7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #122: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Erin Stead

h1 July 5th, 2009 by Eisha and Jules

Jules: Welcome to 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks, 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.

And it happens to be the first Sunday of the month, in which I like to shine the spotlight on someone new to illustration.

But, first: Happy Independence Day and happy holidays to our American readers. We hope you enjoyed some good fireworks and red, white, and blue pie. (Oh yes, I did. I took in a slice of Cool Whip, strawberry, and blueberry pie. Mmm.) And we hope some folks will be around to kick with us today, even though it’s a long, leisurely holiday weekend for a lot of us.

Things are very all-in-the-family this morning here at 7-Imp. Anyone else remember when Philip Stead stopped by in mid-June to let me shine the spotlight on him? Well, he happened to mention that his wife is about to be a debut illustrator as well; in fact, they’re working on a book together. After I saw a sneak-peek of a bit of Erin’s art from that book, thanks to Philip, I invited her to stop by and talk a bit about the upcoming title and share some of her art. Don’t you love that opening illustration? (You can click on all of the images in today’s post to enlarge them.) I like it. A whole lot.

Here’s Erin, and I thank her for visiting 7-Imp today, especially since she gives us a wonderful peek into her printmaking process:

* * * * * * *

Erin: I came to illustration a little reluctantly. I should clarify by saying that children’s books are a true passion of mine. All I was interested in doing was sponging up all of the history and brilliant books that could soak into my brain. And so, when the thought of me illustrating a book was proposed, it was with much respect and reverence that I came to a conclusion— I was terrified. My husband, Philip Stead (whom you’ve met in a previous post, because he is also an illustrator), wrote a little story, entitled A Sick Day for Amos McGee, which became the first book I have ever illustrated. The book doesn’t come out for about a year. The publication date is June, 2010.

The first tactic I use in order to make a picture is to avoid my drawing table area entirely. I’ll walk the dog, sit on the porch, or bake. There is too much pressure at the drawing table, and I like to get to know my characters before I draw them. Once I feel confident navigating a blank piece of paper, I do a sketch or two. Some are better than others, but most are not very pretty.

After I sketch out something that feels right, I draw it again a little tighter at the proper size and spacing.

From here, I start to work on the final piece of art. I start carving my woodblock, so I can add color to the picture. The woodblock looks like this. It’s a thin piece of wood with really nice wood grain.

The tools I use to carve the woodblock look like this.

If two colors are next to each other in the picture, a different block has to be carved for each color. Below are the yellow stripes carved for the background.

There is a blue blanket, a red balloon, and the penguin is wearing tiny red socks.

Amos McGee is the star of this book. He is the old man you see in the sketch. He wears green striped pajamas. The penguin is navy blue and the elephant is a grey pink.

My printmaking method and technique is not proper, by any means, so if there are real printmakers reading this blog, I apologize for what you are about to read. But here we go. I use oil ink, because it is has a rubber stampy texture and picks up the wood grain nicely. At one point in my life, I thought I was going to be an oil painter, so I think I like the way oil ink smells. When I am all finished with the block carving, I mix the ink and apply it to the black with a brayer.

The disk in the picture with the bamboo sheath is a barren. I place the paper on top of the inked wood block and press the barren on top of everything to make a print. At the end, the print looks like this.

I wait for the print to dry (it takes about a day or so) and then I draw on top of the print with pencil. Ta Da!

Even though making the book was pretty terrifying, I had a wonderful time sitting in my little office with my husband illustrating away. Here are a few other examples from the book.

I love it I love it I love it. Thanks again to Erin for stopping by. I can’t wait to see the book.

* * * eisha’s kicks * * *

Wilco (the album) by Wilco (the band)1* OMG. Look at that sweet wrinkly elephant. And that penguin with a balloon. And those stripey green pajamas. I can’t believe how much effort Erin puts into her illustrations, but I’m so glad, ’cause that book looks perfect.


3* I got the new Wilco album, which is appropriately titled Wilco (the album). To put it in SAT terms, Eisha : Wilco :: Jules : Sam Phillips. So a new Wilco album is a big deal to me. This one is very, very good – on the first few listens, I like it better than the last two albums, but Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is still my all-time fave.

4* Since I pre-ordered it from their website, it also came with a customizable t-shirt that says “Wilco (the shirt)” on the front, and came with iron-on letters to spell out my own name where it says “______ (the fan)” on the back. People, with a moniker like Eisha, do you know how deprived I was as a child of stuff with my name on it? No bicycle license plates, no stickers, no shoelaces, none of that stuff all you Jennifers and Kellys and Kimberlys took for granted. Not that I’m bitter. But I am inordinately excited about this.

Dreamdark: Silksinger by Laini Taylor. Them is some bad-ass little fairies, ya’ll.5* SILKSINGER! I’ve read it twice in a row now, and it rocks so very hard. Thank you, Laini Taylor, for creating such an original fantasy series. I can’t wait for the next one. No pressure, though – I know you’ve got other stuff on your mind right now.

6* In a variation on our usual Jane Austen Tea Parties, the Poets Upstairs made amazing deep dish pizza and we watched Northanger Abbey. OMG, you guys, I’ve never read the book, but the movie is hilarious! Maybe my favorite one yet.

7* Okay, look. I get that Michael Jackson was a talented guy, but for the most part his brand of pop just wasn’t my thing. So I’ve been deeply annoyed by the relentless coverage of his death, mainly because I keep getting his songs stuck in my head. So I finally decided to focus on the one song of his I truly love every time one of his more annoying hits threatens to invade my consciousness. In case you’re also suffering through endless brainloops of “Pretty Young Thing” or “Bad” or “The Girl Is Mine” or even – sweet sugar monkeys NO – “We Are the World,” try a dose of this. It’s done wonders for me.

Get up, girl! Show me what you can do!

* * * Jules’ kicks * * *

This is what I look like in my head as I play.1). The way the elephant is holding his cards in Erin’s card-playing illustration.

2). My girls had a sleep-over at Grandma’s the other night, were spoiled (as it should be), and had a great time. While we were gone, my husband wallowed in his loneliness and some gin. Nah. Really, he played online computer games with friends and had some gin.

3). Since I stayed at the sleep-over, too, my mother and I watched “Calendar Girls.” “Every stage of their growth has its own beauty, but the last phase is always the most glorious.” See? Now that’s why I don’t mind getting old.

P.S. Helen Mirren is a total babe.

4). I’m learning to play the ukelele for a story-time I’m going to do this month at my local pubalic liberry. My late brother was this virtuoso classical guitarist—full scholarship at Vandy’s school of music and all—and it’s taking me for-flippin’-ever to master three simple chords. But it’s fun.

That’s it for me this week. What are YOUR kicks?

56 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #122: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Erin Stead”

  1. Hello All,

    Back again after quite a hiatus. Work is absolutely overwhelming right now. I took a peek at Google Reader this morning and had over 1000 unread messages. How did I get so far behind? In any case, here are a few kicks.

    1. LOVE that picture of the elephant and old man playing chess. It is so dear!
    2. My mom was finally moved into her new place this week. She seems to be happy with it and that makes me very happy,
    3. I had three grants going at the same time this week, though one just ended on a high note. The other two just started and are off and running. I love all we do in the summer with teachers and kids!
    4. William is becoming quite the little swimmer, as we are spending lots of time at the pool. I’m enjoying the water myself.
    5. Sad news about MR losing her job, but I can’t wait to see what she’ll do with the Kidlit conference and where her talents will take her next.
    6. Learned last night that William is writing fan fiction related to the Jackie Chan Adventures series. So far this summer he’s written three stories, all of which he stars in, filled with demon powers, ancient chi wizards, and talismans.
    7. Reading the first Harry Potter with William. We’re both having a very good time.

    So, things here are looking up. One of these days I may actually include my husband in a kick, but he’s a golf pro and we see little of him in the summer. Perhaps one of these days . . .

    Have a great week all!

  2. Oh my Lord Eisha! That is my favorite Jackson 5 song eva! I’ve been singing it over and over all week. I honestly have heard/watched more Michael in this past week than in the last 30 years combined… but anyway. When I was a kid we used to push the desks aside and dance to his music at lunch. I feel sad for Michael cause I think he got eaten by the media machine.

    Jules, I wanna learn the ukelele too! My dad used to have one and I would beg him to let me fool around on it. I don’t know what happened to it… Have you found any great sites that teach it online? My 6 yo is starting piano lessons and I found some great ones on YouTube.

    My kicks:

    1. Raspberries! My parents have a patch in their backyard so I am making jam, sorbet, muffins, pancakes… you name it. They are so delicious!

    2. Playing Uno with my 4 yo. He wants all the cards so it’s a riot.

    3. Going to the 4th of July parade with my boys & parents & friends. It’s a huge parade full of bands & fire trucks and we love it.

    4. Reading Mildred A. Taylor’s The Land and Scott O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins this weekend. I’m taking YA Lit for library school this month and have to read 24 novels. Mostly not new ones so I am re-reading old favorites and classics I somehow missed.

    5. All the kickers! I’m taking it slow blogging this summer and I’ve missed coming by the 7 Imps & 7 Kicks. Glad to be here today!

  3. And of course I wanted to say how much I LOVE Erin’s art!! The process she goes through is just amazing!!! I love how she showed us how to build the illustration with carving each block. Those little red socks just slay me. I am looking forward to holding this book in my hands, and all her future books. Bravo!!

  4. Great to see Erin’s process for creating illustrations. Love her pictures!

    HOORAY!!! After weeks of damp gray days and rain–the weather broke for the holiday weekend. Yesterday, we had the best weather that I can recall for the Fourth of July. It was in the low 80s–with dry air and a gorgeous breeze.

    Two days of celebrating with old friends–and some of their kids. We spent the 4th on a boat in Marblehead Harbor. Lobster for dinner. Yum! Life doesn’t get much better.

    And today Mike and I get to babysit Jack, my daughter’s Yellow Lab, for an hour or two.

    Happy last day of the holiday weekend!

  5. WOW. It takes a lot of …courage to do woodcut, and Erin Stead has some real chutzpah. I love how she say she’s not doing this “properly,” and yet –! It’s so cool. I should try that sometime. Maybe.

    Anyway, it’s a weird weekend – 4th of July in another country – but I spent it watching travelogues of the U.S. – kind of lame, but it worked out. Hope everyone had a great one!

  6. I love the figures in Erin’s illustrations and will look forward to the book–but WOW I want those yellow-and-white striped walls for my very own.

    eisha, I totally understand the lasting psychological trauma of not being able to have anything with your name on it as a kid. My grandmother had a pin made for me special with my name on it when I was about 10, and I STILL have the thing.

    Jules, You’re being pretty brave even trying to learn an instrument that quickly for a storytime. I’m impressed. Now that my life seems to be calming down again (finally!), I’m hoping to get back to the guitar. I need a LOT of practice to get anywhere with it, I find.

    Tricia, Oh, William’s fan fic sounds fun, and I’m glad to hear your mother is happy in her new place.

    Andromeda, What I would give for access to free raspberries! I bought some at the farmer’s market yesterday. I ate some plain, I ate some with yogurt and granola, and I made raspberry walnut bread. Today, I’m making jam. Mmmm.

    My kicks:
    1. On Tuesday, I finally, finally felt good again after having strep.
    2. I bought a new dryer, which I’ve needed for quite some time. Mine is aged and barely working (and it makes this horrid, horrid noise), so I’m glad I was finally able to take care of it.
    3. On Wednesday, we did this Myths & Legends program at the library. We had about 40 kids attend, and the main part of the program was having the kids make Medusa masks paper plates and with pipe cleaner hair snakes. The kids REALLY got into it, spending a half hour or more on their masks. Then they used them to turn each other into stone. It was a fine, fine moment in my library career.
    4. Plus the library continues to be busy, and I continue to feel grateful for being able to be part of something positive in people’s lives.
    5. Then I had Friday off. That was good, too.
    6. And Friday night, I went to see Public Enemies. Every once in a blue moon, the end credits start rolling, and I have to think to myself, “Oh, yes, I was watching a movie.” This was one of those, completely engrossing.
    7. Yesterday, I attended two 4th of July parties and had such a good time at both. The highlight was playing ping-pong, occasionally with an adult, but mostly with small children, which is… interesting (“We aren’t angry at the ball. Try to hit it *lightly* this time.” etc.).

  7. Dang, Tricia, I thought you academic types SLOWED DOWN in the summer. I’m very glad your mother is settling in nicely, and I’d love to read William’s fan fic – it sounds awesome.

    Andi, okay, I admit it: I was 10 when Thriller came out and my brother and I spent a lot of time trying to teach ourselves to moonwalk. But now I much prefer shaking my groove thing to “ABC.” That class sounds intense, but fun. And yay for parades!

    Elaine, we got some of that glorious weather up here too. What a relief! Your 4th sounds like the best way to celebrate. I absolutely MUST make friends with someone who has a boat this summer.

    tanita, I bet it is weird, but travelogues are a fun way to celebrate what’s good about this country – the huge varies of landscape and culture.

    adrienne, YES. I have a necklace my aunt had made for me when I was a kid, and I still wear it sometimes even though now it’s more of a choker. I wish I could have seen the mask-making and stone-turning in person, it sounds like the best library program ever. Thanks for the Public Enemies report – I’ve been curious.

  8. Hope you all had a lovely holiday weekend. As far as I’m concerned, a three-day weekend, especially in the summer, is enough of a kick all by itself. I spent parts of the weekend reading the last two Ruby Oliver books by E. Lockhart, and parts of it doing more social things, so it was a good balance overall.

    And I do love that elephant.

  9. What a great way to begin the morning. I love the elephant print and loved learning about the process.
    Eisha, I too, suffered as a child with not getting anything with my name(due to the spelling of it). I still have a custom name bracelet from a grandmother.
    Jules, I am hoping to have a sleep over this summer with the grandgirls. How fun was that?
    Andromeda, wish you could send raspberries throught the mail!
    Welcome back, Tricia!
    Tanika, did you miss the late night crazy people shooting off fireworks?
    Adrienne, can’t wait to see Public Enemies.
    My kicks:
    D-I-S-N-E-Y-L-A-N-D with my daughter and her family: 4 adults and 4 kids!
    This quote of our 4 yr old grandgirl: “Grandpa, will you go on the teacups? I’ll spin.”
    Staying across the street from Disneyland and walking each day to the park.
    Being at the coast for the fourth of July.
    Having a great week.

  10. BTW, I agree with you, Eisha, about Silksinger! Loved it more than Blackbringer!

  11. Oh yeah — Phillip Stead is the guy who works with the old papers. His and Erin’s household must be bursting at the seams with all that creative energy!

    These woodblock prints of Erin’s are amazing — including the process she uses. Like Tanita, I thought it was funny when she sort of scoffed at her own technique, as though there could possibly be any argument with the results. Heh. And now I want to take a sick day off, too, because if I could play cards on the bed with a rhino, an elephant, and a penquin who look anything at all like those I don’t think I’d ever feel sick again. Thanks for bringing Erin to our Sunday!

    Eisha, I’ve neither read Northanger Abbey nor seen the movie. But The Missus — major Jane Austen buff — tells me it’s sort of a parody of the Gothic windswept-moors tradition. Which makes me think maybe I need to read or watch it sooner rather than later.

    Jules: saw on FB that you were taking up the ukelele. Will be very interested in progress reports on this over the coming months; I guess you’ll know you’ve reached mastery when you can do something like “My Heart Will Go On,” hmm?

    Elaine: LOBSTER AT MARBLEHEAD. Oh jeez… that was one of our favorite vacations EVER. The Missus still can’t believe they served her a lobster too big for her to eat!

    Thx for the Public Enemies review, Adrienne. Just that little “suddenly there were credits onscreen” snippet told me all I need to know.


    1. I *finally* have a title I like (a LOT) for the work-in-progress. Cannot tell you how much of a relief that is.
    2. Also worked through a weird stall in my progress in writing the same book, by tricking myself past the hump. Hey, whatever works.
    3. It was just the two of us for the 4th. We had a Food Network dinner: salmon with capers, lemon, marsala from Giada Whatsername, and grilled sweet-potato fingers from Bobby Flay. Kept waiting for the producers to burst out of a closet or something. Which they didn’t, but darn, that food was good.
    4. Twilight Zone marathon on SciFi. (On the downside: the SciFi network is about to become something called “SyFy.” One of the *stoooopidest* marketing ploys (if that’s what it is) that I’ve ever seen.)
    5. Wrapping a big day-job project.
    6. This, which is almost impossible to describe but I’ll try: explore New York City’s geography/topography over the last 400 years using a variety of on-screen gizmos which, like, fade the streets out, replace city blocks with greenery, and so on.
    7. Related to Eisha’s MJ kick: I think it’s cool that so many elementary mnemonics and phrases have three syllables and end with the long “ee” sound. 1-2-3; A-B-C; do-re-mi; you and me…

    Have a great week, everyone!

  12. This is so perfect! And what a great technique! I think I need to try that one soon! I always felt like drawing on top of my woodcut prints but I was afraid of doing it really.. I thought it’d suck! But now I have the courage!

    Totally love this and I can’t wait till the book comes out!

  13. Tricia, William’s fan fiction sounds great! Would he be okay with you posting one one day? Good news about your mom, too.

    Andi, no to your question about the uke. But Farida did send me this. Perfect. Raspberries=Mmm. My favoritest fruit of all. And Mildred Taylor is the best, isn’t she?

    Elaine, glad you got that good weather and some good celebrating.

    Tanita, I’m with you. As for Erin’s comment about how she’s not doing this “properly,” I meant to type up top (but promptly forgot) that, even though I’m not an artist, I bet that her process is perfectly proper and right, because it’s her own and her art is compelling in its own right after she’s done. I mean, haven’t we learned that from all kinds of artists here at 7-Imp? That whatever works is How You Do It.

    Adrienne, I wanna see Public Enemies, but especially after seeing a very, very funny recent interview with Johnny Depp on Letterman. He is a very reticent man, and his economy of words makes for a fun interview. Hey, wait. Here’s part of it:

    And your library program sounds great. As always, I wish your library were down the road from me.

    Eisha, did you ever see the Jackson Five photo I messed with in high school? I pasted my face over one of the Jackson dudes, and it looks really funny. Well, you know, it made me and my friends in high school laugh a lot (since it’s all in black and white and my face merges so well), though I admit we were EASILY amused in high school. Bored a lot, you know. I found the pic the other day. If I posted it now, just for fun, it might seem ever-so blasphemous to big fans, ’cause my faces covers up Michael Jackson’s, though I meant nothing of it at the time. Anyway, I think the song “Billie Jean” has an excellent melody. That’s my favorite. And that anniversary Motown performance with his first moonwalk? Whoa. I remember Donnie nailed the moonwalk right after that, not surprisingly.

    Jen, glad you’re having a good weekend. Isn’t this a good baseball time for you now, too?

    Jone, I think your FB Disneyland pics are great. You have beautiful grandchildren.

    John, aren’t you glad spam didn’t get your comments for once? And, hey, we must have both been watching CBS Sunday Morning today, ’cause I saw that Manhattan map, too, in the Henry Hudson story. Fascinating.

    If the rest of you didn’t see HOW John got to his kick #1, you can read about it here. He’s tricky, that John is. I fell for it.

    Eline, hi! Glad to have an artist weigh in. Isn’t it great? Can’t wait to see the book.

  14. Jen, agreed! Three day weekends should happen every weekend.

    jone, you just gave me a kick picturing Chuck on the spinning teacups ride. Sounds like the whole vacay was a blast.

    JES, it is indeed a parody, as well as a cautionary tale of the effects of reading too many gothic romances. Like I said, hilarious. And really – SyFy? You’re right, that’s horrid. Those sweet potato fingers sound scrumptious. And THANK YOU for the Mannahatta Project, which just became my new favorite time suck. I love how you can adjust it so there’s a ghost of the current buildings amidst all the greenery.

  15. Eline, go for it!

    jules, how could I forget? It hung on your fridge for years. And yeah, we taped that moonwalk performance and replayed it in slo-mo over and over trying to figure out how MJ did it.

  16. Eisha, I can relate to the thrill of seeing one’s name on a personalized something. I have a necklace that has “Farida” spelled out phonetically in Egyptian hieroglyphics. Jules, it’s a kick for me that you’re learing the uke! I need to get out my daughter’s uke too, and learn to play more than two chords from memory. Once you get going to where you’re comfortable playing C, F and G, I’ll give you the not-secret formula for transcribing any 2-3 chord song into the key of C for easy uke playability.

    My kicks:
    1. My friend brought over my second “storytelling pie” in trade for a 1 year old birthday party I did for her son 18 months ago. It’s peanut-butter silk. My husband wants a piece, and I’ve had fun saying, “You may have a piece when I cut a piece for you. It’s MY PIE!” Hee hee.

    2. As challenging as it is to vaccuum every day (my new resolution), the dust is down and I’m sneezing less.

    3. Math Gnomes! I’m working on a set with plans for more. Visit Flickr and do a search for “math gnomes”– the photo by unwaveringfaith is my favorite.

    4. I’m learning French songs for my daughter’s French camp, and even though my accent is STILL abysmal, I’m having fun. I trust that I will have the songs memorized by the time I start my gigs. This is new territory for me. Fortunately, I have a guitar. I feel secure behind my guitar. People who sing without playing accompanying instruments are very, very brave.

    5. I finally finished embroidering a variegated green fern stitch on a pair of black trousers I sewed a month ago. I like to be a little fancy. I started sewing my own trousers out of necessity, as I’ve always been unconventionally shaped (no matter what my weight has been, I could never find the right waist to hip ratio in the stores, and would have to hem my trousers).

    6. Speaking of embroidery, for those of you who want to give it a go but need a good beginning guide, I believe I’ve found one for you: Doodle Stitching: Fresh & Fun Embroidery for Beginners, by Aimee Ray. Even though I’m not a beginner anymore, I’ve ordered a used copy for myself so that I can show people the book.

    7. On Thursday night, my husband helped me make not one but TWO trays of spanikopita. One we froze for a family with a new baby, and one we baked for our July 4th party yesterday. Making spanikopita is relatively easy but a little labor intensive, what with the buttering of each fillo dough layer. I realized later, not for the first time, that as much as I enjoy eating French cuisine, it’s a little too fussy for me to make. I prefer Middle-Eastern dishes that may be labor intensive but are designed to be made in groups. Stuffed grape leaves, little spinach pies, little meat pies, spanikopita– all good.


  17. Happy Independence Day, all!

    These are my quick kicks, since I’m heading out for my 3rd BBQ of the holiday weekend. I will need to diet all week after this.

    1) The 4th of July: I’m grateful to live in this amazing country. My brother’s Bulgarian girlfriend reminds us often to never take our freedoms for granted – her stories about her parent’s lives in a formerly communist country are really chilling.
    2) BBQ! Everything seems to taste better when it’s cooked outside. I’ve eaten some delicious roasted vegies, chicken, and sausage so far. Not to mention the giant dessert buffet at my client’s BBQ yesterday, followed only a few hours later by birthday cake at my friend’s party. We said we would never eat again, but I just finished stuffing a picnic basket with MORE food for this afternoon’s BBQ. Just roll me back home….
    3) Walking in my little town’s Independence Day parade behind all the adorable kidlets in their motorized cars with the red, white and blue streamers and assorted decorations. Too cute!
    4) Seeing good friends after almost 6 months of “we really need to get together”. Where DOES the time go?

    Oh, and Eisha, I’m with you about the Michael J. mania – he was a huge talent but enough already. And Jules, as I mentioned on your FB page, I’m pretty sure you have secret plans to join Sam’s band with those ukelele lessons, so you might as well fess up (insert obnoxious angelic happy-faced emoticon here). And Helen Mirren rocks!

    Hope everyone has a great week!

  18. P.S.

    Sorry – I completely forgot to say that I LOVE Erin’s illustrations and so appreciated the fascinating step-by-step explanation of her creative process. Who wouldn’t fall in love with that sweet elephant?

  19. Farida, words could not possibly express how much I love peanut butter pies OF ANY SORT. Or, generally, peanut butter TREATS of any sort. Seriously, I gasped when I read “peanut butter silk.” Please. do. elaborate.

    What well-rounded and rich kicks you have. Food! Sewing! Music! French! (I refuse to include “vacuuming!” in here, ’cause I hate it, too, but I’m glad you’re sneezing less.) I took French in high school, but I’ll always be an abysmal failure at it, because I can’t roll my “R”s.

    Deal on the ukelele chords, Farida.

    Jill, glad you’re living it up on the 4th. I’m experiencing something new this year: I’m twitchy, post-4th. I’m not a fireworks-hater. We did a few, and I went out and enjoyed some in our neighborhood last night (which sounded not unlike a war zone, really), but all those, combined with a very boomy-loud and bad storm last night, has left me feeling like a jangle of nerves today. It’s weird. Yeesh, I’m probably just getting old.

    Or maybe it’s as simple as needing more protein today. Who knows. And I digress anyway.

    Yes, I’m sure Sam needs a uke in her band. SURE of it.

    I’m off to a fireworks-free 4th dinner. I look forward to reading more kicks later.

  20. I have the same reaction to Erin Stead’s work: OMG. I love her elaborate and precise process. And the results are wonderful. A Sick Day for Amos McGee looks like quite a charmer. If being sick mean I get to play cards with an elephant and penguin… I want a sick day too! Philip and Erin Stead are an amazingly talented couple. I love them! Thanks so much for featuring their work. 🙂

    Eisha, I love the Jackson 5. I love “ABC”! Now I am grooving to the video here in my bedroom.

    Jules, good luck learning to play the ukelele. You’ll post a video of yourself playing, yes?


    1. Rainy season is still going strong here. Yay!

    2. Stunning and meaningful poetry: “Notes from the Other Side” by Jane Kenyon (posted right here at 7-Imp for Poetry Friday) and “Alice at Seventeen: Like a Blind Child” by Darcy Cummings (posted at the Opposite of Indifference for Poetry Friday).

    3. Of course this post on Erin Stead, and being reminded of Philip Stead’s great collage work.

    4. Seeing so many new children’s and young adult books at my local bookstore!

    5. Burgers, fries, and beer with my fabulous co-workers on Thursday night.

    6. Vietnamese food with my fabulous co-workers on Friday night.

    7. Watching Transformers again. Sure, there is lots to criticize about the movie. But it’s so much fun watching alien robots duke it out while I eat popcorn. And those alien robots have been a part of my life since I was a kid!

  21. Jules, That video made me laugh. I totally get what Mr. Depp is saying, though, with not wanting to watch his movies. It’s always funny seeing him in interviews because I’m so used to seeing him in character. Or characters, more like.

  22. Not online today – Just wanted to say HI quickly so you didn’t worry!

  23. Re: peanut-butter silk pie. Oooh, it’s amazing. I’d better hop back on the treadmill, but it’s worth it. 😉 It’s got chocolate on the bottom and it’s so, um, silky to the texture. It’s sweet, but not too sweet. My friend is a master pie maker. I’m sure she’ll share the recipe if I ask her, but it’s more than the recipe, you know? Of course you know. Anyone who’s ever watched/read “Like Water for Chocolate” or “Eat Drink Man Woman” knows!

  24. Farida, I knew you’d feel my pain. Your pants sound pretty – I love flowery/viney embroidery – and I’m once again amazed at your talents with a needle. And with food. Spanikopita! YUM!

    Jill, you’re right – food cooked outside DOES taste better, especially when fire is involved. Thanks also for the reminder of what we’re celebrating.

    Tarie, what a yummy week you’ve had, and how great that you actually enjoy your co-workers’ company too! Am I judging you on the Transformers thing? Nope, certainly not. I felt the same way about Star Trek.

    Little Willow, howdy! Thanks for checking in, and have fun doing whatever zany madcap business you’re up to today.

  25. Tarie, glad you had a good week, and when are you gonna update us on the notion of your own children’s publishing house? !

    Adrienne, if only more actors would take Johnny Depp’s cues and stay out of the personal spotlight more often. Then I might find it easier to believe them when they’re playing a role.

    Hi, Little Willow. Thank you. Because a) Mama Jules would have worried about you and b) it’s not the same on Sundays without you.

    Farida, I’ll still take the recipe, if you’re so inclined.

  26. Happy Sunday and Happy 4th of July weekend! Wow, I love all the art, but especially the rhinoceros with the red scarf – so sweet!

    Everyone’s food kicks sound so yummy. The BF and I were low-key this weekend, and actually went to work part of the day on the 4th. (We biked in though, and that counts as fun.) But we sat outside and watched neighborhood fireworks in the evening. (and tried to keep the dogs calm.)
    That would be kick 1.
    2. Bluberry banana pie. (almost red, white and blue – just need to top off with raspberries.)
    3. Chopped pepper meditteranean salad -http://smittenkitchen.com/2009/06/mediterranean-pepper-salad/ easy and delicious.
    4. Watched Bonnie and Clyde, the Beatty/Dunaway one. They were both breathtaking. (and thanks for the Public Enemies heads up – it looks good just from the trailers, and Johnny Depp = must-see movie.)
    5. Almost finished with The Vine of Desire, by Chitra Bannerjee Divakaruni.
    6. Tried to go hiking Friday, everything went wrong, including my friend’s parking brake failing and his car rolling away down the mountain – it was bizarre, unexpected, and very funny, especially since it DIDN’T fly off a cliff and into a tree.
    7. Being helped by a lovely couple with a tow rope and a group of cyclists – they made digging the car out of the brush and freeing the boulders from beneath the car a fun experience.
    8. Celebrating the adventure with sushi.

    Hope everyone has a wonderful week!

  27. Jules, OMG. I am going to take your question as a sign. Over the past week, I have in fact been doing research about how to get started. Asked about registering with the Department of Trade and Industry, getting a Mayor’s Permit, etc. Frankly though, there is no money yet. LOL. But I want to do this. Thanks so much for asking!!

  28. Jules, yeah, I was pleasantly surprised when the comment showed up without encouragement from either of us. Ha! (I did work at keeping both the word count and the link count down.)

    I picked up on the Mannahatta Project through Twitter the other day, which pointed me to a NY Times story on it — missed the CBS thing. It’s in the news, I think, because of a current museum exhibition. My only (wistful) problem with virtual goodness like it is that in another 400 years, archaeologists won’t be able to find it. (Either that, or they’ll wonder what the big deal was — since they can go back to NYC on any date they want and just walk around.)

    RM, I don’t know anything about The Vine of Desire but that’s a pretty kicking title right there.

    Farida: math gnomes! OMG, now I want somebody to invent writing gnomes, or programming gnomes. 🙂

    Little Willow, hope you had a great week!

  29. RM, oh my to kick #6. Glad everyone’s okay. And the car, too. And, wow: You ate well this week, too.

    Tarie, woo and hoo! Glad you’re looking into it.

    John, the CBS story was about Henry Hudson discovering Manhattan, and they briefly showed the Mannahatta Project.

  30. I truly love this blog!! It serves up amazing authors, artists, and sweet conversation.


    Don’t be shy about any blank page, keep making amazing illustrations! I can’t wait for you book to be released.

    Thanks also for the Johnny Depp post, being a bit sick at the moment, I needed the laugh! Cheers & tons of love to Seven Impossible Things!!

  31. Hello to Erin (and Philip)! The step-by-step pictures of your craft were a treat. I love seeing things emerge, seeing process and creation. Thanks for sharing your woodworking, your characters, and your illustrations.

    Oh, and as I must say it whenever I see one: PINGUINO!

    By the way, I saw a stuffed Elephant and Piggie today, and they looked just as they do in the book. I was so taken by Piggie that I almost overlooked Pigeon and Knuffle Bunny. Yes, it was an entire shelf of Mo Willems characters.

    eisha: Enjoy (the music) and (the shirt). I know of a kiosk that sells keychains and whatnot, and it only displays unique names – many of which I’ve never seen, and some that I think may be typos. 🙂

    Jules: Rock the ukelele! Glad that everyone had fun. I saw a girl’s headshot which was simply her face pasted over Judy Garland’s in a promotional B&W shot of Judy as Dorothy Gale with Toto in a basket in her arms. This girl seriously distributed/posted this. I couldn’t believe it.

    Tricia: Welcome back. Hope your mother settles in comfortably. Good luck with the grants, and go William with the writing!

    Jazmon: Tasty raspberries. Enjoy the YA books.

    Elaine: ‘ello, Puppy Jack!

    Tanita: How’s the castle? *grin*

    Adrienne: Please tell me you’re resting up and have fully recuperated. Congrats on the success of your program. That sounds like a wonderful event – What a big turnout!

    Jen: Hurrah for balance. *smile*

    jone: Sounds like a fun Disneyland trip.

    JES: May the title for the WIP stick. I too love the Sci-Fi TZ marathon and detest the channel’s upcoming name change. Topography is cool and underrated.

    Farida: I LOVE hieroglyphics. I’m so glad that your necklace has the phonetic spelling and is thus proper. YAY. So many things mess that up.

    Jill: Let freedom ring. Hurrah for the parade and your participation in it!

    Taria: Yay for new books in the store.

    rm preston: All the talk about the upcoming Bonnie & Clyde remake reminds me that I need to see the original. Glad that you are all okay.

    Hi Kamela!

    My kicks for the past week:
    1) Helping save a sea lion – She was on a beach, lethargic and possibly ill or injured. A call to 911 was rerouted to marine rescue.
    2) Helping save a mouse from the jaws of a snake – Please don’t tell me about the circle of life. If you’d heard that mouse squealing, you would have made that snake to find its lunch elsewhere, too.
    3) Completing projects
    4) Family visits
    5) Singing at a live event – A very noisy room became quiet and attentive within two notes, which felt so cool, and I enjoyed the entire performance.
    6) Sleeping for more than four hours
    7) Seeing friends and acquaintances in national commercials

  32. Thanks, Kamela!

    Little Willow, I won’t tell you about the circle of life. But I am AMAZED that you saved the mouse. As in, like, how? As in, you got THAT near a snake and released a snake from its mouth?

    Kicks #1 and #5 are particularly great.

  33. Kicks:
    1. Erin’s art and description was a wonderful visual kick! And it brought back such memories of a Girl Scout badge I did on printmaking…I liked most doing linoleum prints and have a real appreciation from that experience of the difficulties!
    2. Ringing the closing bell at NASDAQ to launch the RIF/Macy’s Book a Brighter Future campaign.
    3. Finishing MARE, a wonderful story that enlightened me about an organization about which I knew nothing.
    4. Reading CHAINS which was a great follow up to SOMEONE KNOWS MY NAME by Lawrence Hill I read recently.
    5. Learning more about the Hmong culture through TANGLED THREADS.
    6. Long weekend and reflections on our country’s history…CHAINS was a great book to be reading on the 4th.
    7. A wonderful trip to the Farmer’s Market and the meals since!

  34. Jules: Another person stepped lightly on the snake’s tail while I chased the mouse away. He had been in the snake’s mouth, screaming at the top of his lungs, and once he was released, he ran back and forth in front of the snake, freaking out until I coaxed it to go away.

  35. Carol, oh whoa! How exciting #2 must have been.

    Little Willow, I bet that was an awful, awful sound.

  36. […] Misc: […]

  37. […] Erin—in a post in which she talked about creating the artwork for this title—back in July of 2009. But, hey! It’s my blog, and I can do what I want, right? I flippin’ adore this book, […]

  38. […] for the Steads!  This one caught my eye when I read about it over at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, and I loved it when I got my hands on it.  Sometimes Caldecott winners are books where I can […]

  39. […] fascinated with printmaking and had marveled at Erin’s work in 2009 when she was featured on Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast; check it out to see this very book in […]

  40. […] is that) , and there’s a really fascinating interview her from before the book came out, over at Seven Impossible Things , in which Stead explains how she made the gorgeous, sensitive illustrations (prints!), which is […]

  41. […] Interview with new winner of the Caldecott award- book: A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Phillip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead   http://blaine.org/sevenimpossiblethings/?p=1723 […]

  42. […] (and knew it screamed SPECIALNESS). She actually visited twice to talk about Amos McGee, but it was this July ‘09 post, in which she shared her printmaking process for the book (before it was even out), that I so […]

  43. […] he wrote and she carved wood, they won the Caldecott- take a look at the full story of how this children’s book came to be, here. […]

  44. […] A Sick Day for Amos McGree, written by Philip C. Stead (who happens to be her husband), she visited to share some early art and the tools she used to make the illustrations for the book. I have to […]

  45. […] próximos días en la librería! Por último, algo que vale la pena ver: en el blog de Erin hay un link a una entrevista en la que se puede ver paso a paso su técnica de trabajo. ¡Muy […]

  46. […] have a marvelous grainy texture made by Erin’s technique of woodblock printing. Check out her process […]

  47. […] an interview with Eric C. Stead, the illustrator of Amos McGee on Seven Impossible Things before Breakfast. About these ads var wpcom_adclk_hovering = false; var wpcom_adclk_recorded = false; var […]

  48. Everytime I visit your blog, I am inspired. Thanks.

  49. […] E. Stead, ilustradora que hizo su debut con este libro, premiado con la medalla Caldecott 2011. Su técnica y método de trabajo dan como fruto unas ilustraciones que provocan infinidad de sensaciones en el lector. Éstas […]

  50. […] [2]Danielson, J. (2009, July 5th). 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #122: Featuring Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Erin Stead. Retrieved from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast: http://blaine.org/sevenimpossiblethings/?p=1723 […]

  51. […] during the making of the book that end up being big at reading time. The first time I read Amos McGee to a group of kids, I was floored by how many moments were getting big laughs. The page turn that […]

  52. […] Erin’s interview with 7-Imps about beginning her career as an illustrator with A Sick Day for Amos […]

  53. […] from Phil and Erin Stead, Lenny & Lucy. It’s hard to believe that the sweet souls behind A Sick Day for Amos McGee would even be capable of venturing into horror, but it’s hard to argue with a book that […]

  54. […] no better medicine than a dog. It is not a stretch to say that without Wednesday there would be no Amos McGee. Wednesday’s full name, incidentally, is Wednesday […]

  55. […] 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #122: Featuring Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Erin Stead […]

  56. […] Abbiamo scovato un’interessante intervista all’illustratrice, che fra le altre cose è anche la moglie dell’autore, e che vi riproponiamo tradotta in italiano qui sotto perchè apre il backstage sulla produzione delle immagini e sulla capacità di rendere quel calore che tutti percepiscono nel vederle. Grazie a Jules di Seven impossible things before breakfast. […]

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