7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #132: Featuring Aaron Zenz

h1 September 13th, 2009 by Eisha and Jules

Jules: This is from one of Aaron Zenz’s stories-looking-for-a-home, and I hope it settles down in just the right place one day, because I’d like to know more about these characters. How ’bout you?

And this below is the cover art for Aaron’s latest picture book title, The Hiccupotamus, which I’m here to tell you is a hoot, a powerful good hoot, to read aloud to your children or, shoot, the nearest children you can find:

“There was a hippopotamus / Who hiccupped quite-a-lotamus /
And every time he got’emus . . . He’d fall upon his bottomus.”

Actually, I say that it’s Aaron’s “latest” title, but…

The Hiccupotamus,” Aaron (pictured here with his family) told me, “was first released in 2005 by an itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny publisher that went out of business a year later. It was as close to being self-published as you can get without technically being so. The company consisted of four guys holed up in the corner of an old abandoned warehouse. Three guys were co-owners of the venture, and I was the sole employee. We cranked out lots of great stickers, activity books, and card games. The Hiccupotamus was the only trade book ever released. It was produced primarily during my off-hours, and—although the book did really well—I never received a cent of compensation for its writing, never saw any royalties. But it was a joy to make and I loved the guys I was working with.

Fast forward to September 2009—hello!—and now it’s been picked up by Marshall Cavendish for re-release! I’m so happy that many more people will have a chance to be introduced to this gang of innocent, hapless, ill-fated characters.”

Yes, this accursed hippo has the hiccups, and these hiccups are quite dramatic, indeed, and bring about a lot of old-school, laugh-outloud, slapstick visual humor in this title. As well as spot-on rhymes, all hyper-outrageous, that could be flat-out disastrous in the hands of someone less skilled, but Zenz pulls it off with style. This right here is a giggle-inducer is what it is. But it doesn’t go for cheap laughs; it goes for that loud kind of Three-Stooges visual humor, what with all the hapless victims of the hippo’s extravagant hiccups. You have a preschool story time hour, by chance? Here’s the book for you. (Or, as Betsy Bird wrote in her review, “What it is…is a lot of fun and a particularly good readaloud. I don’t tend to say this very often, but if you wanted to read this book to a large group of second graders, you could do so with the greatest of ease. It just rolls off the tongue.”)

And here are some more of Aaron’s colored-pencilled illustrations from it:


” . . . He’d fall upon his bottomus.”


“One day he saw an elephant / With cakes of green and yellowphant. / He tried to tell her ‘hellophant’ . . . / But it didn’t go so wellephant.”


“They ran near a rhinocerous / With minty dental flosserous. /
His string went all criss-crosserous . . .”


Cover

“My medium-of-choice is colored pencil,” Aaron explained, “and I’ve been using them since my youth. Often folks are shocked to find out they are looking at colored pencil art. That’s because I misuse and abuse the medium. As a kid, I took to colored pencils (Prismacolors — nothing like them!) because they were a small step away from crayon (Crayola — nothing like them!). But I loved the look of pastels and oils, although I didn’t know a thing about either. So, as a wide-eyed, clueless lad, I simply forced and twisted and battered the colored pencils until I got results I liked, hence developing a style and method of my own.


A portfolio piece

Usually artists choose colored pencil because of the unique qualities of the medium: sketchiness, lightness of touch, the ability to reveal a paper’s grain, etc. But I press super hard on the pencil until not a smidge of paper shows through. Extreme pressure results in solid, dense layers …and hundreds of broken pencil tips. While making The Hiccupotamus, I went through 119 pencils (from new to stub) and broke 251 pencil tips along the way.


A portfolio piece



Two portfolio pieces from Aaron’s series of literary beasties

My college professors were wonderful (Hillsdale College in Michigan). They humored me and gave chances to explore colored pencils and develop my skills. In particular, I remember a portraiture class where all the students were gathered around easels painting away, and there I was in the midst of them with my colored pencils, frantically scribbling like the dickens.

I say colored pencil is my ‘medium-of-choice,’ but I also do a lot of work digitally. It all depends of the project. Cars and race tracks are far more geometric than chubby naked hippos, so the computer was the natural tool to use for the two Nascar books I illustrated. Other times, tight deadlines and the need for speed will necessitate digital art.”


Cover art from Nascar ABCs (Gibbs Smith),
written by Paul DuBois Jacobs and Jennifer Swender

“In the years following Hic’s first release,” Aaron said, “I’ve had the extreme pleasure of illustrating other wonderful picture books. My tenth book, Nugget on the Flightdeck, written by Patricia Newman, happens to be released this very month as well. I love the fact that a realistic look at life aboard an aircraft carrier can be oddly coupled alongside a hiccupping purple hippo. Where else than in the world of children’s literature?!?!!”






From Nugget on the Flight Deck, released by Walker Books (September 2009)
and written by Patricia Newman (colored pencil)

“What else is up with me? I’ve got many other stories I’ve authored that are looking for happy homes. And last year the whole Zenz family jumped into the kidlitosphere with our blog Bookie Woogie, where the kids and I are having fun and meeting lots of new friends.”

Speaking of Aaron’s children, if you take the time to read this and take in the visuals, you won’t be disappointed.

And here, to end our visit with Aaron, are five more images from stories-looking-for-a-home. (The art is digital.)





Many thanks to Aaron for stopping by! If you want to see even more of his art, don’t forget his web site and this one, as well. Aaron also has embarked on an official blog tour, and here’s the scoop—and all the stops—if you want to read more.

As a reminder, 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is 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.

* * * * * * *

THE HICCUPOTAMUS by Aaron Zenz. First published in 2005 by Dogs in Hats Children’s Publishing. Copyright © 2009 edition published by Marshall Cavendish, Tarrytown, NY. Images reproduced by permission of the author. All rights reserved.

NUGGET ON THE FLIGHT DECK. Text copyright © 2009 by Patricia Newman. Illustrations copyright © 2009 by Aaron Zenz. Published by Walker Books. Images reproduced by permission of the author. All rights reserved.

All other images courtesy of Aaron Zenz.

* * * Jules’ kicks * * *

1). I finally got to hear Elbow’s latest CD, since I decided to purchase it as a birthday gift for my husband. (Remember the video I posted in these kicks?) And it’s mighty, mighty good music, my friends.

2). Hey, said husband and I also saw Inglourious Basterds. I didn’t know what to expect, but I liked it. Muchly. And when Aldo “the Apache” Raine (you gotta click on that link) said he was from Maynardville, Tennessee, I nearly hooted.

3). This is a former colleague of mine, interpreting at Bonnaroo. No matter what you think of the music (Snoop Dogg), what this interpreter is doing here is a major, major FEAT. This is an ASL interpretation, and I can promise you this took a lot of work. Just keeping UP is a feat:

4). Okay, one more video: We librarians have our own dance now, thanks to author Tammi Sauer:

5). New Books: Bear and one small, grey, and bright-eyed mouse are back! Neil Gaiman’s Odd and the Frost Giants is good, thus far. And so is Kate DiCamillo’s The Magician’s Elephant (“It is important that you say what you mean to say. Time is too short. You must speak words that matter.” I like that.) More on all these books later. Probably.

6). So, this was odd, but one of my favorite musicians played at some sort of reading this week (far away from Tennessee), and Brian Selznick was evidently there. She wrote on her Facebook page that “the writers had to take a ‘risk’ at the end of their readings” and that Selznick “reprised a role he had in a high school song/dance routine wearing purple tights.” That made me laugh. (And I thought it was odd that two of my favorite “artists” would end up in the same spot like that — musician and children’s book creator.)

7). This “Writers Against Racism” post from Tanita.

BONUS #1: I’m a Big Saturday Night Live Geek. That should be said first. Anyway, I’ve been reading about the cast members that Lorne Michaels just laid off (and eager to see who he’s brought on board for this coming Fall), and one of them who was asked to leave was Casey Wilson (a “featured player” from the past few years). What with our culture’s rabid fixation on being slender, reports evidently swirled that she was fired for being overweight. She says it’s not true. I believe her. But here’s the kick: She released a statement that said, “I had an amazing time on ‘SNL,’ and these rumors are completely untrue…And to clarify, the issue isn’t that I’m too fat, it’s that I’m too phat. Can I get a WHAT-WHAT!” How funny is that? Way to take dumb-ass, embarrassing rumors (she’s hardly “fat”; we just live in a culture who thinks everyone should be a size zero, of course) and give ’em the middle finger. With goofy, good-natured humor.

* * * eisha’s kicks * * *

1* YAY, Aaron Zenz! I love his blogs.

2* Last weekend the husband and I went to the wedding of one of his colleagues. It was lovely. The ceremony was at the Arboretum at the Cornell Plantations. Then the reception was at Buttermilk Falls State Park, with music by the Evil City String Band. It was fabulous.

They did a really nice Johnny Cash cover, among other things.

3* Oh, and during the reception, someone casually mentioned to me that the groom, whom I had never met before, used to play drums for Twisted Sister.

I know, right?

4* Jules, can I just steal some of your kicks? Cause that video of James interpreting Snoop is freaking awesome.

5* So is the Librarian Dance. Which I have already memorized, and added a couple of book-shelving and date-due-stamping flourishes too.

6* This is so cool. A friend just told me he has synesthesia with names, and that mine is “black and silver and gold, and shimmery like foil.” Isn’t that pretty? I want synesthesia too!

7* The husband’s sister and her husband are coming to visit in a couple of weeks. It’s always fun to see them, but we’ve started planning what we’re actually going to do, what sort of stuff we want them to see. I’m looking forward to it.

* * * * * * *

Note: MotherReader tagged us in a meme. Haven’t done one in forever, but go see. It’s for a good cause!

What are YOUR kicks this week?

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31 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #132: Featuring Aaron Zenz”

  1. Congrats to Aaron on the re-release of Hiccupotamus! Love the riot of colors — and he’s right, I wouldn’t have guessed it was done in colored pencil. Cool!

    Jules, the Snoop Dogg interp is amazing. Never seen anything like it. I don’t know Amy’s music, but it is interesting she appeared at the same place as Brian Selznick.

    Eisha, that wedding sounds sublime. Drums for Twisted Sister? Whoa.

    A couple of kicks:

    Going to book club today. We’re focusing on Kevin Henkes. I LURV him!

    Tanita’s W.A.R. post. SO well done!

    ALL THE WORLD. Interview with Marla and Liz right here!

    Received my signed copies of The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z (Kate Messner) from Flying Pigs Bookstore. Yay!

    Two of my bears had an adventure with a giant mushroom in the woods.

    Hawaiian Sweet Bread Pudding and Japanese food. :9

    I’m about half way through Operation Yes. LOVE it! ♥ Sara gave me a S’Mores cupcake. Mmmmmmm!

    Have great week, everyone!


  2. The hippo is adorable and so are the NASCARs(Chuck is a big fan).
    Jules, that librarian dance LOL! Tammi donated some of her books to the auction last spring. I will have to let her know I saw the librarian dance. Will pass it on.
    Eisha, love the synesthesia with names…that could be helpful with learning all my students names.
    My kicks:
    1. Cherry tomatos! Just ate the first one from our meager crop yesterday!
    2. Made pickeld beets, which I haven’t done in years.
    3. The grandgirls: watching oldest “read” to her cousin. What a hoot.
    4. Finished bk. three of Twilight last night, am going to take a break…
    5. Got the shrubs planted in the “out sight, out of mind ” zone of our yard.
    6. Having 5th grae for an hour seems to be working fine (was a little nervous).
    7. Our weather.
    Have a great week.


  3. More of Aaron’s stories need to find homes. Also, NASCAR ABCs is such a huge hit in my library that I had to buy extra copies.

    Jules, My favorite part of that Tammi Sauer video is that little disclaimer at the end with “Please dance responsibly.”

    eisha, I am so jealous of people with synesthesia, the same way I am with people who can anagram in their heads. These things are just not at all how my brain works, but they are SO COOL.

    Jama, I so want to go to your book group. Are you discussing the chapter books? My fave is Words of Stone, but they’re all good. That man just drips talent.

    Jone, I keep talking to my cherry and grape tomatoes, asking them to please, please ripen, but they do not. It was a tough gardening year round these parts.

    My kicks:
    1. Lucas started fifth grade this week and is absolutely in love with his teacher, who keeps fish, two snakes, and a guinea pig in his classroom. He’s also a man, which is a nice thing, I think, for Lu at this stage of his life.
    2. By “this stage of his life,” I mean, “Lucas is suddenly eating like a teenage boy.” It is both shocking and wonderful to watch him as he is starting to tiptoe into the next big phase of his life.
    3. Also I am glad that we’re back into our morning routine. I see him quite a bit at all times of year, but there’s nothing like spending every morning with him.
    4. All the World! Oh my, but that book is beautiful. The staff’s been passing it around at the library, and we’re all in love with it.
    5. Speaking of the library, the finishing work is done on our new shelves, and I put my Magic 8 Ball collection in our new display case. !!! I have to take pictures.
    6. Ooo! Ooo! I saw 9 last night. I loved the short it was based on when I saw it a couple years ago (’tis here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=964QHmjLqa0), and the animation of the feature-length film is as impressive. Also, cute little dolls running around a post-apocalyptic landscape is so totally my kind of thing.
    7. Summer turning into fall. I do like September.


  4. Hi Everyone,

    This is really quick, since I’m out of town and working on my brother’s computer.

    My kicks:
    1) Seeing Sam Phillips in concert last night in Santa Monica. Words cannot possibly express how wonderful it was. And she remembered my name and we talked for 30 minutes. Best night of my entire year, and one of the best times of my entire life.
    2) Talking with Jules on the phone from the concert for the first time – she has a very light Southern accent, by the way. I’m glad we finally connected, Jules! Your signed poster (with a personal comment from Sam) will be on its way shortly!

    Have a good week everyone!


  5. I am in love with that red dragon, as is William, who is in a dragon/magical creature drawing phase right now.

    Kicks this week include:
    1. ALL THE WORLD, your interview here, and Jama’s big bowl of soup.
    2. THE HOUSE, written by J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated Roberto Inocennti – The illustrations brought me to my knees (gorgeous) and the poetry is just heartwrenching and hopeful all at once. To top it off, Pat sent me this copy with a truly lovely inscription.
    3. The giraffe picture William drew and colored for me. I love new artwork for my office.
    4. The windup robot a friend gave as a “cheer-up” gift. When I’m feeling down I wind it up and watch it dance. It makes me laugh and smile.
    5. Reading the kidlit conference memes. I can’t wait to get there and catch up with old friends and meet some new ones. (I’m sad Eisha and Jules won’t be there.)
    6. Cupcakes from the new gourmet cupcake shop that opened here. Choosing was the hardest part, as they all looked divine. I’m here to tell you they taste even better.
    7. Hearing that a grad student is using my Poetry Maker series for some background work on her thesis. It’s nice to know folks are revisiting this stuff.

    Have a great week all!


  6. Hi there, Aaron Zenz! I adore The Hiccupotamus. I read it upon its initial release back in 2005. Congrats on the re-release. I love the additional pictures you’ve shared with us here. Thank you! Bonus points for the Jabberwocky, and for the various species of baby wild cats.

    Everyone: If you have yet to read The Hiccupotamus, PLEASE DO!

    Jules: I haven’t seen ASL with rap before. The librarian dance is cute. Kudos to the interpreter and to Tammi Sauer. Go Tanita! I don’t watch SNL regularly or even very often, but, having read your post about that, I hope that Casey keeps her chin up and rocks whatever comes next for her.

    eisha: Just the name The Evil City String Band cracks me up. Ooh, pretty name made even prettier! I’m fascinated by synthesthesia.

    jama: Operation Yes is in my to-read pile, and I’m looking forward to Gianna Z. Your bears-with-mushroom story sounds funny fairytale-worthy.

    jone: Sounds like a fun, productive week.

    adrienne: Yay, Lucas! I want to see pictures of the Magic 8 Ball collection. September is the best month.

    Jill: Much fun.

    Tricia: Hurrah for your kicks, especially your 3rd, 4th, and 7th kicks making you smile.

    My kicks for the past week:
    1) Rehearsals
    2) Managing
    3) Singing (and hearing others sing to me!)
    4) Security
    5) Session (CD, but not compact disc)
    6) Performances
    7) Music (including the Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland soundtrack – a friend sent me the official soundtrack from my favorite film version of the story, the 1972 live-action musical! The music by John Barry and lyrics by Don Black – which are based upon the lyrics Lewis Carroll wrote in the book – always make me happy. I’m very excited to have this CD now, so I may listen to it whenever I’d like!)


  7. Congrats to Aaron! And I hope these sweet characters find a home –


  8. Jama, I’m with Adrienne on the Henkes love. Adrienne, I once wrote a paper in grad school on Words of Stone that my prof tried to get me to publish. I never finished that project. DOH.

    Hawaiian sweet pudding means I’ll be over late. (I wish.) And isn’t Sara’s book great?

    Jone, you’re making me hungry, and I adore those underrated beets. Glad you had a kicky week and that those fifth graders are treating you well. In my first school library job ever at a quasi-inner-city school, I had some fifth graders that were a handful. I wanted to make going over something boring like parts of the book (or whatever it was) fun, so I sang this song I had learned — more like a fun, clappy, very rhythmic, chanting kind of thing — that goes “good job, good job, good job, good job, g-double o-d-j-o-b, good job, good job.” (That doesn’t translate well in writing. I’ll put it on video one day). And I was AMAZED that there was no snickering, that the fifth graders hadn’t turned the phrase into another very adult two-word phrase that ends in “job.” Turns out they loved it and didn’t re-write the lyrics — at least not when I was around.

    I sound like I’m digressing, but I always think of that when I hear about fifth graders and libraries.

    Adrienne, yes, I want to see pics of the 8-ball collection. Good choice! I was thinking of your collection last night, in fact, when I saw a fake 8-ball in Target or something and wondered, if I ever see a really neat one, I’m not going to know if Adrienne owns it yet, since she has approximately seven bajillion of them. Right? But I’m always looking for a particularly neat one anyway that you may not have.

    Jill, thirty minutes? SCORE! And she remembered your name? How kind. I’m not surprised, though, ’cause she’s super nice and I’m sure you’re extra memorable. Can’t wait to see my special poster! Hope to talk to you today — hope I’m home if you call!

    Tricia, I need a cupcake shop by my home! And kick #7 is fabulous! Congratulations! Oh, and thanks for the book rec. Hadn’t heard of that one.

    Little Willow, that CD sounds wonderful. So glad you had a good week.

    Hi, Ms. Freedman! Loved Scribble! Can’t wait to see what’s next.


  9. Jill, I see already that Sam has launched her big new thing! Oh wow…Very exciting. NEW MUSIC!


  10. Kicking well underway, I see — all of it cool as ever!

    Have to admit: how any artist lays down ANY medium to make pictures is a mystery to non-arty me… but I’d never have guessed all these from Aaron Zenz are colored pencil. I kept waiting for him to say his unusual technique was something like using colored pencil and then overlaying it with some special secret goop which only artists know about and which melts the… the… the colored-pencil granules, or whatever, and makes them paintlike.

    But no. He just draws REALLY HARD. I bet he’s got calluses the size of lima beans on his drawing fingers.

    I don’t know if that next-to-last drawing-without-a-book is digital or pencil — the one of the dog with a hose, the rabbit with the unraveling toilet paper, and the raccoon dodging anti-aircraft fire. But I dare him to come up with a plot in which those things are going on concurrently. (I LOVE the chaos and frenzy of that one!)

    Jules, second everyone’s awe about the Snoop interpretation. Is that sort of thing done spontaneously? Or would the interpreter at least have worked some of it up in advance?

    [And I am dumbstruck on your behalf, as you, uh, are no doubt also dumbstruck on your own behalf, by Jill’s forthcoming poster. 30 minutes with SP?!?]

    Eisha, I followed your link to the Evil City guys’ MySpace page. They’ve got some great music on display there but, oddly, the one which I liked the best was the one least like the others: “I’m So Depressed.” (And it cracks me up that their self-proclaimed musical genre is “French pop.”)

    Kicks o’mine:

    * Saw Bolt the other night and I gotta say, I liked it a lot. It must be a hoot to see with kids but as it was, The Missus and I were hooting pretty good on our own. (The Yorkie yawned, having seen it all in real life.) Also watched State of Play. Good political thriller and sheesh, get a load of the cast: Russell Crowe, Rachel McAdams, Helen Mirren, and Ben Affleck.

    * Took off work Friday, except for 2 hours mid-day. This gave the day an oddly stained-glass feel, if that makes any sense.

    * Doing some research on a character who was a WAC in WW2, I found a great project at the UNC-Greensboro site, the Women Veterans Historical Collection. Go on, enter a search term there and browse through the results — especially the letters home. (E.g., speaking of the first day of basic training: “I did stop the promenade once. In the middle of the IQ test nature took over and I got special permission to leave. Held up the whole business.” Ha!) That stuff always gets me.

    (Also from this research, I learned that the WACs had an early slogan which they had to dispense with. “Release a man for combat” became “Replace a man for combat” — because of the supposed sexual overtones of the former.)

    * Finally embarking on writing a chapter I’ve been looking forward to for years, even though I expect it to freak me out completely.

    * Last week I mentioned the 7-CD set of 1960s hits which I’d bought at a yard sale. Temporary buyer’s forehead-slapping remorse: one of the jewel cases was empty. Then I remembered: downloadable MP3s! Within an hour, I’d re-created the missing CD, PLUS about that many additional songs from the same year, and burned it all to a single disk. You can practically hear the jewel case bulging.

    * Tuesday’s ginger-pancakes breakfast interview here at 7-Imp. That thing made me so happy!


  11. As you’ve been off memes for a while, I’ve been trying to keep my Sundays offline – which is why I’m not coming by your kicks so much. But today you ARE a kick, so I had to share…

    1. Eisha and Jules talking about the Kidlitosphere Conference.
    2. Many other folks doing the KidLitCon Meme like Betsy, Liz, Jen, Colleen, Sarah, Adrienne, and Lee. YEAH!
    3. Blue skies today with no humidity.
    4. Rainy days during the week to help the poor dying lawn.
    5. Arts on Foot event in DC yesterday, where we saw arts and crafts, ate good food, listened to music, and did an Improv workshop.
    6. Helping my teen with her hair for school – and her asking me to do it.
    7. NOT having back-to-school blues. It can be a tough first week for me because I miss my girls after spending time with them all summer, but I simply had too much to do to think about it.


  12. Hiccupotamus is definitely my kind of book – love the artwork and the rhymes – so much fun! I can tell I’ll need to buy several copies – one for me and one each for many of the little ones I know.

    Missed everyone last week, jules, you find the best videos! Love the library dance, and the asl of Snoop Dog is amazing.

    Eisha that wedding sounds amazing, and I love the colors of your name. Makes me wish I knew someone who could give me a synethesia of mine now.

    Its been an intense summer for me for many reasons, and this weekend/week I am changing my residence, which is hard. Without going into any real detail, after 3 years, the BF and I think we cannot seem to share the space in his house. (its an odd sort of break but not really a breakup.) The kick here is that in the wonderful universe we live in, the timing is such that a dear friend will be working out of town for quite some time and needs someone to take care of his beautiful home. So during what could be a very sad, hard time, I will be surrounded by beauty and feel very safe.

    Kick 2 is that I am so blessed to have so many wonderful amazing friends.

    Kick 3 is that the BF and I have so much love and respect between us that this is really an unbelievably smooth transition.

    Kick 4 is having so many places to visit to see beauty and goodness in the world – especially here at 7 Imps!

    Kick 5 is Puppies! http://threewoofs.blogspot.com/

    Kick 6 is reading “a big little life” by Dean Koontz. I already know I’m going to be reduced to tears by the end, but its a great memoir of his dog and her impact on his life.

    Kick 7 is the summer weather hanging on for just a bit longer.

    Have a great week everyone!


  13. John, you always leave THE MOST INTERESTING comments about the art in my posts, and then you follow it with something like, “but I’m not an artist.” But, really, your comments make me think that I should have you guest post one day or that I should just hand over my 7-Imp’ing to you, ’cause you have a most wonderfully observant eye and respect for the process. Have I ever told you that? Well, I’ve always wanted to. I always look forward to your comments (but, you know, no pressure, if you ever decided to give up on 7-Imp one day, by some wild chance.)

    Yes, that interpretation would be IMPOSSIBLE—no two ways about it—if he hadn’t prepared for it. If he hadn’t gotten the lyrics in advance, practiced, etc. Impossible in ASL w/out that prep. It’s almost like working up choreography. This I know from experience, though I always sort of left musical interpreting to folks who I thought were way better at it. (Theatrical interpreting, I’ll take that any day. I did tons of that when I was a hand-flapper.) I can tell James worked his buns off on that one. Impressive.

    I’ll have to watch Bolt with the girls, and I loved the wording in your second kick. Also: Way to rock a yard-sale scam, though I guess it may not have been an intentional scam.

    Oh, and yes, John, Jill’s news is great. She totally called me last night and asked me which of Sam’s on-sale items at her show I wanted. And I got to talk to Jill for the first time (not online, that is). A definite kick I didn’t have time to add. Sam has JUST launched a new site, this new thingy where you pay $50ish dollars a year for NEW MUSIC ONLINE ALL YEAR. She had been making comments lately about not wanting to release a traditional CD, so I guess this is it. Guess who JUST SUBSCRIBED? Three guesses.

    MotherReader, I totally get picking a day to engage in a media fast. Sorry you’re missing your girls; I get that. But I also get being busy. …I know you’re working hard on this conference. I hope it all goes well; I have not doubt it will.

    RM, I’m glad your breakup-that-really-isn’t-a-breakup is being handled with care and respect and good vibes. Glad you get to stay in a lovely home during the transition. Thanks for kick #4!…Those are some beautiful dogs at Three Woofs and a Woo….Thanks for visiting during what sounded like a busy week, RM!


  14. p.s. Eisha, I also love the name “Evil City String Band.”


  15. Am very much looking forward to reading the Hiccupopotomus, especially after these pictures. Love the chicks, too. I’ll be quick today, because I simply must get upstairs to exercise. But I did have a few things to share:

    1. I found out Friday that my sister-in-law is expecting a baby girl next winter. My brother is so happy!
    2. I missed the kicks last weekend because I was at my other brother’s wedding. Lots of good family time. Will eventually post some pictures on Facebook, if I ever get caught back up from the trip.
    3. Even though I’m not normally a meme person, I’m loving Pam’s Kidlitosphere conference meme. So many memories of conferences past – it makes me more keen for the conference to come (though I wish you all could attend, too).
    4. Kristen Cashore’s Fire is, dare I say it, even better than Graceling. A happy thing for fans!
    5. I was happy to see the Kidlitosphere well-represented across the blog awards for Book Blogger Appreciation Week (present company included).
    6. Red Sox won the first game (so far) of their double-header today.
    7. Sheila Ruth made this neat form for people to submit Cybils nominations. It’s going to be GREAT! Nominations open October 1st.


  16. Jen, congrats to your brothers! This isn’t your first time at aunt-hood, though, right? Congrats on getting shortlisted, and doesn’t Sheila rock?


  17. My one big kick is that my daughter is FINALLY starting school tomorrow. Not to downplay the joy of having her at home, but she is a non-stop talker. Early childhood ed starts a week after the graders and because Labor Day was so late this year, so is school. Bede and I plan to drop her off and then go out for coffee. Woo hoo! Good times.
    –Farida


  18. Newwbie here..I loved Aron’s illustrations..that are great!!

    mj.coward[at]gmail.com


  19. Just finished reading The Hiccupotamus seven time in a row to my daughter – and she was still asking for more when I insisted it was finally time for bed. I’m sure her first request tomorrow will be “Read Hiccupotamus.” So thanks for high-lighting such a great book.

    It pains me that Aaron never a got a dime from the first release of the book . . .

    CAN’T WAIT to see what his creative mind will come up with next. I am particularly looking forward to the bunny character!


  20. Ya’ll, I finally just read Tanita’s post, and was blown away. So just tag that on to my list of kicks, too.

    Jama, what on earth is Hawaiian Sweet Bread Pudding and how can I get me some?

    jone, our local tomatoes have had a rough time of it too. But my neighbors seem to have quite a decent little patch, and I’m always tempted to swipe one as I walk past. How are you liking the Twilight books?

    adrienne, YAY for big ol’ Lucas and his awesome-sounding teacher. And YAY for your magic 8 ball collection, finally getting the attention it deserves.

    Jill, that’s a pretty dang impressive kick. What a fabulous thing you did for Jules, too!

    Tricia, I want a cupcake shop too! Stat! The robot sounds adorable. Congrats, too, on creating such a valuable resource.

    Little Willow (and everyone else), the Evil City String Band took their name from this, I think. Now, do explain the “session,” please!

    debbie, I hope so too! I’m really curious about the toilet paper.

    JES, way to turn lemons into lemonade with that missing CD. Good luck on the long-awaited chapter.

    MotherReader, I also wanna say thanks for all the hard work you’re doing for KidLitCon, even though I won’t get to go this year either. But have a blast!

    rm, I’m sorry to hear about your recent changes, but I’m so impressed at how you’re handling it. It’s so refreshing to hear about grownups in a tough situation actually behaving like grownups. And I’m glad you’ve landed in such a nice-sounding place.

    Jen, I can’t wait to try out the Cybils nomination form. And I also can’t wait to read Fire. Thanks for the preview!

    Farida, enjoy your much quieter home.

    Howdy, MJ!


  21. Farida, I know exactly. what. you. mean. And now I’ll be pulling my almost four-year-old OUT of her two-day-a-week playschool thingy, ’cause of the weird separation anxiety she’s currently undergoing. Ah well, it’ll pass, but sayonara to my quiet time at home!

    Hi, MJ. Glad you enjoyed them! So glad Aaron stopped by. I think I read that he has 3,000 picture books at home. Color me jealous. I think I have about 700, but that’s not anywhere near 3,000.

    Meg, yes, my two little girls ask for repeated readings, too. It’s a hit! Thanks for stopping by.


  22. I’m so glad you are fans of “The Librarian.” I thought it was high time librarians had a signature move. 🙂 Should you feel compelled to practice at your leisure, Dan Santat recently made the music available for download at http://www.elvispoultrybooks.com.

    And Eisha? I am so impressed with the book-shelving and due-date-stamping flourishes! Advanced dancers may also want to try to mix it up with a little push-the-cart.

    Rock on.


  23. Thanks so much everyone for the nice comments on the art and book! And thanks to Jules and Eisha for allowing me to stop by. 7-Imp is a favorite site that I’ve been visiting for years. It’s a gift and an honor to be able to showcase some art here.

    And yep — that picture of Rabbit/Dog/Raccoon DOES in indeed have a story to go with it. Hope you get to see it someday!

    After all these years of visiting, I’ve never left 7 kicks, so I better start now. I’ll snag the description for prompts…

    1. Exceptional: All the amazing and gracious artists who made our kids’ 3 year blogiversary so wonderful. http://isaacgracelily.blogspot.com/2009/08/3-year-celebration.html

    2. Fabulous: I just discovered grooveshark.com. Am I late to the game?

    3. Beautiful: My wife mowed our lawn for the first time ever this week. Both she and the yard looked beautiful afterward.

    4. Interesting: Witnessing my one-year-old shoot a lodged gummy bear out of her nostril.

    5. Hilarious: The two songs our kids insist upon listening to on my ipod EVERY time we get into the car: the “Babymouse Themesong” and Rhett&Link’s “Guacamole Song.” Even more hilarious: that my 3-year-old can now spell “guacamole.”

    6. Positive: Friends that have selflessly been descending upon us left and right to help our family out in time of need. Body of Christ in action.

    7. Noteworthy: This week a South Korean women’s magazine published a giant article about “Bookie Woogie” (our kids’ book review blog). What the? This small world is getting smaller and smaller by the day!

    Thanks again!


  24. Tammi, you’ll need to help me out on your “push-the-cart.” I tried to improvise, but combined with the 90-degree march it came out kind of “Thriller.”

    Aaron – I’m not sure that’s exactly what we meant by “interesting,” but it certainly sounds entertaining. Thanks for the art, and for finally kicking with us.


  25. Quick response/explanation for eisha: CD = Casting Director.

    Aaron: Nice use of the 7 Kicks!


  26. I just wanted swing by and say hello and don’t worry Jules, I’m still alive
    🙂 I wasn’t around because I was having the mother of all kicks – time in Tuscany with Aussie friends that I didn’t think would come off. I literally received my passport less than an hour before the last train I could take to make my sleeper train last week. I had completely given up (it’s been over 10 weeks after all) and had already starting writing a “well I’m supposed to be in Tuscany but here is a happy list to show that I can still do it in adverse circumstances” post! I got to surprise my friends and we all had a lovely time. I have to go to work now but will come back and watch the videos and read all the lists this arvy.


  27. Tammi, the dance just keeps getting better.

    Aaron, oh man, do I wanna see someone shoot a gummy bear out of their nose. I think that should have gone under “hilarious.” And I LOVE that three-year-celebration post.

    I echo Little Willow’s sentiment: One day I want to do my kicks that way.

    Emmaco, great news! Sounds like you had a blast. Woo hoo!


  28. Here via Bookie-woogie. Alas that my first comment has gone down the spam drain. If I had known how many sites hated my blog name (Hello, Net Baby!), I would have chosen something else instead. Anyway, thanks for showcasing all the Zenz illustrations 🙂


  29. Sorry ’bout all that spam, Swati.


  30. […] you haven’t already seen this link, whose goal is to support author/illustrator Aaron Zenz’s family in a time of real need, please consider visiting it and […]


  31. […] first visit to 7-Imp. His bright, slapstick illustrations for The Hiccupotamus are featured in this older post (2009). As you’ll read below, that was Aaron’s debut title, and it’d be perfect […]


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