with Daddy pushin’ me.”
Jules: Welcome to our weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on 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.
That exuberant illustration, opening our post here, is from illustrator and graphic artist Nicole Tadgell’s most recently-illustrated title, No Mush Today, written by Sally Derby (Lee & Low Books, September ’08). Nicole recently launched her blog tour for this title; she’s been to visit Kelly at Big A little a and Lori Calabrese (who has a wonderful interview in which she asked Nicole about her medium and work space, and Lori displays a nifty Photobucket slide show thingy of Nicole’s process). We’re glad Nicole agreed to stop by here this Sunday to share some art work from the book. Jama Rattigan also did a wonderful feature of the book here in September.
Nicole—born in Detroit but currently living in Massachusetts with her husband—has illustrated thirteen titles previous to No Mush Today. As she puts it at her blog, Studio NT—she specializes in multicultural picture books. Here’s what she had to say about the new title:
I’m excited about the release of my newest book, No Mush Today! It’s my first book with Lee and Low, and I have wanted to work with them for a long time, hopefully there will be many more.
This story was both fun and challenging to illustrate. I think what I really like best about this story (and the project itself) is that it’s a “slice of life” kind of story. Being an illustrator of multicultural books, I find I really enjoy warm, family-centered stories that many kids can relate to.
Primarily, I draw kids of African-American descent, but I am really looking forward to working on books featuring kids of all races. I have plenty of stories in my head, and I’m slowly learning how to pry them out! Writing seems like a daunting challenge – the more I learn about it, the more my respect for writers grows!
No Mush Today tells the story of Nonie, a young girl with a new baby sibling (“Ultimately, this gentle story addresses the universal frustration older siblings often face at having a new baby in the family,” wrote the School Library Journal review), and it’s written in a spare, rhythmic text, two sentences to each page. Nonie has just about had enough — she no longer wants her mushy breakfast (which looks like cornmeal mush): “Squishy, yucky yellow stuff—mush is baby food.” And, as you can tell from the illustration, it’s safe to say she’s also had enough of her baby brother’s crying:
Nonie heads to Grandma’s (“Grandma attends when I’m talkin’, calls me her Sweet Pea Nonie”) and heads to church with her, all the while trying to maintain her stubborn refusal to talk to her Daddy, who is trying hard to make her smile. Finally, she gives in and when she returns home, “Momma’s waitin’ by the gate, baby’s reachin’ for me…” Kirkus Reviews wrote, “Using watercolors, Tadgell creates a soft dreamlike world filled with details. Nonie’s small duck is on every page; like her family, it is always with her, and by the end of the story, she learns to share it with her sibling, just as she must learn to share her parents.” Or, as Jama wrote, “Tadgell expands the narrative by creating a context of loving communion, a small town backdrop of good folk and simple pleasures. The warmth of family radiates in spreads showing neighbors and church friends greeting each other with big smiles and hugs. And then there’s Nonie’s toy duck, which young eyes will follow with great interest.”
Eventually, Nonie figures out that—like the ducks her Daddy shows her on a paddleboat ride—sticking with her family is best. “Lots to learn from ducks.”
Nicole adds that she used two little girls as models for the main character:
The first girl, Maggie, was adorable and I already knew her since she was a baby. We had a tea party one day, and she got all dressed up (I asked her mom to let her dress herself –- that’s where the plaid skirt and striped tights came from) and Ducky was a guest, too…When Lee and Low asked how old the girl was, they felt that four was too young for this book. Even though Maggie was tall for her age, I had to find a model who was really six! So I found Sharaya. I didn’t know her well, and it turns out she was just as shy as I am! But it worked out fine. The hairstyle, facial features, and sweater were hers.
Other fun tidbits: I used local places for the scenery. Two churches in Worcester, Elm Park for the swings. My mother gracefully posed as the grandmother, and my husband stood in for the daddy in those shots. The character of Daddy was another model. I love hats! That was one of the most fun parts, drawing fun hats.
Many, many thanks to Nicole for sharing her illustrations and the book with us today. (By the way, she has created coloring pages for the book for anyone interested in using them for classroom or library use; they’re here at the Lee & Low site.) Maybe we’ll see Nonie again in future books; for now, it’s our pleasure to meet her as well as the illustrator who helped bring her to life on the page.
Some of you may know about author Jay Asher’s/The Disco Mermaids’ challenge to writers of YA fiction, writers of children’s lit, and anyone who blogs about such things: “Go dig out your remaining senior photos. If you were just so popular in high school that you don’t have any leftovers, go scan the photo in your yearbook. And then post it on your blog! Come back to this post and leave a comment, directing us to your blog, so we can all laugh at…I mean, admire…how much you haven’t changed.” Many bloggers have risen to the challenge, including some of our regular Sunday kicks-listers. Look at these beautiful people: Sara! Jama! And here are Betsy Bird and Sarah Stevenson! If I missed any regular readers, I apologize. Send me a link, and I’ll amend.
Eisha and I decided to play today. Our pics are below. I asked Nicole for her senior pic — but didn’t think of it ’til the last minute (blast it!). Thanks to Jay and The Disco Mermaids for the fun challenge…
*** EDITED TO ADD (Sunday morning): Here’s Nicole’s! ***
Okay, here are my senior pics, circa 1990-1991. My favorite features are my moody expressions, and the Glamour Shots-style blur… nice. Oh, also: you can’t see it, but I’m pretty sure my jeans are peg-rolled. Anyway, how ’bout some kicks?
1* The husband came home safe and sound from Seoul, with many stories of his adventures in trying to order food in a language he doesn’t speak, and trying to figure out what he was eating when it arrived.
2* This one I’ve been sitting on a while, until I was absolutely sure it was going to happen: he has to go back to South Korea for a couple of weeks around Thanksgiving… and this time, I’m going with him! I get to stay in his company-provided hotel, but I do have to pay for plane fare, and… DANG. Have you guys tried to buy a plane ticket to Asia lately? Kinda pricey. But whatever… when will I have a chance like this again?
3* One reason I’ve been so scarce online lately is that my poor old computer, Roxy, was really making noises like she was about to die. Well, I’ve always been a PC girl, but lately I’d been thinking about going Mac. Then Apple went and unveiled their new line of laptops, and the Cornell Store still had a bunch of the older models, which they put on sale. Seemed like a sign, right? So I got me a new MacBook. I’ve named her Moxie, and I LOVE her. She’s so FAST! And she doesn’t make horrible grinding noises when I open iTunes! And the screen isn’t permanently pee-yellow! Yay!
4* The Poets Upstairs are entertaining Justin’s parents for the week, and I got invited up for delicious homemade pumpkin pie.
5* Crunching through leaves on my walk home to kick up that fabulous fall smell.
6* I saw another new-to-me treasure in our collection at work. The RMC actually has one of the voting machines from Palm Beach County’s 2000 election. Yes, complete with cards that you can punch and get the whole hanging chad effect. I’m telling you, looking at that thing, the whole mess becomes totally clear. I probably would have voted for Pat Buchanan too.
7* For our 9th anniversary, the husband and I checked out an Italian restaurant we haven’t been to yet. Yu-u-u-u-u-m.
I wasn’t sure which senior pic to post, but Eisha posted two, so I will. These are from 1990. Maybe only *I* can tell this, but I think it’s pretty clear in both pictures that I really wanted out of high school (those are pretty forced, half-hearted smiles, and in the second one, I just appear flat-out BORED), and I don’t know how it is that a tan line is involved in one and a light perm in both.
1). I had a Halloween party this weekend…
2). And Zoe and her family came! I’d post a pic of her and her beautiful baby daughter, but I don’t have her official permission yet and don’t wanna surprise her. Also, they brought my girls gifts, which was too, too kind and ’cause they are lovely, thoughtful people.
3). Nicole’s visit today.
4). Elisa Kleven will be at 7-Imp this week, and it’s been such a delight to chat with her and see her new book (more on that later). I’d say she and I are perhaps kindred spirits, except that if I did, I’d just be flattering myself greatly.
6). When I had a really rough afternoon this week with my daughter (the tantrum that never stopped), my husband made me some of those no-bake chocolate/oat cookie thingies that are so good. Just to cheer me up.
7). Coldplay’s performances on “Saturday Night Live” last night, but especially the first one.
What are YOUR kicks this week? Do tell. You do know, don’t you, that if you are a regular kicks-poster and don’t come visit one Sunday, I start to worry about you? (I’ve been known to email someone and ask if they were okay.) And new folks are ALWAYS, always welcome…