7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #334: Featuring Quentin Blake

h1 June 9th, 2013 by jules

“That night they dreamed of being a horse.”
(Click to enlarge spread)

I’m going to be short and sweet about today’s featured picture book, primarily because I’ve only got one spread from it. But, since it’s Quentin Blake, I’m hardly complaining.

This is the first U.S. edition of Russell Hoban’s Rosie’s Magic Horse (Candlewick, February 2013), illustrated by Blake. (It was originally released in the UK, I assume, in 2012.) This was evidently the last picture book from Hoban, who died in 2011. (“Hoban’s books asked big questions, and the answers were sometimes murky and mournful,” Publishers Weekly has written, “but this last one is a happy farewell salute.”)

And the story is wonderfully bizarre. It is about, of all things, a discarded ice-pop stick, who is picked up by a girl named Rosie. Rosie puts this stick in her ice-pop stick collection in a cigar box. Suddenly, readers are inside the box, listening to the popsicle sticks talk: “Without our ice-pops, we are nothing.” But the newest stick in the collection dreams of being a horse. (See above. All the sticks, it turns out, dream of being horses.)

(Click to enlarge cover)

Rosie’s family is struggling financially, and as she falls asleep one night, she wishes that her cigar box were a treasure chest for paying bills. Playing with the sticks on her bedspread, she turns them into a horse. “A horse can’t pay the bills,” she says and dozes off. At midnight, a horse, which she names Stickerino, leaps out of the cigar box, gallops far away, and takes Rosie to some pirates. And, yes, Rosie gets her hands on a treasure chest, with thanks to Stickerino, eventually surprising her father.

Pamela Paul covered this one in the New York Times, praising its “sheer exuberance.” She also writes that the “story is inventive from the very first pages, when it becomes apparent that the narrator is in fact a Popsicle stick.” Told ya it was bizarre. Popsicle sticks looking for empowerment and identity? Can’t say that I’ve seen that covered in a picture book yet.

Blake’s illustrations are nearly luminescent in spots (the gorgeous pink and orange popsicle-esque endpages, for one). It’s a magical, truly quirky adventure, one in which the rules need not apply, nor does common sense, really.

ROSIE’S MAGIC HORSE. Text copyright © 2012 by Russell Hoban. Illustrations copyright © 2012 by Quentin Blake. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA on behalf of Walker Books, London.

* * * * * * *

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 * * *

1) Heaven bless radio host Eric Cocks, who interviewed Sam Phillips this week and played IN FULL (!) some of her new songs from her forthcoming CD. Sam describes the first song that Eric plays, called “All Over Me,” as “my attempt at a gospel song by way of Zen and Walt Whitman.” And IT IS KILLER-GOOD.

2) You gotta watch this. It’s all of three minutes. I absolutely love Willie Nelson’s original title for the song “Crazy.”

3) The first night of my grad course on picture books this past week seems to have gone well. One lecture down; many more to go. And I look forward to some of the students presenting this week.

4 and 5) Have you all heard Laura Mvula yet? Have been listening for weeks now and keep forgetting to make her music a kick. I can’t pick which video is my favorite—they’re both so joyful—so I’m posting both.

6) A midnight showing of This is Spinal Tap last night. Er, I mean early today. Chances are, I’m sleeping in as you read this now. I’ve seen that movie so. many. times. I can nearly recite it, but still … great to see on a big screen.

7) G.O.B. Bluth.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

13 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #334: Featuring Quentin Blake”

  1. I’m always drawn to Quentin Blake’s kid characters, and this little girl is no exception. (Love her flying ponytail that echoes the horse’s.) And the idea of dreaming, plotting popsicle sticks makes me laugh. I’ll have to check this book out. Thanks for sharing.

    So, I watched Mvula’s That’s Alright video and thought, “Nah, nothin’s gonna beat that.” But then, you’re right Jules, Green Garden is delightful too. I love the strong backbeat-rhythm in both.

    My kicks this week:

    1 – milestones.
    2 – recognition just when one needs it.
    3 – a glimpse of the cutest field mice.
    4 – forgotten negatives/developed surprises.
    5 – live theater x 2 (Thursday night on b-day and this afternoon to see friend.)
    6 – birthday (my fave color this year: charcoal.)
    7 – the astronaut’s spacestation recording and his accompanist’s story.

    Have a summery week kickers.

  2. Quentin Blake is a kick all by himself, I’d say.

    I’m so glad the course is going well, Jules.

    My kicks:
    1. My father-in-law had surgery last Monday, and it was a success. He’s recovering well this week.
    2. I had a couple working lunches out this week, and I love working lunches out.
    3. Something I pushed for at HPL when I started was to be open full days on Saturdays during the summer instead of half-days, which is what they’d been doing. I worked yesterday, which was our second of these new full-day summer Saturdays, and the place was hopping from open to close–a lot of those visitors being families. That felt great.
    4. Also, I don’t want to work every Saturday, but working reference all day on Saturday is fun.
    5. I finished the second Game of Thrones book this week and started on the third. I am just loving those books.
    6. Once a week or so, I have TV night with a couple friends. We currently watch an episode of Maron, an episode of season 3 of Louie, an episode of season 2 of Game of Thrones, and an episode of season 1 of Soap. And we eat a lot of snacks and talk. Love that.
    7. Today looks to be sunny and warm, and my day is entirely unplanned. WOO HOO!

  3. Denise, did we all miss your birthday? Happy birthday! Love your fourth kick. And I guess congrats are called for on the milestones, though I hope they were good ones.

    Adrienne: I still wanna steal your Soap idea. Also TV night sounds great. … I am fully psyched about you keeping the library open longer on Saturdays. Enjoy your day off today!

  4. Good morning, Imps!

    I’ve never seen a Popsicle stick as a narrator before. Points for creativity.

    Jules: So glad that your first class went well! I knew it would. Have fun, professor Jules. Thanks for the Laura Mvula music videos. Cool tones and transitions, fresh and clear. Me gusta. I will definitely be listening to her entire album. I want to walk through a mirror because of Alice, naturally.

    Denise: Birthday wishes and theatre joys to you.

    Adrienne: Sending healing thoughts to your father-in-law. Gladd that you get some Saturdays off. Enjoy your open day today! 🙂

    My kicks for the past week:
    1) Opening weekend for the play I’m currently in!
    2) A short play I wrote was selected to be produced at a festival that was held in the UK last night.
    3) Working
    4) Thinking
    5) Remembering
    6) Sharing
    7) Listening

  5. Hi kickers. Hoban and Blake are such classics. I love the story.
    Jules, here’s to the first class taught. Seems like that’s always the hardest. IPad isn’t letting me see the clips so I will look on my computer later.
    Denise, happy belated birthday. Enjoy your summery day. Loved kick 4 too.
    Adrienne, enjoy your day off.
    LW, congrats on your play being performed.
    My kicks:
    1. High school friends visiting from California (I grew up in SoCal)
    2. Happy hour outdoors on Friday w/ friends.
    3. Dinner yesterday with them and hanging out until midnight.
    4. Fresh hand picked strawberries with shortcake.
    5. The school play on Monday was a success.
    6. Last full week of school.
    7. Sunshine.
    Have a great week.

  6. Little Willow: Break a leg! And congrats on the short play!

    Jone: Enjoy the last week of school. Big summer plans?

  7. p.s. everyone:

    What cracks me up about that first Mvula video was what the casting call must have sounded like: “We’ll need some super anorexic models to sit around and watch a fierce, super talented woman sing about how she’ll never be like you and that’s a-okay with her, ’cause she plays her own damn tune.”

  8. I love the thought of pop sticks dreaming of being horses. Three cheers for the beauty of imagination and the wonderful illustrations.
    Jules: So glad your class is off to a great start. I loved the Willie Nelson interview.
    Denise: Forgotten negatives? The best kind of surprises I’ll bet
    Adrienne: I love unplanned days too. Hope it was wonderful
    Little Willow: Wishing you the very best on your opening weekend
    Jone: I love picking fresh strawberries and then eating them as soon as possible. Yum!

    My kicks:
    1. Book club night
    2. The scent of lilacs from a bush my students gave me fourteen years ago
    3. Got several good pictures of a swallowtail sipping nectar on the lilacs
    4. Finally warm enough to get the veggies and rest of the annuals planted
    5. Virtual friends
    6. Birds splashing in the bird bath
    7. Strolls with Xena

    Have a good week everyone.

  9. Glad your class went well, Jules! Do you use lots of beautiful images like you do here? Does running 7 imp help you prepare?

    Denise, forgotten negatives sound mysterious. I think you asked about our nursery paint last week – we’ve left the white trim but now have “bamboo green” walls, it’s kind of half way between olive & bright steamed greens colour.

    Adrienne, hoe satisfying to have a full library. Hope your unplanned day was fun.

    LW, conratulationsn on your play being chosen!

    Jone, what a lovely social week.

    Margie, your kicks sound so nice and summery.

    1. At the markets last weekend I splurged on some of the first strawberries of the season (strawberries being a winter fruit here). So delicious!
    2. Painting of the study almost done. Our house feels more like our own now.
    3. House being washed today (it is actually mouldy from the last couple of wet summers) which seems like a very grown up thing to have done
    4. We had a raclette dinner with family this week – a Swiss friend introduced us to this yummy dish of cheese, gherkins and potato and gave us her grill when when we lived the UK. Always a social meal as everyone sits around a shared tabletop grill
    5. My baby niece is ridiculously cute, with chubby cheeks and a happy smile. Feels very lucky to have two lovely nieces.
    6. Have I said I’m in a lunchtime choir at work? I like singing but don’t have a strong voice or wide range, but my colleague convinced me to go, and I’m enjoying it! Hope the unborn baby likes Amazing Grace though as he’s sure heard a lot of it.
    7. Today is a public holiday so I’m writing this in my dressing gown.

  10. Hello Kickers!
    Jules – Love Quentin, how could I not. I also love Patsy and Willie.
    Denise – Happy Birthday!
    Adrienne – I have resisted the urge to read the Game of Thrones books because I am loving the TV series. I don’t know if I can hold out much longer though.
    LW – Congrats on the performing and the writing, Keep on rockin’
    Jone – Sunshine, yes, sunshine!
    Margie – I met a virtual friend in real life this week. I love when that happens.
    Emmaco – Lunchtime choir?! I want one.
    1. My wonderful husband with the help of my son built a new outdoor shower enclosure.
    2. Took my first outdoor shower of the season.
    3. Went to the Open House at Fablevision in Boston. It’s so nice to see such a fun and creative work environment.
    4. Went to my cousin’s bridal shower and got to see all of my sisters and nieces.
    5. Watching my son play baseball on sunny, warm days is soooo nice.
    6. My daughter’s graphic novel WIP.
    7. Watching the Bruins play hockey in shorts and a t-shirt on a warm June evening.
    Have a lovely week all.

  11. Margie: Oh my, I particularly love your second kick.

    Emmaco, I try to load up the presentations with lots of images, yes. I was worried last week the software wouldn’t be able to handle it, but it was fine, so I might use more next time. And wait …. you said “he” about the baby!! Did we already know it’s a boy? Did I just forget?

    Moira: A graphic novel WIP? AWESOME. Go, Moira’s daughter! And an outdoor shower sounds mighty handy and refreshing.

  12. adrienne – Yea for summer’s full-day library days.

    LW – Bravo.

    Jone – strawberry shortcake with hand-picked berries sounds fab.

    Jules – p.s. ha! yes, that model-call must have been unique.

    Margie – Oooo, swallowtails and fragrant lilacs.

    Emmaco – bamboo green, cool. And I love the idea of a lunchtime choir.

    Moira – enjoy your outdoor shower.

    Thanks All for the birthday wishes.

  13. Moira, I am very jealous of your outdoor shower. My dad has one and I think it’s great!

    Jules, yes we know it’s a boy! I am from a family of girls so it was a bit of a surprise – we had girl names picked out and everything 🙂

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