Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut

h1 November 2nd, 2017    by jules

“When it’s your turn in the chair, you stand at attention and forget about
who you were when you walked through that door.”

(Click to enlarge spread)

I’m following up my Kirkus Q&A last week with the author and illustrator of Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut (Denene Millner Books/Bolden/Agate Publishing, October 2017), Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James, with some spreads from the book today.


Read the rest of this entry »

My Chapter 16 Q&A with Rebecca Green

h1 November 1st, 2017    by jules

I’ve got a post over at Tennessee’s Chapter 16 with local (to me) illustrator Rebecca Green, pictured here.

Her debut picture book, How to Make Friends with a Ghost, was released earlier this year. In fact, I featured some of her artwork here at 7-Imp in August, but her picture book is a particularly good Halloween read.

And, hey, it’s still Halloween week.

The Q&A is here.




Happy Halloween from 7-Imp!

h1 October 31st, 2017    by jules


This wonderful image is from illustrator Chuck Groenink. He posted it on Instagram yesterday (“Felt like drawing something new for Halloween,” he wrote) and gave me permission to share it here at 7-Imp today.

Hope you get all your favorite candy when trick-or-treating. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll run into these creatures in the forest.

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #558: Featuring Maya Christina Gonzalez

h1 October 29th, 2017    by jules

“… cuando conozco a alguien / me sonrojo tímido como / Marte en martes /
when I meet someone new / I turn red like Mars / on Tuesday …”

(Click to enlarge spread)

If you’re having trouble waking up this morning, today’s illustrations from Maya Christina Gonzalez might just do the trick. I’ve got here today some of her bright, vivid artwork for Francisco X. Alarcón’s Family Poems for Every Day of the Week / Poemas familiares para cada dia de la semana (Children’s Book Press / Lee & Low Books, October 2017).

These are poems, published posthumously (the award-winning Alarcón died last year), celebrating family and community for each day of the week. Evidently, the entries are based on Alarcón’s own childhood experiences with his family. Each entry is published in both Spanish and English, including the fascinating opening author’s note about the days of the week and how their names came about. The book’s playful font and typography keep readers on their toes, and the poems strike various tones. “I can barely open / the shut oysters / of my sleep eyes” on Mondays, Alarcón writes, yet Saturdays are joyous: “I feel thrilled and free / like a hummingbird / in the Garden of Eden.”

Read the rest of this entry »

What I’m Doing at Kirkus Today

h1 October 27th, 2017    by jules


I’ve a graphic novel round-up at Kirkus today, which includes the book pictured above.

That is here. I’ll have art from each book here at 7-Imp next week.

Until Sunday . . .

My Kirkus Q&A with Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James

h1 October 26th, 2017    by jules

It feels good when I receive messages from mothers, teachers, librarians, and grandmothers, who have said that Crown has moved them and their children. It has filled them with pride and speaks directly to their soul.
That’s exactly why we do what we do. I want to create a body of work
that will stay with readers for a long time.”


Today over at Kirkus, I talk to author Derrick Barnes, pictured above left and quoted above, and illustrator Gordon C. James, pictured right, about their debut picture book, Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut (Denene Millner Books/Bolden/Agate Publishing, October 2017).

That is here.

* * * * * * *

Photo of Derrick Barnes by Victoria Blackshear. Photo of Gordon C. James is courtesy of the illustrator.

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #557:
Featuring Natalia and Lauren O’Hara

h1 October 22nd, 2017    by jules

Today, I’ve an original, modern fairy tale for you, dear Imps. I’m featuring a story the creators, sisters Natalia and Lauren O’Hara, describe as “a dark fairy tale, inspired by the stories our Polish grandma told on snowy nights.” Hortense and the Shadow (Little, Brown) will be on shelves early next month.

The protagonist of this lyrical, atmospheric tale (which I think would make Florence Parry Heide proud) is a young girl named Hortense (I love this), and she lives “through the dark and wolfish woods” and “the white and silent snow.” Hortense is kind and brave, but she’s also sad and, to be precise about it, quite frustrated — because she would like to be sans shadow. Everywhere she goes, her shadow goes, “tall and dark and crooked,” and she’s weary of it. She even figures that her shadow hates her too. One day, she manages to cleave her shadow via slamming down the sash of a window. The shadow puts up a fight but eventually wanders off in the dusk. Read the rest of this entry »

Snooping Out Stories with Jack

h1 October 20th, 2017    by jules

All of us should assume that young writers know the particulars of their world better than we know their world.”


Today over at Kirkus, I’ve a chat with award-winning author Jack Gantos about his wonderful new book for upper elementary and middle-grade students, Writing Radar: Using Your Journal to Snoop Out and Craft Great Stories (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, August 2017).

That is here.

* * * * * * *

Photo above of Jack at the 2017 Eric Carle Honors was taken by Johnny Wolf Photography.

What I Did at Kirkus Last Week,
Featuring Mehrdokht Amini, Xu Bing,
Manon Gauthier, and Sandra van Doorn

h1 October 19th, 2017    by jules

“It was late at night. A noise had woken Anyaugo. …”
— From Nnedi Okorafor’s
Chicken in the Kitchen, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini
(Click to enlarge spread)


“”The only thing they didn’t lose was each other.”
— From Nansubuga Nagadya Isdahl’s
Sleep Well, Siba & Siba,
illustrated by Sandra van Doorn

(Click to enlarge spread)


— From Xu Bing’s Look! What Do You See?:
An Art Puzzle Book of American & Chinese Songs,
illustrated by Becca Stadtlander

(Click to enlarge spread)


“When he went fishing with his middle-sized fishing rod, he managed to catch the most middle-sized fish in the lake, which he put into his middle-sized basket.”
— From Susanna Isern’s
Middle Bear, illustrated by Manon Gauthier
(Click to enlarge spread)

Last week, I wrote here at Kirkus about new picture books with an international flair, including Nnedi Okorafor’s Chicken in the Kitchen (Lantana, September 2017), illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini; Xu Bing’s Look! What Do You See?: An Art Puzzle Book of American & Chinese Songs (Viking, November 2017), illustrated by Becca Stadtlander; Nansubuga Nagadya Isdahl’s Sleep Well, Siba & Saba (Lantana, October 2017), illustrated by Sandra van Doorn; and Susanna Isern’s Middle Bear (Kids Can Press, October 2017), illustrated by Manon Gauthier.

I’m following up today with some art from each book.


Read the rest of this entry »

A Bit of Lumberjanes Art . . .

h1 October 19th, 2017    by jules

“Barney was supersmart, with a thick swish of black hair that stuck straight up and out like the brim of a baseball cap. April thought Barney was a dapper dresser, which is not an easy thing to be when you wear a khaki Lumberjanes uniform every day. Barney was one of the only scouts who wore their uniform every day, because they liked the crispness of the uniform shirt, and the buttons and the kerchief.”

Here’s a bit of art from Brooklyn Allen to follow up my Kirkus Q&A last week with Mariko Tamaki about Lumerjanes: Unicorn Power! (Amulet, October 2017).


Read the rest of this entry »