7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #176: Featuring Ruth Paul

h1 July 18th, 2010 by jules

“They squeal, they squirm, they bellow and bark …
they don’t seem to like being fed to a shark.”

(Click to enlarge.)

I was fortunate enough recently to get a copy from Scholastic New Zealand of author/illustrator Ruth Paul’s latest picture book title, Two Little Pirates (April 2010). Now, none of her titles have made it to the States yet, so I hadn’t heard of her books, but when I saw this title, I was immediately smitten with her style. As you can see from the illustrations she’s sharing with us today during her 7-Imp visit, she’s got a rich, warm palette, and her comforting, curvy lines pull one in. Two Little Pirates tells the story of a couple of imaginative boys and the raucous way in which they awaken their Mom—I mean, Mum—and Dad — as if pirates attacking a ship: “The dawn slips in on a dragonfly’s wing, in through a porthole to wake up the King, and in through the misty remains of the night, come two little pirates preparing to fight.” The illustrations, rendered in watercolor and colored pencil, are full of movement, playful perspectives, and expressive characters — especially poor Mom and Dad, awake way sooner than they wanted to be.

I say all the time here at 7-Imp that I love to shine the spotlight on international illustrators, and I really do. I especially enjoy the opportunity to introduce readers to folks not otherwise published here in the States. Here’s Ruth to tell us a bit about her work — and, incidentally, her wonderful environmentally-friendly home…

* * * * * * *

Ruth: No one in your country will have seen my work, apart from some lovely people from the Mazza Collection at the University of Findlay, Ohio {Ed. Note: Hubba whoa! I want to see that}, who have purchased some of my original illustrations. Three of my books—The Animal Undie Ball, Superpotamus, and Two Little Pirates—are selling through Scholastic Canada now, so I’ve made it to that side of the world but not across the border. Yet.

“They jump, they spin, they roar and they whack.
They holler and hoot as they launch their attack.”

“The pirates laugh at their doolally rants,
but the King catches one by the seat of his pants!
On the toe of the other the Queen takes a grip,
and they dangle them both from the side of the ship.”

When I had my first son ten years ago, I started writing my own stories to illustrate — not because having children inspired the stories, but because I could work from home with hours that were family-friendly. I’ve completed five books in that time, and I’m about to illustrate another for release next year. It’s hard to make a living out of picture books in a country with as small a population as New Zealand. Our initial print run for most picture books is 3,000 copies or less, and royalty advances are only sometimes offered, so the standard of practitioners can vary enormously. To make a book financially viable, you usually need to have numerous print runs within New Zealand or sell overseas. Our immediate partner market is Australia, and most of my books are simultaneously published there. The Animal Undie Ball, a rhyming story about why animals don’t wear underwear, is now being translated and published in Korea. I really wish I had the skills to read it in Korean!

(My biggest kick: being sent photos like this of preschool kids performing The Animal Undie Ball, a fabulous reminder of why we make children’s stories and perfect for putting artistic angst in its place.)

I usually work from a studio on my farm in Makara, Wellington, which has an old wood-fired cooker for heat and currently has a dead sheep hanging in the bathroom. (Okay, too much information.) We live in a straw-bale house, in the middle of a huge paddock, with no mains electricity. Instead we have solar panels and water wheels. And internet. At the moment, however, I have a fantastic job assisting with costume illustration on The Hobbit movie, thanks to local-boy Peter Jackson bringing Hollywood to my home town. It’s an honour to have the work. Weird having to get out of my pyjamas before lunchtime, though.

I always write a story first, then sketch it out second. I do all the normal stuff, thumbnail, scribble for ages, then refine. I have never felt that I had a “style,” but when I look back at previous work, I guess I have developed one after all. I’m working on a story at the moment about a time when I was little and thought I had no personality. I knew everyone else had one, but I couldn’t see or imagine mine. I guess style is like that.

{Here is} one unpublished illustration from a story I have been mucking around with about Mother’s Day. You can see I’m trying to restrain my colour palette. I think it works for this story:

* * *

Many thanks to Ruth for stopping by. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that I feel sure that she would be very willing to talk to any American publishers or agents in the U.S. about stories-to-come. Ahem. Yes, I’m trying to play matchmaker here. I do that a lot, don’t I?

Illustrations used with permission of Ruth Paul. 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 * * *

My one big kick this week—though I had a good time hanging out with friends, including being happy hostess to one over for a yummy ‘ol carb-heavy dinner, topped off with chocolate fudge pie—is art:

Illustrator Jody Hewgill, who visited 7-Imp in 2008, sent that to me this week. It’s an Earth Day 2010 poster she was commissioned to do for the State Department. Here is a great blog post at her site about the project. (At the very least, go see THE CHIPMUNK PHOTO, but you’ll also get to see the painting larger and in more detail, get to read all about her research for the poster, and get to see a rough sketch of it.)

I love this poster. If I wouldn’t wrinkle it by doing so, I’d hug it tight.

* * *

NOTE: Absolutely do not miss the blog, Ripple, created by illustrator Kelly Light. Kelly writes:

After the oil spill in the Gulf, I sat and watched the footage of the oil-covered animals. I saw hard to look at images of pelicans, sea turtles, dolphins, and so many more injured by the oil spill. I was completely stunned by what I saw. I was so upset that I just sat in my studio, pencil in hand, feeling helpless.

As illustrators for children, we draw so much inspiration from animals. It’s not about the politics, it’s not about the corporation, it’s about the animals. So I took my pencil and doodled a few sketch-cards and put them on my blog to sell. I wanted to benefit the people who were already down in the Gulf cleaning the animals. My cards sold, and soon so many of my kidlit illustrator friends were chiming in to help that I started Ripple. It’s a blog that posts sketch-cards donated by the artist as an incentive for people to donate directly to one of two non-profits.

This is meant to be about small acts. The artists give a small piece of art. The donors give a small donation. With so many people helping in this way, our small acts can joing together to make a very big difference. Together, we don’t have to feel helpless; together we can do more than we could alone…

I want to make July “The Great American Illustrator Month.” With a higher profile, more artists, and more awareness, we can truly make a huge ripple in the oil soaked waters of the Gulf. So far Mo Willems, Jarrett Krosoczka, Dan Santat, Tom Warburton, Stephen Silver, Melissa Sweet, Bob Boyle and more have given a sketch and caused a ripple in the oil-soaked waters of the Gulf.

The two non-profits Kelly mentions are here and here. Thanks to Kelly for pointing us towards the site.

* * * * * * *

What are YOUR kicks this week?

22 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #176: Featuring Ruth Paul”

  1. Jules, lovely job at matchmaking, I hope there will be a successful union soon. And I’m only a tad jealous of your earth day poster.

    *One of my first kicks is a luscious nap on a sultry afternoon with the wind blowing in the window and the sound of the waves on the beach. The downside of that one is I can’t sleep now.

    *Getting to spend an extra day at the cottage in perfect solitude.

    *Driving down to the city at dawn after a swim through the mist.

    *Sitting by the Oxtongue rapids and devouring a carmel-chocolate brownie from Henrietta’s Bakery

    *Rereading A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly and enjoying it just as much as the first time.

    *Training new staff for the store. Each new person adds their own character to the atmosphere of the place.

    *Sitting in the evening at my desk surrounded by books deciding which one to recommend on the blog. Will it be The Enchanter’s Daughter, Little Beaver and the Echo, The Sweet Life in Paris…

    ***and an extra kick of booking a trip to Scotland for September! If anyone has a recommendation for a place to stay in Pitlochry and St. Andrews I’d be grateful.

  2. Good morning! I love Ruth Paul’s work. There are so many good books in the world. The King’s Bubbles reminds me of King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub by Audrey Wood. The Earth Day poster is exquisite, will check out the sites Kelly mentioned.
    Oh Jules, chocolate fudge pie? Yum!
    My kicks:
    Read Bamboo People in one day and loved it! I’ll be be blogging about it on Wednesday for Who’s Reading What Wednesday.
    1.The weather has been gorgeous.
    2.Got to host my writing group, a last minute deal as the person whose house we normally go to had just returned from a trip and it was too much. Nice to be able to do that during summer as we could sit outside. We had a hummingbird critique us.
    3. Time to write.
    4. Leaving today for the annual book club summer meeting at the coast.
    5. Time to read.
    Have a great week.

  3. Jone, I’d love to attend your book club or writing group. Enjoy that weather, and have fun reading and writing. The coast sounds wonderful right about now.

  4. Jules, thank you for featuring illustrators from other countries. =D

    OMG, I want to go to the Mazza Museum!

    OMG, Ruth Paul is working on The Hobbit film!

    That Ripple movement is inspiring and empowering. It makes me want to get up and DO SOMETHING, ya know?

    Jone, your writing group meeting outside sounds wonderful.

    My kicks:

    1. JP has been promoted. He is now a coach of the Philippine taekwondo poomsae team. He’ll still compete though, so he’s a playing coach. *swells with pride*

    2. On Tuesday, I went to an all-you-can-eat gelato buffet with Isaac, one of my very best friends. We had waaay too much gelato – yay!

    3. On Saturday, I attended storytelling sessions organized by a children’s book publisher. The kids gave me the warm fuzzies just by being themselves.

    4. I met some authors and illustrators at the storytelling sessions, including my favorite Filipino children’s book illustrator, Sergio Bumatay III. I died from happiness. Hehehe.

    5. I also got to meet a reader who follows my blog. =D

  5. Jules, Hope your successful in getting a publisher to pick up the rights as the books are beautiful and I’m a little jealous about the poster!

    Kicks for the week:

    *Getting to spend an extra day at the cottage in perfect solitude.

    *Driving down to the city at dawn after a swim through the mist.

    *Sitting by the Oxtongue rapids and devouring a carmel-chocolate brownie from Henrietta’s Bakery.

    *Spotting my first Luna moth (as I came back with my camera, I saw a bird hopping a way from it well feed, ah, the natural preditors.)

    *Rereading A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly and enjoying it just as much as the first time.

    *Training new staff for the store. Each new person adds their own character to the atmosphere of the place.

    *Sitting in the evening at my desk surrounded by books deciding which one to recommend on the blog. Will it be The Enchanter’s Daughter, Little Beaver and the Echo, The Sweet Life in Paris…

  6. Tarie, let’s road-trip to that museum. Um, one day….

    CONGRATS TO JP! I’m proud, too, and I’ve never even met him. Your family rocks, Tarie.

    Mmm. Gelato.

    Love your last kicks, too. Isn’t children’s lit great?

  7. How fun to see illustrations from New Zealand; Ruth Paul’s storming of a sailing bed looks like “good fun”– as they say –and the bare-naked king lording over the bubbly countryside made me laugh. (What a great gig working on The Hobbit!) Also, having been to New Zealand and stayed on a family farm, I know that sheep there are ubiquitous – including deceased in one’s studio bathroom. Ha!
    jules — The Earth Day poster is lovely. Kelly is so right about ‘small acts’; I will definitely add a Ripple to the cause.
    jone – I want to invite a hummingbird to my critique group too!
    Tarie – taekwando + all-you-can-eat gelato = very unique kicks.
    My kicks:
    1. Enjoying the family beach house in La Salina, Baja:
    2. the little kids’ sunburnt cheeks and sandy other cheeks.
    3. collecting shells on a leisurely stroll down the beach (my Mom, a lifelong collector, is the Queen of Sea Shells.)
    4. If we watch closely — the dolphins passing by.
    5. margaritas at sunset while waiting to see a rare “green flash”.
    6. writing facing the ocean.
    7. My friend, Antoinette Portis’ new book ‘Kindergarten Diary’ is out. (Nice, smart review of it on Pink Me this week.)

  8. [My visit here today’s gotta be a fly-by, I think… have been putting off some weekend chores for, umm, weeks now, and it’s time to catch up.]

    Really, really like Ruth Paul’s work. That’s one indulgent couple of parents those pirates have, hmm? Of the other titles, I have to admit that Superpotamus caught my eye right away. Maybe because I just (re)watched all three Matrix movies recently, the book’s world reminds me of the movies’ — not the computer/digital stuff, just the grimy settings — and Superpotamus apparently serves as a sort of Neo-type figure. (From the page at Ruth’s Web site about the book: “A weary sigh, he rolls his eyes, / his yawn as pink as twilight skies. / Then leaping from the mud he flies, / and soars above the lot of us! / Look out! It’s SUPERPOTAMUS.” Ha!)

    Jules, that chipmunk photo on Jody Hewgill’s site is a classic. CLASSIC. I can sorta hear one of those rapid-fire high-pitched nervous-rodent voices: “Heygettaloadofthis betchacantdoTHISwithyourmouth canyouhuh?huh?huh?”


    1. After many false starts, finally remembering (and silencing the obsession to remember!) a book I’ve been meaning to read since first hearing about it here, in an aside from Jules: Margo Lanagan’s Tender Morsels.

    2. Experimenting with getting word-processing files into Kindle-friendly format.

    3. I mentioned an author in a recent blog post, and got a couple of nice back-and-forth comments from him. (I know this is old hat for a real lit blog like 7-Imp, but it kills me when it happens at my place!)

    4. The Pooch scared the living bejeezus out of me yesterday in some kind of physical/neurological “event” which we won’t know much about until we meet with the vet tomorrow. But since it actually happened she’s seemed back to normal. A knock-on-wood kick for sure.

    5. I mentioned the Matrix movies. I’d seen the first one numerous times (it was the first DVD I ever purchased), but never the two sequels. I can see why they might have been disappointing/suckalicious to rabid fans of the first film, but must say they weren’t nearly as bad as I expected them to be!

    6. Productive week on the day job, with some moments of “thank God what just happened to Person X has never happened to ME” comedy which I badly needed to get me past some tight spots.

    7. Breaks in the humidity, almost as welcome as breaks in temperature down here!

    Have a kickin’ week, everybody!

  9. Oh Denise, I’m so jealous. Your vacation sounds wonderful. And I LOVE Antoinette Portis. I not only need to see that book, but I need to see it asap, since I’ll be talking about 2010 picture books to a group of teachers and librarians in a couple weeks. I’m busy poring over books, picking favorites, and I NEED to see hers! Thanks for the heads-up, though something tells me I heard about it before. Maybe. Mentioned quickly? And just forgot maybe?

    John, oh my, I hope you find out The Pooch has nothing major. Good luck, and keep us informed. Kick #3 NEVER stops being a major thrill! And, again, let me know what you think of Tender Morsels.

  10. Cath, for some reason, spam tried to eat your kicks for breakfast, but I spotted them.

    A cottage. Perfect solitude. Ah, nice. Caramel chocolate brownies sound pretty great, too. Glad you had a good week. Good luck on picking your book for the blog.

  11. And, Cath, I see that you typed them twice (sorry about that spam-catcher…why does it like your kicks so much?), so I released both — just in case someone has any Scotland recs for you, too!

  12. Hello to Ruth Paul and the Two Little Pirates! How nifty to see kids performing your book.

    Lovely Earth Day art, Jody Hewgill! That’s gorgeous. Congratulations.

    Jone: I dig books by Audrey and Don Wood. My favorite is The Big Hungry Bear. I’m glad that you’ve had time to write this week, and that your writing group not only went well, but had a surprise hummingbird visitor!

    Tarie: Congrats to the promoted coach! Sounds like a fun storytelling Saturday.

    Denise: Hello to the dolphins!

    JES: Sending healthy vibes to the puppy.

    My kicks for the past week:
    1) An amazing audition experience and
    2) Subsequent callback
    3) This weekend’s performances
    4) Getting invested
    5) Booking my next play
    6) Being asked to sing on a demo for a new musical
    7) Managing

  13. Jules — Antoinette’s take on the first month of kindergarten is all you’d expect from her (happy, tender, great faith in 5-year-olds and lots of fun packed into her simple but fetching art. I love the jungle-gym imagination scenes.)

    Cath — ooo, swimming in the mist.

    JES — I’m curious what you’ll think of Tender Morsels; a source of passionate discussion in my circle of writer friends. (The fairytale aficionados seem to fall the hardest for it.)

    LW — seems like your managing quite a lot. :- )

  14. Ruth Paul, must get my hands on her books to share with grandson William…love her work, thank you for sharing with us!
    One BIG kick this week, fills 1-7!
    RIF was reinstated in the House Subcommittee budget after months of hard work by many people, thank you to all of you who assisted! We have many steps before us but this was a great, great feeling! http://www.rascofromrif.org/?p=11203

  15. Wow, I love Ruth’s art (and the sound of her very cool house). We are thinking we’ll move back to Australia in November, so maybe I will find her books then.

    And that poster is great, too, Jules!

    Cath, I’ve only stayed in Pitlochy itself once, and it was an expensive hotel that IMO wasn’t worth the money so I’d find a cute B&B instead. However, I can recommend the second hand book shop at the train station – great cheap books, and all for charity if I remember right

    Denise that sounds like the perfect holiday.

    Tarie, a GELATO buffet?! What a brilliant invention.

    JES, best wishes for the vet to say there was no need to visit her!

    My kicks:

    1. Dinner in a pop-up yurt with friends, with yurt and dinner provided by our veg box company. The food (and company) was fantastic!
    2. A friend gave me a bottle of homemade elderflower cordial after hearing that I didn’t manage to find citric acid in time to make any. Kind and delicious.
    3. Chocolate chip cookies for a colleague’s birthday came out nice and chewy
    4. A night out with work to look for nightjars was great fun – we heard and saw nightjars, and I can see why people didn’t use to like them, as they are quite spooky when they fly. A bonus was seeing glow-worms – something I didn’t expect to see in the UK as they aren’t very common! They were a very vivid, alien green.
    5. Although my work is fairly grim at the moment (lots of spending cuts and deregulation with the ocasional dose of scary climate news) I am constantly reminded how great my colleagues are, which of makes it easier. And harder to think about leaving.
    6. In preparation for having friends over next week, we have washed the windows and tidied the piles of pots and compost etc in the backyard.
    7. So many colleagues keep chickens now, I can buy most of my eggs from their happy hens

  16. Little Willow, congrats on a great audition and—woo hoo!—-a callback! #6 is pretty exciting, too.

    Denise, looking forward to seeing Antoinette’s book.

    Carol, CONGRATULATIONS! This is great news! Best kick of the week.

    Emmaco, what with the nightjar’s “mythical ability to steal milk from goats,” I think a story needs to be written about them. Also: You have the nicest friends and family, what with their great talents and kindnesses and home-made elderflower and whatnot.

    Kick #1 sounds like so much fun, Emmaco.

  17. Denise: It’s crazy, but I try to make it work.

    Rasco: That deserves a WOO HOO!!! Even that exclamation is an understatement.

    emmaco: I read that as “pop-up yogurt” out of the corner of my eye. Sounds like you haad a lovely worknight with the beautiful birds and bugs.

    Jules: Gracias. My fingers are crossed on all counts. It hurts to want something this much.

  18. Jules, Thanks for digging me out of spam!

    Jone’s summer book club by the coast sounds like a good annual event for followers of 7-imp, Jules you could arrange that in all your spare time.

    And, thanks Emma for the Pitlochry recommendation and the great birding site!

  19. […] to see her books released here in the States. Ruth even visited back in 2010, so be sure to visit that post if you want to see more of her […]

  20. […] http://blaine.org/sevenimpossiblethings/?p=1968 […]

  21. […] To read a recent interview with me at the fabulous Seven Impossible Things blog, click here. And for a slightly older interview at the same place, click here. […]

  22. […] To read a recent interview with me at the fabulous Seven Impossible Things blog, click here. And for a slightly older interview at the same place, click here. […]

Leave a Comment

Should you have trouble posting, please contact sevenimp_blaine@blaine.org. Thanks.