Archive for August, 2017

My Kirkus Q&A with Katherine Rundell

h1 Thursday, August 31st, 2017

I grew up in part in Zimbabwe, and the wild freedom I had then still, I think, acts as an engine to my days. That raw happiness that is possible in childhood is such a gift. But I also remember being dismayed, when I was between seven and thirteen, when people repeatedly told me childhood was the happiest time in life. There is so much of the world that feels opaque and impenetrable at that age, and you are so dependent on the unruly race of adults. Children are fierce, passionate creatures. I think sometimes we treat children and their lives as far more simple than they could possibly be; I want my books, if possible, to act against that impulse.”

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Over at Kirkus today, I talk to author Katherine Rundell, pictured here, about her newest novel, The Explorer (Simon & Schuster), coming to shelves in mid-September.

That Q&A is here.

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Photo of Katherine Rundell taken by Blair Mowat.

John Rocco, Jinnee, and Big Machines

h1 Monday, August 28th, 2017

Early sketch and final art (sans text): “This is Virginia Lee,
but everyone in seaside Folly Cove simply calls her Jinnee.
Anyone who meets Jinnee will tell you that she is quite
(Click each to enlarge)

Earlier this summer, John Rocco and I chatted via phone for BookPage about his research and illustrations for Sherri Duskey Rinker’s Big Machines: The Story of Virginia Lee Burton (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, September 2017).

Now that the book is about to hit shelves, BookPage has posted our chat. It’s here at their site, and here at 7-Imp today, John shares some preliminary images, as well as some final art from the book.


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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #549: Featuring Frank W. Dormer

h1 Sunday, August 27th, 2017

It’s a pleasure to have Frank Dormer share some images here today from Firefighter Duckies! (Atheneum), a picture book published in May of this year, which has been met with a host of good reviews. Somehow, I didn’t see this one right away, though I was eager to. When I finally did read it, I was mighty entertained. It opens, delightfully, with some “WEE-OOO-WEE-OOO-WEE-OOO”s. Actually, before readers even get to the title page they see that the duckies of the book’s title have had to climb out of a lovely bubble bath, all in an effort to contain some chaos, as firefighters do. A firefighter’s work is never done, right?

The firefighter duckies are brave and strong and rescue the likes of gorillas in chef hats, whales in trees, rampaging centipedes, and so much more that I just can’t give away. The font is super-sized and means business, and Dormer’s uncluttered, full-bleed spreads with their simple shapes and creative characters are great fun. There’s a ton of humor here; the duckies work themselves hard, because they are brave and strong. But they’re also helpful and kind, saving some lemurs (some smushed-up lemurs, mind you) and maybe even the alphabet. Yes, the alphabet. This is absurd, wildly ridiculous goodness for young readers, and it’s especially appealing, I think, to emerging readers (and is a perfect story-time choice). Read the rest of this entry �

All the Way to Havana
with Margarita Engle and Mike Curato

h1 Friday, August 25th, 2017


I didn’t want this to be a sanitized story for tourists, but an honest book honoring the hard work of poor people everywhere, who keep their old possessions working out of sheer ingenuity and perseverance.”


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That’s Margarita Engle I’m quoting here, who talks to me, along with illustrator Mike Curato, over at Kirkus today about their new picture book, All the Way to Havana (Henry Holt, August 2017).

That Q&A is here.

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

Some Very Possible Milk Before Breakfast
with Mamoru Suzuki and Tupera Tupera

h1 Friday, August 25th, 2017

— From Tupera Tupera’s What Does Baby Want?


— From Mamoru Suzuki’s Happy Birthday!
(Click to enlarge spread)

Last week at Kirkus, I wrote here about two new books, both Japanese imports, showing (without embarrassment) babies breastfeeding, and I’m following up today with some art from each book — Mamoru Suzuki’s Happy Birthday! (Museyon), coming to shelves in November, and Tupera Tupera’s What Does Baby Want? (Phaidon, June 2017).

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The Art of Victo Ngai

h1 Thursday, August 24th, 2017

“Dazzle was meant to make the Germans think a ship was, for example,
turning toward the west when it was actually headed to the southeast. …”

(Click to enlarge spread and see full text)

Last week, I chatted here at Kirkus with Chris Barton about Dazzle Ships: World War I and the Art of Confusion (Millbrook/Lerner, September 2017).

That column includes one spread from the book. Today, I’m following up with some more art from illustrator Victo Ngai. This is her debut picture book.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #548: Featuring Natalie Nelson

h1 Sunday, August 20th, 2017

It’s a pleasure to have illustrator Natalie Nelson visiting 7-Imp today. Natalie’s debut picture book was released last year, and below she tells me all about that book, as well as the one that followed early this year (and one coming in 2018). I very much enjoyed each one of these books, especially JonArno Lawson’s Uncle Holland (an illustration is pictured above), and I look forward to what’s next.

I thank Natalie for sharing words and images today. Let’s get right to it. (If you want to see more of her work, her website is here, and her Instagram is @nelsonknatalie.)

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What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Rémi Courgeon

h1 Friday, August 18th, 2017

“‘Swing that rope!’ yelled Feather’s coach. … Suddenly, he understood that Feather was no wimp. The girl could hit hard, especially with her left. And in boxing,
being a southpaw gives you a rare advantage. Feather’s training had begun.”

This morning over at Kirkus, I’ve got two Japanese imports and two sets of breasts. That is here.

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Last week, I wrote here about Rémi Courgeon’s Feather (Enchanted Lion, September 2017), originally published in 2012. I’m following up with some art from the book today. Enjoy!

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Chris Barton on Dazzle Ships . . .

h1 Thursday, August 17th, 2017

I love research, and in the case of this book, my main research challenge wasn’t the volume of information or number of sources. … Instead, the big challenge was navigating the potential for tangents and sprawl in my search for a through-line.”


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Over at Kirkus today, I talk to author Chris Barton, pictured here, about his newest picture book, Dazzle Ships: World War I and the Art of Confusion (Millbrook/Lerner, September 2017), illustrated by Victo Ngai.

That Q&A is here.

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

Until tomorrow …


Jacques Goldstyn’s Letters to a Prisoner

h1 Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

(Click to enlarge slightly)

Just earlier this year (here in April), I wrote about Jacques Goldstyn’s Bertolt, released by Enchanted Lion Books. I was pleased to see that he has another translated title this year on American shelves (translated from the French, as Jacques lives in Montreal). The wordless Letters to a Prisoner (Owlkids Books), originally published in 2015 as Le prisonnier sans frontières, will be on shelves in mid-September.

The story, told entirely via Goldstyn’s spacious loose-lined pen and watercolor illustrations, begins with peaceful protesters. Goldstyn depicts the messages on the signs they hold via abstract symbols: Their signs have red dots, and the gun-toting military they oppose are in all blue and speak in blue squares. When violence breaks out, one man is thrown into prison. He dreams of freedom and seeing once again the child with whom he protested (I assume it’s his daughter), and he marks the days of his prison stay on his wall. When a bird brings him a letter, the guard rips it up. The persistent bird brings many more, yet the guard carries them all away and sets them afire. One striking spread shows “We are with you” in the smoke, rendered in over ten different languages. Clearly, the prisoner has become a hero of sorts, the recipient of a letter-writing campaign. The rest of the book leaves the prison walls, Bertolt showing readers the support the prisoner has from all walks of the world. And I can’t very well give away the ending, but it’s a moving one.

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