7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #542: Featuring Christian Robinson

h1 July 9th, 2017 by jules

Christian’s art in the studio, sans text
(Click to enlarge)


Poet Julie Fogliano has a way with words, and in her newest picture book, When’s My Birthday? (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook Press), illustrated by Christian Robinson, she’s at her most child-friendly (which is saying a lot, since I think her previous books are inviting to—and delightful for—child readers). This one will be on shelves in September.

I was just about to type that birthdays are extra-special days for children, but hell. I get excited on my own birthday too, and (you can ask my friends) I’m a bit of a birthday bad-ass — in that I can tell you when your birthday is if we are good friends. Or I can, at the very least, get a few days close to it. (I always assume EVERYONE can do this, but evidently not.) It’s a fun party trick. And that’s because they’re little holidays for everyone — it’s your one special day to celebrate your very existence. I recently got into a conversation with my daughters about how I think most holidays are over-rated, and when they asked what the best holiday is, I had to say, simply: Birthdays.

This is a picture book (a tall, vertically-oriented one, as if the book itself is a giant candle) that celebrates the thrill children get when anticipating a birthday and all that comes with it — cakes, chocolate, candles, parties, presents. Even wishes. It’s a heap of unfettered joy, this one. Fogliano’s text is infectiously rhythmic and perfectly paced—this one begs to be shared aloud—and she even sprinkles in some nonsense words (“I’m just dreaming of my bluuuurfday” and “time for cakey / wakey wakey”). The text is from the point-of-view of an unnamed narrator (though we see one young girl multiple times), first wondering when the birthday will come; then dreaming of what the celebration will be like; and then, suddenly, “in the morning it’s my birthday!” Here, the child can hardly sleep from the excitement, but when she finally does, it’s “happy snore and snore to me!”

Illustrator Christian Robinson uses collage techniques in this one to great effect. One spread shows a giant present, wrapped up in a big bow. The present and child near it are rendered in acrylics, yet the present is wrapped in actual string. (You can see this below.) As is always the case with Robinson’s style, the images consist of basic shapes; if child readers are inspired to get out their own paper and paints to illustrate their own birthday ponderings, don’t be surprised.

Here are a couple more spreads from the book. (The vertical black line you see in the center of each spread, in case you’re wondering, indicates the book’s gutter.) Below that are some (gutter-free) images from Christian.


“when’s my birthday? / where’s my birthday? /
how many days until / my birthday?”

(Click to enlarge spread)


“I’d like a big cake on my birthday / with lots of chocolate on my birthday /
and lots of candles on my birthday / 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6!””

(Click to enlarge spread)


“happy happy day to me!”
(Click to enlarge spread, where the text varies slightly)


Here are the additional images from Christian’s desk (and wall!):


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WHEN’S MY BIRTHDAY? Copyright © 2017 by Julie Fogliano. Illustrations © 2017 by Christian Robinson. Published by Neal Porter Books/Roaring Brook Press, New York. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, with additional images from 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) When friends visit.

2) Fresh peaches.

3) Fresh basil.

4) Showing the girls The Simpsons episode, “Lisa’s Substitute.”



5) New gaming digs for my D&D-playing girls.

6) The latest issue of the Horn Book.

7) Book recommendations.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #542: Featuring Christian Robinson”

  1. Ooh, this book looks like a party.
    Jules, yum, fresh peaches.
    I’m traveling back to home. My kicks 1-7+ has been this week in SoCal with family and friends.
    Have a great week

  2. Glad you had a great time, Jone. Safe travels.

  3. Love the review especially because I feel the same about birthdays. I have all my friend’s birthdays on my calendar and send them a card with a crisp $5 in it because I love letter writing and presents, no matter how small.

  4. A very merry (un)birthday to all Imps! Hi Christian!

    Jules: I love peaches.

    Jone: Hope you have/had a great trip!

    Erin: Snail mail is the best.

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Visit
    2) Good news
    3) Good people
    4) Good times
    5) Good weather
    6) Poetry
    7) In motion

  5. I’m with you, Erin.

    Unbirthdays are important, too, Little Willow, as you and Lewis Carroll know. … I’m especially fond of that last kick. Glad it was a good, and in-motion, week.

  6. Love these illustrations so much, especially the joy in “Happy happy birthday to me”, and that giant present with the twine,

    Jules – your first three kicks alone are fabulous!

    Jone – glad you’ve had a good trip.

    Erin – that is an awesome birthday tradition, hope you don’t mind if I start borrowing it.

    LW -love all your kicks, but especially 2-5. Lots of good for a good week.

    My kicks:
    1) Coming up for air after an intense couple of weeks for work.
    2) My actual birth day was quiet because work took precedence – but I am happy to cash in on all my friends offers to celebrate with me now.
    3) Learning new things.
    4) Raspberry & blueberry ice box cake for 4th of July bbq.
    5) Meeting my friend’s new dog, who they adopted from a local shelter. Lots of time and thought went into finding her, and they are all in love – perfect fit for their family.
    6) Reading “Difficult Women” by Roxane Gay.
    7) Giving Daisy a bath yesterday – she doesn’t love it, but is getting better about tolerating them. Plus she smells so good and her fur is so soft now.
    7.5) Saw Titus Andromedan’s take on Beyonce’s “Lemonade” and was howling. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is such a funny show.

    Have a wonderful week all!

  7. Happy Sunday Jules and other Seven impers!

    I love both artists so I am eagerly awaiting their collaboration. Thank you for a sneal peek at images and the illustrative process.

    I can’t wait to see the latest issue of Horn Book. I hope my copy finds me.

    Glad you enjoyed a wonderful vaction Jone.

    I love the way you celebrate birthdays Erin.

    I’m with you Little Willow when it comes to good weather. It’s always a blessing.

    Learning something new is always cause for taking note, Rachel. No day is complete without it.

    My kicks:

    1. Freshly mowed lawn
    2. Flower sales
    3. Meeting Emily Arrow
    4. Creating a new outdoor space
    5. New books
    6. Appreciative authors and illustrators
    7. Walking with Mulan…watching Mulan…hearing her snore

    Have a wonderful week everyone. Tomorrow and Tuesday it’s NerdCampMI. It’s a great way to connect with people passionate about children’s literature.

  8. Rachel, glad work is slowing down a bit so that you can celebrate. I want to read Roxane Gay’s newest book and work backwards and read ’em all.

    Margie, I saw your outdoor space on social media, and I just want to be your neighbor and hang out there. Then, I’d get to pet Mulan. Have fun at NerdCampMI!

  9. As expected from Christian, this art is breathtaking. I love it so much! Can’t wait for the book. Thanks for the great post, Julie!

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