About the Blog (click here)
to Mr. Friesen.
“Some people are born to make great art and others are born to appreciate it. Don’t you think? It is a kind of talent in itself, to be an audience, whether you are the spectator in the gallery or you are listening to the voice of the world’s greatest soprano. Not everyone can be the artist. There have to be those who witness the art,
who love and appreciate what they have been privileged to see.”
– from Bel Canto, Ann Patchett
Pictured above are Jules and Eisha, circa 1997, the co-founders of this blog, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, or—if you’re in a hurry—”7-Imp.” Our vision for this blog, founded in August 2006, was pretty simple: We planned to talk about the books we read. And we did. We read lots of different kinds of books: picture books for toddlers, memoirs, young adult fiction, graphic novels, Man Booker Prize-winning high-art metafiction, whatever. And we wrote about them, whenever we could, in the hopes that we could a) let you, the reader, know about a book that you might like to read, too, and b) inspire discussion about said books.
In 2009, Eisha decided to officially back out of the blog. As you can see here, her career path simply shifted (though we admit we joked about staging a fake fight and making it look like she was storming out). I (Jules, that is, pictured here) miss her, but we still keep in touch. AS IF we wouldn’t. She and I have been best friends for as long as that picture up there is old. Longer, actually.
So, now I run this joint alone and have since ‘09. Even before Eisha officially backed out of 7-Imp, my focus shifted slightly. For different reasons, I primarily post about illustration — picture books and illustrated novels. I simply couldn’t keep up with blogging about novels I’d read, though I still read them. I now leave the blogging about novels to the numerous other bloggers who are way better at it than I — unless, like I said, there are illustrations involved, in which case my interest will be piqued.
I don’t even consider 7-Imp a “review” blog anymore. I’d like to think of it as a sort of literary salon where authors and illustrators stop by, after getting a cup of cyber-coffee, to share their craft — and where illustrators wake us up with art.
April 2012. I love it so much I want to hug its neck.
Plus, very simply, I’m an Illustration Junkie and must feed my habit. Should the blog’s header now say, “Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a blog about illustration”? Perhaps. But I’m too sentimental to change it.
So, that’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.
And… because sometimes I sense confusion on this subject, let me be clear that I don’t get paid to blog here at 7-Imp. I do write weekly columns over at Kirkus Reviews, for which I get compensated by Kirkus, but here at 7-Imp? No one sponsors me, and no one pays me a red cent. Entirely a labor of love, as they say. These are simply the ramblings of a serious nerd who can’t help but talk about children’s lit.
And the blue monster pictured here? That’s 7-Imp! He is one of the monsters from Tammi Sauer’s and Scott Magoon’s picture book Mostly Monsterly, published in Fall 2010. In this roundtable discussion, Scott told me and my 7-Imp readers that, while he worked on the book, he had named that little guy “7-Imp.” I found it inordinately exciting that the blog went down in picture book history like that, even if his name doesn’t actually appear in the book. Thus, I declared that little impish delight from the Monster Academy the new 7-Imp mascot. Looks like he’s happy about being here.
Keep in mind: I am a grown-up, and even though I post about books for children, the blog posts are written with fellow grown-ups in mind. If a kid or teen happens upon this blog and is actually interested enough to read some posts and thus finds out about a book that s/he might like, then that’s fabulous. But be forewarned: I might occasionally use—and interviewees may mutter—language that concerned proactive parenty-types might not want their kids to read. I don’t talk trash on a regular basis, to be clear, but just making sure I say that. I do send The Pivot Questionnaire to interviewees after all, and one (optional) question is: What is your favorite curse word? (Some people answer with things like “rats” or “flumdiddle,” but others have more colorful words.)
“Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast” is a reference to Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass. In chapter V: “Wool and Water,” Alice meets the White Queen, who informs Alice that her age is
“…one hundred and one, five months and a day.”
“I can’t believe that!” said Alice.
“Can’t you?” the Queen said in a pitying tone. “Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.”
Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said: “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
This quote seemed perfect for the blog for a couple of reasons. First, the idea of deliberately believing impossible things is a pretty great description of what a fiction-lover does when s/he opens a book. And second, the Alice books are a great talisman for this blog, because they’re read and loved by children and adults alike. Since we, as co-founders of this blog, read and loved children’s and adult literature indiscriminately, it seemed fitting to make reference to a crossover classic, particularly one that had such a huge influence on both of our early literary lives.
Sadly, “Six Impossible Things…” had already been used pretty heavily in Web World. It was even in use as the title for a book-review blog already. And “Twelve Impossible Things” — since there were two of us — has already been used by Jane Yolen in one of her titles. And besides, we were both kind of busy when we brainstormed the blog’s name, so “twelve” was probably too ambitious anyway. So, we compromised on “Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast — why stop at six?”
In 2007, after an illustrator donated to 7-Imp an image created specifically for the blog, I decided it’d be fun to “collect” various Mad Tea Party images and customize each page of the blog by placing them in the blog’s headers. The blog’s main page will always have the classic Tenniel. But other Mad Tea Party images grace the blog, many of them those that were created specifically for 7-Imp, such as the one atop this page. Visit this page for more information on the Mad Tea Party collection.
Mark Crilley and placed on this page.
Yes, I know that, generally speaking, author and illustrator interviews are not considered the highest form of literary analysis yadadayadadayadadaya and etc. etc. etc.
But I love to do ‘em. I love to hear my favorite illustrators and authors talk about their craft. Here is a comphrehensive list of 7-Imp author interviews (that page needs some serious updating, but I’ll get to it one day), and here’s a page in which you can learn all about the illustrators interviewed and/or spotlighted here. I am always adding interviews to these lists.
Occasionally, Italian blogger Cristiana Clerici at the wonderful Tea Box (where she posts in English, Italian, and French) contributes posts about international picture books — whenever the mood strikes her and her schedule allows it, that is. You can read more about that and Cristiana here.
The spiffy and slightly sinister gentleman pictured left is Alfred. He was created by Matt Phelan, and he made his 7-Imp premiere in mid-September. Matt told Alfred to just pack his bags and live at 7-Imp forever and always introduce the Pivot Questionnaire in each interview. Alfred makes good, strong coffee. And tells wicked funny knock-knock jokes in a low voice. I like him.
What in the what the?
7-Imp’s 7 Kicks (click here for archives) is a weekly feature in which I meet (and Eisha and I both used to meet) with 7-Imp readers every Sunday to list 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. It all began here when I was reading The Book Thief, was wow’ed by an excerpt, wanted to share it, and then did so — along with six other great things that happened to me that week that I took the time to notice. In May of ‘07, I started featuring an illustration or two each week (see a list of them here) from a favorite illustrator along with kicks.
Folks from all over come visit and leave their kicks every Sunday — everything from my teenage son told me he loved me today to my geraniums are blooming to I got a new job to I got this great new CD to check out this book I read. At the risk of sounding like an overly-cheery, jazz-hands motivational speaker who lives in a van down by the river, the Sunday kicks are truly wonderful little exercises in gratitude, which we all need in this bizarro world, yes? It’s the only time at the blog in which I’m not talking only about books, but I promise not to get insufferably confessional on anyone.
And now, on the first Sunday of each month, I feature a student illustrator, a newly-graduated illustrator, or an illustrator otherwise in some way new to the field. Just ’cause. It’s fun to look at those kickin’ illustrators of the future and see what they have to offer.
In summary, kicks kind of make you feel like this below, even if you’re not wearing a tutu on your head. ‘Nough said.
Illustration here used with permission of illustrator.)
“Help! I’m in a nutshell! How did I get into this bloody great big nutshell? What kind of shell has a nut like this?”
(Oh, wait. That’s not the kind of nutshell I meant. Fifth-grade moment.)
At the end of the year, I like to do 7-Imp recaps — to see who has visited and what illustrations we saw during the calendar year. My first one was in 2008. These recaps can give one a good sense of what I do here at the site:
- 2012’s retrospective
- 2011’s retrospective
- 2010’s retrospective
- 2009’s retrospective
- 2008’s retrospective
When launching the blog in ‘06, one reason we chose WordPress is because it allowed us to categorize our posts, and then anyone who cares to can search by category. So, naturally, we decided to categorize by the types of books we were reading — Picture Books; Middle-Age Fiction; Young Adult (YA); Adult Fiction; and, Adult Non-Fiction. If your main interest is, say, Young Adult books, you can click on that category to see posts about them.
Needless to say, since my focus has shifted in the past couple of years, you’re going to see more posts under “Picture Books” and “Interviews.” But, for what it’s worth, I leave all the categories up.
Publishers, authors, and illustrators, read here.
As a librarian, I try to pay attention to things like copyright law. I use book cover images and brief quotations from books in my posts, because I believe that such sampling from copyrighted works constitutes Fair Use. However, if you, as a copyright holder, feel that your rights to the work have been violated, please email me at “seventhings *at* blaine *dot* org” . . . I will remove the protected content.
And, as of 2009, I now use copyright lines when I post interior spreads from a book.
And, yes, we did check when we first co-founded the blog: Sir John Tenniel’s illustrations for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland are public domain in the U.S., according to Project Gutenberg.
Oh, and did I mention that my opinions are my own and that this blog is not affiliated with anyone I might happen to work for? Consider it mentioned.
Please visit this page of the site.
I hope you enjoy the blog.
– Julie Danielson (”Jules”); Smyrna, Tennessee