7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #279:
Featuring Jane Porter and Jane Kohuth

h1 May 6th, 2012 by jules

(Click to enlarge)

It’s the first Sunday of the month, which means the 7-Imp spotlight gets turned on a student or debut illustrator, and today I’ve got the latter. Jane Porter is a UK-based illustrator, who has a master’s in Illustration and Animation from Kingston University — and who spent a long time watching ducks-in-action for this book. (Also, she sometimes draws with a stick. WITH A STICK. Jane Porter Fun Fact! She discusses this more below.)

Duck Sock Hop, to be released this week from Dial, was written by Jane Kohuth, who has a degree in English and Creative Writing from Brandeis University, but who also has a master’s degree in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School. (We’re in good company today, aren’t we, fellow imps?) There are no theological musings in Duck Sock Hop, but there are jaunty read-aloud rhymes about some messy, musical, dance-loving ducks, as well as bright and colorful illustrations from Porter.

I’m not going to run my mouth for long here, since both Janes are here this morning to say a bit about this book and their work in general. I’m happy both author and illustrator are visiting today. But let me quickly add that this is a great story-time choice, and I am taken with Porter’s sunny, patterned illustrations. “Eye-catching” is how Publishers Weekly puts it, and they’re right: “…[T]hey’re…an engaging, eye-catching bunch,” the review states, “rendered in bold black outlines and playful silkscreen-like patterning that’s an inventive visual riff on feathers. Kohuth’s…verse offers plenty of read-aloud pleasure, giving readers the immense satisfaction of saying ‘socks’ and ‘ducks’ over and over.”

First up this morning is Jane Porter (illustrator)—along with some early sketches from the book, as well as a picture of her art-making tools—and I’ll follow that with some words from Jane Kohuth (author). I thank them both for visiting 7-Imp today, and I look forward to what each of them brings readers next.

Jane Porter (Ed. Note: Here is Porter’s blog): I was very excited when Penguin sent me the manuscript of Duck Sock Hop. Not only was it my first ever picture book commission, but the text by Jane Kohuth was a delight to read and to work with – funny and rhythmic and crammed with visual potential.

My first step was to make a series of visits to the Wetland Centre in Barnes, South West London. It’s a series of ex-reservoirs turned into a giant urban wildfowl reserve. I filled pages and pages with pencil sketches of every type of duck, from the angular-beaked eiders to some exotic and colourful South American species. But the ones which grabbed my attention as being the funniest and most likely to play with socks were the Indian Runner Ducks. I drew them in every conceivable pose, then felt ready to start on the pencil roughs for Penguin.

Jane’s materials
(Click to enlarge)

Once the roughs were agreed, I started on the actual artwork. I sometimes like to use a stick to draw with — just a stick from a tree, sharpened with a penknife, then dipped in Indian ink. I found this worked well for the ducks and gave them a nice free-flowing line. Some of the poses are rather human; for the duck that rocks, I looked at images of Elvis and based him on that.

Jane’s early sketches
(Click to enlarge)

Next, I carved a batch of erasers with lino-cutting tools to make the different feather patterns and printed them to make the textures on the ducks. Finally, I put it all together digitally on the computer and used that to add and tweak colour. The musical instruments, box on wheels, and other non-sock objects I made by cutting black paper with a scalpel, scanning and adding texture digitally. I also used a few photographic textures. I wonder if anyone would guess that the sunset seen through the window is actually the gills of a mushroom?

It’s been a wonderful process, and Penguin was great to work with. My next two books are coming out in October in the UK with Hodder. They have holes in [them] and are called Paws and Claws and Fins and Flippers.

Jane Kohuth: I think I’m a picture book writer (so far!), because I think in small bursts. I get inspired by a funny image or particular words, and I tend to come up with self-contained stories that fit into the shorter format that picture books offer. I keep lists of “ideas” in my notebooks. These are often just a word or two — little beads of possible inspiration.

On one of my lists I had written “sock hopping/sock shopping.” (Actually it appears to be in my husband’s handwriting. It must have come from a conversation we were having—we are silly people—but why he was writing in my notebook, I don’t know.) Months or, possibly, years later, I was consulting my list for ideas and came across these words. I had ducks on the brain. (My first book is an early reader called Ducks Go Vroom.) It occurred to me that the words “duck” and “sock” were fun to say together. And what could be more fun than ducks wearing wacky socks while dancing? Unlike some manuscripts I’ve written, the text of Duck Sock Hop came fairly quickly, though it did undergo several revisions both before and after it was accepted for publication. But, even though it was challenging to get it just right, writing it was a joyful experience from beginning to end.

(Click to enlarge)

I’m a very visual thinker and enjoy drawing and painting myself. This has been a help to me in writing picture books, because I’m thinking all the time about the possible interplay of words and pictures. I had a fairly clear idea of what my ducks looked like, though I knew that there was a good chance that Jane Porter would have another idea entirely. So, I was so happy when I saw her initial artwork and realized that her ducks closely resembled the ones living in my head. Only better.

I love her dynamic ink line (I’m a huge fan of ink drawing) and the prints she created for the ducks’ feathers. If you take time, you realize that every duck is an individual character who appears throughout the book. I hope kids enjoy finding their favorite ducks on the different pages!

(Click to enlarge)

My next book is very different from Duck Sock Hop. It’s an early reader about Anne Frank and the chestnut tree that she could see from an attic window of the Secret Annex. It is scheduled for publication in fall 2013 as part of the Random House Step Into Reading series. Before that, though, I’ll be doing a series of sock hop events! If you’d like to know when and where, you can check my website, www.janekohuth.com.

DUCK SOCK HOP. Copyright © 2012 by Jane Kohuth. Illustrations © 2012 by Jane Porter. Published by Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin, New York. Images reproduced here with permission of the illustrator.

* * * * * * *

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 * * *

1) I got tickets to see Lost in the Trees this coming June in Nashville. I’m all for living in the moment, but I’m sorry, why can’t it be June RIGHT NOW?

2) Ann Patchett’s love letter to Nashville at The Huffington Post: “This is a city built on twang.”

3) Speaking of Nashville, a dear friend sent me Jack White’s new CD, Blunderbuss, which I was so eager to hear. (And I say “speaking of Nashville,” because White lives here now.)

Jack is some kind of genius, I tell ya.

4) I saw some high school friends yesterday, including one about to give birth this summer to a baby girl. This child is going to be very loved. Fun fact: The baby’s grandfather, my friend’s father, became (once Buck Owens left the show) the lead singer of the Hee Haw Gospel Quartet. Who else remembers Hee Haw? Anyone at all?

5) Tove Jannson’s illustrations for The Hobbit. Who knew? Thanks to Philip Nel for finding and sharing that.

6) Look: It’s my friend, Natasha Borzilova, in a short video about her new CD. She’s one of my favorite people on the planet.

7) It made this illustration junkie very happy when artist Claudio Muñoz illustrated his responses to my breakfast interview this week.

BONUS: It’s been a very cake-y weekend. Let us all take a moment to ponder: What a wonder is cake.

ONE MORE BONUS: Check this great news: Travis Jonker from 100 Scope Notes will be on the Caldecott Committee, 2014. Perfect, I say. That committee’s in good hands. Congrats to Travis!

What about you? What are YOUR kicks this week?

28 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #279:
Featuring Jane Porter and Jane Kohuth”

  1. Lemon cake.
    I am imagining the very best lemon cake for you, with peel, and a bittersweet dark chocolate frosting. Or, maybe just a lemon glaze frosting, and a cup of black coffee…

    Happy Birthday to, as Anne-with-an-e called friends like you, a Kindred Spirit. Am waiting with baited breath for June, for a number of reasons, not the least of which is to hear your take on that concert!!!!

    Many happy returns of the day as you dance along in your socks.♥

  2. Oh yes, the wonder that is cake, the wonder that is 7-Imp!

    For you, I’m imagining a 7-layer cake, decorated with marzipan bottlecaps. It would be primarily yellow, of course, with each layer containing one of your favorite flavors/ingredients — like chocolate, peanut butter, guinness, coffee, coffee, coffee, coffee.

    In your honor, we will all dance around in our polka dot socks. Thanks for the double dose of Jane’s, and have a very Happy Bearthday!

  3. Helloooo to Other Janes. Love the idea of the Duck book and the images. Yes, we Jane writers are a silly people.

    My kicks:

    1. Getting to hear Betsy Hearne and Roger Sutton have a conversation at the Eric Carle Museum.

    2. Going (n a couple of hours) back to the museum to hear Wendell Minor speak.

    3. Going to IRA and selling out of almost all my books!

    4. At IRA seeing the debut of the HOW DO DINOSAURS hall costume and getting my picture taken with it. (Him? Her?)

    5, Starting three new poetry book manuscripts, one of them with J.Patrick Lewis, children’s poet laureate.

    6. Spending quality time with my seventeen year old granddaughter, Maddison.

    7. Tea with an old (very old!) friend.

    8. Writing a new chapter in my in-progress novel CENTAUR FIELD.



  4. Happy Birthday, Jules!

    Two kicks today:

    1. Attending Richard Michelson’s inaugural reading as new Poet Laureate of Northampton, Massachusetts — with guest readers Leslea Newman and Martin Espada.

    2. Completing a poem inspired by our RISD Museum visit:


  5. If I could bake a cake for you today, Jules, it would be my best cake, red velvet with cream cheese frosting decorated with smashed-up pecans. Or maybe an angel food cake with strawberries and fresh whipped cream. Maybe both.

    Someday I will bake you these cakes.

    I may bake a cake today, even though I can’t share it with you. I will do it in honor of you and the Kicks.

    Yes, cake is a wonder.

    Also, I put Duck Sock Hop on order.

  6. Tanita, honored to be your Kindred Spirit. And a bittersweet dark chocolate frosting? Mmm. The girls painted me tiny paintings on tiny canvases—just unwrapped them—and they painted me coffee mugs.

    Jama, I’ll take that cake, too! Also, I wanna see you dance. Better yet: I’d dance with you.

    Hi, Third Jane from Today. I wish I could have heard Betsy Hearne and Roger, too. What a good week you had, and continued good luck with your novel.

    Steven, I’m so excited for Rich. I wish my brain always thought of poems, like yours does.

    Adrienne, SERIOUSLY. YOU ALL. I’m drooling over these cakes. Like, really about to drool. I can’t decide which cake would be better, but you had me at smashed-up pecans. …. Hope you like Duck Sock Hop. I can see you and Jason using it at story-time already.

    I hope you all have a lovely day. I’m gonna go party down, and I’ll be back later.

  7. I love socks. Ducks w/ socks. How fun. Fun, fun, fun. This is a fly by as I’m at the coast w/ friends. Photo on FB.
    Jules, my cake for you would be a chocolate-coffee torte with Heath bars mixed in.
    Kicks 1-4: this morning on the dunes.
    5. College friends
    6 wonder by R.J. Palacio

  8. Oops…and my 7th is writing, writing,writing.
    Have a great week.

  9. Three cheers for dancing ducks! Thanks, Jane & Jane. Best wishes with your book launch.

    Jules: Now I’m singing, “Happy birthday to you,” while reading your kicks, and it morphs into, “We built this city on rock and roll.” Everything is a song. Hello to your friends! Good luck to your friend Natasha on her new album. What a great video/EPK. Handing you a virtual cupcake with a candle in it – Make a wish! 🙂 Those tiny paintings (on both canvas and mugs) sound adorable.

    Tanita: Points to you for referencing Anne of Green Gables!

    Hi Jama! Hi Jane! Hi Adrienne! Hi Jone!

    Steven: Keep writing.

    My kicks for the past week:
    1) Rehearsals for the new musicals (This could be all seven kicks, and more!)
    2) Offered a callback (It’s on Monday, so think good thoughts tomorrow afternoon, please!)
    3) New scripts
    4) New songs
    5) Pictures
    6) Gratitude
    7) Saved by the Bell performance

  10. Oh man, I am loving those ducks. In the image you featured at the top, especially, but also in the others featuring duck-next-to-duck, I see more than a hint of Escher’s tessellated works, like this one. And I cracked up at that line about the breed of ducks “most likely to play with socks.” And THAT, in turn, led me to read up about Indian Runner ducks. I won’t link to the Wikipedia page, ’cause I don’t want to exceed my quota of don’t-send-me-to-Jules’s-sp*m-folder links, but I’ll just say they are a very entertaining breed to read about. (And, well, I can’t help myself: you’ve gotta check out the photo gallery at the site of the (hold your breath) Indian Runner Duck Association. If that mallard drake isn’t dancing — probably at a sock hop — I’ll eat my hat, if I ever catch it.)

    My one regret: that we didn’t get to see that sunset-from-mushroom-gills image here. The drawings from sticks more than made up for it, though!

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JULES! In place of candles, may you get (atop that wonderful impossible seven-layer cake jama has offered) one great new song for every one of your years. That oughta keep you dancing for a while.

    (Congrats on scoring the Trees tix!)

    Kicks here:
    1. Derby Day
    2. Resuming work on a story I’d set aside for a month
    3. Citizen Kane (which turned 71 the other day)
    4. Astronomical photographs (like pretty much all of these)
    5. This week at work I was so busy, on so many different and unrelated projects, that I thought my head would explode. But looking back on it, I can’t help being grateful that my job keeps coming up with ways — as it did this week — to teach me new things, and to require that I figure out how to fold them in with the old things, if that makes sense.
    5a. Also grateful that my head didn’t explode.
    6. Finding out via email — or online comment! — that a musician I don’t know, but have blogged about, read and liked my blog post about him or her (this has happened to me a few times so far). I know it’s just part of the business, to keep an eye open for mentions and to acknowledge them. But it’s not a REQUIRED part of the business, and the gods know the performers’ careers certainly don’t gain from the little spritz of extra attention which my very limited audience can provide them. All the more reason to be tickled to receive the unexpected thanks, y’know?
    7. Watching TV or reading, and then stopping, and finding that the skin on your arm or shoulder has all these weird grooves and creases and fabric-replicating patterns from being left in place for so long because you were so comfortable you just didn’t want to move.

    Have a great week, everyone!

  11. Rats. Looks like my comment may have gone into the sp*m file after all. (It’s not showing up here, but when I try to repost it tells me I already said that. I keep thinking that it’s not the first time WordPress has said that, either, but I guess when you’re the blogging platform of choice you can get away with hypocrisy.)

    Let me know if it really isn’t anywhere in your comments queueueue, Jules, and I’ll resubmit it.

  12. Happy Birthday Jules! If I could I would bake you a lemon and chocolate doberge cake: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doberge_cake

    Have fun today!

    Love the dancing ducks!

    My kicks are quick today:
    1) Saw The Avengers yesterday. Awesomeness.
    2) Watched the True Grit remake this week. So damn good. Jeff Bridges can do anything.
    3) Started reading Fire and Hemlock, by DWJ.
    4) Have the Preston Sturgess movie catalog from my library, can’t wait to watch them all.
    5) An always fun hair appointment with my stylist. There is a beer specialty store in the same business building, so we both try new beers/ciders every time I go in for a cut/color.
    6) Making plans for summer.
    7) New adventures on the horizon.

    Have a great week everyone!

  13. I’ll be back soon, you all, but John, I did see your comment and went and saved it. I said, RELEASE THE HOUNDS, and it did so. (Funny, it didn’t even make it to the “Awaiting Moderation” folder — it went straight to spam. WordPress. So fickle!)

    More soon…


  14. Happy happy birthday! Hooray for you, for this blog, for imps, cake and socks! As they say(sing) in Germany while hoisting you up in a chair 3 times “Hoch soll sie leben!” which means something like she shall prosper, or be celebrated. Yes!

  15. Thank you so much, Jules, for the lovely post! I was fascinated to learn that Jane P. used a stick for the ducks’ ink line (which I love) in part because in one of my drawing classes in college, they had us draw with ink and a stick, and I loved it and kept it up. I have several ink and stick drawings around the house. Happy birthday!

  16. Thankyou for this post Jules, and for all the nice comments from others too. I’m going to join in with my Kicks of the week…
    1. Is undoubtedly being featured on 7-Imp – very thrilling.
    2. Walking among bluebells and primroses by an abandoned canal in Sussex not once but twice!
    3. Stripy tulips
    4. My mum just gave me a fabulous illustrated biography of Raymond Briggs that she got in the charity shop she volunteers at
    5. A secondhand book I bought yesterday: Letty, a study of a child, published in 1926 and a simple observation of a child’s inner world with gorgeous papercut illustrations.
    6. Giant biro seascapes full of white commas at Aligheiro Boetti exhibition at Tate Modern
    7. strachiatella ice cream in Soho
    Happy Birthday, and thanks again!

  17. Ducks! My daughters kindergarten class has duck eggs as we speak… I just pre-ordered Duck Sock Hop! I can’t wait to read it to Katherine and then give it to their class. The illustrations are so happy and rhyme is great- the lines are stuck in my head right now like a song!!

    And Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you!!

  18. I’m enjoying the duck sock hop. Happy birthday, Jules! Now that you and Jack White are neighbors, perhaps there will be an impromptu concert from time to time on your back porch. One can dream. My daughter’s 9th birthday is this week, and the current cake request is coconut with chocolate frosting.

    1. Blunderbuss
    2. Bumblebee (the 8kg kettlebell)
    3. Balmy day
    4. Blood orange bitters
    5. BFFs
    6. Birthday cake
    7. Coffee

  19. Happy Birthday, Jules! I would make you my favourite cake of the last year, rhubarb and sour cream cake – there was some yummy looking rhubarb at the market yesterday if I had of known…and if you were 20 000 km closer!

    Sorry I have been so absent but I have a Plan to try to be more engaged on the net again! All of these kicks are so cheery! And I love the ducks.

    My kick is that it is a long weekend here so I am typing this in my bathrobe with a cup of tea next to me and it’s mid-morning!

    Rachel is this the first time you’ve read Fire and Hemlock? If so you’re in for a treat!

    JES thanks for the reminder to go look Indian runner ducks up on Wikipedia, they are very cool.

    Farida I don’t know what blood orange bitters are, but I can’t see how you could go wrong with them – will keep my eye out at the shops as I can imagine it would be lovely with the popular Australian drink of lemonade, lime juice and bitters.

  20. Jone, enjoy the coast! And I seriously love me some Heath bars.

    Little Willow, “We Built This City on Rock and Roll” was in my head, too, after I typed that Ann Patchett kick. (I find this unfortunate. Do you? I never liked that song.) … Tomorrow afternoon, I shall think cast-her! thoughts for you.

    John, who missed a degree in Art History, I am also glad your head didn’t explode. We need it around here. It makes life more interesting. And CITIZEN KANE IS 71?? What the WHAT? Wow. … I like all your kicks so much that I can’t even single one out.

    Rachel, I’d go for that cake, too. (DANG, Y’ALL! You’re cake ninjas!) New adventures on the horizon? WOO! I’d like to visit that salon, and I wanna see The Avengers, too. I keep hearing fabulous stuff about it.

    Lisa: Thanks! I like those lyrics a lot. I do.

    Hi, Jane: I was fascinated to learn that, too. Thanks for visiting Camp 7-Imp!

    Jane P.: An illustrated biography of Raymond Briggs? When was this published? Must look it up. Letty sounds great, too. … What rich kicks you have …. and a such a good week.

    Stacey, hope you like the book — and thanks for the b’day wishes!

    Farida: That CD just gets better and better. (Did you name your kettlebell “Bumblebee”?)

    Emmaco: Mmm. That cake sounds sublime. Enjoy your long weekend! We’ve missed you.

  21. Love Jane and Jane! And you too Jane.

    Whoa!! So many great kicks. I love all of S&S’s kicks even if I don’t understand what they all mean.

    Happy Birthday Jules! Sounds like the kids are treating you right.
    My favorite cake is the darkest chocolate with the whitest frosting.
    Speaking of cake, here are my kicks:

    1. A cupcake representing the layers of the Earth for fourth grade science class. http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=3817144595446&set=a.1091599138513.16336.1482546367&type=1&theater

    2. In Little League news, the Red Sox are undefeated thanks in part to my son’s home run.

    3. I got some quality time in the art studio this week before my hours in the office increase this week as we get ready for summer.

    4. “Summer is coming”, said in an ominous Game of Thrones voice.

    5. Grace, not the girl but the ability to do or say the right thing when you don’t know what the right thing is.

    6. dark chocolate covered almonds

    7. It is teacher appreciation week this week!
    Show the love.
    Free, printable teacher, coloring card if you need one. http://moiraswiatkowski.com/downloadalicious/

    Have a fantastic week all!

  22. Happy Birthday, Jules!

    Only recently I found out Jane Kohuth is in my neighboring town and hopig to get together for a writing group. Thanks so much for featuring her!

  23. Happy Birthday to you, Jules! How exciting.

    My son turned 6 last Thurs. He wanted a banana cupcake with honey cinnamon frosting (his favorite this year). Because he loves orange, we made the frosting orange (a little weird for some – but he loved it).

    So that would be my humble offering for your birthday cake, minus the orange food coloring if you prefer.

    Because we had a few people for dinner on his actual birthday, I made a huge cupcake with one of those special giant cupcake baking pans. It was very strange looking. I’m going to try to include a link to the picture on fb.

    I loved the ducks – fantastic. Ducks dancing – thought it could be that cute!? The 2 Janes are just so likeable too. I love their process. Can’t wait for the book.

    And your friend Natasha – what a voice, what a heart, what poetry!

    Hi Imps! Great stuff this week – Steven’s poem – good grief! Amazing painting too. Thank you.

    And I LOVED Moira’s science class cupcake with the earth’s layers – fabulous. Can’t wait to show my son!

    My kicks:
    1. on an editing retreat for 4 days (sans beloved, energetic newly 6 year old) with my YA novel author in Santa Rosa CA – at her son’s in-law’s house on a top of a mountain overlooking Santa Rosa. Kindest, most generous people, hugest, most fabulous house. Getting lots of work done! 12 hours of sleep each night, lots of berries and bread and cheese and salad and tea for meals.

    2. lots of berries for meals (I’m saying it twice!)

    3. salted caramel ice cream (hosts had some in the freezer which they encouraged us to raid for ice cream inspiration)

    4. writing this on my NEW MacBook Air laptop – I am officially now in Apple HappyLand and THRILLED to have this laptop.

    5. sent my heart’s sister Patti Rae (wonderful children’s writer) 2 picture books for her birthday: I Had a Favorite Dress by Boni Ashburn, illustrated by the wonderful Julia Denos (I mentioned her last week because of the Audrey Hepburn picture book biography – Just Being Audrey – also illustrated by Julia Denos)

    Have a great week everyone.

  24. Darn – couldn’t see that a word was missing as I was typing and missed it on the re-read in the small box.
    I meant to say:
    Ducks dancing – whoever thought they could be that cute!?

    And of course they are – especially in the 2 Janes hands!

  25. I love the ducks in socks artwork!

  26. Moira, thanks for the printable. That’s lovely. Congrats to your son, and I love that cupcake! (AND just added you as a friend on Facebook…)

    Hi, Nija! Thanks, and I hope you all get to write together.

    Allison, that cake sounds great to me (and I also just added you on FB — I’m an adding fool today). … Your editing retreat sounds wonderful.

    Hi, Jill!

  27. […] blog here to find out what I said to her. It’s also worth checking out other interviews at 7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast and Amintha Knight‘s […]

  28. […] Enter Jane Porter’s The Boy Who Loved Everyone (Candlewick, January 2021), illustrated by Maisie Paradise Shearring. There’s a lot to love about this one. […]

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