7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #233:
Featuring Jennifer L. & Matthew Holm

h1 August 20th, 2011 by jules

Every now and then, in the name of graphic novels for the youngest of children, I like to check in on Babymouse.

And she’s back. Well, she’s been back since May of this year, but sometimes I’m slow with my posts.

And this is her fourteenth title from Jenni and Matt Holm. Yes, fourteenth.

In this one, Babymouse #14: Mad Scientist (Random House), Babymouse meets her new science teacher, Mr. Shelldon (who has “received little support from my colleagues for my discovery that slime mold makes a great pet,” he tells his class). Babymouse, entering the school science fair, has to decide upon a project and eventually lands on amoebas. Looking one day at what she calls a “blob” in her microscope, she meets an amoeba, named Squish. Squish likes to eat cupcakes. Ah, an amoeba after her own heart.

That same month, the Holms released their first title (volume 1), all about this new character, Squish, Super Amoeba (also from Random House), which Kirkus in their starred review called the “hilarious misadventures of a hapless young everylad who happens to be an amoeba.” Yes, a fun science’y graphic novel series about an amoeba: Leave it to the Holms. Worth seeing for Peggy the paramecium alone, it’s a promising series, particularly for those children who are drawn to the Holms’ funny, manic, accessible style, yet might mutter, “Babymouse is for girls” (which I’d argue anyway). Squish loves comics (“Super Amoeba!”) and Twinkies, and he—like Babymouse—is simply navigating life through elementary school (though if you want to know if tacos can stop global warming, not to mention if single-celled creatures can be counted on to step up to do what’s right, this is the book for you).

As always, I’m going to stop now and let the art speak for itself. I broke up most of these spreads into two separate images so that you can see them in detail. (Die-hard graphic novel fans might grumble about that, but hey, I want you to see the art up close.)


* * *

BABYMOUSE #14: MAD SCIENTIST. Copyright © 2011 by Jennifer L. Holm. Illustration © 2011 by Matthew Holm. Published by Random House, New York. Spreads reproduced by permission of the author and illustrator.

SQUISH, SUPER AMOEBA. Copyright © 2011 by Jennifer L. Holm. Illustration © 2011 by Matthew Holm. Published by Random House, New York. Spreads reproduced by permission of the author and illustrator.

* * * * * * *

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.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

I know these are supposed to be kicks, but my reality from this week is that my best friend from high school passed away on Sunday. Complications from life-long diabetes. She was the funniest human being on the planet. For many, many reasons, it was very sad to say goodbye to her.

Here we are in 1988, doing a mock teen magazine cover. You’ll notice that we painted the backs of our denim jackets with Sugarcubes stuff. I think it even says “Sugarcubes” in Icelandic at the top of the jackets. Oh sweet motherless sugar monkeys, we were huge, ginormously geeky fans of that band then.

Clearly, we were easily entertained, but then that was one of the best things about her. Sitting around, doing nothing, laughing over stupid stuff, being goofballs. Like you can do with one of your best friends. I mean, just look how she nailed that inane model face in the picture. She always made me laugh so hard I nearly thought I’d split in half. We used to have phone conversations where we’d laugh so hard that ten or fifteen minutes of nothing but deep, belly-aching laughter and wiping of eyes would go by, and I’m certain that anyone listening in would have been LOST.

Also, she’s probably the only reason I ever got out of my house in high school. I owe her so. much. gas. money.

I’m glad she’s not in any more pain (she was in a lot), but I will miss her. The world is paler without her.

However, below were some silver-lining moments during the week, ’cause my duty as kicks-facilitator here is to make sure I find them:

1) I think I mentioned last week I have tickets to see Gillian Welch and David Rawlings at the Ryman in December. Here is their song list from a recent performance in Atlanta. (They are posting these set lists on Facebook.) See the word “Acony”? That comes from a tiny little beautiful song they have about a tiny little beautiful flower—the song (and flower) is called “Acony Bell”—that I love so much. And I just hope and hope they play it in Nashville.

(And I love how they changed their mind from singing a song about a dagger into a song about this, though let me be clear that their dagger songs are brilliant, too.)

2) This is so wonderful to hear—especially if you’re having a bad week, too—that I just cannot even say. Joy joy joy and even more joy emanates from this, and I particularly love the guy who calls in with the Rolling Stones song and his little performance as he’s walking down the street. I wanna know him. (But I also love “how strange it is to be anything at all” from Neutral Milk Hotel. Boy howdy, ain’t that the truth.)


3) Things like KidLitCon teaming up with Reading Is Fundamental make me happy. Read here for all the info.

4) My cousin and his family are in from Pennsylvania, so I get to hear things like “youse guys” a lot. And my name pronounced like this: “Jooooooolie.” (Alternately, “Jooooooorlie.”)

(I say all that about their accents ever-so lovingly.)

5) A good friend had a birthday, and we had chocolate cake. What a wonder is cake.

6) A friend of mine from college, going through photos, found this old picture of me and mailed it back to me. And I LAUGHED SO HARD when I saw it, because a) I’d forgotten all about its very existence and b) HELLO. Quite obviously, my own daughters’ raging obsession with cats comes honestly.

7) Speaking of a raging obsession with cats, my friend Wes and his partner Ritchie have a cat, named Mia, who had what Wes calls “five little fluffy balls of epic kitten cuteness” about three weeks ago. So I took my girls to see these kittens yesterday. Miraculously, we didn’t come home with one.

Wes does this thing where he holds up one of those obscenely cute itty bitty three-week kittens and does an evil mad scientist laugh, as if it’s the itty bitty kitty doing it, that had my seven-year-old IN STITCHES. And, well… me, too.

* * *

Other than that, I am still working with my co-authors on our final manuscript, as our deadline is inching even closer.

I will close with this tiny little film/video thingy that one of my favorite bands, The Innocence Mission, released this week. This song is so beautiful. (“Raincoats. Finlandia. / Raincoats and lakes. / The best words, I take along / in my field bag. / Across the morning, the beautiful air, / I will be aware. / I’ll speak if I dare…”) Also, I love it when Karen Peris, the singer of this band, plays piano — so much so that I shake my fist at the accordion that rears its head briefly at the song’s close, but I’m sure I’m being unfair.

And my friend up there, Mary Leigh, had introduced me to this band waaaay back in high school. So, it’s particularly fitting they released that this week, and I think the “stay calm in the meantime” in the chorus of this song is particularly good to hear now.

If you’re so inclined to listen, I hope you enjoy it, too. Such a beautiful melody. Really.

And what are your kicks this week?

18 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #233:
Featuring Jennifer L. & Matthew Holm”

  1. I really need to read those Babymouse books, and now the Amoeba books too!

    Jules: I am speechless. Please just let me give you a skerjillion hugs.


    1. The very brave people who fight for their country’s independence.

    2. Really simple food that is oh so delicious.

    3. Honor. Opportunities.

    4. Talent and creativity.

    5. People who never give up.

    6. Being needed by family.

    7. Being needed by friends.

    Have a lovely, lovely week, everyone.

  2. I’m sorry to hear your sad news Jules. I am adding to Tarie’s virtual hug.

    That is a cute picture, and with you on the wonder of cake.

    Your accent kick made me wonder how you pronounce your name, and if they way I pronounce it would sound strange to you!

    Tarie, most of my favourite food is simple but delicious so I’m with you on your second kick. And with being needed!

    1. Our chickens have arrived! Three cute hens of different old breeds (two American actually) who are settling in nicely.
    2. We trained them with judicious use of strawberries to recognise their coop as their safe base and place to sleep, so they have been allowed out into the garden. They have had a ball.
    3. The Ekka last weekend! This is the agricultural exhibition (like a state show maybe?) held in Brisbane once a year. I haven’t been for around ten years, so loved the animal displays, sheep herding competition, strawberry sundae (this is a traditional ekka food, fresh strawberries as they are in season, with homemade strawberry icecream and cream) and lots of fresh food & wine tasting stalls.
    4. And we chose our wedding venue location for March next year. A nice bushland type of place that feels laid back and very us.
    5. Our new lime and lemon trees are already flowering
    6. And we finally put together a set of drawers that mean we can unpack the last box (wintery clothes)
    7. Actually remembering in time to come and post these kicks and see the cute artwork! I will come by for my kicks tomorrow morning.

  3. Adding to the group HUG, Jules. So sorry to hear about your friend. Wonderful photo of the two of you — natural cover girls :). And I love you in the cat shirt. ADORABLE.

    Hello, Kickers! Have a good week ♥.

  4. Jules, just wanted to add my hug, please. Glad for chocolate cake and cat t-shirts, though we know they only do so much.

    My kick of the week: I confess to not being a fan of baby showers, but my husband and I stopped in to hug a dad-to-be who I held as a baby some thirty years ago. He and his wife, both fabulous high school teachers now, were grinning from ear to ear with anticipation of parenthood. A wonder to behold.

  5. Doing an out of town fly by. So glad you featureed Jenni’s and Matt’s work.
    More hugs to you Jules. I cannot imagine losing my best friend from high school. Thank goodness you have many great memories. They won’t majes her come back but she’ll be with you for always.
    I’m w/ friends this weekend trying to hold on to to summer. Friends are my biggest kick.
    Cheers and hugs to all.

  6. Jules: I am so sorry for your loss. You are in my thoughts. Sending strength to your loved one’s family and friends.

    The Holms are here! I do so enjoy the work of the Holms, singly or together. Hiya, you two.

    Fly by posting! My kicks from the past week include:
    1) Rehearsals. Lots of rehearsals for different projects.
    2) Yesterday’s audition
    3) Yesterday’s musical performance
    4) Tonight’s dramatic performance
    5) Improv
    6) Monologues
    7) Making it work

  7. Jules, I am so sorry about your friend’s passing. What a great photo of the two of you. (And what a great photo of little you, too!) It is especially right to be mindful of kicks at a time like this, with the manuscript due soon, too.

    My biggest kick is that it is a rainy day today, which is going to keep me mostly indoors reading and playing my piano and slowly puttering around taking care of chores. All Sundays should be so.

  8. Hi, all!

    I am so sorry to hear about Mary Leigh, Jules. (The people we remember laughing with are the hardest to say good-bye to, aren’t they?) Babymouse and Squish, Gillian, Dave, and the Innocence Mission, and youse guys’ cousins are all excellent company to be keeping under the circumstances.

    Tarie, I have a feeling that you get a chance to experience kicks 6 and 7 a lot.

    emmaco: Now I want to know how you say “Jules.” Given the many mysteries of your life, I suspect it comes out sounding something like “Ekka.” But seriously, where does the name “Ekka” come from? Wikipedia says only:

    During a time when the Ekka was still young, the main purpose of the agricultural show, as its name suggests, was to show off many agricultural and industrial exhibits.

    Uh, huh? Is “Ekka” short for “exhibit”? (Not for the first time, surprise and befuddlement shadow me when I leave a comment of yours behind.)

    Everyone seems to be just flying overhead and tossing out handfuls of leaflets of Kicks today. So here are a few from me:

    * This trailer for a book by and about “the world’s cutest dog.” The nearest spokesperson for the species disputes the claim, but I have to admit I got a kick out of the trailer.

    (Jules, are youse guys (sorry, it’s hard to stop once someone’s triggered the response) doing a trailer for your book? I’d like to see something a la that rapping-beatnik video you and Eisha did together, that you posted here some time ago.)

    * People who aim for what they get, and are happy with it.

    * I don’t like to post direct links to my own blog, but I am so tickled by a friend’s latest writing project

    * Mad Men.

    Have a great week, everyone!

  9. Jules, Sometimes I can’t decide if you brighten my life more with your interviews of illustrators and authors or the musicians and music you bring into my life. A great Sunday. Really.

  10. Oooh…I’m so sorry! You’re about to get a huge virtual bear hug from everybody (including me). Hope it helps…

    My kicks:

    1) This book + its trailer: http://www.ashtownburials.com/

    2) Mama’s b-day!

    3) Strawberry crepes

    4) The Lord of the Rings trilogy–that might be geeky, but still, Tolkien is one good writer.

    5) My new room

    6) A friend coming over

    7) An apple tree bursting full of delicious apples. Yum!

    So sorry again about your friend. She sounds like a great person.

  11. Enjoyed Babymouse’s attitude. And Squish and his puddle buddies made me laugh:
    Peggy, the ‘cute one’? “I am not a blob!” THERE IS A SINGLE CELL… Ha!
    Thanks for sharing morning amusement. I’ll have to check out at length.

    Jules – What a loss; those friends who know one like no one else does. I’m so sorry.

    I really liked seeing Welch & Rawling’s playlist! I’m not sure why… I guess because it reveals some of the sheer practicality behind their (or anyone’s, I guess) artistry: The Order. Changing Our Minds. Big CLEAR PRINTING we can read onstage. set 1. set 2.

    And your cutey-patootey catgirl photo. : – )

    As JES noted, the kickers seem to be flying in formation today. Me too. I’m hosting a Writer/Illustrator Potluck (annual summer get-together where we share ideas and goals …and interesting salads.) I really need to hose off my dusty patio and go to the market.

    Quick kick notes: Tarie’s word ‘skerjillion’ (and facebook breakfast), emmaco’s chicken stories, jeannine’s visit to baby-soon-dad, jone’s phrase “trying to hold onto summer”, LW’s exhausting list she takes in stride, adrienne’s puttering (I love to putter), JES’ musing on Ekka (which of course made the rest of us notice it), the boy’s line in the trailer Hannah shared: “I glued my locker shut three months ago.” Thanks all.

    My own kick: anticpating writer/illustrator friends on way with lasagnas and cherry tarts and inspirations to share. A long, hard road – best shared. Have a great week everyone.

  12. JES, I’m sorry, I thought for sure I had translated everything this time! It’s short for Exhibition. It’s a Brisbane rather than Australian thing. I think even most of other Queensland towns call it the show. But all you really need to know is to buy a strawberry sundae if you go.

  13. Tarie, I’ll take hugs AND one of your breakfasts you posted on FB. Mmm.

    Emmaco, I’m not sure how to type out how I say my name. Er, it’s one of those names that is easy to bend to an accent. … THE EKKA! That is just fun to say and is something new I learned from you this week. Wedding venue! Congrats on picking one. And I didn’t know chickens could be trained with strawberries. Huh.

    Hi Jama. You have a good week, too.

    Jeannine, that is a great story. Lovely.

    Jone, have fun with your friends. When does school start for you all?

    Little Willow, fingers crossed for you on yesterday’s audition.

    Adrienne, I like rainy days. I miss piddlin’ Sundays, too. Since starting this manuscript, Sundays have been devoted to it, and when we turn this in, I will welcome my Sundays back (for a little while anyway) with open arms. I hope you had fun piddlin’ today — and playing piano.

    John, I’m sure we’ll do a trailer. Why not? Should be fun. … I’m ready for the new Mad Men season, but I guess I gotta wait a while. … Yay for Marta and, hey, I LOVE it when you link to your kick-ass blog.

    Lindsey, shucks. Thanks. I like hearing new music recs from you all, too, so bring ’em on.

    Hannah, whoa. Am I just slow these days, or is it very unusual to have a book trailer look like a movie trailer? I mean, whoa again. That had to have taken a lot of time and money. Interesting. … You made me snort-laugh (with you, not *at* you) with the geek comment. GEEKS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME HERE, lordhavemercy. It’s what we specialize in here, we kickers: Geek-dom. Welcome to the fold. … Have an apple from the apple tree for me, please?

    Denise, how was the potluck? Hoo boy, it sounds fun.

    Emmaco and John: “I thought for sure I had translated everything this time!” HA. But we love learning from you, Emmaco, we truly do!

  14. Oh Jules, add my virtual hug to the rest too. So very sorry for your loss – but also glad you have so many memories of laughing with your friend. Love your fake teen magazine cover, and the little-you with kitty shirt – so cute!

    Babymouse looks awesome and fun.

    Tarie – simple food is pretty amazing. And so is being needed by family and friends.

    emmaco – congrats on the chickens! So lucky that you will have fresh lemons and limes!

    LW – Keep up that working streak! Go you!

    adrienne – Rainy days were made for reading, weren’t they?

    JES – Love your kick about people who aim for what they get and are happy.

    Hannah – fresh apples and friends – pretty perfect day.

    Denise – Sometimes I think it doesn’t get better than food with friends. Yum to the lasagna and the tarts.

    My kicks this week:
    1) A jury trial going very very well this week. It was a feel-good result after lots of work and stress. Very relieved and very happy it turned out well.
    2) Happy hour with frozen slushy margaritas and shuffleboard.
    3) Soccer practice in the sunshine.
    4) Made fresh guacamole today and enjoyed it in the garden with chips and an ice cold beer.
    5) Phone calls from far away friends.
    6) My passport has been missing for months now, I simply could not find it anywhere. Found it by accident Saturday morning. The timing, and the finding of it, are symbolic for me – in a very very good way.
    7) One week staycation here I come.

    Have a wonderful week everyone!

  15. I knew Paul McCartney is referred to by some as “Macca,” and if I streeeeetch I can see the same thing going on with “exhibition” and “Ekka.” But that just opens the door to the question: is this a general rule of British/Australian/New Zealand-speak? that when a word of three or more syllables contains an embedded hint of a “k” sound at the end of the first syllable, you can truncate the word there and add an “-a” after first doubling the “k” letter?

    There don’t seem to be a hell of a lot of words meeting those requirements, but let’s see…

    Rachel mentions guacca. Score!

    jeannine mentions chocca. Score!

    “Cacaphony” would become “cacca,” which is less successful (or “succa,” ditto)…

  16. Jules: Heehee, it does look like a movie trailer. N.D. Wilson (the author of that book) is actually a movie maker, so that’s probably why!

    I liked how it had the kid from Super 8 in it. Pretty cool…

    Yay! I love geekiness! 😉

  17. Dear Jules – I’m so very sorry to read about the loss of your dear friend. It’s lovely that you wrote about her here. The landscape changes when you lose someone important.

  18. Rachel, enjoy the staycation, and have some fresh guacamole for me. Congrats on kick #1!

    John, you are, hands down, the most inquisitive person I know.

    Hannah, aha. I see.

    Samantha, thanks!

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