Alfred and I Have a Few Random Announcements
and General Random-ness to Share
(Plus, We Need a Band Already)

h1 November 10th, 2010 by jules

Here’s Alfred again to help me with a few announcements. If you’re thinking, hubba what? or who shot who in the what now? or what in the what the? or Alfred hubba who? or who said what in the hey now?, that means you don’t tend to make it to the bottom of my 7-Imp interviews. (And this would be okay. I mean it when I tell people, which I do a lot, that it’s almost a science to keep up with children’s-lit blogs these days. It’s hard, isn’t it?) Anyway, Alfred—who came from the pen of author/illustrator Matt Phelan (whom I forever associate not only with good books for children, but also lots and lots of ukuleles) and whom Matt told over a year ago to pack his bags and live here at 7-Imp—is always here to introduce the Pivot Questionnaire. I have finally added Alfred to the “about” page of the blog. See here. I figured that 7-Imp has a new mascot (see here and scroll down for the news), thanks to illustrator Scott Magoon, whom I placed on the “about” page. (The mascot, not Scott himself.) And then I realized poor Alfred has really been a mascot of sorts ALL ALONG. Or at least my good buddy. He and I meet for toast and coffee every morning and discuss what to post. Yes, he looks rather sinister and moderately surly, but he’s really sort of a softie, too.

Also, someone suggested that 7-Imp have its own theme song. Paula of Pink Me even wrote some zippy-quick impromptu lyrics…

SEVEN THINGS! What kind of things they could be any things mostly book things but sometimes they’re other things SEVEN THINGS!!

I made that font big, as I imagine the lyrics being sort of yelled spastically and crowd-goers moshing and such, as if they don’t have one single care in the world. Paula has suggested They Might Be Giants record it (I’ll also agree to The Black Keys, even if they don’t yell), possibly with horns in the arrangement. Maybe a ska treatment, Paula says.

I will also accept Those Darn Accordions, but only if the elderly guy in the Santa hat sings it while clutching the typed-out lyrics:

Any takers? Any musicians up for it who can take 7-Imp to eleven? (You all know I don’t expect to get a response to this crazy-ass question, but if I do, I might straight up squeal. And I’d take a squeal right about now.)

As I said, I’m here with a few random announcements (and, quite clearly, lots of rambling — I promise I’m about to get to the real content here), the first one being that Alfred finally landed his rightful place on the “about” page. (My apologies to Alfred for taking so long to put him there. For a while, he was annoyed with me and even slipped NON-DAIRY CREAMER into my coffee.) But also:

  • Book designer/illustrator/blogger Annie Beth Ericsson is interviewing a bunch of talented new illustrators (many of them children’s book-related) to celebrate the first-ever Illustration Week. This is wonderful, indeed. Annie is excited about what these fresh, young artists have to say about the beginning of their careers, and she hopes you’ll take a minute to check them out. The whole endeavor celebrates the fact that New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, on behalf of the City of New York, proclaimed this week Illustration Week. Here’s the info on that, and don’t forget to visit Annie’s blog for the interviews. Nifty, huh? (Annie’s picture book list is also up at Sergio Ruzzier’s blog.)
  • Now, this is just neat. Digital poetry. This comes from Jason Nelson. It is, in his words, “my portal of interactive fiction/poetry. Heliozoa. It contains dozens of artworks, with descriptions, videos, and all manner of giganticness.” Jason also tells me he uses 7-Imp in his Digital Writing course way far over in Australia. WHOA. Flattering. Humbling.
  • If you missed it yesterday, Cristiana Clerici stopped by to share an interview with Italian author/illustrator Eva Montanari. When Cristiana proposed that she also use the Pivot Questionnaire to close these interviews of hers, it didn’t occur to me till yesterday’s interview—as someone who appreciates the art of really descriptive and particularly satisfying creative cursing—that we are now being introduced to all-new, creative swears IN OTHER LANGUAGES. Score. Better yet, though, it’s a very rich, detailed interview about the art of illustrating picture books for children, so don’t miss it.
  • I told you this post was random: I’m going to close with something I stumbled upon the other night while researching for the book I’m writing this year. I really like it. Even as a children’s librarian myself, I am wary of—and get weary of—the “readers are leaders” kind of talk and our field’s tendency to forget that there are all kinds of learning and that some perfectly competent kids just won’t fall as in-love with reading as we do and IT IS OKAY, but still, I really love what this has to say. It comes from 1943 (from a book designer/illustrator/editor), but I think it applies even more so now:

    “Children emerging from rattles to picture books, children who are today living in an upside-down world, need books to make them laugh, to make them feel secure, and above all, to make them believe in the permanence of good and beautiful things.” — Grace Allen Hogarth in Bulletin of the New Hampshire Libraries, September 1943

Alfred and I are signing off for now. But, since I made a reference to him above, I’ll close with the one and only Nigel Tufnel. ‘Cause this scene would make anyone’s day better, seeing as how Christopher Guest is a comic genius. Until next time…

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12 comments to “Alfred and I Have a Few Random Announcements
and General Random-ness to Share
(Plus, We Need a Band Already)”

  1. That’s BARON Guest to us commoners Jules! Have you ever corresponded with his sister Elissa? The Iris and Walter books, and just the nicest person. I asked her about having 2 children’s book authors in the family (the Baron’s wife Jamie Lee) and she would not comment!

    We will work on finding a band!


  2. have you heard that there’s a movement to make november 11, 2011 nigel tufnel day? get it? ’cause it’s 11/11/11!


  3. Paula, no, I didn’t even know his sister made children’s books.

    eisha: Brilliant. I’ll be sure to wear my exact inner structure on a tee shirt that day.


  4. Here we go:

    Wow, my exact internal structure is very similar to Nigel Tufnel’s. Just a coincidence, that.


  5. Go, Grace Allen Hogarth. I kind of want to slap that up on the wall in the Children’s Room.

    Can’t wait to read that book you’re writing.


  6. I love that quote, and I love best that it can be upgraded – maybe YA doesn’t do rattles much (although there was that disturbing tendency toward pacifier suckers awhile back) but the same holds true: as we process high school, move away from chapter books and try to manage the maze of relationships, homework, and the feeling that the whole world is on our shoulders, we need books to remind us to laugh, we need books to encourage us to breathe, and we must have books which remind us that there is life after high school, and there are things which are good and beautiful in the world…


  7. Adrienne: I hope the book turns out well. I do know that every time I read a chapter from Betsy or Peter, I think, this is gonna be good.

    Tanita: Well-said, my friend.


  8. Two suggestions re: the theme song…

    (1) At first, I thought we could do it in the manner of that “Round the World ‘Stand by Me'” video which made the rounds some time ago: everyone records his or her own version of the song and then someone stitches it together a word or a phrase at a time, from all the constituent recordings.

    But all that cutting and gluing is a lot to ask of anyone except possibly Alfred, and I suspect even he will make himself scarce if he sees it coming. Plus, the expectation is that it would be in video form. Which would be a hoot, and worth seeing for sure, but might be out of reach for some of the contributors.

    (2) So then I thought of the thing NPR has been doing at Christmastime for at least a couple years, the “national caroling party.” Advantage of this: people who can’t sing can still do SOMETHING — kazoo, harmonica, tapping with pencils on the desktop — and no video required. Downside: somebody has to create a “master” for everyone else to play/sing along with, to be sure all the voices and instruments stay in sync.

    Hmm. Maybe you can make it a Kickstarter project?


  9. John, yes, sometimes Alfred is quite the slacker, and I think you’re right that he would make himself scarce. Well, maybe less of a slacker and more of a misanthrope. I mean, LOOK AT HIS FACE.

    Really, John, you have given this some thought, whereas I figured I’d mostly get laughed at. I will follow your links, though, and continue to ponder. If a theme song is ever recorded, it will likely be, say, one of my kids on a Fisher Price toy piano and me making an idiot of myself, something at which I excel, but we’ll see….


  10. Well, Jules, y’know I do love this place. I won’t deny I was laughing, but the things that make us laugh the hardest often deserve being taken the most seriously. 🙂


  11. Yes, true. Plus, once I get my mind set on something for the blog, I kinda don’t give up till I get it. But…a recording that isn’t merely me making an idiot of myself would be preferable, so keep me in check.

    If only we could get Nigel Tufnel. Or even Corky St. Clair to make a musical stage adaptation for us.


  12. […] kids-lit blog gurus Betsy Bird at School Library Journal’s Fuse #8 blog, and Jules over at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast for their fantastic write-ups!  Also a big thanks to featured artists Chris Harrington, Heather […]


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