“No,” they said, “but we will help you look.”
Jules: Welcome to 7-Imp’s 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.
When author and artist Valeri Gorbachev—who immigrated to the United States from the Ukraine in 1991 and whose work is pictured above—illustrates a new children’s title, I always go running to get a copy. And if you and/or your children also enjoy his work, now’s a good time to be a fan. He will have two titles coming out very soon: The Missing Chick from which a spread is featured above, published by Candlewick and forthcoming in April, and Dragon is Coming!, to be published by Harcourt in May.
I tried to secure a spread or two from Dragon Is Coming! as well, but alas and alack, I didn’t get them in time for this post. If I get them at a later date, you can be sure I’ll do some sort of addendum to this post, because I love the book. And so do the children with whom I’ve shared it. (I only summarized it briefly and showed a few spreads from it at a class I taught at my local public library last week, and the children giggled even then.) And, for now, I can at least show you the cover below.
See the storm cloud on this cover? Mouse thinks it’s a dragon, about to swallow the sun. This is a clever sky-is-falling-esque tale of how a huge misunderstanding can lead to a bit of unnecessary doom-and-gloom. The Missing Chick, even more suited to the youngest of children, is a tale of one chick lost and the neighbors’ attempts to find him (including some firemen and a detective) — with an ending that will have the wee ones chuckling, I can promise you.
I’ve only become familiar with Gorbachev’s illustration work in the past couple of years (evidently, he’s illustrated more than forty books for children, so I better hit the library to find some of those older titles), but here’s what I love about Gorbachev’s art work: The colors, always cozy, always warm; the expressive, detailed character work (always anthropomorphized animals who are endearing, yet Gorbachev’s never saccharine or cloying about it); the subtle humor; the sense of community that pervades his titles, as in neighbors neighbors neighbors everywhere comin’ out of the woodwork (this post’s opening spread serves as a good example of this, and have you ever seen 2007’s Red Red Red, which I blogged about here? It’s one of my favorites); his ability to create original cumulative tales that work; and, last but not least, if any illustrator today is working in a Richard-Scarry-esque vibe (yet still retains their own unique vibe as well), it’s Valeri Gorbachev. And that just makes me happy.
Well, it’s time for the ‘ol kicks. Remember: Absolutely anyone is welcome to list kicks — even if, or especially if, you’ve never done so before.
1* OOH!!! OOH-OOH-OOH!!! I LOVE Valeri Gorbachev! I used Young Mouse and Elephant (written by Pamela J. Farris) in several storytimes back in my children’s librarian days. He draws really good mice. Little Bunny’s Sleepless Night (written by Carol Roth) is good too.
2* I’ve been reading Alan Moore’s landmark graphic novel The Watchmen, because I wanted to see the movie and thought reading it first would be better. I didn’t quite make it – I saw the movie last night, and I’m still only halfway through the book (for a graphic novel, it’s got a LOT of words). But I really love it so far.
3* I really liked the movie, too. This may be because I haven’t finished the book – my friends who have read it said the movie is way different, but up to the point that I’ve read it was pretty accurate. I especially appreciated the way the cinematography and art direction mimicked the novel’s art, almost frame-for-panel in some instances.
4* I also finished a really unusual book this week, one I hadn’t heard of until a co-worker loaned it to me, and probably never would have picked up on my own. It’s A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes. It was a shocker when it was published in 1929, and is cited as a predecessor to Lord of the Flies. The book’s age really shows in the blatant racism, which is hard to swallow; but the writing is lovely, and it paints a profoundly, unflinchingly bleak portrait of childhood “innocence.”
5* Volume Records, one of our local indie music stores. I *heart* them.
6* Green & Black’s Ginger dark chocolate bar. OMG. The flavor is so intense and complicated I can barely get my taste buds around it.
7* I re-watched The Royal Tenenbaums this week (thanks again, Jules, for the DVD!) and I swear I just love that movie more every time I see it.
1). The new Neko Case CD. Only Neko would open it with a love song from the perspective of a tornado. And the whole CD is so seriously good that I’m wearing it out. I’ve been walking around the house singing loudly, “this tornado loves you…WHAT WILL MAKE YOU BELIEVE ME?” as if I don’t sing like a cow in heat. I just pretend I can belt out her bad-ass songs with the vocal power and range she has. I told Eisha that if I could write a song like “Prison Girls” (with lyrics like “I love your long shadows and your gunpowder eyes”), I’d hardly be able to stand my own awesomeness. Here’s my other favorite moment (other than the wonderful Harry Nilsson cover, “Don’t Forget Me”): “Can’t give up actin’ tough, it’s all that I’m made of. Can’t scrape together quite enough to ride the bus to the outskirts of the fact that I need love.” Ah.
2). I finished my library copy of Jacqueline Woodson’s Peace, Locomotion, the sequel to Locomotion. There is something about these books, these characters, that grab me by the throat and make me tear up on just about every other page. I remember reading Locomotion in grad school in a Borders over coffee and pretending to stare at something utterly fascinating outside the window next to where I was seated, ’cause I found the story so moving that I was crying all blubbery — and thorougly embarrassed to be doing so in public. For those of you who know Locomotion, in this one Lonnie Collins Motion is discovering his own talent with poetry. This isn’t a free verse novel, as the first was; instead, it’s filled with letters from Lonnie to his sister, also in foster care and whom he still longs to be with. Anyway, this poem (left) that twelve-year-old Lonnie’s character wrote for a class assignment made me think of our seven-kicks tradition here. There are actually seven things there he lists! Enjoy.
P.S. Jacqueline is seven kinds of talented, isn’t she?
3). My girls and I finished Coraline, and we all went to see the movie yesterday (so good!). This was a re-read for me, and I had forgotten about this part during Coraline’s terrifying escape from her other mother (or maybe it just sings to me, now that I’m a mother): “And then a voice that sounded like her mother’s—her own mother, her real, wonderful, maddening, infuriating, glorious mother—just said, ‘Well done, Coraline,’ and that was enough.” Then—aw snap—she gets that crazy-mean other mother. (But NOTHING beats the “when you’re scared but you still do it anyway, that’s brave” dialogue she has with the cat.)
4). Someone dear to me, who is going through a tough time, told me in tears on the phone this week that sometimes she just wants to run away. This is an anti-kick. But the kick is that I have the kind of at-home job that makes it possible for me to drop everything and go be a listening ear for someone right when they need it. Working in the evening if I need to has its rewards.
5). I watched the very under-appreciated “The Great Mouse Detective” (from 1986) with my girls this week. It’s always been a favorite of mine, and I think it’s way better than any other Disney movie. (This, I know, may be blasphemy to the Disney fans of the world, but please can we just get along?) Vincent Price is the villain, Ratigan. Vincent Price. Does it get better than that?
6). My daughter made a collage for one of our favorite author/illustrators, whom I would now call a friend, and it’s hanging in her studio. She—my daughter, that is—also told her Parents’ Day Out teacher that she wanted to be an artist when she grows up, because her Mommy loves her art. Now, even if she grows up to decide that, say, entomology is her profession-of-choice, what I love about that is that she knows her art makes me happy. Incidentally, if she grows up to be an entomologist, try as I will, I’ll probably end up having to appreciate her office from AFAR.
One more mama thing (can you stand it?): Her word play CRACKS ME UP. She told me this week that her imaginary friend eats pepperickles, which is none other than—can you guess?—a combination of pepperonis and pickles. Dig it. (I really should have done this poetry stretch of Tricia’s with my daughter and her made-up words.)
7). Vanilla bean scones.
BONUS: So many people ROCKED Poetry Friday this week. So many selections that blew me away. Too many to name.
THE BEST FOR LAST (so kick-y that it even goes beyond kicks) — My oldest got into the arts magnet school down the road for Kindergarten this fall! They have screenings for the children and such (if only ALL kids could have access to schools with strong arts programs and screenings wouldn’t be necessary, but that’s a subject for another day), and she passed! EXTRA ART! AND MUSIC! AND DRAMA! YAY!
What are YOUR kicks this week?
THE MISSING CHICK. Copyright © 2009 Valeri Gorbachev. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.