Archive for May, 2013

What I’m Up To at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week,
Featuring Stephanie Graegin

h1 Friday, May 31st, 2013

This morning over at Kirkus, I write about two shy girls in two new picture books. That link is here today.

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Today illustrator Stephanie Graegin is visiting 7-Imp, since last week (here at Kirkus) I wrote about Emily Jenkins’ newest picture book, Water in the Park: A Book About Water and the Times of the Day, released recently by Schwartz & Wade Books and illustrated by Stephanie. Stephanie also shares some sketches here, as well as sketches and art from Liz Garton Scanlon’s Happy Birthday, Bunny!, her debut illustrated title released by Beach Lane Books in January of this year. She also shares a couple of personal pieces. (Pictured above is a piece she created for Steven Malk, her agent at Writers House.)

I thank her for sharing. Read the rest of this entry �

Catching Up with John Rocco

h1 Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Here’s author/illustrator John Rocco as a child. You can see that he and his barber weren’t super tight.

But you never know about big hair: It could be concealing superpowers.

Today I chat with John at Kirkus about life post-Caldecott Honor, as well as his two new picture books, Super Hair-o and the Barber of Doom (just released from Disney/Hyperion and which he both wrote and illustrated) and Jason Carter Eaton’s How to Train a Train, coming from Candlewick this Fall.

Next week here at 7-Imp, I’ll have some art from John.

The Q&A is here.

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #332: Featuring Tom Lichtenheld

h1 Sunday, May 26th, 2013

I’m so pleased that author/illustrator Tom Lichtenheld is visiting today. I’ve wanted him to visit the blog for a while, and we just haven’t pulled it off. (Till now!) I enjoy his work. Did you all see Exclamation Mark (Scholastic, March 2013), his most recent collaboration with Amy Krouse Rosenthal? It’s exceedingly clever, that one. Yet I never got around to blogging about it, despite my best intentions.

Tom’s newest book, Sing (to be released this week from Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt) is so joyous and so just-the-right-book-for-him that I’m extra pleased he’s visiting today to tell us all about it. My regular readers know I’m a ginormous music-lover, and for that reason—and lots of others having to do with Tom’s abundant talents as an illustrator—I think this book is special. It’s unabashedly cheerful without being the slightest bit cloying about it.

As Tom explains below, this is a picture book adaptation of Joe Raposo’s song, made famous on Sesame Street. “The most interesting part,” Tom told me, “was that the song, though sweet and well-known, doesn’t have or need any semblance of a story. To turn it into a picture book I had to not only come up with a story, but one that was completely visual, so the lyrics could remain pure. Being handed this challenge was an honor, so the book holds a special place for me. I also like that it has a quieter mood than my usual zany stuff; I like books at opposite ends of the spectrum — mindlessly ridiculous or thoughtfully sweet.”

Let’s get right to it so that Tom can tell us more about it, and I thank him for sharing today. Read the rest of this entry �

Celebrate the Life of One of Children’s
Literature’s Luminaries: A Peter Sieruta Event

h1 Friday, May 24th, 2013

It was one year ago at this time that, sadly, Peter D. Sieruta passed away. For those of you who knew Peter and plan to attend this summer’s annual conference of the American Library Association in Chicago, please note the following information and join us on June 28th, if you can.

What: Celebrate the Life of One of Children’s Literature’s Luminaries: A Peter Sieruta Event
When: Friday, June 28th, 4:30 p.m.
Where: The Lake Erie Room at the Hilton Chicago

How did you best know Peter Sieruta? Was it through his remarkable blog, Collecting Children’s Books (a go-to site for wit and historical tidbits)? Was it from his countless Horn Book articles or his work on the Horn Book Guide? Maybe you met Peter in a bookstore or you were a close personal friend.

Whatever the case, come, mix, and mingle with other friends and fans of the often urbane, always scintillating fellow. This event will be held as a celebration of Peter and his book (co-written with myself and Betsy Bird), Wild Things: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature, slated to hit bookstore shelves in spring 2014.

Please RSVP to Fusenumber8 [at] if you would like to attend this gathering.

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Note: The above photo is an older one of Peter and is used with permission of John Sieruta.

What I’m Up To at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring
Joanne Lew-Vriethoff and Christian Robinson

h1 Friday, May 24th, 2013

Illustration from Linda Ashman’s Peace, Baby!,
illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff

Christian Robinson’s character development and exploration for
some of the characters in Linda Ashman’s
(Click to enlarge)

This morning over at Kirkus, I write about Emily Jenkins’ newest picture book, Water in the Park: A Book About Water and the Times of the Day, released recently by Schwartz & Wade Books and illustrated by Stephanie Graegin. (Stephanie will visit 7-Imp next week.) That link is here today.

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Last week at Kirkus, I chatted with picture book author Linda Ashman (that link is here) and follow up today with some art from her two most recent picture books, Rain! (Houghton Mifflin, March 2013), illustrated by Christian Robinson, and Peace, Baby! (Chronicle, April 2013), illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff.

Two things I didn’t have room for in the column last week: For those interested in writing picture books, Linda has some advice on the “For Writers” tab of her website. (Incidentally, Linda starting teaching picture book classes in Denver before she and her family moved, and now she’s turning those classes and other workshops into a “how to” guide.)

Secondly, in our Q&A last week, Linda talked about whittling Rain! down to its 78 words. Both manuscript and storyboard are available on the Rain! page of her website, if anyone’s interested.

Enjoy the art, and I thank Christian, who is also sharing some early development images for his illustrations in Rain!

Read the rest of this entry �

“For country, mail, and Geneviève!”

h1 Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

“…his hands were nimble…”

Last week at Kirkus, I chatted with author Matthew Olshan and illustrator Sophie Blackall, who recently collaborated on The Mighty Lalouche, released this month by Schwartz & Wade Books. That Q&A is here, and today Sophie is sharing a few sketches, some of her research images (all the vintage photos you see below), and a sneak peek inside the book. The artwork, as you can read at the Q&A, was rendered in Japanese paper dioramas, or tatebanko.

(You can click on most of these images to enlarge them, though they’re a bit blurry in spots.)

Enjoy the images and artwork. Read the rest of this entry �

The Graduate

h1 Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

“We’d wait by the windows / gaining in size /
with plans for the nighttime / and daytime’s goodbyes”

(Click to enlarge)

Philadelphia-based illustrator and designer Rita Carroll just officially became an illustrator and designer. She graduated last week from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, as you’ll read below, so I think it’s a great time to feature some of her artwork. This is something I typically do on the first Sunday of each month—feature, that is, a student illustrator or new-to-the-field illustrator—but she just earned that degree, so I think it’d be fun to do it now.

Here she is to tell us a bit about herself and share some of her artwork … I thank her for visiting. Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #331:
Featuring a Small Crew of Smiley Faces

h1 Sunday, May 19th, 2013

(Click to embiggen)

My Imp readers will have to forgive me today: I don’t have illustrations to share this morning, as I always do on Sundays, but I was out of town this weekend for Knoxville’s 2013 Children’s Festival of Reading. Knoxville does these festivals up right, and they’re always good fun.

This year (as I did last year) I moderated a picture book panel. 2013’s visitors included—as pictured left to right above—author Deborah Diesen, author/illustrator Bob Shea, author/illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka (had never met him in person before, but I feel like he’s an old friend, so that was particularly fun), author Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, and author Marc Tyler Nobleman (do you all know about his pop culture research projects? … I love that).

So, that’s what I offer you today — a photo of people having just finished discussing picture books, which is always a kick. (Best question was from a child, and it was along the lines of “you’re grown-ups, so how do you relate to kids?” Or maybe it was “…so, how do you write for children?” Either way, it was a pretty profound question.) Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Up To at Kirkus This Week

h1 Friday, May 17th, 2013

I’ve been chatting it up with people this week. Here’s the run-down:

I’ve always wanted to chat with picture book author Linda Ashman. Today, I get to. That link is here today.

Legend has it that Tom Jones—I’m sorry, but I just gotta post his picture now—passed out in the studio when hitting the final, dramatic note of “Thunderball” for the 1965 James Bond film of the same name. I sort of imagine author/illustrator Brian Floca similarly falling to the ground after having finished the artwork for Locomotive (coming from Atheneum this Fall), because it’s rather masterpiece’y. (That’s professional speak.) I won’t be at BEA this year, but I wrote about the book for Kirkus’ special BEA supplement (page 42!) in their current issue, and I chatted briefly with Brian about it. I’ll chat with him even longer in August and share some art then, too, from this beautiful piece of nonfiction.

Finally: Yesterday, I chatted with author Matthew Olshan and illustrator Sophie Blackall about The Mighty Lalouche, released by Schwartz & Wade this month. That Q&A is here, and next week I’ll have some of Sophie’s artwork, some sketches, and some of her research images.

Until later …

A Couple of Odd Ducks Before Breakfast

h1 Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Last week at Kirkus, I wrote (here) about Cecil Castellucci’s and Sara Varon’s Odd Duck (First Second, May 2013) and wanted to be sure to invite them here to 7-Imp to talk a bit about this graphic novel for children, as well as showcase some art from it.

So, we three misfits sit here at the 7-Imp cyber-breakfast table. (Odd ducks RULE.)

I’m going to turn it over to them, while I pour the coffee and listen, and I thank them for visiting.

Read the rest of this entry �