7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #271: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Sarah Frances Hardy

h1 March 4th, 2012 by jules

It’s the first Sunday of the month when I shine the spotlight on a student or debut illustrator, and this morning I bring you the latter.

Mississipian Sarah Frances Hardy will see her first picture book published this Spring. I haven’t seen a copy, but she’s here today to introduce herself and tell us a bit about it. And there’s even more information about her here at her site.

Without further ado, here’s Sarah Frances…

Sarah Frances: Thank you so much for featuring me on your blog. It truly is an honor to be here!

I am an author/illustrator and my debut picture book, Puzzled By Pink, will be released by Viking Children’s Books on April 12th of this year. I am completely over-the-moon that this dream has come true for me and that in a few short weeks, I’ll be seeing my book on the shelves.

My journey into writing and illustrating for children began as a seed when I was a little girl, but it wasn’t until about seven years ago that I dug in my heels and truly began to seek publication. I told my friends and family what I was doing (thereby “coming out”), joined SCBWI, and started writing and drawing every day.

My first attempts—and there were many—needed tons of work, but I didn’t give up. I kept working, especially on my illustration technique, to make my artwork speak to children. Because I’d worked for years as a fine artist, showing my paintings in galleries, the shift was really, really hard.

Children’s illustrations are so different from landscape paintings! I found myself having to not only stick to the story presented in the words but to figure out how to tell a story through the illustrations themselves. That was one of the most important things that I had to figure out: Illustrations are about storytelling. They’re not simply there to present what is already stated in the words. (That would be boring, right?)

I also had to work on my style as an artist. My fine art tends to be painterly with non-representational colors, and I follow a post-impressionist philosophy of painting on a flat canvas with respect to its “flatness.” In other words, I wasn’t trying to trick the eye into seeing depth on my canvases. In children’s illustration, showing depth and perspective is important when you are trying to create a relatable world on the page.

To learn how to illustrate, I went to several places. My good friend Elizabeth Dulemba has a fabulous blog and website with great information for illustrators. (Check out her “advice” page.) I also had my portfolio critiqued at SCBWI conferences, and I studied other artists’ portfolios at these conferences. I checked out hundreds of books from my library (I also spent a lot of time on the couch at my local indie bookstore flipping through books), and I absorbed other illustrators’ styles and techniques.

Finally, all of my hard work paid off, the stars aligned, and I came up with a main character [pictured at the top of this post].

And a great hook for a story: “Wednesday Addams meets Fancy Nancy.”


(Click to enlarge)

And several critiques and years later, Puzzled By Pink was acquired by Viking.

So, I’ll end this as so many great stories end — with a big ‘Happily ever after…’

This plot sounds intriguing. I have a certain seven-year-old with an emerging sense of humor that verges on very Wednesday-Addams, who will most likely find this story a hoot and a holler. (I must say “a hoot and a holler,” since I’m sharing this post today with a fellow Southerner.)

Best of luck to Sarah Frances, and thanks to her for visiting.

* * * * * * *

PUZZLED BY PINK. Copyright © 2012 by Sarah Frances Hardy. Published by Viking Books, New York. All images used with permission of Ms. Hardy.

* * * * * * *

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) Surviving manuscript edits. Not only were round one of manuscript edits due this week for me and Betsy and Peter, but I also had multiple Kirkus columns due this week. I’m also getting ready for some travel and had my regular work-work on top of all that. If you add all those together, you get a little punch-drunk giddy towards the end of the week, especially if you’re listening to “The Final Countdown” by Europe (long story) and especially if you’re goofing off with Adrienne, Tanita, and Farida (as I was). I took this picture for them, and I share it here. This is smack-dab What You Look Like On Little to No Sleep When Manuscript Edits Are Givin’ You the Serious Skunk Eye.

(I do myself no favors by sharing that picture. As Eisha would say, yiggedy. But I have little to no pride.)

Also (another long story), I was trying there with that metal-head, get-those-horns-up look to channel my best Gob (“Mr. Bananagrabber”) Bluth. Gob is pictured below — twice, ’cause I can’t possibly decide which picture is my favorite.


2) When really smart, deserving people get promotions. (That should be kick #1.)

3) Andrew Bird very nearly heals all wounds, little and big. (Do yourself a favor and go to that link there and listen to the very last—and very short track—“Belles.” Bless my soul. So beautiful. But then I have a thing for bells. And chimes.)

4) When my Gillian and my David* sing live with Old Crow Medicine Show — and dude from Old Crow Medicine Show nails the bass vocals. (I have some of this on a CD from a previous Bonnaroo performance.)

[*Are you all getting tired of hearing about Gillian and David? I’m getting tired of my own self bringing them up every week, but I’m sorry, they’re one of the world’s best duos.]

5) The way my six-year-old keeps doing this, no kidding, in nearly all pictures taken of her:




Those are but four of many examples.

She would very much like you to stay classy. Forever.

6) This wonderful post from Philip Nel on Seuss: “And the children are eagerly welcoming the good writers who talk, not down to them as kiddies, but talk to them clearly and honestly as equals.” Betsy Bird’s Re-Seussification Project was also pretty great.

7) The second song here by Kishi Bashi is full of happy and hand claps. Also, I look forward to Regina Spektor’s new CD, and her new song (also at that link) is nothin’ to sneeze at either. I may have listened to it ten times in a row while composing this post.

BONUS: I love everything about this song, but most especially 1) the lyrics and 2) the melody.

* * *

Let’s just get this out of the way quickly: I’m a Nerdasaurus Rex for creating that photo.

As you read this, I’m on a plane, traveling all my byself (as my seven-year-old used to say as a toddler) to Pennsylvania for this week’s Highlights Foundation’s Founder’s Workshop, “Making the Web Work for You.” I will be speaking there, and it’ll be my first time at this Honesdale campus, which I hear is beautiful and filled with lovely, coffee-pot-equipped rustic cabins and such (and I hear that we’ll all be very well-fed). I will also get to meet one of 7-Imp’s readers, Stacey Loscalzo, who has signed up for the workshop, and I’m very happy about having the chance to meet her (because she’s super nice and I think that children’s literacy consultants are, along with teachers and librarians, the real heroes of the world).

What are YOUR kicks this week?

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19 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #271: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Sarah Frances Hardy”

  1. Hey all. Long time no kicking – how’ve you been? Jules, that books looks awesome. And Ada rocks so hard it hurts to look at her. And congrats on the edits!

    As for me, I’ve got one big honking kick: the new love of my life, Betty.

    Betty Blue Presley, to be exact. She is an 11-month old poodle mix rescue, and she is 9.5 lbs of pure spunk. She says “Hey, y’all.”


  2. Sarah Francis, as a girl who never liked pink, I think you found a terrific subject, and your artwork is delightful! Congratulations! It’s been fun watching your progress!


  3. Puzzled in Pink sounds like a hoot. Added to my list of must get books.
    Jules, I loved all your kicks. I hope to go to a Hoghlights Foundation retreat someday. A member of my critique group went one year.
    Elisha, so happy to see you here and I love Betty.
    My kicks:
    1. Teaching students to write haiku.
    2. Writing..
    3. Participating in Slice of Life stories challenge.
    4. Snow dusting.
    5. Daffodils
    6. Celebrating Dr. Seuss
    7. The movie, Chocolat
    Have a great week.


  4. YAY! I love this subject and I love fellow southerner Sarah Francis’s illustrations. Congrats Sarah Francis. I’m so happy for you. And NONE of my 3 girls like pink!!! Great topic to write on.

    And Eisha… Betty Blue Presley is so sweet!!! Swoon.

    Jules…those shots of your 6 year old crack me UP! Especially the one with her in the plaid dress… hilarious

    Ok, so here are some of my kicks for the week:

    1) Birthday party sleepover with 6 girls (my daughter’s birthday is on Dr. Seuss’s birthday!!! How great is THAT?)

    2) The redbuds are starting to bloom now

    3) Popovers this morning for breakfast

    4) Reading Dead End in Norvelt (loving it)

    5) No damage to any people or homes in our neighborhood from ominous storms that went through.

    6) The dogwoods are starting to bloom

    Thanks again Jules! Great post.


  5. Puzzled by Pink looks pretty darn awesome! I was definitely NOT into pink when I was growing up.

    Congrats on the manuscript edits Jules, and hope you have a great time at the workshop! Your 6 year old cracks me up – those are great photos! You have such great kids, I love that they both have such a great sense of humor!

    Hi Eisha! Congratulations on Miss Betty Blue Presley! She looks like a total sweetheart! Thank you for saving her!

    Jone – hooray for haiku and daffodils! I adore Chocolat almost as much as I adore Like Water for Chocolate. Mmmmm, movies and food and movies about food and love are always awesome.

    Lori – hope the sleepover was a blast! And popovers for breakfast – yum!

    My kicks this week:
    1) Realizing this morning (after a “oh hell” moment) that I did not miss my friend’s 1 year olds birthday party. Its next week. Phew!
    2) Grateful that last week is done – it was a rough one.
    3) Settling a big case well on Friday – good ending to the week.
    4) Judging International Law Moot Court at the law school yesterday morning – the students had obviously worked hard and prepared well – very fun to see all that talent.
    5) Hanging more art on the walls in my house – it’s slowly coming together.
    6) Watching a bad romantic comedy – sometimes I really love bad movies.
    7) The season ending of Parenthood – love that show.
    Bonus kick – Always so grateful for the support of my good friends – so lucky to have them.

    Have a great week everyone!


  6. Hello from Honesdale!

    Eisha, she’s beyoootiful. Good name.

    Hi, Jo!

    Jone, yes, Chocolat is so good. Now I wanna see it again. Also, you’re the perfect person to teach them haiku.

    Lori, so glad you all are okay. We survived Mother Nature’s wrath, too … and YOU survived a girl birthday party. Happy birthday to your daughter!

    Rachel, so sorry you had a rough week, but thank goodness for kicky friends, as you said. I hope this week is better for you. Congrats on settling a ginormous case. Which bad romantic comedy did you watch?


  7. What cool artwork from Sarah Frances Hardy. Thanks for sharing it — and good luck with the book!

    Jules, the very first photo of your youngun (did I spell that right???) looks very much like the heroine of Puzzled by Pink. Er, except for the, uh… the pink.

    Only with a great deal of effort to I resist commentary on the self-portrait(s). It does help, though, when I think that I know, y’know, like, serious-author-and-Kirkus-reviewer-and-Bologna-judge-etc. you — it helps to remember that you are also way out ahead of the pack in the Queen of the Goofballs race. So, thanks.

    Have fun in PA!

    Eisha. I mean, EISHA!!! So good of you to drop in and abuse your 7-Imp Co-founder posting privileges by EMBEDDING AN OVERSIZE PHOTO OF YOUR DOG. Still and all, I gotta say I love the name — all the bits of it — and she looks like she actually deserves it. Have a feeling that the sock monkey is looking down the barrel of a short lifespan.

    Jone, loved Chocolat. Now I’m thinking I’ve gotta see it again…

    Lori: been a long time since I had popovers. Now thinking I need to eat a popover while re-watching Chocolat

    Couple of kicks:

    1. For Christmas, we gave my many-miles-away family a long-distance seafoodfest dinner, including lobster, crab cakes, and mussels (thank you, Groupon!). They held it yesterday and it went so well. Hard to explain how happy this makes me, considering we weren’t there ourselves, I mean.

    2. New stories.

    3. Good-natured common sense.

    4. Streaming Ken Burns documentaries via NetFlix, especially the ones I missed when broadcast (i.e., most of them).

    5. Wearing a black shirt and eating powdered-sugar-coated cookies and suddenly looking down and realizing that you’re going to be caught red-handed, as it were, and grinning in anticipation.

    6. Big ideas wrestled into manageability with good language.

    7. Things which pend.

    Have a great week, everyone!


  8. P.S. Rachel — bad movie lover from way back here! I don’t know if it was an old or more recent bad romantic movie you watched, but I personally like the vintage bad movies better.


  9. Sooo…the main reason for watching Chocolat again was that we are reading the sequel The Girl w/ No Shadows for book club and I wanted to refresh my memory. Darn good that I did as I would have had it completely confused with Like Water for Chocolate which I also loved.


  10. A ‘better-late-than-never’ post here.

    So, I have two boys who were—like Sarah’s Wednesday-Addams character—puzzled by the whole pink, lavender, sparkly, taffeta world of their 4-year-old girly-girl contemporaries at that age. (“W.A . meets F.N.” is such a GREAT hook!)

    Jules, say hello to Honesdale for me! (I am a former inhabitant of Cabin #2 . Loved my checked curtains and writing desk with a view of the woods.) You’re gonna have a great week.

    Funny, I am writing to this one workshop to another. I just finished being a faculty critiquer/mentor at the Big Sur Writers’ Workshop; it’s been a very intense but rewarding three days. (I’m typing in the hotel lobby waiting for the airport shuttle…)

    Your daughter’s finger-gun attitude is pretty great. Congrats on getting through your edits done!

    Eisha – Love Betty’s name and her grey eyebrows.

    Jone – I’m picturing daffodils in Oregon. Yes, writing.

    Lori – Sleepover for 6? You are a brave and surely sleep-deprived woman.

    Rachel – Congrats on the favorable settlement. RE: bad movies—with the right crowd, they are the best. I’ve nearly busted-a-gut watching “Anaconda” with my smart-ass sons.

    JES –your irreverence makes me laugh. Just googled Ken Burns docs. Hmmm… thinking I will enjoy the one on Mark Twain. Thanks!

    My kicks this very good weekend:
    1. THINKING about the craft of writing
    2. Kind but earnest commentary in a circle
    3. Aha! moments
    4. Creative criticism taken, digested and realized in a rewrite
    5. laughing with those who understand your brand of craziness
    6. Andrea Brown’s homemade chocolate-chip cookies
    7. margaritas on-the-rocks with salt and an extra squeeze of lime

    Have a productive week everyone!


  11. Puzzled by Pink looks like my kind of book.

    Jules, I feel like every week should feature a montage of Ada shooting the finger guns. Also, I covet the outfit she’s wearing in that first picture.

    Eisha, BETTY! I’m so glad you two have found each other!

    Rachel, So with you on enjoying a good bad movie every once in a while.

    My kicks:
    1. Went to see The Lorax last night. The movie wasn’t great, but the company was.
    2. My friends being patient and talking stuff through with me. I’ve been going through some big changes, and it’s a comfort, having good friends who are willing to listen.
    3. On Wednesday night, I went out with a friend to see some bands, including one our friend is in. We stayed out until almost 2:00, and it was just so much stinking fun.
    4. One of my dear coworkers started chemotherapy a couple weeks ago, but this week she was at work every day and feeling good.
    5. I made marshmallow fluff yesterday. It was like magic.
    6. I also made peanut butter, which I don’t know why I haven’t been doing all along.
    7. I am grateful for work. I have a little too much of it right now, but a lot of people don’t have enough. I am trying to remember to enjoy it.


  12. Greetings, Imps! I meant to drop by this morning but was delayed by things which were not expected. 🙂

    Sarah Frances Hardy: Hi there! Digging the outfit she’s wearing in that top picture. Mary Janes, textured tights, dress with puffed short sleeves: Yes, I’ll be borrowing it if permitted. 🙂

    Jules: Keep rocking those edits and meeting those deadlines as I know you will! Can we get Andrew Bird and Andrew Belle to have at least one concert together? Picture that poster. I want to borrow her skirt as well. For the win, classy girl. For the win. Have a safe trip to Pennsylvania, Jules, and have fun at the event!

    eisha: Hugs to your new family member! Nice to meet you, Betty Blue Presley. I like spunky beings.

    Jone: Hope the haikus are both funny and thoughtful. Daffodils have such a fun name.

    Lori: Happy belated birthday to your daughter! Glad that you and yours are safe and sound.

    Rachel: May this new week bring you all of the smiles and good tidings last week did not. Be well.

    JES: Powdered sugar doughnuts are tasty and worth the mess. 🙂

    Denise: Congrats on the workshops, and the a-ha moments!

    Adrienne: Sending strength to your coworker. Sending good vibes to YOU.

    I am currently watching Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland film for the first time. I will simply say that I greatly prefer my favorite version, the 1972 British live-action adaptation. No contest.

    My kicks for the past week:
    1) Last night’s performance (musical!)
    2) Today’s audition
    3) Talking it out
    4) The color of the sky tonight
    5) Good TV (reruns of Leverage and Cold Case, the premiere of Awake)
    6) Good books (The List by Siobhan Vivian. Imps, please READ IT NOW)
    7) Recognizing opportunity when it knocks, but only letting it in if it’s good.


  13. You are my favoritest and the bestest Nerdosaurus Rex EVER.

    Have fun at Highlights. And if you get photographed, don’t forget the guns!


  14. John, dude. Kick #1 is so lovely. Also, I hope you actually *did* eat a popover while re-watching Chocolat (one of those sentences/collections of words in this life that one will probably never type again). Also, may I lift the phrase “things which pend” from you?

    Denise, lucky students to have you critiquing them. Your kicks are so rich and so all-around good that I don’t even know where to begin. The workshop sounds like it was wonderful. Earnest and constructive commentary that is also kind? Is there a better way? I don’t think so. (Also, not sure of the number of my cabin, but it’s such a small group that our names are totally in the windows. Neat. Best thing is the blank journals on the tables in which participants from former workshops have written comments. Also neat.)

    Adrienne, your kicks are very representative of your rich, happy life. I think. And I send, along with Little Willow, strength to your co-worker.

    Little Willow, classy girl! Thanks. I’ll take that. She is, indeed, classy AND goofy. How’d the audition go? Is Awake any good? I love Jason Isaacs. So much. … Thanks for the book rec.

    Kelly, aw. Thanks. Mwah. I’ll be sure to do finger guns in pics this week, if any are taken.


  15. What a great post! With lots of great kicks and pix. I got to hold/read/enjoy an early copy of Sarah Frances’s book weekend before last at our SCBWI Southern Breeze conference in ATL. If you like some salty with your sweet, this adorable book is for you. Congrats again, Sarah Frances!


  16. 2 kicks for me
    1. Finally seeing the cover for Sarah Frances Hardy fabulous picture book, which I had the chance to read in manuscript form
    2. Meeting you, Julie. Can I make that kicks 3-7, too? I think I just did.


  17. Jules: You’re welcome! The audition went well. Thank you for asking. I enjoyed the pilot episode of Awake.


  18. Hi, Robyn — and thanks.

    Lindsey! Hi!

    Little Willow: Good. I hope you get cast, if you want to get cast.


  19. I can’t wait to host Sarah Frances on my blog when her book comes out. She’s even offered to give away a signed copy! Yay for Puzzled by Pink! 🙂 e


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