7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #194: Featuring Sylvie Daigneault

h1 November 21st, 2010 by jules

“‘Has the land lost its goodness, Papa?’ Her father lowers his head.
When he looks up, there is sadness in his eyes.
‘I fear it may be so.'”

(Click to enlarge and see full spread with text.)

I’m very smitten with this morning’s featured illustrations, and not just because of My Thing I Have for Sun Images (as mentioned previously at 7-Imp with Carin Berger’s gorgeous image). The way illustrator Sylvie Daigneault depicts the sun in these images is particularly beautiful to me, but so is everything else about her work in this book, The Good Garden: How One Family Went from Hunger to Having Enough (Kids Can Press, September 2010), written by Katie Smith Milway.

This is the story of a young girl named María Luz Duarte, living in the hills of Honduras, whose family fears they will lose their farm. When María’s father asks his daughter to plant their winter vegetables so that he can find employment elsewhere (thereby avoiding borrowing seeds from the coyote, or grain buyer, who will force the family to pay back three times the seeds he lends), she proudly agrees to the task. While her father is away, she learns from her new teacher at school, Don Pedro Morales, who has “big ideas” about how to restore the soil. María and her classmates learn about composting, how to keep insects away with marigolds, terracing, and more. She also learns how to feed the soil herself so that she and her family and neighbors no longer need to depend upon the deceitful coyotes, the middlemen who keep the villagers from getting ahead on their own (whom Daigneault depicts as literal coyotes).

I’m taken with Daigneault’s sweeping and highly stylized illustrations. Click on each spread below to see the full spread as it appears in the book, complete with the text.

“If their crops fail again, it will be worse. The Duartes will lose their farm to the coyote and have to find new land.”

“The coyote goes from campesino to campesino to look at their onions and chilies. He names a price and, as always, the price is low. If they accept it, they will barely have enough money to buy the seeds they need. But Don Pedro has another big idea. He says the villagers should take their vegetables to the market to sell for themselves
and offers to show them how…”

“María Luz cannot imagine the school and the school garden without Don Pedro. But she can see the change he has made as she looks around…It is not only the soil that is changing. There is something new in the air, too —
a feeling of hope spreading from garden to garden.”

Text copyright © 2010 Katie Smith Milway. Illustrations copyright © 2010 Sylvie Daigneault. Reprinted by permission of Kids Can Press.

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). I was kindly invited to a lovely dinner one night this week with the folks who own and run Lemniscaat—Jean Christophe Boele van Hensbroek and his wife, author Jesse Gussen, who were visiting the States from the Netherlands—and a few other middle-Tennessee children’s-lit enthusiasts. Jean Christophe and his wife were delightful people, not to mention their obscenely cute four-year-old daughter, who spoke only Dutch but could sing “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed” in English. You may remember this post; there was much talk of that book (which I love so ardently) at the dinner, whom we have Jean Christophe (President of Lemniscaat, pictured here) to thank for its very publication. He had some neat stories about working with the Tolmans on that book.

2). Eisha sent me a new mixed CD full of pretty kickin’ songs. I needed new music right about now. Here’s one of the songs on the mix — just to liven things up around here. This is circa 1980:

3). Congratulations to the Nashville Public Library. This is particularly great news, since this week we Nashvillians got the very sad news that our only independent bookstore, a beloved fixture in Nashville, will be closing. (Not a kick. NOT A KICK.)

4). I can’t remember if I’ve announced this already, but Betsy, Peter, and I will be getting an intern (possibly more than one? Not sure yet) for the book we’re writing this year. Students from Vanderbilt will get independent-study credit for assisting us with research on the book, and I can’t tell you how happy this news makes me. It’s all thanks to Dr. Ann Neely from Vanderbilt’s Peabody College.

Then5). Eisha emailed me this real-life Kipling moment in Zambia. (DUDE. Ouch. That poor pachyderm.) ‘Cause, you see, I once memorized Kipling’s “Elephant’s Child” word-for-word for a graduate storytelling course, and I can still say it, if you give me some time to refresh it all. It’s still in the dusty corners of my brain. And, once upon a time at the blog (or should I say, “in the High and Far-Off Times, O Best Beloved”), I might have mentioned that a billion times. Can’t remember which post, and so Eisha likes to tease me. But, hey, it is a neat party-trick. (That and I can sing the alphabet as it appears on the keyboard. WITHOUT EVEN LOOKING. And that’s because I’m a tremendous left-brained nerd. I have a vague memory of promising Little Willow once that I would videotape myself doing that. Perhaps I should. Think I can get The Black Keys to back me on guitar and drums?)

6). The Center for Children’s and Young Adult Literature at UT in Knoxville has announced their first-ever Conference on Children’s Literature to be held on April 1-2, 2011. I’m so there already.

7). Today, I get to see at her baby shower a friend to whom I’m going to give today’s featured book. And that’s because this friend of mine also believes in food justice, in access to healthy fruits and veggies for everyone. This past summer, she worked in partnership with East Nashville Cooperative Ministry (ENCM) to bring an education program she designed, called Plant the Seed, to two of their community gardens. She designed and implemented the curriculum that engaged 80+ kids over four weeks during the summer—teaching them about healthier food options, growing their own foods, and learning about food justice. It was a huge success, and ENCM has designated part of their end-of-the-year fundraising campaign to her garden-based education program, a dream-come-true for her. In addition to grants that she is helping to write, she has agreed to raise $1000 before the New Year. So, I’m going to give what I can to that today — and give her this book just for fun, a book I think is perfect for her. She’s one of my kicks — for being my friend and for the good, steadfast work she does.

Bonus Kick: The wound from a book falling from high on a bookshelf onto my forehead is only minor. Who ever said book-blogging wasn’t a dangerous sport?
What are YOUR kicks this week?

29 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #194: Featuring Sylvie Daigneault”

  1. My kicks are all about a trip to New York City this week.

    1. Lovely lunch with my agent. We usually just grab a quick bite in the office.

    2. Sat in the office of my Random House editor where she has huge windows on two sides with marvelous city views, though all we chatted/laughed about was a plastic bag floating in an updraft, calling it “movable art installation.”

    3. Walking through Central Park with an old friend from my elementary school days, remembering together.

    4. A visit to the Cloisters, first time in years.

    5. A visit to the Frick where said elementary school chum and I, both reading WOLF HALL, marveled at the portraits of Sir Thomas More and Cromwell facing off on opposite sides of an elaborate fireplace.

    6. 3 1/2 hour train ride home in which I was able to plug my laptop in and write a new chapter in the novel I am working on.’


  2. Sylvie’s book is one of the nominate NFBP for the CYBILS…the art work is amazing.
    Jules, I love that almost every week you feature music. It is such a lift.
    Jane, to be in NYC sounds like a wonderful day.
    My Kicks:
    -The poems I have been receiving each day from Jane in her effort to raise money for The Center for New Americans.
    -The Season of Love and Hope Auction begins tomorrow. It’s to raise money for my friend Bridget Zinn as she continues to battle cancer.
    -Playing vampire girl and then Barbies with my oldest granddaughter. In the midst of this she said, “Cut. You’re doing it wrong.” Her imagination is amazing.
    -Visiting said granddaughter’s school on Wed. to read a story.
    -The hint of snow tonight.
    Have a great week. Happy Thanksgiving.

  3. Happy Thanksgiving week to one and all, no matter where in the world you live!

    Hello to Sylvie. ‘Tis nice to see a sun this morning, albeit it illustrated. 🙂

    My kicks for the past week:
    Last Sunday: Performed in a staged reading of a new musical.
    Monday: Auditioned for a TV show. Had the first rehearsal/table read for a movie.
    Tuesday: Blocking rehearsal for the movie.
    Wednesday: Informed that I was under consideration for the TV role.
    Thursday: Booked the TV role.
    Friday: Filmed the episode. One line, all mine. Please let this be the breakthrough…!
    Saturday: Closing performance of the concert.
    Today: Filming a webseries, then seeing a musical.

  4. Thank you for sharing about Sylvie and her art. It is quite lively and beautiful. I can feel the spirit of life and admire her ability very much.

  5. Jules: Did Sylvie use colored pencils for the illustrations? :o)

    I wish I could intern for you, Betsy, and Peter. :o(

    Jane: Your trip to NYC sounds wonderful.

    Jone: Lovin’ your grandkids.

  6. Jone (again):

  7. Okay, my comments keep getting eaten up. Let’s try this again:

    Jone (again):

  8. SIGH. I give up.

  9. Oh no, Tarie. That’s so weird. I will paste your kicks here. (Thanks for emailing them to me. I don’t know why they won’t show up. They’re not even in spam. Go figure.)

    1. I am listening to Christmas music!

    2. I participated in an international picture book swap and received a picture book from Switzerland: Que deviennent les ballons laches dans le ciel? by Delphine Chedru (La Jolie de Lire, 2010). It’s funny and perfect for very young readers.

    3. I moderated a panel on online writing at the very first Manila International Literary Festival.

    4.-5. At the festival, I got to see children’s book author Christipher Cheng again. And I got to meet YA book author Andy Mulligan for the first time. His latest book Trash is set in the Philippines and SLJ just named it one of the best books of 2010!

    6. Also a speaker/attendee of the festival was Vikas Swarup. Vikas is the author of Q&A, which was turned into the Oscar-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire. On the last night of the festival there was a small party and Vikas and his wife went up and sang “Jai Ho” (the song from Slumdog Millionaire that won the Oscar for Best Song). My mind was blown. It was a very meta moment.

    7. My friends and I are cooking up a Book Bloggers’ Conference.

  10. P.S. Back later, everyone.

  11. Hello all,

    Jules, a Joan Jett song always livens things up — thanks for sharing. I still love many of the old ’80’s tunes.

    Jane, what an amazing set of kicks! Sounds like a perfect trip.
    Jone, I hope the auction is a huge success and that your friend gets healthy very soon.
    LW, a big WOOT! to you for the tv role! Let us know what to watch and when.
    Tammie, hello!
    Tarie, boo to the comments gremlin!

    My kicks:
    1) Jules.
    2) The fact that my back pain is finally almost gone! Whew.
    3) Lunch with my friend Carolyn after many months of not seeing her.
    4) Dinner with my friend Laura, and finding out how many neurotic tendencies we have in common. Always comforting.
    5) Rain.
    6) Healing.
    7) This video — Warhol uses iPad. It gets a bit tedious, but it’s still pretty amazing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pMS5IMOxCA

    Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate it, and I hope everyone has a great week!

  12. What lovely art today! (And a very subtle message in the subtitle: “…from hunger to having enough,” NOT — as one might expect — something like “…to plenty.” The pleasure of getting just what you need and then stopping!)

    I followed your link to the Lemniscaat site, Jules. Although it’s in Dutch, on the Young Adult page I was introduced (in the post dated 03-11-2010, currently at the top, headlined “John Green komt naar Nederland!”) to the word “nerdfighters.” (Especially delightful to know that when I let Google translate the page to English, it left that word undisturbed.) So then I check further and it turns out that it’s a real word. From the Nerdfighters home at the Ning social network site: “We’re Nerdfighters. We fight against suck….we fight for awesome. We fight using our brains, our hearts, our calculators and our trombones.” Ha!

    (All this was such an obvious rallying cry for 7-Imp that I suddenly realized you must have latched on to it at some point. And so you had, before my time here though.)

    I think a wound from a falling book should be a badge of honor, Jules. If I could I’d sign your cast. If you had a cast.

    Jane, my gosh — that trip to NYC sounds made to order for me. Are you sure all those tickets didn’t have my name on them???

    Jone: that “Cut!” moment just cracked me up. (Although not as much as my misreading of the opening sentence of that kick — I understood it as some kind of vampire-Barbie mashup.)

    Little Willow: Go, you! NOT of course, wishing you anything like good luck. Not-wishing that as hard as I can though. 🙂

    Tarie, well, I know that was frustrating for you. But it was sort of like watching an airliner taxi by on the runway, with you waving to us from every seat. So, not a total loss.


    * Cowboy Junkies’ “Misguided Angel.” (Sort of a downer of a song in obvious ways — but it’s such a well-done downer that it’s hard not to kick about it.)

    * The annual feeling analogous to standing on the railroad tracks just outside the tunnel and yelling into the darkness, Come on, year-end holidays! Bet you can’t hit me! (Meanwhile, of course, the rails are already humming under my feet.)

    * Solving a small but annoying home-repair problem, especially because I had no idea what to do to solve it.

    * Wrapping up a hellacious major system upgrade at work.

    * Sunlight.

    * Moonlight.

    * Starlight. (Oh, and heck, throw in “Stardust” too.)

  13. Jill, that iPad video desperately needed Carly Simon singing “Anticipation” on the soundtrack. 🙂

    (I did like strong>the original, too!)

    So glad to hear the back pain is nearly gone!

  14. Gremlins everywhere today… that was supposed to be: “the original, too!”)

  15. JES, I love the thought that goes into your posts, and your way with words. The way you described Tarie’s attempts to post her comments was perfect!

    And yes, “Anticipation” was desperately needed for that video — wonder why they didn’t think of that?

  16. Jes, the whole creative process of a 6 YO cracks me up…she’s something and I am delighted to have her in my life.

  17. The Good Garden’s empowerment story is lovely; and I like that the SUN seems to be an involved character. One tends to see more moonface onlookers in storybooks. This dreamy sun really cast the mood. Thanks for sharing.

    Jules – Geez-Louise…that poor elephant. And YES I second Little Willow and want to see/hear you do the Keyboard Song! (Did you make it up or was it a learning acronym in a typing class? My college room mate knew a long nonsense word that supplied the identifying initials of all the presidents’ names in order. Always meant to learn that one…) RE: your Bonus Kick: Sounds like a sci-fi short story to me: “The Day the Books Attacked!”

    Jane – I very much envy your working 3½ hour train ride. I’m thinking maybe I should ride up to San Francisco and back and knock out a few chapters – uninterrupted ’cept for the conductor punching my ticket.

    Jone – “Cut. You’re doing it wrong.” Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! Love that – a female film director in the making!

    LW – You’ll tell us when/how we can catch the broadcast of your one-liner or any of your many other performances, right? You go girl.

    Tarie – The official explanation line for lost posts: “My dog ate it.” : – ) Oh, I love the “Jai Ho” song and that director; what a cool experience.

    Jill – Rain & Healing go together me thinks.

    JES — Your on-the-rails/holiday analogy. (exactly!)

    I missed last week – early baseball game and visit to sick relative – and missed you guys. I just have two fun and related kicks this week:

    1 – I finally got to the “exciting places” toward the end of my middle-grade novel when I get to start killing off a few selected characters. I was surprised when this led to some heartfelt pleading by my critique group “Oh, please don’t kill so-and-so!” This led to a long interesting debate about what level of violence or loss could/should be done in children’s literature.

    2 — When she got home, one of the proponents for “If it works for the story – just go for it.” sent me this video: “Stand by Me” from The Muppet Show. OMG, Jules — and others of the morbid school of children’s entertainment – I think you’ll like this:


    And speaking of gobbling and nummy-num-nums, HAPPY THANKSGIVING everyone.

  18. Oh, you nice people, thanks for visiting. You’re sunshine, too. I’ll be back, post baby-shower, to read and respond.

  19. Jane, kick #2 is so American Beauty, a movie I love. Good luck with your writing.

    Jone, so are you getting snow? Glad you like the music. And your granddaughter is a-freakin’-dorable. (How do you like that infixing there?)

    Little Willow, as always, you. simply. rock. it.

    Hi, Tammie. Thanks for visiting and for the comment.

    Tarie, well now, shoot. I gave my copy of the book away today, and I failed to see if these illustrations are rendered in colored pencils. DOH. Sorry! I normally look that kind of thing up. ….International picture book swap = brilliant. Kick #3 = WOOT! Okay, wait, all the rest of your kicks are WOOT!, too.

    Jill, aw thanks for kick #1. And great news that the back pain has almost finally packed its bags and hit the road.

    John, YES! Nerdfighters all the way. And hoo boy does that Cowboy Junkies song take me back to high school. That whole CD does. Even more than “In My Tribe,” arguably.

    Denise, welcome back. To answer your question, sadly, I think I can sing the alphabet as it appears on the keyboard just ’cause I memorized it out of sheer boredom one day. I guess? Or just ’cause, as I said, I’m a left-brained nerd. And that video is wonderfully warped! It’s like a very sick Litlte Bunny Foo-Foo (sans the field mice).

  20. I really enjoy reading everyone’s kicks. Yay for Nerdfighters, Cowboy Junkies and American Beauty (“I will sell this house today. I will sell this house today…”). My kicks this week are quieter than usual, but I’m thankful for them:

    1/ Talking to an author friend about surreal and imminent possibilities for her and being thrilled by my proximity to said possibilities.

    2/ Seeing my 7 yo boy, who has my extreme fear of performing/being in front of a crowd, get up there with his schoolmates and sing at his school open house.

    3/ Watching my kids devour their dinners with great appreciation at our favorite (Thai) restaurant.

    4/ Being a part of the well wishes and celebration at (same) friend’s baby shower and seeing her surrounded by loving friends and family.

    5/ Getting a bunch of ideas for NaPiBoIdMo – even a couple that might work.

    6/ Reacquainting myself with the soft, chocolate-coated, German ginger-cake cookies at Trader Joe’s.

    7/ Putting my feet up in this bed and savoring a moment of quiet gratitude that my family is safe and warm and full.

  21. Jessica, kick #8 was seeing you today.

    Your second and seventh kicks are particularly rich. And I think I need some of those cookies in my life. A good friend of mine raves about the snacks at Trader Joe’s. I need to shop there once just for fun.

  22. These illustrations reminded me of visiting an art gallery while I was in middle school, and seeing paintings of coyotes in the desert. These weren’t just any coyotes – they were surreal and sometimes donned sunglasses, or had whole rivers gushing out of them. And in many of the paintings, there was a gorgeous, far-reaching sun, similar to the ones here. I believe the painter was Mexican.

    Thank you for putting up these spreads. The colors are gorgeous!

    My kick is meeting a bunch of fellow debut authors in NYC. We are all in touch online and only met in person on Friday. I was so happy and thrilled to see everyone, to feel that instant solidarity and understanding and anticipation. It makes 2011 seem so much closer and manageable for me.

    And now I’m adding Slumdog Millionaire to my queue b/c that’s one of those movies I’ve been wanting to see, and this post reminded me!

  23. Hi, Sheela. So glad you visited, and nice to cyber-meet you. That’s one pretty great kick. I recently met some other authors here in middle TN, and it’s a nice feeling, though I still feel weird calling myself an “author.” (I gotta get over that, don’t I?)

  24. Beautiful sun, and after all the cold and rain here lately, so nice to see!

    Not feeling too kicky lately, but coming here and reading everyone else’s kicks always put s a big smile on my face.

    So my kicks this week are all of you, and all of my lovely friends.

    Happy Thanksgiving early, and have a great week!

  25. Rachel, BIG ‘OL CYBER-HUG.


  26. What a wonderful page you have! The pictures and writings are just sublime! Thank you for what you give to us! ox

  27. Why, thanks, Janet.

  28. Jules – that’s right – you have a book coming out, too! As a matter of fact, I interviewed Betsy Bird recently on The Mixed-Up Files, and she mentioned her upcoming book with you. Congratulations! 🙂

  29. Aw, thanks, Jules!

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