7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #208: Featuring Il Sung Na,
C.S.W. Rand, Peter Brown, and Aaron Zenz
(In Which There Are Cute Fluffy Bunny Sightings and
It Becomes Very Clear That I’m Ready for Spring Already)

h1 February 27th, 2011 by jules

“They give the signal to form a Bunny Circle.
Their ears touch and noses twitch, and they know what to do.”

(Click to enlarge)

This post is probably the closest you’ll ever see to me talking about Cute Fluffy Bunnies in children’s book illustration, but quite clearly I’m ready for spring. All featured books today include bunnies of the fluffy and, quite possibly, cute variety (depending on your definition of “cute,” I guess). And I like all these bunnies, oh yes I do.

I’ve previously featured at 7-Imp the work of Korean illustrator Il Sung Na—at this 2009 post, to be exact—who now lives and works in London. The second spread above is his. I’ve got more spreads this morning from his new book. He just ups the ante on beauty with each book, huh? But more on him in a second. First up is Big Bunny (from which that top illustration comes), written by mother-daughter duo Betseygail Rand (daughter) and Colleen Rand (mother) — and illustrated by Colleen, who goes by “C.S.W. Rand” in the illustration credit.

This came from Tricycle Press this past January. Evidently, the author’s day job is professor of mathematics, and the mama’s day job is production photographer for a professional dance company and instructor of a life drawing class.

This is an oddball little book. (Remember, in my brain’s world, this is a compliment.) It’s the story of a bunny, born in the spring “along with all the other Easter bunnies,” who grows hugely huge. She loves being big until it comes time to paint eggs and she realizes she’s too big to do so. The eggs break when she picks them up, and then to pour salt on an already open wound, she inadvertently sits on some Easter baskets. She hops away. Her peeps (sorry — couldn’t resist that) are sad, and they … get this … they sit in a circle, as depicted in the illustration opening this post, and communicate in this very odd, sort of communal manner in which they touch ears, twitch their noses, and read one another’s minds. Or so it seems. And what do they determine during this, their first psychic, mind-meld gathering? That they need to find Big Bunny and bring her home. (Well, “they know what to do” is how it’s worded, and MAN do I wish it were that easy to figure things out in life, but I digress.) And I don’t want to give away the entire story here. I’ll just add that the rather retro, minimalist art made me take a second look at the book—I’m going to show you some spreads here and let the art speak for itself—and that it looks like, I dunno, some lost 1940s Little Golden Book. That’s all. And also that I tend to fall hard and fall fast for stories about misfits. And—at the risk of sounding ungrateful for the here and the now, which I know I should be grateful for—lordhavemercy, I’m ready right at this moment for the warm, spring’y world depicted in this book.

“One baby bunny…grows and grows and GROWS!

“…the bunnies learn how to paint eggs and weave baskets.”

“Late one starry night, they see a large shadowy shape with long droopy ears and a big puffy tail. They have found Big Bunny!”

“In the night hush…”

“Happy and tired, the little bunnies snuggle next to Big Bunny.
They close their eyes and sleep.”

And, as for Il Sung Na’s beautiful new picture book title, Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit: A Book of Changing Seasons (Alfred A. Knopf, January 2011), I’m going to quote heavily here the experts — in this case, The New York Times, who covered it just this week:

“Whimsy” is a word that runs rampant in the description of children’s literature, but Il Sung Na’s picture books certainly merit the label. “Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit” is the latest of Na’s deceptively simple storybooks…where a straightforward tale of nature or nighttime is elevated by distinctive illustration into a somewhat more enchanted realm than that of mere snowfall and frozen dirt…. Using a combination of painted oils, ink drawings and digital manipulation, Na’s depiction of nature includes unexpected flourishes…. Each page’s pictures advance the spare text, which is geared toward toddlers and young preschoolers, though the visuals may yet inspire an artistically minded kindergartner….

This is about a rabbit who observes how other animals cope with winter. The book closes with the arrival of spring. And that’s that, text-wise. It’s the art that will blow you away. Na’s very textured, patterned artwork is the kind of art you want to take your time with and pore over with your favorite wee child. The patterns, layers, swirls, overlays, details, colors — it’s all worth looking closely at. It’s beautiful through and through, and again, I will let the art speak for itself, as in check out those turtle shells and woolly coats below, speaking of patterns. You can click each spread to supersize…

“Some swim to warmer waters…”

“While some have a thick woolly coat . . . they can stay in the snow!”

* * * * * * *

SNOW RABBIT, SPRING RABBIT: A BOOK OF CHANGING SEASONS. Copyright © 2010 by Il Sung Na. First American Edition copyright © 2011. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, New York.

BIG BUNNY. Text copyright © 2011 by Betseygail Rand and Colleen Rand. Illustrations © 2011 by C.S.W. Rand. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Tricycle Press, 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 * * *

I think this is a really necessary week to focus on some kicks, dear readers. It’s been a loss’y kind of week. I know. I just made up that adjective and should actually consult a thesaurus sometimes. My apologies for not being more eloquent. I got news that a really beautiful, brilliant artist and mother I used to know in East Tennessee lost her fight against breast cancer; nightmarishly, my nephew’s newborn son, one of a set of twins, died from SIDS early this week after just a mere six weeks in this world; and the kidlitosphere is reeling from the loss of YA author L.K. Madigan. Rest in peace, Kim, Levi, and Lisa. I don’t mean to bring the room down when we tend to celebrate on these Sunday mornings, but sometimes, just because you can, you want to mark these moments in time and space with a moment of reverent silence.

And then you want to count your blessings, as they say, and kick back and notice the big and little things that bring joy, which I’m glad you all join me weekly in doing here at this spot in cyberspace — for many reasons, but mostly because none of us really knows how long we have on this brilliant ball of ice and fire hanging out in space. (Ack! Also NOT ELOQUENT, but let’s just carry on…)

1). Ask me how much I love this story: My friend’s two young boys (very close to my girls’ ages) were having breakfast, and the seven-year-old said, “black holes blow my mind.” And his younger brother, all of four years old, said, “you know what blows my mind? Love.” Where do I even begin? I laughed outloud—a veritable HOOT—when I read that. Best laugh of the week, in fact. As I told my friend, it’s like Carl Sagan meets John Lennon at a breakfast bar. Over mimosas. So perfect.

1½). The 2011 Children’s Book Week poster, as rendered by Peter Brown:

2). Finished Voyage of the Dawn Treader with the six-year-old. I’ll always remember reading the end of that book myself and how it gave me chills—the Sea People, the very end of the world and its smooth green slope, the vanishing of Reepicheep, the girl under the water that Lucy saw—and so reading it to her was, quite frankly, magical and made me feel all warm and tingly inside.

3). More Elbow! Here! Another performance! New song from the upcoming CD! At The Guardian! I’m using those exclamation marks just for Guy Garvey. Have I mentioned he’s a genius? I am deeply in love with the brief, burbly piano moments in that song.

Also, on the subject of music, I had this documentary, The White Stripes Under Great White Northern Lights, in the ‘ol Netflix queueueueue for the longest time. It just so happens that I finally watched it last week, and I didn’t even plan that timing, given their recent calling-it-quits. (Sniff.) It was good. Meg White actually spoke a few words, too.

Also: Yesterday would have been The Man in Black’s 79th birthday. In honor:

Still haven’t carved out time to listen to this, as I don’t want to be distracted by anything else and have been busy (what’s new?), but I’m looking forward to it, as The Low Anthem is pretty much all I’ve been listening to all week, when I’ve had time to listen to tune-age.

Finally, here’s a musical treat for you: If you go here, you can hear many good songs about sunlight. I have This Thing for sun stuff, but also one of my very favorite songs, Delta Spirit’s “Ode to Sunshine,” is there (song #2) and is only one play button away for you wonderful people. Turn it up. Really. I know you’re probably all, Jules is ALL THE TIME running her mouth about music and I’m all the time skimming all her jibber-jabber musical nonsense and videos and music links and she’s probably just rambling about Sam Phillips, who is the Indisputable Queen of All Music, again anyway, but you really DO want to turn that song up loudly. It’s. so. good.

3½). If you saw my post from Friday about The Gruffalo and The Lost Thing and tonight’s Oscars, you may be happy to know that you can see all of The Lost Thing—yes, the short film in its entirety—at this link. I watched it yesterday and found it quite moving. Thanks to Dan Santat for the tip. I hope it’s still view-able there today when this post goes live.

4). Thanks to a suggestion from the honorable Jama Rattigan, I decided to secure illustrator Carin Bramsen’s permission to put the opening image from this post on the “about” page of the blog. See? Scroll down to the explanation of “kicks,” and there you will see the image. Perfect, huh? Big ‘ol thanks to both Jama and Carin.

5). When your Blog Ramblings Because You’re Just a Nerd Who Can’t Help But Talk About Picture Books are noticed and appreciated. That’s a huge kick.

6). 7-Imp has its own domain now: sevenimpossiblethings.org. No need for folks to re-direct links or what-have-you. If you type that in, it still brings you here to blaine.org. It’s just easier to say “sevenimpossiblethings dot org” now, as opposed to the more cumbersome “blaine-dot-org-slash-etc…” mouthful.

7). Last but far from least: 7-Imp has a new mad tea party image to add to the collection! As a 7-Imp reader, thanking me for my regular blog posts, which was terrifically kind of him, author/illustrator Aaron Zenz sent to me—out of the blue—this piece of original art, which made my mailbox very happy:

Now, it deserves a bit of explanation as a mad tea party image: Aaron’s newest book, which came out this month from Walker Books (Bloomsbury), is for the very wee’est of folks in your life. (Pictured left and below are some illustrations from the book.) It’s called Chuckling Ducklings and Baby Animal Friends, and I mean to tell you that the big, colorful illustrations with the very round, warm, comforting lines will make the babies in your life go ooh and aah and gasp and gurgle and smile all big and toothlessly and such. The book features baby animals and their wee baby-animal names (I can’t stop saying “wee,” can I?), and Aaron goes from domesticated animals (starting out with a puppy, a kitten, and a bunny) to wood animals (fawn) to farm animals (duckling, piglet, lamb, colt, filly, cubs of every kind) to pond animals (tadpole) to birds (eyas, eaglet, cygnet, squab) to ocean animals (whelp, elver) to you-name-it and much, much more in between. The spare, rhyming text is just right for your wee story-time read-aloud for the youngest of listeners or for a parent-child lap-sit read, and everything about the large, uncluttered colored pencil illustrations is gentle and soft-focus, full of cheer. Your lap-sitters will take in these images with big, happy eyes.

So. Above in this one-of-a-kind, I have to say, mad tea party image is the wee-version of each of the mad tea party participants (minus Alice, of course): The March Leveret, the Dor-Pinky (yes, baby mice can be called many things, as I understand it, but “pinky” is one), and … well, no Mad Hatter, but a Mad “Spatter,” a spat being—as you can see in the image—a young oyster. Normally, spats don’t sport hats, but this is a Mad Spatter. At least it’ll be easy for him to escape decapitation from the Queen of Hearts, seeing as how, um, he has no actual head.

The image is now forever in the header on this page of the site.

Right? Right! I can say with confidence I have no other mad tea party image quite like that one. And I’m happy to have one from someone whose art is geared toward the very wee’est readers of the world. (Some publisher needs to come along and make a board book out of Chuckling Ducklings, I say.)

Here are some illustrations from the book, which I went bugging Aaron for, and I thank him for sharing and especially for the new mad tea party art.

Note for the very observant: When Aaron stopped by 7-Imp in September 2009, he shared some of the sample art he was using for his Chuckling Ducklings pitches. The art style, he tells me, changed quite a bit in the end, which is evident if you go back and look at that post.

BONUS KICK: I survived a roach encounter—while typing THIS VERY EXACT POST—which was horrifying (given that merely spotting a roach from precisely seven miles away is horrifying to me) and which we will not speak further of.

SWEET HEAVENLY CUTE FLUFFY BUNNIES IN MOTORCYCLE SIDECARS (I’m not sure where that exclamation came from — just came out), this is a novella of a post. I swear that I’ll make next week’s super short. What are YOUR kicks this week?

* * * * * * *

2011 Children’s Book Week poster © 2011 and used with permission of Peter Brown.

All art from Aaron Zenz © 2011 and used with permission.

15 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #208: Featuring Il Sung Na,
C.S.W. Rand, Peter Brown, and Aaron Zenz
(In Which There Are Cute Fluffy Bunny Sightings and
It Becomes Very Clear That I’m Ready for Spring Already)

  1. Okay, that bunny circle is really creepy-wonderful.

    Il Sung Na’s delicate, colorful touch reminds me of the papertowels left over after dying Easter eggs (a subtle, gorgeous blend of pastels.) The sheep’s wool, the turtle shells… sooooo beautiful and so Na.

    Jules, such loss, a terrible week; my sympathies. I will try to heed your good advice: gratefulness, diligence, awareness of precious now.

    My kicks this week:
    1. Started reading Shipbreaker. So far, so good.

    2. The Oscars tonight. Got my microwave popcorn ready to pop.

    3. Finished Chap. 73; moving onwards and upwards!

    4. Jule’s 2/25 Random Etcetera blog with a gazillion great links.
    (Though I told her she was “a gateway to internet addiction”.)

    5. Clean, crisp air and a blue view — after much wind and rain. Looks like LA’s downpour cleared up just in time for the Red Carpet.

    6. Last Thursday: SCBWI’s 2011 Golden Kite Awards announced: http://www.scbwi.org/Pages.aspx/Current-News?2011-Golden-Kite-Awards-and-Sid-Fleischman-Award-Announced

    7. So now, I can come of out the judging closet and say that it was a privilege and an honor to judge the Picture Book Text category (with writer David Adler and illustrator Sean Qualls.) We read 479 books. Whew.

    Have a healthy, happy week everyone. “And the Oscar goes to…”

  2. So sorry to hear about your loss’y week, Jules. My condolences.

    1. Survived a car accident on Wednesday. I’m OK, but still very, very sore.
    2. My film will be a featured event for children’s publishers during Children’s Book Week in NYC.
    3. Upcoming screenings in Boston, Philadelphia, Kutztown, Princeton, Columbus, Montreal, Minneapolis, Baltimore, Knoxville, Amherst (Eric Carle Museum), Roanoke, New Orleans (ALA), Chicago, and St. Louis.
    4. Big news about a new film collaboration, which I’ll share soon.
    5. After a long hiatus, I’m resuming my Fieldnotes interview with David Saylor from Scholastic. More to come this year.
    6. Still offering my first poetry collection as a free ebook:
    7. And finally a new poem:

    By Steven Withrow

    That summer my father beheaded a sunning snake
    with the hard guillotine of a garden spade.
    Its venomous skull popped up and somersaulted
    to a dead stop beside the woodshed.
    (Among the vacation lake towns of northern Jersey
    the turnpike’s signposts made no mention
    of bramble-shrouded pockets lush as any tropics
    hiding eastern kingsnake and black racer.)
    I turned away, envisioning Medusa’s fierce face,
    aspy tresses tracing permanent petrifaction
    across an epic afternoon Dad demythologized
    by chucking a tongueless S into the brush.

    ©2011 by Steven Withrow, all rights reserved

  3. Denise, congrats on the judging work! And Chapter seventy-three? Whoa.

    Steven, so glad you’re okay. Congrats on kick #2. And I’ll see you in Knoxville!

    And that poem gave me shivers.

  4. Fly-by posting.

    My thoughts are with the families and friends of those who were lost this week. My deepest condolences. Lisa M, your strength will live on.

    Thank you for the images of the sweet little critters, Jules.

    Denise: Congrats and kudos.

    Steven: Be well and be safe. Thanks for sharing poetry.

    Kicks for the past week:
    1) Wrapped the apocalypse party film yesterday. I had a blast.
    2) Booked a job as a double & stand-in for the lead in a TV pilot
    3) Office
    4) Jazz music
    5) Schedules working out
    6) Reunions
    7) Prepping for the Christopher Golden & Tim Lebbon blog tour for their book The Secret Journeys of Jack London: THE WILD! The book comes out on Tuesday, March 1st. I’m kicking off the blog tour at my blog tomorrow.

  5. Happy Kicks-day, Kickers!

    Excellent featured books this week, Jules, given 2011’s Year of the Rabbithood status. (I myself represent those of the Rabbit-born persuasion, so I speak with authority (for practically the first dang time in my life, on ANY topic).)

    (And how much do I love Denise’s description of the pastels in Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit — “the papertowels left over after dying Easter eggs”?!? A LOT.)

    That’s a heck of a week you had there, Jules — so much awful news clustered together in such a short span of time. Much sympathy youwards.

    You know how much I think of your musical taste, so I will just say I hope you continue running your mouth etc. and especially providing all the great links, embedding all the great videos, and generally gearing up for the moment when you can quit all day-jobbery and open up a 7-Imp Hall of Music annex right alongside this main attraction. Heck, you can even charge separate admission.

    In that simple but elegant/eloquent Aaron Zenz 7-Imp contribution, I managed to get totally visually confused. Across the table from the Dor-Pinky is a teapot. All well and good. Except I didn’t see it as a teapot, not for several moments. I saw it as… well, this will be hard to describe, but the key is that the spout, lid, and handle are the same pinkish shade as the flesh of the Dor-Pinky and the… the… oysterness of the Mad Spat-ter. The teapot looked to me like how a baby in a diaper would look from that angle, if the baby rolled onto its back and kicked its legs (the lid and spout), as babies will do. (I thought the handle was said baby’s right arm. The left arm and head seemed to be hidden behind that enormous diapered bottom.)

    Then I suddenly thought: Wait. What’s wrong with the baby’s right leg…?!? All the possible answers (including “Oh, that’s not a leg — eeeeewwwww!“) freaked me out just enough to kick the corrected perspective into place in my head.

    But it was a scary few seconds there.

    Denise, it must be a little surreal to live in your neck of the woods around Oscar-time. I bet everybody not actually participating stays home all day and orders takeout. Although they’ve probably got to order weeks in advance.

    Steven, loved that “Copperhead” poem. The language has a good mouth-feel, if you know what I mean: bramble-shrouded pockets lush as any tropics indeed.

    Kicks from here:

    * Finally saw Inception and How to Train Your Dragon, both last night. Mind completely blown by the former (though not as much as by black holes and love)… Spent the whole overnight dreaming about a dream of a dream, no fooling (and no metaphor). And …Dragon, aieee — I wish they’d held onto it for another year, because it’s gonna be tough going up against Toy Story 3. But LOVED it.

    * Also saw The Social Network last weekend. (Yes, that’s the sound of elephants trumpeting and thundering past which you hear, in a pre-Oscar stampede.) Liked it much more than I thought I would, although I also thought all the advance notice was a bit hype-ish. (Which pretty much sums up how I feel about social networking, for that matter.)

    * The word “detent” (no final e) and what it means. (I’ve been keeping that kick to myself for decades. Seriously. (Seriously weird.))

    * We’ve got this new health-and-gourmet-food supermarket in town. Amazing place (although I worry about the smaller, locally-owned, decades-old counterpart just down the road from it).

    * WIP progress. Just enough. Although of course the child in me wishes it were done already.

    * From McSweeney’s: What Your Favorite Classic Rock Band Says About You.

    * Finished reading China Miéville’s The City and The City this week. As Jules would say: hubba-whoa.

    Have a great week, everybody!

  6. Little Willow, just missed you — congratulations on the double/stand-in job! (But by “double” I sorta hope you don’t mean stunt double!)

  7. Jules, so very sorry for your loss’y week. Holding you and your extended family in my thoughts…

    Thanks for the MIB video – love him!

    And I’m with you, totally ready for spring. Its been very cold here, although today the sun is shining, which always helps!

    Denise – I agree, the bunny circle struck me as a bit creepy too, but in a very fun way. Congrats on Chapter 73!

    Steven – glad you’re ok, thanks for the lovely poem!

    LW – congrats on what sounds like an awesome week! You’re on a roll!

    JES – I loved Inception too. I’ll have to check out The City and The City. Congrats on the WIP being (almost) where you want it to be.

    My kicks this week:
    1) Ingrid the rottie continues to settle-in nicely. We had a minor health scare but vet and I are on it, and so far so good.
    2) Last week friends from New Orleans who live in Bend drove up and we went to see Voice of the Wetlands Allstars in concert. Tab Benoit and Anders Osborne were awesome, and the played for 4 hours straight!
    3)Tab Benoit talking about a bowling monkey. Whole thing is funny, but monkey story starts at 4:40.
    4) Indoor soccer game last night, then drinks afterwards at our new sponsor’s pub. Very fun!
    5) Reservations made for upcoming vacation! Starting to get excited…
    6) Politely, honestly, and gently shutting a door.
    7) Saw The Town Friday night. Very well done movie, and I am surprised only Jeremy Renner got an Oscar nod.
    7 1/2) Oscar watching party tonight!

    Happy Sunday! Hope everyone has a great week!

  8. Little Willlow, congrats on #2! Double! Does this mean we will see you in spots? … Good luck with tomorrow’s post. I’ll stop by.

    John, McSweeney’s link cracked. me. up. So, which band are you? And please use “detent” in a sentence? Please? Your story about Aaron’s artwork was pretty funny. Glad you got it straightened out.

    And congrats on the WIP progress.

    Rachel, can you re-URL your links? They are not there. Glad Ingrid is okay. Why have I never heard of The Town? Must look it up.

  9. I feel badly for the losses, Jules. I am grateful for my blessings, but am frustrated and sorrowful injustice for anyone not being able to live out a healthy lifespan.

    I continue to train for The Big Climb. My body is one big ache right now, but it’s an ache that feels like a marker of progress.

  10. Damn! I need to get better at linkage code!

    Here’s Tab Benoit:


    And here’s Voice of the Wetlands Allstars:


  11. Farida, you. go.

    Rachel, Tab needs Erica Perl’s Chicken Butt (ill. by Henry Cole). Thanks for sharing that.

  12. Jules,

    So sorry about the loss of your friend and the death of your nephew’s baby. That is such sad news. I can’t imagine anything more tragic than the death of a child.

    I am indeed fortunate to still have my mother around. Our family had a 93rd birthday party for her yesterday at my daughter’s house. It was so wonderful celebrating my mother’s birthday with four generations of my family.

  13. Jules, I’m so very sorry to hear about your painful week. My saddest condolences.

    Thank you for another reminder of the many things in life that do bring joy. Your story about the mini Sagan and Lennon certainly does. As well as all of these delicious spring images.

    Thanks, too, for the new kick that will keep on kicking — I can’t tell you how pleased I am to see my illo on the “about” page of this wonderful blog. And thank you, Jama, for associating that picture with the idea of kicks.

    Denise, how perfect is your description of Il Sung Na’s style? It makes me want to dye eggs, just for the mess. And what a kick that must be to have finished Chapter 73 — major kudos!

    Little Willow, big congrats on your new pilot gig!

    Steven, I love your poem. Very glad to hear you’re OK. And, boy, am I ever bummed to see I just missed a New York screening of your film, which looks fascinating.

  14. Elaine, that is GREAT! Happy birthday to her.

    Carin, I should add that I also loved Denise’s description of Na’s art. Very nice. Thanks again for letting me use your image at the page.

  15. Jules, my pleasure!

    Elaine, a great big Happy Birthday to your mother! That sounds like an amazing party.

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