7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #305: Featuring John Alcorn

h1 November 11th, 2012 by jules

Ciao, dear Imps.

In the early 1960s, a picture book about books was released, which evidently was selected as one of the best fifty books of the year by the American Institute of Graphic Arts. You can see a page from it above. Written by Murray McCain and illustrated by American graphic designer and illustrator John Alcorn (who, I just read, designed the opening titles for several Federico Fellini films), Books! has been re-released this year by an independent publishing house in Italy, called Topipittori, after the University of Milan acquired Alcorn’s drawings and materials. Here’s the low-down, and below is the same page you see at the top of this post, but in the new Italian edition:

Topipittori describes this book as “a hymn of love for books and reading, words, literature,” adding:

It’s a book about books. Not strictly in a technical way, and it’s not a serious and specialized book about [the] publishing world. It’s a book to explain books to everybody, from children to adults. During [recent] years, we found many books with the same theme, and there is a lot of material on [the] Internet (videos, animations, and so on). But this volume is so simple, and it plays with the typos in a smart way, that we considered it…a perfect explanation, both for the text and for the graphics and for the dialogue between all the elements….

This Italian edition was released over a month ago, and it will also be released in French, Korean, and Spanish (the latter two in 2013). “Unfortunately,” my Topipittori contact told me, “we didn’t find an English publisher yet, but we hope we will see it published in the future also in its original language.”

Here’s a bit more from each book, first the original English edition, followed by the Italian one. (Do any of my Impish readers remember this book from decades ago?)



* * *


(Cover of new Topipittori edition)

All images here are reproduced with permission of Topipittori.

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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 * * *

I have to say my big kick this week is that I didn’t have manuscript edits giving me the ‘ol skunk eye, since Betsy and I turned in the manuscript last Sunday, and so I enjoyed having a normal (or what passes for normal for me) week again. On Friday night, I actually read a novel in a very bubbly bubble bath. ‘Cause I could!

The other big kick is that yesterday I read a stack of my favorite new picture books to children at Parnassus Books’ Saturday story time. Since I’m currently not in a school library, I really super bad miss reading to groups of children, and so it was fun to read to these smart boys and girls who listened so well. When I read them Matt Cordell’s hello! hello!, a hush fell across the room. It was a thing of beauty. (Also, they laughed hard at the animal-stampede spreads.)

A quick announcement for interested folks:

I promised to help spread the word about this NYC event at the Society of Illustrators. If you’re having trouble reading the words in this image, no worries: Just visit this link.

Also, the slide show for the New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2012 is now up! It’s here.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

14 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #305: Featuring John Alcorn”

  1. Thanks for highlighting this book about books, Jules. I certainly hope it gets published here. I’m wondering if I have seen the original because Alcorn’s illustrations sure seem familiar. So glad the revisions have been turned in.
    I would have loved to have been one of the children listening to you read yesterday.

    My kicks:
    1. Working in my gardens getting them ready for winter
    2. Conversations with others who love books on Twitter and Facebook
    3. Reading and enjoying wonderful picture books
    4, Staying up late to finish a MG mystery; it was that good
    5. Funny and beautiful YouTube videos
    6. Crackling fires (although it’s getting up to 65 here today before it snows on Monday)
    7. Walks with Xena

    Have a great week loaded with kicks everyone!

  2. Oh Jules, what a great book. I agree, it should get published here.
    Jules, yay for turning in the manuscript and reading to kids. You can come to my library any time to read aloud.
    Margie, here’s to books that make you stay up at night.
    My kicks:
    1. Raking leaves.
    2. Making a leaf blanket for the garden.
    3. Writing haiku.
    4. Reading about the craft of haiku.
    5. Reading poetry books for the CYBILS.
    6. My writing group.
    7. Homemade soup.
    Have a great week.

  3. Love the funky illustrations – the Fellini connection makes sense, it initially brought to mind Monty Python with some of the graphics. Very fun book!

    Jules – Congrats on getting the manuscript in! That must have felt so amazing, I cannot begin to imagine it. And I’m with Jone – come read to kids in her library so I can come be part of that audience too.

    Margie – crackling fires, yes. It’s just gotten cold enough here that I’m planning on lighting my first fire in the fireplace this season later tonight. Enjoy those walks with Xena.

    Jone – homemade soup, yum! And its perfect weather for it. What did you make?

    My kicks:
    1) Last Tuesday night.
    2) Jon Stewart
    3) Making enough migas to last for the week.
    4) Signing up to be a foster home for an abused pup. (Won’t know for a bit if they’ll pick Cole and I or someone else.)
    5) LSU won yesterday! Go Tigers!
    6) Watching the Ducks game with a good friend at a crowded pub last night.
    7) Showing Cole’s new squeaky toy to same friend last night. (It squeaks so humans cannot hear it but dogs can – genius!) In the process Cole was so enthusiastic about trying to get it away from me that he wound up knocking me off balance so I fell backwards over my sofa and small side table and collapsed the table. We laughed for a very long time. Ah, the single-mindedness of labs. Both the table and I recovered nicely.

    Have a great week everyone!

  4. Hi everyone! Well, this is fun and Rachel, it does have a Monty Python feel to it.

    I’m ust popping in to say hello and thanks Jules for the post.

    And…I wish I lived in NYC so I could attend the Society of Illustrators event. Heavy sigh.

    One quick kick: Because of Winn Dixie!


  5. Wow. Alcorns’ retro whimsy, pop stylings are taking me back to when I was I graphic design major in college; I had some of his posters. For instance:

    It’s funny, but it I kinda prefer “Books!” in Italian– the way the language/type complement each other. (Hey, Fellini picked this guy for a reason, no?) Thanks for the rediscovery, Jules.

    Jules – Woot! Squeeeee! Clap-clap-clap and cartwheels on turning in your manuscript. :- D

    Margie – Crackling fires, picture books & MGs (do you enjoy those together?) Sounds perfect.

    Jone – Man, you are the dedicated, true blue CYBILS poetry queen. How many years is this?

    Rachel – Yes, last Tuesday night. And a squeaky toy above human-ear register, genius!

    Lori – BoWD, a good single kick.

    Happy post-election deliverance for ALL KICKERS regardless of party; be-gone: attack ads, polls of polls, talking heads and robo-calls! Let’s get back to the important stuff: picture books, and enjoying art and reading!

    1 – HS son got his Early College Apps in. Just under-the-deadline-wire, but in, just the same.

    2 – Watching new season of “The Walking Dead” with same son; common ground: zombies.

    3 – Saw LINCOLN last night; Daniel Day Lewis disappears into the role. A stunning portrayal.

    4 – Two writer/illustrators in my critique group with adorable 1st babies; fun to watch, recall.

    5 – Doing crossword puzzles with my Mom over brunch. New vocab word: a ‘nave’ = a hub.

    6 – We had lemon crepes and split a side of turkey sausage, delish. :- q

    7 – Profound RELIEF.

    Hope everyone’s electricity is back on. Have a good week Kickers.

  6. Oh my, it’s quiet here today. Which is fine. I’ve never been one to count blog comments, but it’s striking. Some Sundays just need to be quiet, though, I suppose.

    Margie: I wish you could have been there, too, given your great love for picture books. What’s the good MG book you finished, if I may boldly ask?

    Jone: I WISH I could visit your library! What soup did you make?

    Rachel: Definitely contacting you if I ever do make it to your and Jone’s area …. Also: I’m jealous of your fireplace! Love your last kick. I mean, I’m glad you and your table are okay and that you can laugh about it. I have never heard of dogs for toys designed in such a way. Who knew?

    Lori: Isn’t that a great book? Wish I could see the SOI event, too.

    Denise: I wanna see Lincoln so super bad, and last week’s ep of The Walking Dead was absolutely stunning. …. I get that relief, too. I hear ya.

    Gotta run. Hope everyone has a great week.

  7. I am making Dr. Hyman’s ultra broth, which is full of root veggies. Suppose to purée it and drink but we like it as soup.
    Rachel, where did you get the squeaky toy. Must have for my dog.
    Denise, looking forward to Lincoln. I have been on Cybils in one way or another since the inception. Six years?
    Jules, have a room here if ever the NW is a stop. Book tour?

  8. Oh my! So much wonderfulness. What a gorgeous book.

    Huge congrats on your manuscript edits!! Happy for you and happy for me that it brings your book one step closer to us!

    hello! hello! is on it’s way to my house. I just ordered it yesterday- can’t wait!

    Can you share what else you brought with you to read? What a fun thing to do… I wonder if I could do the same thing at my local bookstore? Um…


    1. Power.
    2. Heat.
    3. Cable
    4. Internet.
    5. Sleeping in my own bed.
    6. Who’s sensing a theme here? 🙂
    7. Seeing my first article in print! “Books as Gifts” appears in a small regional Canadian parenting magazine this month.

  9. Jone – got the toy at Pets on Broadway in NE. http://www.petsonbroadway.com/index.html
    When I lived in your neck of the woods I used to get dog food and supplies at Creature Comforts on McLoughlin – I wonder if they have then too?

    Lori – hi! Like your kick!

    Denise – hooray for getting applications in just in time. And so jealous you’ve seen Lincoln. I cannot wait to see it.

    Stacey – very happy you have power and heat and your own bed again!

  10. Oh, and Jules, you do know that if you come the PNW I will be bringing you to a kickball game, right?

  11. Love that book! Very cool. Can’t help thinking of IT”S A BOOK. I especially like the boy with the guitar and boots.


    1/ Watching my kids being read to by – you! All of those kids were totally engaged. You could have kept going all day!
    2/ Being home.
    3/ Writing, finally.
    4/ Sorting through 9yo’s art portfolio, even though I did it for three hours and barely scratched the surface.
    5/ Making chicken soup for a friend who requested it.
    6/ Buying new boots as an early birthday present that make me feel like I can conquer the world.
    7/ Going to a friend’s 40th and seeing old friends and laughing and joking like no time has passed.

  12. Quiet Hello (waving)

  13. Jone: YES! We’ll pretend that next year I’ll tour the country for this book and that I get to see you. Hee. Who knows. Maybe I really will get to speak there. Never say never.

    Stacey, I will HAPPILY share what I read:

      I started out reading the F&G of a Bob Shea book that doesn’t come out till early next year, called Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great. It is shiny with wonderfulness, as Betsy Bird put it.

    • I’m Bored by Michael Ian Black and ill. by Debbie Ridpath Ohi
    • Matt Cordell’s hello! hello!
    • Mo Willems’ new Goldilocks book
    • Rabbit’s Snow Dance by James and Joseph Bruchac and ill. by Jeff Newman
    • Candace Fleming’s and Eric Rohmann’s Oh, No!

    I wanna say I read more, but I’m blanking now …. And I had lots more but figured I should release the children after those (“release the hounds!”) — before they got too squirmy. But I’ll be there this Saturday, too.

    Congrats on your article, Stacey! I wanna see it! So glad you came out unscathed on the other side of Sandy and get to sleep in your own bed again.

    Rachel: YES! I wanna play kickball with you!

    Jess: New boots! And I’m so glad you’re home, too, and writing again and that you all came to story time.

    Hi, Moira. Quiet wave back!

  14. Hi Jules and Imps – sorry this is so late – probably too late for anyone to see.

    Loved the Kicks!

    WHAT a book! Very cool graphics, I’m just not sure what to make of it. I do agree with the Kicker who commented on cowboyboot-wearing, guitar-playing boy – love it. I do hope it gets republished in English.

    Don’t have many kicks from this past week, but I also agree I’m grateful we are past the election and I like our President.

    My Little is very sick with the flu and I’ve had a tiny bit of sleep and am now editing the ya book like mad. It is to be submitted this week to the SCBWI for an exciting possible award that would be great for the author. This is all an excuse for no kicks and not making any sense.

    Glad to know there are kind, creative, appreciative, supportive, chidren’s book-loving people in the world and reading this blog.

    Have a great week!

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