I’ve got quite a bit of art to share today, so I’m not going to linger here in the introduction to this post, other than to say happy Halloween to everyone, and I hope it greets you with lots of peanut-butter-and-chocolate delights.
Calef Brown (hiding behind his book here to the left) brings us that opening illustration there, one of the endpaper tests, he told me, for his latest poetry collection, Hallowilloween: Nefarious Silliness from Calef Brown (Houghton Mifflin, September 2010). I think celebrating Halloween with Calef makes all the sense in the world, as he’s the Reigning Children’s Poet of Weird (that’s a compliment) and so convincing at having us see the world a different way (not unlike Halloween), so I invited him to share today some of the illustrations and poems from this title. The book celebrates the holiday with the Grim Reaper (and what his suppers might be like), the Poltergeyser (in a certain national park), a scarecrow and his epitaph (seven guesses as to what it might be), Jack (the rare wolf), a vumpire (who only works night games), and many more, some of which can be seen below. School Library Journal writes, “Brown’s acrylic illustrations add to the creepy silliness: an artful mix of naive and stylized, whimsical details and vibrant color.”
Since Calef sent quite a few spreads and even some sketches, which I’m always pleased to share with 7-Imp readers, we’ll get back to him in a second. There are two other visitors this morning, as well…
Some of you may remember this book (which I posted about way back in 2006 when images at 7-Imp were tragically small). This year brings us the same cast of characters, but this time in a Halloween tale. AlphaOops! H is for Halloween (Candlewick, July 2010) is by local (to me) author, Alethea Kontis, and illustrated by Bob Kolar. This is some good Halloween fun is what it is, and give it to those kids who have recently nailed their alphabet, and they’re going to have a blast. Once again, the alphabet, this time trying to put on a Halloween show, is unruly. The trouble starts when A is supposed to open the show, yet isn’t quite ready. As you can see in the two spreads below, this isn’t your ordinary alphabet book: “L is for lycanthrope,” for one. And there are goblins, devils, the undead, some jitters, and even an imp (but not seven). “Kontis’s text is rhythmic and comical,” writes School Library Journal, “and readers who are comfortable with the alphabet will delight in the silliness of this story. Kolar’s illustrations are imbued with a sense of nighttime theater magic, and the slightly muted jewel-tone hues set the scene perfectly.” (And don’t you love those “jewel-tone” hues?)
And, finally, we have author/illustrator Dan Krall. (My favorite part of his web site is the “Difficult to Classify” category, and not just because the Mad Tea Party art he created specifically for 7-Imp is the first illustration that pops up.) While his latest from Tricycle Press (September 2010) is not a Halloween title per se, I think beastly children are terrifying enough for it to fit in this post. So, I asked him if he’d like to stop by, too.
Absolutely Beastly Children, writes Kirkus, “revels in its own outrageous behavior.” To be sure, we see lots of children’s books satirizing naughty children, but something about Dan’s over-the-top art (perhaps it’s that he comes from the world of animation/television) is both dark and funny. (I mean, really: Check out the whiner below.) There’s no commentary here, no reminding children to behave, just an abecedary of awful. My own children find the alphabet of heinous behavior fascinatingly repulsive, in large part due to Krall’s spastic, colorful art. Which means they love it and want to hear it repeatedly.
Now, back to Calef’s illustrations. Below are some spreads from the book—each illustration is followed by its poem—as well as some early sketches from the book.
Note: Calef recently posted a short YouTube video of himself reading from Hallowilloween, “preceded by,” he told me, “a rambling prologue or preamble, which I guess makes it a ramblogue, or a pre-ramble.” It is here.
HALLOWILLOWEEN: NEFARIOUS SILLINESS FROM CALEF BROWN. Copyright © 2010 by Calef Brown. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston. Reproduced by permission of Mr. Brown.
ALPHAOOPS: H IS FOR HALLOWEEN. Text copyright © 2010 by Alethea Kontis. Illustrations copyright © 2010 by Bob Kolar. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.
ABSOLUTELY BEASTLY CHILDREN. Copyright © 2010 by Dan Krall. Published by Tricycle Press, New York. Reproduced by permission of Mr. Krall.
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.
I think I’ll skip kicks this week. And there’s so much art today anyway. I wish you all a happy Halloween. And I hope you don’t just get rocks in your trick-or-treat bags, like Charlie Brown.
But before I go:
The good thing from this week is that, as those of you who read this roundtable discussion know, illustrator Scott Magoon named one of the monsters from Mostly Monsterly “7-Imp.” Reading that made me grin like a silly fool. 7-Imp (the blog, that is) has gone down in picture book history. (Well, he was only 7-Imp in Scott’s head, mind you, as he worked on the illustrations for the book—it’s not like “7-Imp” appears in the book—but still…I say it counts as something kick-worthy.) Yeah, this little blue guy here to the left should be 7-Imp’s new mascot, I think. I’ve even placed him on this “about the blog” page of the site with an explanation as to who he is. Whaddya think? Maybe I can hide him on each page of the blog, and we can all play “spot the 7-Imp monster.”
Oh, and my other kick? Eisha. For listening. Always. (I’m finding it very difficult not to create a new wildly offensive phrase for her here, which is what we do in emails for fun—I think our emails would break your ears—and my fingers are TWITCHING. But I will refrain.)
So, wait. Those were two kicks after all. Who knew.
What about you? Anyone around today, or are you too busy chowin’ down on your Halloween loot? If you are, I don’t blame you. 7-Imp can wait. Your candy goodness might melt, you know.