and nothing goes to waste.”
(Click to enlarge)
It’s the first Sunday of the month (the last first-Sunday of 2011, GASP!), and so that means I’m shining the spotlight on a student or debut illustrator. In today’s case, I’ve got the latter. Elizabeth Zunon, who was born in Albany, New York, but grew up in West Africa, attended RISD. Jeanne Walker Harvey’s My Hands Sing the Blues: Romare Bearden’s Childhood Journey, published by Marshall Cavendish in September, marks Zunon’s debut as a picture book illustrator, which Hazel Rochman at Booklist called “handsome” and a “lively introduction to the artist for young children and for older readers, too.”
With a text “loosely based…on the concept of the blues,” as Harvey writes in her closing Author’s Note, the book is told (nearly sung) from the point-of-view of Bearden as an adult, looking back on a particular time in childhood during which he left North Carolina to take a train trip with his parents to Harlem. Having to heed Jim Crow laws, his family knows they must head North:
Tears sting my eyes when I hear the call, “All aboard!”
I hug Great-grandma and Great-grandpa, then I climb aboard.
I settle in my seat and wonder what we’re traveling toward.
As you can see from the spread opening this post, both author and illustrator use one of Bearden’s most famous paintings, Watching the Good Trains Go By (1964), as inspiration. Harvey’s rhythmic, often entrancing text begs to be read aloud. “I chose this [bluesy] form,” she writes, “because Romare Bearden’s art and life were inspired by blues and jazz music.” Zunon’s illustrations, as you can see here, are rendered in oils with mixed media collage. “Echoing Bearden’s distinctive style,” the Booklist review goes on to say, “the richly textured collage art combines original paintings with paper, fabrics, and photos to show Bearden as a small boy watching trains pass until he and his parents get on a train themselves, and he sees the world whizzing past: A patchwork quilt of greens and gold.”
“I think Elizabeth Zunon’s illustrations are stunning,” Jeanne told me. “It was a picture book author’s dream come true to open the packet from the publisher and see her illustrations. Not only do Liz’s illustrations embody the spirit of Romare Bearden’s art, but they truly bring the text to life.” This is Jeanne’s second picture book, and I look forward to what she brings us next.
Incidentally, Elizabeth’s second illustrated title, released by Candlewick last month and written by Newbery-winner Patricia MacLachlan, is called Lala Salama: A Tanzanian Lullaby. I’ve seen it, too, and like it very much.
As always, here’s a bit more art from My Hands Sing the Blues so that you can get a better sense of its style. Enjoy.
With a-thrumming and a-drumming, the train hums a tune to me.”
(Click to enlarge)
(Click to enlarge)
MY HANDS SING THE BLUES: ROMARE BEARDEN’S CHILDHOOD JOURNEY. © 2011 by Jeanne Walker Harvey. Illustrations © 2011 by Elizabeth Zunon. Published by Marshall Cavendish Children, Tarrytown, NY. Images reproduced by permission of the author.
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.
I have two kicks today, but they are big enough to cover one-through-seven:
I saw Gillian Welch and David Rawlings live at the Ryman on Thursday night. Yup, I was at this. If you ever have a chance to see them live, don’t miss it. Absolutely phenomenal. (Turns out Robert Plant and Patty Griffin were in the room, too, as you can read at that link, and I didn’t even know it. Why didn’t I get the seat next to him?)
Here’s the sweet sweet setlist from the show:
I’ve seen them before—more than once, actually—but I was so glad to be alive and there and hearing THAT show at that special stage and I will never forget it. It was one of those shows. When they played “Revelator,” I dare say it blew the mind of everyone in the auditorium. (It didn’t hurt that it’s a top-fiver for me, in terms of favorite songs of theirs.) They are so immensely talented. It was kicky kick-ass kicky-ness ALL AROUND.
They also did this, which is a brilliant little song:
Secondly, I got to hold a wee, new-to-this-world babe, born to some good friends of mine. The tiny little thing let me hold her quite a while, and she is a puddin’ head.
What about you all?