For this morning, the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I had planned on posting the illustrations from Don Brown that are featured in this post. For several reasons, I decided to post it on Friday, as you can see, which left me unsure of what I was going to post today.
But then two things crossed my mind, as I pondered what art to feature on this sad day: 1) Julie Paschkis, because she’s one of my top-five favorite illustrators and because her artwork fills me with hope, the kind of hope that leaves you feeling warm (that might sound redundant but there is a kind of hope that can leave you feeling empty, though I digress), and 2) a phoenix.
Yup. A phoenix. I thought it would be a fitting image for today, seeing as how it’s a symbol of re-birth and regeneration.
And wouldn’t you believe my luck, it suddenly occurred to me that Julie herself had painted a phoenix for the wonderful picture book poetry collection by Julie Larios, titled Imaginary Menagerie, published by Harcourt in 2008. (I posted about it here back in the day.) So, I secured Paschkis’s permission to post it, and here we are.
So, yeah. It’s a sad day for many Americans. I am rather speechless, as I’m sure many folks are. Instead of my babbling, I’ll quote the first part of Larios’ poem, “Phoenix,” the one for which Paschkis created that image: “Rising / from the ashes of her nest, / away she flies. / She is a bird that never dies…”
In the book’s closing note about the creatures featured in the book, Larios also writes: “Ancient Greek mythology describes the phoenix singing so beautifully that the sun stops in its path across the sky to listen to her song.”
If I try to describe how these things make me think of the people who died on 9/11, I might very well sound like an idiot, but they do. I guess I’m saying: May we remember them with song and sun and light and warmth. May we continue to rise from the ashes, while at the same time pausing to remember those lost. (And may we treat one another with understanding and respect. I’m talkin’ to you, Lou Ann Zelenik and Andy Miller. Sigh.)
IMAGINARY MENAGERIE. Copyright © 2008 by Julie Larios. Illustrations © 2008 by Julie Paschkis. Published by Harcourt. Image reproduced by permission of Julie Paschkis.
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) I really don’t know what I’d do in life, generally, without Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton over at NPR’s All Songs Considered on account of all the music they bring to my life. And I love what Bob has posted about 9/11. It’s here. What he writes is so lovely. (“Music connected me with the emotion of the day. It did it in a way no other artform can do…”) And the Philip Glass piece at that link is straight up gorgeous. I’ve had it on repeat and repeat and repeat again as I’ve typed this post.
2) A friend shared this poem by Tony Hoagland, and it blew me away. I have this thing for suns and light in literature and art and music and such, but even with that aside, it’s a fabulous poem. (“love / is no less practical / than a coffee grinder” … damn skippy, my friends) …
Speaking of suns—and ’cause we all need some light today—here’s a Sylvie Daigneault sun from this previous 7-Imp post:
3) Another friend shared this poem by Denise Levertov, which is also beautiful.
4) My co-authors and I turned in our manuscript last weekend, and as our editor now reads it (and we bite our nails), I have been enjoying the pre-manuscript life. (We’ve been writing and researching for two years. Can you believe it?) I’m looking forward to the next steps with this book and I know I’ll learn a lot from our editor, but for now I’m enjoying the extra free time.
5) Took a mini-vacation after turning in the manuscript. My seven-year-old was ill the entire time and has remained feverish* for seven days straight. This is NOT a kick, but I will say that I’ve had more time, since she’s been out of school for a week and since I work from home, for cuddling up and reading with her — just like the pre-elementary school days. We started Harriet the Spy, and she’s crazy about the book. (I figured she would be.) Oftentimes, we have to put the book down just to laugh a while at both Harriet and Janie. We also re-read, along with the five-year-old, Emily Jenkins’s two books about Stingray, Plastic, and Lumphy in anticipation of this upcoming release. (And we laughed SO HARD. Oh gracious, those books are funny. This marks precisely the umpteenth hundredth time we’ve read those great books, but they’re specialness forever and ever, so we can’t help it.) And we started Meindert De Jong’s Shadrach, ’cause I think they’ll really dig it.
As I’ve said approximately 77,777 times at the blog, reading good books with them is the best kick of all in life.
(* I once read that putting your hand on someone’s forehead to check for a fever is the most loving gesture. I love that. Anyway, there’s been a lot of that going on this week.)
7) I love it when you get a new book that you think looks so crunchy-good or maybe even juicy-good and it sits there and you anticipate starting it and it sits there some more and waits for you. (I always find this to be a kick, but now that we’ve turned our manuscript in, I actually have more time to read those books.) The book in particular that is waiting on me and winking at me and whistling to me right now is this one.
And what are YOUR kicks this week? (I promise I eventually showed up last week. It just took me a few days. Thanks to those who visited.)