It’s almost Halloween, y’all. What are you going as?
I’ve got some Halloween-esque illustrations today. I’m 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 pumpkin. I love it, and I thank Ashley for this and for letting me share it here today.
… as well as Susan Hood’s Just Say BOO!, illustrated by Jed Henry:
(Click to enlarge spread)
McDonnell’s The Monsters’ Monster, released by Little, Brown in September, is the reason my girls and I have been walking around, saying “DANK YOU!” very loudly all week. This is the very funny story of Grouch, Grump, and little Gloom ‘n’ Doom, who “thought they were monsters.” See these tiny guys to the left? (Can you guess which might be Gloom ‘n’ Doom?) They live in a “dark monster castle, high atop a dark monster mountain, overlooking a monster-fearing village.” Filled with monster thoughts and lots of grump and bad moods, they argue over who’s the scariest and biggest and baddest. One gets the sense they’re rarely, if ever, actually threatening.
To settle the argument one day, they create a monster, whom you see pictured above. McDonnell builds the tension as the monster springs to life and reaches toward them only to … well, to say “Dank you!” and proceed to give them a giant monster hug. Turns out he’s a big softie, and McDonnell pulls off the humor of all this to great effect with his illustrations: The monster is big and bulky, but demure and unassuming. And, as you can see above, he’s simply thankful to be alive.
(Click to enlarge and see entire image with text)
I don’t want to give away the ending, but trust me when I say this one is worth hunting down and experiencing. There’s a lot of humor and heart here — all sincere, not saccharine. Or “simple yet inspired,” wrote Pamela Paul at the New York Times, who adds that “like so many contemporary monster books for children, it riffs off horror classics past, ensuring that parents will like it equally well.” (You can also read more here at 32 Pages, a WONDERFUL BLOG! I’m yelling that in enthusiasm.)
Last, but not least, is Susan Hood’s Just Say BOO!, released by HarperCollins in July and illustrated by Jed Henry. Hood writes with a gentle rhythm and pleasing repetition, inviting readers to participate in the story.
Animator and artist Jed Henry is relatively new to children’s book illustration. What I love about his work here is that he absolutely does not get in the way of the story. And he adds what Publishers Weekly calls a “comforting warmth” to the tale, which is all about a trick-or-treating group of children who encounter such things as a scary wind, howling dogs, scary costumes, and more. To each scary moment, they learn to counter it with a loud “BOO!”, which makes this one a great story-time read-aloud. Jed’s not afraid to add menacing shadows to his illustrations, yet it’s never over-the-top and never too threatening, as this is aimed at very young readers. (It strikes me what a good board book it would make, as well.)
If I may add quickly now: I’ve seen an advanced copy of his January 2013 release, called Cheer Up, Mouse! and I love it so. More on that early next year.
Here are some more of Jed’s Just Say Boo! spreads. Enjoy.
(Click to enlarge spread)
(Click to enlarge spread)
THE MONSTERS’ MONSTER. Copyright © 2012 by Patrick McDonnell. Published by Little, Brown and Company, New York. Spreads reproduced by permission of the publisher.
JUST SAY BOO! Copyright © 2012 by Susan Hood. Illustrations copyright © 2012 by Jed Henry. Published by HarperCollins, New York. Spreads reproduced by permission of Jed Henry.
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.
Before my kicks …
- If you haven’t already seen this link, whose goal is to support author/illustrator Aaron Zenz’s family in a time of real need, please consider visiting it and donating.
- And, local friends, Nashville Public Library’s Library Pete has a project that needs funding, and I can’t think of a more deserving literacy supporter. Here’s the info.
1) Manuscript revisions! My co-author Betsy and I are awfully, AWFULLY close to the due date, and things are going well. At least in our heads. Of course, ultimately what matters is what our editor thinks when she reads what we consider a new and improved manuscript. So, fingers crossed.
In fact, I just spent the afternoon sending Betsy approximately an entire CARload of emails with questions and notes about last-week revisions. (How many emails would fit into a car? I really am not sure, but it sounds like a lot.)
[When Betsy posts about this, it's much more interesting. I read this from a post she did the other day at her own blog, and I laughed outloud:
You folks have been awfully good about my recent shoddy blogging, so I tip my hat in your general direction. Jules of 7-Imp and I are putting the final touches on our book for Candlewick editing-wise and, as you might imagine, it eats up large swaths of time like an irate and hungry badger. There is no situation in which a badger cannot be used as an example. True fact.]
2) Did anyone else see “Sad Mouse” on SNL last week? I liked it.
3) I was happy to read Andrew Bird already has a new CD, currently streaming here, and track #6 makes me so happy. It was recorded like this below — musicians gathered around only one mic in a farmhouse or some such wonderful set-up.
4) Yesterday, we voted early. I enjoyed explaining to the girls why it’s a privilege to vote.
5) This week, I read several poems I liked, and it was the wonderful Tanita S. Davis who introduced me, either directly or indirectly, to each of them. All but one are by Beverly Rollwagen. Here they are, if anyone else wants some poetry this Sunday morning:
- “Simplify” by Rollwagen
- “Secret” by Rollwagen, as well as “Understudy,” both here
- “Shopping” by Faith Shearin
6) Noah Gundersen’s music is in my immediate future. He’ll be performing in Nashville tonight.
7) I love this post about libraries from Adrienne Furness.
BONUS: Just started this, and thus far it’s massively good:
What are YOUR kicks this week?