7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #381: Featuring George O’Connor

h1 May 11th, 2014 by jules

See that little girl above and the look on her face? That is not only how I feel in the mornings before I’ve had the life-blood that is coffee (apparently, I’m a cliché of a coffee-drinker), but it’s also what happens when you have a pet raptor and they wake you up very early and reject the breakfast you put out for them.

And this young girl would know. Or well … she hopes to know. Her story, George O’Connor’s If I Had a Raptor (Candlewick, May 2014), is written entirely in this subjunctive mood (“if I had a raptor …” — not when). That is, we never find out if she actually gets one (though who knew raptors were so similar to cats in every way?).

O’Connor is well-known for his series of graphic novels from First Second Books about the gods and goddesses of Greek mythology — and mighty good books they are. (Here’s my 2011 Kirkus Q&A with him.) But he’s also written and illustrated picture books, and this is his latest.

“If I had a raptor, I’d want to get her as a baby, when she’s all teensy and tiny and funny and fluffy,” the girl tells us right off the bat. She’s thought long and hard about this, and she freely imagines her life with this new pet. There’s a lot of humor in the pet-owner relationship here, and O’Connor makes both the girl and the raptor thoroughly lovable and even downright adorable without being too saccharine about it. The Publishers Weekly review writes: “A master cartoonist who strikes an ideal balance between visual sophistication and warmth, O’Connor … does wonderful things with the gap between the hopes and dreams of the narrator, a small girl with wonderfully expressive pigtails, and the reality of pet ownership.”

It’s true, and one gets the sense that O’Connor had some serious fun making these pencil and watercolor drawings (with a bit of what he calls “digital tweakery”). There is a looseness and energy to his line drawings that really make these cartoons kick.

Here are a couple of spreads …

“A baby raptor is so teensy and tiny that she would be easy to lose.”
(Click to enlarge spread)

(Click top image to see spread in its entirety)


IF I HAD A RAPTOR. Copyright © 2014 by George O’Connor. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

Photo (below) of M.T. Anderson is used with his permission.

* * * * * * *

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) It’s been wonderful to see the responses to the ongoing push for diversity in children’s literature. This booklist at School Library Journal? YES.

2) And this photo from M. T. Anderson? One of my favorite responses to the diversity meme:

3) A friend sent me this Billy Collins poem, which I’d not read before — “On Turning Ten.” (I have a ten-year-old, so … well.)

Interesting that he chooses ten. Normally, you read so much about how pivotal age twelve is (and twelve’s inherent anxieties are well-represented in children’s literature).

4) As of this week, my co-author and I are finally, fully, unimpeachably done with our work on the book—all permissions, all re-writes, EVERYthing—which is coming out in August.

5) Willie Watson:

6) I love this conversation with the founder of StoryCorps, David Isay, about how listening is an act of love.

7) It’s Mother’s Day, and I’m grateful for my daughters. And I’m grateful for all the people in my life who have mothered me.

Two items of note. I shall use the rock-and-roll hands:

This year marks the 95th annual celebration of Children’s Book Week, the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country. It’s this week!

Here’s the low-down.

Also, The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art has announced their honorees for the 2014 Carle Honors, their ninth annual celebration, scheduled for September in New York City.

You all know how I love picture books, yes? You know how much I love the Museum for even existing, yes? So, I get excited to read about this every year. And what a line-up for 2014!

Congratulations to the following people (as categorized by the honor/award they’ll be receiving):

  • Bridge (individuals who have found inspired ways to bring the art of the picture book to larger audiences through work in other fields) — Françoise Mouly, publisher and editorial director for TOON Books, comics for young children, and art editor of The New Yorker;
  • Artist (lifelong innovation in the field) — Jerry Pinkney, Caldecott medalist and illustrator of over 100 children’s books;
  • Angel (whose generous resources are crucial to making picture book art exhibitions, education programs, and related projects a reality) — Reach Out and Read, represented by Brian Gallagher and Dr. Perri Klass, tireless promoters of early literacy and school readiness, as exemplified through the Reach Out and Read program established in thousands of pediatric exam rooms nationwide;
  • Mentor (editors, designers, and educators who champion the art form) — Henrietta Smith, influential children’s librarian, scholar, and author and leading advocate for quality and diversity in children’s literature.

* * *

Finally, what is happening in Nigeria is incredibly disturbing and belongs no where near anything remotely resembling the word “kicks,” but I do like this image that author-illustrator Micah Player created, and I urge you to share it. (It was created for sharing.) It seems almost futile in such horrific circumstances to merely share an image, but you know … it’s something.

12 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #381: Featuring George O’Connor”

  1. Oh, that little girl’s expression is priceless. Thank you for introducing me to If I Had aRaptor.
    Jules, congrats on having your book finished. I can’t wait to get it. Here’s to Children’s Book Week and more diversity in children’s literature. Thank you for the “Bring them home” illustration, it’s unfathomable.
    My kicks:
    1. The love shown to out staff for Teacher Appreciation Week.
    2. Finally, finally getting into The Book Thief. It’s been difficult for me and I am not sure why.
    3. My writing critique group.
    4. Walking with my fitbit and increasing steps during the work week.
    5. Bumblebees have settled in my vacant bird houses.
    6. The 48 hr reading challenge in June has a #weneedmorediversebooks theme.
    7. Introducing new series books to second grade.
    Have a great week. Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms.

  2. Good morning, Imps! Happy Mother’s Day to all of the parents out there.

    I am now singing “If I Had a Raptor” to the tune of “If I Were a Rich Man.”

    George O’Connor: Thank you for sharing your artwork and digital tweakery with us! Do you have any pets of your own?

    Jules: On Turning Ten is a great poem. Happy Mother’s Day! Wow to Micah’s image.

    Jone: I loved The Book Thief. I hope you enjoy it. RE kick 7: What series?

    My kicks for the past week:
    1) Shows
    2) Support
    3) Offer
    4) In synch
    5) Timing
    6) Solid
    7) Pudding

  3. LW: Series such as Mercie Watson, George Brown, Class Clown, The Critters Club, Nancy Clancy, The Zack Files, Agent Jack Stalwart…we desperately needed this range of reading levels.

  4. Happy Mother’s Day, y’all!
    I’m off to take my mom to dinner to complete this lovely day.

  5. p.s. This is a perennial favorite of mine by Billy Collins. I listen to it every Mother’s Day

  6. Jules, your book is TOTALLY FINISHED?! That is a kick indeed! Are you starting another one now? 🙂

    Jone love that you are getting a second use out of your bird box. I wonder if anyone has every had bumblebees as their kick here before? (now I think about it I might have when I first moved to the UK as I thought their fat buzziness was super cute).

    LW once again you have a surprising last item. I hope it was a nice pudding.

    I haven’t got a list of kicks as we were busy a lot of yesterday celebrating mother’s day. So my kick is for having a wonderful baby who makes me so glad to have the chance to be a mother even when it’s hard, and my mum, and other mothering people in my life. And also for the pot of tulips I was given that are sitting in front of me now!

  7. Hi Everyone! I am chiming in late here and don’t have a ton of time but wanted to say Happy Mother’s Day to all and a big congratulations to Jules and Betsy for completing their book. I am so excited to read it!!!

  8. Jone, I’m glad you’re enjoying the book now. I’d like to re-read that one. Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

    Little Willow: I was singing the same thing this morning! Also: PUDDING!

    Happy Mother’s Day, Moira! Thanks for the poem.

    Happy Mother’s Day to you, too, Emmaco! No book now. Any ideas for me?!

    Stacey, Happy Mother’s Day! Or Moter’s Day, as I once wrote on a card to my mom when I was little.

  9. Jone: Nice lineup!

    Moira: Hope you had a fun dinner. I had read The Lanyard before, but hearing it performed was a totally different (and hilarious) experience. Thanks for posting that!

    emmaco: Hi to the little one! I have to eat pudding every night on stage right now, and it is not only tasty, but vegetarian – how sweet they were to do that!

    Jules: See above. And remind me to tweet about it. Orphan Black tie-in.

  10. Happy Mothers Day and Happy Sunday!

    Late today, but oh my love the artwork and her expressions. Very funny stuff.

    Jules – CONGRATULATIONS on being done with the book! That is wonderful!

    Jone – hooray for walking, here’s hoping we keep having weather like today!

    LW – Love yours kicks of support, in synch and timing especially today.

    emmaco – tulips and a sweet baby – those kicks make me smile.

    My quick kicks:
    1) Portland Thorns game yesterday – exciting game, they lost in the last 2 minutes. Nail biter.
    2) Dinner with friends, including a very much missed friend visiting from out of state.
    3) Random run ins with friends that merited hugs at the Thorns game. Its always fun to run into people who make you smile.
    4) Productive work day Friday.
    5) Girls night Thursday.
    6) Working in my yard all afternoon.
    7) Exciting business meeting in the morning.

    Have a wonderful week everyone!

  11. Love pretty much everything about this post. And cannot wait to get my copy of your book, which is supposed to be coming once review copies are out. *fingers crossed*

    Collins is brilliant in all ways. If you haven’t read it yet, read “The Lanyard”. Or better yet, find video of HIM reading it.

  12. LW: Reminder! Reminder! (I guess I should check Twitter, huh?)

    Hi, Rachel! You had a good week: Good friends, good food, good work.

    Kelly, I think galleys will be out soon!

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