7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #366: Featuring Christian Robinson

h1 January 26th, 2014 by jules

This past week, a review I wrote for the wonderful folks at BookPage was included in a round-up of theirs, which you can read here. My contribution was a review of Patricia Hruby Powell’s Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker (Chronicle Books, January 2014), illustrated by Christian Robinson. What an excellent book this is. So, you can read all about it here, and today Christian, whose artwork gives me hope for the future of illustration, visits to share early cover designs, storyboards, and photos of some of his original art from the book. I thank him for sharing.

(As a reminder, Christian visited 7-Imp in 2012, and it’s still one of my favorite interviews.)



Exploring Cover Designs:



Final Cover:



Exploring Character:



Process and Storyboards:


(Click to enlarge)


What Your Studio Looks Like When You’re
Working on a Book About Josephine Baker:


(Click to enlarge)


Original Art from the Book:


“She flung her arms, she flung her legs. Like she flung her heart and her soul.
‘Cause DANCIN’ makes you HAPPY when nothin’ else will.”

(Click to enlarge)

“Josephine’s VOLCANIC CORE heated, but the comic in her got funnier,
like a hot steam release. POOF. The chorus kicked forward, she kicked backward. POP. They strutted, Josephine shimmied instead.”

(Click to enlarge)

“She awoke DAZZLED by the big city and filled with hope, walked straight to the theater, BOLD as a SHOUT and auditioned for Mr. Sissle, the producer:
‘Sorry, too small, too thin, too dark.’
‘Wasn’t there any place in the world where color didn’t matter?'”

(Click to enlarge)

“She shimmied. She shook. She swiveled and kicked. Sparks flew.

“…The Austrians called her an ANGEL. Another victory for Josephine.

“She married JO BOUILLON, her orchestra leader, and started to
ADOPT CHILDREN of different races and from different countries …”

(Click to enlarge)

JOSEPHINE. Copyright © 2014 by Patricia Hruby Powell. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Christian Robinson. Published by Chronicle Books, San Francisco. All images here reproduced by permission of Christian Robinson.

* * * * * * *

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) You all know what the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival is, yes? If not, here’s all the information you need. It’s an annual video contest in which child filmmakers create movies that tell the stories of Newbery award-winning books in 90 seconds or less. Well, it’s time for the third annual festival, and in celebration, the founder of the entire endeavor, James Kennedy, is sharing this version of “Charlotte’s Web,” done by author-illustrator Aaron Zenz and his family. This is so much fun:

2) The 5th Annual Phildecott and Steadbery Awards were also announced. (Author-illustrator Philip C. Stead and illustrator Erin Stead share their favorite books of the year.) I always look forward to this list, but this year there’s an added bonus essay from Phil Stead that has a Nashville theme.

3) I really love what author Nicola Davies wrote here, which I read in preparation for a Q&A I did with her this week.

4) My friend found these (circa early ’50s) and shared them with me:

I say “these,” because there are more, as you can see here.

I think these are pretty much ridiculously wonderful.

5) I just finished the second year of a two-year term as a member of the ALSC Grant Administration Committee for the American Library Association. As I’ve said before, it’s wonderful to read about so many creative librarians and their smart programming ideas. ALA has announced one of the winners, the recipient of the 2014 Maureen Hayes Award. See what the children at Keene Public Library in New Hampshire will be treated to? I mean, really. Librarians rock.

6) Speaking of librarians, I’m unreasonably excited to hear the ALA awards tomorrow morning (and here’s why). CALDECOTT DAY!

7) Last night, I got to rock a sweet two-year-old to sleep.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

13 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #366: Featuring Christian Robinson”

  1. Love seeing the story behind the story, from the studio picture (Wow! So tidy!) to the post-it note storyboard.

  2. Wow, I got caught up in Christian’s process…he strikes a brilliant balance between structure and fluidity. Inspiring.

    My family and I enjoyed the Charlotte’s Web/Spider-Man mashup, Jules. Thanks for sharing!

    Today, in lieu of 7 kicks, I ask you to read my newest poem, “City of Birds,” at Crackles of Speech (My 7-beat lines–“fourteeners”–are a little too long to post.):


    Note: Robert McCloskey’s Make Way for Ducklings plays a prominent role in the poem, as does Mother Nature in one of her various guises.

    Thanks, as always, for reading!

  3. Good morning, Imps!
    Christian really captures what I’ve always believed to be the essence of Josephine. I look forward to seeing this book.
    There have been so many beautiful books this year I can’t imagine how much work each committee member has devoted to their choices. I can hardly wait for the announcements tomorrow.

    Jules: Thanks for sharing the records. Hearing that voice made me smile.

    Steven: You have my highest admiration for your ability to put into words a single scene. I felt like I was there.

    My kicks:
    1. Reading and reviewing even more amazing books in anticipation of the award announcements.
    2. Judging a Poetry Out Loud competition
    3. Having people I greatly admire leave comments on my blog posts
    4. Snow
    5. Having enough wood for fires in the fireplace during the cold
    6. Stargazer lilies from the florist
    7. Walks with Xena
    Have a fantastic week everyone.

  4. Thank you for sharing Robinson’s process. I am intrigued by the use of post it notes. He creates a striking Josephine.
    Jules, I am looking forward to the awards as well!
    Hi Rebecca.
    Steven, thanks for sharing “City of Birds.” Beautiful images.
    My kicks:
    1. Sunshine.
    2. Finally read Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library. Loved it.
    3. Fifth graders helping me in the library.
    4. School play tryouts for Mowgli: Boy of the Jungle.
    5. Reading The Orchardist for book club tonight.
    6, A kinder told me that an “author paints words”.
    7. Another kinder wondered why the mouse didn’t just burrow out of the deep, deep hole in the book, Oh, No! by Candice Fleming.
    Have a great week.

  5. Margie, we passed each other, I wish I had a little snow. And I want to know what Poetry Out Loud is.

  6. Good morning, Imps!

    Christian Robinson, thank you for sharing your artwork with us again. I love seeing all of the different covers and process pictures. Go Josephine!

    Jules: Congrats on your ALSC GAC 4 ALA time! The Charlotte’s Web/Aaron Zenz family video – They must have had so much fun doing that.

    Steven: Yay for poetry and Make Way for Ducklings.

    Margie: Glad that you are getting feedback and support. A hug for Xena.

    Jone: Enjoy your book club meeting! Good luck to those who auditioned.

    My kicks for the past week:
    1) Catching up with some of my favorite people in the world
    2) Snowblind by Christopher Golden – fantastic book, five stars, I want to put a copy in every single Imp’s hands so y’all will read it (and Kirkus just gave it an awesome review, people!)
    3) Rehearsals
    4) Writing
    5) Responses
    6) Reading new works
    7) Seeing my name in print in the original cast list in a Samuel French-official published play script

  7. Hi Imps!

    Wow, what vibrant and fun illustrations of Josephine Baker – and the cover choice so captures a large part of the combinations that made her such a one-of-a-kind. Fascinating to see the process.

    Jules – great kicks, love the Charlotte’s Web video and really cracked up over Uncle Jazzbo’s Little Red Riding Hood.

    Margie – snow, wood in the fireplace and walks with Xena sound like a great week.

    Jone -I loudly second your 2nd kick of sunshine – what a gorgeous week it’s been!

    LW – Big big congrats on kick 7!!! How awesome! Woot woot!

    My quick kicks:
    1) Work finally slowing from an avalanche to a storm in volume.
    2) Making plans for the future.
    3) Read “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt and really enjoyed it.
    4) Started watching Breaking Bad – only 2 episodes in,I love it already but want to savor it, so watching slowly.
    5) Lunchtime runs around the waterfront in the glorious sunshine.
    6) Helping a friend paint in her new house. Work, wine, and good conversation.
    7) Dancing last night to a live country band – a little crowded on the dance floor but very fun.

    Have a wonderful week everyone!

  8. Here is the link to the official website Jone. It was the first year for our high school. http://www.poetryoutloud.org/

  9. Hi, Rebecca. I love to see this kind of thing too.

    Thanks, Steven. Are they really called “fourteeners”? That’s new to me.

    Margie, do you just have tons of snow right now?

    Jone: I love that kindergartner’s observations (Fleming’s book).

    Little Willow: KICK #7! KICK #7! Congrats!

    Rachel, I like your savor-Breaking-Bad plan, ’cause it’s wonderful stuff.

    I’m glad you all had good weeks. Here’s to tomorrow morning’s announcement!

  10. I kind of love Josephine Baker’s photographs – she always looked like mischief was just simmering beneath the surface. This picture book is going to be a hoot.

  11. […] a blog about books « 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #366: Featuring Christian Robinson […]

  12. Yes Jules, we have tons and tons of snow. It’s the most I’ve seen here in a decade. Add the howling winds and bitter cold to the mix and it’s been a humdinger of a winter.

  13. I didn’t make it here last Sunday, but WOWZA!! This is great art and storytelling.

    Good to catch up on everyone’s kicks and etc. just before another Sunday. Bye for now.

Leave a Comment

Should you have trouble posting, please contact sevenimp_blaine@blaine.org. Thanks.