7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #220: Featuring Chris Beatrice

h1 May 22nd, 2011 by jules

“‘I believe the Spring has come at last,’ said the Giant;
and he jumped out of bed and looked out. What did he see?”

Don’t you think it’s time Oscar Wilde visited the blog? I do.

Okay. Sure. “Visited” the blog is a bit much. It’s not like I’ve called forth his spirit, but I am featuring one of his children’s stories today.

In 1888, Wilde’s own collection of original fairy tales, The Happy Prince and Other Tales, was published, and it included a story called “The Selfish Giant.” In March of this year, Noteworthy Books released a new picture book adaptation of this tale, which includes orchestral music on an accompanying CD from composer Dan Goeller and narration from British actor Martin Jarvis.

The story itself is a heavily didactic Christian allegory, all about a giant whose garden is visited by neighboring children, while the giant is away for seven years visiting his bud, a Cornish ogre. Upon his return, the Giant orders the children to leave. He is then visited by the Snow and the Frost (my favorite illustration, pictured below), delaying Spring for entirely too long. After the Spring finally arrives, the children return, his cold heart thaws (in more ways than one), and he ventures outside. He befriends a young boy, who eventually disappears after the Giant knocks down the wall which had kept the children out. In his old age, after years of friendship with the children, he sees the young boy again, outside in his garden one winter morning. The boy has nail prints in his hands and the prints of two nails on his feet, and he calls them “the wounds of Love.” When the giant asks the boy who he is, he simply responds, “You let me play once in your garden, to-day you shall come with me to my garden, which is Paradise.”

Later, the children find the Giant dead under the tree, “all covered with white blossoms.”

I didn’t plan this post this to coincide with Rapture’s Eve. Pinky promise. (I am typing this on the night before some people are claiming Rapture will take place and the world will end.)

Anyway. Curious little fairy tale, huh? Who knew? Well, I didn’t. I hadn’t read any of Oscar Wilde’s fairy tales before, which he evidently wrote for his sons, Cyril and Vyvyan.

It’s the illustrations I want to feature today. Artist Chris Beatrice’s vivid illustrations, on full display below, are … well, lush would be the best word. His colorful and highly dramatic paintings are rich and detailed, and every now I then I like to feature the artwork of someone like this who can wow you with his ability to portray light in a room or landscape. I mean, there’s a reason I open the post with the illustration above. Wow, huh?

So, without further ado, here are some of Beatrice’s illustrations from the book.

“Every afternoon, as they were coming from school, the children used to go
and play in the Giant’s garden.”

“When he arrived he saw the children playing in the garden. ‘What are you doing here?’ he cried in a very gruff voice, and the children ran away.”

“So he built a high wall around it, and put up a notice-board.
TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED. He was a very selfish Giant.”

“The Snow covered up the grass with her great white cloak, and the Frost painted all the trees silver. Then they invited the North Wind to stay with them, and he came. He was wrapped in furs, and he roared all day about the garden, and blew the chimney-pots down. ‘This is a delightful spot,’ he said, ‘we must ask the Hail on a visit.’ So the Hail came. Every day for three hours he rattled on the roof of the castle till he broke most of the slates, and then he ran round and round the garden as fast as he could go. He was dressed in grey, and his breath was like ice.”

“He saw a most wonderful sight. Through a little hole in thew all the children had crept in, and they were sitting in the branches of the trees…”

“‘It is your garden now, little children,’ said the Giant,
and he took a great axe and knocked down the wall.”

“Every afternoon, when school was over, the children came and played with the Giant. But the little boy whom the Giant loved was never seen again.”

“One winter morning he looked out of his window as he was dressing. He did not hate Winter now, for he knew that it was merely the Spring asleep,
and that the flowers were resting.”

“‘Who hath dared to wound thee?’ cried the Giant; ‘tell me, that I may take my big sword and slay him.’ ‘Nay!’ answered the child; ‘but these are the wounds of Love.'”

“And the child smiled on the Giant, and said to him, ‘You let me play once in your garden, to-day you shall come with me to my garden, which is Paradise.'”

THE SELFISH GIANT. Book copyright © 2011. Illustration copyright © 2010 by Chris Beatrice. Published by Noteworthy Books, Sioux Falls. All images reproduced by permission of the publisher.

* * * * * * *

Note for any new readers: 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.

* * * * * * *

1) Speaking of Oscar Wilde, I stumbled last weekend upon this wonderful image from Autumn de Wilde while working on Carson Ellis’s interview.

2) I love this new picture book from John Rocco. More on it later, as he’ll be visiting 7-Imp very soon:

2½) I also saw an early copy of Jon Klassen’s I Want My Hat Back (Candlewick), and—as my seven-year-old would say—I laughed so hard I thought I’d run out of laughs. So did my girls. If this picture book were a dinosaur, it’d be a hilariousaurus rex. More on this book later.

3) I finally saw, within the past couple of weeks, some of those 2010 films I never made it to the movie theater to see. None of them were particularly “up” films, but boy howdy and howdy boy was the acting good. The Fighter. Oh Christian Bale, you nailed that role and really deserved that Oscar. Rabbit Hole. Difficult to watch if you’re a parent, but beautifully done and what a tight film. Blue Valentine. Didn’t like it as much as I thought I would, but the acting was good. (I have to say, I could have used less improv and more screenplay, though.)

I think it was Dan Santat who referred to Blue Valentine as a horror film for relationships. True. But the stories behind how it was filmed are rather fascinating.

4) I not only drove to Knoxville yesterday for this wonderful reading festival (a fabulous and very fun annual event over in East Tennessee), but I also did a short presentation there for parents about picture books and, to be erudite about it, why they RAWK. I could have talked all day. Anyhow. Notice the visiting authors and illustrators? That was fun. My seven-year-old, who loves Robert Sabuda’s picture books (he is pictured left in the kinda-blurry-so-my-apologies picture I quickly snapped on my cell phone), was rather starstruck to see him, and we got to meet Grace Lin and hear her presentation.

5) Cristiana Clerici thinks I’m a versatile blogger, and I thank her. I am very appreciative of her contributions to 7-Imp, and I’m flattered.

6) I got a really wonderful, thoughtful gift from a friend this week. It involves Sam Phillips’s funky and most wonderful collages, so of course I was thrilled to receive it. I also got a handful of mixed CDs from a friend with good and very eclectic taste in music, so I’m grateful for the new tune-age.

7) I enjoyed writing this for Kirkus this week. I also didn’t plan that for Rapture’s Eve. Cross my heart. As an affable and well-intentioned but theologically-addled person trying to raise children in this world, I appreciate books like that.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

16 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #220: Featuring Chris Beatrice”

  1. Oh, gorgeousness. The first illustration is flat out — amazing.

    The Wilde story I actually DID hear as a child, AND I HATED IT. I never did think the giant should have to die. I cried. However, as an alleged adult I see The Point now, I’m still grumpy about it.
    Still, trés beau!

  2. Whoa, lots of pictures, what a generous post, thanks for that.
    I like the illustrations so much that I felt compelled to write to the author (and also to look for the book!).

  3. Wow, very gorgeous illustrations, yes yes!

    I’ve been hearing about I Want My Hat Back and am so anxious to see it. Bear! I haven’t run out of laughs in a long time.

    A few kicks:

    Got to meet Jackie Urbanovic at the SCBWI New Member Welcome yesterday. So much fun.

    We have cardinals nesting in our front bushes. They’re so pretty and I love their chirps.

    Identified the alienish moth creature that hangs around the porch: luna moth. FB friends were mostly familiar with it, though it was my first time seeing one. It moved to the front door yesterday — I think it wants to come in!

    Finally got my hair cut. I feel so much lighter. Boing boing . . .

    Rereading all my Maira Kalman books. I want to live in her world.

    Clean sheets. A nice bowl of ramen. Men who wink. Dreaming of Nantucket. The reality of the imagination.

    Dylan will be 70 on Tuesday! You have my permission to eat 70 pieces of cake. ♥

  4. Tanita, I. am. laughing. so. hard. The story is a Bit Much, indeed. It’s so….hard on the poor children what with the giant dying. I have to say, though: As a child I would have LOVED it. For some reason, I loved tragic stories. The Little Match Girl was THE ULTIMATE in tears and pathos. This story would have captured me, had I heard it. Today, as a grown-up, I scratch my head, marvel at the type of fairy tale that sprung from Oscar Wilde’s mind, and just go enjoy those illustrations again.

    Paolo, you’re welcome.

    Jama, SEVENTY? Seventy! Yes, I Want My Hat Back is some wicked, sly humor. So glad you got to meet Jackie. I wish you could have been with me yesterday AND that you and Grace Lin and I could have gone out for tea. Love your boinging curls. Just like Susan (is that her name?) in the Ramona books.

  5. Those illustrations are wow indeed!

    Jules: OMG, you got to meet Grace Lin. *weeps from envy* And I really want to be able to attend one of your talks someday!

    Tanita: I hate sad stories. I’m such a weepy person, and they really affect me.

    Paolo: Hi! :o)

    Jama: “The reality of the imagination.” = BEAUTIFUL


    1. I will be in Singapore this week for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content. I’ll be a speaker and facilitator! I wish you could all attend one year!

    2. There is a 90% chance that I am editing my first picture book in the next couple months. I AM TERRIFIED. This has been a dream of mine, but I always imagined editing a children’s book like FIVE YEARS from now – not like NOW. I am meeting with the author and illustrator Tuesday night. Have I mentioned that I am terrified? But let’s not tell the author and illustrator, shall we? *crawls away*

  6. TARIE! One day, we’ll all be saying, we knew her when…

    Congrats! You’ll do great. I know it.

    And I’m talking about kick #2, but actually good luck with number one, too. Lucky attendees. I really wish we could all attend one year, too.

    Oh, and Grace was lovely to meet, not surprisingly. She snapped a picture of us and, I think, was going to blog it. If she does, I’ll send it to you.

    GOOD LUCK THIS WEEK! (Yes, I’m yelling that in enthusiasm.)

  7. Hello to the visiting spirit of Oscar Wilde. Hi there, Oscar! I first heard The Selfish Giant year before last, when I participated in a staged reading of some of his short stories. The event was a fundraiser for a show based on his life, a play that was a great ensemble piece which required listening and attention at all times. One couldn’t leave that theatre without feeling sorry for the trials Wilde endured.

    Hi, Chris Beatrice! My favorite picture of those Jules shared today is that with the birds and butterflies in flight in the garden. Thanks for sharing your work with us.

    If you like comics/graphic novels and movies, then you should read TALENT by Christopher Golden and Tom Sniegoski for many reasons: because it’s awesome, and because I want y’all to be familiar with the source material before the movie comes out — Zack Whedon has been hired to adapt Talent for the big screen!

    Jama: Please say hello to the luna moth for me! Glad that you had fun at the SCBWI meeting.

    Tarie: Congratulations and good luck! What awesome kicks.

    Now I’m off to a table read for a musical! I was in the original cast when it was first staged two years ago. The script has been revised and a new composer has rearranged the music. I can’t wait to catch up with everyone today and hear the changes!

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Callback for a short film
    2) Booked the role in the short film
    3) Booked another webseries which shoots next month
    4) The dance battle in the film that’s currently shooting
    5) Fresh fruit
    6) Freshly squeezed orange juice
    7) Balance

  8. Okay, so now my cluelessness blooms out in the open: I’d never ever have guessed that Oscar Wilde had penned ANY “heavily didactic Christian allegory,” let alone one for children. It’s like walking into a church social and finding Quentin Tarantino sipping tea and sharing shortbread cookies with Pat Robertson.

    Still, I guess it’s a good reminder that Wilde grew up and lived in a certain historical era, and didn’t spend all his time as a figure of scandal and wit. So let that be my Kick #1: being reminded that people’s hidden sides don’t always have to be their dark sides.

    That first illo was amazing — looked like one of those Flemish masterworks in oil. And the one of the children playing in the garden under a blue sky with puffy clouds made my head spin a little: the sky and clouds actually (to me) appear to be moving behind the castle, if you don’t look look directly at them. All in all, I think if I were a kid exposed to this book, no matter what I eventually made of the allegorical elements I’d remember the artwork for a loooong time. (Of course at some point I’d have designs on the Snow, and wonder bitterly why she insisted on hanging around with the Frost — who so clearly is not good enough for her.)

    Jules, if blogs could have books for mascots, one called I Want My Hat Back would HAVE to be mine. Am starting the 2011 Christmas wish list with it!

    (And “hilariousaurus rex”?!? Oh, woman. That’s a keeper too.)

    Funny: I read jama’s reference to Dylan’s turning 70 and wondered, idly, if this guy with the striking name was a relative of hers. Sudden daybreak: “…Oh. DYLAN Dylan!”

    Congratulations on the editorship, Tarie! But of course you know that conventional wisdom frowns on weepy, terrified editors. 🙂

    LW, I am so proud to know someone, even indirectly, who exults in something called “dance battles” without referring to reality TV contests. Congratulations on all the work-y goodness, and I’m toasting it and you with my own glass of freshly-squeezed OJ!

    Kicks — I mentioned #1 above. Here are some others…

    * The Missus and The Stepdaughter are having a “girls’ (brief) weekend” down at the coast. This gave me a chance to do some catching up on a crazy variety of movies yesterday, especially given the countdown to Rapture. Of the ones I watched, I was especially taken with Vision: From the Life of Hildegarde of Bingen and District B13 (French; futuristic action). Yeah, I know — a little schizoid there. Chalk it up to covering my bets on Rapture Day.

    * We thought The Pooch had a potentially serious condition (common with Yorkies) called tracheal collapse. What she DOES have may turn into that, but for now, after a vet visit, it appears to be no more than a scary-sounding cough. (She honks like a goose. Actually also quite funny, but we try to hide the laughing.)

    * The pleasures of working on a small scale.

    * Ordered pizza last night from this place on the other side of town. Their slogan: “Slices as Big as Your Head.” Made the mistake of ordering an extra-large from them, knowing that I could freeze the leftovers to munch on later. Egad. The box was THIRTY INCHES across. I had to carry it home in the trunk of the car — it was getting in the way of the gearshift — and had to tilt it to get it through the door of the house. This is a kick, for now, in the same way that the Grand Canyon is a kick. I bet you can see one of these things from space, too.

    * Singer/Songwriters.

    * Good epigraphs, deserving of the books which follow.

    Have a great week, everyone!

  9. I love the story of the Selfish Giant. And the other Oscar Wilde children’s tales. I believe he may have been correct when he said, while at customs on entering the U.S., “I have nothing to declare but my genius.”

    Not sure I have seven kicks this week, but here are some:

    1. Dinner with good friends last night, including seeing photos from their trips to China and Nepal.

    2. Good attendance at my poetry reading on Monday.

    3. Three promising PBs in yesterday’s mail – I’ll be reviewing Brother Sun, Sister Moon later today.

    4. Plans to stop at BEA this week.

  10. Little Willow, I’m with John on the phrase “dance battle.” Congrats on the short film!

    John, not only does that book need to be your blog’s mascot, but you will also appreciate the (very) wry humor in it. This I know.

    And UrbanDictionary.com gets all the credit for “hilariousaurus rex,” as I once saw that phrase there. I freakin’ love that site.

    So glad The Pooch is okay. And that pizza story cracks me up. DAG. That sounds ginormongous.

    Those movies sound good. You KNOW I usually add your flicks to my queueueueeueueueu, right?

    Kelly, I wish I could see your poetry readings. Plus, HA to the Wilde quote.

  11. Ooo, my favorite illustration is The Giant striding back across the moors—all those grey clouds and that menancing foreground boot.

    But, not so big on didactic storylines featuring stigmata waifs. Still, there was many a picture book I loved as a child whose story I rather ignored in deference to illustrations which captured my imagination.
    This seems, perhaps, such a book.

    Jules – The Black Out book looks cool and I Want My Hat back droll. Thanks for those leads. The scene(s) in The Fighter that makes my son and I lol is when the Christian Bale character jumps out the 2nd floor window of the crack house – to find his relatives waiting for him. As sort of a ‘religious conscientious objector’, your Kirkus review is indeed a book my kids and I would’ve loved to have read together;
    any way to access the world’s wisdom without the violence is good. And hey, I missed your birthday but I’ve been saving a token purchase for you. ; – ) Keep on eye on your mailbox this week…

    Tanita — ha-ha!

    Paolo Puggioni – what a great name!

    jama – Clean sheets, Nantucket dreams, et al. Very poetic.

    Tarie – I’m envying the whole Singapore scene. RE #2: Congrats and “You’ll be great, no doubt.”

    LW — Dance battle? I’m curious. Have fun at the table reading!

    JES – your blooming cluelessness made me laugh, as did the oversized pizza. Do you recall the B. Kliban book “Never Eat Anything Bigger Than Your Head” ? http://10engines.blogspot.com/2009/12/bookshelf-never-eat-anything-biggger.html

    Kelly – Congrats on you good turn-out.

    My kicks this week:
    1 – Having an eloquent President.
    2 – After days of disappointment, the birdies finally DISCOVERED the new bird feeder outside my office window. A golden finch and two morning doves are first members of my “frequent feeders” program.
    3 – local cupcake store’s new flavor: Boston Cream Cupcake. (!)
    4 – older son home from college for a few months, while he ponders “What’s next?”
    5 – younger son’s 16th birthday. He’s pondering DRIVING. (yikes!)
    6. My critique group G.O.Y.A.’s 6th Anniversary. We toasted.
    7. Seven Impossible Things back on my Sunday morning menu.

    Have a wonderful week everyone.

  12. Whizzing through cyberspace just long enough to say hello to all and a special shout out to JES for making me laugh hysterically at all of the highly amusing things that he said.

    Really quick kicks before I get back into the spacecraft and go to work:

    1) Seeing Tift Merritt in concert. I’m pretty sure Jules is the first person to recommend her music to me (not surprisingly), and she was wonderful.
    2) Speaking of great music, this new Sam Phillips song coming out next month on the Blackie and the The Rodeo Kings CD:
    3) Surviving the End of the World.
    4) Long emails from friends.
    5) Eating my first zeppole (Italian doughnuts) with lemon curd, accompanied by an adult beverage called “Death in Venice” (prosecco and organic blood orange juice). Still experiencing a nice sugar high.
    6) This video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDDKNF3UQqI I want to live in the book house!
    7) Sunshine and blue skies.

    Have a great week!

  13. I like the T-shirts which depict a dinosaur with text declaring him to be a THESAURUS as he reads said tome. I kind of want one of those shirts.

    Darn it, now I’m singing Rapture by Blondie.

    JES, Denise, and Jules: Thank you! The dance battle was part hip-hop, part Bollywood, with a cast of kids.

    JES: Good thoughts for the pup. Enjoy the good music from the good singer-songwriters.

    Kelly: I read “PBs” and thought, “Peanut butter?” You see, I don’t like jelly, so I never had PB&Js in my lunchbox, just PBs.

    Denise: Amen to the eloquence of our President. Hurrah. Hello to the birdies. Happy birthday to your younger son, and welcome home to the other.

    Jill: Enjoy the weather!

    Sunblock, everyone. Sunblock.

  14. Denise, yes, we laughed too every time Christian Bale fell out of the window. Man, I’ll say it again: SUCH good acting. (And I remember his Oscar acceptance speech being so gracious, too.)

    Congrats on the finch and mourning doves. Lovely. As well as Boston Cream Cupcakes. Oh, and good luck to your sons.

    Jill, Tift! Sam! Still being here after the non-event that was the Rapture! Know those bumper stickers that say “Jesus is coming: Look busy”? I never have to pretend to look busy. Had he come, I would have shown him my to-do list and asked him to step aside, please.

    Little Willow, a BOLLYWOOD dance battle is even better.

  15. I’ve been busy recently! I had two kicks last week–and one was a REALLY BIG kick.

    1. Last Wednesday, we had our reading council’s spring dinner meeting. David Elliott was our featured speaker. He did a wonder presentation–and told us that he has two more poetry books coming out in the future. Both will be illustrated by the talented Holly Meade–as were his other two collections ON THE FARM and IN THE WILD.

    2. Giant Kick: We had my daughter Sara’s baby shower yesterday. What a great occasion it was for me! Sara, who is my only child, is expecting her first child. I’ll be a grandmother this summer. You can read about the baby shower at the following link:


  16. Elaine, how wonderful that you met David in person, and CONGRATS on the impending grandmother status!

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