Archive for March, 2016

A Play Date with Hervé Tullet

h1 Thursday, March 31st, 2016

I feel that inspiration is everywhere. You just have to find it. To look, observe — the streets, the walls, the pavement, the windows, the traffic jams, and so on. …

I feel that everybody is ready for this experience, including children. There’s a real connection between art and children. Children don’t know anything, and they are open to understanding everything. That’s their strength. That’s why I feel books can bring children to amazing places.”

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Over at Kirkus today, I talk to author-illustrator Hervé Tullet, pictured here, about his newest book, Let’s Play! (Chronicle, March 2016). That chat is here.

Until tomorrow …

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Photo of Hervé used by permission of Chronicle Books.


Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Gareth Hinds

h1 Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

If you like the artwork of Gareth Hinds, pictured right, you’re in for a treat today. In this, his breakfast visit to 7-Imp, he shares a whole heapin’ lot of artwork, and it’s my pleasure to feature it.

You may have already heard a lot this year about Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune. (Pictured above is an early sketch from the book.) It is the 256-page nonfiction account, written by Pamela S. Turner and illustrated by Gareth, of the life of 12th-century samurai Minamoto Yoshitsune, and it has been met with a host of starred reviews. Booklist calls it “pure excitement”; Kirkus calls it a “well-researched narrative told with true grit”; and the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books writes, “It’s not often that ‘biography’ and ‘page-turner’ come together in one thought, but Turner’s tale of the twelfth-century warrior Minamoto Yoshitsune is just the work to draw samurai fans from the manga and movie aisles into the nonfiction shelves.” It’s even a book getting early Newbery buzz. Gareth’s eloquent brush-and-ink drawings open each chapter of the book.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #476: Featuring Helen Oxenbury

h1 Sunday, March 27th, 2016

“Jack, Zack, and Caspar, brave mariners three,
were building a galleon down by the sea.
Up rose the sides and the stern and the bow.
Zack, the ship’s bosun, worked hard on the prow.”

(Click to enlarge spread)

Today, I’ve got some artwork from the great Helen Oxenbury. On shelves this month from Dial is Captain Jack and the Pirates, written by Peter Bently. The book was originally published last year in the UK and was evidently shortlisted for the Kate Greeenaway Medal.

The story is the rhyming adventure of three young boys, engaging in imaginative pirate play on the shore on a warm, sunny day. The boys’ imagination takes them far — rolling on the high seas, running from pirates and roaring hurricanes. They’re young, these adventure-seekers; one is even in a diaper and can usually be seen with his pacifier. Oxenbury’s watercolors are expressive and detailed; the color spreads are full-bleed, as if readers are right there with the boys on their undertaking, and occasionally we see pencil sketches, breaking up the action and giving readers a breath. As usual, Oxenbury puts the endpapers to use to help tell even more of the boys’ story, which all wraps up with the parents calling the boys to the table for sweets and ice cream. (Mmm.)

The Kirkus review calls the book “gently and agreeably thrilling.” Yes. That. Below is one more spread. Enjoy!

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What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring
Marie-Louise Gay, Peter McCarty, & Viviane Schwarz

h1 Friday, March 25th, 2016

“‘Let’s find gold,’ said Anna.
‘That would be dangerous and difficult,’ said Crocodile.
‘Good!’ said Anna. ‘Let’s go!'”
— From
How to Find Gold


“This is Badger. And this is Tiger.
They really are best friends.”
— From
Tiger and Badger
(Click to enlarge spread)


“They know their A-B-Cs and 1-2-3s. . . .”
— From
Bunny Dreams
(Click to enlarge spread)

Today at Kirkus, I’ve got some thoughts on Jo Ellen Bogart’s beautiful The White Cat and the Monk (Groundwood, March 2016), illustrated by Sydney Smith. That is here today.

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Last week, I wrote here about three picture books — Viviane Schwarz’s How to Find Gold (Candlewick, March 2016); Emily Jenkins’ Tiger and Badger, illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay (Candlewick, February 2016); and Peter McCarty’s Bunny Dreams (Henry Holt, January 2016). Below is a bit more art from each one.

(Sorry about the gutter lines in the McCarty art. Just pretend it’s not there!)


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Following Up with Barbara McClintock . . .

h1 Thursday, March 24th, 2016

“The theater lights dim. The music begins. The curtain rises. The dancers glide onstage. Gracefully they bend, and swirl, and leap. Emma watches every move.
She can feel every lift of the dancers’ arms, every step and pause.”

(Click each to enlarge)

Last week, I chatted with author-illustrator Barbara McClintock over at Kirkus about her newest picture book, Emma and Julia Love Ballet (Scholastic, February 2016). That Q&A is here, and today Barbara visits to share some art and research images.


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A Visit with Larry Day

h1 Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

“… Yes, they said, that youngster Roosevelt is going to do big stuff—
exactly like his famous, older cousin, President Ted.”

(Click to enlarge spread)

Illustrator Larry Day is in 7-Imp Land today to talk about creating the artwork for Suzanne Tripp Jurmain’s new picture book (Dial, January 2016), Nice Work, Franklin!. The book—which kicks off the story of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency by emphasizing how much he idolized his cousin, President Theodore Roosevelt—is a lively account of FDR’s challenges and successes as President. Jurmain brings readers an accessible text filled with engaging anecdotes about FDR’s life.

Larry, who has illustrated many books about American history, talks here today about the artwork, what a Wolff pencil is, and why he likes illustrating nonfiction in general.


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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #475: Featuring Cécile Gambini

h1 Sunday, March 20th, 2016

“Don’t I look like a living painting? …”
(Click to enlarge and read text)

Next month will see the U.S. publication of a book called Strange Trees: And the Stories Behind Them, written by Bernadette Pourquié and illustrated by Cécile Gambini (Princeton Architectural Press). It was a book first published in France, evidently the winner of the Prix Versailles Lire Au Jardin. The Kirkus review calls it a “charmingly illustrated but odd French import.”

The book features sixteen real but unusual trees, who speak directly to the reader in a first-person voice. There’s the cocoa tree, which Pourquié calls the “Chocolate Tree” and gives you cocoa paste; the Davidia or “Ghost Tree” (with its white leaves that “look like lightweight white sheets floating on the breeze”), pictured below; the multicolored Mindanao Gum Tree or “Rainbow Tree,” pictured above; and more. Each tree “speaks” in a chatty, accessible voice and is accompanied on the right side of each page by a full-page illustration. (I’ve got some of them featured below, but please do click on each one to see the text, as well as the ornate borders of each spread.)

The book lacks sources or any sort of backmatter — and, if you’re interested to read it, the full Kirkus review is here. (It’s the only professional review I could find and, I think, captures the book well.) I wanted to share a bit of art from the book today; they are vividly illustrated paintings, some with a magical quality all their own.


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What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Julie Morstad

h1 Friday, March 18th, 2016

“soon we will go to the beach / where we will swim /
and eat plums and peanut butter sandwiches …”

This morning over at Kirkus, I’ve got a small picture book round-up. That is here.

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Last week, I wrote here about Julie Fogliano’s first poetry collection, When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook, March 2016), illustrated by Julie Morstad. Today, I’m following up with some paintings from the book, which Julie M. sent. They are sans text.


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En Pointe with Barbara McClintock

h1 Thursday, March 17th, 2016

When my sister was in college near Minneapolis, she took me to see the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater. This was the first professional dance performance I’d ever seen. I was hesitant and had no idea what to expect. The magnificent Judith Jamison was the featured dance soloist. She dominated the stage, creating shapes and patterns. Judith performed the solo dance — Cry, a 15-minute homage to black women, choreographed by Alvin Ailey for his mother and for Judith. Judith expressed grief, loss, redemption, and joy as eloquently as any novelist. I loved dance from that moment on. I’d wanted to make a book honoring my sister and her love of dance for a long time. And that profound first introduction to dance has left a fascination with Judith Jamison and her artistry.”

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Over at Kirkus today, I talk to author-illustrator Barbara McClintock, pictured above, about her newest book, Emma and Julia Love Ballet (Scholastic, February 2016). That chat is here.

I’ll have some art from it at 7-Imp next week in a follow-up post.

Until tomorrow …

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Photo of Barbara used by her permission.

The Artist and Me

h1 Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

Here’s a short post about Shane Peacock’s The Artist and Me, illustrated by Sophie Casson and coming to shelves next month (Owlkids Books). Strikingly, this is how it opens:

In the beautiful countryside in southern France near the town of Arles long ago, I used to do an ugly thing.

The narrator here, we learn as the story progresses, is an older adult looking back on his childhood. He remembers tormenting the local “crazy man” with “wild red hair,” Vincent Van Gogh. The boy, and everyone he knew, mocked the penniless artist. The man recalls the taunts and how and why they targeted him. He recalls how he’d always teased him in a crowd (“since that is what cowards do”). He remembers the artist saying, “I must tell the truth,” yet telling himself that the man was merely crazy. Sometimes, the man recalls, he’d watch Van Gogh work, quietly and when no one else was around. In truth, he possessed a fascination for his artwork and the artist’s maverick spirit. Towards the close of the book, he recalls how he once snuck right up behind the artist as he painted a wheat field. (Wheat Field with Crows is, indeed, believed to be Van Gogh’s last painting.) The boy was amazed and “terrified. My knees went weak. … And for an instant the world was bigger and brighter than it had ever been.” Van Gogh turned to him and offered him his painting, but the boy ran. Read the rest of this entry �