Archive for December, 2014

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with David Roberts

h1 Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

photo taken by Lynn Roberts MaloneyI couldn’t let 2014 go by without posting this interview with British author-illustrator David Roberts. I’ve enjoyed his books over the years, but he also provided spot illustrations for Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature, the book I wrote with Betsy Bird and the late Peter D. Sieruta, which was released in August of this year (Candlewick Press). David filled our book with a set of very entertaining startled bunnies, one pictured above (it’s hard to pick a favorite, but she may be it), and he also did the cover art, the image at the very bottom of this Q&A.

So, it’s the very last day of the year, but I managed to get this interview in here just in time.

As you’ll read below, David has illustrated more than 150 books (picture books and beyond), some—but not all—originally published in the UK and then released here in the States, thanks to publishers like Abrams and Candlewick. I appreciate David taking the time to talk about his work this morning and share some art. For breakfast, he told me that every Friday he has breakfast at Joe’s Kitchen near where he lives in South London: poached eggs on brown toast with bacon and tomatoes. He also said he’d always make room for a Danish pastry, but I’m all about the toast this morning (with coffee, of course), even if it’s not Friday, so we’ll have that while we chat.

Without further ado, here’s David …

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #412: Featuring John Alcorn

h1 Sunday, December 28th, 2014

John Alcorn, Christmas card, 1958

Before 2015 gets here, I want to take some time today to tell you all about a book I really enjoyed this year, John Alcorn: Evolution by Design, edited by Stephen Alcorn and Marta Sironi, and published in 2013 by Moleskine. (I believe it was published here in the U.S. this past summer.) And, fortunately, I’ve got some art from it to share here at 7-Imp.

This is a beautifully-designed (book-lovers, take note) and quite comprehensive tribute to artist, designer, and children’s book illustrator John Alcorn, who died in 1992. (Back in 2012, I featured a bit of his children’s book illustrations.) Sironi, a researcher at the Centro APICE at Milan University, writes the book’s foreword, and the book’s opening piece, “Reflections on the Life and Art of My Father John Alcorn (1935-1992)” is from his son, Stephen Alcorn, also an artist and children’s book illustrator (whom I interviewed here in early 2010). In this opening piece, Stephen writes in detail about his father’s career and, with great reverence and a personal touch (the book also includes family photos), lays out the evolution of his father’s work. “At the time of writing,” he notes, “nearly a quarter of a century has gone by since my father’s passing, yet despite the passage of time, his work remains as culturally relevant today as the day it was created.”

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What I’m Doing at Kirkus Today, the Snowy Version

h1 Friday, December 26th, 2014


And what are your favorite picture books about snow? Today in my Kirkus column I’ve got two new ones, one pictured above.

That link is here.

See you Sunday, and happy holidays to all …

Making History Come Alive at Christmas

h1 Thursday, December 25th, 2014

Getting a kid to say ‘this person who lived a hundred years ago is basically just like me’ is a wonderful thing to take away from a war story a century ago.”

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If freelance writing deadlines don’t stop for the holidays, the least I can do is tell you about John Hendrix’s new picture book, all about the true story of a 1914 Allied-German Christmas truce on the front lines during World War I. It’s called Shooting at the Stars: The Christmas True of 1914.

I’ll have art from the book at 7-Imp soon — maybe even this Sunday. For now, I talk to John, pictured here, about the book over at Kirkus, a hundred years after the events themselves.

That is here.

Merry Christmas, all!

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Photo of John used with his permission and taken by Kevin Roberts.

Celebrating the Holidays with Art from
Helen Cann, Dave Horowitz, and LeUyen Pham

h1 Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

“On the tenth day of Christmas, / my true love gave to me / 10 lords a-leaping …”
(Click to enlarge spread)


“I am Grandfather Owl, / Keeper of skies. …”
(Click to enlarge spread and see poem in its entirety)


“Its Honeyky Hanukah, shaky my hand, / My candles are burning all over this land, /
To light the dark road for the man passing by, / It’s Honeyky Hanukah time.”

(Click to enlarge spread)

Since I wrote here last week at Kirkus about some of my favorite new holiday picture books, I’m celebrating today with some art from each book — and LeUyen Pham is sharing early sketches from her book.

Here’s what you’ll see: Art from LeUyen’s The Twelve Days of Christmas (Doubleday, September 2014); art by Helen Cann, who illustrated Manger (Eerdmans, September 2014) with poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins; and art from Woody Guthrie’s Honeyky Hanukah (Doubleday, September 2014), illustrated by Dave Horowitz.

P.S. Wanna hear the Klezmatics sing Woody’s “Honeyky Hanukah”? It’s here.

Enjoy the art!

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #411: Featuring Christine Brallier

h1 Sunday, December 21st, 2014

“The children were nestled all snug in their beds …”
(Click to enlarge)

I’m handing the site over this morning to artist Christine Brallier, pictured right, for something totally different — stained glass mosaics. (Have I ever posted about stained glass mosaics? I actually don’t think I have.) Last year, Christine released her first picture book (Brownian Bee Press), The Night Before Christmas. I read it last year, but did I post about it? Nope. I had intended to, but I got busy. When I contacted her about it this year, we decided better late than never. So, she visits today to talk about how she makes her mosaics and to share process images, as well as some photos of the stained glass pieces from the book.

Let’s get right to it. For those who are interested in even more information, Christine blogged here about her process from start to finish.

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What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Meilo So

h1 Friday, December 19th, 2014

“Blown by the wind, / water sails high. / Tumbling cloud plumes curl through the air. /
Soplada por el viento, / el agua se remonta. / Volutas nebulosas ruedan por el aire.”

(Click to enlarge spread)

This morning over at Kirkus, I write about some holiday picture books titles, what I think are some of the best of the season. It’s a Christmas miracle: LeUyen Pham has made me like “The Twelve Days of Christmas” again. That link will be here soon.

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Last week, I wrote here about Pat Mora’s Water Rolls, Water Rises (Lee & Low, October 2014), illustrated by Meilo So. Today, I share some spreads from it.


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The Many Sides of Santa
and Some Art from Chuck Groenink

h1 Thursday, December 18th, 2014

Last week at Kirkus, I chatted here with children’s book author and poet Bob Raczka, so today I’m following up with some of Chuck Groenink’s illustrations from Raczka’s Santa Clauses: Short Poems from the North Pole, released by Carolrhoda Books in September. Groenink, as I mentioned in the column last week, is from the Netherlands but now lives in New York. I highly recommend exploring the art at his site or even his tumblr. If you subscribe to the Horn Book, you’ll recognize him from the cover art of the current issue.

I’m tellin’ you what. We see lots of new holiday picture books every year, many easily forgettable, but I really like this one. I’d love to see a 2015 7-Imp interview with Groenink so that we can see way more art from him. Don’t you agree?

Enjoy the art.

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Traditional Tales with Bernadette Watts

h1 Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

I’ve got my work cut out for me this week and so my time today is limited, but here’s a quick post to share a few spreads from The Bernadette Watts Collections: Stories and Fairy Tales, coming to shelves in an English edition early next year (NorthSouth). If you’re up for some colorful, pastoral art—with some no-holds-barred drama to boot—you’re in the right place today.

Watts, whose fairy tale art is well-known in Europe, was born in England in 1942 and still lives in the UK (and is still creating new stories). This collection of nearly forty previously-published stories, released this year in Switzerland, includes tales from Aesop, Leo Tolstoy, the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, and more. The book includes an introduction from Eric Carle, where in part he writes:

Although we have never met, I have been an admirer of Bernadette Watts’s art for a long time. Dominant in her work are the settings. She is a very English illustrator/artist, and her pedigree is unmistakable. That said, in “Varenka” [a story based on a Russian legend] she boldly and with a modern brush employs the vernacular of Russian religious art. …

Her books generally display warm and pleasing colors that bathe each image in an almost theater-like setting: the lights have been dimmed, the curtain has been drawn, and the viewer has settled back, invited into the magic unfolding in Bernadette’s art and stories. …

Watts strikes just about every mood in this collection. She goes from eerie (“Little Red Riding Hood,” originally published in 2009) to sweet (“The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse”) and hits just about every note in between. [Correction on 1/12/15: Little Red Riding Hood was originally published in 1968.]

Here’s a bit more art. (You may notice the text in the English edition differs from the text in these images.)

Until Thursday … Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #410: Featuring Chris Raschka

h1 Sunday, December 14th, 2014

“And that is the very best sort of thing to be.”

I’ve got some illustrations today from Caldecott Medalist Chris Raschka, and I think taking a look at his artwork is pretty much always a good way to start one’s day.

If You Were a Dog (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, September 2014) was written by Jamie A. Swenson and is an engaging title for very young children. Swenson introduces a series of animals, using the conditional if-you-were question — from dogs to dinosaurs and lots of other animals in between (including a human at the book’s close). The text has an infectious energy, its fair share of entertaining onomatopoeia, and a very playful rhythm that begs to be shared in group story times. You can see some of that below in the spreads shared here today. It’s a book that invites young children to use their imagination and play along; I kinda wish I could snap my fingers right now and have a group of children to share it with.

Kirkus calls this one a “cheery picker-upper.” It’s true. See for yourself below. And please enjoy Raschka’s menagerie of swooping, swimming, stomping, swooshing, fluttering, buzzing creatures. His color palette here is spot-on, and I love the way he captures the movement and energy of all these creatures.

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