7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #706: Featuring Sydney Smith

h1 August 30th, 2020 by jules



I’ve a review over at BookPage of one of the most splendid picture books you will see this year. I Talk Like a River (Neal Porter Books/Holiday House, September 2020), written by Jordan Scott and illustrated by Sydney Smith, is nothing less than a masterpiece.

My review is here, so you can read my thoughts over there if you are so inclined.

As always, I have some spreads from the book to show you here at 7-Imp today, but illustrator Sydney Smith also shares some preliminary images (for which I thank him). If you read 7-Imp, you’ll know from previous Smith visits that you’re in for a treat. Pictured above is an early painting from Sydney, followed by the final art (the opening to the book’s dramatic double gatefold spread).



Some Final Art:


“I wake up with the sounds of words each morning all around me.”
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(Click either image to see spread in its entirety


“My dad takes me to the river. We walk along the shore
looking for colorful rocks and water bugs.”

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Preliminary Images:


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An early cover
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I TALK LIKE A RIVER. Text copyright © 2020 by Jordan Scott. Illustrations copyright © 2020 by Sydney Smith and reproduced by permission of the publisher, Neal Porter Books/Holiday House, New York. All preliminary images reproduced by permission of Sydney Smith.

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’s Kicks * * *

1) This starred book review for my dear friend Tanita’s new book (coming in November!).

2) This chat with two brilliant women.

3) Adia Victoria:



4) Artist Amy Sherald and her portrait of Breonna Taylor.

5) A couple days ago, my family and I wrapped up Parks & Recreation, which we’ve been watching all year, and in one of the final episodes Ron Swanson says: “Creativity is for people with glasses who like to lie.” I’m still laughing about this.

6) New album from Angel Olsen.

7) The tributes to Chadwick Boseman.

(Related: I’ve some harsh, ineloquent words for 2020 and all that it’s brought us, including Boseman’s death, but I guess they don’t belong in kicks.)

BONUS: Congrats to Jessica Lanan for winning this year’s Bull-Bransom Award (for this book) from the beautiful National Museum of Wildlife Art.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

5 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #706: Featuring Sydney Smith”

  1. I’ve seen postings for I Talk Like a River and it looks like a must have book. The illustrations are gorgeous.
    Jules, think I need to read Tanita’s new book. Looks fascinating. I agree about 2020, harsh year is an understatement. Portland also lost a much loved basketball player, Cliff Robinson, on the heels of Chadwish Boseman.
    My kicks:
    1. Kayaking! First time.
    2. Youngest grand girl is here in the Portland area. She went kayaking with me.
    3. A drive up to Mt. St. Helen’s with youngest.
    4. Friends and dinner.
    5. Making headway with the boxes in the garage.
    6. Rediscovering treasures.
    7. Anticipation of the week ahead with grand girls (middle is going to be here this week as well).
    7.5 Finished Harry’s Trees, must read.
    Have a great week.

  2. Jone, sorry for yet one more loss. … It sounds like you had a good week with lots of family. Good luck with the boxes, and thanks for the book recommendation! I want to go kayaking, and there are lots of beautiful places around here to do it. Thanks for the nudge.

  3. Hi Imps! Happy Sunday!

    Hi Sydney! That book sounds lovely. Thanks for sharing.

    Yay Tanita!

    Jules: Parks & Rec = good times.

    Jone: Wow, kayaking! Glad you had fun.

    My kicks:
    1) Getting things done
    2) Sleep
    3) Support
    4) Taking breaks
    5) Chocolate
    6) Hydration
    7) Sustainability

  4. What a beautiful book, thank you for sharing your book review of it and all these glorious illustrations!

    Jules – Serena Says looks like another must-have book, I’ve bookmarked that chat for when I have time to sit and really enjoy it. Adia Victoria’s South Gotta Change is great. (I learned of it via The Bitter Southerner, their site has been a touchstone for me of late). I share in your listing the tributes to Chadwick Boseman as they celebrate the incredible human being and talented light he was, and every time I read a new one (Ryan Coogler’s today) it makes it clear why this is such an enormous loss that seems to be hitting everyone extra hard right now.

    Jone – hooray for kayaking – it looked like a beautiful and fun adventure. Have a great week with your grand girls! (I was sad to hear of the loss of Cliff Robinson too.)

    Little Willow – sleep, support, chocolate and hydration are essential and wonderful kicks. Getting things done is how I imagine you, perpetually.

    My kicks this week:
    1) Finding Ben & Jerry’s Vegan Frozen Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Chunks. (They are really more like bites, and a perfect snack for a short work break.)
    2) A case I assisted on settled well.
    3) Taking Daisy for a car ride to Starbucks for a puppacino. She loves her puppacinos.
    4) Friends, near and far, and being able to check in with each other.
    5) Trying a new coffee this morning and its good and strong.
    6) Cuddle time with Daisy. Now that she’s 14, I try to remember that each day with her is a gift and a blessing.
    7) Connection through art – Chadwick Boseman’s loss is being felt so keenly by so many who did not know him (I think) in part because of his ability to connect us all through his incredible talent. First saw him in 42 and was mesmerized. His T’Challa in Black Panther was a game changer for the industry because he was just so good. Then to learn he was a real life hero, well, we need those badly right now. Losing John Lewis and King T’Challa within months of each other hits so hard, but the comfort and the kick is that we got to have them on this earth at all, inspiring us all to do better.

    Have a good week Imps. Stay well and take care of yourselves!

  5. Little Willow, I’m with Rachel: You are Little Getting-Things-Done Willow.

    Rachel, I have not heard of that site, but I’ll definitely look it up! And thanks for that Ben & Jerry’s tip. My husband is now eating a plant-based diet, and I wonder if he’s seen those. Congrats on kick #2, and thanks for that last eloquent kick.

    Have a good week, you all!

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