7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #395: Featuring Bruce Eric Kaplan

h1 August 31st, 2014 by jules

Okay, you all. I just gotta write about another Bruce Eric Kaplan picture book, because whenever he writes and illustrates a new one, I’m reminded how wonderfully weird and refreshing they are. I see a lot of picture books on a regular basis, you see, and some of them start to blur together in my vision, but when one of his shows up, I know I’m likely in for a laugh.

Let me back up first. Kaplan is a cartoonist, whose work regularly appears in the The New Yorker, and since he’s known for his darker humor, his picture books have a touch of that as well (which means, of course, I’m going to be drawn to them). Dark humor in picture books is an easy thing to get wrong, though, yet Kaplan hasn’t made a misstep yet. At least, not in my book anyway. His debut picture book was 2010’s Monsters Eat Whiny Children, featured here at 7-Imp, and this was followed last year by Cousin Irv from Mars, which I wrote about here at Kirkus (and followed up here with art).

The new one, Meaniehead, came out in June (Simon & Schuster) and features more of his dark, hyperbolic humor and wry (and wise) observations on childhood. Henry and Eve are siblings who are experiencing an ugly new phase (as you can see above), involving lots of arguing. One day, an argument over an action figure (“There’s nothing sillier than fighting about what belongs to whom, but no kids and even fewer adults know that”) leads to a broken lamp, a wrecked bedroom, and the destruction of the house, the neighborhood, the local toy store, the library, the pizza place, the beauty parlor, the park, and all the town’s buildings, really. After a snack break, the intensive arguing continues until … well, I can’t give it all away, but some Texas football teams get involved …

… and in the end the world explodes.

That’s a Bruce Eric Kaplan book for you. Though you can never expect a moral with his books (thank goodness), there is some remorse, post-apocalypse. Best of all, he seems to really get those intense childhood fights. (My late brother and I grew up to be the best of friends, but boy howdy did we have some doozies when we were younger. I remember an argument over macaroni that is best not discussed.)

MEANIEHEAD. Copyright © 2014 by Bruce Eric Kaplan. Illustrations used by permission of the publisher, Simon & Schuster, New York.

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) I might have to listen to this great conversation with poet Marie Howe multiple times. This is excellent on so many levels.

2) I took my girls this weekend to this Coretta Scott King event at the Nashville Public Library, and they got to take writing and art workshops — and I finally got to meet in person R. Gregory Christie.

3) Reading about this smart idea (putting a social worker on staff at a D.C. library to work with homeless patrons) led me to this podcast. It’s from the Dallas Public Library; it’s about homelessness; and it’s hosted by a young man who is himself homeless. I’m on episode three at this point; so far, it’s interesting stuff.

4) It’s lovely to see Dolly Parton’s book program (which is FABULOUS) get some national love and attention.

5) I got a good stack of new novels at the bookstore today. On that note …

6) Bubble bath. Reading. Bye! (Sorry to kick #7.)

What are YOUR kicks this week?

9 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #395: Featuring Bruce Eric Kaplan”

  1. I’ve been away from 7 imp for too long! I will definitely return to read more kicks tomorrow. Jules, I love the sound of kick #6 the best even though all your others were great too – there’s just nothing to beat a bubble bath and good book.

    As an aside, I will say though the idea of having a social worker at the library is a great one. I’ve never wondered if there are many homeless people at the city library I frequently visit, I suspect we have less homelessness than some big US cities but I would imagine some people would hang out there…perhaps I will send the article to a librarian I know and ask!

    Anyway, I’m quite sleepy so only 5 kicks despite the break of a few weeks

    1. Last week we went up north and visited my dad and his wife for a long weekend last weekend – so lovely to see them interacting with the baby (who is 13 months but I am going to call a baby for a while yet as technically he can’t actually toddle)
    2. Lovely beach walks while we were there
    3. Watching the baby crack up with laughter just watching dad’s (small & white) dog run around
    4. Living close enough to family that I could pop in and see my youngest sister and her husband today on the spur of the moment
    5. Fresh lemons off her tree are laying on the kitchen bench smelling nice

  2. Hey guys!
    This book looks great. I’m one of five kids so I know of epic battles.
    Jules- I want to know what novels you’re reading. I just started, “Gone Girl”.
    Emmaco- I still call mine babies even though they are upright and over 5 feet tall.

    1. I’ve added a couple of new pics to my website. http://moiraswiatkowski.com
    I’m tweaking it a bit this week so I’ll probably change and add a couple more.
    2. Newport, RI is a fun day trip. The mansion tour reminded me of Downton Abbey.
    3. My big wonderful family
    4. Ice Cream
    5. Close encounter with a big blue crab
    6. One week until I run a 5K for the first time.
    7. Seeing a friend I made at the ICON Conf. in person.

    Have a great week all!

  3. The foot fights in the back seat of the car were epic with my brother. Meanie Heads sounds like the type of book that many will check out.
    Jules, will have to listen to Marie Howe, Dolly Parton rocks, and what are some of the books on you TBR pile?
    Emmaco, so great to see you check in. Walks on the beach and fresh lemons, great kicks.
    Moira, ice cream. I have been craving solid chocolate ice cream.
    My kicks:
    1. Finished One Came Home by Amy Timberlake. It was terrific. Intense.
    2. A misty end of summer rain yesterday.
    3. Lunch with friends.
    4. My writing critique group.
    5. Hosted Poetry Friday. So many good entires.
    6. Game of Thrones, season three, almost finished.
    7. Back to school bar-b-Que. Good to see students and parents.
    Have a great week.

  4. Good morning, Imps! Hope you are enjoying the weekend.

    That sounds like a very intense fight, Eric. Thanks for stopping by!

    Jules: Hope your girls are enjoying the new school year. Yay for the workshops and meet-ups.

    emmaco: Glad that your family is doing well, and that you all could visit.

    Moira: I’m shorter than your kids! 🙂

    Jone: Thanks again for hosting Poetry Friday.

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Good news
    2) Confirmations
    3) Recommendations
    4) Goal met
    5) International audiences
    6) Feedback
    7) Forward

  5. Happy Weekend Imps!

    Meaniehead looks awesome. Definitely sibling fights in our house with 4 of us growing up, though as youngest I watched more of them since the others were a bit older.

    Jules -a bubble bath and a book sounds wonderful. And Dolly Parton is great – I love hearing about people quietly doing good in the world.

    emmaco – time spent with family is lovely, and I can smell those fresh lemons from here.

    Moira – first 5K – go you!

    Jone – wasn’t the rain great? Now if I can remember I said that in 4 months when its nonstop again. 😉 GOT – yes! And lunch with friends is always nice.

    LW – met goals always feel so good! And good news is always, well, good.

    My kicks cover the past 2 weeks since I was away:
    1) Pink Martini final Oregon Zoo Concert last Saturday – it was perfect weather, and we had wine and cheese and macaroons.
    2) Read Galveston by Nic Pizzolatto, dark but good.
    3) Read Lovely, Dark and Deep by Amy McNamara – really liked it.
    4) I am fostering a sweetie pie pit bull named Daisy and she’s been with me 2 weeks now, and settling well.
    5) Fun babysitting night with my friend’s girls -3 & 6 – we had a pizza party, played and watched movies. And I have new art on my chalkboard wall, which I love.
    6) Picked up framed prints I was waiting on and hung them – when I look at them it makes me happy. The artist is http://paigebradley.com/ and she does amazing sculptures, I have prints of Expansion and Home.
    7) Things coming together. I’ve been feeling very lucky and grateful and full of joy that I am surrounded by so many good people, near and far, and that makes it even sweeter to share all the good things going on in my life with them, and of course that includes y’all too.

    Have a great long weekend!

  6. Emmaco, 13 months already? How is this possible? So glad you had a good trip.

    Moira: I read Gone Girl (primarily ’cause I saw a trailer for the movie adaptation that intrigued me — that usually works the other way around!).

    Let’s see (to answer your question and Jone’s question): I started Lev Grossman’s The Magicians (!!), and I finally got a copy of Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming, and I got Boys of Blur, based entirely on this kick-ass video: http://wildthings.blaine.org/?p=1067.

    Also, the girls and I are enjoying now The Greenglass House.


    Jone: I still super bad want to read One Came Home. Thanks for the reminder. … Glad you had a good week!

    Little Willow: Good news is getting jazz hands from me. So are international audiences!

    Rachel: Hi to Daisy! Ages 3 and 6 are good ages when it comes to playing with children, too. Also, I LOVE KICK #7!

    Have a good week, all.

  7. I am trying to read it before the movie. I’m totally picturing Ben Affleck as the main character.

  8. Jules and Moira – looking forward to Gone Girl the movie. Although I just watched Water for Elephants & loved the book more. Tough making a movie of a book.

    Jules – The Magicians is so fun! I’ve read the first two, now need to pick up a copy of the third The Magician’s Land. And yes, the 3 & 6 year old are great fun! And thanks, I love kick 7 too. Life is sweet.

  9. I’m enjoying Grossman’s book so far, Rachel. I’m three chapters in.

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