup of coffee. I’m not going back into that room with the boxes for a while.


  14. That’s some excellent resolution work, Adrienne. Way to go — I mean, not go. You’re my hero.

    I can say the same for our jumble of books we need to organize, though I actually am not being inhibited by great ennui. We are just having issues finding decent bookshelves that don’t cost a small fortune.

    Anyway, so I’m with ya.


  15. First up, let me share this research with you – we’re apparently a well-balanced and healthy bunch because of our lists. Hurrah! (Hope the html works here, but as soon as I saw the page I wanted to share it)

    I love the new feature idea, and today’s pics, Jules!

    Sara, two desserts for New Years Eve sounds like a fantastic idea that should be more widely adopted.

    My list:

    1. Lots of books and DVDs are heading this way after many a family member panicked over what to get us for Christmas (those final postage dates sneak up!) and decided on emailable gift vouchers
    2. To continue in the materialistic vein, I got an ipod Nano for Christmas, and I’m enjoying my first MP3 player so much than I ever thought I would. It sounds selfish but it’s quite cool to have a collection of music that I get to have control over! Plus it’s so cute!
    3. We had dinner with a friend on New Years Eve that we hadn’t caught up with for a while
    4. A hankering for leeks saw me make potato and leek soup and chicken and leek pie during the week
    5. Spurred on by my enjoyment of Barbara Kingsolvers Animal, Vegetable, Miracle this week, we finally got around to visiting a nearby farm that sells its own freerange poultry, local game and other produce
    6. Today we went to the Millais exhibition at the Tate. It was a really interesting (and well put-together) exhibition so I’m glad I remembered it was on and finishing soon!
    7. Then we ate our packed lunch by the Thames, wandered around the shops and just generally enjoyed a sunny day in London


  16. I’ve never done a 7 kicks before but here goes…

    1. Visiting 7 Imps this morning and seeing awesome illustrations from Ashley Smith. What a great idea to feature up-and-coming illustrators!
    2. Joining my first ever reading challenge – the 2k8 challenge at teenbookreview.wordpress.com.
    3. Receiving a book in the mail yesterday that I won – Matrimony by Joshua Henkin (courtesy of Dewey’s contest at deweymonster.com)
    4. Anxiously anticipating the Cybils YA finalists that are announced tomorrow
    5. Having more than 50 books at home that I haven’t read yet…now I have plenty to chose from for whatever mood strikes me
    6. Having nothing to do today but read and blog
    7. I saved this one for last because it’s the best – Buying a new laptop that should be here later this month! 🙂

    Thanks, Eisha and Jules! This was lots of fun. 🙂 And I’ll definitely be checking back for future illustrators!


  17. It’s always good to read other people’s kicks. I know they make me face my week and recognize the blessings in them.

    1) My mom’s visit. It was too short but very sweet.
    2) Fingers crossed, things are looking steady for us financially, and I hope this means that we can do some things like visit relatives and do house renovations.
    3) I cleaned off my desk, and found some stuff I’d been missing, including a cd my father made for me and some old photos of when I was three years old (thereabouts). I posted 2 of the photos on my blog today.
    4) My 7th wedding anniversary is next Sunday. I’ll actually be doing a birthday party gig on that day!
    5) For my Christmas present, my mom dyed 25 silks for me to use in storytimes. They’re a bit pricey if you buy them already dyed, but quite reasonable if you dye them yourself.
    6) The Tom Kah Gai soup in our Thai take-out/bring-in meal last night. Coconut milk and lemongrass in soup is a genius idea. I applaud the chef who thought of it.
    7) I think that my barreing exercises on the guitar might actually start to pay off soon.

    Thanks for hosting the 7Kicks, Jules and Eisha! I think it’s lovely that you’re featuring a new illustrator once a month.


  18. Thanks for your support on the PBS thing, Jules, and for commenting over there. I do want to show the folks at PBS that lots of people are interested in children’s books (by having people comment), so you definitely helped.

    Can I also just add that Adrienne is my role model. A John Hughes film fest. I love it. Yay to Amy’s daughter, too, for discovering Pippi. Oh, how I adored her when I was about 9.


  19. Eisha, it’s good to have you back. I hope you are able to retrieve all your files from your computer. I have sympathy for you. As you may recall, my hard drive crashed last July. It cost me $3,000 to get everything back!

    Jules, you’re just too sweet. Thanks for the mention about my poem in the Spring 2008 Roaring Brook Press catalog. I sure was surprised to see it printed in the catalog. I had no idea the publisher was going to use it to highlight the poetry book. I can’t wait to have a copy of FALLING DOWN THE PAGE in my hands.

    Here are my kicks for the last two weeks:

    1. Finding my poem in the Roaring Book Press catalog.

    2. Having you and Tricia consider my poem as a kick of the week.

    3. Your new 7-Imp feature. What a great idea! I love Ashley’s art. I hope to see her published in the not-too-distant future.

    4. The Cybils list of poetry finalists. It was great serving on the poetry-nominating panel with the other members who know so much about children’s poetry. I think we have a great list.

    5. My husband and I spent several days with another couple–two of our closest friends–at their time share in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. We toasted the New Year in with them. Both the husband and wife have had major medical issues in the past year–and both are doing well.

    6. My husband made homemade pizza for us while we were on vacation. His pizza is to die for!!!

    7. In September, my mother had bleeding in her right eye caused by macular degeneration. She lost a lot of vision in her eye. On Friday, I took her to the retina specialist that she has been seeing. We got good news. It appears the injections in her eye have worked. I’m happy to say that my mother has regained much of the sight she lost.

    8. I spent this afternoon with Grace Lin. She decided that in 2008 she would help her friends who are hoping to get a children’s book published. She’s determined that I have to get a book contract this calendar year. She ordered me to send out a manuscript tomorrow. It’s a collection of list poems from which I selected “Things to Do If You Are a Pencil” to send to Georgia Heard. Wish me luck. I’ll need it!

    9. Tricia’s new blog. It will be a great resource for elementary teachers. I’m going to recommend it to the students in my children’s literature course.

    Jules and Eisha,

    Happy New Year…and thanks for your oustanding blog!


  20. Colleen: Count me in for WCOB tomorrow – The Alison Rules by Catherine Clark.

    Go Jen go!

    Thanks, Jules!

    Adrienne: Hurrah for friends and John Hughes movies! Enjoy getting new books with that budget.

    Amy S.: Pippi Longstocking is great, and the new Lauren & Tiina edition is adorable.

    Sara: ((vibes)) for your niece.

    Happy anniversary, Alkelda!


  21. Oops, Jules. Sometimes, my thinking and typing don’t play well together.

    Alkelda, happy anniversary, and if you ever want good Tom Kah Gai soup when you aren’t doing take-out, try Amy’s Organic version from Whole Foods. It’s the best in a can that I’ve found, and I LOVE Thai soup.

    And thanks, everyone, for all the good thoughts for my niece. She really is a tough cookie, but I worry every day for her.


  22. 1. My first kick is doing a list of kicks for the first time, which I am doing because

    2. I have my work computer at home, so I’ve been able to comment on blogs on a Sunday, which the aged mac won’t let me do, because

    3. I needed a working computer for last night’s wee hours of the morning Cybils YA discussion, which it was great to be part of, even though Jackie ended up having to channel my comments despite work computer, and this led to

    4. Me re-reading one of the books that made the list, so as to write a blurb for it, and laughing and crying all over again, which is the best sort of reading experience one can have, and after that

    5. I was finally able to gloat over my pile of Christmas and Birthday books, and start reading a totally non YA book about an Edwardian English girl,

    6. And today the boys’ Christmas presents all got put, not tidily away, but at least away, except for one,

    7. A set of wooden disc things that fit together, no batteries, no plastic, no nothing but wood, that kept them playing happily together long enough for me to read 1 and 1/2 books (also known as modeling good reading habits).

    That was fun!


  23. Good evening all. Been cleaning and organizing and finally more on the mend….So many great kicks!! The Ashley Smith preview is fabulous and it is awesome that the first of the month will feature some one new to the ilustrating scene. Great idea, Jules.
    Eisha, congrats on the new job and isn’t technology great when it works. I hope your files are recovered soon. Yummm, double chocolate souffle Sara? Happy anniversay to Alkelda and good luck Elaine, love the idea of the list poem.
    My kicks?
    1. Getting a photo named as one of the “Top 100” and in the Top 10 for the Water category. Please go to my blog and get the directions to vote on line this week. The photos are astounding so I am honored to have one make the list.
    2. The coast over new years. Quiet, cold and relaxing.
    3. Organizing my work space for the new year.
    4. Seeing Sweeney Todd last night. Johnny Depp rocks.
    5. The herbal heat pack that Chuck gave me for Christmas…heat it up and it warms the whole back with lavendar goodness.
    6. Foot bath, massage, and parafin dip at the Barefoot Sage one Friday.
    7. Getting to workout after not being able to for two weeks.
    Have a wonderful week.


  24. Emmaco, now how did you come across that great article? “The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude” — Nietzsche. Me likey. Something to think about this week. And I like your Kingsolver story. I got that book for my husband for his b’day fairly recently, and for Christmas, I got him The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Read that one? One day I wanna borrow and read these things myself, too.

    Em, I really, really love when brand-new people come and leave kicks. Well, you’re not a brand-new person, but you know what I mean. I hope you come back, ’cause, well, as you’ll see from the article Emma found, it’s healthy for you. Wahoo! I wish I had a whole week or something for unlimited reading, but aw hell, I’d miss my girls, too. Congrats on your reading-and-blogging-only day.

    Alkelda, ooh ooh! Can’t wait to go see those pics. And do tell what you use the silks for. And our *eighth* wedding anniversary is on Tues. Ours are at similar times. Awesome.

    Elaine: Go, Grace Lin! She ordered you to do that tomorrow? Excellent. I love it. If ANYone can get their children’s poetry published, shoot-fire, it’s you. Good luck. And I’m glad your mom regained most of her vision — how scary that would be.

    Charlotte, welcome! Are you going to get to keep your work computer at home? And congrats to you, too, on uninterrupted reading time. With two young ‘uns, it’s a rarity, huh?


  25. Jone, we were posting at the same time, I suppose.

    When I worked as a full-time sign language interpreter at a university, hand-flappin’ all day long in classes from Epidemiology to Clinical Pharmacology, we had a paraffin (sp?) dip in the office that was our headquarters (of sorts) — to dip our hands in. My goodness, I wanted to marry that thing. Felt SO good.

    Glad you’re feeling better. Will visit your blog to see the pics . . .


  26. Jules, someone on my LJ friend’s list linked to it recently (I don’t think I would have gone looking for evidence as I already knew making these lists was fun!)

    I haven’t read The omnivore’s dilemma yet – because I do agriculture and environment stuff at work I sometimes find this type of book a bit obvious or didatic. But if it includes a well-told story, I’m in! And reviews for the omnivore book sound pretty good so perhaps that will be another for my list…


  27. Seven Kicks:
    1. Hearing from Eisha (at last!)
    2. Seeing the CYBILS shortlists
    3. Being chosen as the new RC for the Eastern PA chapter of the Jane Austen Society of North America.
    4. Interviewing Bruce Coville chez moi.
    5. The kids going back to school (yippee!)
    6. Jon Scieszka’s news – how awesometastic is that? (Meaning both the creation of the position and his selection to fill it.)
    7. New quilting materials. Now to actually start cutting . . .


  28. Congrats again, Kelly, on your Jane Austen news. They couldn’t have chosen better. And your Coville interview was awesome.


  29. Since I’m late, I’ll stick with just a few:

    1. It finally feels like the holidays are over and the new year has begun! I love the holidays, but fresh starts are even better.
    2. Lots of kids in my house.
    3. The tree that fell on my house in the recent high winds in California only *barely fell on my house. Whew!

    Happy (belated) New Year, everyone!


  30. Kris, a tree fell on your house? Glad you’re all okay.


  31. […] Some of my favorite student or brand-spankin’-new illustrators we featured last year include Ashley Smith, Chris Eliopoulos (a.k.a. “Elio”), Kali Ciesemier, James Hindle, Maris Wicks, and […]


  32. […] to sounding not unlike a motivational speaker. I also talked about the first Benny and Penny back here in January ‘08. Yeah, I lurv […]


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