(Click to enlarge.)
Welcome to 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks, a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you.
When I want those picture books in which gentleness reigns, I like to turn to Jim LaMarche. His illustrations for Albert, written by Donna Jo Napoli in 2001, are some of my favorites. (And I have Eisha to thank for my copy of that title.) And LaMarche has illustrated a whole slew of other widely-acclaimed titles, as well. In fact, at this time of year, there’s always Bear’s First Christmas by Robert Kinerk, which I posted about here in 2007, but I digress.
In Lost and Found (Chronicle Books, July 2009), which he both wrote and illustrated, LaMarche brings us three dog stories. In the first, Molly, the beautiful golden retriever of a little girl named Anna, manages to lead the way home when the girl runs away after a spat with her mother and gets lost:
click each to enlarge and see the spread in its entirety.)
In the second story, a little boy named Jules comes up with a clever idea to reunite himself with his dog, Ginger, after something catches her eyes in the woods and she disappears:
He spread out his jacket in the grass.”
In the final tale, from which the spread opening this post comes, a young boy named Jack finds a husky named Yuki and gets attached to the dog when no one responds to his “dog found” sign. Later, the dog’s owner shows up to give Jack’s mother a helping hand and Jack a shot at further companionship with Yuki. (I can’t help but appreciate picture books that depict children who are anything but middle class, such as in this tale. As you can see in the spread opening the post, Jack and his single mother live in a trailer. Really, you don’t see this depicted often in picture books.)
Publishers Weekly wrote, “Some readers may find the characters a little goody-goody, while others may see them as simply innocent and free of irony. What’s indisputable is LaMarche’s talent as a draftsman.” I vote for free-of-irony, which can be rather refreshing, and I second his draftsmanship, which has always wow’ed me. These illustrations are rendered in acrylic washes and colored pencil, and they’re lush, warm, and inviting. Gentle, dreamy, cozy. Sometimes you just need that from a picture book. Each of the tales is also rather emotionally-charged for the youngest of readers (a fight with mama, running away, getting lost, losing your beloved pet, a single mother struggling socio-economically and looking for a job, wanting companionship, and so on), and your wee dog-lovers probably won’t be able to get enough of this.
All in all, an engaging set of stories, and I always look forward to what LaMarche brings us readers.
And I purposefully decided to post these on a Sunday, since I know many of our kickers are big dog-lovers. That’s my gift to you. (Dog-lovers will get a kick out of the endpapers, too, which include LaMarche’s sketches of the three dogs in the tales.)
LOST AND FOUND: THREE DOG STORIES. Copyright © 2009 by Jim LaMarche. Published by Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA. All rights reserved.
1). Something really fun and exciting happened to me this week. I swear I don’t mean to be dramatic, but I can’t tell you till tomorrow, because I’m going to coordinate the announcement with two other folks. So, come back then. I also swear I’m not trying to, you know, drive blog traffic or some such thing. (Close 7-Imp readers know I honestly don’t care about that.) But, well…just come back tomorrow, if you’re so inclined.
2). I got an early copy of this book, forthcoming from Random House in the Spring:
I LOVE THIS BOOK. It’s one of the kickiest, most kicktastic picture books I’ve seen in a while. Can’t wait to tell you more about it later. My girls and I must have read it ten times this week.
3). It’s possible I’ve said this seven skajillion times before, but “James Brown’s Funky Christmas” is an annual holiday must for me, and GOOD GOD I’ve been enjoying it this week. I’ve also got my Kindergartener very much into the CD. Score.
Here’s the only video I could find, someone playing “Soulful Christmas” with concert footage of him dancing. So, there ya go; you can take a listen here. This is, arguably, my favorite song on the disc, in which James Brown thanks us for being fans and going to see his shows and buying his records. Cracks. me. up. (God rest his funky, talented soul.)
4). Okay, on the subject of holiday music, a friend made us a mix, and I was listening this week for the first time and stopped in my tracks when I heard Patty Griffin and Shawn Colvin singing Patty’s “Mary” live. ‘Cause, you see, “Mary” is one of my favorite songs ever. I mean, it just slays me.
5). Eisha shared this with me this week. This is from the New Zealand Book Council. Stunning.
6). The “Librarian Lump of Coal Gift Guide” at 100 Scope Notes.
7½). Best-Of lists at the end of every year. And those looking-back-on-the-year montages in both print and on television. It’s even better when it’s the end of the decade. I don’t know why I love them so. I always look forward to how decades will be characterized; even if it’s grim like this, I find them fascinating to read.
BONUS: Steven’s first interview will be this week at 7-Imp, and it’s good stuff.
What about you? What are YOUR kicks this week?