Checking Myself Against The New York Times

h1 November 9th, 2009 by jules

“Then along came the wolf, who knocked at the door. ‘Little Pig, Little Pig,’ the wolf called, ‘let me come in.’ The little pig answered, ‘Not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin!’ So the wolf said, ‘Then I’ll huff and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in!’
And he huffed and he puffed, but he could not blow the house in.”

There are lots and lots of best-of lists that are generated around this time of year in the world of books. My very favorite, not surprisingly, is the New York Times’ list of the Best Illustrated Children’s Books of the year. (Ten titles are chosen.) The 2009 list is out. Sometimes, as an Illustration Junkie, I like to take those lists and see how I fared over the year. Turns out that I’ve featured some art here at 7-Imp from exactly one-half of the chosen titles — or four, really, but was sitting on art from one of them (pictured above) to show you just this week. Hey, not too bad. Right? When’re they gonna hire me as a judge? (I JEST. I’m not that disillusioned.)

Let’s take a look at the list . . . Shall we count down with art from Brian Floca (whom you’ll read more about below)?

(Click to enlarge the countdown.)

* * * * * * *

Yummy: Eight Favorite Fairy Tales from Lucy Cousins (Candlewick, August 2009). I read a copy of this book just last week. It’s a library copy and so tremendously good that I don’t want to return it. Last week, I requested some of the illustrations from the publisher so that I could do a post about it some time in the near future. But, well, now’s the perfect time. Opening this post is a spread from “The Three Little Pigs,” and below we have “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” (Wish you could see Goldilock’s ponytails, which made me laugh outloud. They’re spastic, if hair can be such a thing.)

Cousins breathes new life into these tails and kicks it all off in great style with a no-holds-barred version of “Little Red Riding Hood.” Squeamish parents need not bother. (Good for Cousins! She must know that children are ON TO YOU when you water down those tales.)

“Then the three bears looked at their chairs. ‘Someone’s been sitting in my chair,’ said Papa Bear. ‘And someone’s been sitting in my chair,’ said Mama Bear. ‘And someone’s been sitting in my chair, and now it’s broken to pieces,’ said Baby Bear.”
(Click to enlarge spread.)

* * * * * * *

Brian Floca’s Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 (Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books, April 2009). Brian stopped by in July to share some art and point us to the fabulous Moonshot Notes” at his site. Click to enlarge all these images.

“…The rocket is released! / It rises / foot by foot, / it rises/ pound by pound.”

“Onboard Columbia and Eagle, / Armstrong, Collins, Aldrin / unclick gloves, / unclick helmets, / unclick the straps / that hold them down, / and float inside their small ships, / their home for a week….”

“And far away, / where friends and strangers lean to listen, / where friends and strangers lean to hear, / there comes a distant voice: / Armstrong, calling from the Moon, / calm as a man who just parked a car. / ‘Houston,’ he says.
‘Tranquility Base here. The
Eagle has landed.’

* * * * * * *

Komako Sakai’s The Snow Day (Arthur A. Levine Books, January 2009). I read this and loved it, but I never got around to a post about it. Sakai wrote and illustrated Emily’s Balloon (Chronicle Books), which I posted about here in ’06. I said back then that Emily’s Balloon has the makings of a classic, and I’d say the same about The Snow Day. Sakai is immensely talented. I really need to make sure I’ve seen all of her titles; perhaps I’ve missed some others within the past couple of years.

* * * * * * *

Emily Gravett’s The Odd Egg (Simon & Schuster, January 2009). Emily was here in March of this year (The Time in Which the Fabulous Chocolate Guinness Cake Came Into My Life, O BLESS YOU, EMILY GRAVETT), and we were all treated to some spreads from the title at that time:

Click to enlarge spreads.

* * * * * * *

Jerry Pinkney’s The Lion and the Mouse (Little, Brown, September 2009). Still haven’t seen this one, and it’s. killing. me. Such great reviews on it, and so many folks with excellent taste—in the blogosphere and elsewhere—have raved about it. And how much do I love Jerry Pinkney’s art? O, there is not enough time to count the ways. Just look at the cover.

If Jerry Pinkney ever stopped by 7-Imp—somehow that seems unattainable in my mind and perhaps I should stop that stinkin’ thinkin’—I’d probably faint.

* * * * * * *

Alison McGhee’s Only a Witch Can Fly (Feiwel & Friends, August 2009), illustrated by Taeeun Yoo, who stopped by here last week to have breakfast with me. She shared one spread from the book and two studies, all pictured below:

(Click to enlarge.)

* * * * * * *

Antoinette Portis’ A Penguin Story (HarperCollins. Must have been January ’09, though some online sources are telling me December ’08). I saw this earlier this year but didn’t post about it. Portis hasn’t made a misstep yet. Think I can get her to stop by 7-Imp one day?

* * * * * * *

Tales from Outer Suburbia (Arthur A. Levine Books, February 2009) by the obscenely talented Shaun Tan. Haven’t seen it yet. There is no excuse. I hang my head in shame.

* * * * * * *

All the World (Beach Lane Books, September 2009), written by Liz Garton Scanlon and illustrated by Marla Frazee. Liz and Marlee visited me in September for gingerbread pancakes, and Marla shared lots of art and sketches, pictured below. She also said this, which made me squealy-happy. You’ll probably see this again at 7-Imp, since I plan to post it as often as possible, ’cause it’s dead-on is what it is:

I assume that the child reading a picture book is not yet a reader of words, and so they still have the remarkable gift of being an expert picture-reader. This seems to me to be one of the few skills we possess as children and then lose as we age. It makes the picture book audience the most discerning, observant, critical, and appreciative group that we illustrators will ever have the privilege of serving. Imagine playing a violin in front of world-class violinists. When we illustrate a picture book, we are drawing pictures for an audience of picture-reading virtuosos. If it doesn’t scare and humble us as illustrators, then we aren’t paying enough attention to what these pre-readers are able to see.

You can click on most of these images below to enlarge:

Marla’s thumbnail sketches from All the World


Sketch of the café

Final spread



Early All the World cover sketch, with Marla’s type

Final cover

* * * * * * *

White Noise: A Pop-Up Book for Children of All Ages by David A. Carter. This was published at the end of October, it seems, by Little Simon. I know nothing about it. Gasp! Come to think of it, I represent the pop-up folks of the world pretty poorly here at 7-Imp, don’t I? Must fix that.

* * * * * * *

The Crazy-Long but Necessary Copyright Info:

YUMMY. Copyright © 2009 by Lucy Cousins. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press on behalf of Walker Books, London.

MOONSHOT: THE FLIGHT OF APOLLO 11. Copyright © 2009 by Brian Floca. Published by Richard Jackson Books/Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York, NY. Images are courtesy of Brian Floca © 2009. All rights reserved.

THE ODD EGG. Copyright © 2009 by Emily Gravett. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Simon & Schuster, New York, NY.

ONLY A WITCH. Text copyright © 2009 by Alison McGhee. Illustrations copyright © 2009 by Taeeun Yoo. Published by Feiwel & Friends, New York, NY. Spread and studies from the book are courtesy of Taeeun Yoo © 2009. All rights reserved.

ALL THE WORLD. Text copyright © 2009 by Liz Garton Scanlon. Illustrations copyright © 2009 by Marla Frazee. Published by Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster, New York, NY. Sketches and illustrations from ALL THE WORLD are courtesy of Marla Frazee © 2009. All rights reserved.

10 comments to “Checking Myself Against The New York Times

  1. I’m kind of like this about the best-of lists, except for what I want to know is if we already own them at the library. In this case, we owned all of them except the pop-up (which I knew about but didn’t order for obvious, fragile reasons), so I got to a little I-have-’em dance.

    Of course, your posts prompt me to order many a book.

  2. From this list, I’ve read Only a Witch and Tales. Tales is definitely an illustrated story for young readers and older readers, as opposed to a picture book for little ones. I like McGhee’s works – I’ve read many of her novels for adults, teens, and kids as well as her picture books – and I like that she employs different illustrators for her PBs.

    The cover of Yummy may scare some kids, combining that title with that image!

  3. I saw they ran this list in yesterday’s Book Review and meant to forward you the link (inveterate distractor of other people’s attention).
    I never helped with a best-of list for books. But I have with, e.g., “best sites for software downloads.” My experience with that was that I tried intentionally not to list the same sites reported by, say, PC Magazine, although some overlap was normal.

    My point (admit it, you were wondering) is: I wouldn’t be surprised if the compilers of the NYT list kept an eye on which books you’ve featured, and tried to work around that.
    By “you” there, I mean the KidLit community in general. Which I add here to prevent you from exercising your humility muscles. 🙂

  4. You could SOOO qualify to be one of their judges!!!

  5. Adrienne, very wise way (one of ’em anyway) to go about collection development, but then you already know I think you’re one of the country’s best librarians.

    Little Willow, yes, McGhee is very talented.

    John, I’d be very surprised if they read the blogosphere’s picks, but one never knows.

    Mary Lee, I was so tremendously kidding, but thanks anyway….

  6. Such great books, so inspiring!!!

  7. FABULOUS books – so inspiring nearly brings me to tears! BTW – I think that you are more than qualified to judge the NYT list! Your suggestions are spot on and we are so lucky that you share with us. I know we have a better library collection for it 🙂 Thanks xxx

  8. PS Yes please – more pop ups

  9. Thanks, you all.

    Megan, so nice to hear! Thanks for the kind comments.

  10. […] (since I cover illustration and picture books so often here)? Jerry Pinkney’s beautiful The Lion and the Mouse (cover pictured above). Excellent choice. The Caldecott Honor winners? Well, go see! They’ve […]

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