7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #170 (In Which Jules Cheats):
Featuring Philip C. and Erin E. Stead

h1 June 6th, 2010 by jules

“Amos had a lot to do at the zoo, but he always made time to visit his good friends.”
(Click image to enlarge.)

Yes, I’m cheating this morning. Usually, on the first Sunday of each month, I feature the work of a student illustrator or an illustrator otherwise new to the field. Well, I am doing that today, featuring the debut illustrated title from Erin E. Stead, A Sick Day for Amos McGee (Roaring Brook, May 2010), written by her husband Philip C. Stead. But I’m totally cheating, because I featured Erin—in a post in which she talked about creating the artwork for this title—back in July of 2009. But, hey! It’s my blog, and I can do what I want, right? I flippin’ adore this book, so I invited Erin and Philip over again (Philip also visited 7-Imp in ’09) to talk a bit more about the book and show some more artwork, etc.

This is one of my very favorite picture books from 2010, as in: Move over, Jeff Newman. You have a bit of competition. (I love love love The Boys, Jeff’s 2010 title.) Erin tells us a bit below about the plot, and I want to get right to that. But suffice it to say that the book’s been met with all kinds of fabulous (well-deserved) reviews, including a starred review from Kirkus: “Erin E. Stead’s beautifully wrought woodblock prints and pencil work create almost painfully expressive characters…This gentle, ultimately warm story acknowledges the care and reciprocity behind all good friendships.” Betsy Bird also gave it one of her detailed, thoughtful reviews (and adored it), which I promise you exists, but since her blog has moved, I’m having trouble accessing that link.

Anyway. I love Erin’s artwork. (Visit her blog to see even more.) I love Philip’s artwork, too. And I love Philip’s writing. This book is a real charmer. Let’s get right to Erin so that this post won’t be 7,777 yards long. I thank her and Philip for sharing (again) this morning:

* * * * * * *

Philip and I are very happy to be back at Seven Impossible Things. We were both here last summer -– Phil first for his writing and illustration and then me, Erin. Even though Phil is the writer in the family, for the most part today you’ll be hearing from me. We’re stopping by to talk a little bit about our new book, A Sick Day for Amos McGee. I first mentioned this book right here on this very blog last July, and it’s finally hitting the shelves. The story is about Amos McGee, {pictured left} in the striped pajamas, who is a zookeeper. He works very hard every day and loves his animal friends (a tortoise, penguin, elephant, rhinoceros, and an owl) dearly.

Amos McGee took a little over a year to make. When I started the art for the book, we were living in Brooklyn, New York. Since Amos works at the City Zoo, and since we were living in the big city, I thought we should take a field trip. So, off to the Central Park Zoo we went.

I took a lot of pictures that day, but I ended up barely using them. It was more important that I just looked around. I spent a lot of time with the penguins.

After the field trip, it was work as usual. Here are some examples of that work for the book. You’ll have to excuse the images -– they are missing the type and are just the scans from my home. The real book looks a little more polished.

…”and, at sunset, read stories to the owl (who was afraid of the dark).”
(Click to enlarge.)

(Click to enlarge.)

“Hooray! My good friends are here!”
(Click to enlarge.)

“‘I’m beginning to feel much better, thank you,’ said Amos to his friends. He swung his legs out of bed. ‘Perhaps we’ll share a pot of tea.'”
(Click to enlarge.)

We now live in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We both started out in Michigan. Two years ago, we came back for what was supposed to be three weeks. But here we are still, working on our third year. We live and work in a 100-year-old barn across the street from a train station.

Here are a few pictures of our workspace.

Phil’s desk is on the left; mine is on the right.

My desk.

Phil’s desk.

Some studio friends. The pig with the ears is mine. The bear on the left is Phil’s. The bear’s name is Frederick, and he stars in Phil’s next book, which will be out Spring 2011, Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat.

A fun fact about this picture: I carved the stamp used to make the wallpaper pattern in the background of this collage. It’s very convenient to have a trustworthy studiomate.

Philip is a philatelist (vocabulary word for the day) and has an extensive collection of boat stamps. He has started a blog in anticipation of the release of Jonathan wherein he is putting up a new boat stamp from around the world everyday. You can see it at philipstead.blogspot.com.

That’s all for now. Thanks again for having us stop by!

A SICK DAY FOR AMOS MCGEE. Copyright © 2010 by Philip C. Stead. Illustrations © 2010 by Erin E. Stead. Published by Roaring Brook. All images here reproduced with permission of Erin and Philip Stead. All rights reserved.

* * * * * * *

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. New folks are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1). Erin and Phil’s creative minds.

2). Hanging out with my girls this week. Lots of kid birthday parties that ranged from the gluten-free-cupcake kind to the Sam’s-colas-with-Cheetos kind. Never boring.

3). I finally purchased the Dave Rawlings Machine CD, which is most excellent and which I think came out at the end of last year. And I purchased it STRAIGHT FROM MY NEW iPOD, which was scarily easy. (I can see my credit card company smiling.)

4). Discovering lots of new music, thanks to mixes my friends have made me. I needed new music in my life.

5). I got to see my aunt and uncle (all the way from Maine) this week.

6). I got to see my brother and his family this week.

7). I got to see a good friend and catch one of the Nashville Public Library’s kickin’ story times, just like the old days.

BONUS: “Big Mama’s Door” by Alvin Youngblood Hart. If you go here, scroll down, and click on the song, you can hear a bit of it.

What are YOUR kicks this week? YOU ALL, I am ever-so behind on blog-reading, what with this writing I’m doing this year. I am a workaholic to begin with, and now I’m trying to balance this new project in there. So, tell me how you are, especially since I’m so behind, if anyone is so inclined to come visit today.

29 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #170 (In Which Jules Cheats):
Featuring Philip C. and Erin E. Stead”

  1. Nifty art. As usual, the workspace shots kill me — I need to build an entire house around a creative space like that, even if it just sits there looking cool.


    1) Vivaldi…seriously, where have you been all my life?
    2) Two-year-old (ok, 3 in August) Ezra pedaled his bike for the first time today, shaky and slow but oh-so-proud (Dad too).
    3) LOTR…our multi-week project to read the entire series aloud as a bed-time story was finally completed last week. The girls LOVED it, and it was so fun to introduce them to it…also a total letdown to attempt to read anything else this week, as it all seemed lame in comparison.
    4) 40th b-day party for a close friend, big party, out-of-town guests, and a great band
    5) I’m proud of my wife for getting outside her comfort zone and going to a mountain biking camp this weekend.
    6) Milagro Beanfield War, both the book and movie…love ’em.
    7) A humble milestone…my blog turned 7 last week. Doing *anything* for seven years seems like an accomplishment of sorts.

  2. Oh, I just love the mood of “A Sick Day for Amos McGee”: faded colors, the slump of his shoulders in that green suit and McGee reading sunset stories to the owl who’s afraid of the dark. Touching and amusing. Erin & Phil (and Jules), thanks for sharing.

    Jules — glad visiting family and parties kept you happy company this week.

    Jeremy — yes! I want workspace in a 100-year-old barn too.

    SIX kicks from me today (because it’s June 6th.)

    1. A MEMORY that makes me laugh – now — of a horrible ‘first date’ in college: Cute guy takes me to see a new horror movie, “The Omen”. Film opens with bold subtitles JUNE 6, 6:00am. I whisper to him, “That’s my birthday.” Then, story of a devil-child unfolds onscreen and scares the crap out of everyone in the theater — including my date, who drives me, fast, straight back to my dorm after the film and never asks me out again. I call Mom, who informs me I was born around 8:30pm. “Why are you asking?” “Nevermind.”

    2. A couple good ole Public Broadcasting, Sesame Street celebrations of the Number 6:
    “Queen of 6” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHDgppc3Sig
    “The Count ‘Watches 6 Feet Under’ ” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qKheTcjl1s

    3. Saw “Micmacs” directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (who did the equally quirky-but-charming Amelie.) I recommend it to those who enjoyed “The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnasus”, “Brazil” and the aforementioned “Amelie”. Visually captivating, an odd menagerie of characters, whimsical art direction and sweetness underneath it all. But odd. (Which I consider a positive, but…)

    4. Writing under headphones at a café, oblivious to restaurant noise but feeling the company of others studying and talking and reading around me.

    5. the color dove grey, which is now my favorite. (I switch fave color on this day every year.)

    6. the number 6.

    Have a wonderful, wonderful week everyone.

  3. Just looking at those pictures, I think it could be one of my favorites, too!

  4. Oh, thanks for featuring Erin and Phil today! I love elephants and penguins and striped pajamas. Plus, there’s Frederick and a pig with ears. Such a cool barn studio. *sigh*

    Glad you had some good times with family and friends and are enjoying some new music, Jules. 🙂

    Happy Blog Birthday, Jeremy! The lucky 7!! That’s indeed a cool milestone to celebrate.

    And Denise, 6, 6, 6! Your birthday? Have a great one! Love The Omen story. Thanks for recommending “Mismac.” Must see. I’m all Francais this summer :).

    In honor of Denise, I’m doing 6 kicks, too:

    1. Popcorn.
    2. Lobster Rolls.
    3. Purely Decadent Chocolate Brownie Almond ice cream (made with coconut milk).
    4. Boxcar and Box Lunch (land tortoises/box turtles) appearing again in the back yard.
    5. Finally saw “Blind Side” and “Precious.”
    6. Reading Paris books. C’est la vie! Oo-lah-lah, etc.

    Happy June 6th!

  5. Erin has developed an interesting and original way of using wookblock prints! The soft colors and light pencil drawings are a beautiful combination. I can’t wait to see this book in person!

    I’d like to hear more about Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat. It says out spring 2010- but that’s right now? And I went to Erin’s blog- is there a website? I couldn’t find one…

    1. I have one big kick that I’m happy about this week- I finished the drawings for my picture book dummy!
    2. I’ve been working on promoting the Visual Storytellers Studio site http://vstorytellersstudio.blogspot.com/ We are getting ready to send out postcards. And I’m starting to post interviews with members- http://vsschat2.blogspot.com/
    3. I read an interesting book by pianist Lang Lang and David Ritz- Journey of a Thousand Miles: My Story
    4. Yummy cherries!
    5. I’m going to buy some lupines for my garden today 🙂
    6. Went on a beautiful hike yesterday.
    7. My darling dog is curled up sleeping with his stuffed animal duck between his paws- awwwww!

  6. Ooh so many great kicks alread. I love the artwork of Erin and Phil’s story. Will be looking for it.
    Jules, isn’t it great to see aunts and uncles?
    Jeremy, Ahh, Vivaldi, played it in high school and used it for wedding music. The best!
    Denise, is 6 your lucky number or a birthday? Have a great day. I have an image of a headphone person sitting at a cafe.
    Jama, wasn’t the Blindside great? Haven’t seen Precious yet.
    Jill, amen to cherrie. We bought our first bag yesterday!
    My kicks:
    1 Last weekend. In New Jersey with my brother, his wife, my husband and my aunt. A belated birthday celebration and to check on her health.
    Her body will give out before her mind I am sure.
    2. The weather last weekend in NJ. Our weather has been SO wet! It was a great change.
    3. The sun actally appeared yesterday and now we are back to rain.
    4.The 48 HRC. I am actually tweeting and blogging about it this year.
    5. “You’re jokin’ me, right?” by the kinder student when I showed the illustratation of the 4 cops holding traffic for the duckings in Make Way for Ducklings. It was the way he said it.
    6. Eleven days until we head to California for my 40 year high school reunion.
    7. Finding out that someone from my past is doing well in his cancer treatment,
    Have a great week.

  7. Jeremy, happy anniversary to your wonderful blog, hope your wife has a blast, and congrats on LOTR. I’m so glad the girls loved it.

    Denise, happy birthday! And I love your tradition of switching colors. I also loved your birthday story. And you know I’m gonna get get that movie, right? If you recommend it, I will.

    Jeff, I bet you’d love it. This and The Boys — it doesn’t get better.

    Jama, may I invite myself over for some of that ice cream? Say hello to the tortoise and turtle for me.

    Jill, I will try to remember to ask Phil about the new book and get back to you. I’d love to see it, too. …Congrats on your kick #1 milestone! And the site looks wonderful. Squee! Squee!

    Jone, I love that Make Way for Ducklings kid. I do. Hope the sun comes back for you and that you get to read a lot this weekend.

  8. Jill, Erin says: Oops. She meant that Jonathan will be out in Spring 2011, not ’10. I just edited the post to fix that. Hope that helps! Can’t wait to see that book….

  9. Happy Summer, everyone,

    Who could resist the softness and gentleness of Erin’s illustrations? Her book with Phil looks wonderful. And what a cool workspace!

    Jules, thanks for the music links — I will check them out later today. Going to see Dave Eggers at an event this afternoon, so in my usual rush. As you know, I can certainly relate to your busyness lately, but I hope you find some balance this week.

    Jeremy, happy 7 years of blogging! And congrats to little Ezra for his bicycling accomplishments! How sweet that must have been to see.

    Denise, loved your kicks, esp. the Omen story. Happy B-day!

    Jama, your kicks made me really hungry. Yum.

    Jill, congrats on finishing your drawings! Your dog sounds adorable.

    Jone, enjoy your reunion in my state — what part of CA are you visiting?

    My kicks:
    1) My trip to Monterey/Carmel last weekend — the ocean, lovely weather, and good times with family and my boyfriend Bob. And I got to feed the squirrels (don’t tell the Park Ranger).
    2) Having lots of work — although it’s crazy right now, I’m grateful to be busy.
    3) Discovering a new jewelry-making technique that I can’t wait to try.
    4) My Mom’s decadent chocolate cake.
    5) Catching up with an old friend by phone.
    6) Getting the new Robert Walser book “Microscripts” (translated by Rachel’s brilliant friend, Susan Bernofsky). Such a beautiful publication.
    7) This blog, which Eisha links to at her blog (thanks, Eisha!). This particular post made me laugh for a long time (Jules: check out the bird cartoon in particular — my early morning devils are back, so I loved this one!). http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010_05_01_archive.html

    Have a sunny week, all!

  10. Two clarifications:

    Yep, my b-day, which I guess is best expressed as 6/6/8:30.

    Movie warning: Micmacs pits an injured man and his misfit friends against two evil arms dealers whose businesses face each other. (Set-up reminded me of The 3 Bad Farmers in-a-row in The Fantastic Mr. Fox. ) Consequently, the film has violent scenes — done in deadpan funny ways. Still, NOT for kids. Movie hits on several cylinders and misses on a few others — a B to B- on Denise’s scale — but still fun.

    Lots of great kicks this morning (as always.)

    Thanks for the Birthday wishes everyone. – DD

  11. Jill, yes, that blog is hysterical. I need to read it more often. …You’ll have to tell me about your new jewelry-making technique next time we talk. So glad you had a good trip — and good chocolate cake.

    Denise, warning heeded. Thanks! Happy birthday! Party on…

  12. Jill, I grew up in Simi Valley, Ca part of Ventura County and near the San Fernando Valley.

  13. My kicks for the past week:
    1) Hearing from family and friends who watched my episode of Unusual Suspects. I was really touched that some people made a point to watch it. 🙂 In case any of you are interested, it reairs today on Investigation Discovery (ID) at 7 PM, but some feeds run it at 4 PM, so check your local listings!
    2) We started rehearsing for one of the shows, and it’s really going well. The director’s great; I love working with her. The other two actresses are hitting this piece as full-force go-for-it as I am, and we’re having a blast.
    3) Tonight will be the first blocking rehearsal for another show. I’m looking forward to meeting the actors who weren’t there at the table read, and getting to know everyone in the cast and crew.
    Did you notice how I said “another show” instead of “the other show”? That’s because now I’m involved in three shows, not two…
    5) I’ve been cast as Tinker Bell in a new musical adaptation of Peter Pan. The writer (book & lyrics)/director saw me in show last month, and when he unexpectedly had to replace the actress playing Tink, he contacted me. Yesterday. The show is in less than two weeks and will have only two performances as a test run for this new show. Anyone who knows me knows that Tink is one of my favorite fictional characters of all time. 🙂
    6) Going for it.
    7) Taking care of myself.

    This is a slight-fly-by posting. I shall catch up on everyone’s antics (Jules, you aren’t a cheater) later this week or next Sunday. 🙂

  14. 1. Kicked off BRUSH UP YOUR SHAKESPEARE MONTH with a bang – thus far, 7 posts on Hamlet, 5 on The Tempest and a few others as well. Eep!

    2. Got some terrific comments on some of those Shakespeare posts, which made me feel good.

    3. Saw Letters to Juliet (again) this week – still in love with the movie.

    4. Finished two more Jane poems this week. It is the beginning of the end for the drafting of this project!

    5. Speaking of Jane, I’ve got a couple of research projects involving experts going on now. Very fun, and really interesting (to me, anyhow).

    6. Older daughter is scheduled to take her driving test this Friday – eep again!

  15. Jone, I didn’t know that you grew up here in CA. My brother lives in So. Cal (in Playa Del Rey), and I live in N. CA. Have a great time!

    LW, WOO HOO! Just finished watching Unusual Suspects, and caught at least part of your role (I missed the first 20 minutes). Great job! I was clapping and wooting when I figured out who you were. Such fun. Thanks for telling us about the replay, and congrats on Tinker Bell and all of your successes!

  16. Little Willow, congrats on the shows (plural!) and Tink and (again) on Unusual Suspects. I wish I got that channel!

    Kelly, the beginning of the end already? Wow. Can’t wait to read it. Good luck to your daughter!

  17. Oh, such lovely kicks, I noticed that one of my favorite words, chocolate, was mentioned often!

    And Jules thank you for the Natalie Merchant recommendation. Even the packaging is gorgeous.


    *watching a colleague imputing the fall catalogs and coming to the page with her debut novel on it! What a smile ~ http://vikkivansickle.wordpress.com/2010/05/31/attention-all-book-buyers/ *and its a beautiful book.

    *watching my partner present her favorites for the summer to a gathering of customers. She is so enthusiastic that even though I’ve read them I want to read them all over again.

    *burnt the grilled cheese sandwiches again while reading THE BEASTLY BRIDE but at least they didn’t catch on fire!

    ***White Chocolate and berry scone***

    *Went to Niagara-on-the-Lake and into deep relaxation mode.

    *While sitting by the lake writing letters was told by a passing couple that I was practicing a lost art!

    *visiting the Butterfly Conservatory and being surrounded with the magical fluttering creatures.
    (another Daisy Dawson moment!)

    Have a great week everyone!

  18. Such lovely illustartions, especially the animals having a cup of tea with him! Incredibly jealous of that gorgeous living and workspace in the barn – awesome.

    Congrats Jeremy on your blogoversary!
    Happy Birthday Denise!
    What a great week Jules!
    Jone, have a great trip!
    Jama – Boxcar and Box Lunch sound like such cool visitors.
    Jill B – love the image of your dog and his duck!
    Jill, glad you had a grat trip, jealous of the chocolate cake. Let me know how you like the book, I’m sure I should pick up a copy soon too.
    LW – congrats congrats congrats! What’s the episode name of Unusual Suspects so I can look for another repeat?
    Kelly – hooray for finished poems, and good luck to your daughter.
    Cath – the butterfly conservatory sounds wonderful.

    My kicks are somewhat flyby tonight, been a long and packed day/week.

    1. Cheyenne has all her stitches out and is doing great, to the extent that she is getting feisty again. So good to see. I guess she really didn’t need that darn bad toe after all. : )
    2. A cheer up visit from Caloi, it was nice to see the pups together again.
    3. Running 8.5 miles last Monday. Means I should be able to do that half-marathon in July.
    4,5, and 6 – a drenching adventure with my friend Jeff this morning – Farmer’s Market in the rain, then to a favorite breakfast spot to dry out, then shopping on Sauvie Island for more fresh produce,
    7. Deeply engrossed with The Girl Who Played With Fire right now. In fact, off to read some more before bed.

    Have a great week everyone!

  19. I simply do not understand how two people can work all the time in the same space. But evidently it’s magic to these two. Wow!

    My kicks:

    1. Am in Scotland. (That should be kicks 1-19 actually!)
    2. Been to tea, brunch, lunches, and dinners with friends.
    3. Wrote 6,000+ words on a novel called Snow in Summer last week. (But feel it needs sooooo much work still.)
    4. Going antiquing with a friend in a few minutes. Should I bring a chequebook, or not?
    5.Am hatching some new picture books. Sold one.
    6. Watching a bit of British telly. Yeah–BBC straight to the vein.
    7. Yes there has been rain and sun and rainbows and sun and rain and–have I mentioned sun? Sometimes within the same hour here.


  20. Cath, yes! Letter-writing is, indeed, a dying art. Kudos to you for keeping it up. Now, really, Cath: I had to stop on white chocolate and berry scone and re-read. I love white chocolate somethin’ fierce, and I love scones, and I’ve NEVER had a white chocolate one. And yay for your Daisy Dawson moments!

    Rachel, I miss reading novels. It’ll be a while before I can, what with this writing I’m doing this year and the rest of life. So glad Cheyenne is doing great, and kicks 4-6 sound very fun.

    Jane, Scotland sounds lovely. Did you break the bank on antiquing? Have some tea for me.

  21. Jill: Wow. Thank you for watching. I’m truly touched. Thank you for tuning in! 🙂

    Jules: Thank you! 🙂 Yay for your visits with family and friends. Rock the writing.

    Jane: Say hello to Nessie and to the lovely castles there for me, please, and tell them that I’ll see them someday!

    Cath: Oh, how lovely that must have been, with the butterflies flittering all around. Points for Daisy Dawson reference.


  22. Happy blogiversary, Jeremy!

    Happy birthday, Denise!

    Rachel: The Killer Nearby. It was previously titled Murder in Suburbia.

  23. Bought a birthday prezzie for fantasy writer Elizabeth Ewing at the antique store, but nothing else.

    And Nessie is far far frae here. Up in the Highlands. (I am in Fife.) You will have to get there on your own.

    But sun has finally shown through again. Time to take a walk.


  24. […] Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast » Blog Archive » 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #170 (In Which Jules C…. […]

  25. […] you think the winner will be one of these books? Of course, the Steads are too modest to include their own wonderful book. Anyway. I love that post of […]

  26. […] here’s the June-2010 visit in which she and her author/illustrator husband, Philip, visit and discuss the […]

  27. What a fabulous post! And I love reading about their mindset before the big award – which I agree Amos totally deserved! I also enjoyed seeing their office space – so quietly creative. 🙂 e

  28. […] most eager to hear the Caldecott winner, and I was so thrilled it was Erin and Philip Steads’ A Sick Day for Amos McGee. Remember on another kickin’ Sunday way back in 2009 (version #122), dear kickers, when Erin […]

  29. […] raffreddore di Amos Perbacco”, sempre Babalibri, scritto col marito Philip. A proposito, ecco cosa dice di loro l’impareggiabile Julie Danielson), con qualche immagine in cui è all’opera. E il suo […]

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