Jules: Welcome to our weekly 7 Kicks list, 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.
This week we’re happy to be featuring the art work of illustrator Doug Chayka, whose critically-acclaimed illustrated books are listed here and whose most recent title is the Cybils-shortlisted Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2007). The above illustration is from this title, a poignant tale of courage about two girls in a Pakistani refugee camp who share a pair of sandals that begins a friendship. The book was inspired by a refugee girl who asked the authors why there were no books about children like her. Here’s another one of Mr. Chayka’s beautiful acrylic illustrations from this title, the final illustration in the book:
“In Four Feet, Two Sandals,” Doug told us, “I wanted the warm, dry color palette of the bare landscape to contrast with the accents of brightly colored clothing and the patterns of the makeshift tents. I think this contrast helps underline the difficult conditions in which the refugees of this vibrant culture are forced to live. An interesting setting is enough to get me really excited about illustrating a story, but the attention that Four Feet brings to the issue of refugees, especially children, impacted by the war in the middle east is the important aspect of the book. I was glad to be a part of it. And it was great to see the book make it on the Cybils’ shortlist!”
Fortunately for us all, Doug directed us to — and gave us permission to post — some illustrations from a new self-published book of drawings as well, entitled SPREE (above and to the left is an illustration from it, and the cover’s on the right). Here’s what Doug had to say about it:
The summer of 2006 was the first time I was able to get back to Berlin and spend a longer period of time there since studying painting and printmaking there on a Fulbright scholarship from 2000-2002. I made about 1,000 drawings over three months, then spent the winter back in Brooklyn editing and combining them into a 340-page book that I called SPREE (the Spree River runs through the city). I’m exhibiting the book and prints from the book at New York University’s Deutsches Haus from Dec. 1 to Jan. 25, 2008.
Doug’s site further describes this collection of drawings in this way: “These fragments, impressions and meditations build to create a free-flow of images that capture the highs, lows and in-betweens of summer in the city.” Below is a picture of the big wallpaper installation of many of the SPREE drawings from the aforementioned exhibition at Deutsches Haus.
Neat, huh? What is Doug working on now? you may wonder. “Right now, I’m just getting started illustrating a new children’s picture book set in Spain during the 1500s. It’s going to be fun! I also have a small series of paintings coming out in Cricket Magazine in March illustrating a story called ‘The Mummy Tent’ that is set in ancient Egypt, written by Kimberly Griffiths Little.”
Eisha and I thank Doug for stopping by and sharing his art work with us. If you’re interested in even more of his work, his blog — which can keep you up-to-date on events and new projects — is here (check out his latest illustration for The Nation. Wow).
1* My sister’s laptop arrived by mail, so I’m all ‘netified again. She even left a bunch of pics and tunes on it for me, and the desktop has a big ol’ picture of the two of us from Christmas. Sweetie.
2* The husband and I finally, FINALLY found a rug we agree on for the living room. Seriously, people - you have no idea how big a deal this is. It was even cheap! Which is good, ’cause it was smaller than we wanted, so we ended up getting two.
3* My temp job at Cornell has led to another temp job at Cornell - the manager of the department where I’m working found out about another opening, and passed my resume along.
4* And it turns out Cornell is paying me quite a bit more than I’ve made at previous temp jobs. Hence the fit of rug-buying.
5* We don’t really have room for a freestanding coat rack in this apartment, but it’s Ithaca, so obviously we need somewhere to hang coats. We went to an architectural salvage place today to look for something else, but came out with a piece of baseboard and a bunch of old doorknobs, and the husband is going to make us a coat-hanging-thingy to go on the wall. I think it’s going to be awesome.
6* I’ve been reading The Coyote Road: Trickster Tales, a collection by Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow that I picked up at that Kidlit Conference in Chicago in October, but hadn’t had time to read before now. It’s got some great stories, and it is still so awesome to be reading stuff with magic in it after all that teen-angst realism.
7* A new Japanese restaurant opened up in town at the first of the year, and they’ve had a special running all month: 30% off everything. We got delivery last weekend, and we’re doing it again tonight. They have excellent vegetable gyoza, and B. loves the Godzilla tempura roll. Mmm.
Well, I was in a foul mood all week (poor Eisha got an earful from me, but, hey, what are best friends for? Oh, and I thank her for listening). BUT, two random lovely things happened to me. And those two things managed to eradicate said mood and make me go, now, what was I so irritated about? And why did it matter? And those two things would be Kick Number One and Kick Number Two:
1). My brother, whom I adore, sent me an email just to tell me he loves me, and he totally. wrote. me. a. poem. A beautiful poem. Just for me. The poem part is noteworthy, ’cause he is very left-brained, type-A, normally rather reticent, and an electrical engineer, who has always claimed to be uncreative. This email came out of the freakin’ blue (well, it was sparked by the fact that my family and I were, as I mentioned before, in an almost-wreck on the interstate during the holidays, a kind of almost-wreck — as in, spinning around in circles in the middle of the interstate — whose results could have been very grim, indeed, but apparently we had some kind of force field around us that day). Just to tell me he loves me. Just to make sure I know. Now, I ask you, my friends: Does it get any better than that?
It’s a great poem. He’s a talented writer.
2). Another blogger emailed me and Eisha to thank us for something. And what he thanked me for was a surprise, indeed — something I was happy to do but didn’t even realize I was doing. That email was a real kick to read.
3). Okay, normally, this would trump everything else, but kicks number one and two will have to reign (kick number one will not likely get topped for a long, long time — if ever):
Sam Phillips. “Don’t Do Anything.” New CD. I only have to wait 37 more days for it (I think. The release date keeps getting moved around). Please understand, when a new Sam CD comes out, the world stops for me. I do nothing else but listen to the CD. Repeatedly. It’s quite possible I could stop posting at 7-Imp for, like, a month, but I’ll try to make sure that doesn’t happen. And that my children get attended to. And all that.
4). My husband and girls and I had brunch yesterday with one of my best friends (who’s pregnant! It’s a boy, I tell ya! A boy!) and her husband and an old high school friend, whom I hadn’t seen in yeeeeears, and his partner. Much fun was had, especially when we started reminiscing about high school. If Wes is reading this: God, I’ve missed you, and it was so fun to see you. And to Ritchie I simply say: Puddin’. You’re puddin’.
5). There’s a new web site for Hop! Plop! by Corey Rosen Schwartz, Tali Klein, and Olivier Dunrea (which I reviewed here in ‘06). Love that book. What a pretty site. And I just now one-second-ago noticed (after I decided to list this as a kick, cross my heart and hope to die) that they have listed 7-Imp as a favorite children’s lit blog. Aw shucks. Thanks. We’re flattered.
6). The ALA award announcements from this week. Go, Hugo! Go, Mo! Go, Stephanie Hemphill and Sean Qualls and R. Gregory Christie (that last one is more of a mouthful, but they’re all well-deserved)! Now, Kelly Fineman pointed out that the day those awards were announced was a great day for poetry. To that I say, word! And then I say woo! And then I add a hoo! But I got’ta’thinkin’ today about how it was also a good day for books about deafness or American Sign Language, and as someone who has a degree in sign language interpreting, worked in that field for a good, long while, and whose most recent job was librarian at a school for the deaf, I yell another woo! hoo! There’s Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson; Kami and the Yaks by Andrea Stenn Stryer and illustrated by Bert Dodson; and Hurt Go Happy by Ginny Rorby. Did I miss anything? Does Reaching for the Sun have sign language in it? Sadly, I haven’t read a single one of these titles, but they’re all in my very tall to-be-read pile.
Add to that the fact that one of the authors of Four Feet, Two Sandals, Karen Lynn Williams, has her Master’s degree in Deaf Education. And so does Corey Rosen Schwartz, co-author of Hop! Plop!. See? The rest of the world just needs to learn American Sign Language.
P.S. 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.: Don’t miss this post from MotherReader this week.
7). Laser cats 2.
Thanks for stopping by. What are your kicks this week?