Archive for January, 2010

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #152: Featuring David Walker

h1 Sunday, January 31st, 2010

“Four happy bears / on four small chairs. / Not a bear / has to share.”

It’s time to take a Sunday once again to appreciate those illustrators who can entertain the youngest of children through picture books without also inducing headaches, brought on by excessive cuteness, in those adults reading the illustrated titles to said children. This is a balancing act, I would think, a tough thing to pull off. David Walker can do it.

Last August, Candlewick released a picture book by Shirley Parenteau, with illustrations by Walker, called Bears on Chairs. This book is a little gem is what it is. If you have a preschooler, or work with them, and you want a picture book that’s going to draw them like a magnet with its rhyming (“Parenteau’s rhythm and rhyme never falter,” wrote Kirkus), fun, accessible text and its soft, warm images, this is the book for you. My own preschooler has carried it around pretty much since I got a review copy and read it to her multiple times: She’ll set herself down on the couch and “read” it. With a text like this…

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Because I Don’t Share
My Favorite Book Excerpts Enough…

h1 Thursday, January 28th, 2010

After I shared this news in mid-December, a dear friend sent me, as a thoughtful congratulatory gift, Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. Now, I know this was published in 1994 and lots of writers have probably long leaned on Lamott’s wise advice. In other words, I’m sixteen years late to the party here. But, yeah. I’m reading it for the first time ever. And I love the below excerpt so much on so many levels that I’m going to share it today. And then—while we’re on the subject of glorious imperfections, which we will be—I’m going to follow it with a novel excerpt Eisha once shared with me years ago in a card she gave me, which I also love so much that it’s been hanging in my kitchen all these years.

(And, since Lamott mentions addictiveness, I’m picturing my addiction-of-choice above.)

This post is sort of like a cheap Dollar-Store copy of the kind of goodness you get at John E. Simpson’s blog on Poetry Fridays — interrelated poems, excerpts from novels, song lyrics, even videos/music, etc., though I’ve just got some book excerpts here and though this post doesn’t deliver half as well as John’s do. (Here is but one example.) His cyber-bungalow can be one of your best Poetry Friday visits.

I hope you enjoy the below excerpts as much as I do… Read the rest of this entry �

Fieldnote #2 by Steven Withrow:
Steven Malk, Children’s Book Agent

h1 Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

{Quick Note from Jules: As you can see from that post title, things are comin’ up very Steven this morning at 7-Imp. This is the second in a series of posts by writer, researcher, teacher, editor, producer/film-maker, and poet Steven Withrow. He’s contributing one interview every month to 7-Imp, 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.}

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I’ll keep this introduction brief, because we cover the basics (and much more) in the interview below. I first contacted Steven Malk, who heads the West Coast office of Writers House and represents many great authors and illustrators, to inquire about interviewing Lane Smith for my upcoming Library of the Early Mind documentary with Edward J. Delaney. I discovered some other online interviews with Steve, and I needed to know more about him and his fascination with bookselling, baseball, and bobbleheads. So here goes:

Steven Withrow: Let’s begin with your family history. It seems you were born to work in the children’s book field. Would you say that’s true, and could you tell me a little about your grandmother and your parents, and your memories of their children’s bookshops?

Steven Malk: I absolutely think that’s true. Both my grandmother and my parents owned children’s bookstores, so I’m actually the third generation of my family to be involved in children’s books.

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Calling all artists . . .

h1 Monday, January 25th, 2010

Back in 2008, I received an ARC for this book, James Kennedy’s YA fantasy, The Order of Odd-Fish (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, August 2008). It instantly appealed to me, but it lay dormant in my to-be-read pile, an unfortunate occurrence that happens all too much in my life.

Just last week, the author (who, as you may know, upset Neil Gaiman in a series of mentally- and physically-fatiguing contests for the Newbery) contacted me about a super-keen art project of sorts that currently swirls around this book, which you may have already read about over at A Fuse #8 Production. Since I focus so heavily anymore on illustration/art here at this blog, I decided to do a post about his call for submissions.

First, let me say, I finally started the book. I haven’t gotten far, but I can say I never thought I’d see these words together in a sentence: “And Lily Larouche still had on her desk, floating in a jar of formaldehyde, the lonely eyebrows of President Eisenhower.” In fact, it looks as if the paperback version will be out next month:

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #151: Featuring Etienne Delessert

h1 Sunday, January 24th, 2010

I’m not sure how it is that I got several review copies last year from Creative Editions, but I’m glad I did. One of them was this beautiful book, featured a couple weeks ago. The book featured today, Moon Theater (August 2009), written and illustrated by Swiss-American illustrator Etienne Delessert, was another one. This is a haunting and weird (weird = compliment) and memorable picture book. When I read it, I felt like the child version of myself taking in a Sendak book again: Both the story and illustrations have that type of mystery and beauty and slight terror nestled in them.

I’ve only got this one spread (above) this morning to share. Wish I had more, but isn’t that beautiful? That’s the moon theater in action. You can click to see it in more detail. Look at that huge moon, getting raised to the night-time stage. That’s just creepy-good is what it is.

Moon Theater tells the tale of a young stage hand, who—as revealed on the cover here—is the one responsible for the backstage magic behind the moon theater that is the night.

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Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Melissa Sweet

h1 Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Melissa Sweet and RufusIf you saw Jama Rattigan’s April 2009 interview with author/illustrator Melissa Sweet (pictured above with her dog, Rufus)—or if you’ve visited Melissa’s site—you know that these words by poet Mary Oliver are posted above Melissa’s drafting table: “To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” And when you see Melissa’s work, you know this is an artist who pays careful attention, indeed. Her mixed-media collage illustrations are detailed and exuberant, always visually appealing; her watercolors, luminous. Full of graceful details for young children and picture book aficionados alike, they clearly mark the work of an illustrator with a keen eye — for nature and for children, in particular. In fact, one of the many images Melissa sent for this interview is this below:

Having explored her books, I’d say this captures well how Melissa succeeds in her writing and illustrating: There is a refreshing child-centeredness to her work that draws readers. She know her child audience and knows it well. We see her illustrations, our imaginations are stirred, and we’re on our way.

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From the Sketchbooks: Dan Yaccarino

h1 Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

“Pearl’s parents said she had a big imagination, but she knew her friends were real.
‘I can’t wait to move to our new home!’ she told Jack, the cast iron lawn jockey. She turned to Betty, a deer statue, Flo, a pink plastic flamingo and Norm, a ceramic garden gnome. They all agreed, but were a little worried. The ornaments never left their lawn before, but they loved Pearl and would do anything for her.”

(Click to enlarge sketch.)

A good, long while ago (I’m just impressively slow sometimes), illustrator Bill Carman made a lovely and smart suggestion to me: That illustrators stop by 7-Imp occasionally and share some sketches from their sketchbooks. As in, a sort of regular feature, if you will (along with those who share sketches in interviews). I like this idea a lot, not to mention 7-Imp readers seem to like to peek into illustrators’ sketchbooks to see how their right brains work.

Today, I welcome author/illustrator Dan Yaccarino. Dan joined me last April for a breakfast interview; he brought along a Swiss, mushroom, and onion omelette, along with a toasted bialy and some “exceedingly strong” coffee. (Man after my own heart.) He has a brand-new book out (released by Alfred A. Knopf this month), which I very much like. So does the world of print reviewers so far.

Final cover and cover sketch

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ALA Youth Media Awards 2010

h1 Monday, January 18th, 2010

Congratulations to all the authors and illustrators who have been recognized by ALA this morning at the 2010 ALSC Awards. Here is the comprehensive list of winners. So many people to individually congratulate, those who have stopped by the 7-Imp cyber-bungalow this year to have a chat and whom I feel I know a bit better, but if I list them, I’m afraid I’ll forget someone.

The Caldecott winner (since I cover illustration and picture books so often here)? Jerry Pinkney’s beautiful The Lion and the Mouse (cover pictured above). Excellent choice. The Caldecott Honor winners? Well, go see! They’ve been snacking with me over breakfast here at 7-Imp this year.

Congratulations again to all the winners! Once again, to see the comprehensive list, go here. That doesn’t seem to include, however, the Coretta Scott King winners (including TANITA S. DAVIS!), the Pura Belpré winners, and some others, so be sure to look for those separately. As of this morning, when I type this, Heavy Medal: The Mock Newbery Blog has the truly comprehensive list here.

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #150: Featuring Geneviève Côté

h1 Sunday, January 17th, 2010

Good morning to all…Notice this week’s number? 150, dear friends. 150 times, listing both our big and small gratefuls — and me being lucky enough to be graced by your collective classy presence for 150 weeks.

Do you like that opening spread? I very much do. Lately here at 7-Imp, I’ve shone the spotlight on some international author/illustrators (Roberto Innocenti, Dorothée de Monfreid, Sebastian Meschenmoser), which I always enjoy doing for many reasons, and today I’m happy to show some art from Canadian illustrator Geneviève Côté, whose books I’ve reviewed previously here at 7-Imp.

I follow Geneviève’s work with interest: I like her loose lines, the vibe to her work that seems both fragile and free-spirited, and her expressive characters. There is a lot going on in her art, yet she manages to make it look effortless. In her latest title, featured here today, Me and You (Kids Can Press, August 2009), she shows us an instance of when Cute Fluffy Bunnies Are Okay In Fact They’re More Than Welcomed.

This is a simple tale that goes a lot like this:

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A Stretch for a Poetry Friday Post

h1 Friday, January 15th, 2010

Yup, a stretch. Sorry: No poetry today. But my post can sort of wedge its way into Poetry Friday, given that I’m simply linking to a list of resources posted over at The Poetry Foundation’s web site.

At their blog, Harriet, Don Share’s got some information on the best ways to help out those who are suffering in Haiti, given this week’s tragic earthquake. The information is here.

If you want some actual poetry, the round-up is being hosted today by Mary Ann at Great Kid Books.