7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #266: Featuring Peter McCarty
and Why This Was a Great Week to
Be a Fan of Children’s Literature

h1 January 29th, 2012 by jules

Top illustration from Peter McCarty’s The Monster Returns;
Bottom spread from McCarty’s
(Click bottom image to enlarge and see in detail)

I’m having a McCarty Party today.

Caldecott Honor author/illustrator Peter McCarty, that is.

I love his picture books. You never quite know what he’s going to do next. (The soft-focus art of Hondo and Fabian? Or the spikier-lined art of Jeremy Draws a Monster, featured here at 7-Imp in ’09?) And he can go from quiet to funny in one second flat. The books he’s illustrated or both written and illustrated are smart, never talking down to children, and with each new book, he seems to get more inventive in his artwork. I always look forward to a new McCarty title.

So, it’s with happiness that I share art from two new McCarty picture books this morning, one out in a couple of days and the other coming out in May.

Booklist called the aforementioned Jeremy Draws a Monster, which was released in 2009, a “topnotch Harold and the Purple Crayon for a new generation.” This week, Henry Holt releases The Monster Returns, which Publishers Weekly describes as “Hitchcockian in its suspense” (love that). Yes, Jeremy thought he’d rid his life of the monster at the end of the first book. He sent him off with a one-way-only bus ticket, after all. But, once again, he’s drawing in his room when, lo and behold, a paper-airplane note flies through the window: “Draw a Compass and a Telescope. Look out your window North by Northwest.” He does so and spies the monster. Then, his phone rings. The monster (complete with his bright pink hat) exclaims, “I’m bored. And I’m coming back!”

I don’t want to give it all away, but Jeremy devises a smart solution to his problem, the problem being that he expects the monster will very well occupy all his time, showing up to make demands, as he did last time. The monster he had created with his own pen nearly drove him up the wall, and his quick thinking this time, which I won’t give away, is clever fun. And involves more creativity and art, not to mention a little help from his friends.

And, just as with the last book, the endpages alone make this worth your time. It’s just full to bursting with good art, I tell you.

And, for those who remember McCarty’s wonderful 2010 title, Henry in Love (a New York Times Best Illustrated Book of the Year), you may be happy to know about Chloe, to be released by Balzer + Bray in May. (I’ve got an F&G of this one.) Chloe returns in this book, all about the joys of sibling play (an abundant thing when you’re a rabbit with twenty brothers and sisters, not to mention a fun thing when you have bubble wrap and an empty cardboard box) and, to be precise, its ability to trump staring all slack-jawed at a television, even when a show about a blue pound cake attacking a city is on. (This extreme quirkiness is one of the things I love about McCarty’s books.)

On display in Chloe are McCarty’s cream-colored pages, uncluttered backgrounds, finely-drawn creatures (I feel like I could count the furs on their heads), and soft pastels. (At the close of the book, he draws some trees that, alone, are fun to pore over — that is, if you really dig finely-drawn art, as I do.) Overall, he brings us, once again, the “atmosphere of warmth” that the New York Times noted in Henry in Love.

For all I know, he’s got more titles coming out in 2012. Who knows. Let’s hope!

* * * * * * *

THE MONSTER RETURNS. Copyright © 2012 by Peter McCarty. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Henry Holt, New York.

CHLOE. Copyright © 2012 by Peter McCarty. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins, New York.

Photo of Jack is copyright © 2011 Jack Gantos and re-printed from this 2011 interview.

* * * * * * *

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 * * *

Well, it’s hard to get any kickier than the psychedelic and very funny cover of The Monster Returns, but I do have more ….

This was a tremendously good week to be a fan of children’s literature. Here’s why:

1) The ALA Youth Media Awards were announced Monday. (Robin Smith over at the Horn Book composed a great write-up on what it’s like to be in the room when awards are announced, something I’ve yet to experience, though I know what it’s like to be jumping up and down like a fool in front of your own desk while watching the live webcast.)

JAAAAACCCCKKKKK! (Gantos, pictured below, got the Newbery!) Yes, I changed into my “Jack for Ambassador” shirt later that morning. I was also happy with the Caldecott winner and Honor awards. So many folks who got recognition on Monday have visited this year, and I was happy to hear their names called, seeing as how those folks who visited were a) talented and b) ever-so friendly, each and every one of them. the one. the only. jack gantos.Off the top of my head, I’m thinking John Rocco (Caldecott Honor), who visited in May; Rafael López (Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor), who visited in November; Lane Smith (Caldecott Honor), who shared early sketches from Grandpa Green in September; Melissa Sweet (Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award), who shared early sketches from Balloons Over Broadway on Thanksgiving Day; and Jon Klassen (Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor), who visited in August.

It was such a good day to be a fan of children’s lit. That day for me is like the Oscars and the Tonys and the Emmys and the Superbowl all rolled into one (if I actually watched the Superbowl, which I don’t, ’cause haven’t I gone over how you won’t want me in the same room when I’m rooting for a team? I get obnoxious and too excited, and so I just avoid it altogether) … My throat was hurting from screaming, post-awards — mostly ’cause Jack won the Newbery. (And look! He visited in July. Remember what he said there about reading slowly? Ah, so smart, that man.)

2) Sendak being interviewed by Stephen Colbert (parts one and two, embedded below).

Many people have emailed me to ask if I’ve seen it, simply due to my fan-dom. (I didn’t bother posting about it on Facebook, ’cause everyone was already.) Yes, I had heard the night before that he’d be on Colbert’s show, and I woke up the very next morning (since I don’t have cable channels) and cancelled my plans—no, really—just to watch it online AS SOON AS MY EYES WERE OPEN. ‘Cause, you see, I adore Maurice Sendak. I really do. I have spent years reading about him and his thoughts on children’s books.

It was comedy gold is what it was. But it also was simply fascinating, as a children’s lit fan, to sit back and watch everyone’s reactions this week — particularly the general public. And that’s because, of everyone in this field today, Sendak goes the farthest, I think, in turning the perceptions people have of children’s book authors and illustrators on their very heads. In some ways, portions of the part-one interview were just … well, odd to see. If you know Sendak’s thoughts on children and books and then you hear the general public laughing and gasping slightly at them (without a lot of context), it’s simply bizarre. Was for me anyway. (I want to give an example here, but I’m afraid this post is long enough.)

But mostly it was just a hoot, and it’s great to see Sendak laughing and having fun.

Also, my favorite moment? It’s hard to top the bag of penises (penii?), but my favorite part is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo moment in part two of the interview, how—even though Colbert’s way of going about it is ridiculous (OF COURSE we’re not going to read stories of sadomasochism to our children)—he manages to tell THE Maurice Sendak that he has double standards. And THE Maurice Sendak, who totally got Colbert’s fake persona, just smiles and nods and says, you got me.

Isn’t it a blast to watch two sharp minds at work here, Colbert meeting his match in many ways? Also, Colbert is a comic genius: “Idiot” [as he’s jotting it down] … “How do you spell that?”

Also, in the way of a postscript, this news is just funny. “But although Colbert is a complete unknown in the children’s book world, he comes with some good blurbs, so we thought what the hell. We don’t know anything about kids’ books either.”

3) And then yesterday Jack was on NPR’s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, further taking the perceptions the general public has about children’s book authors and turning them on their heads some more. (Jack spent time in jail for drug-smuggling, but this is something the general public hardly knows. Till now, that is.)

In large part, these perceptions are what our upcoming Candlewick book is about (me, Betsy, Peter, that is), so it’s been fun to watch all of this play out this week.

(Other good children’s-lit news this week, Anita Silvey and Philip Nel remind us all over in Facebook-land: This NPR piece on The Snowy Day and this NPR piece on The Watsons Go to Birmingham — 1963. Also, Chris Raschka visited NPR, and Publishers Weekly visited several award winners. There’s even more, I’m sure, from this week, but I’ll stop there!)

4) The 2012 Children’s Book Week poster by David Wiesner:

5) This 15-minute short film, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, is good stuff.

I highly recommend hitting pause to read Morris’ journals toward the end there: “If life is enjoyed, does it have to make sense?” and “Why does the weasel go pop? Does it matter?”

6) This very short clip (embedded below) from Aardman Animations made me laugh. (“I’m not really a sporty person.”)

I’ll say it again: I’d like to have a beer with Nick Park. (And thanks to Jeremy Tankard for that link.)

7) By the Hammer of Thor, this made me laugh. Pure, unadulterated goof-ballery. I love Liz Lemon.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

15 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #266: Featuring Peter McCarty
and Why This Was a Great Week to
Be a Fan of Children’s Literature”

  1. I’m glad you had such a fun week, Jules! I will come and watch your video selection tomorrow, they look like fun. I have just started watching 30 Rock on DVD recently (I often trail behind the times with these things but in my defence think it probably wasn’t as big in Aus as the US?) and it’s great!

    1. Despite the monsoonal rain we’ve had in Brisbane over the last week (basically it was like the air had turned into water at some points) I managed to sneak out into the garden for long enough to get some fallen branches tidied up and put in our green waste bin for collection tomorrow.
    2. We unfortunately lost a huge branch off a flowering tree that we loved outside our window. The only upside is that another little flowering plant underneath is now seeing sunlight for the first time in (we guess) years, a nice surprise
    3. The chickens got to go out in the yard today and seem to have forgiven us for locking them up for most of the week
    4. We went out with friends to a Chinese restaurant to celebrate Chinese New Year last night. The highlight was a lion dance, the dancers were great and the drummer impressive
    5. My niece is as beautiful as ever, and it is such a treat to watch her grow. I have also found that the it is immensely satisfying when one of the books I gave her becomes a favourite (due to wonderful sites like these with book ideas! Like today’s wonderful book). I also love to hear her read aloud (mostly in her own language) to herself.
    6. I’ve got heaps of work done on a large work project I am aiming to get done by the end of Feb, I love it when intangible ideas have been fleshed out
    7. We went to see a baker about a wedding cake yesterday (I have reluctantly decided it would be a bit stressful doing it myself) and got to take home samples of different flavours, yum

  2. Thanks for that, Jules! I love Peter McCarty and look forward to reading both new books. His use of black space always blows me away.
    My kicks?
    1. The strange TV-in-the-bathroom-mirror at the Dallas Omni Hotel.
    2. Seeing so many friends in Dallas. These are My People–the people who love books, know authors, and love to share what they know.
    3. Hearing publishing people gush about their new books. A few of them walked me through new picture books page by page; their love for the project was inspiring.
    4. Watching my second graders perform their puppet show. This year it was the MARVELOUS ZooZical by Judy Sierra and Marc Brown.
    5. The lobby of the Adolphus Hotel.
    6. That nice Cara at Minute Clinic who said, “Well, it’s strep. At least there is medicine for that!” Tea in bed with penicillin and Advil chaser.
    7. Being IN the room when the Youth Media Awards were announced. I am still pinching myself.

  3. Peter McCarty’s art is a delight. Little Bunny on the Move is the first one of his books that I saw, & it’s still one of my favorites by him.

    One other cool children’s culture-related video I came across this week is Joel Plaskett and a yam puppet, singing, dancing, and dressing up.
    Plaskett is better known in Canada than he is in the States, which (on a completely non-children’s-culture-related note) inspires me to recommend his “Nowhere with You,” which is as fine a pop song as ever there was. Cheerful, too.

    Love the Aardman video! Hadn’t seen it before. But have Aardman ever done anything that was less than great? If they have, I’ve not seen it.

  4. Peter McCarthy rocks.
    Jules, I love your kicks today. All of them.
    Emmaco, wedding cake tasting, how yummy fun.
    My kicks:
    Seeing friends on Friday and Saturday. We don’t get to see them much.
    Jack Gantos!
    Dinner with family last night.
    The weather is remarkable.
    Seeing a bald eagle on my walk yesterday.
    Lengthening days.
    Have a great week.

  5. Love Peter McCarty’s art. Jules, you mentioned the endpapers on The Monster Returns. I saw McCarty speak a year or so ago and he talked about the endpapers on Jeremy Draws a Monster and said they were doodles from his sketchbook that he’d done trying to come up with the story. I imagine that’s the case again in this one. I wish you could have been at that talk–it was very process-y. You would have loved it.

    Most of Jules’ kicks were kicks for me, too, this week. I loved talking to the wider world about children’s books as they were getting so much attention.

    I had some other kicks, too:

    1. On Friday night, I saw the documentary The Interrupters, which I can’t recommend highly enough. It is funny and deeply moving and has the power to change the way you think.
    2. I’ve been watching Party Down this week on Netflix. It’s one of those ones I’ve been meaning to watch forever. It is hilarious but also makes points–just the kind of show I love.
    3. We had Froggy from the books by Jonathan London visiting the library this week, and the programs were fun and really well-attended.
    4. Yesterday when I was cleaning out my basement, I found a journal I was forced to keep at school when I was in the fifth grade. Talk about hilarious. I had no idea I had such a thing around, and I just laughed and laughed reading it. I remember being that kid.
    5. Today there is some blue in the sky and every once in a while the sun is out. How I’ve missed the sun!

  6. Oh my, that monster in his pink hat looks all pimped-out, so damn funny! What great books, I remember loving it when you previewed the first one, can’t wait to grab a few copies of this one.

    Jules – love how happy all the awards made you. But I think you’d be really fun to watch the Superbowl with. What’s a football game/party without people getting all excited and yelling? Boring, that’s what! You are welcome to come watch football at my house anytime. Thanks for all the linkage, can’t wait to check everything out – but did watch Liz Lemon already, cuz I love her so very much!

    emmaco – wedding cake samples – yum!

    Adrienne – hooray for glimpses of sun, and thanks for the reccomendations, I will definitely try to check out The Interrupters.

    My kicks this week:
    1) Won a silly trial that would have had not-silly consequences for a client. But then, it’s generally a good sign when the police officer testifying for the state winks at me when he’s leaving the witness stand.
    2) Came home Friday to Cole and Skittle napping together on the sofa. They acted embarrassed and moved before I could snap a pic!
    3) Sunshine yesterday! Yard work with Cole helping. Plus walks.
    4)A free iPhone app called Action Movie.Its very silly fun with special effects.
    5) Attending a wine party at a fancy-schmancy law firm. Always fun to see the different side of things.
    6) Soccer game last night. We lost, but played hard, and oh my what a workout!
    7) The feel and smell of freshly laundered linens when you are soooo tired and ready to sleep.

    Have a great week everyone!

  7. Emmaco, I was also late to 30 Rock but am now almost caught up (and I usually watch shows years after the rest of the country). … I’m still excited about your wedding. Do you know what kind of cake you want? I also loved reading about your niece. What are some of her favorite books? I hope she likes McCarty. My own daughters really love his books. …. Glad you all didn’t get swept off in all that rain. Wow.

    Robin, there was a t.v. in the bathroom mirror? So glad you had fun at the conference. Gotta go to one of those one of these days.

    Phil, I can say that’s the first time I’ve ever seen a yam talking. Or in a biker’s helmet. … And, right, I don’t think that the Aardman folks have ever done wrong. My girls just laugh and laugh over Shaun the Sheep. And I’m a long-time, nerdy Wallace and Gromit fan. (I wonder when we’ll see them in a movie next?)

    Jone, happy birthday! And I agree with the lengthening-days kick. No doubt.

    Adrienne, ooooh. Thanks for the documentary recommendation. I’m in a serious Netflix rut. And I’ve never even *heard* of Party Down. .. So glad the sun is shining today for you (in more ways than one).

  8. Rachel, we passed each other in cyberspace. I LOVE THAT KICK about Cole and Skittle. HA. How quickly they acclimated to each other, huh? I’m so happy you have them now.

    Congrats on the trial. You go. And I snort-laughed at pimped-out, ’cause, yes, Monster does look pimped-out. Indeed.

    Sunshine and longer days seems to be a theme here. Here’s to sun for all….

  9. Yes, it was an exciting week in the world of children’s literature. Thanks for this round-up, as well as your insightful reviews and previews of some stellar looking picture books.
    I loved, Henry in Love. I wasn’t as much in love with Colbert’s interview with Maurice Sendak – which seemed to be more about Colbert. I loved Jack Gantos on NPR though.
    My big literary kicks this week – finished Rachel Cohn and David Levithan’s YA novel, Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List, and just started reading, Why We Broke Up – Daniel Handler’s new novel, with art by Maira Kalman. Brilliant.
    I’m tweeting this and linking it on my blog.

  10. McCarty Party is fun to say. Thanks, Jules. Hi, Peter. Congratulations on your new books! Yay for Hitchcock references!

    Congratulations to all of the authors and illustrators whose works were recognized.

    Oh, Stephen Colbert. You are delightful. Very fun to see and hear Colbert and Sendak. I now feel like saying, “The mouse should earn the cookie,” whenever someone wants something for nothing.

    David Wiesner: Beautiful poster.

    Jules: I want to work with Tina Fey someday.

    emmaco: Kudos on your accomplishments at work! Sorry that the branch is gone, but the lovely plant underneath can now flourish. Glad that your niece is enjoying books.

    Robin: Congrats to your second graders!

    Hi Philip and Jes (and the eagle!)

    adrienne: Oh, what a treasure that journal must be!

    Rachel: Congrats on the win. Aw to the pets napping.

    My kicks for the past week:
    1) Cleaning
    2) Sleep
    3) Interviewing artist/filmmaker/director Susan Lee
    4) Music – I finally own David Cook’s album This Loud Morning and Erin McCarley’s Love, Save the Empty.
    5) Dreaming
    6) Encouragement
    7) Prepping for tonight’s monologue competition/performance

  11. Megan, I wanna read Why We Broke Up so super bad.

    Little Willow! Wow, Susan Lee is inspiring. I’m tired just reading about all she does. Break a leg tonight, and enjoy your music.

  12. Jules, by being late to these shows we’re just doing quality control – waiting to see if enough people love them 🙂

    My niece actually loves nearly every book, even those boring ones that just have collections of photos of objects with their names underneath. Long time favourites include Lynley Dodd’s Hairy Maclary books. Last time I visited she was loving this big board book Piggies. Books with animals are generally sure fire winners so perhaps Henry in Love can join her birthday book list, though she is still a bit enthusiastic with dragging books around so board books are still a good idea. I love watching her follow along and read to herself and to us, but I can bet it will be even more fun when we can move onto more complicated stories and delicate pages!

  13. Jone, in my foggy not-enough-coffee-yet haze I misread your name and didn’t recognize you! Happy late birthday! Sorry it was so darn rainy.

    Jules, that Morris Lessmore short is amazing!

    Little Willow – Thanks! And hope you smoked the competition last night!

  14. I finally got to watch the Sendak interview yesterday – it took me a while to find a version that was viewable outside the US, but it was worth the wait. I laughed and laughed. A real treat. As are the flying books…

  15. […] Ah, that’s easy: Lisbeth Zwerger, Gennady Spirin, Peter McCarty. I grovel before […]

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