7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #236: Featuring Julie Paschkis

h1 September 11th, 2011 by jules

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.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

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.)

6) I really enjoyed this Tiny Desk Concert with James Vincent McMurrow, and it made me want to go buy the CD (pictured above right). Which I did. Which is good.

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.)

21 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #236: Featuring Julie Paschkis”

  1. Oh, Jules — the Larios lines and Paschkis art (plus the beautiful Hoagland and Levertov poems) were just what I needed on waking this morning. Thank you, and congratulations on turning in your manuscript.

    My kicks:
    1. A six-year-old kindergartner
    2. A ten-year marriage to my best friend
    3. A brief conversation with Billy Collins
    4. A great review for Ted Delaney’s new novel:
    5. A soothing break between damaging storms
    6. A fine start for Poetry Advocates for Children and Young Adults (please email me at stevenwithrow@gmail.com if you’re interested in learning more or joining the group)
    7. And a poem:

    By Steven Withrow

    Asleep, we do not hear it snap—
    That splintered limb
    Or heed it rap our roof
    And strike
    The downspout dumb.

    Awake, we think a bird’s deranged
    A windowpane—
    Chill rain
    Has changed to hail—a gull?—
    A gale—
    A hurricane!

    ©2011 Steven Withrow, all rights reserved

  2. Jules, huge congratulations on turning in the ms! That has to count for at least 7 kicks. Or 7 squigillian. Do I note that letting go of editing restraints made your hyperbole blossom more than ever this week? Love it. Hope for healing with books and cuddling and the goodness of Julie Pashkis soon.

    Steven, your kicks are the best, too. You know how happy I am that you always bring poetry into the conversation. I do have some Billy Collin’s envy: that must have been some night.

    Kicks around here:
    1. Almost too chilly for the porch this morning, but not quite.

    2. Bicycle ride planned today, with lunch at a tea house.

    3. Turned in a ms. long enough ago to stop the initial nail biting. But, in case you didn’t guess, Jules, there’s always more. Why we have ten fingers?

    4. Getting to write badly on a new piece that’s far from turn-in-able. Makes breathing much more pleasant.

    5.Started teaching writing in the Simmons at the Carle MFA program. Wonderful students!

    6. Proud of my daughter who spent yesterday at a booth for Stand Up 2 Cancer. I miss reading aloud Harriet the Spy, but we also get moments like this with our grown up kids.

    7. I’m blanking on a seventh, but must get going on the hour of writing I told myself I’d do before digging up some bicycle attire and dreaming about tea and probable scones.

  3. Steven, like Jeannine, I love it when you come along and share poems. Also, I’m SUPER excited about your new idea and will help in any way I can. Happy anniversary to you and your wife. (For the record, because I know how wonderful it is to hear Collins speak live and because I meant to send this to you earlier in the week, here’s my Sunday post in which I shared a few words he said when I heard him last year.)

    Jeannine, Tea and Probable Scones! Band name! I call it! (I think it must be something like a classical quartet, though, don’t you?) Have fun on that bike ride, and I love your “getting to write badly” kick. Also, congrats on the teaching gig! Lucky students, those.

  4. It’s exactly the kind of tribute for today w/ Pashkis and Larios. I would love to hear and see on tv a day of poetry reading in remembrance of this day.
    Jules, congrats on turning in the manuscript, the reading of Harriet the Spy, and the two new poems for me to collect.
    Stevem, happy anniversary and Jeannine, I too, love the tea and probable scones.
    My kicks:
    1. To be here, I’ve missed a couple and it’s made me sad.
    2. Last weekend. Two grandgirls, cousins(5 and almost 7), spent the night, and how crazy fun it was.
    3. Oldest grandgirl read to me Friday night. She’s getting it, so cool!
    4. School. In the library. Love it.
    5. Read Laura Snyder’s Bigger than a Breadbox. Am going to do a lunch read out loud to fifth graders followed by a SKYPE visit in October. Great book.
    6. CYBILS, the on going discussions with the organizers as we form our panels.
    7. A week filled with sunshine.
    Have a great week.

  5. Jules! “The Word” made me choke up, awww. Thank you for sharing it. I always love the image of you snuggling with your girls and reading to them. 🙂 *heart*


    1. Getting only two hours of sleep at night but still being able to teach four classes during the day and people saying I don’t look like I’ve only had two hours of sleep.

    But I hope I get more sleep this week!

    2. A box full of so many goodies from a friend in South Korea.

    3. Cake from another friend.

    4. Good coffee with milk.

    5. Time with family and friends.

    6. Fashion/style/beauty.

    7. Good students.

    8. Blogging.

  6. Jules – (Paschkis and Larios) THANK YOU for the Phoenix imagery and poetry. Fitting indeed. I needed a lift on such a sad memorial day. I had a long drive last night to my mom’s for dinner, and back; I listened to several thoughtful 9-11 radio shows on NPR. One commentator’s observation struck me: He noted how we Americans were so united and kind and appreciative of each other in the days, weeks and months after 9-11. And now, ten years later, how we are so often at one another’s political throats. THAT made me sad. So today, inspired by 7-Imp, I will wish for a psychological Phoenix for our torn country; may we re-learn how to speak and disagree civilly, productively, once again.

    Jules – Yea for taking mini-vacations in whatever form they come—with low-grade fevers and cuddled reading hours. Though we missed your enthusiastic presence here.

    Steven – Oooo. I’m totally interested in being a PAFCAYA, count me in. (That acronym sounds like an exotic fruit.)

    Jeanine – loved kick #4. Also: your students are lucky.

    Jone – Glad the sun is shining on you in Portland. Thanks for your hard work on the Cybils. Hey, missed you.

    Tarie – Good students can make a whole class click. Yes.

    My own kicks are “of the moment” today:

    1. The beautiful arrangement the Star Spangled Banner that youth group sang opening of the 9-11 ceremony in NYC.

    2. The Ground Zero Memorial. (!) The dark, solemn void; square, foundation-like, with water and names all around.

    3. Fighter jets flying vigil along the coast: fast, reassuring.

    4. As I type, a film crew is shooting a movie next door; there’s a tall handsome guy with long dreadlocks standing in my front-yard hedge holding a boom mike. And I can hear staccato yells of “Quiet on the set!” “Action!” and “We’re out!”
    …takes me back to my own days on a set. Kinda fun.

    5. I’m going to see a 9-11 themed play this afternoon, with a kid-lit friend in the cast. Cafe & talk afterwards. Can’t wait.

    6. Don Brown’s book you featured on Friday, Jules. Wow.

    7. Paul Simon in the NYPD baseball cap, singing “Songs of Silence.”

    Sorry for rambling on so long, yikes. Have a good week!

  7. To everyone who is or has known a phoenix: Be strong, and lend your strength to others, so they can grow strong as well.

    Jules: Sending healthy vibes to your munchkin. I hope the fever has broken by now. Poor little thing. Hurrah for Harriet the Spy, and for the toy stories by Jenkins! Congrats to the trio for the finish. 🙂

    Happy anniversary to Steven and his family.

    Jeannine: Keep breathing. Good luck with teaching, and kudos to your daughter!

    Jone: Welcome back! Glad you’ve enjoyed your recent visits with family.

    Safe travels to all bloggers traveling this week.

    Thumbs-up to all involved in the next round of Cybils!

    Tarie: I hope you are able to sleep more soundly and more regularly soon. I’ve been running on 4 hours of sleep, and that’s not good, and you with 2 worries me a lot. A lot. So please rest up.

    Denise: You have email!

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Opening
    2) Calm
    3) Connection
    4) Trust
    5) Breathing
    6) Believing
    7) Senses

  8. Jules, I agree with everyone else, the choice of the phoenix and the words you shared today are simply perfect. And like Tarie, The Word had me in tears as well. Beautiful poem.

    Congrats on turning in the ms! Woot woot! Go you! And how lucky for your sweet daughters that they have a mother who takes their temperature with her hand and cuddles and reads to them – sounds like a lovely week (minus the fever of course.)

    Steven – Congrats on your anniversay!

    Jeannine – both the sort-of chilly porch and the bike ride followed by scones sounds wonderful!

    Jone – glad you’re back in the library. And the sleepover with grandgirls sounds like a lot of fun. Isn’t it nice that we are finally getting our summer in Portland, even if it is September?

    Tarie – coffee, cake and a box of goodies – you had an awesome week! Hope you get more sleep this week!

    Denise – lovely images within your kicks today. An afternoon that includes a play and a friend and a cafe afterwards is a wonderful Sunday.

    My kicks this week:

    1) Having a brief bit of time to stop by and kick today – been missing the past few weeks and it’s nice to be back.
    2) Saw The Debt last night. Intense film. Very dark themes, and incredibly thought-provoking. (Helen Mirren is a badass.)
    3) My co-workers. Feel so lucky to work with such passionate, committed and empathetic individuals, especially in the midst of budget cuts and spiraling workloads.
    4) New babies. A friend & co-worker just came back 2 weeks after his daughter was born (first baby) and said, “She is so cute and smells so good and I hate to be away from her and even though I haven’t slept in forever I don’t care because she is so amazing.”
    5) Another new baby at work – this time a new mom, who is so in love with her daughter she simply spills over with happiness. Both are beautiful to see, and fill me up with that warm kind of hope.
    6)This is sad, but Caloi, Cheyenne’s best friend and my dog that really belonged to the ex-bf, passed away in late August. The kick part is multi-layered. She was 14, and had a great life, full of love and hugs and walks and treats. We were united in saying goodby to her with love and grace and dignity, and lucky to have great vets who cried with us when she passed. She was a good dog, and I feel lucky to have been able to love her and be loved by her.
    7) Sunshine. I love sunshine. And thanks to you Jules, I will now always think of that beautiful poem when I say that word. ; )

    Have a wonderful sunshine and love-filled week, everyone!

  9. Hi all,

    On this day of remembrance, I just wanted to say hello and share this video with you. I think it’s a lovely tribute to a horrible event, and demonstrates how art can help bring us together. I wish everyone a reflective yet hopeful day.


    Jules, if you have time and don’t mind doing the necessary embedding procedure for the video, I would appreciate it.


  10. Thanks to all you bringers of light out there, on this somber day. And here is another tribute to the sun, by Mary Oliver:

    Why I Wake Early

    Hello, sun in my face.
    Hello, you who made the morning
    and spread it over the fields
    and into the faces of the tulips
    and the nodding morning glories,
    and into the windows of, even, the
    miserable and the crotchety –

    best preacher that ever was,
    dear star, that just happens
    to be where you are in the universe
    to keep us from ever-darkness,
    to ease us with warm touching,
    to hold us in the great hands of light –
    good morning, good morning, good morning.

    Watch, now, how I start the day
    in happiness, in kindness.

    ~ Mary Oliver ~

    (Why I Wake Early, 2004)

  11. Jone, it makes me happy that your school year has started and you’re in the library, right where you need to be. And how old is the oldest grandgirl again? Also, as Denise said, yes, we’ve missed you.

    Tarie, those are my kinds of kicks. Cake. Coffee. But please get some sleep this week, my friend.

    Denise, dang, I don’t consider it rambling. I love it when you type a lot. Enjoy the play today, and I love the kick about the film crew. That kind of thing never happens ’round these parts.

    Little Willow, Mama Jules says you need to get some sleep, too. I know you don’t do it often and wish you could more, so …. well, all I can say is good luck. And, as always, your Little-Willow-esque, one-word kicks read like a poem.

    Rachel, we missed you, too! And ooh! I wanna see The Debt. So good to hear you give it a thumbs-up. When the very funny ladies at Go Fug Yourself cover Helen, it cracks me up. Here’s the latest (I think) — http://gofugyourself.com/well-played-helen-mirren-3-08-2011. … So glad you liked the poem, too, and here’s to compassionate vets.

    Jill, here’s the video, and I look forward to watching it after I get back home from errands (or what we call “mystery rides” à la Scott Magoon around here) —

    Elisa, thanks. Love that poem so much. I think this one has always been my favorite Mary-Oliver of all time: http://confidentwriting.com/2008/06/the-sun-by-mary/.

    Whew, it’s sunny ’round here today.

  12. Hello Jules! Hello everyone! I love the phoenix. I feel badly for your feverish little bunny, but am glad that you two get to be cozy.

    1. I’ve given my body a real pounding this week (I should have realized my introduction to kettlebells would be followed by two days of walking oddly). I took one of those naps that was just supposed to be 20 minutes of rejuvenation, but turned into the sensation of jet lag. Friday, I ran for 45 minutes straight. I may not be fast, but my endurance increases each week.

    2. Those Diary of a Wimpy Kid books really are laugh-out-loud funny.

    3. Scott Westerfeld is giving the keynote speech KidLitCon!

    4. I am GOING to KidLitCon. Since it’s in my town, perhaps it’s more accurate to say that I am attending KidLitCon.

    5. I appreciate the sunshine in Seattle for as long as we have it.

    6. Dim sum for breakfast.

    7. Good friends.

  13. Wow, congrats to everyone for all their kicks–definitely stuff to be proud/happy about!

    Here are mine (sorry, been at my little brother’s baseball tourney all weekend, so they’re basebally kicks).

    1. Winning at least one–the boys worked hard and had good spirit
    2. Getting to do (and doing it well) the scorebook!
    3. Little brother behind the plate–he’s such a wall catching
    4. Speech my dad (the coach) made at the end–almost gave me goosebumps
    5. Playing with wood bats (isn’t it awesome to watch little leaguers wield the wood bats–totally cool)
    6. I’m not *too* burnt. 😛
    7. Being able to sleep in a *bed* tonight. Had to sleep on the hard floor of the hotel…not fun.

    Great words on 9/11. Thanks all.

  14. One more kick–

    Quote from N.D. Wilson’s Dandelion Fire: “If he’s pitching fast, choke up.”

    Maybe you’d have to read the book. Great quote in the circumstances. 🙂

  15. Farida! Never read a Wimpy Kid book. Must do so. I hope KidLitCon is enjoyable. Kick #1 is amazing.

    Hannah, basebally kicks are good with me. Congrats to your brother’s team for their win. Sleep well.

  16. What a gorgeous illustration, and I think the phoenix is a wonderful image to express what words can’t.

    Wish you could be at Kidlitcon with us! Here are seven kicks from me:

    1. Getting to meet up with and see some of my most excellent blogging friends at Kidlitcon next weekend.

    2. I got my Scholastic author copies of LATTE in the mail this week!! Ack! I never thought I’d be in one of those flyers. 🙂 I keep wanting to pinch myself that it’s real.

    3. Our local soccer team won last night, breaking their 13-game winless streak. And, at the game, we got to meet up with a friend who has moved out of the area, but was back in town house-sitting.

    4. My husband and cats are ALWAYS one of my seven kicks.

    5. I know this is dorky, but my iMac is incredible and I

  17. Oh, it cut me off!

    5. Um, I heart my iMac.

    6. My writing group is awesome. I am so lucky. They are talented, accomplished, and always floor me.

    7. My husband’s teaching schedule this semester means we have the option of meeting up once a week for dinner at my 2nd favorite Mexican restaurant.

    Thanks for the opportunity to reflect and appreciate! I know I should do it more often. 🙂

  18. Belated happy Kicksday to all. So glad to see so many familiar voices chiming in.

    Thank you for those phoenix and sun images, Jules. Perfect.

    And to repeat (and keep repeating, and kicking off a new round of repetition…): CONGRATULATIONS on getting the book to this point. I don’t really know Betsy or Peter, except through your OMG-I’m-allowed-to-WORK-with-these-people?!? sort of comments — which (together with what I do know of you) give me a pretty good sense of how great a project it’s turned out to be. Sooo exhausting, I know it has to have been (especially in chaotic recent weeks). Yet so exhilarating at the same time.

    Loved reading everybody’s kicks. And I’ve gotta say, I especially look forward to Denise’s contributions here every week. Such nice selections from a world of good, and each expression of a kick is a kick in itself.

    Some FastKicks©™ of my own: 1-upcoming family visits; 2-yesterday’s issue of the Writer’s Almanac, with all the 9/11 bits; 3-Poochwalks under immaculate morning skies; 4-Don Draper (what a great character, even when unpleasant); 5-the sort of friendships so sensitive to each other’s moods and minds that an extra split-second beat in a conversation speaks a whole silent paragraph; 6-jazz singer Sophie Milman (a recent (to me) discovery); 7-remakings.

    Have a great week, all!

  19. Sarah, iMac. ENVY. I wish I could see a lot of you at KidLitCon, too. Have so much fun. Congrats on the Scholastic gig!

    John: “FastKicks©™” just made my week. Should you copyright “PoochWalks,” too? (I made the “w” a capital … I like that even better.) Oh and yes, Don Draper is endlessly fascinating. I need a drink now.

    I like how “remakings” is the last kick here. Fitting. Though I certainly won’t kick out anyone else who wants to comment.

  20. Oh! And thanks for the heartfelt congrats. It does feel really good to have turned in something we worked so hard on …. I look forward to seeing the manuscript evolve and become a book.

  21. You’re probably right about PoochWalks. I’d originally just called it “dogwalks,” based on “dogwalking.” But then I thought, I can’t say “dog.” Everyone will think I mean some OTHER dog. But I mean, precisely, The Pooch. Not capitalizing the W was a missed opportunity!

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