7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #802: Featuring Viola Halle Ruzzier

h1 July 10th, 2022 by jules


It may have been a ridiculously long time since I’ve done a regular 7-Imp feature with a student or unpublished illustrator (mea culpa), but today I’m going to do so again. It’s my pleasure to welcome Viola Ruzzier to 7-Imp. Viola, who recently completed college at a school in Canada, did not major in art or illustration (though her father, who is an award-winning illustrator, knows a thing or two about it). As you’ll read below, she studied science and embarked upon a book project that involves illustrated stories. It’s called Science Stories: A Little Volume for People Who Like Science and Stories. And it is, just as it sets out to be, informative and entertaining. (You will see in some of the pages below that Viola’s distinctive voice — particularly, her dry wit — is one of the best things about the book.)

I’m going to turn things over to her so that she can tell us more about this story collection. I thank her for visiting.


(Click cover to enlarge)


Viola: I did my undergrad in biology and anthropology, and I really enjoyed all the content. (Well, most of it. I’m not a big fan of transcription factors.) But I learned that I cannot stand most academic papers. They’re dense and complicated and, most of all, lack style and narrative.

And I think this is what puts a lot of people off of science. With a few exceptions, it’s written about either in a very academic way that’s only accessible to a small number of experts or it’s “dumbed down” for the laypeople, who then get about a fifth of the full story.

What I would like, and what I tried to do with this little book, is a way to write science that doesn’t lose a sense of narrative. I don’t see why stories aren’t considered objective and, though the traditional way of writing scientific articles has many advantages, it shouldn’t be the only accepted way. Having a plot and having characters who do things and make mistakes and revise their ideas makes things infinitely more interesting. And, what’s more, it’s how science actually works. Anyone who’s been in a lab knows that things aren’t as clear-cut as they appear in the final report. So the way we write about science should reflect that.


(Click image to enlarge)


(Click image to enlarge)


I also added a lot of illustrations and pop-ups in my project. There are a few reasons for this. First of all, I like drawing, and that was the main reason. But I also think illustration has lost the importance it used to hold in the scientific world. It used to be impossible to be a naturalist, for example, without being able to draw your birds. Art and science were much more closely connected, and I wanted to try to reconnect them a bit.


(Click image to enlarge)


(Click image to enlarge)


Lastly, a word about the target audience, because it’s something I’m often asked. I guess, overall, it’s meant for kids around age 12. But as someone who rereads A Series of Unfortunate Events and the Frog and Toad books frequently (at the age of 22), I abhor the idea of an age range for books. So really my target audience is anyone who likes my stories, regardless of their age.



Two images above: Pages from Science Stories
(Click each to enlarge)


Oh, and lastly lastly, someone brought up the point that there are birds drawn throughout the book, but none of the stories are about birds. This is true. I have no explanation for it.


(Click image to enlarge)


All images here reproduced by permission of Viola Ruzzier.

* * * 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) A trip this past week to Boston and beautiful South Hadley, Massachusetts, which involved …

2) lots of walking and sightseeing …

3) a boat ride …

4) penguins at the aquarium and exoplanets at the museum of science …

5) the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art and the wonderful collage exhibit

6) and a fabulous independent bookstore.

7) This cover song (below) by The A’s. Which has the kinds of sounds that result from playing with ice chunks and rubbing things against nylon shorts.


The A's · He Needs Me


Bonus kick) The new album from Petrol Girls is cathartic for the rage’y moments.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

9 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #802: Featuring Viola Halle Ruzzier”

  1. Hi Imps! Hi Viola! I love science and I love stories and the excerpts you shared made me grin.

    Jules: I’m so glad you had fun.

    My kicks:
    1) Opportunities
    2) Air conditioning
    3) Time
    4) Music
    5) Movies
    6) Good
    7) Great

  2. Viola, thanks for letting us peek at your process and stories.
    Jules, your trip sounds fun. I would love to see the Carle museum.
    My kicks 1-7 having returned from 3 weeks of travel to Ireland and Scotland. What an experience.

  3. Little Willow, also grateful for AC when the heat index here has been dangerously high. And I know not everyone has it and I don’t take it for granted. So, hear hear to that kick. I like those last two kicks and how it indicates that maybe your week went from adequate to fabulous.

    Jone! I’ve been thinking of you and hoping it was a great trip! Glad to hear it was. Woot!

  4. As a fellow biologist who has dabbled in storytelling, I have to ask – where can one acquire a copy of this awesome little book??

  5. Viola – thanks so much for sharing your art and process! I love that it is true that there are birds throughout the book and yet no stories about birds. I think maybe the birds might want their own book someday?

    Jules – hooray for fun trips with lots of walking and penguins and the Eric Carle museum – sounds like an amazing experience!

    Little Willow – Love kicks 1 & 2 and 6 & 7 the most this week. As usual, you and your endless energy amaze me.

    Jone – hooray for a 3 week vacation – your photos were awesome, so glad you had a wonderful time.

    My kicks this week:
    1) Watched The Muppets Treasure Island and it was super fun.
    2) Putting together raised garden beds (and planting things in them.)
    3) A lovely outdoor dinner with an dear friend.
    4) Finished The Ogress and the Orphans and loved it.
    5) Ms. Marvel!!!!
    6) Made an apricot and blackberry tart with fresh fruit from the farmers market.
    7) Made apricot blackberry oat bars.
    7.5) An early morning hike with my same dear friend who is visiting from NY – we got up early and had the trail (mostly) to ourselves and got to see one of the best views of the St John’s bridge.) Then coffee and treats for brunch afterwards.

    Have a great week Imps!

  6. Claire, I will ask Viola! Or mayb she’ll comment here.

    Rachel: Is that Muppet movie new? [My 16-year-old’s goal in life is to become a) knighted or b) famous so that she can be on The Muppet Show. Never mind that it no longer airs. Never mind that, as an American, she can’t be knighted. She is aware of all of these things but really wants to meet Kermit.] I am also continuing to loooove Ms. Marvel. Your hike sounds so great, as do your garden beds. That’s a good week right there.

    Have a good week, you all!

  7. Jules – the Muppet movie was new to me, but was released in 1996. It’s got Tim Curry and lots of fun songs:

    I LOVE The Muppets and your daughter’s goal to be on The Muppet Show is a wonderful one – I always wanted to be on The Muppet Show too, who wouldn’t? I’ve started watching the old episodes since Disney has them, and they’re still pretty damn funny.
    Have a great week!

  8. Thank you to everyone who commented! Claire, I’d be happy to send you a copy — feel free to send me a message on Instagram or Facebook (Viola Ruzzier for both, and the profile picture is a cat for FB and some kind of illustrated mammal on Instagram) so we can figure out the details.

  9. Terrific work, Viola, and a terrific post, Jules! The exposition to development ratio was just right!

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