7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #272: Featuring Ashley Wolff

h1 March 11th, 2012 by jules

“Baby Bear sees orange.”
(Click to enlarge)

Here’s a picture book I’ve been enjoying for a while and am finally featuring here at 7-Imp. Ashley Wolff’s Baby Bear Sees Blue was released in February by Beach Lane Books. Have you seen it yet? Heavens, it’s cozy and wake-you-right-up beautiful is what it is. This morning, Ashley (who has written and illustrated more than sixty books for children) is sharing some images and early thumbnails from the book.

This is the story of a bear cub who wakes up from a deep sleep to step out of his cave and see the world. After yawning and stretching himself awake, he peeks out of his den, as “an opening slowly fills with light. A glow creeps in. ‘Who is warming me, Mama?’ asks Baby Bear. ‘That is the sun,’ Mama says.” It’s here that Baby Bear sees his first color in the book, the glowing yellow of the morning sun. He ventures out to explore the world, getting to know each color. (You can get a sense of this below from the final images from the book, which Ashley sent for this post.)

She rendered these illustrations by “printing linoleum blocks in black on Arches Cover paper. These are then hand colored with watercolor.” (Publishers Weekly writes, “{c}hildren will be absorbed by the complex textures of Wolff’s linocuts, the Japanese woodblock–style graded shades of the sky…”) I don’t know if these images here do the book justice. You must find a library or bookstore copy—by hook or by crook, I tell ya—and take these in with your own eyes as you hold the book in your hands. I really believe it’ll be worth your time. These spreads burst forth with highly-saturated color and lots of energy and life. This story doesn’t shy from anything. Baby Bear, like a young (human) toddler is wont to do, is curious and seeking to explore the world — and with his mother right by his side the entire way, he is reassured that all will be well.

“Baby Bear sees green.”
(Click to enlarge)

We readers are reassured, too, as at the book’s close, he sees only “deep, soft black” while cuddling up next to his Mama back in the den. (“Small children notice small things,” writes the Kirkus review, “and plenty of tiny creatures–grasshopper, frog, mouse and more–await their discovery. Imbued with a spirit of exploration, fostered by parental protection, Baby Bear’s colorful adventures will enrich repeat bedtime read-alouds.”)

Ashley notes in the book’s back-flap bio that she has always been fascinated by the mother and baby bears in Robert McCloskey’s Blueberries for Sal, which serves as one inspiration for this book. I’m so glad she made it, and I thank her for sharing images and thumbnails today. I’ve always wanted her to visit for a 7-Imp breakfast interview, and she may be doing that soon.

Until then, enjoy the images this morning…

“Baby Bear sees brown.”
(Click to enlarge)

“Baby Bear sees red.”
(Click to enlarge)

“Mama and Baby Bear curl together. Baby Bear yawns. ‘Good night, Baby Bear,’
Mama says. ‘Good night, Mama,’ says Baby Bear.”

(Click to enlarge)

Trout spread as work-in-progress
(Click each to enlarge)

“Very early thumbnails” from the book
(Click each image to enlarge)

* * * * * * *

BABY BEAR SEES BLUE. Copyright © 2012 by Ashley Wolff. Published by Beach Lane Books, New York. All images (with the exception of the McCloskey cover) used with permission of Ms. Wolff.

* * * * * * *

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. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

Kicks ONE to FIVE: The people seated around this table. I spent this past week as a special guest instructor at a Highlights Foundation workshop in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, and all the folks there were ever-so nice. The only person not pictured here is the photographer, who was a student at this workshop, author and photographer Doug Wechsler. The other folks pictured there are, left to right, Bobbie Combs (faculty); author Lindsey Leavitt (faculty); Children’s Literacy Consultant (and frequent 7-Imp kicker), Stacey Loscalzo (student); Laurina Cashin (faculty); Nija Sreenivasan (student); Robin Heald (student); author/illustrator Katie Davis (faculty); Yours Truly (with coffee at the ready); and Marianne Prokop (student). The other “special guest” instructor was Paul Crichton of Simon & Schuster, though he was unable to stay all week.

The Highlights campus in Honesdale is lovely, and though I’m glad to be back home, I already miss these wonderful breakfasts (and overall great eating) with The Gang. If any of them happen to be reading today, I am waving from near Nashville, and I want to say (again) that I wish all of them luck in their writing careers.

KICK #SIX: This is an anticipatory kick. Delta Spirit’s new CD comes out this week, and I very much love their music (as in, they’re quickly becoming one of my favorite bands)…

KICK #SEVEN (but it really is Number One, if we’re going to be exact about it): The beautiful creature below (glued to my head) is going to turn eight tomorrow. Trust me when I say she’s one of the coolest people you’ll ever know—so smart, so kind, so neat, so goofy-fun—and she is more secure in herself and more comfortable in her own skin than most grown-ups I know. I love her so. I get all sentimental and misty-eyed on my daughters’ birthdays, especially this one, since she was a very challenging baby (think: colic multiplied by infinity-squared multiplied by itself and minus ZERO), but I’ll just keep it simple and say that I really look forward to seeing the person she becomes as more birthdays present themselves and as time keeps on keepin’ on …

What are YOUR kicks this week?

34 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #272: Featuring Ashley Wolff”

  1. Hee hee, since you Americans are all sleeping as I write I can be the first to say happy birthday to your daughter. Have a wonderful birthday celebration!

  2. Oh,baby bear you’re precious. I love the detail in the illustrations. Readers love to linger over illustrations like these.
    Jules, the week at Highlights looked like it was fabulous. And oldest is gonna be 8? Oh my, when did that happen? I hope her birthday is fabulous.
    My kicks:
    1. Writing daily slices for the Slice of Life Story Challenge.
    2. Writing group at my house last Wednesday.
    3. Participating in Think Kid Think blog’s Poetry Madness.
    4. Finished listening to Wednesday Wars. Loved it.
    5. Stuffed rigatoni made by my husband.
    6. Spring bursting forth.
    7. Students
    Have a great week.

  3. Great pictures, Jules, thanks for posting these, was wonderful to see the work-in-progress!

  4. Lisa: Aw. Thanks!

    Jone, I totally meant to tell the photographer at our workshop about your photography blog. Doh. I’ll have to email him later. …. Home-made rigatoni? Wow. I kinda can’t get past that. Kudos to Chuck! … I’m ready for Spring, too, though did we ever really have Winter?

  5. Hi, Nija! Waving from Tennessee. Glad you like the images. What a good book it is … Hope you get a chance to see it, if you’re so inclined.

  6. Jules, the rigatoni was purchased but he made the stuffing.
    Thanks for reminding me to post on the photography blog. I need a kick in the pants.
    I forgot to mention that I am collecting addresses for the 6 th annual poetry postcard project for National Poetry Month. Just send me an email: macrush53 at yahoo dot com.

  7. OMG, as soon as I saw the first illustration in this post I thought of Blueberries for Sal!

    Jules, please tell your daughter “Maligayang Kaarawan” from me!

    Hi, Lisa in Berlin!

    Jone, I still want your life. Hehehe.

    Hi, Nija!

    I am back from Macau and Hong Kong! I have Macau and Hong Kong kicks:

    1. Taking a trip with my whole family for the first time in YEARS.

    2. All the guys in Macau had really awesome haircuts/hairstyles.

    3. The people in Hong Kong were so fashionable!

    4. I did A LOT of shopping during the trip.

    5. My family and I went to the “Dialogue in the Dark” museum in Hong Kong, where we were able to experience Hong Kong the way blind people experience it. I swear my mind and compassion have expanded because of the experience.

    6. Peter Brown was in Hong Kong on March 6. Alas, we were not there at the same time. But still! I feel happy for the people who hung out with him there!

    7. Travel increases my respect and admiration for other cultures, while also increasing my love for my own culture.

    Have a kickin’ week, everyone!!!

  8. Happy 8th Birthday to that special person glued to your head! Sweet!

  9. Happy Birthday, sweet person glued to Jules’s head :)! Can’t believe she’s going to be 8!!

    These baby bear pictures are definitely cute overload. The resident fur balls are all clamoring to get a closer look. Will she paint me next? they keep asking.

    Great to see the Highlights gang at the breakfast table! Were there any pancakes? 🙂

    Hello, other kickers. Have a good week, everyone. Watch out for crazy leprechauns. . .

  10. Good morning, Imps!

    Hello to Ashley Wolff, the bears, and the butterflies. 🙂 What a cute image to greet us today!

    Jules: Glad that you had fun at the Highlights Foundation workshop. Looks like a fun group of people. 🙂 Happy birthday to your 8-year-old! Singing her the birthday song – can you hear it from there?

    LisainBerlin: Good morning. Good afternoon.

    Jone: Glad that you had a week filled with writing and good times.

    Hi Nija! Hi Clara!

    Tarie: Welcome back! Sounds like you had fun. So glad that you got to travel with your whole family.

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Opportunities
    2) Surprise visitors
    3) Leverage, The Grave Danger Job episode
    4) Offers
    5) Hope
    6) Health (I hope mine comes back soon)
    7) Getting through it

  11. Hi to all the Kickers (new and old!),

    1. The Highlights Foundation workshop- hands down the best, best, best workshop I have ever attended.

    2. Meeting Jules in person. For anyone here who hasn’t yet had the chance, you are in for a real treat when you do. She is just as great as peson as she is in print.

    3. The food at the above conference.

    4. As wonderful as the conference was, coming home and giving and getting hugs from my hubby and my girls.

    5. A weekend full of celebration at our elementary school’s annual Dad’s Night.

    6. Tons of new website ideas.

    7. Twitter!

  12. Happy Birthday to one of my favorite library students!! Happy day Piper!!!

  13. Thanks, Jone. Love that project. Every year.

    Tarie: Hear, hear to kick #7. Also, I’m so glad you got to hang with your entire family on that trip. It sounds wonderful.

    Hi, Clara! Thanks!

    Jama: I know. The eight-years-old thing. Can’t believe it. … No pancakes, but the wonderful chefs there cooked and baked everything else under the sun. I had a mac and cheese (with three local cheeses) that changed. my. life. forever.

    Little Willow: Yes, we can hear your lovely voice singing … WAIT. OH NO. You are sick? Boo. I wish I could bring you warm veggie soup and hot tea.

    Stacey: RIGHT BACK ATCHA! It was so wonderful to meet you and hang out all week. I’m also very excited for all the things you learned, since I want the world to know how good you are at what you do.

    Hi, Sherry! Thanks very much!

  14. VIBRANT! “baby bear sees BLUE” is so vibrant. And ‘aw-some’ as is, “Awwwwwww… baby bear has a butterfly on his nose.” I can imagine reading this book over and over to a kidling curled in my lap. (My older son was smitten with her Baby Beluga illos.)
    I like seeing the sketches; how Ashley played around with light/dark areas with her pencil smudging. Interesting. Thanks for sharing with us, Ashley. (Thanks Jules.)
    Jules – that pic of the book-media group around the Honesdale table says it all. : – ) So, what was one of your “take-aways” from the workshop? (I’m media challenged.) And Happy B-day to your great 8! (your mommy-gushing made me tear up too. ha!)
    lisa in berlin – i’m awake now. hi.
    jone – I laughed when you chastised yourself about not posting on your photo blog; let’s see, you are: writing daily slices, running your library, working on poetry month … geez you’re lazy. ha! Hey, what is the “poetry postcard project”? Is there a site?
    Tarie – “Dialogue in the Dark” museum sounds facinating. (As do Macau haircuts.)
    jama – I’m on leprechaun alert!
    Little Willow – feel better! Who’s your fave Leverage character? I’m guessing: Parker.
    Stacey – sounds like a great experience.
    My kicks:
    1. Beginning to catch up. (Several inches of paperwork on all surfaces still to go…)
    2. Family Xmas gift, one of those K-cup individual coffee brewers? Great invention.
    3. K-cup Chai Latte with frothed nonfat milk atop. Mmmm.
    4. Older son called from Peru this morning. Spanish-immersion experience going well.
    5. Younger son DONE with S.A.T. as of yesterday. Whew. Onto the college search…
    6. Those young, passionate, human rights activists and their “expose KONY” project.
    7. Connecting.
    Have a wonderful week kickers! And yes, watch for those leprechauns next Saturday.

  15. Oops! Now that’s a graphically compact post. I cut and pasted it from WORD and lost all the spacing somehow. Oh well. Get out your reading glasses. ha!

  16. Here’s a better link directly to the KONY documentary film:

  17. Jules: Thank you. Vegetable soup sounds delightful. I have boxes of tea and a plastic bear filled with honey. (Not to be confused with Arthur’s Honey Bear. I loved that series when I was tiny.)

    jama: See above. Have some alphabet soup for me today, will you?

    Hi Sherry and Stacey!

    Denise: Glad that your sons are doing well! Yes, Parker is my favorite character on the show. I posted this online, and then the official Leverage tumblr reblogged it, which led to others reblogging it as well. Who is your favorite character?

    Any other Imps watch Leverage?

  18. LW — I guessed you’d choose Parker because she shares a some of Willow Rosenberg qualities; spunky, funny, good in a pinch. I enjoy the ensemble when I catch Leverage off -and-on. I’m loyal to The Closer and The Walking Dead (which I watch with my son.)

  19. Oh, my, oh, my…I think I feel another must buy coming on. These illustrations are delightful. Thank you so much for sharing these with us, Jules. Ashley Wolff is one gifted lady. Speaking of ladies…the last two are pretty great too. Have fun tomorrow celebrating the birthday.

  20. Denise, “vibrant.” Yes. Shimmering.

    My take-away? That a Twitter chat is something I’m okay with never experiencing again.

    I am also media-challenged. It’s okay. I was just “special guest,” not full-time faculty. And I’d like to think that the participants respected my take on it all (I hope they did) — which is, for me, a) connect and b) try to have good content. I don’t need to count my reader stats. I’ll blog if one person is reading and if I’m enjoying it. That is all. Thank you.

    However, for those folks who want to learn about this stuff? You could not possibly ask for better faculty than the ones these participants had in Katie, Lindsey, Bobbie, and Laurina. They absolutely knocked it out of the ballpark and loaded everyone up with tons and TONS of social media tips. They are the folks to go to for that.

    Thanks for the link, Denise. Will check it out later. Kudos to your sons. Peru. Wow. That’s about all I can say. Wow.

    LW: I am not watching Leverage, but I’d like to. Denise: I am watching The Walking Dead. Watched it as soon as I got home this week, and NOOOOOOOOOOO! NOOOOOOOOOOO! How heart-breaking.

  21. Hi, Margie. I waved as I passed you in cyberspace. Thanks! I hope you like the book, if you get it.

  22. New to the kicks! Here are mine:
    1. Sudafed.
    2. Being smart enough to revise my grad school paper, due tomorrow.
    3. My son, who’s turning three soon.
    4. Finding out my husband is home for 5 days instead of
    5. Warm spring weather!
    6. Book fair and a 400.00 p.o. for new YA novels for my students!
    7. Book: Hold Me Closer, Necromancer. YA, witty and full of attitude and fun turns of phrase. Love it.

  23. Quick flyby to say thanks for the bears — love Ashley Wolff — and wish you and yours a lovely eighth: one of the best birthdays. And loved Stacey’s comment about best workshop ever; I bet!

    We’re seeing some signs of spring here, and just in time for spring break! I love teaching, but a little time off will be fun!

  24. Hi, Amy! I love it when new people show up. Happy birthday in advance to your son. Congrats on more book-money for your students. That YA books sounds great, and I need recommendations, so thanks!

    Jeannine, enjoy that spring break!

  25. OK, I’ll play.
    Here are my seven kicks:
    1. Hearing, “It’s not Strep.” from child’s doctor
    2. Great teacher conferences
    3. Snow
    4. Reading “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” out loud with my daughter.
    5. My mother and my daughter going to a string quartet together
    6. football gloves for a boy who cleans his out his bureau
    7. Book Club

  26. Glowing from all the love for Baby Bear. Spread the lino-cut love around-no glitter but lots of texture!

    Kicks this weekend:
    10 hour drive from SF to Corvallis, OR with son’s beloved 4th grade teacher
    redbud on either side of I-5 for miles
    egrets and great blue herons and canada geese
    Seeing son perform TWICE as conflicted Irish Quaker, Samuel Tewkley, in a little known but excellent play;The Sugar Wife by Elizabeth Kuti
    Seeing sister and mom at play
    Meeting son’s GF
    Driving 10 hours home, through rain and arriving safely
    and last, but not least,
    reading this lovely post by Jules. Thank you Jules. I am honored to join your gang.

  27. Hi, Moira! Hear, hear to another new kicker. … I think Hugo Cabret as a read-aloud is a great idea, and I might copy you. Hope your Book Club book is good, and so glad it’s not strep.

    Hi, Ashley! Ooh, that sounds like a great trip, especially the redbud part and seeing-your-son perform part. Thanks for sharing your book here at 7-Imp.

  28. Wow – love the illustrations thi s week, and really loved the skecthes and pictures of the process.

    Happy birthday to your 8 year old Jules!!! So glad you had fun at the workshop, that mac and cheese sounds amazing!

    LW – feel better! sending you healthy thoughts.

    jone – i’ll email, I love my poetry postcard every year, and have them in my office on my bulletin board.

    Tarie – so glad you had a great trip with your family!

    Stacey – glad you had fun at the workshop too, and that you got to meet Jules.

    Denise – hooray for your son being done with the SAT, hope the college search is fun. Glad the spanish immersion is going well for the older son, and glad you are catching up. Chai latte – yum.

    Moira – glad its not strep!

    Ashley – Thanks for sharing your bright and lovely illustrations! That sounds like such a great trip – glad you made it home safely!

    My kicks:
    1) Making it through a tough week.
    2) Having friends over for dinner last night
    3) Learining that south american red wines go very well with jambalaya
    4) Laughing over shared stories of childhood – favorite comment “I’m glad I’m not the only one who growing up thought their middle name was ‘goddammit’.”
    5) Good soccer game today
    6) Fun birthday party for a 1 year old
    7) Good friends

    Have a great week everyone!

  29. Rachel: Okay, still laughing VERY HARD over kick #4. Oh my. Perfect. … Here’s to making it through a tough week, and I hope this one is very far from tough.

  30. Thanks Jules! Hope the birthday girl had a great day!

  31. […] have already posted this year (back in March) about Ashley Wolff’s beautiful Baby Bear Sees Blue, pictured above, which was released in […]

  32. […] opening with a piece of art that arrived in my mailbox this week from Ashley Wolff. Remember this beautiful 2012 picture book of hers? Well, here’s Baby Bear again, this time exploring orange, I suppose, with his […]

  33. […] students—gathered at the dining room table, which is where we could often be spotted—in this March 7-Imp […]

  34. […]   Christy: “My illustrator group celebrates my Horn Book silver plate.Left to right: Ashley Wolff, Julie Downing,Katherine Tillotson (top), Lisa Brown (below), and me.”   * * * The Pivot […]

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