7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #59: Featuring Peter Brown

h1 April 20th, 2008 by Eisha and Jules

Jules: When Eisha and I co-reviewed the wonderful Kaline Klattermaster’s Tree House by Haven Kimmel this past February, we featured some of the book’s interior illustrations by Peter Brown, which made our long post way more entertaining to read. And I took that opportunity to ask Peter if he’d let us feature him one Sunday; lucky for us, he said yes. Peter is the creator of the Chowder books and also did cover and interior art for both Barkbelly and Snowbone by Cat Weatherill, which we’ve covered here and here at 7-Imp (the latter with Betsy Bird). Visiting Peter’s site (one of two, the other dedicated to Chowder himself), I also see that his first book is one I must find and read, seeing as how his description for it at his site begins with: “Have you ever been pooped on by a bird?” and is, apparently, about a penguin and what he does when “he feels the humiliating sting of goose poop on his favorite jacket.” (I say there’s nothing like a bit of scatalogical humor on your Sunday morning). That was in 2005 when Publishers Weekly called Peter “a promising new talent.” And writers might get a kick out of visiting here and clicking on “Books” and then “How I Work” to see Peter’s trenchant, illuminating commentary into this complicated process called writing.

Peter stopped by this morning to share these wonderful illustrations, to tantalize us with work from a forthcoming title, The Curious Garden, due to be published in Spring 2009. Here’s what Peter had to say about it:

It’s about Liam, a boy living in a very dreary city, who discovers wildflowers and plants growing on an old, abandoned railway. He decides to become a gardener to take care of the mysterious plants. Years later, thanks to Liam’s hard work, new gardens and gardeners have popped up all across the city. If this story seems familiar at all, it’s because I was inspired by the true story of the “Highline,” where wildflowers and plants completely overtook an old, abandoned railway in the center of Manhattan.

Here are two more illustrations from The Curious Garden. We’re so pleased that Peter stopped by to share with us this morning, and we’re looking forward to this title and future creations from Peter. Many thanks to him!

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 Peter). 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 * * *

Andy Goldsworthy. Sorry, I don’t know the title of this one.1* Peter Brown! Those illustrations rock!

2* Temps have gotten up to the mid-70s this week, with gorgeous sunny skies and deliciously cool nights. It’s perfect.

3* My current temp job should have ended, since they filled the position I was filling in for. But they kept me on for a special project. I’m working for an academic department that happens to have a bunch of books, videos and DVDs that they loan out to professors and students. They’ve asked me to make a proper library out of it.

4* As part of that project, I have to go through all the old personnel files of former professors, to compile a list of them so I can identify books in the collection by faculty authors. Friday, I was making my Another work by Andy Goldsworthy. Sorry, don’t know the name of this one either. But isn’t it gorgeous?way through the records, and had just gotten past the Ms and into the Ns when I found a file labeled… Nabokov, Vladimir . Yeah, seriously. He taught at Cornell in the 1950s, which I kind of knew, but… I certainly didn’t expect to just blunder upon his file. There wasn’t anything with his actual signature or anything – I’m sure all that’s been moved to an archive – but there was a copy (the old onion-skin carbon copy type) of his resignation letter saying he needed to write full time, and the original letter from his wife Vera telling the chair of the department what to do with the stuff he’d left behind in his office (including a pair of skis).

5* Then, after working through the Ns and Os, I found a file for Paz, Octavio. At the time he was appointed as a visiting professor, he was serving as the Mexican Ambassador to India. Did you know that? I didn’t know that.

Jekyll6* On Thursday night my husband and I went to see a lecture presentation by Andy Goldsworthy, an artist we both admire. He’s been a Professor-at-Large for Cornell for the past 8 years, and had used student labor to complete some of his projects during that time. It was totally inspiring. I wish there were a less-cliche way to say it, but there it is.

7* We’ve discovered a new show, thanks to Netflix’s recommendation: Jekyll. It’s a BBC series about a modern-day possible-descendant of Dr. Jekyll who has recently started dealing with the same, er, personality issues. It could have been really cheesy and stupid, but for the most part they pull it off. James Nesbitt is amazing as the title character(s), and it has more than a fair share of clever, funny dialogue.

* * * Jules’ kicks * * *

1). Spring weather and making elaborate drawings of a dino-world on the driveway with my girls, using HUGE pieces of sidewalk chalk. Pictured above is dino-hopscotch, don’tcha know (and the big river and the dino-blueberry bushes and etc.). This was when we had just gotten started; I think every inch of the driveway was filled when we were done.

But this is not half as cool as how the middle schoolers—where Andi (cloudscome) of a wrung sponge works—took the poems in their pockets from Wednesday (Poem-in-Your-Pocket Day) and wrote them on the sidewalk (pictured here). Here’s her post about it.

All of the Poem-in-Your-Pocket Day posts from this week were great. I was too disorganized to come up with something in time myself, but I enjoyed everyone else’s posts, too numerous to name here.

2). Speaking of others’ great posts, also too numerous to individually mention here, all the Operation Teen Book Drop posts were great, too, though—again—I was too scattered this week to participate myself. Little Willow, I know, worked very hard, in particular. Seven cheers to everyone who rocked the drop. (Speaking of Little Willow, check out this creepiness she posted this week. That’s not bad, as book trailers go.)

3). And, speaking of Spring, taking walks with my girls.

4). I’m co-hosting a baby shower today for one of my best friends, who has had a difficult time with this pregnancy (blood clot, lots of bed-rest, and—as a result—having to use way too much leave time from work for bed-rest when she was going to use it to stay home with the baby as long as possible after the birth). The shower should be a good, happy time for her.

5). This piece about the stage adapation of Timothy Basil Ering’s Frog Belly Rat Bone by a company, Rogue Artists Ensemble, who possess a “hyper-theatrical style, combining puppetry, music, video projections, and innovative prop design.” You can see video footage at that link. Apparently, the annual Los Angeles Times/UCLA Festival of Books has invited Rogue Artists Ensemble to perform at this year’s festival on Sunday, April 27th, so if you live in that area and go see, please do report back!

6). Seeing some beautiful Paso Finos this week with my girls and their Granddad. Watching the horses trot around a coliseum while judges rated their ambling gaits was new to me. Seeing them up close while walking through some stables was even better.

7). The virtual literary salon, as Terry put it, from Friday. Many thanks to those smart ladies.

And, one more: Finally getting our library copy of Dog and Bear: Two’s Company. So funny. You all know that Jama Rattigan interviewed Laura Vaccaro Seeger, right? I still haven’t found 30 minutes to sit down and read that, but I haven’t forgotten. I’m saving it for a time when I know there will be no interruptions. Same for a lot of the interviewees Elaine is hosting over at Wild Rose Reader. She’s rockin’ it for National Poetry Month.

What are your kicks this week?

22 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #59: Featuring Peter Brown”

  1. Happy Sunday, All!

    Peter Brown’s pictures have made me very happy today — especially the topiaries, since I have a thing for elephants! The driveway chalk escapades looked like so much fun. Yay for hopscotch! And Eisha — that’s pretty cool, meeting up with Nabokov and Paz. You’d make the perfect literary detective!


    1. Visiting the 7-Imp Literary Salon and reading about the fascinating journey of the Poetry Seven. Methinks they should set up a special blog documenting and presenting future projects! Do you know of any other blogs that feature collaborative writing projects like that?

    2. A good friend who manages one of Obama’s campaign offices in PA recently got to meet him. This was a dream come true, and I was thrilled and happy for her.

    3. Rereading Alice in Wonderland for an upcoming tea party post.

    4. Making Tadmack’s tea cakes recipe yesterday (will post tomorrow). She had some interesting things to say about it, too.

    5. I discovered Mr. Donnelly, the groundhog’s, digs! I tracked him to, of all places, under the porch — also home of Chipperdee the chipmunk. I think there’s a convention going on down there. Either that, or they’ve turned it into a time share thing.

    6. New leaves are visible on trees! We’re getting our privacy back.

    7. A good friend took me to see my first opera, “Lucia di Lammermoor.” It’s based on Sir Walter Scott’s novel, BRIDE OF LAMMERMOOR, set in 18th century Scotland. I liked it a lot, though it was a little strange seeing men in kilts singing in Italian. My new friends are Edgardo, Enrico and my new crush, Raimondo!

    Have a lovely week — and thanks for mentioning the Laura Vaccaro Seeger interview!

  2. Great happy kicks! Peter Brown’s art is stunning. Here are my kicks:

    1. Tulips. Say no more

    2. Sidewalk chalk – I’m with Jules. Poem in Your Pocket day was the best!

    3. Maples trees leafing out in 80 degree weather on Saturday.

    4. Buying new sneakers for my boys. That means summer!

    5. A new wading pool to splash in.

    6. Cleaning the car inside and out. Letting my boys spray the hose while they “help” me.

    7. Shorts and flip flops!

  3. It’s POURING here today, so I needed Peter Brown’s bright garden this morning. I want to walk barefoot down grass-covered stairs! And I want to be a listener today. My week was good, and even kicky, but I feel such a need to just absorb this post and everyone’s lovely kicks and listen to the rain. Ever feel like that?

  4. Hello All! I’ve been so busy the last two weeks, I’ve missed stopping by. I love Peter Brown’s stuff, and I’m with Jama. I LOVE those topiaries, though I’m a giraffe lady myself.

    Here are my kicks.
    1. The Poetry Seven interview here on Friday. It was amazing to see the process laid bare. I can’t thank you enough for doing this for us.

    2. I got a lovely note from Lee Bennett Hopkins this week, thanking me for highlighting his work this month. Best of all, he ended his note saying, “Lucky are the children who come into your hands and hearts via poetry.”

    3. My husband’s new job is swinging into full gear with the new golf course will officially opening in 3 days. It’s a crazy time, but he’s having such fun he practically comes home singing. It’s great living with someone who’s so happy.

    4. William’s last day of art school was yesterday. They had a grand exhibition of all the work kids did. William made an amazing kinetic sculpture that he was very proud of.

    5. Writing a ring/drum/blanket poem for the challenge posed by Elaine and Janet Wong.

    6. Rereading Clementine with William.

    7. Rearranging and cleaning my office at work while listening to Car Talk. I would have been done much sooner if I wasn’t constantly stopping to laugh.

    Have a wonderful week, all!

  5. Jues & Eisha,

    Happy Sunday!


    1. Your interview with “The Magnificent Seven” who wrote the crown sonnet

    2. The wonderful interview I had with one of my favorite children’s poets, Joyce Sidman.

    3. Going to Boston College with Grace Lin last Tuesday evening to hear the fabulous picture book illustrator Barbara McClintock speak

    4. I started working on a new collection of poems after talking with Grace.

    5. My husband made me one of his specialties last night: eggplant lasgana. Double yum!

    6. The wonderful ring/drum/blanket poems written in response to my interview with Janet Wong–including three by members of the crown sonnet crowd: Kelly Fineman, Andromeda Jazmon, and Tricia Stohr-Hunt.

    7. I’m thinking about it.

  6. The Peter Brown illustrations made me smile. We had snow! this weekend on our way to Seattle.
    Eisha, 70 degree weather, oh I wish. Jules, the sidewalk chalk, what a blast. I love the idea that cloudscome had for the PinYP day.
    1. Going to Seattle to see my friends’ daughter’s photography exhibit which could be in a gallery today. Very unique.
    2. Poetry in Your Pocket day. More poetry writing this week.
    3. Pike Street Market in Seattle for breakfast.
    4. Reading the interview by Elaine with Joyce Sidman.
    5. Rufous hummingbirds are back.
    6. Discussion beginning about the September Blogging Conference on the kidlitosphere listserve.
    7. Bookclub tonight.
    Have a great week.

  7. Ooo! Topiaries!

    I have read Peter Brown’s Flight of the Dodo, and it totally cracked me up.

    Eisha, Going through those files sounds really fun.

    Jules, I always keep sidewalk chalk in my garage or on the porch and when the weather’s nice, it is the activity I try to talk my friends’ children into when they visit because, really, I want to play with the sidewalk chalk.

    My kicks:

    1. The weather’s finally broken here, and it’s SPRING, which means…
    2. I’ve been able to wear sandals for the last few days…
    3. My daffodils are blooming like crazy…
    4. My forsythia bushes are blooming…
    5. I’ve had all the windows in my house open this weekend…
    6. I spent some time playing in the gardens…
    7. And I even broke out with the grill tonight.


  8. OK, Eisha. Nu-unh. Nabokov???? That is a far cry better than the two temp jobs I took in grad school that about sucked the life out of me. Mercy, girl!

    1. Kick 1 — your generous, lovely, funny, revealing, and did I say GENEROUS interview of the sonnet gang on Friday.
    2. The weather in Austin Texas is freakin’ perfect still!!!!
    3. My husband who is so handy and still, at this late hour, framing in an attic hatch and some air vent doo-hicky for the sheet rockers tomorrow.
    4. My funny, funny little girls.
    5. An amazing backyard potluck picnic with friends last night.
    6. Kenneth Koch’s books about writing poetry with kids.
    7. My ipod, which is officially not broken and just needed me to devote a little energy to it. (ie, plug it in and charge the darn thing…)
    Happy week, you all….

  9. Hi, everyone. I’ve been gone all day. All day. Really, just now back. I’m so tired I can’t see straight. Showers are draining, don’t you think? Trying to pretend to enjoy bad shower games and all that. Heh. Actually, I was in charge of the games, and they went over pretty well, I guess.

    It’s good to get back and read others’ kicks.

    Jama, re-reading Alice is always, always a kick.

    Andi, tulips. Word.

    Sara, I also like listening to the rain. I have the opposite of Seasonal Affective Disorder (or whatever it’s called) — I love rainy days. I love it when meteorologists say it’s gonna rain all week.

    Tricia, what a great note from Hopkins, and congrats to your husband on the job and William on the class. I still wanna sign up my oldest for an art class.

    Elaine, #7 is awfully cryptic. Of course I’m dreadfully tired. Maybe I’m missing something. Oh, and #4 is particularly kicky, I think.

    Adrienne, perfect, serene kicks. It’s the simple kicks, isn’t it?

    Liz, yay for the good weather. We seem to have a theme here. Good spring weather.

    happy new-week to all….


  10. Hey, I was gone too! Suit-shopping, which is maybe even less fun than throwing a shower. But how cool to come home to all these kicks.

    Jama, I can’t wait to see the tea party post – especially if Alice is invited.

    cloudscome, those tulips are ridiculous. I finally saw some here today too.

    Sara, you just chill and dig the rain. Nothing wrong with that.

    Tricia, I wholeheartedly agree with Lee Bennett Hopkins. True dat.

    Elaine, I think #5 sounds extra-kicky. Eggplant lasagna… mmm…

    adrienne, I see no reason for you to wait for kids to come over to play with the chalk. And yay! for all your blooming goodness.

    Liz, so glad your ipod is healthy again. Mine’s had to go in for repair twice and it scared me so bad each time.

  11. Hey! I’m glad I remembered to check in here. With the penchant to brood and think about all the stupid things I’ve ever said and done, it’s so much healthier to think of blessings and kicks. I love those toes in the photo, by the way!

    1) So, my husband wanted to watch “Hellboy” while I wanted to watch the second half of Elizabeth Gaskell’s “North and South.” I said I’d give “Hellboy” 15 minutes. I stayed for the whole thing. It was fun!

    2) The DVD extras had Dr. Seuss’s “Gerald McBoing Boing” films. I had no idea there was more than one.

    3) While it’s been cold and icy outside (boo!), the sunflower seeds inside sprouted two days after I planted them (yay!). I wish it would warm up so I could get them in the ground and start more kinds of seedlings. I only have the one window to do it properly with a ledge.

    4) My daughter goes back to school tomorrow. We had two weeks of spring break, and she was sick for one of them. But school resumes, and soon it will be May!

    5) Last week, my daughter’s teacher came over to fix the heavy baby my mom had made. I’d embroidered a face on, didn’t like what I had done, and tried to take out the stitches. The results were horrifying. My daughter’s teacher put a new face on the heavy baby, and I vowed not to try to embroider anything more.

    6) Another gig.

    7) The nightgown I sewed for my daughter is just lovely. It even has a ruffle. I thought I had botched things when I found I’d sliced the fabric with my pinking shears, but I did a nice little mending job with interfacing and cross-stitch.

  12. Alkelda – that’s cool, I didn’t know there was more than one Gerald McBoing-Boing either. But what was Dr. Seuss doing on the Hellboy DVD?

  13. Alkelda, I’m glad your daughter’s feeling better but sorry she was sick for so long.

    And there’s nothing better than little girl nightgowns. Especially that mama made herself.

  14. Hi guys! Some great kicks this week!! But, Eisha–yours takes the cake. This is why I love archival research–opening the file and finding something amazing like this 🙂

    Nabokov was very glad when he got to retire from Cornell 🙂 Teaching was very difficult for him–he put too much into it.

    Have a great week!!

  15. Jules and Eisha–Some Gerald McBoing Boing videos are playing as the credits roll (I think) when Hellboy is in his crib. The true reason the films are on the DVD is because the director is a big fan of them, and was frustrated by all sorts of UPA films being locked in the vaults. Here’s the Ward-O-Matic’s blog post on the subject:http://wardomatic.blogspot.com/2004/11/gerald-mcboing-boing-on-hellboy.html

  16. Rama: Hurrah for Alice!

    eisha: Enjoy the weather. Wear sunblock.

    Congrats on staying on at work! Rock that library/project!

    Jules: Dino-hopscotch is something I need to take part in, or at least say. That’s a fun phrase.

    Thanks for posting about Operation TBD and for linking to The Hidden Cities – Mind the Gap trailer. Isn’t it creepy-cool?

    Good vibes for your friend on bedrest and her little one to come.

    I loved Dog and Bear, and I can’t wait for Two’s Company.

    Cloudscome: How AWESOME!

    My kicks from last week:
    A matchbox posing as an apartment
    Film festival
    Used CDs and using up GCs
    Closing show and cast party
    Learning Japanese phrases from a manuscript
    Encouraging others to audition
    Watching Mind the Gap trailer on repeat

  17. P.S. I added to my post re: Hidden Cities, so the link has changed.

  18. Good kicks, LW. As I have entirely too many CDs I don’t listen to anymore, I appreciate used ones more and more as I get older. I’d like to get rid of the ones that just sit there, but a) my husband wants a “CD library,” and b) that would probably leave me with, oh, three CDs, since I tend to listen to the same ones over and over. Ah well.

    Congrats on the successful Operation TBD!

  19. Jone, your kicks are here now. I’ll keep a vigilant eye out from now on to make sure spam won’t eat them. Glad you had a great week.

  20. […] Brown, featured on April 20, 2008. Spread from The Curious Garden (to be published this Spring by Little, Brown Young Readers) […]

  21. […] So. I’ve been wanting to conduct this interview for a while. Author/illustrator Peter Brown is here to visit. He’s made several really good picture books and is on my illustrator-to-watch list, but here’s where he really outdid himself: Did you see last year’s The Curious Garden, published by Little, Brown in April? It’s what the New York Times called “a quietly marvelous picture book.” Betsy Bird called it “just about the perfect balance of message and text” in her detailed, as always, August 2009 review. It was one of my favorite picture books from last year, though I didn’t cover it at 7-Imp, so consider me making up for that today—plus some—with this interview. (In fact, in 2008, Peter stopped by to show us some early art from The Curious Garden, if fans of that title would like to go back and explore.) […]

  22. […] So. I’ve been wanting to conduct this interview for a while. Author/illustrator Peter Brown is here to visit. He’s made several really good picture books and is on my illustrator-to-watch list, but here’s where he really outdid himself: Did you see last year’s The Curious Garden, published by Little, Brown in April? It’s what the New York Times called “a quietly marvelous picture book.” Betsy Bird called it “just about the perfect balance of message and text” in her detailed, as always, August 2009 review. It was one of my favorite picture books from last year, though I didn’t cover it at 7-Imp, so consider me making up for that today—plus some—with this interview. (In fact, in 2008, Peter stopped by to show us some early art from The Curious Garden, if fans of that title would like to go back and explore.) […]

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