Happy Father’s Day to all you fathers and father-type people out there. I don’t have Father’s Day-esque art today, but author/illustrator Jeff Mack is visiting and sharing illustrations, and I’m happy he’s stopped by.
So, here’s the thing … About a couple of months ago, I guess it was, I read Jeff’s Frog and Fly: Six Slurpy Stories (Philomel Books, March 2012) and enjoyed it. (Some spreads and the book’s cover are featured below.) These are funny stories, rendered in big cartoon art, for so-called emerging readers, involving a slightly macabre, straight-talk-about-the-food-chain kind of humor. (The frog manages to catch and consume a fly in each story, since that’s how the good ‘ol-fashioned food web tends to work, though in the end, he just might get his comeuppance.)
“Newly fledged readers should be amused by the early-Muppet–style humor,” wrote the Kirkus review. “The comic-book pacing keeps each separate ‘chapter’ fresh and funny, and the sunny palette keeps the tone light, even as the fly gets snaggled, over and over.”
And I had decided back then, when first reading the book, to see if Jeff wanted to visit the blog and share images.
And then, as often happens, I got busy and never asked him directly.
But then, just last week, I read his other new title, pictured here, and my eight-year-old and I laughed our fool heads off. It’s called Good News, Bad News (Chronicle Books), and I think it’s scheduled for an early July release. With just five words (“good news” and “bad news” on each spread — and a “very” thrown in for good measure at the end), Jeff tells the mighty funny and briskly-paced story of two friends, one half-glass-full and one glass-mostly-empty. Rabbit’s cheery nature and spontaneous naïveté, paired with Mouse’s sour disposition, make for some hearty laughs. There’s some slapstick humor to boot, and this one also serves as a great title for emerging readers. (They will read these five words with great confidence, as Jeff relays the dramatic action via the energetic artwork.)
Right after I read this one, I contacted Jeff immediately. Finally. So, he’s here today to share some images from those books, as well as a couple of others that I haven’t seen yet that are forthcoming titles.
First up: Some more spreads from Good News, Bad News and some from Frog and Fly. Both were rendered, Jeff tells me, with a combination of pen and ink, collage, and digital tools, “but each has a different final look.”
Next up is a book I haven’t seen yet, but here’s what Jeff had to say about it:
The Things I Can Do is a picture book that I wrote and illustrated to be published by Roaring Brook in Spring 2013. It’s a meta-book about a young boy who makes his own book in order to demonstrate all of the things he can (and perhaps can’t quite) do. In fact, this is meant to be the book that he has made. To make this book, I limited myself to just the materials found in a six-year-old’s craft bin (except for one 2×4 piece of wood and one stick of bubble gum that got jammed in my scanner).
“Clueless McGee,” said Jeff, “is the first in a series of chapter books that I’m writing and illustrating to be published by Philomel this August. This 240-page book is told through the collected letters and drawings of PJ McGee, a sensitive but bumbling 5th grader searching for his absent father. PJ imagines that his father is working as a private eye on a secret mission, and he is determined to follow in his footsteps. PJ’s a misguided hero and a self-proclaimed expert in many fields: musician, songwriter, martial artist, crime-buster, comedian. In this first book, he’s on the case to figure out who hid the school mac and cheese in his band teacher’s tuba. Some would say he overestimates his ability to save the day. They’d be right.”
Jeff’s got even more going on this year. “Cindy Moo,” he added, “was published by HarperCollins last month. It was written by Lori Mortensen, and I illustrated it using old-fashioned acrylic paint on watercolor paper.”
I haven’t seen that one either. I’ve got some reading to do.
Many thanks to Jeff for visiting!
GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS. Copyright © 2012 by Jeff Mack. Published by Chronicle Books, San Francisco.
FROG AND FLY: SIX SLURPY STORIES. Copyright © 2012 by Jeff Mack. Published by Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin, New York.
All images reproduced with permission of Jeff Mack.
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.
1) The reading I did with my girls this week. We’re finally reading Tove Jansson’s Moomin books. I also read them Ray Bradbury’s science fiction short story “All Summer in a Day,” which I had been meaning to do when I first heard about Bradbury’s death. I remember that story from my own childhood (though, really, I had just been familiar with the short film).
The eight-year-old gave me This Look She Gives Me when I’ve read her something so intense that she isn’t so sure about it. The story is, indeed, intense.
(And people go on and on about bullying today. Just read children this story. Thaaaaat’ll do it.)
2) I take each and every opportunity to hear my Rufus sing. Did you know gum jingles are his greatest inspiration?
“The greatest musical form of the 20th century … the perfect composition, the human emotion … THE MINT.” That made me laugh, as well as the look on his face when he sings “take a sniff, pull it out …”
I always find that it’s nice to discover someone so immensely talented is also not afraid to be a goofball.
3) Speaking of Rufus (I know, I know, I went on about his new CD last week), just when I had decided I’d save up my pennies to buy all of his previous CDs (since I didn’t own them all), my girls and I found ourselves at a used bookstore/CD shop this week, and lo and behold, they had all of them. One was scratched (doh!), so no thanks. But I did get all the others for a most excellent price.
4) Because I’m reading this book now, I started watching Season One episodes of Saturday Night Live on Netflix. On the second episode ever, Paul Simon hosted*, and right before he introduced a song from Randy Newman, he sang the first verse of Newman’s “Marie” on his guitar. And I was all, Oh Paul Simon, keep going KEEP GOING, because I love “Marie.” It’s a wonderful song. But he stopped after that first verse to introduce Newman, who sang something else entirely.
But here’s Newman singing it live, circa 1979, ’cause it’s such a great song.
* Paul Simon hosted, yes. But he mostly sang. A LOT. And often with Art Garfunkel. They looked like this:
I love it. I was only three years old then. And they sounded GREAT on the show. I wonder if my parents had it on and I heard it when I was three. (And the skit where Simon goes one-on-one with Connie Hawkins on the basketball court was pretty funny.)
5) I really like this profile of musician Blake Mills. (Blake Mills-sightings are rare.) I didn’t realize his CD, Break Mirrors, was considered one with a “small cult following.” It’s really good. I listened to it about 7,000 times last year. I guess I belong to a cult, and I didn’t even know.
6) It’s the halfway mark! So much good music at that link.
7) Last night, I saw The Graduate on the big screen, thanks to Nashville’s kickin’ Belcourt Theatre. God, I love that movie, and it was particularly great on a ginormous screen in a dark theater. Seeing it once again, years since the last time I did, I’m reminded how much film directors and screenwriters such as Wes Anderson owe to this film.
I was also reminded how funny this line from Elaine is (in reference to her med-student boyfriend proposing to her): “He said he thought we’d make a pretty good team.”
(Everything’s comin’ up very Simon & Garfunkel this week, isn’t it?)
I saw the film with a good friend. We belatedly celebrated our birthdays and mostly talked about the challenges of parenthood. We also had really good sushi. And really good vegetarian sushi is one of life’s good kicks.
What are YOUR kicks this week?