Archive for October, 2017

Happy Halloween from 7-Imp!

h1 Tuesday, October 31st, 2017


This wonderful image is from illustrator Chuck Groenink. He posted it on Instagram yesterday (“Felt like drawing something new for Halloween,” he wrote) and gave me permission to share it here at 7-Imp today.

Hope you get all your favorite candy when trick-or-treating. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll run into these creatures in the forest.

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #558: Featuring Maya Christina Gonzalez

h1 Sunday, October 29th, 2017

“… cuando conozco a alguien / me sonrojo tímido como / Marte en martes /
when I meet someone new / I turn red like Mars / on Tuesday …”

(Click to enlarge spread)

If you’re having trouble waking up this morning, today’s illustrations from Maya Christina Gonzalez might just do the trick. I’ve got here today some of her bright, vivid artwork for Francisco X. Alarcón’s Family Poems for Every Day of the Week / Poemas familiares para cada dia de la semana (Children’s Book Press / Lee & Low Books, October 2017).

These are poems, published posthumously (the award-winning Alarcón died last year), celebrating family and community for each day of the week. Evidently, the entries are based on Alarcón’s own childhood experiences with his family. Each entry is published in both Spanish and English, including the fascinating opening author’s note about the days of the week and how their names came about. The book’s playful font and typography keep readers on their toes, and the poems strike various tones. “I can barely open / the shut oysters / of my sleep eyes” on Mondays, Alarcón writes, yet Saturdays are joyous: “I feel thrilled and free / like a hummingbird / in the Garden of Eden.”

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What I’m Doing at Kirkus Today

h1 Friday, October 27th, 2017


I’ve a graphic novel round-up at Kirkus today, which includes the book pictured above.

That is here. I’ll have art from each book here at 7-Imp next week.

Until Sunday . . .

My Kirkus Q&A with Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James

h1 Thursday, October 26th, 2017

It feels good when I receive messages from mothers, teachers, librarians, and grandmothers, who have said that Crown has moved them and their children. It has filled them with pride and speaks directly to their soul.
That’s exactly why we do what we do. I want to create a body of work
that will stay with readers for a long time.”


Today over at Kirkus, I talk to author Derrick Barnes, pictured above left and quoted above, and illustrator Gordon C. James, pictured right, about their debut picture book, Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut (Denene Millner Books/Bolden/Agate Publishing, October 2017).

That is here.

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Photo of Derrick Barnes by Victoria Blackshear. Photo of Gordon C. James is courtesy of the illustrator.

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #557:
Featuring Natalia and Lauren O’Hara

h1 Sunday, October 22nd, 2017

Today, I’ve an original, modern fairy tale for you, dear Imps. I’m featuring a story the creators, sisters Natalia and Lauren O’Hara, describe as “a dark fairy tale, inspired by the stories our Polish grandma told on snowy nights.” Hortense and the Shadow (Little, Brown) will be on shelves early next month.

The protagonist of this lyrical, atmospheric tale (which I think would make Florence Parry Heide proud) is a young girl named Hortense (I love this), and she lives “through the dark and wolfish woods” and “the white and silent snow.” Hortense is kind and brave, but she’s also sad and, to be precise about it, quite frustrated — because she would like to be sans shadow. Everywhere she goes, her shadow goes, “tall and dark and crooked,” and she’s weary of it. She even figures that her shadow hates her too. One day, she manages to cleave her shadow via slamming down the sash of a window. The shadow puts up a fight but eventually wanders off in the dusk. Read the rest of this entry �

Snooping Out Stories with Jack

h1 Friday, October 20th, 2017

All of us should assume that young writers know the particulars of their world better than we know their world.”


Today over at Kirkus, I’ve a chat with award-winning author Jack Gantos about his wonderful new book for upper elementary and middle-grade students, Writing Radar: Using Your Journal to Snoop Out and Craft Great Stories (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, August 2017).

That is here.

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Photo above of Jack at the 2017 Eric Carle Honors was taken by Johnny Wolf Photography.

What I Did at Kirkus Last Week,
Featuring Mehrdokht Amini, Xu Bing,
Manon Gauthier, and Sandra van Doorn

h1 Thursday, October 19th, 2017

“It was late at night. A noise had woken Anyaugo. …”
— From Nnedi Okorafor’s
Chicken in the Kitchen, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini
(Click to enlarge spread)


“”The only thing they didn’t lose was each other.”
— From Nansubuga Nagadya Isdahl’s
Sleep Well, Siba & Siba,
illustrated by Sandra van Doorn

(Click to enlarge spread)


— From Xu Bing’s Look! What Do You See?:
An Art Puzzle Book of American & Chinese Songs,
illustrated by Becca Stadtlander

(Click to enlarge spread)


“When he went fishing with his middle-sized fishing rod, he managed to catch the most middle-sized fish in the lake, which he put into his middle-sized basket.”
— From Susanna Isern’s
Middle Bear, illustrated by Manon Gauthier
(Click to enlarge spread)

Last week, I wrote here at Kirkus about new picture books with an international flair, including Nnedi Okorafor’s Chicken in the Kitchen (Lantana, September 2017), illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini; Xu Bing’s Look! What Do You See?: An Art Puzzle Book of American & Chinese Songs (Viking, November 2017), illustrated by Becca Stadtlander; Nansubuga Nagadya Isdahl’s Sleep Well, Siba & Saba (Lantana, October 2017), illustrated by Sandra van Doorn; and Susanna Isern’s Middle Bear (Kids Can Press, October 2017), illustrated by Manon Gauthier.

I’m following up today with some art from each book.


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A Bit of Lumberjanes Art . . .

h1 Thursday, October 19th, 2017

“Barney was supersmart, with a thick swish of black hair that stuck straight up and out like the brim of a baseball cap. April thought Barney was a dapper dresser, which is not an easy thing to be when you wear a khaki Lumberjanes uniform every day. Barney was one of the only scouts who wore their uniform every day, because they liked the crispness of the uniform shirt, and the buttons and the kerchief.”

Here’s a bit of art from Brooklyn Allen to follow up my Kirkus Q&A last week with Mariko Tamaki about Lumerjanes: Unicorn Power! (Amulet, October 2017).


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The Wolf, the Duck, & the Mouse

h1 Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

(Click to enlarge spread)

I’ve got a BookPage review of Mac Barnett’s The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse (Candlewick, October 2017), illustrated by Jon Klassen. It’s so good. That is here.

Here today at 7-Imp are a few spreads.


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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #556: Featuring E. B. Goodale

h1 Sunday, October 15th, 2017

“Between two windows, there could be a phone,
used for good ideas.”

(Click to enlarge spread)

You all are going to think I’m lazy today, but hear me out.

I’m showing you two spreads from one of my favorite picture books this year, Julia Denos’s Windows (Candlewick, October 2017), illustrated by E. B. Goodale. (This, in fact, is Goodale’s debut.) Oh, how I love it. However, I’m not going to tell you right now why I like it, because that is to-come.

As mentioned previously, I’ve joined the team over at the Horn Book’s Calling Caldecott this year. We are in the swing of things and writing about all kinds of wonderful picture books — and have been for several weeks now. I not only know that we’re going to cover Windows, but I may be the one writing about it. So, I’ll wait for that — but did want to mark the book’s publication this coming week and give you a peek inside.

For now, if you want to read more, I’ll send you to the Kirkus review, which is here.

And more on this book from me later, whether it’s in a couple of months or early 2018. (We will still be blogging at Calling Caldecott in January.)

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