7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #377: Featuring Elizabeth Rose Stanton

h1 April 13th, 2014 by jules


Good morning, all.

Author/illustrator Elizabeth Rose Stanton visits 7-Imp today to talk about her debut picture book, Henny, which was published by Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster in January. The painting above, called Ignition, is not from that book, but I like it and it makes me laugh.

Henny is the story of a chicken who has arms, and below Elizabeth tells us how she came to this premise, what reactions have been (the creeptacular painting below is my second favorite), and she also tells us a bit about what she’s up to next. I thank her for visiting and for sharing lots of art.

Henny, by the way, is packing her bags and learning her French. Her story will be published in France by Seuil Jeunesse in 2015. Bon voyage, Henny.

Here’s Elizabeth …

Elizabeth: I’m often asked how I thought up the idea of writing a picture book about a chicken with arms.

(Click to enlarge)

It all began a few years ago after a bout of strenuous doodling. I do my best thinking when I’m drawing, and one day I was thinking about (which means I was drawing) birds. What a shame, I thought, that some birds have wings that are relatively useless—birds like ostriches and dodos—when out popped a sketch of a bird with arms. Much more useful, I thought. I found myself getting quite carried away with the idea.

First thoughts about birds with arms

Then I started thinking about chickens. What about a chicken with arms? Much more useful, I thought. I had so much fun imagining what a chicken could do with a pair of arms that, soon after, Henny was born. I became so intrigued that I drew her in every imaginable scenario in every handy medium — from pen and ink to gouache to colored pencil. By the time Henny was published, I had more than a few fat binders and numerous sketchbooks overflowing with her.

Early Henny doodles

Early Henny cover idea

Study sketches for Henny

Then came time for the final art. It happened that Henny was acquired by Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books based on a rough dummy, rendered entirely in pencil, so I had to decide what to use for the final art. Having been trained as an architect and scientific illustrator and having been a portrait artist, I was very used to working in pencil, pen and ink, pastel, and gouache.

Pen and ink, colored pencil

Gouache, colored pencil

Shortly before the book offer, I (serendipitously) inherited a generous supply of watercolors, brushes, and what seemed like an endless supply of watercolor paper from a distant relative. So I thought, why not?

All of the final art for Henny was rendered in pencil and watercolor on cold press watercolor paper.

First rough watercolor sketch of Henny

“Soon Henny begain to imagine all the other things she could do.”
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“She didn’t like being different.”
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“Sometimes Henny followed Mr. Farmer around. He was always very busy.”
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(Click to enlarge)

(Click to enlarge)

So now that it’s been a couple of months since Henny’s book debut and I can step back from it all a little, I have to say how much I am enjoying reading and seeing some of the reactions to my unusual character. Some of the most frequently used words I’ve read in comments and reviews about her are: adorable, weird, funny, lovely, quirky, sweet, and hilarious — and someone even said she was creeptacular.

I just can’t resist drawing Henny as creeptacular:

I love all these observations, because I think it shows there’s a complexity to Henny’s character that’s getting people thinking and feeling on multiple levels.

But I have to say that the most satisfying responses have been from the kids. They seem to take it in stride that Henny was born different. Even if they initially think Henny is a bit odd, by the end of the story her personality seems to win them over.

“… she tried to act natural … and fit in.”

At the moment, I have no plans for a Henny sequel, but I find I just can’t stop drawing and painting her. She’s been such a fun character and, after all, her story is about possibilities and using your imagination …

Henny being regal

Henny, waving like the Queen

Henny in her debut attire


So now, cue the pig:

My next book, also with Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, is Peddles (due out early 2016). Peddles is still in the works, but let’s just say it’s a story about a little pig with some BIG ideas.

(Click to enlarge)

Meanwhile, I’m continuing on with my strenuous doodling. I have a standing goal to draw something everyday and post it. I have to admit I don’t always make it, but I like the challenge and it’s certainly led me to come up with some interesting character and story ideas — so stay tuned.

Sketchbook and some works-in-progress


Character ideas from my sketchbooks:



Beginnings of some story ideas from my sketchbook:


Thanks so much for having me, Jules!

HENNY. Copyright © 2014 by Elizabeth Rose Stanton. Published by Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York. All images here reproduced by permission of Elizabeth Rose Stanton.

* * * * * * *

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) Traveling.

2) Getting home when you’re weary of airports and small talk on planes with extroverts — and when you really want big hugs from your daughters.

3) Big hugs from the daughters.

4) My co-workers (from one of my many contractor jobs and the reason I flew to Massachusetts this week). We work virtually, so meeting up once a year, face to face, is always fun.

5) The I-miss-you notes my eight-year-old snuck in my luggage, which I was supposed to pretend not to see when I was packing.

6) Though I wish they’d let a woman host a major late-night talk show from time to time, COLBERT!

7) I knew that Nickel Creek covered a Sam Phillips’ song on their new CD, but before I even ordered it, Little Willow emailed me a link to it on Grooveshark. (Thanks, LW!) It’s even her Poetry Friday post from this past week.

So gorgeous, this cover, and Sam is such a fabulous songwriter:

Where Is Love Now by Nickel Creek on Grooveshark

What are YOUR kicks this week?

22 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #377: Featuring Elizabeth Rose Stanton”

  1. Oh Henny, you are pretty creeptacular. What fun. Thank you Elizabeth for introducing us to her.
    Jules, welcome home. It’s always good to return isn’t it?
    Love the notes hidden in your suitcase.
    My kicks:
    1. Guest posting at Kirby’s Lane on April 1( this would have been last week’s news but was gone).
    2. Guest posting at Author Amok on April 9.
    3. Writing poetry every day.
    4. Spring break.
    5. Sunshine.
    6. Reading.
    7. Going to Willamette Writer’s House today.
    Have a great week.

  2. Love “Henny” and Elizabeth -both fabulous. Thrilled to read about “Peddles.” Yeah, Elizabeth! I have been admiring the bunny sketches (all) as well as that of the fox.
    Jules, I have never received notes in my luggage. That is so sweet. Welcome back.
    Enjoying final weekend of spring break and a sunny hike with my family.
    Taking the Amtrak Cascades from Seattle to Vancouver, BC and exploring with my son.
    Finishing a DVD of photos with music (reminds of great memories and love sharing with family).
    Finally reading Kathi Appelt’s beautiful novel, “The Underneath.”
    Spring in bloom – especially Japanese Maples and Azaleas (both vibrant shades of red), and a special lilac bush.
    Braces off (that’s still a kick 3 weeks later!).
    And discovering President’s Choice Chocolate Chunk cookies in the market in Vancouver (a treat from our Chicago days!)

  3. Super-fast fly-by, and I’m catching sight of a rocket rabbit and animals in tutus as I scroll at the speed of light! Hello there!

    Jules: Glad that you are safe and sound, hugged and home. So sweet about the notes she wrote for you. COLBERT! Thanks for sharing the music.

    Jone: Rock the guest posts and poetry.

    Samantha: Congrats on the successful removal of the braces! Woo hoo!

    Everyone: Enjoy the spring sunshine. (And wear sunscreen.) (And listen to the Nickel Creek – Sam Phillips cover Jules reposted!)

    My kicks for the past week:
    1) Stumble-through
    2) Offers of assistance
    3) 1:11 (with phone call)
    4) Announcements
    5) Inclusion
    6) Future
    7) Moments

  4. Oh my goodness, I LOVE Henny! And I am also deeply in love with the lizard/gecko in the polka dot dress and the monster in the tutu and the rocket rabbit. Elizabeth Rose Stanton, thank you for sharing these fabulously funny and ridiculously wonderful characters. Looking forward to seeing and reading more of your art and books and sharing them with the kids in my life.

    Jules – I miss you notes in your suitcase just slays me. Your daughter is so thoughtful and sweet. Glad you had safe travels and arrived home to hugs. That cover was beautiful, thanks as always for sharing your music picks.

    Jone -congrats on all the guest posting, hope you are enjoying the sunshine and spring break.

    Samantha – that train trip to Vancouver and exploring same sounds like great fun. Congrats on the removal of braces! Hooray for sunshine and hiking!

    LW – Thanks for sharing the music with Jules so it arrived here to be shared with us! Love all your kicks, but really love the way 4-7 build up as you read them….

    My quick kicks:
    1) Weekend away in Hood River last weekend. It was wonderful and fun.
    2) Champagne and blackberries for breakfast during same weekend – yum!
    3) Just started reading Laini Taylor’s latest: Dreams of Gods & Monsters.
    4) Getting to go to Oregon’s Innocence Project Launch Gala and hearing Barry Scheck speak – inspiring.
    5) Connecting with good people.
    6) Yesterday’s coffee date with a good girlfriend, followed by us hitting up another friend’s garage sale and scoring some sweet stuff, and meeting sweet kids.
    7) Sunshine!

    Have a wonderful week everyone!

  5. Hello Kickers!

    That lead-in image is a grabber… and the ones which follow are just as good! Hard to say which I like best, although I laughed (and am still laughing) at the one of Henny following Mr. Farmer, her hands locked behind her. Thanks for sharing them all (and your commentary), ERS!

    Jules, I always thought “Extroverts on a Plane” was a much scarier concept than the one Samuel L. Jackson’s movie was about. So glad you survived, and I hope you didn’t have to (openly) employ any ninja powers to do so. They can be tough adversaries.

    Jone: daily poetry — hooray!

    Hi Samantha! Never heard of President’s Choice Chocolate Chunk cookies before, but I see they’re available on Amazon. (Currently only five packages left though!)

    LW: oh, you mysterious woman with your kick #3.

    Kicks here:

    1. Last weekend’s NJ trip was GREAT!
    2. Blog posts that start out simple until you “just gotta check ONE THING first”… and proceed to turn into multi-post projects.
    3. New (to us) board game: Ticket to Ride.
    4. I know I told you about this on FB already, Jules, but this song — and performance — just killed me: Tattooed Heart, by the previously unknown (to me) Ariana Grande.
    5. And speaking of music, that Nickel Creek arrangement of “Where Is Love Now” is beautiful!
    6. Poochwalks.
    7. Old photos.

  6. P.S. Have a great week, everyone!

  7. Rachel, missed you in passing on the cyberhighway.

    Champagne and blackberries!

    Also, are you affiliated with the Oregon Innocence Project??? (The Missus is assistant director of the FL project… we get to see Scheck every year in New Orleans!)

  8. John – the OIP is a joint project here in Oregon between my firm and a nonprofit based out of Lewis & Clark Law School: http://www.oregoninnocence.org/
    but that is the extent of my affiliation (so far, anyway). We are all super excited that this is finally happening here in Oregon. (And I believe I did know that about the Missus but had forgotten…)

  9. Oops! Meant to also say glad the NJ trip was so great! And hooray for poochwalks! I will check out the music link later…. 🙂

  10. JES: Extroverts on a Plane is a FANTASTIC title. Write something with that, please.

  11. Jone, LW, Rachel, Jes, & Jules – Henny attracts a fabulous crowd (& apparently, a few legal connections! – I also know someone (at Duke Law), who is involved with similar matters/cases). Thank you all for kind words and I hope you have a wonderful week (and Sunday night – yes, Game of Thrones and Mad Men!)

  12. Hey Gang!
    I’ll keep it brief. Typing on my phone encourages brevity.
    I’ve got an autographed copy of Henny here at the house. We love it. I hope it sells a billion copies and we see more from ERS.
    My son’s first baseball game is tomorrow and I haven’t worn my coat in two days. Hooray Spring!
    Happy Spring holidays all. I wish you all pastel colors and homemade treats.
    P.S. Jules, I can hardly stand that you were in Massachusetts and we couldn’t visit. Glad you are safely home and the extroverts didn’t get you.

  13. Jone, is THIS week your Spring Break? If so, enjoy!

    Samantha, enjoy The Underneath. I like that novel too. … What a good week you had!

    Little Willow, this week’s set of kicks are more intriguing than ever.

    Rachel, you had a good week too. Glad you got to get away. That sounds really relaxing.

    John, hee. To be clear, I do just fine talking to Extroverts on Planes, but it still wears me out. Especially after spending two days with mostly extroverts at a company meeting. … I was thinking of you during your trip, and I’m glad to hear it went well!

    Moira: I KNOW! I wish we could have visited. I didn’t get to visit anyone — just these work meetings. … Enjoy the warm weather!

    Have a good week, everyone.

  14. Just finished spring break, Jules.

  15. I wish MY hens had arms. They might be worth something then! I love HENNY, the book and the hen, and I know that she will go far in this life. And go ERS! So, so exciting to see this gorgeous and funny first book of yours. Can’t wait for Peddles!

  16. Y’know, I couldn’t figure out why I thought I recognized Elizabeth Rose Stanton’s name. It just came crashing in on me: substitute “Cady” for “Rose”…

    Wonder if there’s a connection???

  17. Elizabeth’s artwork is just amazing. It has so much life to it and great energy. Can’t wait to see more books from her.

    Thanks for sharing.

  18. Henny is endearing. I love seeing the process sketches and other characters. Frog with polka dot dress is another story in the making…

  19. John – wanted to let you know I am now a huge fan of Ariana Grande! That song was amazing! Have you seen her and Jimmy Fallon singing rap/hip-hop like Broadway show tunes?


  20. That is FUNNY stuff, Rachel… I think it comes from the same planet where Bill Murray found his lounge-singer version of the theme from Star Wars. 🙂

  21. I so appreciate all the kind comments, everyone! Thanks again, Jules, for having Henny and me on our most
    favorite-est of blogs! Henny sez, “Bwwaaaak” (that’s chicken-talk for THANKS!).

  22. I just got a FB “memory” floated my way, from when I shared your Niblngs post about this book. The artwork (and mind behind it) STILL cracks me up!

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