What I Did at Kirkus Last Week,
Plus Lots More Art from Other Books
(Or: I Wish I Were at the Beach Right About Now…)

h1 May 31st, 2012 by jules

I can’t help myself. I’m sharing art from a handful of books today. Here are but some of the illustrations, and there are more after the “read the rest…” below:


– From Belle Yang’s Summertime Rainbow: A Bilingual Book of Colors
(Candlewick, April 2012)
(Click to enlarge spread)


– From Mini Grey’s Traction Man and the Beach Odyssey
(Knopf, May 2012)

(Click to enlarge)


– From Wong Herbert Yee’s Summer Days and Nights
(Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt, April 2012)


“Now that the ocean is calm again, I can float on the waves.
Look, I’m floating like a jelly fish!”
– From Kiyomi Konagaya’s
Beach Feet, illustrated by Masamitsu Saito
(Enchanted Lion Books, June 2012)

(Click to enlarge spread)


Endpapers from Kelly Ramsdell Fineman’s At the Boardwalk,
illustrated by Mónica Armiño
(Tiger Tales, 2012)

(Click to enlarge)


– From Kristy Dempsey’s Surfer Chick, illustrated by Henry Cole
(Abrams, May 2012)


– From Maria van Lieshout’s Backseat A-B-See
(Chronicle Books, April 2012)

Last week at Kirkus, I wrote (here) about Belle Yang’s two new bilingual board books for young children—Summertime Rainbow: A Bilingual Book of Colors
and A Nest in Springtime: A Bilingual Book of Numbers, both written in English and Mandarin Chinese—and today, as always, I’ve got a bit more art from each book.

But what I decided to throw into the mix today is art from six other new picture books, the theme here being that these are also books about summer. Or the beach, where I’d happily kick back my feet right now, if I could. (Maria’s book is for when you’re on the way to the shore. But of course.)

Enjoy. (P.S. The endpapers in Mini Grey’s Traction Man and the Beach Odyssey may very well be the funniest endpapers you’ll see all year.)

* * *

First up, Belle Yang’s A Nest in Springtime: A Bilingual Book of Numbers (Candlewick, April 2012), followed by the cover for Summertime Rainbow: A Bilingual Book of Colors. Again, if you want to read more about them, check out my Kirkus column from last week.


– From Belle Yang’s A Nest in Springtime: A Bilingual Book of Numbers
(Candlewick, April 2012)

(Click to enlarge spread)


* * *

Next up: Mini Grey’s Traction Man and the Beach Odyssey was released by Knopf in May, and in it Traction Man and Scrubbing Brush head to the “big and sparkly” ocean. Granny’s joining the family and is bringing along her new Young Pet, Truffles. (“Scrubbing Brush thinks Truffles needs some Proper Training….”) Right after Truffles carries off Traction Man for some digging, only to be saved by Scrubbing Brush, Scrubbing Brush is then carried away by a “huge seaweed mass on a giant wave.” A dog named Fluffy carries them to a young child, who puts them in none other than a spiffy Beach-Time Brenda™ Bucket.

Thus begins their adventures with the Dollies, but I can’t very well give away the whole book, can I?

This is the third big adventure for our fearless Traction Man, and it’s just as funny as the others. Mini charms again with detailed, colorful spreads, filled with funny dialogue (Mini does dry humor so well) and lots of action. “A wonderfully satirical, action-packed romp,” writes Kirkus, “that echoes the grand tradition of comic books as it ingeniously communicates the complete absorption of imaginative play.”


Front endpapers
(Click to enlarge)


“Everyone is going on holiday. Traction Man and Scrubbing Brush are doing
an equipment check before they go. …”

(Click to enlarge)


“Traction Man and Scrubbing Brush are exploring
the secret crevices of the Rockpool. …”

(Click to enlarge)


“If they stay very still perhaps some of the elusive Rockpool Animals will appear. …”
(Click to enlarge)


“Traction Man and Scrubbing Brush are clinging onto a plastic bottle in the vast sea. They can hardly see land. …”
(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)



Left and right side of back endpapers;
click each to see spread larger and in its entirety

* * *

Wong Herbert Yee’s Summer Days and Nights (Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt, April 2012) is a small, compact book celebrating the relaxed days of summer for a child. A young girl takes readers through a day and night, attempting to catch butterflies, drinking lemonade in the shade of an oak tree, picnicking with her parents, catching fireflies, and more. This is a short and sweet tale, quiet and unassuming, told with a no-nonsense honesty from the child’s point-of-view and which celebrates what young children hear, see, taste, and touch as they explore nature in the summer. Yee’s paintings are soft and cozy-warm. See for yourself…





* * *

Kiyomi Konagaya’s Beach Feet, illustrated by Masamitsu Saito and originally published in Tokyo in 2006, is the second book in Enchanted Lion’s Being in the World series (the first one being this beautiful book from 2011). In this book, a young boy also describes his summery sights, sounds, and joys, but his particular happiness is all about the beach — the sun, the sand, the waves, and the warm salty sea breezes. This one resonates with great energy and cheer, and Saito’s pastels are a kinetic wonder. “Wild, white spray and blue bubbles wash past,” writes Publishers Weekly, “and adorable toes wiggle in the foreground as the child pushes through the next wave. Casual scribbles evoke the movement of the water, its chilly blue depths, and the rocking of the waves. Big forms provide motion and action, while the artwork gives the pages a sense of velvety luxury. A small-scale creation that yields unexpected richness of experience.”



(Click on either image to see spread in its entirety)


“Ow, ow, ow! I have to run quickly into the water.”
(Click to enlarge)



(Click on either image to see spread in its entirety)

* * *

Kelly Ramsdell Fineman’s At the Boardwalk, illustrated by Mónica Armiño (Tiger Tales, 2012), is for when you need a quick break from the “beach-time fun.”

“This sunny selection beckons,” write Kirkus. Families of all stripes in this tightly-written verse (quatrains with not a wasted word in sight) enjoy the sights and sounds of the boardwalk: strolls in the sun, ice cream, salt-air breezes, kite-flying, bubbles, popcorn, taffy, and way more. The spot-on pacing of Kelly’s text starts readers off slowly (“Life relaxes; time is free”), builds to a crescendo (with things like arcade games, a sudden downpour, and “jumbled joys”), and then winds down with a sunset, “one last ride” on the carousel (“Oompah music, sit astride”), and families holding each other close, “[s]leepy after evening fun….” Armiño’s super-saturated spreads are vivid and highly textured, as you can see in these spreads here…


“At the boardwalk / when it rains / Grumpy gulls are weather vanes /
Everyone around complains / At the boardwalk / when it rains…”

(Click to enlarge)


“At the boardwalk / day is done / Sleepy after evening fun /
Strolling home — no need to run…”

(Click to enlarge)

* * *

Kristy Dempsey’s Surfer Chick, illustrated by Henry Cole (Abrams, May 2012), is the rhyming tale of one determined chick’s attempt to learn to surf from her surfer-legend of a dad. Things don’t go so well at first, as you can see below, but she gains confidence just by watching her righteous dad on his surfboard. (Consider this one a good Father’s-Day tale, especially if you’re a surfer dude or dudette.)

I always like to see Henry Cole’s spirited, expressive illustrations, and he seems to be one of the hardest-working, busiest illustrators around. In this book, his highly-saturated, nearly neon colors, writes Kirkus, “pop against the cerulean blue water found on several spreads.”

I’ll let the art speak for itself…


“Two birds of a feather– / a chick and her dad– /
lived by the shore / in a radical pad. …”

(Click to enlarge)



“Chick practiced, then … / BUMMER! A breaker arose /
that ruffled her feathers / and tangled her toes.”

(Click to enlarge)


“Chick watched her dad surf. / He was ripping along. /
His movements were righteous, / so fearless and strong.”

(Click to enlarge)


“On a wing and a prayer, / with a paddle and splash … /
Chick popped up and shred / toward the shore in a flash.”

(Click to enlarge)


* * *

Last but not least, for your drive to the beach, I have Maria van Lieshout’s Backseat A-B-See (Chronicle Books, April 2012), a unique alphabet book, indeed. Using graphic-style, digital illustrations, van Lieshout takes readers from A to Z with road signs. (“Road signs have always fascinated me,” she writes at the book’s opening. “These simple, bold icons tell us where to go, help us arrive on time, keep us safe and mostly out of trouble.”)

With each spread made to look like roads—with the dashed lines in the middle—van Lieshout chooses a road sign for each letter, putting those “bold icons” to use on black spreads, opening and closing with a young child and adult in a yellow car, as if they’re taking us along on their journey. This is a winner for preschool-aged children, in particular, but is also for, as the publisher likes to say, the “transportation-obsessed.”



* * * * * * *

SUMMERTIME RAINBOW. Copyright © 2012 by Belle Yang. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

TRACTION MAN AND THE BEACH ODYSSEY. Copyright © 2012 by Mini Grey. Published by Knopf Books, New York. Images reproduced with permission of Mini Grey.

SUMMER DAYS AND NIGHTS. Copyright © 2012 by Wong Herbert Yee. Published by Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt, New York. Images reproduced with permission of the publisher.

BEACH FEET. Copyright © 2006 by Kiyomi Konagaya. Illustrations © 2006 by Masamitsu Saito. First American Edition © 2012 by Enchanted Lion Books, Brooklyn, NY. Images reproduced with permission of the publisher.

AT THE BOARDWALK. Copyright © 2012 by Kelly Ramsdell Fineman. Illustrations © 2012 by Mónica Armiño. Published by Tiger Tales, Wilton, CT. Images reproduced with permission of the publisher.

SURFER CHICK. Copyright © 2012 by Kristy Dempsey. Illustrations © 2012 by Henry Cole. Published by Abrams, New York. Images reproduced with permission of the publisher.

BACKSEAT A-B-SEE. Copyright © 2012 by Maria van Lieshout. Published by Chronicle Books, San Francisco. Images reproduced with permission of Maria van Lieshout.

A NEST IN SPRINGTIME. Copyright © 2012 by Belle Yang. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

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4 comments to “What I Did at Kirkus Last Week,
Plus Lots More Art from Other Books
(Or: I Wish I Were at the Beach Right About Now…)”

  1. Wong Herbert Yee and Mónica Armiño are two of my new favorite illustrators – the softness of Yee’s work is lovely, so lovely, and the movement and joy in Armiño’s adds just the right touch.

    I am ALL OVER Belle Yang’s books. We rarely think bilingual means anything more than Spanish/English in picture books, but I imaging the kid me would have tried to write in Chinese characters – I might try that anyway. I’d love to be able to write Happy Birth Day! That’s so cool. And how much do I love the coloring book aesthetic of the chicks, bunnies and flowers. Very cool.


  2. This post is a good reminder for me.
    I need to get my 2012 beach sticker. Yay!


  3. My oh my oh my…so much to look at and what a wonderful way to begin summer vacation. I can hardly wait to read each of them. This is such a colorful and inviting post but then they usually are. Thanks!


  4. What a terrific, jam-packed post, Jules! I absolutely love Mini Grey’s work, and those end papers did indeed crack me up. And I am still swooning over those bilingual board books. Love the gentleness and approachability there. Will pick them up for my niece! And zowie – I have got to get me a copy of Kristy’s book, too! And, and, and . . .


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