7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #221: Featuring Simon Wild

h1 May 29th, 2011 by jules

Having been inspired last weekend by hearing Robert Sabuda speak in person at Knoxville’s children’s reading festival, today I’m featuring a pop-up artist, UK illustrator Simon Wild. Don’t you just want to hop into that fantastical, most fabulous flying machine up there?

Wild graduated from Cambridge School of Art in 2007 with an MA in Children’s Book Illustration. He has previously worked as an animator, film maker, video editor, and street performer and currently teaches art foundation at Ipswich School of Art and works from his studio—with a white cat named Gert—in Suffolk. Simon’s latest title, written by Timothy Knapman, is Fantastical Flying Machines. The book follows two children named Sally and Jack on an air race filled with hot air balloons, flying ice lollies, and bubble gum rockets. I haven’t seen a copy myself, which was evidently released last Fall (Macmillan), but Simon tells me it features spinning, twirling, lift-the-flap pages, and a pop-up finale.

Here’s a bit more from Simon about the book and his thoughts on the value of interactive books for children today. I thank him for stopping by…

* * *

Fantastical Flying Machines is my first book for children and traverses the two genres of lift-the-flap books and pop-up books. It tells the story of two children who enter a crazy air race, pursued by the dastardly Baron Von Bang Bang, who aims to cheat his way to the finish line. I conceived the story for the book; then writer Timothy Knapman brought it to life with his vibrant rhyming text.

I have been fascinated for most of my life by the narrative structures of children’s books. In particular, I am drawn to books that are interactive, books that use their physicality to expand the narrative of the stories they tell. When you are invited to engage physically with a book, you become part of the story, affecting its direction and outcomes. Being invited to apply an action to a page increases the chances of committing that story to memory — and enhancing user engagement.

In an accelerating world of digital innovation, I believe that ‘interactive’ books have never been more important to a child’s understanding of the physical world. Without books, cultural experiences remain virtual and untouchable.

I have always been interested in things in the sky, more so the things that might exist above the clouds that you can’t see. A world where the imagination can soar to new heights. A world where anything is possible.


FANTASTICAL FLYING MACHINES. Copyright © 2010 by Timothy Knapman. Illustration copyright © 2010 by Simon Wild. Published by Macmillan. All images reproduced by permission of the illustrator.

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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) Sam Phillips + L.A. Street art = my favorite little short film / video of hers:

2) I finally purchased Timber Timbre’s new CD. (Evidently, it’s pronounced “timber tamber,” but don’t quote me on that.) It’s called Creep On Creepin’ On. (No, really. It is.) It’s a haunting ode to someone having difficulty letting go of a lost love. On the surface in many songs are seemingly light-hearted, high-register doo-wop piano notes, but don’t let them fool you. This dude’s heart is broken.

“Black Water” is still my favorite song of 2011 (even if it is a tad bit too long maybe). Wanna listen?

3) Speaking of sunshine, which Timber Timbre does in “Black Water,” here’s a random image from a lovely gift I got this week. Denise Doyen sent me a belated birthday gift (and a thank-you-for-7-Imp-posts gift), which is a wonderful, quirky, little French book all about color, design, and shape — but mostly color. And I pored over it. And then I pored over it with my children. And we all love it.

I have A Very Real Thing for sun images (as I’m sure I’ve babbled about previously here at 7-Imp). I guess I take my chances posting a photograph of one of the book’s pages, but oh well. Visit me in copyright jail, should I go there. Bring good snacks. Please?

4) Here I am below speaking about picture books last weekend at Knoxville’s children’s festival of reading (picture is courtesy of Knox Co. Library), and what I love about this picture (other than the fact that some old college friends and their kids are in the front) is that it was taken right before my seven-year-old, pictured on the right, started cracking up over something I said about reading with my own children. That’s hardly to insinuate I’m a funny speaker; what I said wasn’t meant to be funny. It just cracked me up that she cracked up.

Picture courtesy of the Knox Co. Public Library

5) I love this picture of poet J. Patrick Lewis (used with his permission) with all the books that sprung forth from his mind. (Actually, for all we know and given his rampant creativity, that may be just some of them.) Have I mentioned The Poetry Foundation recently appointed him to a two-year tenure as the nation’s third Children’s Poet Laureate? I may have, but it certainly bears repeating again.

6) For Dylan fans: Here is author Gary Golio (remember this Hendrix picture book?) doing a recent radio interview with a DJ at WMMR, a Philadelphia rock station — all about his new picture book on Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie (which I covered here at Kirkus this week). If you listen to the end, you’ll hear that Golio’s current projects are a picture book about John Coltrane and a book on Charlie Chaplin. (And he’s considering one on Elvis.) Excellent.

7) Ninjabread men cookie cutters, which my friend gave to my girls as a gift. I know! High on the awesome-o-meter.

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I’d love to hear your kicks this week. First, though …

These are very much not kicks but need to be said:

Rest in peace, YA author Bridget Zinn. Interested folks can go here to read a very lovely tribute to Bridget from Upstart Crow Literary.

I was also sad to hear of the death of Gil Scott-Heron. Here’s my favorite of his:

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19 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #221: Featuring Simon Wild”

  1. Oh, I didn’t know about Bridget. I am so sorry about the bad news.

    I was going to come back tomorrow morning to post my kicks, after I had had a chance to take the news in, but really, Bridget was all about the good kicks. So here are the nicest things from the last few weeks:

    1. my mum was married yesterday. It was a simple but lovely ceremony, and I made the wedding cake (a dark chocolate mud cake with white chocolate ganache). And not to be vain, but it was great.
    2. Everyone in my office got to taste the test cake which made them happy
    3. And my youngest sister found beautiful roses to decorate it
    4. Our niece stayed the night with us recently, and we all had a ball. She is easy to look after as she is a happy little thing and sleeps well, but in between naps she sure has an awful lot of energy for someone who weighs 8 kilos!
    5. And on a random note, the building I work in is full of scientists, including people doing work for horticulture research. And one morning tea they were doing RASPBERRY TASTE TESTS in our kitchen where people tasted and scored different varieties of raspberries. And they asked if we wanted to help out! Obviously, for the sake of science, we obliged and ate an absurd amount of raspberries. And I even got to take a spare punnet home.

    Jules, my partner is hankering after those cookie cutters! How strange they are in shops here and in the US! Perhaps I will give in and add them to the cutter collection as something different to stars and butterflies :)


  2. Wish I could have attended your talk last week!

    I’ve seen those ninja cookie cutters before. I wanted them then, and I want them now, though I have to confess I only very rarely make cut-out cookies. I just don’t love them enough to get out the rolling pin and everything. The ninjas could change that…

    My kicks for the week are all wrapped up in the fact we’ve had two whole days here without rain. TWO WHOLE DAYS. I can’t think of the last time that’s happened. I’m finally getting some yard work done.


  3. Hooray for J. Patrick Lewis — and my condolences to Bridget Zinn’s family. Some things just don’t balance…

    My kicks:
    1. Watching Mr. Rogers with my daughter
    2. Sketching mummies at the RISD Museum
    3. Reading Frank Cottrell Boyce’s COSMIC on audiobook
    4. Reading Todd Boss’s YELLOWROCKET: Poems
    5. Crashing a Brown U graduation party (by accident)
    6. Enjoying Waterfire in Providence
    7. Writing this new Anglo-Saxon-inspired poem:

    BEACHCOMBER
    By Steven Withrow

    Sitting in the sand,
    sifting through her pail
    of wonders from the waves,
    she whispers to a shell
    a secret that the sea-sound
    sings back to her.
    Her rescued rocks
    are round enough for skipping,
    and her bits of beach glass,
    blues and greens,
    shade the shoreline
    a shimmering rainbow.
    The crown of her cache
    is a crab’s claw, freshly
    dug from a dune
    with a double-headed shovel,
    like a buried bone,
    a bird’s fossil,
    Neptune’s ghost-glove,
    or a knight’s gauntlet.
    Her tiny bucket
    is a treasure box
    of human jetsam, too:
    a hard-plastic juice cup
    cracked at the lip,
    a red crayon, the lid
    off a popcorn can,
    a pearl-toothed comb
    a mermaid dropped
    among the driftwood
    for a girl to find,
    a gift of friendship
    and a message sent
    to make certain
    someone will recall
    the sacred code.
    The gulls, in loops,
    fly low over the ground,
    hunting for scraps
    and screeching hungrily,
    angrily, echoing
    at every angle
    around her head.
    She hears their ruckus
    only as a murmured
    music from the ocean,
    a lullaby,
    a barnacle’s laugh
    as the rising tide
    tickles its ribs.
    The dappled sun
    will soon go down.
    Her sieve is full
    of falling sand.

    ©2011 Steven Withrow, all rights reserved


  4. I really like the work of Simon Wild. Fun and vibrant.
    Jules, I wished I could have her you speak. Love te cookie cutters.
    Emmaco, your mum’s wedding cake sounds divine.
    Adrienne, don’t you just love days without rain?
    Steven, love the line about the dappled sun.
    My kicks? Very over shadowed by the news of Bridget. I will say that knowing her and having her be a part of my life was a kick. She was a luminous soul and her eneergy touched many.
    Listening to some great music on Friday helped to sooth my soul.
    Meeting with my writing group on Wednesday,
    Susnshine during the week.
    Have a great week.


  5. Emmaco, GREAT ENVY. Raspberries are my favorite fruit. And I learned what a “punnet” is in your kicks this week. (There’s always something I learn.) Congratulations to your mother and on your successful cake. Chocolate ganache makes any cake better, no hyperbole intended.

    You’re right about being sad about the news about Bridget, yet needing to celebrate life with kicks, as she would have. (Not that she came here kickin’ weekly, but you know what I mean.) I have to say, too, I appreciate reading everyone’s kicks more and more every week in this hyper-hypo world of the internet where people are ALL over the place. When we come here to list kicks, it seems downright intimate anymore (more so than before, that is).

    I’m rambling.

    Adrienne, I know what you mean about the work it takes to roll out cookies, etc. I had it in my head that I would IMMEDIATELY make ninja cookies, and then I remembered how cumbersome it is. But I will! Soon! …. Congrats on the sunshine.

    Steven, you party-crasher you! (How funny.) Mr. Rogers is the best. That poem. Wow. I’m with Jone on the dappled sun line.

    Jone: Hugs. And you did so much to help her and her family during this all. I hope you can find some solace in that. I never met her in person, but “luminous”…yes. You can tell by just seeing pics.


  6. Fun illustrations – flying races always seem like the best kind.

    Jules – those ninjabread men cookie cutters are awesome. Wish I could’ve heard/seen your talk. I’ll come back and check out the music and video later.

    Emmaco – that cake sounds amazing. Especially with the roses on it.

    Adrienne – days without rain sounds wonderful. I am so looking forward to when we have more of those here.

    Steven – love Mr. Rogers, and the party-crashing sounds like it was fun.

    Jone – so sorry for the loss of your friend Bridget.

    My kicks this week encompass last week too:

    1) Last weekend’s 2 indoor soccer games, 1 without subs! Exhausting but fun.
    2) Finally saw both The Hurt Locker and The Fighter. Wow. Just wow to both of them.
    3) Brunch then a hike at Multnomah Falls with a friend last Sunday. We were laughing so much that at one point he almost fell off the trail because he was laughing so hard and not paying attention.
    4) Getting through a rough 2 weeks at work and having the reward of a spa night. Steam room + massage = buh-bye stress.
    5) Read Alexandra Fuller’s The Legend of Colton H. Bryant. Beautifully written and haunting book.
    6) Several local former classmates/friends getting together for an early breakfast mid-week with a visiting friend (and her family). They live on the east coast and so we hadn’t seen her since her wedding and it was so fun to finally meet her cutie-pie little girl, who is 3.
    7) An evening of slushy margaritas, 80’s video games and shuffle board with friends at a neighborhood pub.

    Hope everyone has a wonderful three day weekend!


  7. Flying Machines and pop-up books – what fun on a Sunday morning. My dad was a private pilot who loved airshows, so I went to many as a kid. Mr. Wild captures that bright blue, gravity-defying excitement.

    Jules – glad to add a little sunshine to your world as 7-imp adds to mine (though I hope it doesn’t come to Blogger Behind Bars!)
    I hope to hear one of your talks someday. (Get a westcoast gig!)
    I too covet those Ninjas. My home goes cookie-cutter wild during Christmas vacation. For some reason, the shape that consistently inspires the best decorating is a simple lighthouse. http://www.coppergifts.com/cookie-cutters/pc/cg_ProductDetails.asp?idproduct=1142

    So sad, the news about Bridget Zinn. Her books, and so much more, still on the horizon. It is heartbreaking.

    emmaco – “little fruit or veggie basket”, I too learned ‘punnet’ today.
    adrienne – have fun in your yard during your weather window.
    Steven – I love the idea of the mermaid gift to beachcomber girl.
    jone – sorry for loss of your friend; from all accounts she was a gift.
    Rachel – laughing so hard while hiking Multnomah Falls. (!)

    My kicks this week:
    1. Finished reading “Turtle in Paradise” (enjoyed the Key West lore and the Diaper Gang) and started “The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland…” (oh, my, my, my kind of book!) Both very worth it.

    2. Got editorial letter and notes back on my next picture book. Feels a-bit-daunting-but-good to be working toward ‘the final draft’.

    3. Discovered a tasty restaurant juice order: “half cranberry, half o.j.”.

    4. Bought a lovely, summery necklace on sale (gift from a mermaid?)

    Enjoy the rest of your Memorial Day Weekend everyone!


  8. LOVE that photo of Pat. And the Flying Machines book looks fantabulous!


  9. I have been blue about Bridget’s death. However, I was so glad to read that YA author Ned Vizzini and his wife have a new arrival in the world: a boy named Felix. Births keep me going when deaths are incomprehensible (and they always are).

    Kicks:
    1. Fiddlehead ferns for dinner
    2. Earl Grey lattes
    3. Mary Poppins at the Paramount Theatre
    4. Eleven jars of Blue Cottage Farm jam (I gave the 12th to a friend)
    5. Overheard this morning: “I don’t think about reading anymore, I just read– just like my mommy told me it would happen!”
    6. Lillet with a twist
    7. Molly Moon ice cream


  10. Rachel, both good movies! How about Christian Bale in The Fighter? Wow. You had a good week: Spa night, good reading, and good friends. Every week should be that good.

    Denise, a lighthouse cookie cutter is rather brilliant.

    I will be doing an interview with the author of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairy Land… — with the help of some friends. First at Kirkus and then more at 7-Imp.

    Kick #2 is very exciting, Denise!


  11. Oh hi, Kelly and Farida. Must have been typing at the same time.

    Farida, I also had to look up fiddlehead ferns. But…YUM. Lillet was new to me, too, but also yum.

    Love your daughter’s statement. So perfect.


  12. Jules, yes, Christian Bale was scary good as an addict, and seeing interviews with the brothers, he really did nail Dickey’s personality and energy(I cannot believe how SKINNY he got!). And Melissa Leo was equally impressive as the selfish mom – that family dynamic – hoo boy!

    Love the Sam video and liked Black Water, will have to listen to more of his stuff.


  13. Rachel, he is really an impressive actor. And, as Denise said last week (I think it was), it was also just flat-out funny when his character would fall out of the window down into the garbage to avoid his family.


  14. I feel as though Chitty Chitty Bang Bang folks would appreciate the look of Simon Wild’s Fantastical Flying Machines — and I wrote that before discovering Baron Von Bang Bang on the pages. Kudos, Simon, on your many artistic endeavors. Please say hello to Gert the cat for me!

    Jules: Congratulations again on your speaking engagement! It looks and sounds like you had fun. Glad that your munchkin enjoyed it as well. :)

    As I type this, I’m listening to This Too Shall Pass by Maria Mena. She’s an excellent singer and lyricist. For anyone needing a push: All This Time acoustic performance by Maria Mena

    My thoughts are with Bridget Zinn’s family and friends. Her blogs and videos are full of smiles and good intentions. May that love and goodness live on in her loved ones.

    Emmaco: Best wishes to your mom and her spouse! I’m sure people had to have their arms twisted before they took part in the raspberry taste tests.

    Adrienne: Enjoy the sunshine (while wearing sunblock!) and the garden.

    Steven: Were the mummies Egyptian or…?

    jone: Music soothes me so much that I can’t fathom a moment without it.

    Rachel: Sounds like a fun get-together with friends! I read “former” as “farmer” at first…

    Denise: Jennifer L. Holm is a fantastic author, isn’t she? I like mixing cranberry apple juice with orange juice. Good luck with the final draft, and enjoy the mermaid’s gift!

    Farida: Keep on reading. Is the Molly Moon ice cream related to the novels or is it simply a brand with the same name?

    My kicks for the past week:
    1) The musical table read + catching up with the cast
    2) The feature table read + meeting new people, such talented folks
    3) I auditioned for a haunting film. Hopeful for follow-up.
    4) I auditioned for another project and I was offered the role immediately following my performance. I couldn’t believe it, and I probably won’t believe it until I have the script, meet the cast, and proceed. It’s both a play and a film: the stage production will happen first, then the short film, employing the same cast for both works.
    5) The last (sniffle) day of filming a short film. The final scene filmed involved an intense game of dodgeball. I got to wear a hot pink P.E. outfit. How cool is that? We had a great cast & crew. I’ll miss them.
    6) Meeting the director of a webseries I’ve already signed on for, catching up with the writer, and monitoring auditions.
    7) Happiness: Feeling happy. Catching myself smiling.


  15. Little Willow, congrats on the insta-casting! I’m not surprised. My fingers are crossed for the haunting film. Woooo. (That’s my ghost sound.)


  16. Hi Little Willow! Molly Moon ice cream is named after a woman who is actually named Molly Moon. Her shops are in Seattle, and she has no plans to expand beyond, as she thinks other places should make ice cream using their local resources. The ice cream tastes homemade. It is that good. Flavors are seasonal, and include: scout mint (made with Girl Scout Cookies), salted caramel, and balsamic strawberry. Seattle Kidlitcon attendees may wish to make a trip to the Capitol Hill location. My neighborhood has a micro-shop now: a wee space that will be open during summer hours.

    The day that the micro-shop opened was the day that children could get free scoops. I brought my daughter to the shop right after school, only to see a gaggle of college kids already waiting in line. I was irritated, because we were on a tight schedule, and people often take soooo long to choose their flavors. But when the college kids found out that the free ice cream was only for children, they stepped aside, and my daughter got to be the first one up. She let me try some of her balsamic strawberry. Delicious!


  17. Such nice college kids! I love them already.


  18. Thanks for the kind comments folks. It’s a real honor to be featured on here. Thank you Jules!


  19. Farida: That sounds tasty and quaint. How nice of the college students to let your daughter go first!

    Thanks, Jules. :)


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