Yesterday at Kirkus, I rambled incessantly about Fall 2012 picture books for which I’ve already fallen and fallen hard. Since I like to follow Kirkus columns one week later with 7-Imp posts that feature art art and lots of art—if I don’t post lots of art, I start to get twitchy—I started gathering at least one spread from each book to feature here at 7-Imp later this week.
But then when I ended up with more than one spread from the new book Bear Has a Story to Tell (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook), written by Philip C. Stead and illustrated by Erin E. Stead, I couldn’t resist the urge to go ahead and post about it today. It will be released relatively soon anyway (early September).
If I gave away the entire story here, I’d not be able to sleep at night for having ruined the reading experience for you. So, I’m going to do something rare and unusual for long-winded me: I’m going to just list a small handful of things about it that I like. I’ll list seven of them (at the risk of looking formulaic here), given the blog’s title. (Why not?) Then, I’ll just let the beautiful art speak for itself.
I suppose I should give the basics first, though: “It was almost winter and Bear was getting sleepy,” the book opens. He has a story he wants to tell. He asks his woodland friends if they’d like to hear it, but nope, everyone is busy prepping for winter. Bear assists, despite the fact that he’s got this story he’s eager to share, kindly helping out his friends. “The first winter snowflakes began to fall . . .” Bear wakes after a long sleep. And that’s where I’ll stop.
Here’s what there is to love:
- As I mentioned at Kirkus yesterday, the Steads let their stories breathe. (Clearly, as the blog archives can confirm, I’m a fan of their books, and this is one reason why. More often than not in contemporary children’s lit, you see folks a bit afraid to let their stories take their time.)
- It has deep, rich navy blue endpages.
- Remember the many good, yet never saccharine, things that A Sick Day for Amos McGee had to say about friendship? Same goes, in fact, for Phil’s A Home for Bird. This book also celebrates—in the Steads’ quiet, subtle manner—what it means to be a good friend, a good listener. And to get your friends’ backs, as they say.
- Phil wrote a story here that is a perfect circle. (But, again, I won’t reveal why so that you can experience it for yourself.)
- The pacing and the book’s rhythms are splendid. Erin lets months pass with just one illustration mid-way through the book that says all it needs to say.
- Erin lets you see her brushstrokes. As for the beautiful art, as I said, I’ll let it speak for itself below.
- If you’re a fan of stories/storytelling, as I am, this book will make you cheer. (Makes me want to snap my fingers and be back in a school library so that I can pair it with this unforgettable book.)
Here’s some more art. Enjoy.
and scratched at his belly. ‘I wonder if Mole is awake?’ he thought.”
(Click to enlarge spread)
(Click to enlarge spread)
He puffed out his chest, and with all of his friends listening . . .”
(Click to enlarge spread)
BEAR HAS A STORY TO TELL. Text copyright © 2012 by Philip C. Stead. Illustrations copyright © 2012 by Erin E. Stead. Published by Neal Porter/Roaring Brook, New York. Reproduced by permission of the Steads.
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) This is a bit belated, but … MARS!
2) Even though leaving my girls at their school at the beginning of every school year is a lot like dropping my entire heart off at the doors of their respective classrooms, I’m glad they enjoyed their first day. I also enjoyed working in silence again at home, even if I missed them.
Also, evidently the six-year-old showed her entire class a magic trick she learned. I can only hope she didn’t top it off with the new-and-improved version of her evil laugh, which looks precisely like this:
3) Rufus Wainwright’s “Barcelona,” circa 1998, is a great song to hear if you’re (stupidly) feeling sorry for yourself. Yes, it’s a “meditation on wasting away,” as the New York Times once put it, but it’s also just good for one’s bad mood on account of how beautiful it is.
I swore I would not mention Rufus this week. I TRIED SO HARD. But, YOU GUYS. This song. I particularly love how the melody shifts into something altogether (more) beautiful about a quarter of the way through. (And the piano! The subtle, subtle piano.)
(Also, and I’ll say this so quickly so as not to be annoying, youcanseehimsing”SongofYou”here, as of yesterday! I hope he wears gold sequin pants at the Ryman in October.)
4) Mixed kick: The eight-year-old had to get glasses. She chose blue ones with kitties on the temples. (See below.)
Good: She’s rocking the four-eyes thing. Bad: She looks way more grown-up. I mean, I know growing-up is gonna happen, but you know …
5) My friends consistently crack me up, and I’m always humbled that such clever, funny people want to hang out with me. Farida emailed this week to say “thank goodness there is a recipe for homemade ice cubes, as I was getting so tired of buying the pricey, overly-packaged store-bought versions.” (You just gotta read that link. My favorite is step #5.)
6) I love it when my blog readers email me to recommend new picture books. Oftentimes, it’s other illustrators emailing me to recommend books by their peers. I feel I’ve probably kicked about this many times before, but it’s a consistent occurrence for which I’m grateful. Picture book people, I’ve found, are generally very nice. (And, since by and large I find this to be true in life, this is a good thing.)
7) I’m working once again on a committee this year to help organize and promote the children’s and YA author/illustrator line-up for the Southern Festival of Books. This tiny committee is filled with some of my favorite readers and librarians.
I will post about the Festival on Monday (if I get organized).
What are YOUR kicks this week?