7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #27: Featuring Julie Vivas

h1 September 9th, 2007 by Eisha and Jules

Jules: Many thanks to Julie Vivas, one of Australia’s foremost children’s book illustrators, and Kane/Miller Books for our illustration this week. This is a spread from Helen Manos’ Samsara Dog, originally published in Australia in 2006 and published this year by Kane/Miller in its First American Edition.

It’s not often that you come across a picture book, geared at young children, which addresses the subject of reincarnation. Manos, a practicing Buddhist, wanted to show this subject matter in as natural a way as possible and wrote this story of a dog who lives many lives — as a wild dog on the streets; with a biker gang; as a sniffer dog; with a street juggler; as a rescue dog; and more — “{moving} through a tunnel of light into his next life” each time. In the spread above,

Dog was born very small and very sick.

His tiny eyes never opened. He heard low chanting and a gentle voice say, “Sometimes life is a terrible struggle, little dog. Sometimes we only manage to arrive before we have to move on again.”

Dog tried to hold on, but the thin thread of this life was fast unraveling.

“Don’t be afraid. Coming back again and again is how it must be,” said the gentle voice. “When it is time, you will know great love. Go and learn what you must learn.”

And the sound of the chanting carried him off.

Eventually, Dog is born in a boat shed and finds the boy. The cover illustration you see up there features Dog and the boy, “{c}urled up like two spoons . . . {catching} each other’s dreams.” Dog learns to give hope and comfort “and the gift of great love,” particularly after a frightening accident the boy has, and learns to love the boy more than he loves himself. Years pass, and one day as Dog nears the end of his life, a deep calm settles inside him and, feeling his heart fill with “trust and joy,” he grows lighter and even lighter in the arms of his boy, now a grown man, and never comes back again, having finally learned what he needed to learn about love. Kirkus Reviews wrote of this title, “{t}he Buddhist concepts of reincarnation — and by extension Samsara and Nirvana — are conveyed with touching clarity . . . definitely deserving of a place on the shelf.”

Julie has even shared with us some of the first sketches for this lovely spread she shared with us this week. And here’s what she has to say about the process of illustrating this book:

“For the first six double page spreads of Samsara Dog, he was the same dog in a different life; this meant for each double spread, he is living and dying . . . This I found difficult to handle; the illustrations fought with each other (two images near each other can cancel out or impact/effect one another). Helen Manos’s manuscript had substantially more text and dog had more lives, but this changed through the process of making it work as a whole. It became more of a picture book, there was space to develop images.

It was a difficult book to illustrate; I kept losing a grip on Dog. Visually, he was always dog but his existence in each life in a way made him a different character so his appearance had to change. When I first read this fantastic manuscript, I was so excited and felt very fortunate to be offered the work to do the images for it. It’s like being at a feast — you see something wonderful and you want to eat it — but this proved to be more than a challenge for me.

The monk went through many stages of development and you can see a few examples here. I do a lot of rough work first, like most illustrators, and often these rough sketches have more life to them than the finished art work.

Helen Manos wrote a wonderful story. I did try to do it justice but found it a struggle.”

Well, we think she did it justice. Eisha and I are both fans of her work as an illustrator, and this one doesn’t disappoint. Vivas has perfectly captured the warmth and sentiment of this most unusual (for most picture books anyway) story. Big thanks to Kane/Miller and Julie for sharing that beautiful spread, and thanks to Julie for also telling us a bit more about the process and sharing her early drafts, giving us a fascinating glimpse into an illustrator’s work.

* * *

Before we get to our kicks this week, we would like to acknowledge that we here at 7-Imp were a bit slow in getting to the very sad news about the death of Robert Mercer, Grace Lin’s husband, on August 27th, due to cancer. We had the great opportunity to interview Grace this year, and Eisha has met her a couple of times. She is not only talented but also a terrifically nice person, and our heart goes out to her, her family, and Robert’s family during this difficult time.

* * *

By way of explanation for any new folks (who we hope will leave their lists), our weekly 7 Kicks list is the meeting ground for listing 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.

* * * * * * * Jules’ kicks * * * * * * *

1). Eisha did a lovely post yesterday about the passing of Madeleine L’Engle at age 88. The very first web page I made ever ever ever (in library school) was about her (it’s too clunky to even share), and I included this quote from her acceptance speech upon receiving the Margaret Edwards Award:

Most of the time nowadays we human beings are referred to as consumers. What does the consumer think? What does the consumer want? How ugly. Forest fires consume. Cancer consumes. I want us to be nourishers. To be a librarian, particularly a librarian for young adults, is to be a nourisher, to share stories, offer books full of new ideas. We live in a world which has changed radically in the last half century, and story helps us to understand and live creatively with change.

I have always loved that.

2). Sara shared this with me, which I’d seen before with my daughters and which she found via [BB-Blog], who wrote in a post entitled “You can’t turn away”: “As much as I thought I’d sneer at this, after about 5 seconds, I was hooked” (heh). I like the Muppet version of Kate Pierson there. And Sara’s suggestion is that this be the theme song for 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks lists, to which I say word:

3). Alkelda, who is oh-so thoughtful, sent me this (the video to a song on one of my girls’ beloved Dan Zanes CDs) for this past week, which was the week my family and I were planning on going to see the ocean (the first time for my girls) but weren’t able to, due to an unexpected meltdown of a major household appliance (and that would be the AC unit on a nearly one-hundred-degree day). Anyway, click on it and watch: It’s Insta-Ocean! But, even though we couldn’t go to the beach, my husband still kept that week off (it was his birthday week, too!), and we . . .

4). . . . filled it with fun stuff each day. We went here (and got to see a Jumbo African Millipede and owls and lots of other birds and a hedgehog and other animals up close and personal, thanks to one of my best friends who works at the zoo — we were even right next to the sloth, just like in Pssst!, though he didn’t ask us for a bicycle helmet or fall flat on his head); here (they have penguins now!); here, which is what I was talking about last week, where we got to see the three bears’ cottage, Jack’s beanstalk, and walk into the Secret Garden; and much more. It was a fun but exhausting week, since we also randomly declared . . .

5). . . . Picture Book Week here at 7-Imp. Why I wanted to declare Picture Book Week on the week that my family and I were busy every day is beyond me. I guess it went pretty well. We kicked things off with an illustration which Jonathan Bean shared for last week’s list (since visitors were scarce last week, probably due to the holiday, make sure you don’t miss the beautiful artwork he shared with us); I managed to review fourteen picture books (here, here, here, and here); and we had some fun interviews with the zazzy Mo Willems and rockstar (in our world) Adam Rex, whose first novel for children I really want to read and Eisha covered here this week. And, speaking of the interview with Adam Rex . . .

6). . . . his answer to our how-did-you-get-to-be-so-awesome question made me laugh so hard that my husband came in the room to check on me. I think he thought I was weeping, ’cause tears were streaming down my face and I was every so often making one of those gasping sounds from trying to catch my breath. For serious, I laughed for about five minutes, non-stop. I don’t know why: I think he had me at the little clap in the middle of his push-ups and then he cinched it with the “montage-style” comment about “The Final Countdown,” which, unfortunately, has been playing on the Radio in My Mind all week (and I bet now it’s playing in yours. Mwahahahahahahahaha).

7). The new CDs from Feist and Ryan Adams.

* * * * * * * eisha’s kicks * * * * * * *

Oh, wow, I totally remember that Sesame Street song. I love it. And I’m sorry you didn’t get to go to the beach, Jules, but geez, you guys sure had an awesome week. I’m a little jealous, even – Cheekwood never had anything as cool as that going on when I was always getting dragged there on field trips. Anyway, my week was very low-key, and thus so are the kicks:

please… make it stop…1* Like Jules, our interviews with Mo Willems and Adam Rex also cracked me up, even though I’ve also had the synthesized nightmare that is “The Final Countdown” running through my head for the past several days.

2* Our DSL connection was down for a total of, like, 3.5 days this past week, but now it’s fixed.

3* While it was down, I couldn’t do much blog- or job hunt-wise, so I read. A lot.

White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean4* One of the books I read was as good as everyone else keeps saying it is: White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean.

5* More tomatoes.

6* We went out for yummy Thai food with new Ithaca friends. Mmmm.

7* We got Season 2 of Extras from Netflix. Oh. My. God. I just cannot describe the sensation of seeing Daniel Radcliffe flick a condom onto Dame Diana Riggs head. Hilarious. I saw it when this was first going around on YouTube, but in case you haven’t had the pleasure…

25 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #27: Featuring Julie Vivas”

  1. Oh, wow, that picture book looks stunning. And thanks for all the sketches, too…I’m greedy, and always want to see sketches and models and everything that goes into making art.

    eisha! You read The White Darkness! I read it as a library book, but then I went and bought a copy, just to have it.

    My list:

    1. Finding BB-Blog. Okay, I know everybody’s saying: well, duh! But I came late to the party. I love having my daily dose of the non-verbal. And to be clear: that’s BB-Blog saying “You Can’t Turn Away”, etc., etc., not me (Not that you wrote it wrong, jules, I just didn’t want someone to think I did anything spectacular here other than stumble over what she found.) But yes, yes, it made me think of 7-Kicks and how I bounce between sad and happy, and how kickin’ it every week keeps me on the happy path.

    2. I’m reading Eat, Pray, Love and it’s SO GOOD.

    3. My husband is wonderful enough to read my manuscripts over and over, and yet still say things like: it’s surprising.

    4. I found a lovely agent. More later.

    5. Your interview with Adam Rex.

    6. The “Why You Need to Know Physics” video over at HipWriterMama. It took me right back to childhood and all the things we THOUGHT were great ideas. And you know, some of them were…if you can’t do this when you’re a teenager, you sure as hell can’t anytime after that.

    7. I nailed the approach shot to the 18th green, in the oncoming dusk, over water. I know that means nothing to you baseball fans…football fans…ping-pong fans…but it made me feel like Lorena Ochoa. (If you don’t know who she is, read the interview with her in Golf for Women magazine. Yeah, I dare you.) BTW, I wish she’d write a picture book…

    Ha! Just kidding!!!

  2. Sara, CONGRATS on the agent. That is excellent and probably a big relief, huh?

    I flippin’ love Eat, Pray, Love. It was one of the very, very first books I reviewed here at 7-Imp, if not the very first. Robin and I tried to get an interview with Elizabeth Gilbert. I have to say: It’s one of the few I haven’t been able to get. I tried and tried, though. I think she was just super busy or something; maybe we can try again later when she’s actually promoting something. (We were both going to interview her and cross-post it at both blogs).

    I need to go see HipWriterMama’s video. Sounds good.

    I LOVE seeing all these illustrator sketches, too. How nice of Julie, yes?

  3. p.s. Eisha, I haven’t even heard of Extras, since I’m way way way behind on All Things Entertainment since we had children . . . but, dude, I went to the web site you linked to, and I HAVE to see it, ’cause Ian McKellen’s a guest star.

  4. One reason for visiting each week is to see the incredible illustrations and find out about new books. This week is on the to buy list. Thanks. I agree the song with the Muppets could be a great theme song.
    My kicks:
    1. I overheard a mom of a fifth grader say that she was glad the teacher will let her daughter attend a different library class (she is in the talented and gifted and is gone her library day) because she didn’t want to miss “the neat projects in library.”
    2. I got a real pc instead of a fake pc at my desk (our district has given teachers Thin Clients at their workstations).
    3. Tomatoes from the garden.
    4.Receiving a poetry postcard. And now I am exchanging with someone new,
    5. “Schazam”: a caramel mousse on almond chocolate cake, wrapped as a package in dark bittersweet chocolate. Sinfully delicious.
    6. The new look in the library with new carpet and some re-arranging(will take photos and blog about it this week).
    7. Eat, love, pray is on our list for book club and I ordered Robin Brande’s book.
    Have a great week.

  5. Well you guys were responsible for two – two -two kicks in one with the great interviews with Mo (Ah, Mo) and Adam Rex. Otherwise:

    1. Getting that stubburn stump out and planting a tree. Whee!
    2. A last day of summer party at the pool. Mucho fun.
    3. A great first day of school where both girls loved their teachers and their class.
    4. Going back to work did not suck as much as I thought it would.
    5. Having the summer end did not suck as much as I thought it would.
    6. Getting more people on board for the Best Books of 2007 – So Far. Yeah!
    7. Seeing my pictures of Niagara Falls come out great. I even posted one of..wait for it..me and my family! I’m sure that onslaught of comments on this MR first will be overwhelming. ;^)

  6. Happy Sunday everyone!

    Those Julie Vivas illustrations are wonderful. I know very little about foreign writers/illustrators, so it’s a real treat to learn about someone I hadn’t heard of before. Thanks! Like Sara, I didn’t know about BB-Blog before. Very interesting. Like the muppet theme song idea too.

    My kicks:

    1. Picture book week right here at 7-Imps. Though I love loved the interviews with Mo and Adam Rex (that degree of creativity is awesome beyond belief), I am STILL partial to the bear books. :). Bears for me, through and through.

    2. Received a letter addressed to Tom Selleck in my mailbox the other day!! (I’m blogging about it tomorrow.) What a freakish surprise that beats getting a rejection letter any day.

    3. Met with my writers group after a month’s break, and learned that one of the members has finished her first novel!

    4. My husband’s cousin is done with her chemo and is planning a trip to Italy next month. A big relief for all concerned.

    5. Having 3 dead trees finally cut down on our property. They were a menace, and threatened to fall on our house with the next big storm.

    6. Aunt Jeanne visiting from Cape Cod.

    7. Chocolate waffles with raspberry sauce and a touch of whipped cream.

  7. Sara, Congrats on the agent! I’m glad you liked the video. Isn’t it wild? In case anyone wants to view this…

    Jules, I love that Sesame Street video! Nothing like a little R.E.M and B-52’s.

    Eisha, oh that Extras footage is too funny. I am so out of the loop with tv or movies, but need to find this.

    My kicks:
    1. A publisher sent me a book out of the blue, and I really like it. Pretty cool, but I’m wondering how they got my address.
    2. Finally, cool weather again.
    3. Two kids started school this week, and my youngest starts preschool next week.
    4. New haircut, and I can style it so it looks good. No hairstylist required.
    5. Bloggers are posting more regularly, so I have more more reading material to goof off research.
    6. My little one calls me her best friend.
    7. Sinful chocolate brownies with chocolate chunks melted just right. A la mode.

    Have a great week!

  8. Hi, Jules, Eisha and other readers! I’ve been having a rough couple of weeks emotionally, but things are starting to look up. It’s not that events themselves are getting better, but I’m getting a better handle on things. These gorgeous, sunny, cool September days help a lot– the rainy season hasn’t started yet (it usually starts around Labor Day weekend and lasts until May), so I’m getting my daily allottment of Vitamin D the natural way.

    7 Kicks
    1) After our playground cleanup today, Recess Monkey is going to play a concert.

    2) I’m getting enthusiastic responses to my Spinning Wheel interview series with performers (though I really hope that I get more responses from performers who aren’t white and male– so far the performers are pretty top-heavy in that category)

    3) I’m starting to see results from exercise now that I’m using the treadmill for 60 minutes at a time.

    4) I’ve been rereading Elizabeth Goudge’s novels, and they’re always a comfort.

    5) My husband made lamb souvlaki for the first time– yum yum.

    6) My daughter’s school starts up next week.

    7) Knuffle Bunny Too!

  9. Hey everyone.

    Sara, I think you were one of the people who raved about The White Darkness until I had to read it. So thank you.

    Jone, how awesome that kids don’t want to miss out on your projects!

    MotherReader, that IS a good pic of you and the family at Niagra Falls. I’m glad you’re all transitioning in to fall so unsuckily.

    Jama, is there something about you and Tom Selleck you’re not telling us? Hmm? And ooh, those waffles.

    Vivian, I agree – I am so over the heat. And ooh, those brownies.

    Akelda, you are amazing. 60 min. on a treadmill??? Yeesh. And I’m glad you’re feeling better about things – I hope events start turning around for you too.

  10. I feel all sobered reading again about the death of Grace Lin’s husband. I know exactly how awful that is, and I feel for her in a big way.

    Picture Book week was awesome, btw. All of these theme weeks have inspired me to attempt a themed week of my own starting tomorrow. We’ll see how I do.

    Eisha, I love Extras. I haven’t watched disc 2 of season 2 yet because, like a fool, I promised a friend I’d watch it with him. Every day I am sorely tempted to break my promise. Jules, you simply must watch it. The eps. are, at least, short, and there are sadly few of them, which, on the bright side, will make them easier to fit in to a busy schedule.

    Alkelda, An hour on the treadmill? You ROCK ON, woman!!! That’s dedication and so good for you. 🙂

    My kicks:
    1. The first time my car died this week, it only took fifteen minutes for the tow truck to show up.
    2. The car also died in front of one of my favorite coffee shops in the city, so I was like, “Well, okay, if I HAVE to get a latte and a cookie….”
    3. The second time my car died this week, it only took five minutes for the tow truck to show up.
    4. This time, the car died on a bright, sunny morning, and it took my ride about 20 minutes to show up after the car was towed, so I sat on the grass in the sun and read a book. That didn’t suck.
    5. I have this theory that if my car dies again, the trend would indicate that the tow truck would arrive *before* my car breaks down, which makes me feel secure.
    6. Tomatoes, specifically these little bitty yellow and orange ones I’ve been getting at the farmer’s market. My primary for recipe for eating them is to wash them, dump them in a towel, and eat them in the manner one might eat bon-bons.
    7. The True Meaning of Smekday, which I am not done with, which is part of why it is, currently, such a kick. So funny.

  11. Add-on kick: I’m at the library today, and a girl just asked me for Weasel by Cynthia DeFelice. When I handed it to her, she began singing: “I’m gonna get ahead of my teach-er! I’m gonna get ahead of my teach-er!” (Please imagine emphasis on the “er” in “teacher.”) Moments like that are why I come to work.

  12. adrienne, i know. jules, you have to see it. the first episode, with kate winslet, made me laugh the hardest so far, but daniel radcliffe and patrick stewart are close behind.

    and, adrienne, maybe you can ride this kismet-wave with your car to the point that it will already have traded itself in for a less-die-prone one when you walk out the door one morning.

  13. Hi, everyone . . .

    Jone, that is really great about that compliment you got/overhead. Rock on. And is that dessert, which made me DROOL on my desk, actually called a “schazam”?

    MotherReader, is there still time to do my Best Books Thus Far list? Hope so. That family pic is great.

    Jama, drooling again re those waffles, but hey, my girls and I made chocolate chip waffles for my husband’s birthday this morning — with blueberries and syrup and yogurt-with-honey draped on top.

    And what’s this story on Tom Selleck? Will have to tune in tomorrow at your blawg.

    And glad you liked those bear books.

    Vivian, drool again re those chocolate brownies. I hope school starts out well for all the kids.

    Alkelda, I’m glad you’re feeling better. I hear ya on the white male comments about your interview series. I realized that our featured illustrators here on Sundays (and interviews, too, for that matter) have been heavy on the white males, too. Gotta fix that, really. Not to sound all token-y, but, well . . . I don’t even know how it happened.

    Great job on the exercise, too!

    Adrienne, your car kicks made me laugh out loud. Way to look on the bright side. And, as far as Grace’s loss goes, there might — just might — be a way we bloggers can help out. More on that to come this week, I hope.

  14. There is still time to do the Best Books of 2007- So Far. In fact, I’ll be doing my own next week and probably rounding them up at the end of the week – or beginning of next. I like to keep these thing flexible once the school year starts up again.

  15. Jules, yes it is really called a “schazam”. Me thinks I need to get a photo and write more about it. Totally devine. Wait a minute. I am back. You can go here to drool: http://www.pixpatisserie.com/collections/desserts/

  16. OHMIGOD. Jone. Seriously. That looks incredible.

  17. I’m happy to be back with my 7 kicks after a couple of weekends away sans Internet access. I missed you guys! Let’s see, kicks:

    1. I wrote 7 book reviews this weekend, after a deplorable hiatus. I can’t say that I’m caught up, but I’m feeling a lot less guilty. And I had nice feedback from a couple of the authors.
    2. Mheir and I bought many lovely wines on our trip to Napa last weekend/early this week.
    3. The best part of the wine trip was a tour at a place called Hendry, where the owner showed us everything from how they plant to how they pick to how the wine is made. So fun! (Though sadly, I didn’t make it to Kris’ parents’ winery, which I regretfully learned is not open on Mondays.)
    4. I finally read Eclipse, and I thought that it was great.
    5. I have four whole weeks coming up during which I (unless something comes up) will not have to get on a plane. This is far and away the longest all year, and I’m so so so grateful. (Incidentally, J&E, this means that I’ll have time for that tri-review…)
    6. The Cybils are starting up again.
    7. I’ve been learning more about what it means to be an introvert, and having some great e-discussions with people about. It’s helping me to understand quirks to my personality that were always a bit mysterious before.

    Have a great week, all!

  18. Oh, yeah, that tri-review. I think that ball’s been in my court for over a week now, but when my internet connection was being flaky I dropped it. I’ll get right on that! And I’m so glad you get to stay home for a bit – if you’re an introvert, it must be hard to be on the road so much. The winery tours sound fab, though.

  19. 1. Last Saturday: Performing to a sold-out crowd.
    2. Last Sunday: The closing performance of that play.
    3. Monday: Day OFF,
    4. All week, daytime: Work. Successful start to September.
    5. All week, nighttime: Rehearsals. Amazing. Also submitting myself for various projects and getting some exciting responses. Oh, and I wrote a little backstage between scenes.
    6. Thursday: My birthday. After work, I celebrated with friends in my own low-key way, and I thanked them a million times for caring enough to do something, with special thanks to the person who played hostess for the evening.
    7. This weekend: Rehearsals. I also auditioned for something on Saturday morning. Crossed fingers and toes.

    We open in two weeks. I’m sorry if it consumes my 7 Kicks here every week, but really, remember three months ago when my list read, “Worked, slept, thought, cried, cleaned, read, repeated”?

  20. Jone, yum again. Thanks for that. I covet it.

    Jen, congrats on some upcoming home-time!!

    Little Willow, HAPPY FREAKING BIRTHDAY!!!! (a bit late). Break legs at all performances!

  21. I should have mentioned this yesterday, but I wonder if anyone else has seen this picture book — The Forever Dog by Bill Cochran and illustrated by Dan Andreasen. Was published in April of this year by HarperCollins. Nothing beats Cynthia Rylant’s Dog Heaven in my book for this losing-a-dog subject matter, but this title is way more child-friendly, as in it’s straight up about a boy who loses his dog. It’s handled well, not too treacly, very sensitively done. I like Andreasen’s art work.

    (Obviously, the subject matter — or part of it — of Samsara Dog made me think of this) . . .

  22. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LITTLE WILLOW!!!!! I’m singing to you Marilyn Monroe-style right now.

  23. Little Willow, Happy birthday! And yay to everything that’s going along so well. It’s wonderful to hear about!

    Jules, The Forever Dog made me cry in my office at work. I thought it was really well done; it didn’t feel at all emotionally manipulative, which is hard to pull off in a book like this. I like the way the main character (forgot his name) gets good and believably angry over his dog’s death. I haven’t seen that aspect of grief handled so well in other books on the subject, and it’s something I absolutely relate to.


    The Broccoli Tapes (juvenile fiction – great book, you should all read it, except for the sad part) was enough, people.

    Jules: There’s a greeting card depicting a crazy ostrich with that exact sentiment typed inside. 🙂

    eisha: Nicely done, Norma Jean.

    Adrienne: Thank you!! I’m listening to the soundtrack for the aksjhiu9712897th time right now.

  25. […] Vivas has perfectly captured the warmth and sentimentof this…story.” – Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast Leave a Comment » Related Topics: Buddhist Spirituality, Children’s Spirituality, General […]

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