Archive for December, 2009

One Impossibly Crazy
2009 7-Imp Retrospective Before Breakfast

h1 Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Early this year, I did a 2008 7-Imp retrospective post — merely because, evidently, I’m crazy. (These things take a bit of time to compose.) I decided this week to write what you see here, yet another retrospective post — this one for 2009, of course.

I don’t know why I do this. I find it strangely beguiling is all I can say. Yes, I looked forward to drafting this post. I’m a sucker at the end of every year for those retrospective round-ups and best-of lists of all sorts that one sees everywhere—both online and in print—about entertainment and literature and politics and on and on. (And, now that it’s the end of a decade, my head’s about to explode with all the looking-back-on-the-naughts lists.)

{As but one example: Ooo! Ooo! This at 100 Scope Notes is fun.}

So, what can I say? It’s my warped idea of fun. It’s tidy fun.

This spiffy and sinister gentleman here, introducing this year’s retrospective, which highlights some of the folks who have visited 7-Imp this year, is Alfred. He came to life as a sketch at the hands of author/illustrator Matt Phelan. After I interviewed Matt in September of this year, he gave Alfred permission to pack his bags and take up permanent residence at 7-Imp and introduce the Pivot Questionnaire for each interview. It seemed only fitting that he’d usher us into this post. My, he’s serious about this retrospective, isn’t he?

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A Moment with Mr. Frost

h1 Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

“The boy ran outside and saw a white figure covering his house with frost and ice.”
(Click to enlarge spread.)

A quick post this morning to say a) I’m still here and b) have you seen Kazuno Kohara’s Here Comes Jack Frost (Roaring Brook Press, October 2009)? Publishers Weekly called it a “sparkling winter treat,” Kirkus called Kohara’s prints “gorgeous,” and School Library Journal called this “a beautiful piece of bookmaking.” I don’t have a copy in hand to elaborate on the book or Kohara’s medium-of-choice (though, clearly, these are prints), but I did manage to secure one beautiful blue spread to share with you today to showcase the book’s sharp design. And I have read a copy. Good stuff. Great art. If you saw Kohara’s Ghosts in the House! from ’08, you know what a treat you’re in for with her printmaking. Here Comes Jack Frost is a celebration of winter and its many joys, as a boy’s winter blues are erased with a visit from the elfin Mr. Frost himself.

I’ll be back later this week with a post I think might be quite fun. Until then…and Happy-New-Year week to all!

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HERE COMES JACK FROST. Copyright © 2009 by Kazuno Kohara. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Roaring Brook Press, New York, NY.

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #147: Featuring
Sebastian Meschenmoser

h1 Sunday, December 27th, 2009

This squirrel here looks a lot like how I feel about now, post-holidays. And I didn’t even have that much eggnog. The holidays can get just crazy, you know? It is Sunday, right? I’m not even sure what day it is anymore.

Anyway, happy holidays to all, and I hope everyone had a joy-filled, dysfunction-free holiday, indeed. For the VERY LAST kicks-post of this year (this decade, in fact), I’m sharing some spreads from one of my favorite—if not, my very favorite—picture books of 2009, Waiting for Winter by German author/illustrator Sebastian Meschenmoser. Heaven bless Kane/Miller — for many reasons, actually, but in this case, for bringing us the first American edition of this title in June of this year, having originally been published in Germany in 2007. Read the rest of this entry �

The Peace That Was Meant to Be

h1 Monday, December 21st, 2009

I’m saying adieu for the week to 7-Imp. I’ll be back on Sunday for a) some kicks and b) some illustrations from one of my top-five favorite picture books of 2009. So, to sign off for the week and wish you all happy holidays, I’ve got some brightly-colored spreads from one of David Díaz’s illustrated titles from ’09, Let There Be Peace on Earth: And Let It Begin with Me (Tricycle Press; September 2009), a picture book adaptation of Jill Jackson’s and Sy Miller’s popular 1955 ballad. (The book, incidentally, comes with a twelve-song CD of various folks who have recorded the song over the years, a fun fact for you fans of the ballad.)

Happy holidays to all. Here’s to the notion of taking each moment and living it in peace, as Jackson and Miller wrote about…See you on Sunday, I hope!

{Here are two more of Díaz’s radiant, joy-filled spreads. Click to enlarge, if you’re so inclined. Enjoy.}

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LET THERE BE PEACE ON EARTH: AND LET IT BEGIN WITH ME. Text copyright © 1955 by Jill Jackson and Sy Miller. Illustrations copyright © 2009 by David Díaz. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Tricycle Press, Berkeley, California.

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #146: Featuring Richard Scarry, Matt Tavares, Petr Horáček, and Gail De Marcken

h1 Sunday, December 20th, 2009

Welcome to 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks, 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.

This week, as a gift to you, I’ve got a little round-up of some holiday art. Okay, well, I say “holiday,” but this week it happens to be all Christmas in nature.

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Poetry Friday: Mary

h1 Friday, December 18th, 2009

Mary, depicted as Our Lady of GuadalupeA friend who made me a holiday mix CD put a version of Patty Griffin’s “Mary” on it, sung live with Shawn Colvin, and I was very pleased to hear it. It’s one of my favorite songs in all the universe, and it’d been a while since I’d heard it. I’ve been listening all week and wanted to share it today in this brief Poetry Friday entry.

This is a song about Griffin’s grandmother (or so I’ve read, or maybe heard, since—as Eisha can tell you—I like to rub it in how many times I’ve seen Patty Griffin live, mwahaha). It’s also about the Mary, and it’s a song that ran (happily and constantly) through my head during my honeymoon stay in Rome and Florence almost ten years ago, having seen a lot of early Medieval art depicting the Virgin Mary. I’m a Big Sap: This song makes me well up every time I hear it. I mean, EVERY time. To me, it’s many things — but primarily a nod to the complicated art of motherhood. I don’t know what defines a mother better than Patty’s line “and always you stay.” (That brings to mind this from Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees, which I’ve shared before: “Walking to the honey house, I concentrated on my feet touching down on the hard-caked dirt in the driveway, the exposed tree roots, fresh-watered grass, how the earth felt beneath me, solid, alive, ancient, right there every time my foot came down. There and there and there, always there. The things a mother should be.”)

Here she is performing it live with Natalie Maines. (I know little to nothing about Maines, but this is the best live video version out there, and she does a fine job of singing back-up harmony here.)

Some of the lyrics: Read the rest of this entry �

A Quick Visit with Mini Grey (Including an Exclusive American Sneak Peek—I think so anyway—of Jim)

h1 Thursday, December 17th, 2009

(Click to enlarge.)

It seems hardly anyone is around now, and folks are very busy this time of year, but I’m here once again this week, for whomever might be lurking, to check in with British author/illustrator—and one of my Most Favorites Ever—Mini Grey. Mini visited 7-Imp in October of last year, and I’ve been following her book releases this year as well. First off in 2009, there was Egg Drop, released by Knopf Books for Young Readers in July and originally published in Great Britain in 2002. In fact, as you’ll see below, it was Mini’s first picture book release. More on that in a sec.

Let’s start with her very most recent illustrated title, not even out in the States yet, Hilaire Belloc’s classic cautionary tale of a poem, originally written in 1907, Jim (Who Ran Away from His Nurse and Was Eaten by a Lion). It was released in October of this year in the UK by Jonathan Cape/Random House, and I’ve actually got a copy in hand, though it’s not available here on this side of the pond, as they say.

As you can see on the cover there, you’ve been warned: “Contains a dangerous beast and a miserable end.” If this book had existed when Adrienne Furness and I composed our “Straight Talk About the Food Chain” / Slightly Demented Picture Books post, also one of my Most Favorites Ever, boy howdy and howdy boy, this would have been at the top of our protagonists-getting-eaten list. As Adrienne said in that post, cautionary tales make great sense to kids, though some parents often get squirmy over the violence. This very tongue-in-cheek, black-humored poem, as you can read here in its entirety, is one of Belloc’s no-holds-barred humorous cautionary tales. (Think Roald Dahl for tone.) He wrote many, which were later illustrated by Edward Gorey, and they were said to be intended for children — but most appreciated, in all their satire, by the grown-ups around them.

Mini seems to have delighted in illustrating the classic poem, and she doesn’t hold back. See what I mean? (Click to enlarge each spread.)

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Checking in with Lauren Castillo and Leslie Evans

h1 Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

For the past several weeks, I’ve been highlighting the recent work of folks whose work has been featured previously at the blog — either in some kind of feature or interview. They happened to all be men, and so I determined to shine the spotlight on some women. Since it’s so close to the holidays and I’m generally disorganized, I don’t have as many women lined up here: In fact, I’ve got Lauren Castillo and Leslie Evans today, and I hope to bring you some work from the delightfully subversive and always surprising Mini Grey very soon. And that’s it. But perhaps this is something I can continue in the new year.

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Fieldnote #1 by Steven Withrow —
Susan M. Sherman: Connecting
Backwards and Forwards

h1 Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

{Quick Note from Jules Here and I Mean Quick Because I Don’t Intend to Run My Mouth Before Each of Steven’s Interviews: For those 7-Imp readers who missed this recent announcement, writer and researcher and teacher and editor and producer/film-maker and poet (whew again) Steven Withrow will be contributing one interview every month to 7-Imp. He’ll be featuring a children’s publishing professional, or an expert from a related area, who is not primarily known as an author or illustrator—a publisher, editor, agent, art director, designer, critic, scholar, professor, librarian, bookseller, printer, marketer, museum curator, etc. (Suggestions are always welcome, he says.) I’m delighted. I think we’re all going to learn a lot, and all I had to do was format this interview! Yup, it’s all Steven. And I really enjoyed reading it. I’ll see you all soon. Until then, here’s Steven, and I thank both him and Susan for the visit…}

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Susan M. ShermanWelcome, Susan Sherman, to 7-Imp. Susan has been designing children’s books since 1977. Currently, she is art director at Charlesbridge Publishing in Watertown, Massachusetts. Over the years, she has been art director of children’s trade books at Houghton Mifflin and creative director at Little, Brown and Company. She also has her own graphic design business, Ars Agassiz.

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Book Deal!; Or, What I’ve Been Doing All Fall

h1 Monday, December 14th, 2009


First of all, Adam Rex made that image. I love it so much that I want to take it to the Peppermint Prom. But more on that at the post’s close.

Well, okay, so Sam-I-Am’s superstar friend isn’t really penning a tell-all book, but I am happy to share this morning that Elizabeth Bird of A Fuse #8 Production, Peter D. Sieruta of Collecting Children’s Books, and I up and landed ourselves a book deal last week — with lots of help from our agent, the valiant Mr. Stephen Barbara, and after lots of hard work and wordsmithing this Fall in creating the proposal. We got this good news last week but wanted to coordinate today’s posts about it at our respective blogs: You’ll see at Betsy’s blog (via a very enlightening infomercial) and Peter’s blog today that they’re announcing it as well.

We’re happy to say that Candlewick will be publishing the book, and we’ll be working with Associate Publisher & Editorial Director Liz Bicknell. We couldn’t be more pleased and feel like Liz is the perfect fit for our book. (And I’m really looking forward to writing more with Betsy and Peter. I’d write an auto repair manual with the two of them. To say I’m happy Betsy contacted us last summer and said, “hey, let’s write a book!” is the year’s biggest understatement.)

Now, to tell you a bit about the book (straight from our proposal itself): Tentatively titled Wild Things! : The True, Untold Stories Behind the Most Beloved Children’s Books and Their Creators, it will look at the world of children’s lit, past and present, and examine some of its untold tales — with humor, celebration, respect, occasional irreverence, and always great affection for the field. Read the rest of this entry �