Jules: This is Alfred.
This is not:
More on Alfred in a minute. But first . . .
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. (Absolutely anyone, of course, is welcome to list kicks — even if, or especially if, you’ve never done so before.)
What you see up there under Alfred is new art work from artist and photographer Vivienne Flesher, who is here to share images from her new children’s title—involving Alfred, as you’ve probably guessed—but who also sent some new stuff, not aimed at the child audience. And that would be the bottom image opening the post, as well as the one pictured below (each actually six feet tall and eight feet wide). They are from Vivienne’s upcoming Spring exhibit (photographs and paintings) at Stir Gallery in Shanghai, based on a series of images she created for the Kennedy Center’s JAPAN! event in February of last year, in which more than 450 artists, more than forty performances, and more than a dozen free events converged there in D.C. to showcase the best Japanese theatre and dance, music and fashion, architecture and sculpture, poetry and literature, photography and film. (Vivienne also did the poster for that event, also pictured here.)
For many years, Vivienne has drawn for The New York Times, O Magazine, Starbucks, Shiseido, and much more. I highly recommend a visit to her site where she has a portfolio of her illustration work from her books (children’s and otherwise), as well as samples of her editorial and advertising work, photography, posters, landscape work, etc. Pictured here are but two from her site — the first, Sorcerer and Fox; the second, a cover for Poetry Magazine:
She’s also illustrated children’s books, including Naomi Shihab Nye’s Lullaby Raft from 1997 and D.J. MacHale’s East of the Sun, West of the Moon, published in 1991 in the Rabbit Ears Classic Tales series (also produced as a tape and a video). Here is the not-so-happy mother from that title:
And, as Vivienne’s bio states, you’ve probably seen her art work before. She created both the 2005 “Love” and “Amber Alert” stamps:
Right. Back to Alfred. Here he is. Everyone loves him, he smells like popcorn, and he gives big, sloppy kisses:
However, Alfred’s not too happy about the way he looks: “He thought his face was all wrong. His head was as round as a pumpkin. He didn’t have much of a nose. And his tongue hung out of his mouth. All of the time.”
Alfred’s Nose is Vivienne’s newest children’s title, released this April by HarperCollins. As you’ve probably guessed by now, Alfred ends up on a quest to improve himself, eventually trying on a variety of noses in order to be acceptable at a dress-up party to which he’s been invited. But, hey, fake animal noses, a box of which he has discovered, get in the way of those big, sloppy kisses. What good is there in that?
When asked about the inspiration behind this tale, Vivienne told me, “it was simply living with a very eccentric dog, and finding joy in observing him. I began by drawing him. … Finally, I decided Alfred’s Nose would work best photographed instead of drawn.” Here is an early sketch of Alfred begging:
And here are a couple more spreads from Alfred’s Nose:
I’m going to close with four more images from Vivienne, because I can’t help myself: the first, Dog Show, a photograph she took at the recent French Bull Dog Club of America’s National event, to which she was invited to sign books; the second, Modern Dance, a personal work of hers; the third, Dance, another personal work she created; and last, Bear Consoling Rabbit — all taken with permission from her site. Don’t forget to go explore yourself (and I should mention to anyone interested in Alfred’s Nose that there’s a site for the book, as well as this HarperCollins Q & A with Vivienne if you’re curious about Alfred), and I thank Vivienne for stopping by.
1* I’m finally, FINALLY almost over my cold, and sound like my normal self again.
2* A co-worker and I are putting together a little exhibit on inauguration memorabilia from our Political Americana collections at work. I had been panicking about how much we have to get done by next Friday when it’s supposed to go up, but we made enough progress this week that I’m feeling much calmer.
3* Also, can I just point out that the collection includes two pairs of ladies’ underwear from 1948; one embroidered with “Dewey-Warren” on the front, and the other with “Truman-Barkley.” I mean, really. I love Obama, but you wouldn’t catch me wearing his name on my bootie.
4* I’m reading some great stuff for the Cybils Science Fiction/Fantasy Judging Panel. I’m not allowed to talk about them while judging is going on, but I’ve absolutely fallen in love with one of them.
5* My husband seems to like the Roboraptor I got him for Christmas. It’s oddly adorable, watching it explore the apartment, sniffing and growling, occasionally roaring and whipping his tail. He even nuzzles your hand. Or bites it, depending. We call him Baxter.
(Yeah, I realize when the robot revolution comes, he is going to tear our carotid arteries out with those tiny silver teeth. But for now he’s just so cute…)
6* Curling up on a snowy night to watch movies with the husband (and the roboraptor).
7* I already talked about it Friday, but I’m glad my friend got out of her bad situation safely.
Eisha, I hope your friend remains safe, and I wish her the best.
And I know that’s a long opening to this post, but isn’t it worth it to get a peek into Vivienne’s art?
1). See that beautiful daffodil doll below? She’s mine now, thanks to Farida. I. love. her. And I love Farida. I asked Farida if she would mind if I mentioned it in my kicks, which she doesn’t, for the record. Thanks again, Farida! In this picture, the doll is next to the painted egg Elisa Kleven sent me — not to show off my gifts, but by way of saying that these are the two best hand-crafted gems I’ve received in a long time (not that anyone receives gifts like that a lot anymore to begin with) and that I’m very thankful for them and also to say: Don’t they just look great together?
2). I flew to Concord, MA, this week for work. It was great to see the folks with whom I work, especially since we all work virtually and since it’s only once a year that everyone’s in the same room at one time. This is only my second annual company meeting with them, and each time I’m impressed by how fun and interesting and multi-faceted and smart-as-hell and wicked funny they all are. Plus, they really know how to have a good time when it’s time to take a break from talking business, including very fun improv theatre exercises between sessions to wake us all up. Yes, improv theatre exercises. I love that they do that.
I never have time for sight-seeing at these annual meetings, and so it kinda killed me that I was just north of Walden Pond and couldn’t make it. Near Sleepy Hollow Cemetery and couldn’t make it. So near Boston with so much to see and couldn’t make it. But maybe one year…And the other part of this kick was comin’ home to big ‘ol hugs and kisses from my girls — and my husband. We didn’t get to celebrate our 9th wedding anniversary while I was gone, but we’ll make up for it later, once we find a ‘sitter and can go out for a movie and dinner.
3). I finally started Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy on my flight home, which Eisha and Adrienne recommend highly. I’m even reading the autographed copy that Eisha got me, ’cause she’s sweet like that. Of course, I can’t help but think of Eisha’s husband and laugh now when I see and hear the title, though I’m not sure she’s shared that story here at 7-Imp yet.
4). My three-year-old took an inadvertent dive from a piece of furniture, while roughhousing with and getting tickled by her daddy, to the floor — straight-on and head-first. Fortunately, she just ended up with two little rug burns on her face—and she even manages to make those look cute —and she didn’t end up with, say, a BROKEN NECK. Whew. Have I mentioned before that she’s a monkey?
6). We saw a stage adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the wonderful Nashville Children’s Theatre. They did pretty well with it, especially considering that it is a difficult tale to bring to life on stage.
7). My four-year-old has completed a series of fairy paintings (kinda sorta paint-by-number in nature), and they’re hanging in our kitchen. And my three-year-old keeps walking around talking about “chocolate-covered chocolate.” I don’t know WHERE in the what-in-the-what-the this comes from, but it makes me laugh. And sounds good to me.
Announcement: Author/Illustrator Grace Lin, who is trying to raise money for The Foundation for Children’s Books (FCB), is going to auction off an original, unpublished painting on eBay each month. The FCB underwrites visits of children’s authors and illustrators in under-served/low income schools in the Boston area. Here’s a link to a post Elaine Magliaro has written about it at Wild Rose Reader. The January auction will run from Monday, January 12th, until January 16th. For more information, here is the blog/website that Grace set up especially for this project.
What are YOUR kicks this week? I’m especially in the dark, since I was offline most of the week and didn’t get to read my favorite blawgs. Do tell.