7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #145: Featuring Jim LaMarche

h1 December 13th, 2009 by jules

“And then, one morning, an old woman came to the door. ‘Yuki?’ ‘Yuki!'”
(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:

(These two images come from one spread;
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:

“After hours of looking, Dad stopped and knelt down. ‘Jules, we have to start back,’ he said. ‘But Dad, we can’t leave Ginger here!’ cried Jules. ‘We’ll start looking again at dawn,’ Dad said. ‘We’ll find Ginger. I promise.’ By the time they got back to the truck, the sun had set. Without a word they climbed in and started down the road. ‘Dad! Stop! Stop!’ Jules jumped out of the truck and ran back to the edge of the woods.
He spread out his jacket in the grass.”

(Click image above to see the spread from which these three images come.)

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.

* * * Jules’ kicks * * *

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.

7). I’m reading Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer and am finding it very enlightening and rather unputdownable.

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?

24 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #145: Featuring Jim LaMarche”

  1. Holy cow! What a great week, Jules. Early congrats on the big announcement (whatever it may be). Lost and Found looks fabulous … animals and autumn watercolors. More for the TBR pile! That video is amazing. Kicks …

    1. Decorating the Christmas trees decorated yesterday and getting all fuzzy about the memories the ornaments bring to mind.

    2. Watching Catherine’s face light up this morning when she realized her elf on the shelf put the tinsel on while she was sleeping.

    3. Getting the kinks worked out of the new blog-to-be.

    4. Roasting marshmallows on an open fire in our hunt to find a great tree.

    5. Getting the desk clean enough to see almost all of the wood underneath.

    6. The New Zealand Book Council video.

    7. Navy beating Army!

  2. 1. Finally finishing The Woman in White. (Not that I enjoyed the ending. I was just glad to be done.)

    2. Setting Pandora to a Mike Seeger & Family holiday station.

    3. Getting a copy of Milton Hershey: Young Chocolatier for a kid I know who loves the Hershey Factory Tour.

    4. Youtube video of kid playing Ukelele and singing “I’m Yours.”

    5. Seeing a kid who was actually happy to get a copy of my first book.

    6. Chicken-sitting for some friends.

    7. Best pinball game ever.

  3. Terry, I’m jealous you cleaned your desk off. And will the new blog be via The Reading Tub or something else?

    I assume you found your great tree. Congrats!

    Tom, someone sent me that video this week, too. I’ll put it here, since the boy’s facial expressions are The Best and must be shared:

    Good idea for Pandora that I might steal! Does Susan Thomsen know you were chicken-sitting? She might call on your services. And what’s the best pinball game ever?

  4. DANG! I forgot to add, everyone, that it was Adrienne’s birthday this week! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ADRIENNE! That definitely calls for a marquee tag.

  5. Jim LaMarche. Gentle. Yep, that describes his work to a tee. I loved The Raft and this new book looks great.
    Jules, thanks for the heads up for the Librarian’s Lump of Coal. LOL! I hope I don’t receive any of those gifts. I am looking forward to yoru announcement tomorrow.
    Terry, I love decorating the tree and thinking about all the tree memories. How fun.
    Tom, chickens? What kind?
    Adrienne, happy birthday. Hope the day is fabulous,
    My kicks:
    1.Figuring out how to structure the 5th grade literature circles so that they are accountable but not burdened. And talking to them about their reading thoughts.
    2. The CYBILS. My panel is awesome. Some of the books are incredibly amazing.
    3. Middle grand girl’s Christmas program. She looked so serious and did a great job. But them got sick on stage, sad and yet will be a story for the ages.
    4. Oldest grandgirl was over yesterday for awhile and we got into making up stories.
    5. Both are coming over to make Christmas cookies next week.
    6. The weather is finally out of the teens. So cold and yet no snow.
    7. The response from a group I belong to as we adopted to of our school’s families for Chritmas. Very wonderful.
    Have a great week.

  6. Lost and Found is tugging at my heartstrings. I. LOVE. DOGS. (And wheee, one of the characters is named Jules.)

    Jules, it is already Monday here in the Philippines. =P Won’t you tell me your big news?

    Looking forward to Steven’s first interview!

    Happy Birthday, Adrienne!!!

    Terry, wow. Roasting marshmallows, hunting for a Christmas tree, decorating it… an elf and tinsel… It all sounds great!

    Tom, chicken-sitting sounds fun!

    Jone, I hope you have an amazing time baking cookies with your grandkids!

    Um… I have an anti-kick this week. My sister-in-law-to-be had a miscarriage and lost the baby. =( Our consolation is that in a week we will all be together for the holiday break. We can comfort each other, tell each other lame/corny jokes and laugh together, and just plain love each other and be together.

    * sigh *

    Also, JP won two bronze medals in the taekwondo competition in Laos. Brian won one bronze medal. =)

  7. Fly-by posting!

    Happy birthday, Adrienne!

    I had a very kick-y week.

    1) Excellent experience at an audition
    2) Booked a leading role in a webseries (we shoot in January)
    3) Booked a small part in a short film (we shot yesterday)
    4) Booked a one-liner in a spec TV pilot (shooting this coming week – and the opportunities presented make this a big deal to me)
    5) Seeing the open doors
    6) Worthwhile
    7) Joy

  8. Tarie: I am so sorry about your sister-in-law’s miscarriage. I am glad that your family will all be together soon. I send my good thoughts.

    Jules: Hurrah for the fun, exciting thing you can’t yet mention!

    1. Homemade limoncello in our freezer (present from a friend).

    2. Santa Fe for Christmas.

    3. I got my first school auction project done–a set of math gnomes.

    4. Happy St. Lucia Day! The Parenting Passageway linked my simple St. Lucia song I posted on A Storytelling of Crows.

    5. It was no fun to be sick, but I was grateful to be able to sleep on Friday morning.

    6. I got a new storage bin for my wool this week, rather than having it jammed into a small container. That may seem like a lame kick, but helpful storage is always welcome.

    7. Reading aloud chapterbooks to my daughter.

  9. Just based on the illustrations and excerpts in this post, I’d have to go with irony-free too. Jim LaMarche told this story about his own childhood, which I just found at the site of one of his other publishers:

    Once, when I was five or six, I cut a thousand cloth feathers out of an old sheet, which I then attempted to glue to my bony little body. I was sure I could have flown off the back porch if I’d just had a better glue.

    Sounds to me like somebody with a pretty secure sense of innocence!

    I love the way publishers permit you to include both scaled-down and full-blown images for these posts. Anyone who wants to see exactly how, Jim LaMarche, for example, creates such soulful expressions with a medium as “fuzzy” as colored pencil and wash just needs to look at one of those enlarged images to see the individual pencil-strokes and the texture of the paper beneath them. It doesn’t dilute the mystery of how illustrators magically transform 3D reality to a 2D page; it enhances it, because even after you stare at it you’re still thinking, like, Okay, I see it… but I still don’t get it!

    And yes, seeing dog stories on a Sunday morning was a kick in its own right — thanks!

    Jules, I’ll join everyone else in congratulating you on the fun-and-exciting-but-oh-so-secret-damn-you 🙂 news of the week. So looking forward to Monday’s post!

    Had never heard of “Mary” before — whoa.

    Some kicks:

    * Some months ago, I did a writerly favor for an online friend. This week, I got a padded envelope in the mail as her thanks. Well, not so much the envelope as its contents: (1) the card (gotta love those snowflakes!), and especially (2) the thank-you gift itself. I knew of her words-into-art project, but what made the gift special was that the words in this case are from a story of my own which she’d found online. Killed me.

    * Great people who get great news.

    * Found out recently there’s a word for “the opposite of serendipity,” zemblanity: “the faculty of making unhappy, unlucky and expected discoveries by design.” (Invented by William Boyd, for his novel Armadillo.)

    * Have you seen the Pink Glove dance video?

    * …and one more bit of link-y goodness: yawning for mental health.

    * Watched National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation last night. Oh my. How can something I’ve seen so many times still crack, me, UP so badly???

    * home (the place, and the word itself)

  10. It looks like you had quite a week, Jules. Congratulations! And Happy Birthday to Adrienne. Tarie, I’m so sorry to hear about your sister-in-law. But glad that your family can be together. Kicks from my neck of the woods:

    1. We went to a nice Christmas brunch at church yesterday, saw lots of people, watched the kids make ornaments. I even won a raffle prize. Nice for getting into the holiday spirit.
    2. We’ve been watching lots of holiday movies, and slipping in a few Harry Potter movies, just because. (The first one has a holiday feel to it – I love Harry receiving his first-even Christmas presents).
    3. This year I’ve been loving doing all of my holiday shopping online.
    4. Yesterday was rainy and sunny. There were rainbows.
    5. After a few weeks, I finally caught up on doing something with the starred items in my Reader this weekend.
    6. Last night I re-read A Little Princess for the first time in several years. I still love it!
    7. Mint truffle Hershey’s kisses.

    Happy Sunday, all!

  11. Jone, kick #1 is great and proves your inherent wonderful-ness as a school librarian. “Talking to them about their reading thoughts”? You know how many librarians DON’T do that? So glad you get quality time with the grandkids, and I’m sorry one got sick on stage. Ouch!

    Little Willow! CONGRATULATIONS on those bookings! And good experiences, of course. Wow. And maybe we can see those things, too, once they’re filmed.

    Tarie, sorry to read about your sister-in-law’s baby. Good thing you’ll all be together during the holidays. And congrats to your kickin’ (literally) brothers. Also: I just sent you an email.

    Farida, glad you’re feeling better. Speaking of Lucia, I just read this book here to my girls. So great. Here’s to reading aloud to your children and to helpful storage.

    John, I’m so glad someone actually clicks to enlarge images. (I type that so much, I probably say it in my sleep.) Interesting…I never actually ask pubs for permission to post them super big — or illustrators — but I do it anyway. If they send ’em to me big, I’ll link away (though it kills me that I didn’t even think to do this till AFTER the Dave McKean interview. One day, when someone creates extra hours in the day, I want to retroactively link all his images to the big versions. And posts like this. That image just needs to be seen up close and huge.)

    One illustrator I interviewed recently did politely ask me to scale back the images, since he’s had trouble with folks stealing his art work off the Web. Note to self: Still need to fix that post.

    Did you actually go and listen to “Mary,” John? One of my top-ten favorite songs in all the world. Mary is also her grandmother’s name, I believe. She wrote it partly for her. I once saw her sing that live and get really choked up.

    Now, John, the gift from the artist? WHOA. And is that THE Marta who is always commenting at your site? Why oh why haven’t I featured some of her art here before? Wonder if she’d be interested.

    Love “zemblanity.” I mean, really love that.

    And that janitor in the Pink Glove Dance can really bust a move. I saw one lab tech in the room of dancing lab techs who refused to dance. BOO. Or maybe she was just really busy, finding a cure for cancer. Let’s hope it’s that. So glad the librarians danced, too.

    Watching Christmas Vacation is a tradition for us, too, John. Classic.

  12. Jen, we passed each other in cyberspace.

    Rainbows, truffle kisses, raffle prizes …. that makes for a good week.

    I want to read The Little Princess to my girls, so thanks for the reminder. We just finished Wind in the Willows. Oddly, the four-year-old wanted to hear it again, even though she was squirmy for the first part of it.

  13. Oh those dogs are beautiful! I love the warmth in those pictures, and now have another book on the christmas list to find this week.

    Congrats on your big news Jules!

    Love the elf-on-the-shelf created magic, Terry.

    Jone – that performance sounds awesome. Where is our storm? : )

    Tarie – sending good thoughts to you and your family.

    LW – That spec pilot sounds promising! Sending good thoughts for that and all of pilot season!

    JES – that card and gift are amazing. Thanks for the links, I got lost at her site just looking at everything!

    Jen – hooray for holiday spirit!

    Happy Birthday Adrienne!

    My kicks:
    1. That ukelele kid – we’ve been watching it at my office all week to get in good moods – it works!
    2. Christmas shopping at Powell’s Books yesterday evening. It was packed, which makes me so happy that people still love to get/give books for presents.
    3. Got my Christmas tree yesterday – instant holiday cheer.
    4. Lunch with a good friend, it was great to catch up since we’ve both had busy months lately.
    5. Taking Cheyenne (my dog) to the vet’s for her “booster shot” yesterday, and she is obviously improving. The fact that most of the staff know her and come rushing out to hug, pet, and give her treats (including her vet) inspires confidence, thankfulness and appreciation in me that they take such good care of her.
    6. Tweaking and fine-tuning my recipe for buttermilk bourbon banana bread today.
    7. I have Mon/Tues off, and plan on staying home with the pups, baking christmas treats, and watching movies – utter relaxation.

    Happy Holidays to everyone! And have a great week!

  14. Thanks for the birthday wishes! I turned 36, which I thought would be kind of traumatic, but turned out to be really just complete fun. More on that in a moment.

    Tarie, I am so sorry for your family’s sad news but am glad you’ll be together. That’s one of those things that’s just so hard.

    Jules, Yay, announcements! I must also check out Miss Brooks.

    Terry, Have you a secret for cleaning your desk? I’ve been waiting for the elves here. No luck so far.

    Little Willow, Yay to open doors and so much busy-ness.

    Farida, Limoncello. Mmm.

    Jen, I am so with you with the online shopping.

    My kicks:
    1. My online class started this week. So far, so good.
    2. My godson Max turned four on Wednesday. I loved celebrating with him.
    3. A friend took off my birthday (which was Friday), and we spent the day together getting my Christmas tree, shopping, and going to the movies.
    4. Then that evening, I made dinner for friends and we decorated the tree. Nice and cozy and casual.
    5. Also, my BFF and her husband got me a NEW TV. My old one was 20 years old and didn’t even have a remote control. I never even watched an HDTV before, but now I do get what the fuss is about. And, wow. They got me a TV.
    6. I also had ice cream cake for my birthday. Mmm.
    7. Today, I am continuing my birthday fun having movie day with another good friend. We just watched Rear Window. Awesome!

    And now… on to more movies! Wheee!

  15. First, Tarie – so sorry to hear about your sister-in-law. Echoing others … it will be good to share bunches of hugs and corny jokes.

    John – Chicken sitting? Just the idea scare me.

    Jone – Ooh! Ooh! Tell us more about the Cybils. Puhleeze?

    JES – Oh, what a treasure in that gift!

    Jen – Mint truffle Hershey kisses? Who knew … Could they be part of the Monday roundup? hmmm…

    Happy birthday Adrienne, and many more … with or without the TV! A TV for your birthday? I need a BFF like that!

    Yes, we found the perfect tree for us … Catherine had never roasted marshmallows before. She’s 8! I felt so bad that it has taken this long to introduce her to such a yummy tradition we both had an extra one! I think we’ll need to make S’mores at Christmas (even if it IS on the grill!) The fresh tree (we have a big fake one, too) has mementos of our 23 Christmases as a couple and annual pics of Catherine and us as a family for the the last nine.

  16. RM, what a good week, and I’m glad Cheyenne is still doing well. Woot!

    And buttermilk bourbon banana bread? Seriously? Mmm. Is there a recipe online somewhere?

    Adrienne, glad to hear your online class is going well. Score! Ice cream cake: Does it get any better? Happy birthday to Max! Enjoy that new t.v. What a generous gift.

    Terry, I’m drinking marshmallows in hot chocolate right now, though they weren’t roasted over a fire. ..Your tree sounds lovely.

  17. Sorry for the late kicks…

    Jules, I can’t wait to celebrate your news with everyone here at 7-imp tomorrow! Ditto JES’ kick about great people who get great news. I better get up early tomorrow since it’s two hours later where you are.
    Terry, Christmas trees and roasted marshmallows — just two of the many reasons why this is such a wonderful time of year.
    Tom, you might consider having business cards drawn up with “chicken sitter” on them — certainly a new sideline that I was unaware of until now.
    Tarie, so sorry to hear about your sister-in-law, but glad that you’ll be together for the holidays.
    Adrienne, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
    LW, with the word “booked” in 3 of your kicks, I would say this was a good week for you! Congrats!
    RM, I LOVE Powell’s! Wish I could fly over and buy some books right now. And glad to hear that Cheyenne is better — I miss my dog Skye, especially at this time of year.
    Jone, wish I’d had you for a librarian when I was in 5th grade!
    Farida, homemade limoncello! Sounds delicious.
    JES, what a fantastic thank you gift you received! Your friend is incredibly talented.
    Jen, online shopping rocks!

    My kicks:
    1) Snow!! I mentioned last Sun. that it never snows here in CA, and woke up on Mon. to see unfamiliar white stuff in my yard! A beautiful sight.
    2) The rain we’ve had all weekend, which we really needed.
    3) Christmas parties with new friends.
    4) Surviving close calls.
    5) Christmas cards from great friends.
    6) Pizza from Costco (who’d a thunk it?)
    7) Eggnog.

    Have a jolly week, everyone!

  18. jules – recipe here: http://smittenkitchen.com/2006/11/speckled-for-the-freckled/

    You’ll notice there is no buttermilk in the recipe – I added 1/3 a cup first time I made it. Today doubled the recipe and added 2/3 cup, plus two teaspoons of baking powder – makes it lighter and fluffier.

  19. Jill, mmm. Eggnog. Another one of my kicks is long talks with you on the phone, catching up.

    RM, oh thank you thank you.

  20. Everyone, thank you for all the good thoughts. Please keep sending them my older brother and sister-in-law’s way!

  21. Your family is in my thoughts, Tarie. I’m glad that the soon-to-come gathering give you all something to look forward to, and will give her lots of solace and comfort.

    Sorry that this is another quick fly-by. I will truly catch up with everyone’s posts tomorrow or later in the week. I am forcing myself to go to sleep early tonight.

  22. Tarie, give her a big, strong hug when you see her. No two-pats-on-the-back, weak hug. Two lame pats on the back negates a hug.

    Little Willow, sleep! Get rest! Congrats again on your fabulous week.

  23. Little Willow, I’m glad to hear you’re sleeping, too!

  24. The smiles of both dog and boy on the cover of Lost and Found are precious and sweet.

    Jules: I’m so happy for you! Congratulations! Thanks. I’m really, really excited.

    Terry: Kudos to the hard-working elf.

    Tom: Did the chickens play pinball?

    Jone: Hope the middle is feeling better now, and that you and the oldest chronicled those stories!

    Sending more and more vibes to Tarie’s family.

    Adrienne: What was one of the highlights of your birthday? Happy birthday to Max as well! It’s been a crazy month here.

    rm preston: Big hugs to the pup! SO glad to hear that she is improving. Hope you enjoyed your days off! Thanks for the support. Fingers and toes crossed.

    Jill: May no close calls come again any time soon for you and yours. It’s pretty unbelievable. I won’t believe it until it’s all filmed. Thanks!

    Jules and Adrienne: Unfortunately, I’ve not been getting enough sleep lately. I’ve been staring at screens and phones, waiting for them to give me the details and confirmations I need.

    Farida: I am now singing Santa Fe from Newsies. I hope you are feeling better. Enjoy the read-alouds!

    JES: *yawns* Hmmm… Interesting…

    Jen Robinson: Glad that you enjoyed revisiting A Little Princess. Congrats on the raffle win and enjoy the holiday fun!

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