One Impossibly Crazy
2009 7-Imp Retrospective Before Breakfast

h1 December 30th, 2009 by jules

Early this year, I did a 2008 7-Imp retrospective post — merely because, evidently, I’m crazy. (These things take a bit of time to compose.) I decided this week to write what you see here, yet another retrospective post — this one for 2009, of course.

I don’t know why I do this. I find it strangely beguiling is all I can say. Yes, I looked forward to drafting this post. I’m a sucker at the end of every year for those retrospective round-ups and best-of lists of all sorts that one sees everywhere—both online and in print—about entertainment and literature and politics and on and on. (And, now that it’s the end of a decade, my head’s about to explode with all the looking-back-on-the-naughts lists.)

{As but one example: Ooo! Ooo! This at 100 Scope Notes is fun.}

So, what can I say? It’s my warped idea of fun. It’s tidy fun.

This spiffy and sinister gentleman here, introducing this year’s retrospective, which highlights some of the folks who have visited 7-Imp this year, is Alfred. He came to life as a sketch at the hands of author/illustrator Matt Phelan. After I interviewed Matt in September of this year, he gave Alfred permission to pack his bags and take up permanent residence at 7-Imp and introduce the Pivot Questionnaire for each interview. It seemed only fitting that he’d usher us into this post. My, he’s serious about this retrospective, isn’t he?

Alfred wasn’t the only new thing to 7-Imp this year. Also new were the following:

Saying an official goodbye to Eisha, 7-Imp co-founder, as blogger. Sniff. She’s happy, though, not having blog responsibilities. It’s as she chooses. I saw her this week, in fact, and she says hi to all.

Welcoming 7-Imp’s new once-a-month contributor, Steven Withrow. Did you see his first interview with Susan M. Sherman? Good stuff.

Book deal! Book deal! Yeah, I’m looking forward to getting to work on that with Betsy and Peter.

Let’s get right to it. This post is already long enough, as in ridiculously. But it’s definitely one for browsing. Here are—in no particular order whatsoever—some of the visitors to 7-Imp this year (all of the 2009 interviewees and a partial list of some of the rest). I thank folks for stopping by. Enjoy.

* * * * * * *

Emily Gravett; photo credit: Mark HawdonAuthor/illustrator Emily Gravett (interviewed March 18, 2009): “I always think that if I ever totally understand the {artistic} process, I’ll either have it made or will be bored and will give up. Ideas come from a different place for each book. If you’re chasing an idea, it can be very evasive and you can spend months worrying about your lack of inspiration, only to wake up one morning knowing EXACTLY what you want to do. Then it’s hard to understand if the idea came because you were chasing it, or if it would have come anyway, and you could have spent your time watching day-time telly and baking cakes instead! …I could be working on a finished spread before I even know what the book is about — and researching and changing things up to the end. It’s messy! (I think it needs to be.) But it can also be amazing fun. The buzz I get when it’s going well is indescribable!”

Chris Raschka

Author/illustrator Chris Raschka (interviewed August 26, 2009) on how he plans his year:

(Click to enlarge.)

Author/illustrator Jan Thomas (interviewed June 23, 2009, with some help from Betsy Bird and Adrienne Furness) on the one thing most people don’t know about her: “I insist on having my back to the wall in a restaurant. It drives my family crazy. I also like spending time in my closet. I call it my ‘happy place.’ You don’t think there’s anything wrong with me, do you?”

Author and poet Kristy Dempsey (who visited 7-Imp on May 15, 2009): “When I first saw the illustrations for Me With You, I think my heart stopped and time suspended for just a moment. Oh my! Chris {Denise} got the emotion just right. If you look in the eyes of the grandfather bear in each spread, you see his unconditional love for the granddaughter bear. I am extremely happy with the way Chris brought these two to life. Even if I hadn’t written it, it is a book I would treasure for its marriage of words and images.”

Author Liz Garton Scanlon (interviewed September 8, 2009) on 2009’s beautiful All the World, illustrated by Marla Frazee: “I’m always a little embarrassed to say how many hours I spend on a few hundred words, because people start looking askance at me. I wrote the bulk of the text at a fevered pitch in one month and then worked on it for four more months with our editor, Allyn Johnston. And still I was sad to let it go. I’m loathe to call anything finished.”

Author Angela DiTerlizzi (interviewed October 27, 2009) on collaborating with her husband, Tony: “The process of making a book is a very collaborative one to begin with, and I admire how open to suggestion Tony is when it comes to his work. He has always had a very clear vision of what a final book will look like, but always checks any ego at the door and makes decisions based on what’s best for the book. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”

Author/illustrator (or, as he prefers it, “storyteller”) Tony DiTerlizzi (interviewed with Angela on October 27, 2009): “Think back to that moment, that afternoon when you were eight- or nine-years-old in a library, poking around, half-bored, looking for something that may interest you, and then diving 20,000 leagues under the sea or flying off to fight pirates in Neverland later that night — gripped by the author’s word combinations and the illustrator’s vivid pictures. But really, when you think about it, it’s all just marks on paper. Icons. Symbols. Representations of someone else’s idea of how they see the world. The storyteller can be alive and well crafting new tales in the comfort of their home, or dust and memories from another time. If it speaks to you, it doesn’t matter. That’s when there is true magic. That’s when the outside world stops while you turn the pages. That’s the moment I aspire to be a part of.”

Sean Qualls
Illustrator Sean Qualls (interviewed April 21, 2009): “My three-year-old son, Isaiah, gave me some interesting feedback just recently. He informed me that when he illustrates picture books, he will use bright colors, unlike my books.”

Daniel Pinkwater's self-portrait from AUTHOR'S DAYAuthor (and sometimes illustrator) Daniel Pinkwater (interviewed February 25, 2009, with some help from Eisha) on Bear’s Picture, re-released in 2008 and illustrated by D.B. Johnson: “I once saved up money so I could buy a Junior Artist’s kit consisting of some Hunt’s Crow Quill pens, a bottle of India ink, some nice paper, and a little ‘how to draw’ booklet. I went to work and had good results at once.

I showed my drawings to my sister-in-law, who went to art school at night, and she accused me of trying to pass off an older kid’s work as my own, marched me into the living room, and told my parents that I was growing up to be a liar and a criminal. My parents were watching television and, without looking up, told me not to aggravate my sister-in-law.

I got at once never to let these people know what I was doing, and not to let just any adult judge my work. And I did my best to grow up to be a liar and a criminal.

D. B. Johnson is a genius.”

Author/illustrator D.B. Johnson (interviewed March 30, 2009): “I’m turned on creatively by a challenge, whether it’s from the limitations imposed on a project or someone’s suggestion that something can’t or shouldn’t be done. D.B. JohnsonAfter one of my first readings at a bookstore when Henry Hikes to Fitchburg was published, a parent remarked that she loved how I presented Thoreau’s idea about the importance of the ‘journey,’ but she hoped I wasn’t going to write about how he went to jail. That’s the moment I decided I had to write Henry Climbs a Mountain about the night Henry spends in jail for not paying his taxes. He refused to support a government that allowed people to own slaves. How could I not write that story? It’s one of the great accomplishments of Thoreau that his essay ‘Civil Disobedience’ influenced Ghandi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The challenge was to write that story for kids. It’s my favorite Henry book.”

From 2003’s Henry Climbs a Mountain

Artist Dave McKean (interviewed March 9, 2009 with some help from Jim Di Bartolo and Eisha): “I have two children…and, since my work often borrows from the rest of my life (and vice versa), it was inevitable that I would start to do some work for children. It’s been a great pleasure to read Varjak Paw or Wolves in the Walls or Coraline to my children in manuscript form, a couple of years before they appeared in the shops. Also, their reactions helped shape the visual side of the books to a degree — what a child feels is scary or funny is not always predictable.”

“Rain in the graveyard, and the world puddled into blurred reflections. Bod sat, concealed from anyone, living or dead, who might come looking for him, under the arch that separated the Egyptian Walk and the northwestern wilderness beyond it from the rest of the graveyard, and he read his book.”

Illustrator Pamala Zagarenski (interviewed June 18, 2009): “Picture books lend themselves to more detail, more subtle colors, intricate designs, and characters, but I think children are very sophisticated. They know and can comprehend a lot from very early ages, if given the opportunity. When you give small children a lot of detail, they take in what they can. My nephew is four and he loves the details. He loves finding the ‘hidden’ things in paintings and illustrations. In the end, I think the differences in how one illustrates comes more from the story line and concept behind the book, not so much the age of the child.”

Spread from this year’s Red Sings From Treetops: A Year in Colors,
illustrated by Zagarenski and written by Joyce Sidman
(Click to enlarge.)

Don BrownAuthor/illustrator Don Brown (interviewed March 23, 2009)—having a moment here with his printer, which he says is “both, and at the same time, a miracle machine and Satanic curse”—on the one thing he’d like interviewers to ask him:

“Q: Am I the devishly magnetic bon vivant I appear to be?

A: Perhaps.”

Illustrator Edwin Fotheringham (interviewed June 10, 2009): “The process of creating a historical children’s picture book is unlike anything I’ve ever come across. I loved it, even though I found it to be daunting in scope. My commercial work has usually consisted of single-image narratives: quick visual precis statements that refer to either an event or a specific article. The children’s books I’ve done have been lengthy (for me) and linear. They are also different in that the art really has to expose the writing, and vice versa. By expose, I mean that some punch lines are carried solely in the art, with the writing creating a dry mechanism for the joke. I have found that there is much more conversation (reflection and contrast) between the art and text in these picture books, and I have a new respect for the difficult task of writing for these books. The writing must be extremely clever, concise, funny, and accurate. I’m glad there are others that are good at it.”

Edwin Fotheringham

And Mr. Fotheringham again—on school visits, that is—because I love this interview excerpt just as much: “I’ve only done a visit to my kids’ (K-5) school, which was the scariest thing I’ve ever attempted. I loosened up after third grade, but I’ve got to say I felt sorry for the poor helpless kids that had to witness the strange sweaty man (I’d just arrived by bike, in haste), who couldn’t speak during long, pregnant pauses. Nothing, but nothing is more nerve-wracking than a group of second graders with high expectations. Not a job interview, nothing. I can’t really relay what it was like, but I can say that I lived to write this answer. Just.”

Edwin’s sketch and final spread from Shana Corey’s Mermaid Queen
“Soon Annette was racing her way through Europe.”

Laurie KellerAuthor/illustrator Laurie Keller (interviewed January 26, 2009) on what profession other than her own she’d like to attempt: “I play the banjo, and if I were better at it, I’d love to perform with a bluegrass band…making the world a better place through banjo music. (I just added that last part because I doubt it’s ever been uttered before…certainly never set to print.)”

Author Tanita S. Davis (interviewed October 8, 2009, with help from Eisha and Adrienne Furness) on the most surprising thing she learned while writing Mare’s War: “The surprise was really twofold: One, I was surprised that there had BEEN African American women in the European Theater at all, since that’s just not a part of history you learn even in college (at least not at my school, and the WWII geeks I talked to—all grown men—doubted that I was telling the truth when I mentioned it to them). And, two, that they had been so ashamed that the country and everyone else was willing to forget them.”

Author Sara Lewis Holmes (also interviewed October 8, 2009, with help from Eisha and Adrienne Furness) on writing her second novel: “For Operation Yes, I wanted to write about a whole community and how they came together to do something amazing. So, I had to learn how to juggle multiple characters and a more omniscient viewpoint. The only thing easier was knowing that somehow, some way, by magic or miracle, I had managed to write a novel before, and I could therefore do it again.”

Author/illustrator Dan Yaccarino (interviewed April 9, 2009) on what profession other than his own he’d like to attempt: “Not only would I be totally incapable of doing anything other than exactly what I do, but I really have absolutely no interest in anything else. I know it sounds kind of crazy, but that’s the truth.”

Jacques Cousteau, one of the objects of Dan’s hero worship and the subject of his 2009 picture book biography, The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau:
“Now Cousteau was free to truly explore. A silent world opened up to him.”

Taeeun YooAuthor/illustrator Taeeun Yoo (interviewed November 3, 2009): “I was not a big reader when I was young, which surprised myself after I became a children’s book illustrator. I lived with my great grandmother, and I remember she gave me and my sisters night-time storytelling sometimes. I liked to imagine the scenes with my eyes closed, while I was listening to the story. And there was a whole series of folk tales from all around the world that my mother bought for us. It was a chapter book with black and white drawings, and only the cover had full-color illustration. I loved reading them, imagining each scene in my head.”

Illustrator R. Gregory Christie (interviewed January 13, 2009) on school visits: “They are like a Jazz improvisation. I go with the flow of whatever energy I feel from the crowd of students. I bring out main points, such as: art is communication, the aspects involved in the book-making process, and my biographical information. After this, I have an informal conversation about whatever they’d like to speak about; I consider it a time to listen to them, as I honestly and responsibly answer their questions. It’s a very open interaction at this point, and overall it’s a lecture style I use from kindergarten to a group of college professors.”

Author/illustrator Holly Meade (interviewed August 10, 2009) on what’s next for her:

“I am currently working on a book written by David Elliott, titled In The Wild. This is my second one with David (On the Farm), and I’m very excited about it. The words are a pure pleasure to read, very fun, and it gives me the opportunity to make pictures of animals, like a jaguar, buffalo, orangatan, etc. A second book I’m just finishing up is one I wrote called, If I Never Forever Endeavor. This is a story about a small bird and his internal dabate over whether to attempt that first flight from his safe nest — or not. Both books are done combining printing and watercolor, though in very different ways.”

{Pictured above is Holly’s Go to the Well, three-color linoleum and woodblock print, 2009. Below is Holly at work in her studio.}

Yuyi MoralesAuthor/illustrator Yuyi Morales (interviewed November 11, 2009): “I am a big disciple of inspiration, and so most of what I do every day is a constant search. I look for words, images, ideas, and all those things that marvel me, or that scare me, or that keep me thinking, or that make my heart jump.

However, I have also learned that the inspiration I am looking for will most likely come to me if I am working: words call for more words, images call for more images. I can hardly develop any stories by just thinking about them; instead, I need to start writing them or drawing them, even if I don’t know yet what that story is about.

And so I am also a big disciple of sitting on my table and doing something, anything, but doing it!”

From this year’s My Abuelita by Tony Johnston and illustrated by Yuyi

Laura Purdie SalasAuthor and poet Laura Purdie Salas (interviewed April 17, 2009) on her teaching experience and how it informs her writing: “What that experience does is constantly remind me of the power books can have in kids’ lives. And how one person, one book, can change a kid’s attitude about reading. Can you imagine that?

I got a phone call from a parent one time telling me that I had helped her kid come to love reading, and she was a real non-reader before. That was the best thank-you gift ever — much better than I Heart Teachers plaques or even T.G.I. Friday’s gift cards.”

Barry MoserAuthor/illustrator Barry Moser (interviewed December 10, 2009): “Today, I am influenced most of all by a writer: Flannery O’Connor. Her work ethics, which she writes about in her letters. Her philosophies about her work have been and continue to be a deep and profound inspiration.”

Nonfiction author Jan Reynolds (interviewed August 11, 2009): “Pippi Longstocking had a great influence on me as a child, which never left me, and I was curious like Harriet the Spy. You have to remember there were no videos of these characters when I was young, so they became very personal and vivid in my mind. I even used to hang around my neighbors and write about what I saw in my notebook — like Harriet! I suppose writing non-fiction is like this, and I got started young.”

Ed YoungAuthor/illustrator Ed Young (interviewed February 9, 2009):

“Visual art is about expressing one’s vision visually. …{A}rt is taught differently in different parts of the world, but the method is not as important as how it is taught.

In the East, the emphasis is on freeing the mind and body, and to see things deeply beyond its outer form through observation. In the West, it’s about celebrating the joy of art and one’s unique vision and expressions.

In the end, it is the teacher who can challenge and ignite that passion to excel, to become at home within oneself, that really matters.”

From Kimiko Kajikawa’s Tsunami!, illustrated by Young:
“The people never forgot their debt to Ojiisan. When better times came, they built a temple to honor him…”

Adam McCauley; photo credit: Bart NagelIllustrator Adam McCauley (interviewed October 20, 2009) on childhood influences: “The first book series I was really obsessed with were the Oz books. My father had read and collected the series as a child, so he readily encouraged me to indulge in them. I got in an argument with my second grade teacher about them, because she didn’t believe there were more than one Oz books. (There were forty!) Then, Tolkien, who inspired me to create my own alphabets/languages, and then (and still) Tintin. I remain a rabid Tintin fan. Hergé’s sophistication in both story and art still astound me, but as a kid I was most focused on how he produced the books (especially the color). My sister got me into Tove Jansson, who I still keep on my shelf as a reminder of how cool and esoteric a book can be — yet still retain it’s universality. As far as picture books, as a toddler I was into Ant & Bee and was read Goodnight Moon and Beatrix Potter and then, of course, Sendak. I was also haunted by Struwwelpeter and, later, Edward Lear and Gorey.”

Marla Frazee and RocketAuthor/illustrator Marla Frazee (interviewed September 8, 2009): “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.”

Matt Phelan

Author/illustrator Matt Phelan (interviewed September 15, 2009) on school visits: “I try to demystify the creative process and also show kids that illustration is a real profession and something they can work towards doing, if they are so inclined…. I always answer questions as I go along, because the questions are often incredibly interesting. One second grader asked me how I knew just when to stop working on a drawing, when it isn’t too little or too much. I told her that she just asked probably THE question that has vexed artists for as long as there has been art. Amazing. I also told her that I’ll be struggling with that question for the rest of my career.”

One of Matt’s finished illustrations from the forthcoming
Flora’s Very Windy Day by Jeanne Birdsall.
(Click to enlarge.)

Author/illustrator Harry Bliss (interviewed April 2, 2009) on process: “I begin each book by breaking up the manuscript –- placing the text where I feel it belongs. I work closely with the editor throughout this stage. Once the text in set, I begin very rough sketches to embellish the text and, essentially, tell the story in pictures. If I need reference, I get it. If I need inspiration, I find it. If I need to drink, I go to the bar.”

Writer and poet Bobbi Katz (interviewed November 6, 2009) on seeing Adam McCauley’s illustrations for The Monsterologist: A Memoir in Rhyme: “Wow! Only having seen Adam’s black-and-white illustrations for Oh No, Not Ghosts, a text-light picture book, and his occasional line-drawings for Jon Scieszka’s nifty novels, I admit that I was worried. Could Adam handle the more complex challenge of a poetry collection, where a more equal balance between text and art is critical? Could he keep the continuity of a memoir/scrapbook? An art historian by training, I was thrilled to find a first-class designer with a great sense of humor. I’m delighted with his work and hope we might collaborate again.”

Douglas FlorianAuthor/poet/illustrator (or “authorstrator,” as he prefers it) Douglas Florian (interviewed April 6, 2009): “I never really know where an illustration will go. I let the art have a life of its own. That’s why I hate to do rough sketches or a dummy. I want spontaneity and happy accidents.”

Author/illustrator Carin Berger (interviewed February 2, 2009) on her road to publication: “The ingredients were: a sleepless daughter, the bliss of ignorance, and a lot of very, very, good luck. I wrote the poems for Not So True Stories in the long hours, waiting for my daughter to fall asleep; I handed my sample illustrations and manuscript to a friend-of-a-friend who agreed to rep it; and she, amazingly, ushered it into the world. So, so lucky.”

Thumbnail sketches from Berger’s Little Yellow Leaf

Illustrator Jim Di Bartolo (proud fan of the Partridge Family, interviewed November 19, 2009) on his road to publication: “The road was either short-to-medium in length or verrrry long, depending on when you start counting. It was filled with far too many uncomfortable interactions at events like the San Diego Comic-Con, where I was trying to smoothly work my way into conversations with editors who were complete strangers. I don’t recommend doing this, as it’s more likely to induce flop-sweat or nausea, rather than publication. Even so, it was through one of those nerve-wracking conversations that I landed a meeting with an acquiring editor at Image Comics, where my first book was published.”

Jim Di Bartolo

One of Jim’s illustrations from Laini Taylor’s
Lips Touch: Three Times
(Click to enlarge.)

Calef BrownAuthor/poet/illustrator Calef Brown (interviewed April 14, 2009): “Besides my books, I also do a fair amount of freelance illustration aimed at adults, and my basic approach is not that different. I always want my art to have an immediate graphic impact and also a certain amount of detail and subtlety that will hopefully invite a longer look. I think that there’s humor in my work, whether it’s something for kids or for grown-ups. When I do school visits, I show examples of my editorial illustrations and other freelance work, and some of the strongest reactions—loud outbursts of laughter—are in response to a few of these pieces, which really surprised me at first.”

Author/illustrator Lisa Horstman (interviewed July 14, 2009) on her choice-of-medium for her latest picture book, Squawking Matilda: “This process is a combination of different art forms. I’ve always been interested in stop motion animation, and the puppets fascinated me. I didn’t want to have to craft entire sets, however, so I decided to illustrate the backgrounds and photograph the puppets separately. After that it was a process of experimenting, seeing what worked and what didn’t…just like anything else. I learned much about doll and puppet craft, picking and choosing elements to fit my needs. It’s all a hodgepodge of different things I’ve learned how to do over the years that strangely came together for me. With the internet, it’s so much easier to learn how to do this stuff, but I also relied on the library for books on doll craft. I studied how things are crafted for recent stop motion animation features, such as Coraline (which is where I got the microknitting idea). And it feels really good to use a combination of hand-crafted art, alongside digital processes.”

“‘But I’ll make her a new jacket, anyway,’ added Mae. ‘Just in case.'”

Illustrator Stefano Vitale (interviewed March 2, 2009): “I never think much about who the images are for; that’s the job of the marketing people. I paint for myself, mostly; of course, the text already forces you to create images that appeal to different age groups, but I don’t consciously distinguish a child from an adult.”

Author/illustrator Geoffrey Hayes (interviewed March 26, 2009):

“Art for me is generally a private enterprise. I’m in awe of those people who do on-the-spot portraits or caricatures.”

From Hayes’ Benny and Penny: Just Pretend

Author/illustrator Jackie Morris (interviewed December 3, 2009): “I have written a few stories now, and most have transformation as a central theme. I always try to leave space in my stories — for conversation. This is hard to explain and may come out all wrong, but The Seal Children, The Snow Leopard and The Ice Bear all have at their centre a creature that is human but also animal. In The Seal Children, the mother is a Selkie — part seal, part human. Each book deals with the subject of loss or death or separation without being preachy about it, I hope, and seemingly without bookshops noticing. Makes them sound grim, but they aren’t.”

Author/illustrator David McPhail (interviewed May 27, 2009): “I feel (not immodestly) that everything I know could be shared in a half-hour — or less.”

“‘Now I can fix the leak in the roof,’ Boo said.
‘I will stick to gardening,’ Budgie said.
And they laughed.”
— From
Budgie & Boo

Illustrator Christopher Denise (interviewed May 15, 2009): “Although I draw mice with clothes on for a living, I am not ninety-years old and living under a mushroom.”

Christopher Denise

Bonnie ChristensenAuthor/illustrator Bonnie Christensen (interviewed September 28, 2009): “Since my roots are in printmaking, many of my books are illustrated in wood engraving or dry point engravings. For Django, I used oils and oil pastels which I’ve come to love; for my next book—Fabulous!: A Portrait of Andy Warhol—I used photo collage transferred to canvas and then painted with oils. So, you can see I’m all over the place. I blame this on loving the process.” {Note: Pictured below is a spread from Bonnie’s forthcoming picture book biography, Fabulous!: A Portrait of Andy Warhol. Click to enlarge the spread.}

Pascal LemaitreIllustrator Pascal Lemaitre (interviewed August 18, 2009): “Sometimes, I ask my students to illustrate a poem by Baudelaire. Somehow, it’s a heresy, as the poem is so powerful you don’t need to illustrate it. But what is interesting is to create your own world around a writer. And in school I feel it’s better to work on strong authors. So, in short, I would say every author I’ve worked with was my Baudelaire, with whom I had to find my place and serve the text, while finding a solution in the rhythm of that object where you turn pages: the book.”

And…saving one of my favorite interviews for last: Illustrator John Manders (interviewed January 19, 2009) on school visits: “The fun begins the moment my limo pulls into the school’s fire lane. Once my advance security team has cleared a path through the paparazzi, I’m hustled into the cafeteria/auditorium which is usually packed to the rafters with students hungry for a face-melting performance…At the show’s climax, I like to launch myself off the stage and do a little crowd-surfing.”

One of Manders’ illustrations from Catherine Friend’s The Perfect Nest

* * * * * * *

The Pivot Questionnaire,
as filled with my favorite responses from 2009:

7-Imp: What is your favorite word?
Jan Thomas:

7-Imp: What is your least favorite word?
Matt Phelan: “Maladroit.”

7-Imp: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
Taeeun Yoo: “Coffee. A sunny day. A stormy day, too. Music. Good conversations with friends. And cupcakes.”

7-Imp: What turns you off?
D.B. Johnson: “Certainty.”

7-Imp: What is your favorite curse word? (optional)
Ed Young: “Heartless.”

7-Imp: What sound or noise do you love?
Chris Raschka:

7-Imp: What sound or noise do you hate?
Sean Qualls: “‘Do You Believe’ from Cher.”

7-Imp: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
John Manders: “High-seas piracy.”

7-Imp: What profession would you not like to do?
Calef Brown: “Longhaul dunglugger.”

7-Imp: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
A tie between Emily Gravett’s “‘Red or white (wine)?'” and Barry Moser’s “‘Mornin’, Bubba.'”

* * * * * * *

I also invite illustrators/artists to stop by every Sunday here at 7-Imp for a feature of their work — or I go cyber-knockin’ on a publisher’s door to see if I can snag some art from a favorite title. It’s difficult to pick favorites of my Sunday artists from 2009, but I’m going to give it a shot with my top-fives, in no particular order:

* * * Some Favorites from Those Who Visited * * *

Novelist and poet and photographer and biographer Charles R. Smith, Jr. on Sunday, August 23, 2009, on My People: “The simplicity in the poem, ‘My People,’ is what I wanted to focus on for the imagery. Since the poem is about the respect and love Langston Hughes has for his (black) people, I wanted to show a wide variety of faces, from skin as dark as night to skin as bright as the sun. I also wanted to show my appreciation and respect for my elders and included many older faces and played them against a few young faces. Making each of the subjects comfortable was key, because with a black background and my subject wearing all black, the only thing to focus on is the facial expressions.”

Photographer and blogger Jeremy Hiebert on Sunday, February 8, 2009, on his ice photos: “Ice is considered a nuisance, because it makes driving so dangerous, but I’ve grown to love it for its inherent beauty. That beauty is so deliciously random, forming accidentally in infinite ways. Each formation is like a simulation run from an equation, using nothing but gravity, temperature, wind, and water. What could be more elemental?”

Author/illustrator Selina Alko on Sunday, March 15, 2009: “{This Brooklyn image was made} for a travelling exhibit of illustrators’ work entitled, NY: Real or Imagined. This piece is indicative of my current style and pretty autobiographical in content.”

These last two visitors left 7-Imp with some original mad-tea-party art specifically for the blog. Score.

Cartoonist Ray Friesen on Sunday, January 18, 2009, who put me and Eisha right there at the table, partaking in all the madness:

Graphic novelist/illustrator Eric Wight on Sunday, May 3, 2009:

* * * Favorite Sunday Spreads That Came from
Cyber-Knockin’ on Publishers’ Doors * * *

Author/illustrator Ed Young on Sunday, July 12, 2009:

From Hook
(Click to enlarge.)

Author/illustrator Valeri Gorbachev on Sunday, March 8, 2009:

From The Missing Chick:
“Have you seen my chick?” she asked.
“No,” they said, “but we will help you look.”

Author/illustrator Amy Schwartz on Sunday, November 22, 2009:

From Tiny & Hercules

Author/illustrator Peter McCarty on Sunday, November 8, 2009:

From Jeremy Draws a Monster

Author/llustrator Il Sung Na on Sunday, October 11, 2009:

From A Book of Sleep:
“Some make lots of noise when they sleep.”

(Click image to enlarge.)

Bonus: One of my top-five favorite author/illustrators, John Burningham, on Sunday, June 21, 2009:

From It’s a Secret!
(Click to enlarge.)

* * * * * * *

On the first Sunday of each month, I feature a student of illustration or an illustrator otherwise new to the field. There are also too many favorites from ’09 to name here, but here’s probably my favorite illustration of all from those features. It’s the Boys of Summer from California freelance illustrator and designer Emilio Santoyo, who visited on Sunday, August 2, 2009:

Okay, so I also really liked this one from Katherine Siy, who—when visiting on Sunday, February 1, 2009—-had just graduated from California’s Art Center College of Design:

* * * * * * *

Last, but far from least, sometimes an author or illustrator or author/illustrator will randomly stop by to share some art work or thoughts on a new title or the publisher will let me share a sneak peek from the inside of a picture book much adored. Again, there are too many folks who stopped by this year to thank—or whose book I loved enough to make me go bugging the publisher, in the hopes I could share some art from it. There were visits from…

And, because I can’t help it, some more unforgettable illustrations from 2009:

From Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s and Tom Lichtenheld’s Duck! Rabbit!
(From this March post)

From Rebecca and Ed Emberley’s Chicken Little:
“Chicken Little was not the brightest chicken in the coop.
He was very excitable and prone to foolishness.
One day he was doing nothing, his usual pastime, when an acorn fell from the sky and hit him on the head.”
(From this July post)

From Tom Warburton’s 1000 Times No
(From this June post)

From John Hendrix’s John Brown: His Fight for Freedom:
“Like a great fuming tornado, John swept across the plains
to fight for Kansas. He fought many battles on those windy plains, but it was a dark night along Pottawatomie Creek that made him notorious.”
(From this August post)

From Florence Parry Heide’s and Lane Smith’s Princess Hyacinth
(The Surprising Tale of a Girl Who Floated)
“Princess Hyacinth floated. Unless she was attached to something,
or weighted down, she just floated—
up, up, up.”
(From this October post — click image to enlarge spread.)

And one of my very favorite illustrations from the year:

From You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?!
by Jonah Winter and illustrated by André Carrilho
(From this March post)

* * * * * * *

Three Random Notes:

* * * One of My Favorite Posts From This Year:

Interviewing librarian and author Adrienne Furness in March for the first annual Share a Story/Shape a Future project.

* * * Thanks to illustrator Dan Krall for 7-Imp’s other original mad-tea-party art this year, displayed on this page of the blog:

* * * Book I Most Want to See in 2010:

D.B. Johnson’s Palazzo Inverso, “inspired by the ‘impossible worlds’ of M. C. Escher” and scheduled for a Spring ’10 release, D.B. told me in March of this year.
(Click images to enlarge. Really. You’ll only be rewarded, if you do so.)

So, here’s to seeing books like D.B.’s and many others in 2010. Thanks to everyone who stopped by the 7-Imp House ‘O’ Breakfast this year.

* * * * * * *

Copyright note: If I were to list all the copyright notices for these images here, well, you’d find me slumped over my keyboard. Here’s my plea: Please be cool, current and potential readers, and remember all rights reserved and all that good stuff. Also, in all instances the original copyright notices for the image or art work you see should be listed at the post (interview, feature, what-have-you) from which the above snippets come, since I’m a stickler about including copyright info. If you link back to the original post for many of these, you will see copyright notices. Bottom line: Be cool. Don’t steal. These weren’t mine to begin with. I had to ask to get them, so please do the same. Thanks.

* * * * * * *

As a reminder, ALL (not just ’09) of 7-Imp’s author interviews are archived here at the site, and all illustrator/artist interviews and features are archived here. I also always update those lists, ’cause I’m a big nerd like that.

35 comments to “One Impossibly Crazy
2009 7-Imp Retrospective Before Breakfast”

  1. Man, I was *here* for all of this, and it still feels like some of this is new, brand new. Lovely thing to look upon, and I will come back and revel at the awesomeness of this blog again.

    Looking forward to another astounding and wonderful year! Happy New Year, Jules!!

  2. I felt the same as tanita — even as a regular subscriber and devoted reader/fan, much of this was fresh and yummy to me. You do wonderful things here, Jules…hosting, curating, facilitating, encouraging, investigating, pondering, laughing, loving…all the good stuff.

    And ’tis a great honor to see one of my oddball photos appear here with all of this astounding art. You may be pleased to know that that photo made the cut for the gallery show, mostly because I knew you loved it…and because it was the first ice photo I ever took.

    Cheers! And much happiness in the new year, of course.

  3. Jules Thank you!

    It looks like a lot of work and even more PLAY!
    Isn’t that how it always is with things we love!

    A Blessed 2010!

  4. I always think I know more about the children’s book world than I actually do. So every morning I turn to Seven Imps to keep me more current. AND to find more brilliant illustrators (and authors) to love.

    Thanks, Jules,


  5. If this were the first 7-Imp post I ever saw, I’d have two reactions:

    (1) Holy crow — this is a blog whose authors must REALLY love what they do… so much gorgeous work on display here!; and

    (2) [Nothing verbal. Just a sort of wordless thump-thump-thump of my pulse, excited by all the artwork (individually and collectively) and the surrounding verbiage]

    It’s not even close to the first 7-Imp post I ever read; funny how I still have the same responses…

    Thanks so much for a great, astounding year here, Jules (and Eisha); looking forward to seeing what you (and Steven, and the artist and authors to come, and the usual cast of commenters and Kickers (a classy blog community if I’ve ever seen one)) come up with in 2010!

  6. Wow! Definitely an oxygen mask post. Simply breathtaking and 7 million kinds of amazing. Thank you so much for featuring all these talented authors and illustrators this past year. Can’t wait to see who’s coming in 2010.

    You’re the best, and we love that you’re so crazy about art :)! Happy New Year!!

  7. well, that puts my year to shame. and not just my blogging year, but the entirety of my year’s efforts. resolved: must try to work as hard as jules in 2010.

    great job, and best of luck with the book!

  8. Yowza!

  9. Incredible. I love coming here. I’m sure you will make this coming year even better.

  10. Yowza! What an eyeful! Thanks for all that you do!!! Happy 2010~

  11. I’m filled with awe and delight by the wonderful confluence of art/words/images that you’ve created in this cyber-collage. What a niffty way to wrap up the year in a perfect gift.Thank you, merci, gracias, todah rabah, arigato go-zayimos and more! This analog woman is most appreciative.

  12. Dear Jules,
    what to say if not THANK YOU for all this? This has been my first year with 7imp, the first of many more I hope: your blog has been one of the nicest discoveries of this year therefore THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Your biggest italian supporter! 🙂
    My very best wishes for the upcoming 2010, may it be rich in satisfactions and good health!
    xox, Cristiana

  13. Wow, Jules! Just… wow! I think that you might win an award here for most illustrations used in one post. Seriously, though, as JES commented above, this post really shows how dedicated you are to children’s literature, especially from the illustration/illustrator side. I look forward to what you come up with in 2010.

  14. Jules. Whoa, girl. You and 7IMP are a daily gift to us all. Thank you for the gorgeous and vibrant reminder…

  15. Jules, this is such a wonderful finale to a year of blogging perfection at 7-imp. Like Cristiana, this was my first year with 7-imp, and the illustrators, authors, and artists featured here have brought me such joy, and a humble reverence for their amazing gifts and talents.

    I am also very grateful for each and every one of the lovely kickers and 7-imp fans — for sharing their thoughts and lives and inspiring me to push beyond my own limitations.

    And most importantly, Jules, I thank you for your friendship. You are a gift and a bright light in my life.

    Happy New Year to all!

  16. It’s like Christmas all over, unwrapping a blog post full of fun and fabulous artwork. Thanks for all you do at 7-Imp to celebrate children’s books. Happy New Year!

  17. You make it seem like a very very good year. And it was. Thanks for helping to make it so.

  18. Thank you for this gift, Jules. People have been yammering about 2009 as if it were a dismal year, but not you. You quietly go on showing us beauty, day after day. I, for one, could not live without such a witness. xoxoxo

  19. Oh, gosh, I’d forgotten about the “High-seas piracy” answer. That made me laugh again.

    I am also again comforted by Jan Thomas admitting she must have her back to a wall in a restaurant, since I do that, too.

    I love reading retrospectives like this, and it was a very good year here at 7-Imp. Here’s to a wonderful 2010!

  20. I just read this entire post from beginning to end because I couldn’t simply browse… each excerpt was completely captivating. I am inspired! I am in awe! I am thrilled with our field of children’s book making! What a fantastic summary to a spectacular year in picture books.

  21. fantastic! what amazing talent!!

  22. Wow, what a gorgeous post! I am honored to be part of this year’s round up, but more than anything I am completely inspired by what everyone else has brought to the tea party. Thanks so much for doing what you do so well!

  23. It is terrifying how much there is to see. But beautiful too.

  24. Such a wonderful gift. Well done.

  25. Just fabulous. Thank you, Jules.

  26. Wow! Everything everyone else said, awesome, awesome. Thanks from me, too. I am feeling illuminated. Not bad way to start off the new year…

  27. Oh my Lord in Heaven. Jules. This is so freaking fabulous. You are amazing.

  28. What a fabulous journey! You’ve got the COOLEST friends! Thanks for sharing them with all of us!!!

    Can’t wait for 2010 at 7-Imp!!

  29. How can I possibly find enough time to enjoy every little bit of your blog? It is so joyous. Thank you for all you do.

  30. Thanks, all! I’m glad I get to share with you and don’t have to celebrate good books alone.

  31. This is amazing and I’ve enjoyed it just as much as reading 7 Imp all year! One thing you might want to change though, Mermaid Queen was written by Shana Corey, not Barbara Kerley.

  32. OMIGOD, Jennifer, you’re right. I KNEW THAT. I so knew that. Oops. Oops. Oops. Thanks. Will fix right now.

  33. […] Happened at 7-Imp in 2010. I’ve done this for the past two years every December, and—as I explained last year—I question my own sanity when I pull together posts like this, since it’s not a trivial […]

  34. […] have GOT to see Jules’ One Impossibly Crazy 2009 7-Imp Retrospective Before Breakfast.  Holy Cannoli. Jules’ has outdone herself … it is a feast for your eyes that will […]

  35. […] court docket was informed Grimes’ youngest sufferer, who was completely unknown to him, was nine-years-old when he started sending her private messages on Facebook after she accepted his friend request. […]

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