7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #185, Me Hearties:
Featuring Aaron Renier

h1 September 19th, 2010 by jules


(Click to enlarge and see the entire page from which this early sketch comes.)

Ahoy, buckos! It’s National Talk Like a Pirate Day. Now, I’m not going to talk pirate in this entire post. I’m not aye I can even pull that off. (See what I mean? Probably even that is wrong.) But what better way is there to celebrate than to showcase some art from Aaron Renier, seeing as how his latest title, The Unsinkable Walker Bean (First Second, August 2010 — colorist on this title is cartoonist and illustrator Alec Longstreth), involves adventure on the high seas — fearsome pirates, wicked sea-witches, a cursed skull, and CERTAIN PERIL. The swashbucklin’ kind. The image above comes from one of Aaron’s earlier sketches for this title. Aaron is not only a picture-book illustrator, but he is also a cartoonist who won the Eisner award for cartoonist deserving wider recognition for his first graphic novel, Spiral-Bound.

AND Renier was also recently named a recipient of the inaugural Sendak Fellowship. I had to do a web search on this fascinating-sounding thing, and I found more info here at this interview with Renier. Chris Mautner over at Manga Studio wrote on Friday:

At SPX {Small Press Expo} this past weekend, First Second’s Gina Gagliano told me that cartoonist Aaron Renier was headed up to Maurice Sendak’s home after the convention, as he was one of four young illustrators who won a grant from the brand-new Sendak Fellowship, which, if I understood it correctly, gives aspiring artists the chance to meet, workshop and work on various projects for several weeks at Sendak’s house, as well as soak up wisdom from the author of In the Night Kitchen.

HOLY WOW. He gets to hang out with The Great One himself. HE IS DOING SO AS WE SPEAK. Just wow.

I don’t want to give too much away about this title, in case any of you read it, but let me just say that it’s FUN. It’s received many starred reviews (“exciting, deep, funny, and scary, with tremendous villains and valor galore,” wrote Booklist, for one) and is about a young boy, Walker Bean, whose grandfather is cursed by an enchanted skull in a trench somewhere in the middle of an ocean. Said grandfather asks Walker to take care of the mess caused by the curse, and thus his adventure begins. Yes, that’s all I’m going to tell you, just in case you want to see and read for yourself.

This morning, I’ve got a few pages from this graphic novel to share — a few of the book’s first spreads. Also featured are some of Aaron’s preliminary doodles and early sketches. You’ll note that one of the final ones is titled “Early Sketches of book #2.” Sneak peek. Neat. (I’m also including the cover of Aaron’s Pirate Kit, for use with children and in schools. If anyone wants to see a copy, I suppose I can hunt down that info for you. Also, I’m throwing in a page from that kit, the design-your-own-pirate-flag page. Have at it! Make a pirate flag, send me a JPG of it, and I’ll post it. Try me!)



{Ed. Note: Click to enlarge all these preliminary drawings.}





THE UNSINKABLE WALKER BEAN. Text copyright © 2010 by Aaron Renier. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, First Second, New York.

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 * * *

1). Hands down, my kickiest kick of the week was getting to read to my first grader’s class. I took a stack of my favorite picture books from the year and read all of them, ’cause I think the teacher figured out quickly what a tremendous picture book nerd I am and just let me have at it.

Seeing as how my daughter threw up in the car line that very morning yet still wanted me to go read while she stayed home in her PJs with Daddy Danielson, I made sure to point out to the class her favorite moment in each book. They seemed to get a kick out of that.

2). Starting Tony DiTerlizzi’s Search for Wondla this weekend as a read-aloud. It might be my first grader’s first science fiction novel.

3). When my girls get sick, I am reminded how lucky I am that they are healthy on the whole.

4). Betsy Bird’s Newbery and Caldecott prediction post. I hardly have the time, but I just had to whip my own Caldecott ramblings that I will post later tonight perhaps.

5). I love spirited conversations like this about picture books. (Thanks to Betsy for that link, too.)

6). See the number up there in the title’s post — 185? We’ve been kickin’ it, dear readers, for almost four years now.

7). Wrapping up my committee work with the Southern Festival of Books. ‘Twas fun.

Special Note: Congrats to the brilliant (and that’s no hyperbole) Kelly Fineman, whose poem “Troubled Water” is the closing piece in the e-book anthology Breaking Waves, a collection of 34 poems, memoirs, short stories, and articles. The anthology sells for $4.99 from Book View Café, 100% of which goes to the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund. Here’s the info!

What are your kicks this week? Anyone swashbucklin’ enough to leave their kicks in Pirate Talk gets extra points today.

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29 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #185, Me Hearties:
Featuring Aaron Renier”

  1. First, thanks for your kind words about me, and thanks still more for mentioning BREAKING WAVES, which is raising money for a most excellent cause.

    Second, a hearrrrty round of applause fer the Aaron Renier book. Anyone who doesn’t love it should be forced to swab the poop deck. (Seriously – I reviewed this one at my blog this summer, and again at Guys Lit Wire last week because I like it so very, very much.)

    And your poor kiddo – she didn’t get to be there when you read to her class – but how awesome is she for her “show must go on” attitude? SO awesome!


  2. Aaron Renier gets to work with Maurice Sendak?!

    * faints *

    Jules, I really look forward to your Caldecott predictions!

    I’ve been so busy lately. I missed kicking!!!!!!!

    My kicks:

    1. JP and Brian won four gold medals and two silver medals at the Korea International Open (taekwondo poomsae competition). =D Now they are training three times every day for the world championships in Uzbekistan!

    2. I delivered a presentation on the kidlitosphere. My audience was Adarna House, the oldest and biggest children’s book publisher in the Philippines. Wheee!


  3. Happy Sunday!

    Wish I could have been there to hear you read all those picture books, Jules. Since your daughter missed being there that day, you’ll just have to go back and read some more. :)

    Hooray for Kelly!

    And congrats to your brothers, Tarie. They just keep winning all those medals. Awesome. And your presentation on the kidlitosphere sounds very interesting . . .

    My biggest kick of the week is taking my friend out to dinner last night. She’s the one I mentioned last week, who’s been ill for years with a mysterious lung disease — and recently she began to feel better (after the docs took her off a slew of antibiotics). She was just so happy to be going out (first time in a restaurant in 4 years), and having the strength to do so. Though she thanked us a million times, we were the ones thankful — for the reminder of all we take for granted every day.

    And then when we came home, we spotted three raccoons scampering across our driveway — a momma and two babies. SO adorable. In 11 years, it was the first time we’d seen more than one raccoon at a time. They were certain we didn’t recognize them since they were wearing masks. And we didn’t let on. :)


  4. 1. Having the temerity to leave my first comment at this most fabulous blog.
    2. My one and only deciding to speak up to her sarcastic english teacher and telling him that his sarcasm (at her) doesn’t make for a good learning atmosphere. I couldn’t have done that at 13.
    3. Breakfast with my friend Dianna Aston before she slips away to San Miquel again. (She had bacon. SHe loves. bacon. I had cantalope. I love cantalope. I love saying cantalope.)
    4. Buying a new bed…no, saying, to myself, you deserve this very supportive, oooolalaluscious new bed.
    5. Reading Tim Wynne-Jones’ THe Maestro, K. A.Holt’s Brains for Lunch, and Jerry Spinelli’s StarGirl this week
    6. A coolness in the morning air…finally and a lessening of the summer glare.
    7. Rightnow. Thinking of the the week, while drinking tea.


  5. Ahoy Mateys on this talk like a pirate day. Love Aaron Reiners illustratioons and towork with Sendak, amazing.
    Jules, thanks for the two links from Betsy. I especially love the children’s books you might hate. I really dislike the Munsch book, The Giving Tree was told to me by my boyfriend in the 70′s so I have a soft spot for it in my heart.
    Kelly, again congrats.
    Tarie, have a terrific birthday this week.
    Jama, so glad to hear your friend is on the mend.
    Lindsey, this is a fun Sunday morning group and Star Girl is one of my very favorite books.
    My kicks:
    1. My writing group this week. So supportive.
    2. Seeing that Mo Willems will be at my local Barnes and Noble store in 2 weeks.
    3. Getting my hands on Catching Fire and Mockingjay (although I must get Shadow of the Wind finished for book group next Sunday).
    4. Securing Matt Holm for a school visit in April. It will be “Matt and Babymouse Week in Evergreen” as he will visit schools in my district all week.
    5.Discovering a little know LM Montgomery poem for Poetry Friday.
    6. The remodel foe a section of the school library has been approved.
    7. Fall color is beginning to creep in.
    Have a great week.


  6. aaron’s work is amazing! i fell in love with his stuff when i read “spiral bound” a few years back and i’ve been patiently awaiting his follow up graphic novel. i saw this book at the first second booth at comic con and was dismayed that it wasn’t on sale yet and therefore, would need to wait to read it. thanks for remind me! i’ve called my local indie bookshop and am picking it up later this afternoon! and i’ll get to meet aaron myself later this fall at the boston book fest. i will be doing more geeking out on stage than presenting, as i’ll get to be up there with aaron, jef czekaj (hip and hop don’t stop) and alexis frederick-frost (adventures in cartooning).

    i’ve never done a list here, but as i am so thankful for this reminder and post and i’ve already blabbered on, here i go:

    1) my wife and i came back from a vacation. an actual 4 day vacation with no work and no kid in tow…
    2) saw two concerts. (vampire weekend and lady gaga….the crowds were very different at both shows)
    3) we unpacked our halloween decorations. (we have 6, count ‘em SIX orange and black tuperware bins — my neighbors call me the clark griswald of halloween….)
    4) my daughter sat and drew in her sketchbook for an hour. she’s 3 months shy of 2 and it blew me away.
    5) banana pancakes this morning
    6) more progress on my current deadline.
    7) warm fall weather

    have a great week!


  7. Be back in a little while for a real comment — I haven’t even finished reading this post yet :) — but for anyone who’s interested, here’s the Pirate Kit (maybe one source among several, I don’t know).


  8. I have been overworking my hands/wrists with sewing, guitar, and typing, so this must be short: good gigs, Taste of India, 2 planned art shows for my husband, 5 miles a day, new Asperger’s social group for my daughter, a new E7 chord, story ideas.

    I’ll check back later for other people’s kicks.


  9. Kelly: Congratulations!

    Jama: Hurray for dinners with friends and cute animals!

    My talk was about how to work with bloggers, and how authors and illustrators can become bloggers themselves. =D

    Lindsey: Welcome!!!!!!!

    Jone: I really love all of your bookish activities!

    And thank you for the birthday greeting. :o)

    Jarett: I am also blown away by your daughter sketching. Wow.

    Farida: What is Taste of India? Sounds interesting!


  10. Ahoy, kickers! I’ll do a quick sail-by before I head out the door to my son’s morning baseball game:

    The four inaugural Sendak Fellows are:

    Aaron Renier, as mentioned above.
    Paul Schmidt http://www.paulschmidt.org/illustration.html
    Robert Weinstock http://www.callmebob.com/
    and my dear friend, Anotinette Portis http://www.antoinetteportis.com/

    A month to work on whatever they want, schmooze with each other about their work and kidlit art over dinners and the unique education of being hosted/mentored by the master, Mr. Sendak. Pretty cool gig.

    Shiver me timbers!


  11. Kelly, doh! I should have done a search for previous blog reviews. Everyone, here is Kelly’s, and here is her Guys Lit Wire review. Thanks, Kelly!

    Tarie, we’ve missed your kicks! I always look forward to them every week. Your two kicks this week are most superbly awesome. Go, Tarie’s brothers. I love them and I haven’t even met them. Was your presentation recorded, Tarie?

    Jama, it makes me super happy that you got to go out with your friend — like, teary-eyed happy.

    Lindsey, welcome! I want an oooolalaluscious new bed. And, yes, isn’t the coolness in the morning at this time of year just perfect?

    Jone, I hope you’re gonna go see Mo. I was remembering this week how I saw him years ago at a bookstore, and when he read a Pigeon book, the kids who had reached an age-appropriate level of smart-ass in their lives were yelling “YES!” to every spread, instead of the desired “NO!” I felt sorry for him, though he handled himself just fine, of course. …So glad you all secured Matt Holm.

    Hi, Jarrett! Hope you like the book. I do. I love love love the image of your daughter sketching without interruption — and at such a young age. But then I’m not surprised. Glad you all got a vacation, and we had chocolate chip pancakes this morning. Mmm.

    John, thanks for linking to the Pirate Kit!

    Farida, story ideas = very exciting. And when will your husband’s shows be?

    Denise, thank you for clarifying. Shiver me timbers, indeed. Wow again. Have fun at that game.


  12. Denise: How awesome for your friend! =D

    Jules: My presentation wasn’t recorded. I have a picture from it, though. It’s my new profile picture on Facebook. =D

    7-Imp was part of my presentation! I told the illustrators in the audience that if they only have time to read one non-Filipino blog, it should be 7-Imp. And I invited them to join 7 Kicks every Sunday. Where are they??? Come out come out, wherever you are . . .


  13. Oh, Tarie. Shucks. Thanks!


  14. Hey, everybody, I learned from Facebook World that illustrator Matthew Cordell also blogged about this book (in one of his great top-ten lists that are very kicks-like in nature).


  15. Okay, and the incomparable 100 Scope Notes covered it, too (Travis). I should have just done a review round-up, guys. Sorry! But this is a great read (“You gotta admire an author who goes for broke.”)

    http://100scopenotes.com/2010/07/26/review-the-unsinkable-walker-bean-by-aaron-renier/


  16. i have been so planning to make pirate flags for years. actually, the pirate flag would have been part of a “flags of the household” i was thinking about making, where we would “fly colors” when we had company over (different flags for “good” company and “in laws” so our neighbors would know at a glance), or when the girls were away (like on sleepover so friends don’t ring the doorbell at 7:30 in the morning on weekends). maybe time to get the sewing machine out.

    right, kicks of the week.

    1. had a meeting with a school friend who is now my local writing buddy. sort of an accountability check-in person.

    2. this maybe should have been last week but… i have a crit group (finally) and am excited for our first meeting at the end of the month. which means…

    3. i’m writing like a fiend to have my pages ready for sending out later this week!

    4. i not only found a solid used camera on ebay for my photography curious daughter (whose birthday is this week) but… i gotta sweet deal. what most people were paying for cameras i scooped up a full kit with multiple lenses and extras. a test roll of film shows that the thing is in perfect working condition.

    5. and to go along with it, i’m converting a surplus israeli paratrooper bag into a camera bag. something a little more “cool” and little less obvious than a camera bag. plus it has space to double as a school bag (holds a laptop as well.

    6. i finally got around to hanging some art and stuff on the walls in the entryway. it’s only taken for four months to get around to it; took less than half an hour once i started. why did i put it off for so long?

    7. started hanging out with poetry friday folks again. still feel a bit like a poseur alongside so many other great (and real) poets, but that’s just me

    bonus kick: just found out i’m on the cybils graphic novel panel this year! jazzed to be scoping out people’s nominations in a few weeks to see what i’ve been missing!


  17. Tarie: Taste of India is a favorite Indian restaurant in Seattle. They have the bottomless cup of chai, too.

    Jules: Tony’s shows will be in December and January.

    Lindsey: I’m so proud of your 13 year old for speaking up to her sarcastic English teacher. I wish I could have told my 7th grade math teacher that public humiliation was not a productive teaching method.


  18. Thanks all for your kind words! And Jules – I absolutely forbid you to apologize for not linking to other reviews! Goodness, woman, you have more than enough to do without scouring the web for other stuff! (I’m glad to hear that Aaron’s book is getting so much love, though!) And did you see the store window he just did somewhere? Phenomenal! (It’s featured on the First Second blog.)


  19. Ahoy! Arrgh, I’ve missed kicking the past few weeks due to a combination of work stuff and computer issues. (At least computer issues seem to be resolving.)

    So very cool that Aaron Renier gets to work with/hang out with Sendak, as well as the other three artists!

    My kicks have to brief, as I’m headed out to the office again.

    1. A potluck dinner thrown by a couple of friends who quit their jobs and traveled the world for 9 months. We all brought food & drinks from different places they visited, and they had a great slide show for us of their travels, with stories thrown in as well. Very inspiring.

    2. Our book-swapping library at work. Two people organized this last year, and its really taken off. We all bring in books and people are free to borrow and return them at their leisure.

    3. This video Every Home Needs a Harvey. It makes me smile every time I watch it.

    Have a great week everyone! Arrgggg!


  20. Bummer, link didn’t work. Here it is:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmzgkMsf_GQ


  21. I am going to see Mo. I am thinking about taking my granddaughter.


  22. Happy National Talk Like a Pirate Day, Impers and scallywags!

    Aaron: Be ye well, young lad. Best wishes with your books. Please tell me you discussed In the Night Kitchen while in the kitchen at nighttime.

    Jules: I’m glad (but not surprised) that you had a blast reading alout to your daughter’s class. I’m so sorry that she was sick that day. I hope she’s feeling better now. Which book(s) were the class favorites? I cannot wait to read Wondla. The cover makes me think of Oz.

    Kelly: Congrats and kudos again! I’ll post about it at YABC today.

    Tarie: I hope the things which have kept you busy have also made you happy. Congrats on your presentation, and congrats to the fellows on their achievements!

    Jama: That is WONDERFUL. Oh, she must have felt so good that night, both in spirit and in health. She’s lucky to have a friend like you. Please say hello to the raccoons for me, if and when you spot them again.

    Lindsey: Welcome to 7-Imp! Pleased to meet you. Enjoy the books, the breakfast, and other alliterative b-things.

    Jone: Three cheers for supportive folks. You simply MUST keep us posted on the Matt Holm visit, and recap the Mo Willems event if and when you attend it. Hurrah for LMM!

    Jarrett: Hey there! Hi there! Hello there to you and your artistic family.

    Farida: Wowza, wowza, wowza, you crafty lady + social butterfly! Hope you aren’t hurting.

    Denise: Hope they had a fun game.

    David E.: Good luck with your writing. Happy birthday to your daughter! Enjoy the Cybils. :)

    Rachel: Welcome back! The book-swap sounds like fun.

    My kicks for the past week:
    1) Filming (I cannot WAIT to see the final cut of this movie. It’s going to be so cool.)
    2) Auditioning (I had 5 auditions this past week, and 1 already today – Now that’s the way to kick off the new week!)
    3) Acceptance (Being accepted into something with great potential)
    4) Acceptance (Accepting that something fell through)
    5) Living out loud
    6) Recording
    7) Meeting the challenges

    This post is dedicated in the memory of a kind young man who lost this life this week in a freak accident. He will be missed.


  23. David, happy birthday to your daughter, and what a good gift. I love your flags; I hope you make them. And congrats on the Cybils work.

    Farida, I hope the shows go well.

    Kelly, yes, I saw that window display. Wow.

    Rachel, hey, I want to quit my job and travel the world. What a great video, and how did they get the dog to raise the eyebrow?

    Jone, have fun seeing Mo.

    Little Willow, hey, “Impers” does sound kinda pirate-y. To answer your question, they loved Shark Vs. Train and the new Bob Graham book about the tooth fairies the best, I think. And Miss Brooks Loves Books (And I Don’t)….Kicks numbers 1 and 2 are particularly exciting, Little Willow, but I’m sorry to hear you lost a friend.


  24. David: That is an AWESOME birthday gift for your daughter. You’re one cool dad.

    Rachel: Awesome first two kicks! I


  25. PFFT. What happened to what I typed? Let’s try that again:

    David: That is an AWESOME birthday gift for your daughter. You’re one cool dad.

    Rachel: Awesome first two kicks! I


  26. Okay, let me try this one more time . . .

    Rachel: Awesome first two kicks! I love your life.

    Little Willow: A movie! I can’t wait to see you in it!


  27. Tarie, you’re cracking me up.

    But I love it when you visit.


  28. Actually I like these photos


  29. [...] Maurice [Sendak] and me at the first Fellowship, hanging out in Maurice’s woods. From left, Aaron Renier, Herman, Maurice, and myself. We seem the bookends here to his delightful sense of [...]


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