Archive for June, 2012

They’re Baaaaack …

h1 Monday, June 11th, 2012

I’ve got some writing deadlines giving me the ‘ol skunk eye, so this will be brief, but here I am with a few words and one glorious spread (separated out into its left and right side, that is) to say that, if you didn’t yet already know it, Bink and Gollie are back.

As in, these entertaining characters, who appeared in 2010.

Kate DiCamillo’s and Alison McGhee’s Bink & Gollie: Two for One, illustrated by Tony Fucile, sees its release just this week — once again from Candlewick Press. For this set of three very funny stories, they head to the fair: Bink wants to whack a duck (a laugh-outloud, slapstick tale); Gollie chokes up at the talent show; and they meet up with, as you can see from the cover, a fortune teller.

I couldn’t live with myself if I gave away the stories here, so you’ll just have to find your own copy at your local library or bookstore (and then, by all means, come back and talk to me about it). As with the last set of stories, these tales of two best friends are superbly crafted. Anyone wanting to learn to write stories for children, I would think, would do well to spend some time poring over and pondering the choices DiCamillo and McGhee make in these narratives. These are stories that highlight all the ups and downs of two best buds who know each other well, and they’re written with humor and empathy. (If the second story doesn’t move you in one sympathetic way or another, I’m not sure I want to know you; the spread pictured above is from that tale.)

And Fucile’s seemingly simple, loose lines go so far in conveying great emotion and humor. The book’s penultimate spread, in which Bink pretty much learns all she needs to know from the psychic, is memorable, indeed.

I’m inordinately happy to see the return of one of contemporary children’s literature’s most winning duos. That’s all there is to it.

Who’s with me now?

* * * * * * *

BINK AND GOLLIE: TWO FOR ONE. Text copyright © 2012 by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee. Illustrations copyright © 2012 by Tony Fucile. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #283: Featuring Marianne Dubuc

h1 Sunday, June 10th, 2012

“The wiener dog went disguised as … A zebra.”

I’m going to keep short the introduction to today’s featured picture book, Animal Masquerade (published by Kids Can Press in March and originally published under the title Au carnaval des animaux), ’cause it’s just so fun that I want to get right to it.

Anyone, by any chance, remember this 2010 book from Canadian illustrator Marianne Dubuc? (That was her first picture book to be translated into English.)

Well, she’s back with a similar book. Similar, that is, in terms of format — it’s another small, square, snug book. But it’s also similar in that, once again, there’s really no dramatic action or complicated narrative thread to speak of here. This time there’s an animal masquerade—“Disguises are a must!”—and each animal chooses a disguise, as you can see below in the art featured here today. As with the last book, page turns are the stars here; each animal’s disguise is revealed after each turn. This propels the book forward with a brisk energy. There’s occasional funny commentary, such as: “The hen didn’t dress up. She didn’t understand a thing. (She isn’t very smart.)” But, for the most part, the child reader can kick back to enjoy the surprises and costume-reveals. And revel in the deliciousness of an animal masquerade. (To be clear, some human animals are involved, too, as well as chocolate cake — perhaps even one disguised as another, as you can see below.) Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Doing at Kirkus Today

h1 Friday, June 8th, 2012

This morning over at Kirkus, I chat with Elisha Cooper (pictured here from my 2008 7-Imp interview) about Homer, his newest picture book and one of my favorite picture books of 2012 thus far.

Here’s a brief excerpt:

‎”When I was painting the book, I’m sure I was thinking about my daughters. They were heading off to summer camp before returning to me at the end of their day. But in some larger sense, I knew they were also heading off into their lives. This letting-go stuff still sort of kills me. But I know it’s important. If we create space for those we love, then love will come into that space.”

Here’s the rest.

As always, next week here at 7-Imp, I’ll have some more art from it.

Until next time …

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Eric Velasquez

h1 Thursday, June 7th, 2012

“Becoming an artist,” writes author/illustrator Eric Velasquez at his site, “was a natural choice for me. I have never thought of being anything else.” Born to Afro-Puerto Rican parents and growing up in Harlem, Eric developed a love for art, music, and film from his mother, father, and grandmother. In 1983, he earned his degree from the School of Visual Arts and moved on to a career in freelance illustrating.

And if you follow children’s lit—particularly if you’re a fan of those illustrators who work in oils, pastels, and realism—it’s likely you know his work. The growing list of book jackets and illustrations he’s done is getting hard to keep up with, to be frank. “To describe illustrator Eric Velasquez as a ‘prolific artist,'” wrote The Brown Bookshelf in 2010, “would be an understatement.” In 1999, he was awarded the Coretta-Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent for the illustrations in his debut picture book, Debbi Chocolate’s The Piano Man, published by Walker Books for Young Readers.

Read the rest of this entry �

Meet Red Knit Cap Girl …

h1 Monday, June 4th, 2012

“In the evening, they light the lanterns and sit on a branch to wait for the Moon.
They sing for the Moon as they wait for her. They wait and wait for the Moon to appear. But she is nowhere to be seen.”

(Click to enlarge spread, which is sans text)

In the bio on the jacket flap for self-taught illustrator Naoko Stoop’s debut picture book, Red Knit Cap Girl (to be released mid-month by Megan Tingley Books/Little, Brown), she writes that she was inspired to write this story after participating in an event called Earth Hour, which encourages people to turn off the lights for an hour. She explains that she once lived in New York City and that it was challenging to see the night sky, given the abundant city lights.

Well, she up and did good with this story, one that could have easily been heavy-handed, given she was trying to make a point about enjoying the beauty of the night sky, no matter where you live.

“In the forest, there is time to wonder about everything,” the book opens. Red Knit Cap Girl sits on a log with her sidekick bunny friend and ponders such things as flowers, butterflies, leaves, and clouds. Mostly, though, she ponders the Moon and wants to get close enough to talk to her. Since her attempts fail, Hedgehog suggests she asks Owl, who knows everything. In a spread showing Stoop isn’t scared of a little dark mystery, we see Owl’s menacing eyes—and only his eyes—peering at her in the darkness from a tree, an effectively goosebump-inducing moment. Eventually, she coaxes an answer from Owl: “The Moon is too far to reach, but if you want, she will bend down to listen to you … You will find a way.” Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #282: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Robert Trujillo

h1 Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

“When we finished our lowrider, I was so proud of my mama.
People thought she couldn’t do it, but we sure proved ’em wrong!
And I was proud of myself for helping her choose some pretty colors for the painting.”

It’s the first Sunday of the month, which means it’s time here at 7-Imp to shine the spotlight on a student or new-to-the-field illustrator.

Today I’ve got illustrator, artist, and mural-maker Robert Trujillo, who is from Oakland, California. Robert has yet to be published as an illustrator but is, as he told me, trying to learn more about the field and meet like minds “in real time or through the Web.”

Speaking of the Web, Robert’s site is the cool side of satin, especially if you dig art and jazz (and/or funk and/or soul). Case-in-point is here.

Okay, digression over.

The illustration above, rendered in watercolor and ink, is one of two illustrations Robert created from a short story he’s written about a mother and daughter who build their own lowrider. The second illustration, as well as more artwork from Robert, is below.

And here are more words from Robert, who is pictured above at a recent visit to an elementary school in Sacramento. (More on that visit and more pictures are here at Robert’s site.) Read the rest of this entry �