7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #171: Featuring David Ezra Stein

h1 June 13th, 2010 by jules


One of David Ezra Stein’s fairly recent color studies for Interrupting Chicken

{Mid-Morning Editor’s Note: OOPS, you all! I bet you were wondering where the post was. Chalk it up to a WordPress error. But here I am … finally!}

Really, really observant readers may remember that, back in February of this year, I mentioned today’s featured book, Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein (which, as you can see here, was a big ‘ol hit at BEA). I got a very early copy of it forever ago (one of the unbound, rubber-bandy, advanced kinds), and I immediately fell in love with it. I’m so happy it’s finally been released and I can share some art from it today. (Actually, I’m not entirely clear on the release date; it may be August. Don’t hate me for this.)

This book is very funny; it’ll charm your pants right off (go grab a belt, for crying out loud), and the art is stupendous. That David Ezra Stein always keeps us on our toes, yes? What with his changing styles, always engaging palette, and well-crafted stories, I still say he makes the picture book scene an exciting place lately. And this story has an added extra surprise: It has even more stories embedded in it, since the book is about a little red chicken being read to at night by his father. The chicken has a great deal of difficulty not interrupting the tales. (There are three tales-within-this-tale, and my favorite moment is when Chicken jumps up during Chicken Little to interrupt the tale, “Out jumped a little red chicken, and she said, ‘Don’t panic! It was just an acorn!’”).


“‘All right,’ said Papa. ‘I’ll read one of your favorites. And of course you are not going to interrupt the story tonight, are you?’ ‘Oh no, Papa! I’ll be good.’”
(Click to enlarge.)

Yeah, Chicken just can’t help himself… Don’t you just love the art here? And the stories-within-the-story, not featured here, are of an entirely different style, rendered in a very exaggerated sort of cartoon manner in what I guess you’d call sepia tones, the latter making it all the more colorful and jarring and hysterical when Chicken leaps into the tale to yell things like, “Don’t go in! She’s a witch!” (In the early sketches below, which David sent, you can see a bit of those tales-within-the-tale style, though they’re not in color.)

In the end, the tables get turned, but I won’t give it away.


“‘Then,’ said Papa, yawning, ‘why don’t you tell me a story?’ ‘Me tell a story?’ said the little red chicken. ‘Okay, Papa! Here we go! Um . . .’”
(Click to enlarge.)

Below are what David calls “some ancient sketches (ca. 2004).” He adds, “the book went through numerous revisions to reach the form you see today. Like, maybe thirty re-writes. So, this is skipping a lot of stages. In the beginning, {Chicken} had a human dad. Then, she had her own apartment and took books out of the library. Then, she became more of a kid with a chicken dad of her own.”


INTERRUPTING CHICKEN. Copyright © 2010 by David Ezra Stein. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

* * * * * * *

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). David Ezra Stein! Always! His books are a perma-kick for me. And he’ll always have special honors here at 7-Imp, what with that quiche he baked back in ’08 when he visited.

2). A night off this week, which also involved…

Sunset Boat3). Flourless chocolate cake with raspberry sauce, blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries and Dale Chihuly’s art at twilight at Nashville’s botanical gardens. Aw, man. I listed the chocolate first, didn’t I?

(That’s Sunset Boat, pictured here. Click to see it a bit closer.)

4). I will eternally be kickful for places like this, which a friend and I took advantage of this week, in which your children can make a mess you don’t have to clean up.

5). Sending some gifts out to friends this week. I love to send gifts. Also, I took some of my very indulgent macaroni and cheese (WHICH INVOLVES GOUDA, PEOPLE)—and brownies, of course—to a friend who had a baby, and I got to hold said puddin’ head baby. Also, she gave her baby the same name as my youngest daughter’s, which is sort of a not-oft-used name. Now, we know another Ada.

6). Catching up with a long-distance friend on the phone.

7). My first Southern Festival of Books committee meeting with fellow children’s-lit lovers.

Note: I thought some of you might be interested in this Etsy shop. Matt Hinrichs, the artist/designer/illustrator behind this, contacted me this week, and he says:

LitKids is a project where I print original drawings of classic literature characters atop pages from their own books, so each print is completely unique. I think it’s pretty nifty and hopefully it will catch on. Right now I have Anne of Green Gables, Jo from Little Women, Huckleberry Finn, and Jim Hawkins from Treasure Island, with more to come.

Pretty neat, huh?

What are YOUR kicks this week?





20 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #171: Featuring David Ezra Stein”

  1. David Ezra Stein has me laughing. It reminds me of my kinder classes.
    Jules, Love flourless chocolate cake AND the Chihuly exhibit. He was in Phoenix and I got to see it there when visiting a firend a year ago. I hope he makes to the Oregon Garden one day. His studio was in Tacoma, WA.
    My kicks:
    1. Two days of sun in a row! Finally!
    2. The photo album I putting together for my friend and co-director of our plays, she is retiring after 38 years. I have cried buckets this week.
    3. Poetry Wednesday at the local B & N, poet and friend, Susan Blackaby read from her new children’s poetry book, Nest, Nook and Cranny.
    4. Looking forward: Tuesday the last day of school.,
    5. Thursday: we leave for California, 40 yr HS reunion and while in CA, my great nephew should be born.
    6. I wrote two poems this week. It has been a drought (although I am revising haiku to submit to the Haiku Society of America anthology).
    7. It’s been a good week.
    Have a great one ahead. Traveling not sure I will get to comment next week.


  2. There’s that David Ezra Stein being awesome again.

    Jules, I like to bring a meal to new parents as a sly way to get to hold new babies just as long as I’d like to.

    Jone, Happy last day of school this week!

    My kicks:
    1. One of those gifts Jules sent out this week was to me, and it was a poster that says:
    Danger
    Zombies
    Run
    And that is also signed by JACK GANTOS. He even drew a picture of a zombie holding a book. You’d maybe have to know me to understand why this is a perfect gift, but it is a perfect gift. I am flattening it so as to get it on the wall as soon as possible.
    2. Strawberry season has started.
    3. Plus, my CSA season starts this week.
    4. I had my sabbatical week at work this week, which was fun and productive.
    5. Oh, gosh, how could this even be fifth–it probably should be second–but my godson Lucas ran an 800 meter race at a track meet this week and came in fourth place. Now I do realize that’s not exactly winning, but he just put heart and soul all-out into that run. I was so proud of him.
    6. Come to think of it, I should take a moment to be grateful for working somewhere that lets me leave in the middle of the day to attend such things as school track meets from time-to-time. Neither of Lucas’s parents were able to get out of work to go.
    7. I’m kind of grateful for a rainy day today. I’m glad to get a little enforced break from yard work.


  3. Jules, glad you are here with those amazing chickens and news about a week filled with food, friends, art, and words. Sounds delicious. I mean great. Jone, your week sounds rich, too. I can imagine putting together all those photos would bring on the tears. How cool to hear Susan Blackaby. Hope you have fun at the reunion and maybe even more fun greeting a great-nephew.

    Adrienne, thanks for the tip about bringing meals to the parents. Mmmm, baby head smell. Enjoy the rain and let’s hope it doesn’t overwhelm the strawberry patches.

    I had a good week, except for revisions feeling too creaky.

    1. Booklist cited Borrowed Name as a 2010 Top Ten Biography for Youth!
    2. My essay about writing Borrowed Names appeared in Hunger Mountain, VCFA journal of the arts.
    3. Lots of rain
    4. but there’s some cloistering-in for a major manuscript overhaul
    5. which isn’t fun
    6. but kick #1 is giving me
    7. hope I’ll get through it to make something good.


  4. Hi, all. Before I forget, David says that Chicken hatches on August 10. So, there we go. The official release date from the creator himself.

    Jone, you haven’t had the last day of school yet? Wild. That seems late. But congrats! The photo album sounds fun. You’re ever-so kind to do that. Have a great time on your trip, and travel safely.

    Adrienne, seven more cheers for Lucas. And that you got to be there to see it. I’m always so envious of your job. Plus, one day I want to work WITH you. Eat some strawberries for me.

    Jeannine, good luck with the manuscript revisions. I stared at a blank screen last night and know the challenges of this author-thing now. Big ‘ol congrats on the Booklist news and the essay!


  5. Phew! I was wondering where the Sunday Kicks were. But — I smelled flourless chocolate cake and it led me back here. :)

    Bawk ba-Gawk to DES! Looks like I will need several belts to get through that book.

    That twilight botanical garden thing looks awesome! Aw, new babies. Gouda cheese.

    Have a great time in California, Jone!

    SO happy about Lucas, Adrienne. Mmmmmm, strawberries.

    My kicks:

    1. Read a cool MG novel, Secret Letters From 0 to 10 by Susie Morgenstern. It’s an older title, apparently a much lauded classic in France, recommended by Anne Mazer. Love it (couscous and chocolate bars are involved).

    2. Bluejays sunbathing in the back yard.

    3. Went to a booksigning for Warren Brown’s new book, United Cakes of America (blog post tomorrow).

    4. Our topsy turvy tomato plant is growing!

    5. Exceptional essays/articles in the June issue of VC Hunger Mountain Journal. Tanita’s and Jeannine’s pieces blew me away.

    6. Elizabeth Bluemle’s “Elephant in the Room” article at PW. Wow, just wow.

    7. Longer hours of daylight. Dinner at 8.

    Happy Week, everyone.


  6. I was posting the same time as Jeannine. Had to come back to congratulate her on having BN on the Top 10 Biographies list! Yay!


  7. Jama, thanks for the heads-up on Bluemle’s article. Haven’t seen it yet. And United Cake of America? BRILLIANT title. And, you know, there are many reasons I want to invite myself over to your place, and one of them is all the wild creatures in your back yard.


  8. Jules, I love that boat! And to have chocolate cake and berries to accompany it – what could be better? And just before I went away I saw my niece on skype again and she’s turning out to be a real cute punkin head baby.

    Jone, I hope your colleague likes the photo album you’re doing for her, what a nice idea.

    Adrienne, strawberry season started a couple of weeks ago here, and I pigged out before going on holidays, and when I was away (and on cherries too). Yum, I love summer.

    Congrats on the good news, Jeannine!

    Jama, I’m with you on the joy of longer days.

    Sorry for the length of my kicks, but they cover two weeks, and a holiday in an area of Europe I’ve never been to before!

    1. Our holiday was great! Every train connection was made successfully which is something given the number of countries we crossed. Highlights included a food festival in the gardens of Prague Castle, having dinner with the family of a Hungarian friend in Budapest (and managing to drink the palinkca without choking), having spectacular world heritage sites in Romania to ourselves, seeing nesting storks on power poles and cimneys everywhere, walking through woods that actually have bears, wolves and lynx in them and wandering Vienna in the summer and stumbling across a museum of globes.
    2. We had some lovely summer (ie actually being able to leave the hotel in short sleeves and without a cardigan) weather!
    3. Even the problems on the holiday were resolvable, and included great stories such as how we were locked into a fortified church in Viscri (Transylvania) for over two hours by the forgetful keeper – we managed to attract the attention of some Hungarian tourists who wandered past the bottom of the tower we decided to set up base in, but the old lady declined to finish her siesta early. I can now say those fortified churches were very well fortified. We entertained ourselves by sending text messages to people across the world saying “we are trapped in a tower by a mad old Romanian woman!” (the strangeness of having mobile phone coverage in a 16th tower in a tiny town without paved roads was not lost on me).
    4. I planned my paperback collection well enough that I actually returned with unread books!
    5. Not only did it apparently rain enough to keep all our plants at home alive, the rogue snapdragons in the gravel are doing great and the first geraniums are out!
    6. First load of washing is rumbling away, which makes me feel quite accomplished!


  9. Oh, I do love the title of Interrupting Chicken (let alone the funny premise and the way-awesome art)! You know how you’ve talked about the fluffy-bunny sort of kids’ books, Jules? Featuring chickens in a story, especially the title, seems OTOH a good way to get readers laughing even before they open the book.

    Jules, so glad you had a nice week!

    And man, the week’s food you cite… I mean, I’m eating a brunchish sort of meal while reading, and getting even hungrier. Flourless chocolate cake with berries? And macaroni and cheese with GOUDA?!? That sounds oh-em-gee-worthy….

    Congrats on the new poems, Jone!

    Adrienne, what’s a “CSA season”? (Here in the Deep South, those initials always summon up divisive emotions, heh.)

    Jeannine, your kicks this week remind me of reading poetry aloud the way they say you’re supposed to read it aloud — without pausing at the line breaks unless there’s punctuation. I felt like an otter on a mudslide, with a rewarding splash at the end.

    Your chicken-speak, Jama, made me think of the old(ish) radio serial about a superhero(ish) character named Chicken Man. His show opened with a guy doing that bawk-ba-gawk thing just before the background singers chanted, “He’s everywhere, he’s everywhere!” (TMI, I know.)

    My kicks:

    1. Got a delightful surprise gift in the mail this week from a wonderful friend who, as it happens — just like Jules! — loves to send gifts. Tell ya, that’s the sort of friends to have. Technically the gift was for The Missus and The Pooch, too, but only my name was on the mailing label so it’s mine all mine do you hear MINE bwaa-haha-ha…!

    2. Yesterday was the annual Write Your A** Off Day sponsored by the NY Writers Coalition. This year they sponsored a you-don’t-have-to-be-in-NYC virtual Write-a-Thon; goal for each participant was to write 3000 words on that day. I was skeptical; I’ve sometimes written a lot more than that in a day, and 3K — while pretty ambitious — wouldn’t normally feel overwhelming (not for a whole day’s work, anyhow). But I’ve been in a loooooong drought period and was nervous as heck. Needlessly, as it happened. So, yay me.

    3. I posted about this on Facebook earlier this week, but just re-listened to it and still think it’s great. It’s a 10-minute mashup of two songs which got way overplayed in their respective days, with a third song I think I may have heard maybe once: Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”; Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours”; and Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (!) on the ukelele, I think playing “Wonderful World.”

    4. Good, solid, productively fun week at work.

    5. Guilty pleasures in certain book and movie tastes.

    6-7. Didn’t get to post last week, ’cause we were driving back from New Orleans. So this week I’ll bundle kicks 6-7 together, and just say “New Orleans.” (With big honking sub-kicks for the 10th anniversary, and the dinner with which we celebrated it.)

    Bonus kick: Like Jama, I sorta went “whew!” when I finally saw today’s post in Google Reader. :)


  10. emmaco, your first three kicks completely transported me… I have got to get to Europe during this life!


  11. Greetings to all,

    Chickens rule! Mr. Stein is amazing. Jules, your kick #3 sounds heavenly! Glad you got to take a night off.

    Quick kicks before launching into work today:

    1) Dinner with an old friend from my law school days — somehow we managed to let 5 years go by without seeing each other. Need to work on that.
    2) Going to the Noel Coward musical tribute “A Marvelous Party” last night. It WAS a marvelous party, and the actors were sublime. Noel was such a genius with words.
    3) Catching up with a long distance friend on the phone.
    4) Having lots of work. Despite being a bit stressed, it’s a good thing.
    5) Thanks to fellow kicker JES and his blog post from Friday for introducing me to this incredible French pianist, and particularly for this beautiful video accompanying his piano playing. As someone on JES’ blog said, this may be the sexiest music video ever made. I can’t stop watching it:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4NZdggNUvq0&feature=player_embedded

    6) Somewhat on the same subject, I was thrilled to find out that the Silent Film Festival in S.F. in July will feature the restored version of “Metropolis”. Can’t wait to see that!
    7) Summer fruit.

    Have a happy week, everyone.


  12. Emmaco, WOW! I love your church story. It needs to be a short story. And I love how you top off your thrilling, exciting, exotic kicks, which made my head spin with jealousy, with something as prosaic as laundry! I WANNA SEE STORKS ONE DAY!

    John and Jama, so sorry the post was late. It was lined up to post, yet the draft was still sitting at the top (for some reason?), so WordPress got confused and didn’t even publish it.

    John, so glad New Orleans was great! I thought of you all and was hoping you were having a great time. And congrats on your 3,000 words!

    Jill (and John), love that video and song. Love love love. Thank you.


  13. JES, travelling around Europe is great, and much easier than the Australia (and I’d assume the US) because even the big countries are small! And generally the roads are good (rural Romania the main exception) and the trains fantastic.

    Jules, I underpacked for the holiday so doing the washing was a welcome chore :) I don’t want to make you more jealous but there were even CUTE STORK BABIES!


  14. What a fun book the Interrupting Chicken looks like! Another on the must-acquire list.

    Hooray for your night off Jules, and that chocolate cake sounds divine.

    Hooray for Jeannine too!

    Jone, I think I am now sun-sick the past two days have been so gorgeous here. This weather makes me swoon. Have a great time at your reunion!

    Adrienne – lucky Lucas to have such an awesome godmother! I bet he was thrilled you got to see him race.

    Jama – bluejays and tomato plants, such great signs of summer.

    Emmaco – you have the most amazing life! Trapped in a fortified church tower? So very cool!
    (Especially since you got out.)

    JES – Congrats on the 10th anniversary and yay to celebrating in New Orleans! I’m counting down the days til I get to go.

    Jill – Noel Coward and dinner with an old friend – so very nice. I lurv Noel Coward. Thanks to you and JES for the video – agree it is so very sexy, and haunting.

    My kicks this week:
    1. Sun this weekend! After what has felt like a month of rain, such a relief to see the sun again.
    2. A fun, but sad, but fun going away party on Friday for a colleague who is moving cross-country.
    3.Losing a motion, which led to winning the trial. Very fun.
    4. Taking an afternoon break from work to run around the waterfront, which cleared my thoughts. Need to remember to do that more often.
    5. Cooking with seitan for the first time, made a mock-chicken salad, which turned out well.
    6. Farmer’s Markets.
    7. Cheyenne, who just keeps getting better and better.

    Have a great week everyone!


  15. Jill, like Jules, you have a knack for kicking about movies which I’ve also liked (or soon will, once I get your recommendation). So I’m delighted how much you’ve taken to the “Where Is My Mind?” video — feels like I’ve managed to pay a little back!

    Rachel: “cooking with seitan”?!? Is brimstone one of the ingredients he insists on? :)


  16. My main computer freaked out on Saturday, and my backup froze on Sunday. I must have loaded this page three times and never gotten past the first (hilarious) image! So, quickly now, a fast list of kicks:

    1) The Tonys, for bringing Broadway into my home every year
    2) Being Daisy
    3) Becoming Tinker Bell
    4) Not being afraid of Bee Stings
    5) Graduation (I’m so proud of my young friends!)
    6) Responding calmly and professionally to abusive language and unprofessional behavior
    7) Saying no when no needs to be said


  17. JES, CSA is Community Supported Agriculture, so a farmer brings me a box of veggies each week. So very good. :)


  18. STORK BABIES!

    Rachel, so glad your Cheyenne is still doing well. Also: I am curious, too, to know what seitan is.

    Little Willow, I WISH I COULD SEE YOU BECOME TINKER BELL! Good for kick #6. Dang, that’s hard.

    Adrienne, we’re considering splitting a CSA membership with our mother-in-law. Don’t know if it’ll happen, but it’s been mentioned.


  19. Ha! Good one JES!

    Jules, here is a decent definition: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wheat_gluten_(food)

    When I was living in L.A. it was a lot easier to get pre-made mock-meat at so many different places, especially the deli at one of grocery stores in West Hollywood (mmmm mock-duck!). Portland has a lot of vegetarian food, but nowhere near as much as L.A., so I am trying to get better at making my own.

    Have a great time away!


  20. [...] it’s the inimitable Stein. (I still think a Caldecott is in that man’s future. Think this could be his year? Who knows, but I digress.) So, yes, I did a double-take when I saw this new illustrated title from [...]


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