7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #776: Featuring Jamie Hogan

h1 January 2nd, 2022 by jules


Happy New Year, dear Imps! Today, I’m pleased to welcome author-illustrator Jamie Hogan, who shares some process images and final art from her wondrous 2021 book, Skywatcher (Tilbury House, October).

Skywatcher tells the story of boy who lives in a “worn brick building” in the city and loves to read his Skywatcher comics, which are about a woman who travels the universe. The city lights, however, outshine the stars in the bustling city where this boy lives, and he wonders: “How could Skywatcher find her way through the universe without the stars?” The boy’s mother surprises him with a camping trip far from the city, and the two of them wake in the middle of the night to a beautiful surprise.

Hogan’s lyrical text (“They gazed upward a long time, hushed by a loon’s wavering call across the water”) is a delight, but the book’s palette steals the show. As you can see in the three spreads below, a wide array of blues dominates these textured, velvety spreads — and a midnight purplish-blue shimmers from the pages, juxtaposed in spots by flashes of light. The story — which is followed by an author’s note, tips on being a skywatcher, and a list of dark-sky preserves — captures the kind of outdoor adventure that children don’t soon forget: “Tamen carried his memories with him,” we read on one of the final spreads, as mother and child head back to their home in the city. (Incidentally, this would be wonderful paired with Marsha Diane Arnold’s Lights Out, illustrated by Susan Reagan.)

Here’s Jamie to tell us a bit more about the book. I thank her for sharing. (Be extra-sure to click on the link to her blog that she provides below, as it’s filled with even more images from this book.)

* * *

Jamie: I began developing the story in 2018, and it was titled Dark Matters for the first year of submitting. There’s some backstory in this blog post.


(Click image to enlarge)


From my first round of submissions, I had the interest of an editor, and this kept me pushing it further. But it took two more rounds to find the publisher that gave me a contract. They wanted more changes as well. So I made 12 dummies in all, but the redrawing and rethinking were not wasted.

Here are some early sketches, including a drawing of Tamen riding the Star Bear, but that evolved in the final book into Tamen riding the Ursa Major constellation in the sky. Early versions of the manuscript were also in the first person.


(Click image to enlarge)


(Click image to enlarge)


(Click image to enlarge)


Here are some final spreads from the book. …


“One night after dinner Tamen dragged his mother to the park to find the stars.
Towering lights glared above the fences. ‘Where are the stars?’ he asked again.
‘The city outshines them,’ his mother said.”

(Click spread to enlarge)


“‘Where are Cassiopeia and Perseus?’ Tamen asked. ‘The moon’s brightness hides them,’ his mother said. ‘More stars will appear when the moon sets.’ They climbed into the tent and read Mom’s favorite book about a Star Bear who guards the night.
Tamen fell asleep to the sound of his mother’s voice.”

(Click spread to enlarge)


“He crawled from the tent and spied a little owl in the low branches of a tall pine.
It screeched again, and Tamen jumped. Something brushed his ear. A luna moth fluttered over his head. That’s when he saw it. ‘Mom, look! The Milky Way!'”

(Click spread to enlarge)


(Click cover to enlarge)


SKYWATCHER. Text and illustrations © 2021 by Jamie Hogan. Published by Tilbury House Publishers, Thomaston, Maine. All images reproduced by permission of Jamie Hogan.

* * * Jules’s Kicks * * *

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.

1) The blues in this book.

2) Ringing in the new year …

3) … with my family and on Sandwich Night.

4) Looking back to a healthy 2021 during a year when it was a challenge to stay healthy.

5) Dodging tornadoes two different times this holiday season.

6) Dodging Omicron.

7) A visit with friends and LOTS of snacks.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

9 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #776: Featuring Jamie Hogan”

  1. Happy new year, Imps! Hello to Jamie, and Tamen, and the adorable Star Bear.

    Jules: Glad you and yours are safe. Sending good thoughts!

    Kicks from the past week:
    1. Music
    2. Movies
    3. Conversations
    4. Notes
    5. Layers
    6. Success
    7. Certainty

  2. Happiest of New Years to you Jules and other 7-Imps!

    Thank you for sharing Skywatcher with us. The artwork by Jamie is gorgeous! I am placing an order for a copy today. I loved reading your kicks, Jules. I am so glad you have remained healthy and dodged those tornadoes. The weather has been weird.

    Hooray for movies, Little Willow. I, too, have been enjoying movies.

    My kicks:
    1. Watching the new Disney movie Encanto.
    2. Reading a stack of picture books
    3. Christmas lights on homes
    4. Wind chimes singing in the high winds
    5. Snow
    6. UPS, FedEx, USPS
    7. Morning walks with Mulan and making it home safely amid the ice and snow and wind

    Have a good first week of the new year everyone.

  3. Good morning Sky Bear. Jamie, what a gorgeous book, totally agree with Jules, the blues!
    Jules, glad you are safe from tornadoes and Omicron. And hurray for friends.
    Little Willow, conversations, friends, the best.
    Margie, so good to see you hear. I love wind chimes as well and mine might art singing today.
    My Kicks:
    1. Dinner with friends.
    2. Organizing into the new year.
    3. Watched all four Matrix movies. (we had not seem the previous three)
    4. Planning.
    5. The finalists for the CYBILS Poetry Award announced. I’m a round two judge,.
    6. Snow this past week in the Portland area.
    7. Fires in the fireplace.
    Have a great week.

  4. Wow, these illustrations are breathtaking. I follow the International Dark Sky Association on Instagram and love that the book includes a list of dark sky preserves. Will definitely be getting this book for myself and to give as a gift.

    Jules – staying healthy and missing tornadoes are wonderful kicks, and so is ringing in the new year with family – what kinds of sandwiches did you have?

    Little Willow – music and movies and conversations are the best kicks.

    Margie – Christmas lights on homes, especially in the snow, are so beautiful and always a mood boost. Glad you and Mulan are making it safely home after walks in snowy, icy weather.

    Jone – hooray for our snow and fires in the fireplace. Dinner with friends is always such a treat. Have fun judging!

    My kicks this week:
    1) A quiet week.
    2) The Morning Show.
    3) Mimosas for New Year’s Day.
    4) Making blackeyed peas for NYD.
    5) All the texts and calls and messages from friends near and far on New Year’s Eve and Day.
    6) Insecure stuck the landing on it’s finale.
    7) Ringing in the new year with Daisy, cozy and warm on the couch.
    7.5) Sad that we lost Betty White, but the kick has been reading all the tributes and watching her comic genius in action in all the clips being shared. She was a hero of mine for her talent and her animal advocacy. What an incredible life, and how lucky we were to have her.

    Happy New Year Imps!

  5. One more kick, that I cannot believe I forgot – art and artists and illustrators and creators have brought me so much joy this past year. Love getting to discover so many via this golden-light-filled spot on the interwebs.

    Often I’ll go looking for them on Twitter or Instagram after seeing their work here, and it’s also fun to further see artists they highlight. Shing Yin Khor, who was featured here for the graphic novel The Legend of Auntie Po, is an artist I’d been following, and they highlight a number of other artists. And in a roundabout fashion from following various links of art they shared and interacted with on twitter, I found Sarah Gavagan, who is currently having a sale.


    I bought this piece https://www.sarahgavagan.com/shop/sea-of-cosmos

    and framed it and the amount of joy it has brought and continues to bring me every time I look at it is so far above and beyond the $10. Such a great reminder (for me) to support small artists and that joy and delight don’t have to come at an enormous cost.

    Here’s to a 2022 full of joy and delight!

  6. Thanks, Jules, for sharing my book!!! I am delighted by all the kind words here, and grateful for any reader curious about the night sky. Here are my 7 kicks:
    1. reading this post!
    2. walking in the fog today
    3. typing a letter on my vintage Corona Standard
    4. having my daughter home for the holidays
    5. drawing rabbits on the first day of the year
    6. baking donuts in the pan Santa gave me
    7. feeling connected to this cosmic universe of kids book lovers!

  7. Happy new year, Little Willow! I like your evocative “layers.”

    Margie, your fourth kick sounds like the start to a poem. Be careful in the ice and snow, and hug Mulan for me. (My eighth kick today is getting a text from you!)

    Jone, enjoy looking at the snow as you stay warm by the fire. I also feel the need to see the other two Matrix films before I see the new one. (I’ve only seen the first.)

    Rachel, every Friday is Sandwich Night (and TV night — currently, we are all watching Angel and Star Trek: Discovery, and we finished Doctor Who and are sorely missing What We Do in the Shadows — BUT we are bingeing Sherlock, which the girls have never seen till now) …. We eat vegetarian, so we all have veggie sandwiches. Everyone else’s are heavy on tofu, but I just load mine up with veggies and cheese. … LOVED the ending of Insecure. I will miss that show. And I loooooove your addendum kick! I agree 100%: My Instagram feed is 99% artists, and that’s why I go there. And I happen to have a stack of art to get framed. Are you still thinking about writing (or working on writing) a children’s book?

    Hi Jamie! Thanks again for classin’ up the blog today. I’m glad you got to spend time with your daughter. (I have a high school senior and already get misty-eyed when I think about next year and how she’ll be *returning* home for the holidays!) I love your last kick a lot. Thanks again for sharing these images today.

    Have a good week, you all!

  8. Rachel, looking now and LOOOVE that piece you bought!

  9. Jules – I love it so much! If there is any kind of theme to some of my collected art, it’s wolves and dragons and dogs.

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