7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #782: Featuring Delphine Renon

h1 February 13th, 2022 by jules


Alain Serge Dzotap, the award-winning author of The Gift (Eerdmans, February 2022), is a Cameroonian children’s book author and poet with a publishing house called Les Bruits de l’encre. Born in Bafoussam, he regularly promotes literacy in Cameroon by visiting schools and conducting workshops. This book, originally published in France and illustrated by French illustrator and graphic designer Delphine Renon, is Dzotap’s first book published in English.

Leo, a leopard, has just had a birthday. He is happy with all his gifts, but one special gift mesmerizes him. His father has given him a pen, telling Leo: “There are all sorts of beautiful things inside your pen. When I come back from the market later, I’ll show them to you.” But Leo is impatient and insistently tries to find those beautiful things. Nothing happens. He sets off to ask for help. His older sister; Coco-Tembo, the hen; Super-Zombo, the giraffe — none of them can figure out what the pen is supposed to do. But Leo’s mother knows. She sits him down and shows him how to move the pen across the page. Leo is amazed. He writes words. He draws pictures. “Soon the whole world is coming out of his pen!”

Dzotap constructs the story with a pleasing, unfussy structure. He uses repetition to satisfying effect, which will hook young readers (or those hearing it read aloud to them): When Leo consults family and friends about the pen and they repeatedly misconstrue its purpose, each time Leo says: “You’re not doing it right.” Renon’s crisp, fine-lined colored pencil illustrations bring Leo’s jungle world to vivid life. Bright and warm yellow and green shades dominate, and spread after spread, Renon’s compositions are a visual delight. It all adds up to a satisfying story about creativity and the joy of the discovery of expression through the arts.

Enjoy the spreads below!



“But the one he likes best of all is his father’s gift: a pen. …”
(Two images above: Click either one to see spread in its entirety)


“Leo goes to find Super-Zombo, the giraffe,
and asks for her help getting the beautiful things out of his pen.”

(Click spread to enlarge)


“Leo returns home. He can’t wait any longer. He asks his mother: ‘Mama, can you please show me the beautiful things that are inside my pen?’ ‘Come with me,’ Mama says.”
(Click spread to enlarge)


(Click cover to enlarge)


THE GIFT. Text © 2020 Alain Serge Dzotap. Illustrations © 2020 Delphine Renon. Originally published in France as Le Cadeau. First published in the United States in 2022 by Erdmans Books for Young Readers. Illustrations reproduced by their permission.

* * * 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) Road trip.

2) Visiting Barbara McClintock’s students (virtually) at Wesleyan this week to talk about picture books.

3) Long walks …

4) … on a warm day.

5) A peanut butter and chocolate mug cake.

6) Grogu.

7) Valentine’s Day. Have a good one, everyone!

What are YOUR kicks this week?

4 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #782: Featuring Delphine Renon”

  1. Oh, this book. I love the colors.
    Jules, Chuck and I love road trips! And long walks sounds wonderful.
    My kicks:
    1. Selecting the CYBILS Poetry winner and I am SO excited!!
    2. Friends over for Super Bowl.
    3. Working with Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell on how to create videos on Canva. Easy and fun.
    4. Creating collages.
    5. Writing.
    6. Valentine’s Day is our 30th anniversary.
    7. Prepping to leave for Charleston, SC on Wednesday.
    Have a great week.

  2. Love these illustrations! I really appreciate Papa Leopard’s outstanding mixing of patterns, and Mama Leopard’s too, which is super cute.

    Jules – What a full week! Love road trips, long walks, and that peanut butter and chocolate mug cake sounds yummy! Grogu is the best.

    Jone – Happy Anniversary, happy superbowl party and happy travels!

    My kicks this week:
    1) Finally saw CODA and loved it. What a beautiful movie.
    2) Watching the Oscar nominated short docs. Three favorites: The Queen of Basketball, Audible, and Lead Me Home.
    3) Going through books on my bookshelves to decide which to keep, which to giveaway, and it is so fun to rediscover old favorites, as well as to think “I loved this book, but want to give it away so someone else can love it too.”
    4) A sunshine filled week.
    5) More time enjoying the Portland Winter Light Festival. My favorite was the small park called Save The Giants, which is 3 sequoias lit with over 1000 feet of white lights. It felt like a combination zen garden/holy space, so peaceful and calm.
    6) Watched Bigbug last night, and it was funny and weird and slightly terrifying.
    7) Sunday morning coffee with Daisy.
    7.5) Making world peace cookies for Valentine’s Day.

    Happy Valentine’s Day and happy superbowl sunday if you celebrate! Have a great week, Imps!

  3. Greetings, Imps and Alain Serge Dzotap! Hello, Leo! That looks like such a cute story.

    Jules: Yay for the good journeys, both virtual and in-person!

    Jone: Sounds like a fun week for you!

    Rachel: Also check out Drive My Car if you haven’t already. Yum and yay for cookies. Hi Daisy!

    1) Home
    2) Access
    3) Assess
    4) Decompress
    5) De-stress
    6) Impress
    7) Success

  4. Jone, happy anniversary! Can’t wait to hear the Cybils winner. Safe travels to you.

    Rachel, I want to see CODA too, especially given my first career! And thanks for a good reminder to find the short docs. Love that third kick.

    Little Willow, your ability to create evocative, poetry-like kicks is at an all-time high today. I like how “home” stands out, as it should.

    Have a good week, you all!

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