7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #56:
Featuring Laura Nyman Montenegro

h1 March 30th, 2008 by Eisha and Jules

Jules: What a pleasure it is to have Laura Nyman Montenegro here today to share some art work from her latest title with us! If you’re already familiar with some of Laura’s previous titles (here’s just one of my favorites), then you already know about her beautiful line-and-watercolor spreads and, as the above Just One More Book!! link put it well, her stories of “confidence, creativity and acceptance.” And here’s something not-to-be-missed: A Spring ’08 feature on Laura at The Prairie Wind (newsletter of the SCBWI-Illinois chapter), in which Laura talks about what a person’s bookshelf reveals about him or her — and elaborates on her own mother’s bookshelf, as she viewed it as a child:

I always felt there was an intimacy about her bookshelf, as though each book revealed something personal about her. And when I try to understand my attraction to books, I see that it is not only the physical beauty of the book that I love, but more so, this deep personal connection between one who writes a book and one who reads it. It’s the miracle of the sharing of the human experience in this way.

Laura, who also teaches classes in the art of picture-book-making, talks about her process in that short SCBWI-Illinois piece as well (“{c}reating a picture book is, for me, a big, messy process”), including her use of clothes pins and string to hang art on her walls. And she talks about her latest title, A Poet Bird’s Garden (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007), which I reviewed here in January, and its genesis. The images she shared with us today are from that title, and here’s what Laura had to tell us about them:

When Natalie’s pet bird, Chirpie, won’t come down from the tree, Natalie’s friend Monica calls the poets and begs them to come help. Call the poets! The poets will know what to do! Poets always think and see with imagination. And when they let their quirky ideas fly, they come up with an idea. A beautiful garden. A place so wild and enticing that no bird can resist it. A garden so lush and wild that only a poet could bring it to life. I wanted this garden to be a place that was completely untamed, a place in the middle of a city block that would be filled with birds, a place to sit and drink in the beauty of the trees tossed about by the wind and the grasses rustling below. I like the idea of giving poets, and their completely unconventional way of looking at the world, a chance to solve the problems we face. That they imagine and create a space for the community, a place that is wild and unruly and beautiful is true to life and I say, listen to them all the more!

Many, many thanks to Laura for stopping by! Many of you had the chance to meet her, as I did, at last year’s kidlit conference. It was a delight, chatting with her. I believe she will be launching a new web site soon, so keep your eyes out for that (as well as a 7-Imp Q & A in a new illustrator-interview format I’m working on).

As a reminder, 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 well as featuring artists like Laura). You — yes, you reading now — are more than welcome to leave your kicks from the week, whether you’ve ever done so before or not.

* * * eisha’s kicks * * *

Rod Serling, about to pop a cap in yo’ ass.1* Jules made it home from Boston safe and sound, in spite of what sounds like some harrowing mishaps.

2* Remember that mysterious good news I had last week but wasn’t ready to share? It was a job interview, which took place Friday. I think it went pretty well, despite the cold sore that appeared on my lip that very morning.

3* Here’s a weird kick: the chair of the academic department where I’m temping is one of the editors of the most recent Norton Shakespeare anthology. He asked me to do something menial, and I joked, “yeah, okay… if you give me a signed copy of your book.” Which he did!

4* I’ve been doing lots of reading in preparation for several potential co-reviews that Jules and I are talking about. I always get a kick out of talking books with J.

5* Hey, this is kind of a cool thing you may not know: Ithaca College, where my husband teaches, holds the archival collection of Rod Serling. They hosted the second-ever conference in his honor this weekend, which included the first ever I could just take a bite out of those cheeks. They’re even frosted!staged reading of an original uncensored script. It’s called “Noon on Doomsday,” and it was inspired by the murder of Emmett Till. I saw it, and it was really moving.

6* And – surprise! – my husband acted in it. He didn’t even tell me until the night before, that Mr. Crafty McSneakypants.

7* My nephew turned one on Thursday. I didn’t get to go home for his party, but evidently there was cake. And I hope there was a nap right after this photo was taken.

7.5* Oh, and the illustrations this week are fun. I like the pensive-staring-at-bird one best.

* * * Jules’ kicks * * *

Eisha, AWWWWW. Your number one kick is mighty sweet. And look at your nephew — the Eisha in him is strong! I see you in that face.

As I mentioned this week, I went to a company meeting in Boston (for the company for which I serve as a very part-time contractor) at the end of the week, and I was supposed to return last night. However, I missed my connecting flight to Nashville — long story, involving the first flight being delayed and another Nashvillian and I running like hell through the airport with about thirty seconds to catch the flight, which had already ditched us! The airport put me up in a very loud hotel, and I got about two hours of sleep, so I think I’m going to head to bed here (on Saturday night, as I type this). But first, some kicks:

1). I FINALLY met the people I work with (I had only met one face-to-face before, as most of our work gets done virtually), and everyone was way nice and way interesting. These are people with Harvard business degrees who teach business simulations as well as computer geniuses and such, who lead very interesting lives all-around. This includes one of the software developers, a British lad now in Santa Cruz, whose wife is an astronomer and studies what she calls “galaxy forensics”; who is fascinated by physics and improv acting exercises; and who is writing his third science fiction novel. And the business simulation facilitator who used to be a minister. And the other software developer who grows his own hops. And the other facilitator who travelled all the continents this year. And one of the co-founder’s stories over dinner about working on an oil rig in Texas in high school and getting ribbed for reading Leon Uris’ Trinity while there (poor guy got hosed down for not reading a book with pictures). Really nice, really interesting people, and I’m happy to be in their company.

2)Though I got stuck in Phili overnight and didn’t get home when I wanted to, I got stuck with another Nashvillian, a science teacher who became my buddy and we endured our wah-wah-we’d-rather-be-home-right-now pity party together.

3)I missed my family something FIERCE, and I’m happy to be home again. I was seriously jonesing for some hugs from my wee babes.

4)Laura’s art work today. Beautiful stuff, and I love that book.

5)I got lots of reading — glorious reading — done during my travels. Well, “lots” for me, who has little windows of time to read with two young children. I was free of child-interruptions, though, and actually even finished a novel. That was rather heavenly.

6)ZZZZZZZZZZZ . . . Hubba wha? Okay, I need to go sleep instead of type. I am seriously behind on blog-reading, and I hope folks come visit today to update on their worlds, while — in the meantime — I try to get caught up. (It’s no fun to not have time to read Poetry Friday posts.)

What are your kicks this week?

22 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #56:
Featuring Laura Nyman Montenegro”

  1. Today’s illustrations are wonderful. Looking at the two covers of the books, I can see why I haven’t picked up her books before. There seems to be something weak with the covers. The illustration itself is nice, but it doesn’t give credit to the scope of the illustrations on the inside pages. Thanks for sharing this book, I’ll have to go seek it out now.

  2. I see Eisha in her nephew, too! And I’m imagining Eisha gave that academic chair a sad look like that sweet cake-smeared face, and THAT’S how she snared that book. Who could resist? Yay for your interview, too—I hope you hear back soon.

    Jules, I hate airports, and as for airport hotels—why do they bother putting beds in them, because you can’t sleep there, ever. Those folks you work with sounded worth making the trip for, though–they’re like characters in a hip novel.

    I LOVE the illustrations today, and the interview you linked to was so good. I liked seeing her artwork pinned up on string, and hearing about her going into the Art Institute every Saturday.

    OK, what do I have?
    1. Friends made me blueberry bread.
    2. I ate it with ice cream.
    3. My son had his first race as part of his team’s top boat yesterday, and they did well.
    4. Finished I am the Messenger. Still thinking about it.
    5. Finally getting curtains for my downstairs. (I’m the world’s slowest decorator, prodded into it only by peer pressure and the kindness of talented friends. )
    6. New camera! No one is safe!
    7. Jama’s red dress post on Friday. Fashion and poetry…so great.

  3. WORD, Sara! I was actually thinking that I’d have slept better in the dang airport all night. My sudden flying buddy — the other Nashvillian who also got stranded — was two floors down in the same hotel and probably slept less than I did.

    Ah well. I at least got a lot of reading done, sitting around in airports. Silver lining.

    Sara, my oldest loves All Things Blueberry. I’ll have to make her some blueberry bread. And I’m with you on being a slow interior decorator. I do it all rather glacially. I’m really bad, actually, about trying to stamp my personality and favorite things all over the walls before I do something like make sure we have proper insulation.

    And I must go see Jama’s post. I was computer-less while away, so I’m so behind.

    Hope you like the books, Carter.

  4. Eisha, that nephew-too cute. Jules, poor thing stuck in an airport. I hate that! What did you read while at the airport?
    My kicks:
    1. My “blueblox”, the box with 4 portfolio entries for national boards was sent off on Thursday night. Hooray!
    2. The Jersey shore with my cousins. I saw 3 of the 13 yesterday, one with their 7 week baby boy who slept in my arms the entire time.
    3. Cappucicno Italian ice with vanilla ice cream.
    4. Planning for the poetry postcard event during April.
    5. The cold crisp sunny spring day here in Belmar.
    6. Snow when I was leaving Portland, not sticking but crazy weather.
    7. Spring Break!
    Have a great week.

  5. I’m hoping you don’t all die of shock at the sight of me here after so very long an absence…

    I don’t have seven kicks, but I do have a couple.

    1 – I read Audrey Niffenegger’s “The Time Traveler’s Wife” this week (yeah, I know, that bandwagon was 5 years ago !). It’s absolutely the sort of book I love (although those of you who commented on my Poetry Friday entry on Friday might have warned me the end would leave me weeping !)

    2 – David Tennant co-hosted The Friday Night Project on Channel 4 on Friday and it was absolutely hysterical ! And Freema Ageyman (who was Companion to DT’s Doctor last year) guested and was fantastic as well… 50 mins of very funny TV with two lovely people – definitely to die for !

    3 – The new season of Doctor Who starts next week – I guess I’m pleased (though speculation and rumour about the “everything-but-the-kitchen-sink” finale are making me nervous, but that’s 14 weeks away so I’m trying not to think about it !)

    4 – After 3 days of sleeping badly (my body thought it’d get me ready for us putting the clocks forward last night – without consulting me), I’m starting to catch up on the sleep I’d lost…

    5 – Watching Classic Who (ie the stuff from before Russell T Davies brought the show back) is inspiring my fanfic writing a great deal at the moment – which is definitely fun !

    And I’m done…

  6. Hello hello hello!

    Eisha, your nephew is so cute I could eat him up (and all his birthday cake). Hope you hear some good news on your interview very soon. Hee hee, Mr. Crafty McSneakypants!

    Jules, glad you got home safely. Delays are always a drag. The people you met sound fascinating!! Good group of characters for your novel 🙂 . . .

    Spring kickiness:

    1. Learning about Laura and seeing her work. I love (new to me) illustrators! Also like what she said about the poet’s bird garden. Great quote.

    2. Got my Sam Phillips CD yesterday!! Haven’t listened to it yet, though. First, I need a martini and a bikini.

    3. Interviewing Laura Vaccaro Seeger on Tuesday. She was a dream to work with!

    4. Making Sara’s kicks this week! Maybe all PF people should wear red on Fridays.

    5. Just went into D.C. to see the cherry blossoms! Huge masses of people clicking away on their cameras. A lovely sight.

    6. Seeing lots of critters in the back yard. Mr. Donnelly (the groundhog), flickers, big woodpeckers, bluebirds, bluejays, cardinals, juncos, doves, etc. I’m a bird watching freak so I loved the idea of a poet’s bird garden today!

    7. Taste-testing new brands of dark chocolate: Green and Black, Vivani, Valor, Lake Champlain. All in the interest of research :).

    Have a lovely week. April’s almost here!

  7. Jone, many, many congrats on getting your portfolio box sent off! That is most excellent news.

    Michele? I had to do a double-take. We’ve missed you. Glad David didn’t let you down, but then he never does. Good luck catching up on sleep. This is my goal this weekend as well.

    Jama, Martinis and Bikinis is awesome in seven different directions. But then you have to take a listen to The Fan Dance and A Boot and a Shoe, too, when you’re done. They couldn’t be more different than Martinis and Bikinis (which sounds an awful lot like a Jimmy Bufett title, no?).

    And you interviewed Seeger and I missed it? Man, I’m so behind. Will have to visit and catch up soon.

    I remember seeing those cherry blossoms in the spring in D.C. Loveliness.

  8. It’s great to be back and reading everyone’s lists!

    1. Despite the snow last weekend (WHICH I MISSED! I CAN’T BELIEVE IT SNOWED WITHOUT ME) I know spring has officially arrived in my town. I know this because the old men are back on their seats. When we arrived late last summer we discovered that a favourite pastime for old men of the town is to sit on seats in the main street and watch people go by, and today they returned!
    2. Speaking of spring, we went on a container and seed buying frenzy and now I am planning out pots and hoping for lots of lovely flowers in summer.
    3. Also spring-like are the number of babies that are being born. This includes the baby my cousin just had this weekend!
    4. I not only survived but enjoyed some training I did at work this week that included the scary task of having to practice a meeting with a roleplay actor and have it filmed so we could all critique it! (In case it sounds like it was just me, we did it in small groups, but it was still scary!)
    5. Lots of simple but easily put off household chores were accomplished today (like clearing out empty cardboard boxes from a handy space behind the couch/under the stairs).
    6. We did a super efficient shop yesterday where we ended up getting everything on our list, including some preparations for visitors in a couple of weeks.
    7. Our council has announced we are all getting kitchen caddies and compost bins that they will collect every week for recycling. For someone without a garden that could use up compost, this is exciting news!

  9. Emmaco, your town will collect compost bins? Man, I’m jealous. That’s great. ……Sounds like you’re hunkering down and getting lots of around-the-home stuff done, which is always good. And congrats on surviving the training.

    And I forgot to answer Jone. At the airport, I started an actual adult novel called Keeper and Kid (this man has an uncanny ability to nail the surprises of parenthood and its inherent lack of personal freedoms), and I finished April Lurie’s The Latent Powers of Dylan Fontaine. I also continued reading a nonfiction title about Starbucks and their world domination — and the pros and cons of such domination. Did you know in Portland, Oregon, there are Starbucks 12 feet from one another? And that the world’s rivers and lakes are full of surprising amounts of caffeine any more, ’cause we all drink so much coffee? And that Starbucks, despite what you might think, actually helps the mom-and-pop coffee shops of the world? To be sure, they put a dent in the local color / diversity of cities, seeing as how Starbucks are everywhere (including Dr. Evil’s lair) and all the same, but I found that fun fact surprising.

    I wonder if Adrienne’s read this book yet.

    Oh, and I started The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks.

  10. Eisha, I can’t believe your nephew is a year old! Can it be that long that we’ve been oohing and aahing over his pics? Jules, I’m glad you’re back safe and sound. I hate traveling for business these days, often for the very reasons you experienced. Having said this, I must also admit that I am preparing myself for a conference this week.

    Here are my kicks for the week.
    1. My field placement director is retiring and we have been planning a surprise party for him. He just found out (accidentally) when he learned his brother is coming from SC to be there. He got a bit weepy, but he deserves the recognition and I’m glad were doing it.

    2. We interviewed four amazing candidates for his position last week. I am stressing over the final choice, but know no matter who we choose, we’ll get someone great.

    3. I finally got the report back about our accreditation review, and while there are a few things we must work on, it’s pretty darn good.

    4. I received several new books to review, all art related.

    5. Our tax refund arrived just one short week after filing. Sadly, most of it will go towards fixing up my car and home maintenance.

    6. My nephews, both 18, found out this week that they have gotten into their first choices for college. One is going to Boston University (UR was his second choice), the other is coming here and will be going to Virginia Commonwealth University. I was hoping to have both of them in Richmond (selfish me), but I’m thrilled one of them will be here, crashing on my couch and stopping by for laundry and a meal on occasion.

    7. Husband and son had a sleepover this week with some friends, so I had the house all to myself! Okay, selfish again, I know, but oh so lovely.

    Have a great week, all!

  11. Hey, all. Sorry I’ve been scarce – internet issues all afternoon. Grr. But this is Kicks Time, so I will not dwell on the unkicky.

    CarterBham, welcome. And I’m pretty sure there’s a saying about juding a book by its cover, isn’t there? 😉

    Sara, new camera! That is serious fun. And I sympathize with your pokey decorating. I just got around to hanging some curtains today, too. Probably only because the ‘net was down.

    WOO-HOO, JONE!!!! Congrats! How much lighter you must feel with all that paperwork gone.

    Michele, WELCOME BACK!! I’m so glad to hear from you – I think of you often, as the husband and I have become big fans of the new Doctor Who too! I’ve been watching some of the classic stuff, too.

    Jama, Mr. Donnelly is a perfect name for a groundhog. I think he might need someone to write his story, don’t you?

    Hey, Emmaco, glad you’re back too. Sorry you missed the snow, but I’m jealous of the spring you’re having. It’s just now, maybe, today, starting to seem a little springy here. Maybe…

    Tricia, congrats on the accreditation review, and on the tax refund, and to your nephews… you had quite a week!

  12. Tricia, thanks for stopping by. Have fun at that retirement party for your colleague, and congrats on the good accreditation review.

    I hear ya on the car maintenance thing. My husband’s car got new brakes today, and mine is next.

  13. Okay, I’ve got to leave one more kick. I just found out that a dear friend was picked, out of hundreds of entries, to be sponsored by Oprah to do her Big Give project!!!

    And I couldn’t believe in her dream more: it’s to raise at least $120,000.00 to furnish a 40 unit apartment building that will provide housing for 40 homeless, honorably discharged veterans.

    I’ll be blogging about this—you know I will—but I’m so excited I had to share. Not only is this woman beautiful inside and out, she was a top-notch fighter pilot and one of the best instructor pilots ever, who served her time, got out and went back to school to get her masters in philanthropy! Is that cool, or what? Sneak peek here: (she’s the second one, Katie Taylor) http://www.theindychannel.com/entertainment/15651942/detail.html#

  14. Wow, Sara. That’s pretty stinkin’ cool! WOOT!

  15. It sounds like everyone had a pretty good week! Jules, I can’t believe you were in Boston. Did you get a chance to sightsee at all? Eisha, you got some Shakespeare? You lucky gal.

    Sara, that is so cool about your friend.

  16. Hi, Vivian. Nope, I didn’t have a second for sight-seeing, and technically I was in Concord the entire time. Maybe next time!

  17. Sara, that is incredibly cool! And inspiring!

    Hey, Vivian!

  18. I read A KITTEN TALE in a store yesterday and spoke of both of you and the Kicks when I picked it up!

    Eisha: Go you! Go job interview! Go Rod Sterling! Go your husband!

    Jules: Yikes. Glad you are safe and sound.

    This week’s kicks:

    * like an average person!

  19. Julies – I knew I’d cause a shock, turning up like the proverbial penny !

    Eisha – great taste !! Which Classic Who Doctor(s) are you watching? I’m currently working my way through Tom Baker’s earliest episodes with much love and affection for the Fourth Doctor, Sarah Jane Smith and Harry Sullivan (he’s my new TV Boyfriend !)

  20. Little Willow, let’s hear it for regular sleep!

  21. Nice list, Little Willow – very succinct.

    Michele, we’ve been watching the “Key to Time” episodes, featuring the Fourth Doctor and Romana. One of them (so far) was written by Douglas Adams, which is kind of awesome.

  22. Thanks for the introduction to Laura’s work and art!

    Best, Kyra

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