7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #545: Featuring Beatrice Alemagna

h1 July 30th, 2017 by jules

“So I followed them down a path and found dozens of mushrooms. The air was so damp. I knew the smell from when I was small—my grandparents’ basement.
My cave of treasures. I felt a sense that there was something special close by.
That I was surrounded.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


Author-illustrator Beatrice Alemagna is someone whose named has appeared often at 7-Imp over the years, given that I’ve done a whole heapin’ lot of interviews in the years I’ve been blogging, and many, many illustrators have named her as an inspiration.

Today I’m featuring her new book — well, new to U.S. readers. On a Magical Do-Nothing Day was originally published in France last year but is on American shelves now, thanks to HarperCollins. It’s the story of a girl whose day is being ravaged by some serious ennui. She and her mother visit a cabin in a forest, while the girl’s Dad stays back in the city. Who knows what is going on there and why the father isn’t with them, but the girl misses him.

It’s a rainy day, and like a lot of contemporary children, the girl is captivated by the tiny, hand-held device in her hands that allows her to play a game — specifically, one that allows her to destroy Martians. “Actually, I was just pressing the same button over and over,” Alemagna writes. Her mother, working at a laptop, growls at her and takes her electronic device and hides it. The girl finds it and heads out. It’s one of those days where an utter lack of creativity takes over, at least on the part of the girl, and she and her mother most definitely need some time away from one another.


” … where it felt like everything in our garden was hiding from the rain.”


“I held my game tightly. Maybe it would protect me from this boring, wet place.”
(Click second image to see spread in its entirety)


Outside, the girl loses her device, and her mood is turned around entirely, for the better, as she plays in nature. It takes a while, mind you; at first, without her game, she feels hopeless: “I was a small tree trapped outside in a hurricane.” But the sights and sounds of the forest start to come alive for her, and her mood shifts. Alemagna puts vivid imagery and figurative language to use to make it all come alive for the reader too. When the sun comes out—“Sunbeams fell down through a giant strainer and blinded me”—it’s as if the world is all-new to her. When she heads back to the cabin and sees her mother again, even she looks like a creature of the wild, the girl notes.



Alemagna’s illustrations are detailed and expressive, the girl’s bright orange coat a pop of color on the page, especially in the rain spreads. The palette opens wide at the book’s close, as the sun comes out and even a rainbow appears.

It’s a story of transformation, one proving that a “do-nothing” type of day can actually be the most active and refreshing of all.


“… We just sat in the kitchen, looked at each other, and breathed in the delicious smell of our hot chocolate. That’s it. That’s all we did.
On this magical do-nothing day.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


ON A MAGICAL DO-NOTHING DAY. Copyright © 2016 by Beatrice Alemagna. Translation by Jill Davis. First US edition, 2017. Illustrations reproduced by permission of HarperCollins.

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) This! East Nashville represents!

2) This NYT piece:

It’s time to create language that values justice over innocence. The most important question we can ask about children may not be whether they are inherently innocent. Instead: Are they are hungry? Do they have adequate health care? Are they free from police brutality? Are they threatened by a poisoned and volatile environment? Are they growing up in a securely democratic nation?

3) Garnet for President, please:



4) New song this week from the upcoming David Rawlings CD. Is it August yet?



5) Visit with a friend.

6) “What Is America to Me?” from Nashville’s own Margaret Renkl.

7) A new children’s lit podcast.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

4 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #545: Featuring Beatrice Alemagna”

  1. Good morning, Imps!

    Hello, Beatrice! Three cheers for the magic of nature and discovery and simple joys.

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Performance
    2) Audition
    3) Reading
    4) Ease
    5) Simply
    6) Simple
    7) Go

  2. Love this book, the concept, story and the illustrations. We could all stand to lose our games/phones and pay attention to what’s around us more often.

    Jules – love your kicks, especially Margaret Renkl’s piece and the piece from Robin Bernstein. Oh, and the LIT program!!! Such a great program!

    LW – love 4-7 especially this week!

    My quick kicks:
    1) Work, grateful to have it.
    2) Fresh berries.
    3) Tomato plants starting to yield.
    4) Daisy being her sweet silly self.
    5) Thorns game last weekend.
    6) Sunshine.
    7) Sunday breakfast with a friend.
    7.5) My niece sending me a photo of the 2 of us 20 years ago. Our attitudes have not changed. Love that kid.

  3. Rachel: Thanks! Yay for tomatoes and berries and fresh, healthy food. Hi to Daisy and to the sunshine.

  4. Rachel, I saw that photo on Facebook. So great! Hello to Daisy from me too, as always. What a good week you had, full of simple goodness …

    … speaking of Little Willow’s kicks. And, Little Willow, break a leg at the audition. Always.

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