7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #153: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Lori Nichols

h1 February 7th, 2010 by jules

“‘What if the wind picks up? Well, then, we’ll be
cowboys riding through a desert in the middle of a deadly dust storm.'”

(Click to enlarge image.)

It seems like I say this on the first Sunday of every month, when I feature a student illustrator or illustrator otherwise new to the field here at 7-Imp, but I’ll say it again: A month’s already gone by? It’s February? Wasn’t it New Year’s Day just yesterday? Maybe it’s having young children in the home that makes time seem to fly. Or perhaps everyone feels this way. Either way, I seem to be doing a double-take this morning.

On this, February’s first Sunday, I welcome up-and-coming illustrator (and soft-sculpture artist) Lori Nichols. She brings us, as you can see above, Kitty and Piggy. Lori sent me the entire text from which these featured spreads this morning come, and I hope, based on what I saw, that Kitty and Piggy find a publisher. Remember how last Sunday you joined me in celebrating an illustrator who can create engaging illustrations for the wee’est of preschoolers — and manages to do so without being excessively cloying about it? I think Lori has that gift, too.

Kitty Asks What If? is the title (or perhaps just working title) of this text, and it centers around two friends — one porcine protagonist prone to great worry and his feline friend, who seems to excel at … well, easing such worries. (Have mercy, we Piggies most desperately need you Kitties in our lives.) When Kitty asks in the opening spread, “Hi, Piggy. Wanna play?”, Piggy’s worried about the threat of rain. Kitty pretty much says, pshaw, my friend — but with the gentleness of a good comrade, don’t you know:

“‘What if it rains? Well, then, we’ll be pirates on a ship,
in a ghastly gale, looking for buried treasures.'”

(Click to enlarge image.)

Turns out Piggy is a virtuoso worrier: He’s got a long catalogue of fears — the blistery-hot sun, gusty winds (spread opening this post), freezing temperatures, slick weather…

“‘What if it’s slick out? Well, then, we’ll be
strapping skiers sliding on the surface of the sea.'”

(Click to enlarge image.)

…and more. And, forgive me, but I won’t give away the ending, in case the book ever makes it into print one day. Wouldn’t want to spoil it for you anyway.

Have you ever been this worried? I have.Nichols’ uncluttered, minimalist illustrations, spare text, and the rampant imagination she gives Kitty show readers that creativity doesn’t have to be complicated. Playing in the mud can trump highly-packaged plastic toys any day: This is something all kids know instinctively. There is also a big, throbbing heart at the center of the tale, a story of true friendship, one friend bringing light to countercheck another’s darkness. Lori’s wide-open spreads include ample white space in spots (for calm, centered Kitty), comforting lines, and bright colors (for fretful Piggy and the pair’s imaginative romps into the wild). It’s like Maxwell Eaton III meets Antoinette Portis and perhaps even Maria van Lieshout in a bar and they go buy Mo Willems a drink. These are good—in my book anyway—comparisons/possible influences, and at the same time, I see that Lori is coming into a style of her own. And I’m eager to see where her career goes. Actually, those are comparisons I apply only to this text. Lori also does this, and let me say that I’d love to see the story wound around that old lady:

Here’s a word or two from Lori, followed by a bit more of her illustration work…

I look to nature for much of my inspiration. As a child, I looked at everything from acorns to frogs and marveled. My three girls have inspired me as well, and I find myself borrowing their own ideas and drawings. Many years ago, my friend, Dariana, showed me her collection of birds’ nests, and I was never the same. I love to create and found that my life’s inspiration manifests itself in illustrations and soft-sculpture and back to my garden and family again. I’ve been in the illustration and design field for over twenty years, working as an editorial illustrator for the Arkansas Gazette in the late eighties and then moving to magazine art direction for Cooking Light Magazine and Health Magazine. My design work is on the shelf currently, while I pursue children’s book illustration. I’ve spent the last ten years with one of three daughters on my lap, reading and loving the doors that books opened up to us. My styles rely on strong calligraphy line work. In some cases, my line work is drawn very small and electronically enlarged with flat fields of color. Other times, I’ll use pen and ink with watercolor. I’m currently working on a series of books involving several critter friends. To see more of my work, you can visit me at www.lorinichols.com. Also a soft-sculpture artist, I enjoy bringing my critters to life. You can see my soft-sculpture at www.etsy.com/shop/lorinichols.

Thanks to Lori for stopping by, and best of luck to her in her career. Here’s hoping we see her in picture books one day…

{All images used with permission of Lori Nichols.}

* * * * * * *

As a reminder, 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is 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.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

Kick #1). This exhibit of Greek art in Nashville. Given my daughter’s current obsession with Greek mythology (kick #3 from two weeks of yore, aka Cowboy Perseus), this exhibit is very good timing. And it’s quite good.

Kick #2). A thoughtful gift from Melissa Sweet and some kind words said, too.

Kick #3). The below art. Forgive me for posting kid-art. Arguably, it’s only interesting to the parents or grandparents. But this was truly one of my week’s most kick-iest moments:

My husband taught the girls to say at a very young age that “commercials are for suckers.” We’ve tried to explain to them that marketers in this country would like to tag them as consumers at very young ages and that they have to think hard about advertisements of all sorts (which is why I like this book, but then that’s just me being redundant). One afternoon this week, my kindergartener walked off with some ads that had shown up in the mail and told me she’d use them to make a collage. Hours later, I saw the art. She had cut up all these product images and written things like, “Don’t do it! Don’t buy it! Do you really need that?” and such. A sample is pictured above.

Though I am often myself quite the successful target of chocolate-pushers in this country (and when said child goes into stores, she goes straight to berserk over wanting everything, MOST ESPECIALLY CHOCOLATE, as children are wont to do), the whole piece of art surprised me and, boy howdy, made me laugh mighty hard.

Kick #4). I got an ARC of Andrea Beaty’s forthcoming middle-grade novel, Attack of the Fluffy Bunnies — with illustrations by Dan Santat. (Naturally, given this news, I love that book title.) When I saw the ARC, I suddenly remembered something quite kicky, indeed: Andrea told me a while back that I had an influence on this book when she was writing it. She didn’t like the main character’s name and was looking for a new one. After she and I had conversed about something via email, she changed the character’s name to “Jules” and, later, “Joules” (for science-related reasons). So, it’s hardly like the character was named for me, but it is pretty cool to have that story to tell my girls. One day.

More on that book later. Andrea’s going to stop by 7-Imp.

Kick #5). All of you 7-Imp readers who visit and leave smart comments here and write good content at your blogs for me to read. This is an assumed kick every week, but I’m outright stating it now. I really enjoyed reading the responses to this post. And check this out: When I mentioned once again in the comments of last week’s kicks that one day it’d be terrifically fun (somehow — with magic money, I guess) for us all to meet in the middle of the country and have an actual breakfast together, Jeremy referred to the whole things as “7-Imp Camp,” which made me do something like laugh and cheer at the same time, which kinda came out as a spit-take on my keyboard.

Kick #6). I fell hard for this poem, which was posted Friday at A Year of Reading. I’ve also been thinking about this poem all week, which Liz Garton Scanlon posted way back in September. See how good you all are for me?

Kick #7). A winter festival at my kindergartener’s school this weekend in which she proved that she’s a CAKEWALK CHAMP. When they called her number, I did a no-holds-barred barbaric yawp and fist pump, as I wanted her to win a cake so. very. badly. Loud was my WOOT. And you know what she did? There was this huuuuuuugely huge spread of cakes, many home-made, from which to pick her prize. All the cakes were contributed by parents from the school, and some looked downright gourmet. What did she pick? The Publix-brand cupcakes. Ouch. But, hey. Cupcakes, right? Mmm.

Three Bonus Kicks, Even Though I’ve Already Jibber-Jabbered Quite Enough As It Is:

* Seeing my four-year-old find book two of Ursula K. Le Guin’s Catwings. I mentioned last week that we stumbled upon the series, which I didn’t even know existed. So, when we went back to the library this week, I muttered a quick prayer to the library-stack gods that book two would be there, AND IT WAS. She lit right up. Crazy about these winged cats she is.

** Stumbling upon this video (from last November) of Nicole Atkins, whose music I adore (“pop noir,” I once saw it described as, which is perfect), singing a song I adore. How folks can talk through that, as they are in this bar, is beyond me:

*** I mentioned this on Facebook, but I love this brand-new book from Jeff Newman. More on that later.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

36 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #153: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Lori Nichols”

  1. Oh. my. word. Those illustrations were the perfect sunny spot after this snow-sleet-more-snow-freezing-cold weekend! Cat and Piggy Pirates made me laugh out loud.

    So did your Cakewalk prize. I had never heard of such a thing … until I had a Kindergartener. The Cake Walk is the most popular event at our Spring Festival.

    I’ll have to stop back by to check out the video … everyone is still asleep, so I’ll make that kick #1!

    #2 & 3. Spending most of the day with about 10 neighbors shoveling driveways … and one neighbor bringing us hot chocolate as a thank you for doing hers.

    #4. Watching The Proposal and drinking champagne with the girls while the kids played downstairs!

    5. This incredibly beautiful morning-after-the-snow look.

    6. A box of book reviews from one of our teen readers.

    7. Drinking tea with my sweetie by Coleman lantern. [Thank goodness for gas stoves!]

    Happy Sunday all!

  2. I like Lori’s piggy. 🙂 Also your description of her work as those other artists buying Mo Willems a drink. Your kicks are extra juicy this week, Joules! Love the candy collage, the Cakewalk Champ, and the Nicole Atkins video. LOVE LOVE that song. Have you heard K.D. Lang’s version? She used to sing it at every concert, telling the story of how Roy Orbison “gave” the song to her. It had been so uniquely his, that she felt she needed “permission” to perform it.

    Just a couple of kicks:

    We survived the big snowstorm! Sun’s out again and everything is pristine, white, and vanilla delicious.

    Recently became a fan of Laughing Elephant on FB and won a copy of their new book of love poems. I like their gift books and greeting cards, all featuring vintage children’s book illos and advertisements, etc. When I’ve ordered from them in the past, they include smiley faces on the invoices and sometimes tuck in little surprise extras. Seattle people are nice!

    Feeling a little better after several days of mysterious stomach bug.

    Finally read When You Reach Me. Wow. Not my favorite of the bunch, though.

    Enjoying my new Rilke book.

    Happy Birthday to Laura Ingalls Wilder!

  3. Jules, thank you for showing us Lori’s dashing animals, kid art, music, Beaty/Santat, and making me look back at some poems.

    My kicks are seeing pictures of snow in other places. I like the Dupont Circle snowball fight.

    looking forward this afternoon to an exhibit called Kin and Kindred: Reflections on Childhood at the Smith College Art Museum. I’m going with a friend who’s recovering from surgery and must stay a few feet away from people. I should probably strap down my arms.

    Jama says it’s the birthday of both Laura Ingalls Wilder and Charles Dickens and we get to eat apple pie. I’m thinking more about cornbread. Want to see yellow on a plate if far from being in the gardens.

    Complaining that the plot in the book I’m writing sags, my husband suggested I throw in a vampire. No, but he got me on a roll of thinking outside my box.

    Have a great week! Don’t forget the pie.

  4. Ooh the kitty and the soft sculpture! Love Lori’s work.
    Jules, the art work is precious! Enjoy those cupcakes. Hope they were a good flavor.
    Jama and Terry, I know the digging out, the cold, and being homebound can be a pain but I am envious for just one day. We haven’t had it in the PNW this year.
    Hope you are feeling better Jama.
    My kicks:
    Yesterday I found a sweet deal on a used macro lens for my camera. Gotta get outside today and take some.

    Being with the grandgirl on her 4th birthday. She was so sick (RSV) a week ago they had to cancel her party. Back to herself on her actual day.

    Just finished listening to The Thief Lord. Some of my fifth grade book club is reading it. It’s one of those books that they had to be talked into reading and they love it.
    I am in the middle of Wild Things. Enjoying it
    Not sure if it will sell at fifth grade.

    Have a great week.

  5. Kitty Asks What If? looks good! I also hope that it gets published. :o)

    Jules, your kicks 2 and 4 are really cool! Re: kick 7: What is a cake walk?

    Terry, drinking champagne = woot woot!

    Jama, have yet to read When You Reach Me. You are making me more curious about it.

    Jeannine, cornbread, yum. LOL re: vampire!


    1. I just spent a comforting week with family and relatives in my mom’s hometown.

    2. My older brother got married yesterday! The best part was my mom’s speech. She was crying and then the bride started crying and then my younger brother and I started crying too. After her special message for the newlyweds, my family and I ran from all corners of the reception venue to the stage for a spontaneous group hug.

    Uh oh, just typing that makes me want to cry again.

    3. I just finished reading Ash by Malinda Lo. Flawed, but ultimately enchanting. I couldn’t put it down.

    4. A lovely Singaporean breakfast: toast with special coconut spread, soft boiled eggs with soy sauce and white pepper, strong brewed coffee with condensed milk. *twirls in delight*

  6. Jone, we passed each other in cyberspace! Glad to hear that your fifth graders are lovin’ The Thief Lord. What did they especially love about it? I found it a little, uh a lot, slow…

  7. Kitty and Piggy make me want to draw–Kitty in particular. I’ll look forward to Kitty Asks What If finding a publisher.

    “Don’t buy the candy. Don’t love it.”

    Jules, That is so a kick for all of us. I cannot get enough of kid writing, and witty kid writing all done up artfully and making a statement like that? Wowsa, nice.

    I do not understand this “cakewalk” thing of which you speak. Your number gets called and you win cake? How is it that I have not participated in something like this?

    Jama, Glad to hear you’re feeling better!

    Jone, The Thief Lord is my favorite of Funke’s books. I daresay it’s better than Inkheart, which I also really love.

    Tarie, You win breakfast today. That description just makes me want to do my whole morning over so I can eat something better.

    My kicks:
    1. Last Sunday, I went to The National Museum of Play (oh, yeah, we’ve GOT IT, man) to see this exhibit: http://www.museumofplay.org/things_to_see/art_of_the_brick.html. It was really cool.
    2. While we were there, we also went to the butterfly garden. They give you 20 minutes in the butterfly garden, and I always have the urge to hide when my time is up so I can get an extra 20 minutes, everything’s just so beautiful and fluttery. They had a newly-hatched luna moth that day, which was just HUGE–bigger than my hand–and such a lovely, odd color.
    3. While we were at the NMoP, we also visited Toy Wegmans. I love real Wegmans, but Toy Wegmans is so much better.
    4. Okay, okay, the season premiere of LOST. It was just as weird and engaging as I hoped it would be, even if it also made me gnash my teeth a bit.
    5. My piano lessons are going along well. I am learning–slowly, but I’m learning. Learning how to read music is like learning a foreign language, but I am really enjoying it, and practicing is a joyful thing.
    6. I went to an RPO concert with my mom last night that featured a lot of show tunes and whatnot. The music was fun, and we laughed a lot.
    7. I finally got to sit and read Eric Shanower and Skottie Young’s comic adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. I am head-over-heels in love with Young’s art in that book. I’m reading their new effort, The Marvelous Land of Oz, in single issues because, yeah, I’m a nerd.

  8. Hello Everyone!

    Nice illustrations with a really funny story 🙂 I like Lori’s style. Makes me think of another illustrator, Irisz Agocs who has similar characters in watercolor.

    I like your kick nr 3 Jules, I don’t really like the whole consumer-world either. And the cake walk, whatever it is, sounds yummie 😀

    Jone: have fun with the camera! I’m curious of the pics.

    Terry: no better bonding-time with your neighbours 😀

    Okay, I’ll give my kicks a go too:

    1. I’ve been working on a banner for the City Hall in my town for the celebration of the Chinese New Year. I did some research about their traditions and found out that they eat more than 40 kinds of dishes during the 3-day celebration!! So I’ve made food banners with ingredients and dishes that are in some way symbolic.

    nr 2 has to be the fact that I’ve finished the banner in record time 🙂

    3. I got to use the spotlight for the first time at the local theater where I work. It’s a huge thing, but I managed to follow the artist during the whole show.

    4. Also at the same theater (other day) I worked on the set of the theaterproduction of The Full Monty. Great show!

    5. I got to make interviews for my homework with a couple of artist I really like: Rutger Termohlen and Joyce Schellekens.

    6. The birthdays of both of my parents this week. Participating in the celebration and singing of course via skype.

    7. A friend lent me her dipping pens to try out and I loved to draw with them. I’ve already bought my own last thursday and made a new illustration on friday. Really happy with my little pens 🙂

    8. I started reading The world according to Garp by John Irving, it finally arrived. I’ve heard a lot of good things about the book, so it made me curious.

    Well, that’s probably it for now.

    Have a great week everyone!

  9. Hi, all. Here’s my cakewalk explanation. It was new to me, too:

    Everyone stands in a circle and on a number. Music is played, while you walk around the circle and stand on the different numbers. Music stops. A number is called. If it’s the one you’re standing on, YOU GET TO PICK OUT A CAKE! Mmm.

    I get really Pictionary about playing games/sports. (Eisha has mentioned here before at 7-Imp that I get so worked up during Pictionary that, when I high-five her—if she’s unlucky enough to be on my team—it’s so hard that she can’t make a fist for days.) So, yeah. I was all tense and cheering for Piper, so when she won on her SECOND GO, I was hopelessly excited and wooty and jumping up and down — just as if there were a Pictionary game board in the room. Heaven help me.

    Terry, if you’re going to be snowed in, I’m glad it’s near such friendly neighbors. Anyone who brings hot chocolate is good in my book.

    Jama, nope, have never heard K.D. Lang sing that, but I’ll have to now. …Glad you’re feeling better, and I like Laughing Elephant’s products, too. I’ll have to find them on FB.

    Jeannine, enjoy the exhibit. It sounds wonderful. I like the yellow you threw in your post; I am ready to see some Spring flowers myself. Love your husband’s suggestion. My word, vampires are the “it” thing, aren’t they? (That made me sound old. I guess I am.)

    Jone, glad your granddaughter is feeling better. Being sick on your birthday has to be one of the worst things when you’re a kid. Have fun taking pics, and I really want to read Wild Things, too.

    Tarie, I haven’t even had breakfast yet, and you’ve inspired me. Well, I won’t be making that, as I don’t know how, but I wish I were eating it. …Congrats to your brother, and I love the group hug. Your family. They just seem like they rock so hard.

    Adrienne, that Museum of Play. Oh how I envy you and want to visit one day. …Yes, you must have a cakewalk in your life. Hey, at 7-Imp Camp, we can have a cakewalk! I’m yelling that in excitement. ….The Art of the Brick looks great, Adrienne. Yesterday, at the Frist, I saw a yellow dog made out of crayons. Not as in the medium. But he was constructed with crayons. …Did you hear me laughing from Tennessee at the notion of you hiding in the butterfly garden so you can stay longer? Also, my soul is still so happy that you’re learning piano.

    Hi again, Veronika! Guess what? I recognize the name Irisz Agocs. This is neat: Look! I featured one of her pieces of art waaaaaay back when I first decided to show the work of an illustrator here every Sunday. I didn’t get her permission to feature that — the only one I haven’t done that for. Anyway, such an excellent comparison to Lori’s work. …Would love to see your banners. Will they be at your blog soon? ….Kick #5 sounds fun, and happy birthday to your parents!

  10. Happy Sunday afternoon!

    Here are some take-a-break-from-school-work kicks:

    1. Knowing that my Poetry Friday poems are perfect picks for more than just me!

    2. Lindt Excellence Intense Orange Dark Chocolate. An impulse purchase at the checkout of Fresh Market yesterday and SO worth the extra pennies! (Jules, don’t tell your daughter I was such a sucker of a consumer!!!)

    3. Blue skies, brilliant sun, and diamond dust twinkling down (so cold that the little bit of moisture in the air becomes crystalized).

    4. Playing with friends’ dogs in the snow.

    5. Printer ink recycling rewards from Staples.

    6. Classical music on the iPod.

    7. Ignoring the Super Bowl.

  11. Hello Lori, Kitty, and Piggy! What grand adventures. I agree that Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie would get along well with them. Lori, best wishes with your artwork in all forms. La la la la to the singing penguin. 🙂

    Jules: Hurrah for your munchkin’s anti-ad/anti-junk food collage! Congrats on the namesake character. (I say it IS a namesake.) I love Catwings! I’m glad that she’s loving the series. What’s not to love? Cats. WITH WINGS.

    Terry D: Enjoy the cocoa, and stay safe and warm while the snowstorms continue.

    Jama: Rest up, post-sickness, and feel better. See above re: snowstorms. That goes for you too, and any other Imp that’s snowbound. I am looking forward to reading When You Reach Me later this month. Happy birthday, Laura Ingalls Wilder!

    Jeannine: Have fun exploring ideas out of the box.

    Jone: Glad that the little one is feeling better. Happy birthday to her.

    Tarie: Congratulations to your brother and his new spouse!

    Adrienne: The butterfly garden sounds so lovely. Yay for your piano lessons!

    Veronika: Rock that spotlight! Good luck with your forthcoming productions.

    7-Imp Camp: We have to stock the shelves of our camp library with books, films, and plays related to camp. The Baby-Sitters Club Super Special #2: Baby-Sitters’ Summer Vacation. The Parent Trap (the original, then its subsequent sequels and the remake for a marathon rainy day!) Et cetera. Also: I’ll be a counselor in the performing arts department, okay?

    My kicks for the past week:
    1) Becoming a member of SAG, officially
    2) Booking then filming a short SAG film (I was a ballet dancer in the background)
    3) Obtaining the script for a forthcoming project
    4) Making necessary phone calls
    5) Dedication
    6) Similar visions
    7) Saving power

  12. Such a rich plethora of books and art today! And that PIGGY!! TOO, too cute.
    As always, so nice to read everyone’s good news.
    (AND YAAAAAY, yahoo, Ms. SAG!)

  13. Thanks, Tanita. 🙂

  14. Mary Lee, oh I would have so totally fallen for that chocolate, too. I must stress that Piper doesn’t always put her art into action: She’s a big sucker for the toys in the aisles. And I limit her commercial-seeing BIG TIME (via t.v., that is), but she falls for it every time she does happen to see it. “I want that. Oooh! I want that. I want THAT.”

    Little Willow, CONGRATULATIONS on making it official, you SAG-er you!! WOOT! WOOT! And your first SAG short film? Excellent! So exciting! I can’t stop using “!!!!!”s.

  15. !

  16. Oops…I forgot: Hi, Tanita! Your Poetry Friday entry this week was pretty great, too.

  17. Lordhavemercy I just won’t go away, but I remembered one more thing I forgot to say: Little Willow, OF COURSE you’ll HAVE to be 7-Imp Camp’s performing-arts-department counselor. As long as Jama’s the counselor in the dessert department.

  18. Afternoon, Kickers. (jules, Terry, jama, Jeannine, jone, Tarie, addrienne, Veronika, et al.)

    I can see that I’m destined to kick-off on the tardy side, given I’m on the West Coast and I’m a night owl (so not an early riser – especially on Sunday.) Still, I’m in.

    1. Ms. Nichol’s deflated, thoughtful pig staring at the ceiling. Speaks to me.

    2. Jule’s revelation: Cake Walks = musical chairs with icing!

    3. I always get a kick out of Kicks (Signaporean breakfasts, luna moths, spotlight operators.)

    4. My son at college, SENT ME a very thoughtful I-read-this-and-I-think-you’d-find-it-interesting book recommendation: “The Wind-up Bird Chronicle” by Murakami. This, after years of me sending him motherly you-might-like-this suggestions. It was a just a touching turn-about.

    5. I spoke at an elementary school’s Young Authors’ Fair. After my presentation I went table to table looking at the kids’ work. One child’s book was titled, “No One Picks the White Crayon.” Ha! Secretly wanted to steal that idea then and there. : – )

    6. Rain in California means mudslides. But it also means GREEN hills. I like green.

    7. I finished Chapter 65, of my epic middle-grade. (Yea. Sigh.) Onward and upward.

  19. P.S. Congrats to Little Willow. I know what hard work it takes and what it means. And a suggestion:

    Many years ago, when I was in that world, my struggling dancer/actor roomates and I made a pact to engrave our first spoken union lines and display them on the wall. (They proved good conversation starters.)

    Mine were:

    EQUITY – lyrics, “We’re in the money!”

    AFTRA – “Dr. Hardy, the phone’s for you.”

    SAG – “Drown the Jews!”

  20. I’m just home from a week long holiday that was all spent in one spot, and boy do I feel relaxed. Too relaxed (aka lazy) to do my kicks today but I wanted to swing by to see everyone else’s happy things as a nice end to the break. And there are so many nice items here today, and great art (particularly the anti-consumerist poster, love it).

    That cakewalk thing sounds like great fun, Jules. As does a 7-imp camp!!!

    Congrats on your brother’s wedding, Tarie! My family are big on crying at weddings, airports, funerals etc so I can picture the scene well 🙂

    And congrats on officially becoming a SAG member, Little Willow!

  21. Oh, so very late to the party today… The drooping crepe-paper streamers, the fragments of pinata on the floor: they could be so sad, but they also (strangely) make me feel as if I were here for part of it. 🙂

    Kitty and Piggy very cute, but I’ve gotta say the image of “Bianchi’s Store” just about knocked me over. Did you get the Girl Scout standing on the curb there, with her cookies-order form under her arm and a look of Holy crap, do I have to sell these NOW?!? on her face? Ha!

    (And the penguin soaring and belting out whatever-it-is: gotta love a penguin with dreams!)

    Maxwell Eaton III meets Antoinette Portis and perhaps even Maria van Lieshout in a bar and they go buy Mo Willems a drink.

    That’s gotta be one of the oddest, most esoteric, funniest, most concise, and most scarily accurate reviews I’ve ever read of anything, let alone a book not yet in print!

    Will add my congratulations on the cakewalk win to everyone else’s, Jules. Cracked, me, UP that Publix cupcakes were the winning choice — is that a great “kid moment” or what? And those poems (Kick #6) deserve to be fallen hard for!

    As with many of the musicians you mention here, I’d never heard of Nicole Atkins. And as with just about the same number of the same musicians, coincidentally, I am now crazy about her, too. (From her Wikipedia entry, I see she’s a big fan of David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti — which may interest Eisha — and it doesn’t hurt that she’s a Jersey girl to boot.) Found a fun video from 2007 of Feist performing on Letterman, with an indie-celebrity backup chorus including Ms. Atkins. It’s here, and there’s a description of it and the performers here — together with an anecdote (only in New York!) about running into the white-gowned gang at a bar afterwards.

    So many wonderful kicks from so many wonderful quarters today… But I do want to single out Little Willow for a special toot of the party horn. “Card carrying SAG member” a whole league apart from “eligible for SAG membership,” eh??? Woot!

    A few kicks o’mine:

    * Standing in the kitchen on a Sunday afternoon, making a cup of tea, while from the living room come the unmistakable sounds of an I Love Lucy marathon. (It’s hard to imagine four people with a collectively more memorable sound than Lucy, Ricky, Ethel, and Fred.) Especially punctuated as it is, right on schedule, by The Missus’s gut-busting belly laughs. (It’s hard to imagine a lovelier sound, period.)

    * Mapping out the plan of attack for this year’s edition of my traditional Valentine’s Day present. (Sssshh.)

    * Hellaciously busy week at work, balanced by a very satisfying week (especially Saturday) of writing sessions.

    * I think (The Missus concurs) that Paranormal Activity is the scariest movie in years. And — not to be sneezed at — almost no blood at all.

    * …and 9 — the animation from last year, not the Penelope-Cruz-et-al. musical — is one of the most fascinating. Which sounds like sorta lukewarm praise, now that I see it in print like this. It’s a shame it had to come out when it did — in a year with UP, especially — because it doesn’t seem to have gotten as much widespread attention. What a cool little fable, marvelously imagined and so… so… so strange.

    * A gigantic snowfall in the Northeast. Easy for me to say “How exciting!” when I don’t have to drive in it, shovel it, etc. But my gosh it sounds like this has been a winter straight out of my childhood; I thought we’d seen the last of them years ago.

    * 7-Imp Camp: the idea itself, and the campers who inspired it!

  22. Jules: Thank you. 🙂 I am a fan of exclamation points! I have dance camp credentials. 😉

    Denise: Definitely ask that kid if No One Picks the White Crayon needs representation or collaboration. That’s so adorable. Congrats on the chapter completion, and good luck with those to come. Thanks for the idea. I like that. Here’s mine:

    “That was the best sermon ever!”

    emmaco: Relaxation sounds nice. Thanks!

    JES: Thanks for the woot! Have fun preparing for the holiday. Stay safe when driving in those conditions.

  23. I just knew I’d forgotten a kick: the colors of dinosaurs!

  24. Little Willow’s SAG first line:
    “That was the best sermon ever!”

    Oh, I really like that one. You lucked out. I, obviously, had to backpedal from “Drown the Jews!”* But a pact is a pact, so even though it didn’t make the final cut — that was my first line.

    (*The Inquisition scene from Mel Brooks “History of the World”. Swimming nun #7.)

  25. Denise, yes! Musical chairs with cake. Pretty much. And standing up. …I want to read No One Picks the White Crayon one day, though I bet it’d be challenging to illustrate. Congrats on kick #7, and is The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle good?

    Emmaco, I totally get just wanting to read kicks and being too content and comfy to type your own. Glad you had a good week and, especially, a holiday. Also, I cry just thinking about things like my daughter’s future weddings, should they decide to get married.

    John, yes, the girl scout cracks me up. You know that old lady there? No matter where we move, we keep getting ladies like that as neighbors. Battle-axes. Don’t worry; my neighbor doesn’t read my blog. (Or, if she does, oh well…oops.) The penguin makes me laugh, too.

    Yes, John, I tried to talk the five-year-old into the gourmet cakes, but she’s crazy for cupcakes.

    Thanks for that link, which I will watch later when music isn’t already on, as it is now. Love Feist, too, so this has gotta be good. I’ll put Nicole Atkins on the Mix I Hope You Get Before 2020.

    Is Paranormal Activity already on DVD? Oh boy. I gotta see it, but I’ll probably be scared of the dark for weeks, won’t I? And, John, if you come back and read this, remember the short film, Alma, I sent weeks back and you listed as a kick? Well, guess who it’s spooked big-time — and weeks after the fact, too? My four-year-old. She says she keeps thinking of it and getting scared. Last night, she was practically sobbing over it. Woot! I get the Parent of the Year Award, don’t I? [Slapping my forehead very hard.]

    And I remember Adrienne raving about 9 when it came out (here in her kicks). Must add to the queueueue, too.

    One day, John…we’ll have 7-Imp Camp. And we can watch some I Love Lucy eps after breakfast.

    Oh, and good luck on your Valentine’s Day gift. And thanks for the dinosaur link. Going to show it to my girls now.

  26. Congrats Little Willow!

  27. Woot wooot Little Willow! CONGRATS!

    Love the illustrations this week.

    My kicks this week:

    2. Mudbowl -a touch football game before the superbowl with a group of very fun friends.
    3. Indoor occer game later tonight. (10:15, we’ll see if I make it.)
    4. The SAINTS.
    5. The Martian Child, with Jon Cusack and Amanda Peet, not perfect, but still a good movie.
    6. King Cake overnighted from New Orleans for my office this week, then for a party today.
    7. Crawfish. Yum!

    Sorry not very literary this week, but everything i overshadowed for me by the Saints. New Orleans really needed this.

    Pig can fly and miracles can happen!
    Have a great week!

  28. RM, yeah, it’s pretty great, isn’t it? I didn’t see the game, but reading the news now is exciting! I know you’re extra excited…

  29. jules,

    My damn “s” key sticks. Sorry. Anyway, yes, my phone has been blowing up, its still very unreal, but very cool. My cop is on Canal street, says there’s tons of people out.

    Surreal Growing up I never thought I’d see this happen. : )

  30. I’ll probably go to the wrong branch of the afterlife for saying this, but I did grin at the idea that Alma might have induced nightmares.

    I looked up the Paranormal Activity director online after we saw the film; apparently he was afraid of ghosts his whole life, and made PA, in part, to exorcise himself of that fear. You could have a budding horror-film director in your youngest. After a mere lifetime of terror, of course — but sacrifices must be made! 🙂

  31. “Wrong branch of the afterlife.” Heh. I like that.

  32. p.s. Alma WAS pretty terrifying, especially the little boy on the bike trying in vain to get out of there already.

    I still refuse, to this day, to watch that recent film adaptation of the Bell Witch story. That is a terror particular to Middle Tennessee. I still can’t go into a dark bathroom without thinking of her.

  33. go, lori!! what a wonderful sampling of what you’re doing these days and YES, your animals speak volumes of charm–that penguin is soooo sassy! Jules, your review was spot on. . . now, which agents are reading this blog? We gotta see these little guys in print!

  34. Congrats Little Willow!

    Super congrats Tarie – sounds like you’ve got quite the new sister … and that she knows how lucky she is.

    Jama – I, too, am intrigued by When You Reach Me.

    Jone – Can’t wait to see the pics with the new lens.

    Thanks to all for the snow wishes … seems we get to do it again tomorrow and Wednesday. Definitely wishing that I could do breakfast in the middle of the country.

  35. […] Meet California, Piper, and Athena. (The wee daughters are responsible for the names.) Lori Nichols sent them to me and my girls, which was very kind of her. Look at how Athena there on the right is […]

  36. […] Lori Nichols isn’t new to 7-Imp (she visited back in 2010), but at this 2013 visit she’s well on her way with an agent and a picture book scheduled to […]

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