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1. What I’m Up to at Kirkus This Week

This morning over at Kirkus, I take a look at Maira Kalman and Daniel Handler’s Girls Standing on Lawns, to be published by the Museum of Modern Art in early May. It made me want to find my own family photos of girls or women standing on lawns, which are in that piece over at Kirkus. Pictured above is my maternal grandmother.

That Q&A will be here today.

* * *

Pictured above is Dr. Alan Rabinowitz. I chatted with him at Kirkus yesterday about his picture book, A Boy and a Jaguar (Houghton Mifflin), illustrated by Catia Chen and also set to be released in early May. “This story,” Rabinowitz tells me, “is not just about a stuttering boy who studied jaguars, but about all children who feel sad, abused, or misunderstood by the world at large ….” It’s a remarkable story. That Q&A is here.

Until Sunday …

* * * * * * *

Photo of Alan Raboniwitz by Steve Winter and used with permission.

1 Comments on What I’m Up to at Kirkus This Week, last added: 4/18/2014
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2. A Handful of Illustrations Before Breakfast:Featuring Renato Alarcão, K.G. Campbell,Emily Gravett, and Steve Jenkins



 

Last week at Kirkus, I wrote about a handful of new picture books I like. All the talk talk talk is over here in that column, if you missed it last week.

Today, I want to share some art from each book. And, in the case of Emily Gravett, I’ve got a couple of early sketches, too. Above is a thumbnail from one of her sketchbooks. The rest is below.

Enjoy the art.

(Note: The illustrations from Mama Built a Little Nest are sans text. The colors in those also appear here on the screen a bit brighter than they do in the book.)

Emily Gravett’s Matilda’s Cat
(Simon & Schuster, March 2014):


 


Early thumbnails
(Click to enlarge)


Emily: “A page of rejected cats.”
(Click to enlarge)


A final spread from the book
(Click to enlarge)



 

Mina Javaherbin’s Soccer Star
(Candlewick, April 2014),
illustrated by Renato Alarcão:


 


“… Maria sees that I’m impressed. ‘So now can I be on your team?’ She asks me this day after day. But my answer is always the same: ‘Our team’s rule is no girls.’”
(Click to enlarge)


“We’re off to the ocean, and when it’s time, I cast my net in the deep.
Wild storm clouds appear fast in the sky above. …”

(Click to enlarge)



 

K.G. Campbell’s The Mermaid and the Shoe
(Kids Can Press, April 2014):


 



(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


“There, one day, something new drifted into Minnow’s life. She couldn’t imagine
what it was for, but it was the loveliest thing she’d ever seen.”

(Click to enlarge)


“In the forest, she passed an octopus. ‘What is this?’ she asked it.
But the octopus just shrugged.”

(Click to enlarge)


“In the shallows, she happened upon a whale. ‘What is this?’ she asked it.
‘I swallowed one of those once,’ said the whale. ‘Yuck!’”

(Click to enlarge)



 

Jennifer Ward’s Mama Built a Little Nest
(Beach Lane Books, March 2014),
illustrated by Steve Jenkins:


 


Part of the male cactus wren spread: “Daddy built a little nest. / And then he built another. / And another. And another—/hoping to impress my mother.”
(Click to enlarge)


Part of the weaverbird spread: “Mama built a little nest. / She used her beak to sew /
a woven nest of silky grass, / the perfect place to grow.”

(Click to enlarge)


The grebe spread: “Mama built a little nest. / She gathered twigs that float /
and placed them on the water / to create a cozy boat.”

(Click to enlarge)


The hornbill spread: “Mama built a sealed nest / within an old tree’s hollow./
My daddy left a little hole / to pass her food to swallow.”

(Click to enlarge)



 

Steve Jenkins’ Eye to Eye:
How Animals See the World

(Houghton Mifflin, April 2014):


 



The halibut and panther chameleon spread
(Click either image to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)


The ghost crab and gharial spread
(Click to enlarge and read text)


The leopard gecko and tarsier spread
(Click to enlarge and read text)



 

Steve Jenkins’ and Robin Page’s
Creature Features:
25 Animals Explain
Why They Look the Way They Do

(Houghton Mifflin, October 2014):



 


“Dear harpy eagle: And why are your feathers sticking out?”
(Click to enlarge and read text)


“Dear horned frog: Your mouth is ginormous. Why so big?”
(Click to enlarge and read text)


“Dear sun bear: Why is your tongue so long?”
(Click to enlarge and read text)


“Dear shoebill stork: Why do you need such a burly beak?”
(Click to enlarge and read text)



 

* * * * * * *

MATILDA’S CAT. Copyright © 2014 by Emily Gravett. Published by Simon & Schuster, New York. Images reproduced by permission of Ms. Gravett.

SOCCER STAR. Text copyright © 2014 by Mina Javaherbin. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Renato Alarcao. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

THE MERMAID AND THE SHOE. Copyright © 2014 by K.G. Campbell. Published by Kids Can Press, Toronto. Images reproduced by permission of the publisher.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST. Text copyright © 2014 by Jennifer Ward. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Steve Jenkins. Published by Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster, New York. Images reproduced by permission of Steve Jenkins.

EYE TO EYE: HOW ANIMALS SEE THE WORLD. Copyright © 2014 by Steve Jenkins. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston. Images reproduced by permission of Steve Jenkins.

CREATURE FEATURES: 25 ANIMALS EXPLAIN WHY THEY LOOK THE WAY THEY DO. Text copyright © 2014 by Robin Page and Steve Jenkins. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Steve Jenkins. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston. Images reproduced by permission of Steve Jenkins.

1 Comments on A Handful of Illustrations Before Breakfast:Featuring Renato Alarcão, K.G. Campbell,Emily Gravett, and Steve Jenkins, last added: 4/17/2014
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3. Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Julie Fortenberry


 
Illustrator Julie Fortenberry is visiting 7-Imp today, and as you can see above, she brought her breakfast along — Cheerios with blueberries and coffee with milk. It looks just right to me (and healthy to boot), and I’m ready to chat with her over coffee.

I should say that Julie, who started her career as an abstract painter, is an author-illustrator, actually. Earlier this month, she saw her writing debut, though previously she’s illustrated others’ books. You can read more below about The Artist and the King, her author-illustrator debut and what Kirkus calls in their review “a nod to art’s twin powers of subversion and of transformation.” It was published by Alazar Press (whom we have to thank for re-printing Ashley Bryan’s compilations of Black American spirituals, but Julie talks about that below too).

Those of you familiar with the work of Kar-Ben Publishing (a division of Lerner Publishing Group), who publish new children’s books with Jewish content each year, may instantly recognize Julie’s work. As you’ll see below, she’s illustrated many of Jamie Korngold’s stories about a Jewish girl, the cheery and ever-resourceful Sadie.

Let’s get to it, and I thank Julie for visiting. (I’d like to take this opportunity, by the way, to thank Julie seven-thousand-fold for her blog about children’s illustration, which she writes with artist Shelley Davies. Oh, how I’ve enjoyed it over the years.)

* * * * * * *


A painting by Don Fortenberry of Julie at work
(Click to enlarge)

Jules: Are you an illustrator or author/illustrator?

Julie: Author/Illustrator.

Jules: Can you list your books-to-date?

Julie: Illustrator of the following:

Author/Illustrator of The Artist and the King [April 2014].

Jules: What is your usual medium?

Julie: Photoshop.



Sketch and final illustration for High Five

magazine

Jules: Where are your stompin’ grounds?

Julie: Pittsboro, NC. Population 3,743 (2010 census).

Jules: Can you tell me about your road to publication?

Julie: I started my career as an abstract painter, and I still paint abstractions from time to time. I was once in a Whitney Museum exhibit with Carroll Dunham (Lena’s dad) and the Starn Twins. That was a lifetime ago.


River (oil on pine)


Julie’s portrait of her uncle, Martin Balow
(Click to enlarge)

As an illustrator, I’m self-taught. I started tinkering with Adobe software that a friend gave me not long after I had children. It was satisfying to be creative in a way that was accessible to my kids. In 2006, the High Five magazine and Boyds Mills Press editors found my illustration portfolio on childrensillustrators.com. The art directors and editors of Honesdale, PA, gave me my first assignments.


“Cotton candy, sticky sweet, on Pippa’s fingers—tasty treat.”
(Click to enlarge)


“Parade is over. Time for bed.”
(Click to enlarge)

Above: Spreads from Karen Roosa’s Pippa at the Parade (Boyds Mill Press, 2009)

Jules: Can you please point readers to your web site and/or blog?

Julie: www.juliefortenberry.com.

My abstract work can be seen here.

Artist Shelley Davies and I blog about children’s illustration here. (Shelley finds the best stuff.) We recently started a Facebook page, too: www.facebook.com/childrens.illustration.9



More illustrations for High Five

Jules: Any new titles/projects you might be working on now that you can tell me about?

Julie: I have a new Sadie book coming out in September (Sadie, Ori, and Nuggles Go to Camp) and one more Sadie book in the pipeline. I’m also writing and illustrating an easy reader.



(Click to enlarge)

Pictured above: Work-in-progress pieces

Mmm. Coffee.Okay, I’ve got more coffee, and it’s time to get a bit more detailed with seven questions over breakfast. I thank Julie again for visiting 7-Imp.

1. Jules: What exactly is your process when you are illustrating a book? You can start wherever you’d like when answering: getting initial ideas, starting to illustrate, or even what it’s like under deadline, etc. Do you outline a great deal of the book before you illustrate or just let your muse lead you on and see where you end up?

Julie

: My process varies, depending on the editor. Some editors send layouts with the words in place and detailed instructions; others leave the layout up to me. For Eve Bunting’s Pirate Boy, I was free to create the page turns, to choose what to illustrate, and even to choose the dimensions of the book. I hand-drew little story boards to figure out how to pace the pictures. The sketches and final illustrations were done with Photoshop (using a mouse).


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)

Pictured above: Sketches and final spreads from Eve Bunting’s
Pirate Boy

(Holiday House, 2011).

As for The Artist and the King, the project started when my husband recounted a tale about WWII. The Danes, he said, had made Nazi orders unenforceable when they all opted to wear the yellow star. Really this is a myth, but I wished it were true. That idea of people working together to undermine a tyrant became the seed for The Artist and the King, and the yellow star became a dunce cap.

Of course, because I was writing for children, everything else changed too. My friend, the writer Kathleen O’Dell, helped me with the first couple of drafts (and by “couple,” I mean twenty). Almost from the start, the illustrating and writing happened simultaneously. The pictures sparked the words and vice versa. In fact, the entire road to publication was intertwined with the writing and rewriting process. I submitted a dummy of the story (by emailing a link to a web slideshow) to several editors and received feedback. One editor in particular outlined ways for improving the story. Still, after revisions, she wasn’t quite ready to commit to it.


“Neighbors and friends asked for caps of their own. She began selling her caps in the marketplace, and trading them for exotic ribbons, gems,
feathers and buttons to make new caps.”

(Click to enlarge)



“One by one, the others followed. When the soldiers saw their families going, they followed, leaving the King alone in the market square. Daphne looked back at that cap, then at the King’s spear, hovering directly above it. That beautiful cap, crumpled in the dirt! She made a run for it. But she stopped short.”
(Click to enlarge)



“‘Come now, your majesty,’ said Daphne. ‘We can still bring everyone home.’”
(Click to enlarge)

Pictured above: Sketches and final spreads from
The Artist and the King


(Alazar Press, 2014).

Around this time I moved to North Carolina, and I saw Ashley Bryan’s work at the North Carolina Museum of Art. His beautifully illustrated compilations of Black American spirituals (Walk Together Children and I’m Going to Sing) were republished by Alazar Press, just up the road from me. I queried the founder of Alazar, Rosemarie Gulla, about the project. Rosemarie loved the story and agreed to publish it. The final edit was done by the wonderful writer and editor Jacqueline Ogburn. And the book designer, Julie Allred, adjusted the layout in a way that improved the flow of the story.

With so much help, it was a little like making stone soup. But in this version of Stone Soup, the villagers are extremely talented and generous.



Sketch and final illustration for Babybug

magazine

2. Jules: Describe your studio or usual work space.

Julie

: Big. One of the perks of living in a small southern town is that I can afford work space. My husband and I use the top floor of our home as a studio. His side is for painting and collage. It’s full of paint, glue, and bits of ripped up Life magazines. If I want a watercolor backdrop to scan into my work, I can find it over there.


(Click to enlarge)


Julie’s husband, Don, in the studio
(Click to enlarge)


Julie’s children

3. Jules: As a book-lover, it interests me: What books or authors and/or illustrators influenced you as an early reader?

Julie

: The first book I read alone was The B Book by Phyllis McGinley, illustrated by Robert Jones. I loved Marcia Brown’s Stone Soup (read by Captain Kangaroo) and my Little Golden Book Picture Dictionary illustrated by Tibor Gergely.

And then there’s The Five Chinese Brothers by Claire Huchet Bishop and Kurt Wiese. I remembered the picture of the ocean being swallowed by the one brother and his struggle not to spit it out, because when he does spit it out, a little boy will drown — and that’s just the first brother. There are four more brothers and four methods of execution, one involving suffocation by burning whipped cream. I think it’s safe to say that they don’t write ‘em like that anymore.

4. Jules: If you could have three (living) authors or illustrators—whom you have not yet met—over for coffee or a glass of rich, red wine, whom would you choose? (Some people cheat and list deceased authors/illustrators. I won’t tell.)

Julie: Lynda Barry, David Small, and Shirley Hughes.



Sketch and final illustration from Sadie’s Sukkah Breakfast
by Jamie Korngold (Kar-Ben, 2011)

(Click second image to enlarge)

5. Jules: What is currently in rotation on your iPod or loaded in your CD player? Do you listen to music while you create books?

Julie: Amy Winehouse, Kid Creole and the Coconuts, Lily Allen, Nellie McKay, The Kinks, Madeleine Peyroux, Sly and the Family Stone.

I listen to music when the reading/math part is over, yes.




Sketches and more art from Sadie’s Sukkah Breakfast

6. Jules: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

Julie: I’m a good dancer. Please, someone invite me to a wedding reception.


Spread from Jamie Korngold’s
Sadie’s Lag Ba’Omer Mystery

(Kar-Ben, January 2014)
(Click to enlarge)

7. Jules: Is there something you wish interviewers would ask you — but never do? Feel free to ask and respond here.

Julie: Who is your favorite writer for adults?

Anne Tyler. A review by Tara Gallagher accurately described Anne Tyler as a “master of the fine threads of human relationships.” I love movies about the fine threads, too. Mike Leigh’s Another Year is a favorite.


Illustration from Jamie Korngold’s
Sadie’s Almost Marvelous Menorah

(Kar-Ben, 2013)

* * * The Pivot Questionnaire * * *

Jules: What is your favorite word?

Julie: “Shoehorn.” It cracked me up the first time I heard it, and it still cracks me up.

“Flummoxed” is another good word.

Jules: What is your least favorite word?

Julie: “Yummy.”

Jules: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Julie: A liberal arts education — what Sarah Vowell calls “that trap door to a bottomless pit of beauty.”

Jules: What turns you off?

Julie: Bean-counting.

7-Imp: What is your favorite curse word? (optional)

Julie: Every word Susie Essman’s character, Susie Greene, has ever yelled. She has a talent for alliteration.

Jules: What sound or noise do you love?

Julie: The wail of loons on a lake. The voices of my family playing board games as I fall asleep on the couch.

Jules: What sound or noise do you hate?

Julie: Eric Cantor’s voice.

Jules: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Julie: Acting.

Jules: What profession would you not like to do?

Julie: Anything where I’d have to pronounce French words in front of people, like waitressing at the Lord Jeffery Inn. Just ask my friend Jennifer Thermes about my pronunciation of the word giclée.

Jules: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Julie: “It’s okay.” And then I’d like to hear Bobby Darin sing “Beyond The Sea.”

* * * * * * *

All artwork and images are used with permission of Julie Fortenberry.

The spiffy and slightly sinister gentleman introducing the Pivot Questionnaire is Alfred, © 2009 Matt Phelan.

3 Comments on Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Julie Fortenberry, last added: 4/16/2014
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4. Tap Tap Boom Boom‘ing Before Breakfast:A Visit with Author and Bookseller Elizabeth Bluemle


(Click spread to enlarge)

Earlier this month, I reviewed Elizabeth Bluemle’s Tap Tap Boom Boom (Candlewick, March 2014), illustrated by G. Brian Karas, for BookPage. What a good book it is, and that review is here over at the wonderful BookPage site.

Today, I’m following up with a couple of spreads from the book — and a chat with Elizabeth. She not only writes, but nearly 20 years ago, she also opened a bookstore along with Josie Leavitt, The Flying Pig Bookstore in Vermont, and she co-writes over at ShelfTalker (at Publishers Weekly), also with Josie.

I took the opportunity to ask Elizabeth today about Tap Tap Boom Boom, but also what she calls the World Full of Color diversity database. I also asked her simply, what are you reading now? (I love this question so much that I’d love to start a simple blog series where I ask authors and illustrators just that one question — short posts with short answers. Would I have time for this, though? Ay, there’s the rub.)

Anyway, enjoy my chat with the ever-curious, always-learning Elizabeth Bluemle …

* * * * * * *

Jules: You describe the book at your site as “beat-rich.” Did you set out to write a book with a beat-specific rhythm, or did it sort of morph into that as you went along?

Elizabeth (pictured left): The beat was there from the beginning, though I made changes along the way, trying to capture the varying rhythms and tempos of the storm. I wrote most of my notes for the book standing on the subway landing platform at 14th Street, waiting out a huge thunderstorm with my suitcases. Some of my notes were just prosaic, fragmented observations about the people going up and down the subway stairs into and out of the storm, but others came out in rhyme and rhythm. (The “big, big fella / with tiny umbrella / it’s yellow” was one of those.)

Jules: What was it like to see Brian’s art for the first time?

Elizabeth: It was fabulous. The spreads were so detailed and the palette so rich. I have always loved Brian’s art, and I loved what he did in this book with the mixing of photos and gouache. I felt as though he perfectly captured the city and the spirit of camaraderie among strangers that I was hoping to get across with the book.


(Click spread to enlarge)

Jules: Do you feel like being a bookstore owner influences your writing? I would think, for instance, that you read tons of picture books, and we all know that reading reading reading as many as possible is step one in learning to write (or so people say).

Elizabeth: I do think reading widely and deeply is a wonderful and irreplaceable education for writers. I was a school librarian and a teacher before I was a bookseller, so I suspect even without bookstore experience, I might have read almost as many picture books as I do now. But it would have been a difference animal. One of the unique advantages of bookselling is getting to see the whole field of children’s literature unfold as it happens, meaning that we get to see which houses are publishing what books each season, a few months in advance. So, while that kind of research is certainly possible if you aren’t a bookseller, it’s so much easier when you have sales reps coming in with catalogs and F&Gs (folded and gathered picture books pre-publication) and ARCs. So, I guess I’d say that being a bookseller influences my understanding of the field, but I don’t think that it really affects my writing, which comes from an intuitive, not a logical, place in my brain.

Jules: Tell me more about your diversity database.

Elizabeth: Oh! Thank you for this question.

For several years, I have been writing in my Publishers Weekly blog, ShelfTalker, about the desperate need for more books featuring main characters of color where race is NOT the driving force of the story. Those books are important, too, but children also need to see themselves in every kind of story — and not merely as the white main character’s sidekick. We need books at every age level featuring kids having magical adventures, solving mysteries, navigating friendships — all of the genres! So, I began keeping a database of books that meet the above criterion, and it is used by teachers and librarians and parents across the country. I call it the World Full of Color database.

This conversation about diversity in children’s books really gained momentum over the past couple of years, and I’m hoping we are finally reaching the tipping point where everyone involved in the creation of children’s books—authors and illustrators, agents and editors, art directors and publishers—realize that this is not just a moral imperative, but good (and forward-thinking) business practice.

Jules: What are you reading now? Any good recommendations, even if it’s adult fiction?

Elizabeth: I recently finished a harrowing, utterly riveting debut adult novel by James Scott, entitled The Kept. It’s a revenge epic about an upstate New York family in 1897 whose lives are ripped apart because of the mother’s past. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it is quite remarkably written and could be used as a textbook for evocative setting and world-building in historical fiction. It’s completely unlike Cormac McCarthy’s The Road in setting, plot, and character, but may appeal to readers who found some harsh beauty in that narrative.

I’m also listening to Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood on audio, a delightful mystery starring a wry, none-too-innocent, 1920s-era high society London heroine, Phryne Fisher. A customer lured me into trying the series, and it is pure fun.

The children’s book that has me in its grip at the moment is S.E. Grove’s debut novel, The Glass Sentence. I’ve just started, so can’t say too much about it yet, but so far it’s fantastic, a fantasy with a phenomenal premise wherein the globe has been flung into disarray — not only are land masses separated by continental and political divides, but there are space-time divisions within them, so the world is a hodgepodge of civilizations co-existing at various times in history, some of them fantastical (even in the context of the book). I’ll have to finish it to describe it better!


Jules: What’s next on your plate? Any news books you’re working on now that you’re allowed to talk about?

Elizabeth: I always have several ideas and manuscripts percolating (more accurately, tugging at me to get back to them), but the one that is clawing most impatiently is about a villainous cat. It’s another rhyming book, though it has a more of a narrative arc and a regular rhythm than Wokka [pictured above] or Tap Tap Boom Boom. It’s really fun to write about an unrepentant rascal!

* * * * * * *

Image of Elizabeth used with her permission.

TAP TAP BOOM BOOM. Text copyright © 2014 by Elizabeth Bluemle. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by G. Brian Karas. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

1 Comments on Tap Tap Boom Boom‘ing Before Breakfast:A Visit with Author and Bookseller Elizabeth Bluemle, last added: 4/14/2014
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5. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #377: Featuring Elizabeth Rose Stanton



 

Good morning, all.

Author/illustrator Elizabeth Rose Stanton visits 7-Imp today to talk about her debut picture book, Henny, which was published by Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster in January. The painting above, called Ignition, is not from that book, but I like it and it makes me laugh.

Henny is the story of a chicken who has arms, and below Elizabeth tells us how she came to this premise, what reactions have been (the creeptacular painting below is my second favorite), and she also tells us a bit about what she’s up to next. I thank her for visiting and for sharing lots of art.

Henny, by the way, is packing her bags and learning her French. Her story will be published in France by Seuil Jeunesse in 2015. Bon voyage, Henny.

Here’s Elizabeth …

Elizabeth: I’m often asked how I thought up the idea of writing a picture book about a chicken with arms.


(Click to enlarge)

It all began a few years ago after a bout of strenuous doodling. I do my best thinking when I’m drawing, and one day I was thinking about (which means I was drawing) birds. What a shame, I thought, that some birds have wings that are relatively useless—birds like ostriches and dodos—when out popped a sketch of a bird with arms. Much more useful, I thought. I found myself getting quite carried away with the idea.



First thoughts about birds with arms

Then I started thinking about chickens. What about a chicken with arms? Much more useful, I thought. I had so much fun imagining what a chicken could do with a pair of arms that, soon after, Henny was born. I became so intrigued that I drew her in every imaginable scenario in every handy medium — from pen and ink to gouache to colored pencil. By the time Henny was published, I had more than a few fat binders and numerous sketchbooks overflowing with her.


Early Henny doodles


Early Henny cover idea



Study sketches for Henny


Then came time for the final art. It happened that Henny was acquired by Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books based on a rough dummy, rendered entirely in pencil, so I had to decide what to use for the final art. Having been trained as an architect and scientific illustrator and having been a portrait artist, I was very used to working in pencil, pen and ink, pastel, and gouache.


Pen and ink, colored pencil


Gouache, colored pencil

Shortly before the book offer, I (serendipitously) inherited a generous supply of watercolors, brushes, and what seemed like an endless supply of watercolor paper from a distant relative. So I thought, why not?

All of the final art for Henny was rendered in pencil and watercolor on cold press watercolor paper.


First rough watercolor sketch of Henny


“Soon Henny begain to imagine all the other things she could do.”
(Click to enlarge)


“She didn’t like being different.”
(Click to enlarge)


“Sometimes Henny followed Mr. Farmer around. He was always very busy.”
(Click to enlarge)


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So now that it’s been a couple of months since Henny’s book debut and I can step back from it all a little, I have to say how much I am enjoying reading and seeing some of the reactions to my unusual character. Some of the most frequently used words I’ve read in comments and reviews about her are: adorable, weird, funny, lovely, quirky, sweet, and hilarious — and someone even said she was creeptacular.

I just can’t resist drawing Henny as creeptacular:

I love all these observations, because I think it shows there’s a complexity to Henny’s character that’s getting people thinking and feeling on multiple levels.

But I have to say that the most satisfying responses have been from the kids. They seem to take it in stride that Henny was born different. Even if they initially think Henny is a bit odd, by the end of the story her personality seems to win them over.


“… she tried to act natural … and fit in.”

At the moment, I have no plans for a Henny sequel, but I find I just can’t stop drawing and painting her. She’s been such a fun character and, after all, her story is about possibilities and using your imagination …


Henny being regal


Henny, waving like the Queen



Henny in her debut attire


 

So now, cue the pig:

My next book, also with Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, is Peddles (due out early 2016). Peddles is still in the works, but let’s just say it’s a story about a little pig with some BIG ideas.


(Click to enlarge)

Meanwhile, I’m continuing on with my strenuous doodling. I have a standing goal to draw something everyday and post it. I have to admit I don’t always make it, but I like the challenge and it’s certainly led me to come up with some interesting character and story ideas — so stay tuned.


Sketchbook and some works-in-progress





 

Character ideas from my sketchbooks:

 




 

Beginnings of some story ideas from my sketchbook:

 




Thanks so much for having me, Jules!

HENNY. Copyright © 2014 by Elizabeth Rose Stanton. Published by Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York. All images here reproduced by permission of Elizabeth Rose Stanton.

* * * * * * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) Traveling.

2) Getting home when you’re weary of airports and small talk on planes with extroverts — and when you really want big hugs from your daughters.

3) Big hugs from the daughters.

4) My co-workers (from one of my many contractor jobs and the reason I flew to Massachusetts this week). We work virtually, so meeting up once a year, face to face, is always fun.

5) The I-miss-you notes my eight-year-old snuck in my luggage, which I was supposed to pretend not to see when I was packing.

6) Though I wish they’d let a woman host a major late-night talk show from time to time, COLBERT!

7) I knew that Nickel Creek covered a Sam Phillips’ song on their new CD, but before I even ordered it, Little Willow emailed me a link to it on Grooveshark. (Thanks, LW!) It’s even her Poetry Friday post from this past week.

So gorgeous, this cover, and Sam is such a fabulous songwriter:

Where Is Love Now by Nickel Creek on Grooveshark

What are YOUR kicks this week?

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6. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week

This morning over at Kirkus, I write about a small handful of new picture books that caught my eye for one reason or another, including the one pictured above.

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

That link will be here later over at Kirkus.

Until Sunday …

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7. I Like Dahlov Ipcar’s Art


“I wish I were a keeper in a great big zoo –
with elephants and camels and ponies to ride.”

(Click to enlarge)

First up, a quick blog-scheduling note, though I don’t know that I have any blog readers who pay attention this closely. (“Blog-scheduling” is making me giggle, ’cause I really don’t have much of a schedule—as in, I mostly fly by the seat of my pants around here—but that’s neither here nor there.)

Where was I?

Oh, right. When I write anything over at Kirkus, I always follow up here at 7-Imp one week later with art from the books I write about. Kirkus doesn’t ask me to do this; it’s purely a 7-Imp thing. It’s ’cause I start to get twitchy when I can’t see illustrations from the books. (Sketches are even more fun to see.)

All that’s to say that today I’d normally have some art and maybe even early sketches from Laurie Keller’s Arnie the Doughnut chapter books, because we chatted last week at Kirkus. I will be posting those follow-up images, but it’ll be most likely next week, since Laurie is traveling now — which also works out for me, because as you read this, I’m traveling myself, near Boston for work.

But what I can bring you today are some spreads from Flying Eye Book’s newly-remastered edition of Dahlov Ipcar’s I Like Animals. If you missed it last week, I wrote over at Kirkus about the impressive care Flying Eye put into the re-mastering of this book, originally published in 1960. That column is here.

Enjoy the art, and see you tomorrow …



“I like animals. All kinds of animals.
Plain ones, strange ones, little ones, big ones. …”

(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


“I’d have a cage full of pelicans and toucans and flamingos,
macaws and cockatoos and birds of paradise. …”

(Click to enlarge)



“I’d have all kinds of puppies … “
(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)

* * * * * * *

I LIKE ANIMALS. All artwork, characters and text are © 1960 Dahlov Ipcar. © 2014 edition Flying Eye Books. Spread reproduced by permission of the publisher.

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8. Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Jeremy Holmes

I’m pleased to welcome illustrator Jeremy Holmes to 7-Imp this morning for breakfast. Back in 2010, I wrote about Jeremy’s delightfully creepy and beautifully bizarre adaptation of the mother of all cumulative children’s folk songs, “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” (complete with a slip cover and closing eyes on the lady’s head when she kicks the bucket). This book went on to win him a Bologna Ragazzi Opera Prima Award.

And it’s this Old Lady, which Jeremy notes at his site, who opened his eyes to the “imaginative and playful world of the picture book” (from primarily the world of graphic design, that is).

Jeremy’s here today to talk about his road to publication and what’s on his plate now — and he shares lots of art, especially from his latest illustrated book, J. Patrick Lewis’ and Douglas Florian’s Poem-mobiles (Schwartz and Wade, January 2014). So I want to get right to it.

I’m very good with Jeremy’s favorite breakfast: English muffins toasted with a smear of salted butter; one egg over hard, heavily peppered; “some pancetta, if ya’ got it, but Canadian bacon will do in a pinch”; a small glass of OJ; and a cup of strong, slightly creamed and sweetened coffee. (He got the coffee JUST RIGHT!)

I thank him for visiting. Without further ado …

* * * * * * *

Jules: Are you an illustrator or author/illustrator?

Jeremy: I’m an illustrator trying to author.

Jules: Can you list your books-to-date?

Jeremy:


Jules: What is your usual medium?

Jeremy: My medium-of-choice is still up for debate. Currently, I’m working with pencil, charcoal, watercolor, digital color, and paper collage. Maybe I should list my non-preferred mediums? But I’m not sure I have any. Wait … I know. I’d never make anything using Limburger cheese.

[Ed. Note: All of the pencil drawings immediately below are from J. Patrick Lewis' and Douglas Florian's Poem-mobiles.]


Drawing the “Caterpillar Cab” spread
(Click to enlarge)


The “Jurassic Park(ing)” spread
(Click to enlarge)


The “Balloon Car” spread
(Click to enlarge)


The “Bathtub Car” spread
(Click to enlarge)



Drawings for the “Giant Bookmobile of Tomorrow” spread
(Click each to enlarge)


The “Dragonwagon” spread
(Click to enlarge)


The “High-Heel Car” spread
(Click to enlarge)

Jules: Where are your stompin’ grounds?

Jeremy: My family and I live in a quaint little 1920s’ bungalow just outside of Philadelphia, PA.


Cover


“Giant Bookmobile of Tomorrow” and “Mini-Mini-Car”


“Fish Car” and “Eel-ectric Car”


“Caterpillar Cab”



“The Love Car”


“The Supersonic Ionic Car”

Above: Final spreads from Poem-mobiles (Schwartz & Wade, January 2014)
(Click each spread to enlarge)

Jules: Can you tell me about your road to publication?

Jeremy: While in grad school, I took a publication class with the uber-talented designer Paul Kepple of Headcase Design, during which I created my first children’s book, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. Once graduated, The Old Lady and I set out into the great wide world of publishing to see if anyone would have interest in making her. Everyone we met with revered the concept, but because of her complicated construction, no one felt she could be built for profit. So I sat her up on a shelf and began illustrating anything and everything that knocked at my door. Before I knew it, I was an editorial illustrator creating weekly assignments for the New York Times, Wired magazine, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, and CNN. Not exactly what I set out to do, but it paid the bills, and I was satisfied (for now) with the level of work being demanded by my clients.


“THERE WAS AN OLD LADY WHO SWALLOWED A SPIDER that wriggled and wiggled and tiggled inside her. SHE SWALLOWED THE SPIDER TO CATCH THE FLY.
I don’t know why she swallowed a fly. PERHAPS SHE’LL DIE.”
(Click to enlarge)

Then out of the blue, I received a call from Victoria Rock of Chronicle Books. She had come across the elaborate marketing piece I had created for The Old Lady three years ago (yes, three years had passed) and wondered if I would send my one-of-a-kind mockup of The Old Lady out to her. They wanted to take her over to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair to see what type of response she’d garner. It had taken me over 100 hours of hard labor to build her, so I was a bit nervous to let her go but figured it would be best for us both.


(Click to enlarge)

A few (very quiet and long) weeks passed before I received another call from Victoria, saying she had some good and some bad news. Confused, I requested the bad news first. She went on to notify me that The Old Lady had been kidnapped, swiped, stolen from the book fair. Victoria immediately consoled my broken heart, saying everything would be alright, because soon there’d be thousands more of her out and about. And so it began.

Jules: Can you please point readers to your web site and/or blog?

Jeremy: www.jeremyholmesstudio.com/; twitter.com/jeremysdesk; www.facebook.com/jeremyholmesstudio.


(Click to enlarge)

Jules: Any new titles/projects you might be working on now that you can tell me about?

Jeremy: I’m currently working with the fantastic Rebecca Sherman of Writers House on my first author/illustrated picture book and a graphic novel, but it’s all still too raw to provide any pictures/pages.

But don’t fret, there’s still a few things I can share. I recently created a piece for Tiny Pencil




 

… and I’m neck-deep in the jacket and interior art for a chapter book for Simon & Schuster (all still a work-in-progress).

 


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)

Mmm. Coffee.Okay, our coffee is ready, and it’s time to get a bit more detailed with five questions over breakfast. (We’re too busy eating English muffins for all seven.) I thank Jeremy again for visiting 7-Imp.

1. Jules: What exactly is your process when you are illustrating a book? You can start wherever you’d like when answering: getting initial ideas, starting to illustrate, or even what it’s like under deadline, etc. Do you outline a great deal of the book before you illustrate or just let your muse lead you on and see where you end up?

[Ed. Note: All of the images in this response are from Poem-mobiles.]


A process wall
(Click to enlarge)


Exploring type
(Click to enlarge)

Jeremy

: I begin every project with a mind map. It’s quite simple: I just take a piece of paper and start writing down everything my mind knows about the subject at hand. Depending on the material, this can go on for pages. As I’m recording what I know, I highlight certain subjects or thoughts that fit the mood of what I’ve read; I’ll make doodles and note interesting connections. After this initial brain spill, I start gathering research from books, the internet and any other pertinent sources. I stuff all of this info deep down into my noggin and then just sit and let it marinate for a bit. I imagine it’s a similar process to what an actor goes through when getting ready to play a specific part. The goal of all this is to try and figure out the essence of the story — something I can bounce ideas and images off of to see if what I’m creating fits and feels appropriate.


Watercolors for the “Banana Split Car” spread
(Click to enlarge)


Coloring the “Paper Car” spread
(Click to enlarge)


Fine-tuning the “Giant Bookmobile of Tomorrow” spread
(Click to enlarge)


Edits to the “Supersonic Ionic Car” spread
(Click to enlarge)

After this brief gestation period, my process is similar to many others. My sketches start as blurry thoughts and lines which, with the help of the art director and editor, slowly come into focus as tight sketches. From here I begin final art. I’ll spend time experimenting with a multitude of materials, trying to find the approach that best fits the mood of the book. Once I feel I’ve got something working, I’ll pick a spread, render it out, and share it with the publisher. If it works, I keep going. If it doesn’t, I go back to the board and start again. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that there’s always another solution. Never be scared to go looking for it.

2. Jules: Describe your studio or usual work space.


(Click to enlarge)

Jeremy

: My studio is my sanctuary. No matter where I’ve worked, I’ve always transformed my space into a place that’s warm, inviting, comfortable. Currently, my studio is in an old stone Methodist church from the 1820s that’s been transformed into small working spaces for creatives by the fabulous owner and designer, Val Nehez. I knew the minute I walked into the building that I could create here. It smelled like my grandma’s kitchen.


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)

3. Jules: As a book-lover, it interests me: What books or authors and/or illustrators influenced you as an early reader?

Jeremy

: Anything by Dr. Seuss.

Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little by E.B. White.

Hubert’s Hair-Raising Adventure by Bill Peet.

Anything by Roald Dahl.

4. Jules: If you could have three (living) authors or illustrators—whom you have not yet met—over for coffee or a glass of rich, red wine, whom would you choose? (Some people cheat and list deceased authors/illustrators. I won’t tell.)

Jeremy: My body doesn’t respond well to meeting people I admire. My nose instantly turns to ice, and the heat that used to inhabit my schnoz goes straight to my hands and clams ‘em up, which makes for awkward handshakes. That said, I wouldn’t mind enjoying a delicious German beer at a bar where Lane Smith, Mac Barnett, and Jon Scieszka just happen to be sitting.

[Ed. Note: All of the images from here to the Pivot Questionnaire are early sketches from Poem-mobiles.]



Early cover sketches
(Click each to enlarge)



Early dustjacket sketch
(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)



Sketches for “Giant Bookmobile of Tomorrow”
(Click each to enlarge)





Bookmobile spines
(Click the third one to enlarge)


Concept sketch for “Mini-Mini-Car”
(Click to enlarge)


Sketch for “Fish Car” and “Eel-electric Car”
(Click to enlarge)


Sketch for “The Backwards Car”
(Click to enlarge)


Sketch for “High-Heel Car”
(Click to enlarge)


Sketch for “Balloon Car”
(Click to enlarge)


Concept sketch for “Hot Dog Car”
(Click to enlarge)


Sketch for “The Egg Car” and “Hot Dog Car”
(Click to enlarge)

5. Jules: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

Jeremy: I really didn’t draw that much as a kid. I just daydreamed a lot.


Sketch for “The Sloppy-Floppy-Nonstop-Jalopy” and “Grass Taxi”
(Click to enlarge)



Rejected Heart Car sketch
(Click to enlarge)


Possible sign for “The Love Car” spread
(Click to enlarge)


Sketch for “The Love Car”
(Click to enlarge)




Sketches for “The Banana Split Car”
(Click each to enlarge)

* * * The Pivot Questionnaire * * *

Jules: What is your favorite word?

Jeremy: “Scrumdiddlyumptious.” (Gotta love Roald Dahl.)

Jules: What is your least favorite word?

Jeremy: “Disrespect.”

Jules: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Jeremy: Being with my family, the change of the seasons, time in the woods, odd and peculiar inventions, worn artifacts, live acoustic bluegrass music, color study, storytelling.

Jules: What turns you off?

Jeremy: Ignorance.

7-Imp: What is your favorite curse word? (optional)

Jeremy: “Shit on a shingle” (also one of my favorite breakfast foods).

Jules: What sound or noise do you love?

Jeremy: Got two for this one: Rain and belly laughter.

Jules: What sound or noise do you hate?

Jeremy: Kids crying.

Jules: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Jeremy: Chocolatier.

Jules: What profession would you not like to do?

Jeremy: Anything dealing with Limburger cheese.

Jules: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Jeremy: “Sorry. Not yet, Jeremy. You’ve still got a few more things I need you to make. But don’t worry. Yours is one of my best endings yet.”

* * * * * * *

All artwork and images are used with permission of Jeremy Holmes.

POEM-MOBILES: CRAZY CAR POEMS. Copyright © 2014 by J. Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Jeremy Holmes. Published by Schwartz & Wade Books, New York.

THERE WAS AN OLD LADY WHO SWALLOWED A FLY. Illustrations copyright © 2009 by Jeremy Holmes. These images were orginally reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA, in this previous 7-Imp post.

The spiffy and slightly sinister gentleman introducing the Pivot Questionnaire is Alfred, © 2009 Matt Phelan.

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9. PB & J with JJK

Hey, look! Jarrett J. Krosoczka is visiting today to talk about his new picture book, Peanut Butter and Jellyfish (on bookshelves tomorrow, I believe, from Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers), and how he created the art for it. From his black linework to the abstract acrylic paintings (love the heavy brushstrokes in many of these spreads) that form the basis of the illustrations, JJK gives us the low-down here in this video, just over four minutes.

And, as he notes here, it’s been a while since we’ve seen a JJK picture book with new characters. I always like to see that.

Enjoy the sneak-peek at Jarrett’s process …

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10. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #376: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Christine Allen



 

It’s the first Sunday of the month, which means I welcome a student or new illustrator. Today, Christine Allen visits. Christine, who lives in Colorado, studied painting and is transitioning into illustration. She tells us more about herself below, so let’s get right to it.

I thank her for visiting …

* * *



 

My Schooling/Training and
Transition into Illustration:

I received my BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where I studied painting. I also studied at Parson’s The New School for Design and Yale School of Art and Music. All exceptional experiences, all challenging and fulfilling. Following all of this study, I had a bit of a crisis, a loss of excitement and energy when it came to painting. I began to realize that, despite identifying as a creative person, I was at that time very rigid in my thinking. It was painting or nothing. As I began to lift the walls, so to speak, and go (not to sound hokey) where the energy took me, I came to children’s books. And as often happens when one looks back, it seemed exceedingly obvious that this connection had walked with me all along the windy road and back to where I began.




 

What I Am Working on Now:

I am currently playing around with circus images. The imagery is rich. The animals are unsettled and haunted by distant memories of life in the wild. I am also painting animal gods that look to be from somewhere in China.




 

Inspirations:

Illustrators and writers I greatly admire are David Lucas, Jon Agee, Tove Jansson, David Small, John Burningham, and of course all things William Steig, James Thurber, and Virginia Lee Burton. I am in complete awe of Rob Dunlavey, Blexbolex, Laurent Moreau, Astrid Lindgren, Maira Kalman, Quentin Blake, Sophie Blackall, Kevin Waldron, Marjorie Priceman, Mo Willems. Honestly, it’s just too many to name here, but it’s hard to stop. I want to just keep naming them. So much incredibly wonderful work out there.



 

What I Am Reading Now and Love:

Unless I am deeply absorbed in a novel, I usually have two or three books going at once and another 20 due back to the library. Currently, it is Design as Art by Bruno Munari, The Bat Poet by Randall Jarrell/Maurice Sendak, and The Owl in the Attic and Other Perplexities by James Thurber. Since the day I became a parent, in addition to pleasure reading came the desperate reading of books by experts on child-rearing and of self-help books.




 

From the Sketchbooks:





 

All images here are used by permission of Christine Allen.

* * * * * * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

I’m going to keep it short today, since I’m going out of town later this week for work and have my work cut out for me (for before I leave).

I’m grateful Christine visited today, as I enjoy seeing her artwork.

My big kick is that I finished Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings, such a great novel.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

9 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #376: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Christine Allen, last added: 4/6/2014
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11. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week,Featuring Salina Yoon


“With flyers stacked high, Bear set off.”


 

I know I shouldn’t use the word “nerd” to describe someone who merely has a deep and abiding passion for something—it’s not entirely fair—but there’s just no two ways about it: My column over at Kirkus today is for fellow picture book nerds. As in, you’d have to seriously geek out over illustration to appreciate it.

That link will be here later.

* * *

Last week, I wrote here about Salina Yoon’s Found. Today, I’m sharing some of her art from the book.

Enjoy.


“One day, Bear found something in the forest.”
(Click to enlarge spread)


“Bear posted flyers on every tree.”
(Click to enlarge spread)




 

* * * * * * * *

FOUND. Copyright © 2014 by Salina Yoon. Published by Walker Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Bloomsbury, New York. Spreads here reproduced by permission of Salina Yoon and the publisher.

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12. My Morning Chat with Laurie Keller(Where’s My Doughnut Anyway?)

It’s tricky to try to guess what kids will think is funny, so I usually just write what I think is funny and hope that they’ll think so, too. Sometimes silly lines will come to me right away, but other times it takes me weeks to get the right ‘angle’ or ‘voice’ that I’m looking for. Watching movies that make me laugh helps — like Monty Python and the Holy Grail (talk about slapstick!), Strictly Ballroom, The Jerk, Airplane!, Young Frankenstein and anything by Christopher Guest. If there are parts I’ve written that aren’t as funny as I would like, I can’t always pinpoint what isn’t working right away, but eventually the right mood hits and I can usually figure out how to fix it.”

* * *

This morning over at Kirkus, I chat with author-illustrator Laurie Keller. I do that annoying thing people do where they ask what it’s like to write humor, but hey, she was up for answering.

That link is here. Next week, I’ll follow up with some illustrations from her new Arnie the Doughnut chapter books.

Until tomorrow …

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13. Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Petr Horáček

The Bologna Children’s Book Fair may be over, but I’m still on an international kick here at 7-Imp. Today, I welcome author-illustrator Petr Horáček, born in Czechoslovakia and currently living in England.

Horáček has been making picture books for over ten years now, one reviewer even describing his vibrant and textured mixed-media paintings and collages as “strangely beautiful.” It may not be surprising to many to read below that Petr gets great inspiration from the work of Eric Carle. In fact, he describes having first seen Carle’s work as a life-changing moment, indeed. Both illustrators work in bright colors and craft stories that are gentle and reassuring to the youngest of readers. In fact, as you’ll also see below, Petr has many a board book under his belt, including some new ones coming from Candlewick this Fall — and he has passionate opinions about the role of board books in children’s lives.

It turns out that breakfast is Petr’s favourite meal of the day and always has been. “Both my parents worked,” he tells me. “They had already gone when our neighbour woke me up. The large lady pushed her head around the door, said ‘good morning,’ and disappeared. I had to wake up, get washed, and go to the kitchen, where on the table was hot cocoa and bread, spread with butter, honey, or jam. The radio was playing music approved by the communist government, and a voice coming from the radio was telling us that it was nearly 7 a.m. and, therefore, time to go to school.”

Petr’s favorite breakfast was always these spreads with hot cocoa and Czech rolls with butter. But “I rarely have cocoa and bread for breakfast these days,” he says. “I have muesli with bran flakes, cinnamon, and cold milk. It is my second choice. It is a healthier option.”

I think today we should have some cocoa and rolls, though. I’m thinking we should be decadent. I’ll set the table while getting the basics from Petr before our seven questions over breakfast. I thank him for visiting and sharing lots of art.

* * * * * * *

Jules: Are you an illustrator or author/illustrator?

Petr: I consider myself both.

I studied fine art and, therefore, working on the pictures is what I like best. I also like making up stories, but getting it right and making it work so that I can make a nice picture book out of it is a different story.

I’m very lucky to work with my editors, Denise and Louise, at Walker Books. They make my life much easier.



Spread and cover from What is Black and White?

(Candlewick, 2001)

I occasionally illustrate for some other authors. I don’t do it very often, and I find it very challenging. In my books I always start with a picture. The text is the last thing. Working on somebody else’s text is working the other way around. Starting with the text — for me, it is definitely harder.

Jules: Can you list your books-to-date?

Petr: PICTURE BOOKS:

BOARD BOOKS:

PHONIC BOOKS:

BOOK ILLUSTRATIONS:


Jules: What is your usual medium?

Petr: Colours and texture are important in my work. The materials I use inspire me, and I’m always ready to try something new.

I use pencils, coloured pencils, wax crayons, watercolours, pastels, and acrylics.

I also use collage in my work. I paint and print patterns on papers, which I then cut and use in my illustrations.

Pencil and acrylic are probably my favourite materials.




Spreads and cover from Animal Opposites

(Candlewick, 2013)
(Click spreads to enlarge)

Jules: If you have illustrated for various age ranges (such as, both picture books and early reader books OR, say, picture books and chapter books), can you briefly discuss the differences, if any, in illustrating for one age group to another?

Petr: I do board books, novelty and pop-up books, picture books — and I have also illustrated some early readers.

Board books are something I’m quite proud of. You hardly ever hear about authors who illustrate board books. In fact, you hardly see good board books in the shops. Board books are thought to be something too small to be taken seriously.

People think that board books are for babies; therefore, it doesn’t mater what you show them, as long there are some pictures. It’s rubbish, of course, and it makes me very cross when I hear that bookshops don’t want to keep board books, because they take too much space on the shelves and make little profit.




I take my board books seriously. A board book is often a child’s very first contact with visual art and literature.

Children may not have as many experiences as adults, but it doesn’t mean that they are stupid. They definitely deserve more than just a squeaky washable book with an image of a flower and dolphin. To this day, I have published about twelve board books and I’m working on more as we speak.

All of these books have some novelty aspects. Pages build up to a final picture as you turn the page. The pages have holes and cut-outs so that you can chase the mouse through the book and so on.




Spreads and cover from Run, Mouse, Run!

(Candlewick, 2005)
(Click second spread to enlarge)

I also like working on picture books. I like thinking and developing new ideas. The format of a picture book gives me the chance to paint more and play with the pictures.

I like to think that the difference between a board book and a picture book is similar to the difference between a poem and a novel. With board books, you have to think simple, trying to fit a story or message in to a very limited format. A picture book gives you more space.




Spreads and cover from Puffin Peter (Candlewick, 2013)


(Click spreads to enlarge)

Novelty books with holes and cut-outs are fun. You have to think about the book as a complete object, where every cut-out and detail has its place. So what you see through the hole of one page makes sense even when you turn the page and look back.

It takes time and lots of sketching. It’s almost a mathematical task sometimes. I enjoy it, which always surprises me, since at school I didn’t like maths and difficult logical exercises. Too much thinking always hurt me.



Spread and cover from Butterfly Butterfly


(Candlewick, 2007)
(Click spread to enlarge)

A very different experience for me is working on early reader chapter books. I don’t write these kinds of books, so I have to follow the text written by somebody else. My imagination is working but is usually preoccupied with too many details, and I find it quite hard to simplify the pictures. I like the challenge, but it can be hard work sometimes.




Spreads and cover from My Elephant


(Candlewick, 2009)
(Click spreads to enlarge)

Jules: Where are your stompin’ grounds?

Petr: I was born and lived most of my life in the capital city of the Czech Republic Prague. Prague is beautiful but also quite busy, as you can imagine.

Now I live in Worcester in the middle of England. It’s a rather pretty and quiet city. I like that. It’s easy to travel anywhere from here. I cycle to the city, and it takes no time to go to the countryside if you wish to do so.



Spread and cover from Look Out, Suzy Goose
(Candlewick, 2008)


(Click spread to enlarge)

Jules: Can you tell me about your road to publication?

Petr: I started to write and illustrate books around the time when my first daughter was born. At the time, I was working as an art technician in a high school.

The mother of one of the students had written a book and was looking for somebody who could draw. I had no idea about the publishing world, and neither did she, but we worked together. The books were self-published and, therefore, never reached a shop. I realised that I loved working on these books, and it inspired me to write my own stories.



Spread and cover from Suzy Goose and the Christmas Star


(Candlewick, 2010)
(Click spread to enlarge)

Probably the final point was when I saw the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. The book was given to my daughter, when she was born, by my friend. Coming from a different country, I didn’t know about the existence of this book. I didn’t know how well-known it was. I thought it was a true masterpiece, and I wished I could do something like this myself.

Over the next couple of years, I made some mock-ups and sent them to agents and publishers.



Spread and cover from The Fly
(Walker Books, 2010)

(Click spread to enlarge)

I must say I’m very grateful to my wife, who didn’t try to explain to me that I was naive to think that I could be published. She would have had a case, though. I didn’t have an agent, and my English was almost non-existent. Instead, she gave me all the support I needed. She helped me with my texts and letters to publishers.

I got a few nicely-written rejection letters, but one day I got a phone call from Random House. On the line was a very kind editor who liked my books. He gave me some tips and said that, once I re-worked some of my ideas, we could meet up for a chat. I was thrilled. The next day I received another phone call. This time it was Walker Books. They asked me to come to see them, and this is how I ended up with one of the best publishers of children’s books in England.

It was at just the right time, since I had already signed myself up for stacking shelves in a supermarket. Times were hard.

My first books were Strawberries Are Red and What is Black and White? I got my first award for these two books, “Newcomer 2001,” from Books for Children.



Spread and cover from Strawberries Are Red

(Candlewick, 2001)

Jules: Can you please point readers to your web site and/or blog?

Petr: My website is at www.petrhoracek.co.uk. I do write a blog. It’s accessible from my website.

Jules: If you do school visits, tell me what they’re like.

Petr: I do quite a few school visits every year. Those are well-organised for me by Speaking of Books.

I usually do one or two talks in the morning. I show lots of images and pictures, using a slide show. I talk about my work and about the books. I try to explain how the idea for a book develops, showing all the sketches and pictures which didn’t make it to the book. I try to inspire the children by showing them that is okay to mess up or not finish a story — and that we all have to go through the learning process. What is important is not to give up and start again, if necessary.





Some of Petr’s small canvases
(Click each to enlarge)

7-Imp: If you teach illustration, by chance, tell me how that influences your work as an illustrator.

Petr: I don’t teach. I’m still in the learning process myself.

Occasionally, I do talks for students or a panel with other authors. It’s always inspiring for me, and I always leave with the feeling that I still have much to learn.

Jules: Any new titles/projects you might be working on now that you can tell me about?

Petr: I’m always thinking about new board books.

I have finished a picture book, which is going to be called The Mouse Who Ate the Moon [to be published by Candlewick in the Fall]. It’s a sequel to A New House for Mouse.

Recently, I headed out to the Czech Republic, where in the countryside by the woods I wrote down some new ideas.




Spreads and cover from A New House for Mouse

(Candlewick, 2004)
(Click spreads to enlarge)

Mmm. Coffee.Okay, our coffee is ready, and it’s time to get a bit more detailed with seven questions over breakfast. I thank Petr again for visiting 7-Imp.

1. Jules: What exactly is your process when you are illustrating a book? You can start wherever you’d like when answering: getting initial ideas, starting to illustrate, or even what it’s like under deadline, etc. Do you outline a great deal of the book before you illustrate or just let your muse lead you on and see where you end up?

Petr

: I studied fine art, and things I see around inspire me. It could be an abstract painting in a gallery, a drawing done by a child, or an interesting photo in a magazine.


A Bit of Light


A Meeting Point


About a House


From the Garden


Funny Beetle


Home with Garden


In Layers


In the Clouds


Kingfisher


Midnight Garden

Petr: “[These are] samples of my paintings. I originally studied fine art,
and I still paint when I can.”

(Click each one to enlarge)

I start sketching the story first on separate sheets of papers. I draw twelve windows that represent twelve double spreads. Then I try to fit the story into those frames. I often have to draw a few more, because I can’t fit the story in. I edit the length of the story later. I keep changing and editing the story. Each time, my doodle drawings get better and more precise.

As I’m sketching, I’m thinking about how to do the illustrations and what materials I’ll use. I also start to write the text under the thumbnails.


Petr: “[This is] a sample of a storyboard and of how I sketch a book.
This one is
The Fly.”
(Click to enlarge)

I choose one of the spreads I want to illustrate first. At this point, I get quite excited about the book. The way that I paint the first picture is usually how I will deal with the rest of the book.

I use collage in my artwork. It gives me a chance to loosen up. I like shifting the images on the paper and finding something “extra.” I do each picture at least twice, sometimes more. I choose the best one for the book.

I’m lucky to work with two very good editors. I always listen to what they have to say, and I’m quite happy to do as many changes as necessary.



Petr: “This [is from] a book, which I’ve started many times
but never finished.”

(Click sketch to enlarge)

2. Jules: Describe your studio or usual work space.

Petr

: I work at home. I have my studio in the attic. I built it mostly myself. It’s not very big, so I have to be organized. I have a sky-light window, which faces south, and from my window I can see our garden and the gardens of our neighbours. I can also see the Malvern Hills, if I stretch a bit.


(Click to enlarge)

I work at the table, which has toughened glass on it. It’s rather practical and easy to keep clean. I have another table on my right side. It’s a table for the computer and printer. It’s always partly covered with things that belong to my children, such as bits of paper and printed homework that they don’t want anymore.

In front of me and behind the desk are steps downstairs and a wall with pictures and prints done by my favorite Czech illustrator, Jiří Šalamoun. There are also pictures and drawings done by my children. Under these pictures, you can see shelves in the length of the house, full of CDs.

Behind me is a hi-fi, speakers, and books. On the side where the window is are shelves and storage, where I keep papers and drawings.


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)

3. Jules: As a book-lover, it interests me: What books or authors and/or illustrators influenced you as an early reader?

Petr

: As a child, I never was a great reader. When I was little, nobody talked about dyslexia. I preferred to listen to stories on the radio — or somebody reading to me.

I liked books for the illustrations. I could look at a book with nice pictures for ages, but it still didn’t make me want to read it.

The books I grew up with were, of course, very different from books you know. I liked stories about a robber called Rumcajs. He was a nice guy who lived in the woods with his wife Manka and little boy Cipisek.

One character from Czech books people may know was Krteček, a little mole, whose friend was a little mouse. The author/illustrator was Zdeněk Miler.

We had lots of very talented people, such as Jiří Trnka. In fact he was a great puppet-maker, animator, illustrator, and writer.

I love very old, half-animated and half-acted films done by Karel Zeman.

Two of my favourite Czech illustrators are Jiří Šalamoun and, of course, Josef Lada.



Petr: “These are pages from my sketchbooks. I collage into the sketchbooks left-over drawings, bits of papers, drawings done by children, and so on. I look at them from time to time to get myself in a creative mood.”
(Click each to enlarge)

4. Jules: If you could have three (living) authors or illustrators—whom you have not yet met—over for coffee or a glass of rich, red wine, whom would you choose? (Some people cheat and list deceased authors/illustrators. I won’t tell.)

Petr: This is a tricky question, since the creator of interesting art could be a quite boring person to talk to, but I would take a risk and love to witness a conversation between Josef Lada, Jiří Trnka, and Eric Carle. I know that you may not know Josef Lada and Jiri Trnka, but I’ve read their autobiographies, and—trust me—they were very interesting guys with very interesting things to say. And Eric Carle? Well he is one of the best, and I’m sure he would fit well.


Sketch
(Click to enlarge)

5. Jules: What is currently in rotation on your iPod or loaded in your CD player? Do you listen to music while you create books?

Petr: Oh, don’t get me started. I’ve been always working with music, and I listen to almost everything, except perhaps pop music and jazz.

My wife comes from a musical family, she is a very good cello and viola de gamba player, and she is responsible for my likes and taste in classical music. I like renaissance and baroque music. I also like Stravinsky and some of the classical contemporary music. From Stravinsky, it is just a step to Frank Zappa and from there … well, everything.

When I need to think or relax, I can listen to Monteverdi, Buxtehude, or Glenn Gould playing Bach. When I’m working on the pictures, it could be anything from Pink Floyd, Sonic Youth, Radiohead, Jimmy Hendrix

, Laurie Anderson, or My Bloody Valentine. When I’m preparing papers or printing, I need to work fast and then I play something more energetic. Rage Against the Machine, Nine Inch Nails, or The Mars Volta would do the job.

In my CD player at the moment are Patti Smith and Nick Cave.


Sketch
(Click to enlarge)

6. Jules: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

Petr: I did mention my dyslexia. I can’t spell very well. In English or in Czech.

7. Jules: Is there something you wish interviewers would ask you — but never do? Feel free to ask and respond here.

Petr: I have no problem answering any questions people ask me, but at the same time I don’t consider myself to be so interesting that I need to shout outloud everything about myself.

Also, next to my table I keep little sketchbooks. When I have enough of working or when I feel like it, I do a little drawing into them. I fill them up with cut-outs from papers and with little collages. I also make little pictures about what I just heard on the radio or what I remember from my dreams. I like these drawings, since they are a kind of diary. I look at them from time to time for inspiration.











(Click each to enlarge)

* * * The Pivot Questionnaire * * *

Jules: What is your favorite word?

Petr: I’ve seen this question before, and I found it very strange that I can’t really answer it. I don’t really have a favourite word. Maybe the word “right” is the one I like to use.

Jules: What is your least favorite word?

Petr: Same as above, but there is one phrase I truly hate: “What are you on about?” This drives me mad.

Jules: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Petr: A walk in the woods, being in the countryside, or a good art exhibition.

Jules: What turns you off?

Petr: A day by the computer, answering emails or writing explanations to something that should be obvious.

7-Imp: What is your favorite curse word? (optional)

Petr: “Do prdele” in Czech. (It means “Bugger.”)

In English, “fuckity fuck!” (It means … oh, well …)

Jules: What sound or noise do you love?

Petr: I love sounds — the sound of a dog barking in distance, the sound of a train coming from far away, the sound of cockerel in the morning, a gentle knock on the door, the sound of an ironing board when somebody is ironing …

Jules: What sound or noise do you hate?

Petr: Anything too noisy. Who likes the sound of a dentist’s drill?

Jules: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Petr: I would like to work with wood. Being a carpenter would be nice.

Jules: What profession would you not like to do?

Petr: Accounting would be a nightmare.

Jules: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Petr: “Hi, mate. Come in. It’s nice to meet you finally. I love what you do.”

I would say:

“Taa. I like your work, too.”

Him: “Coffee?”

Me: “Yes, please. Strong with milk. No sugar.”

* * * * * * *

All artwork and images are used with permission of Petr Horáček.

The black-and-white photos of Petr were taken by Anthony Pearson.

The spiffy and slightly sinister gentleman introducing the Pivot Questionnaire is Alfred, © 2009 Matt Phelan.

4 Comments on Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Petr Horáček, last added: 4/4/2014
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14. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #375: Featuring Manuel Monroy


“‘Why are you doing that?’ asked Chepito as his mother stood at the stove, cooking eggs and frying beans. … ‘These eggs and beans will make you really strong.’ …”
(Click to enlarge spread)

Today’s featured book won’t be out till June. Yes, June! Sorry to be posting about it so early — I try not to make a habit of this.

Why Are You Doing That? (Groundwood Books) is a picture book for very young readers, written by Elisa Amado and illustrated by Manuel Monroy. Elisa is an author and translator, born in Guatemala. Manuel is one of Mexico’s most celebrated illustrators. It’s a companion to their first picture book, What Are You Doing? (2011).

In this book, a young boy, named Chepito, explores his environment one morning—from his mother, cooking breakfast, to his neighbors, flattening dough and milking cows and feeding chickens—all the while asking in his sing-song way (as if he’s a bird), “Why are you doing that … What for? What for?” All the patient, accommodating adults answer him; this is a gentle read about curiosity and rural communities and not only where food comes from, but also how we nurture our bodies and the animals that feed us. It even closes with a short glossary.

Monroy evidently started out with color pencil and watercolor drawings, and then he went the digital route from there. The illustrations are warm and affectionate. Please note, however, that they appear a bit brighter here on the screen than they do in the book.

Here are a couple more spreads. Enjoy.


“There was his neighbor, Manuel, digging in the ground. … ‘Look at this nice elote,’ Manuel said as he peeled back the husk.”
(Click to enlarge spread)


“Chepito ran around the corner. He saw Doña Ana throwing corn to some chickens. … ‘What for? What for?’ sang Chepito. ‘So that they can grow strong and lay good eggs like the ones you just had for breakfast.’”
(Click to enlarge spread)

WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT? Copyright © 2014 by Elisa Amado. Illustrations © 2014 by Manuel Monroy. Published by Groundwood Books, Toronto. All images here reproduced by permission of the publisher.

* * * * * * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) Hands down, my biggest kick of the week was an opportunity to chat with Barry Moser about Appalachian children’s literature, as a favor for some friends at UT in Knoxville, who are planning an upcoming exhibit about that very topic. I got a picture afterwards. It was a pleasure to chat with him.

2) And the night before, I heard him and author Ann Patchett speak at Vanderbilt about writing and typography and design and illustrations and books and such.

3) And that reminded me to pick up Ann’s latest book, which I’ve been wanting to read for a while now.

4) I’m mildly to moderately obsessed with Rufus Wainwright’s cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Chelsea Hotel,” which I only listened to about 77 times this week. Not this particular rendition below, but still …



 

“Well, never mind / we are ugly, but we have the music” …

5) This CD is now on my Want List.

6) Planetariums.

7) Sean Lennon! New sound! (It’s the first song there, called “Too Deep.”) Well, it’s Sean Lennon with Charlotte Kemp Muhl, and they call themselves The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger.

Did you all see that the Hans Christian Andersen Award was given this week — as well as the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award?

What are YOUR kicks this week?

11 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #375: Featuring Manuel Monroy, last added: 3/31/2014
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15. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week,Featuring Kady MacDonald Denton and Rosemary Wells


One of Kady MacDonald Denton’s early sketches for
Liz Garton Scanlon’s
The Good-Pie Party


An illustration from Rosemary Wells’s Stella’s Starliner


 

This morning over at Kirkus, I write about Salina Yoon’s Found. That link will be here later.

* * *

Last week, I wrote (here) about Liz Garton Scanlon’s The Good-Pie Party, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton (Scholastic, April 2014), and Rosemary Wells’s Stella’s Starliner (Candlewick, March 2014).

Today, I’ve got a bit of art from each book, as well as some early sketches from Kady.

Enjoy.




Kady’s early sketches


“… and pie upon pie upon pie.”
Final spread from the book
(Click to enlarge)



 

* * *


 



(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)



(Click second image to see spread in its entirety)

* * * * * * *

THE GOOD-PIE PARTY. Copyright © 2014 by Liz Garton Scanlon. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Kady MacDonald Denton. Spread reproduced by permission of the publisher, Scholastic, New York. Sketches reproduced by permission of Kady MacDonald Denton.

STELLA’S STARLINER. Copyright © 2014 by Rosemary Wells. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

4 Comments on What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week,Featuring Kady MacDonald Denton and Rosemary Wells, last added: 3/31/2014
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16. Following Up with Hidden …

Last week over at Kirkus, I chatted briefly (here) with author and comics writer Loïc Dauvillier about his new graphic novel for children, Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust, first published overseas in 2012 and coming here from First Second this April. (It was translated into English by Alexis Siegel.)

Today, I follow up with some art. The book was illustrated by Marc Lizano and Greg Salsedo (comics colorist).

Until tomorrow …


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)

* * * * * * *

HIDDEN: A CHILD’S STORY OF THE HOLOCAUST. Copyright © 2012 by Lizano — Dauvillier — Salsedo — Le Lombard (Dargaud-Lombard S.A.). English translation by Alexis Siegel. English translation copyright © 2014 by First Second, New York. Images here reproduced by permission of the publisher.

1 Comments on Following Up with Hidden …, last added: 3/27/2014
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17. Solving Puzzles with Jonathan Bean


Early car studies
(Click to enlarge)

Just last week at Kirkus, I wrote about two new picture books that are about children and their families moving. After that posted, did you hear me smack my forehead way over here in Tennessee for having completely forgotten to include Deborah Underwood’s Bad Bye, Good Bye (Houghton Mifflin) in that post? Illustrated by Jonathan Bean, it’s a wonderful picture book with a spare, rhyming text about the range of emotions children can feel when moving away from friends to a new home in a new location. The book’s strength, writes the Kirkus review, “is in the emotional journey that’s expressed with a raw honesty.” It’s true, oh-so true. Look closely, if you get a copy of this in early April, when it’s released. The boy whose family is moving rages on the day they get in the car to drive away. Be still, my heart. (No fear. Things are looking up for him at the book’s close.)

One of the reasons I think I forgot it, though, is that I knew I’d be doing a post in the near future about, in particular, the illustrations for this book. And the illustrations are captivating. I mean, what Bean does with the depiction of light alone in this book … wow.

Regular readers of my blog know I always like it when Jonathan Bean visits to talk about how he creates the illustrations for his books. In this one … well, here’s what Jonathan had to say about it:

The illustrations are made in a somewhat old-fashioned way. Instead of pre-set CMYK colors (cyan, magenta, yellow, black), I picked Pantone colors from a book of paint swatches, similar to what you find in a home paint shop. This allowed me to create a particular mood, depending on the colors I chose. However, it also meant that it was my job to pre-separate the art (separate the illustrations into four colors, corresponding to the traditional CMYK.) This was a lot like solving a complicated puzzle, since each illustration required four paintings, a separate painting in black and white for each color. The rewards for the extra hassle are consistent and deeply saturated colors throughout the book — an effect CMYK can’t match.

Jonathan offered to talk a bit more about his process for creating these illustrations, but I think that covers it, and as I told him, I like to let the art do the talking anyway. That said, if anyone has further questions about his process, I think Jonathan would be happy to continue the conversation in the comments.

Enjoy the art and sketches below …



Early manuscript doodles
(Click each to enlarge)


Early media study
(Click to enlarge)






Early sketches
(Click each to enlarge)


The moving spread — black
(Click to enlarge)


Moving spread — blue
(Click to enlarge)


Moving spread — red
(Click to enlarge)


Moving spread — yellow
(Click to enlarge)


“Bad truck / Bad guy”
Moving spread — everything combined

(Click to enlarge)




The park spread
(Click each to enlarge)


The park spread — black
(Click to enlarge)


Park spread — blue
(Click to enlarge)


Park spread — red
(Click to enlarge)


Park spread — yellow
(Click to enlarge)


“New park / New street New bark”
Park spread — everything combined

(Click to enlarge)

* * * * * * *

BAD BYE, GOOD BYE. Copyright © 2014 by Deborah Underwood. Illustrations © 2014 by Jonathan Bean. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston. All images here reproduced by permission of Jonathan Bean.

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18. Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Klaas Verplancke



 

Klaas Verplancke simply doesn’t have breakfast without a single or double espresso. If he has his way, he also has a glass of champagne to kick off his day.

I’m down with both espressos and champagne, so we’ll pretend to have some here, as we chat today.

Now, all my illustrator interviews are pretend. Someone once asked me how I manage to do these interviews when folks live all over the globe; they truly thought I was meeting them for breakfast in person. I WISH. I’d be game for a children’s-lit version of Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Oh, would I!

But, even if these weren’t cyber-interviews, I’d still have to have a pretend breakfast with Klaas, because he’s in Bologna this week for the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. And if I can’t be there (which I can’t — I’m very much sitting in my home in middle Tennessee), I can at least bring my readers some art from over the pond, as they say — in honor of the fair. Verplancke himself lives and works in Belgium.

As you’ll read below, Klaas has been illustrating for years, yet only a couple of his children’s books have been brought here to the U.S. In 2012, we got to see Applesauce (which I wrote about here at Kirkus), originally published in Belgium in 2010 and released here by Groundwood. I like that book, but I won’t go on about it here; you can read why at that link. Applesauce was included in the Society of Illustrators’ Original Art exhibit in 2013, and it received a bronze medal at the No. 10 Picture Book Show at 3×3.

I think Verplancke’s work is best summed up by illustrator Steven Guarnaccia: “[His] work is strange, yet strangely comforting. Beautifully crafted, and beautifully bonkers.” Yep. What Guarnaccia said.

This morning, Klaas shares lots of thoughts on children’s books, lots of passion, and lots of art below, so let’s get to it. I’m curious to know what he’s up to now. I thank him for visiting 7-Imp.

(Note: Klaas may be the first interviewee—I think? There have been many interviews here over the years—to ever direct a question at other illustrators, if anyone wants to chime in. See question #7.)

* * * * * * *

Jules: Are you an illustrator or author/illustrator?

Klaas: Illustrating author. I puzzle with mostly images, sometimes with words, in function of the story. I start from the idea that everybody is born with the tools for visual reading. We have to cherish and develop this talent. But unfortunately, what usually happens when growing older is the narrowing of our imagination and a growing fear for our spontaneity and intuition to understand what we see and feel.


(Click to enlarge slightly)

Jules: Can you list your books-to-date?

Klaas: Almost 150 titles — and more then 60 translations so far. Too long to list here. Only two titles are available in English: The First Klaas Book and Applesauce (Groundwood Books, 2012). Please check my bibliography on my website.



“A thunder daddy is no fun. Stupid Daddy, I think.”


“But then suddenly it’s quiet. I smell applesauce.”

Above: Art from

Applesauce
(originally published in Belgium in 2010 and released in the U.S.
by Groundwood Books in 2012)

(Click images to enlarge)

Jules: What is your usual medium?

Klaas: My usual medium is my brain. My way of thinking is my style, not a specific technique. Form follows function and usually arises out of experiment.

Recently, I started exploring monotype. But I also like to work with acrylics, gouache, colored pencils, Photoshop and Pentel brushes.






Jules: If you have illustrated for various age ranges (such as, both picture books and early reader books OR, say, picture books and chapter books), can you briefly discuss the differences, if any, in illustrating for one age group to another?

Klaas: A story must find an author and readers, not vice versa. Therefore, the potential reader is never the starting point of my writing — but the angle or the viewpoint of the characters in my story, which will ultimately determine what readers my story will attract. When you tell a story about a house and you describe the value, the dimensions, and the construction, then you will attract other readers, as opposed to describing the color of the tiles or the flowers on the wallpaper.




Hansel and Gretel

I always get curled toes in the discussion on the suitability of books for children. One always throws all children on a pile, as if The Child exists. Like a baker would bake his bread for a particular kind of child. Let’s apply this reasoning to adults to show how absurd this argument is: Not all adults understand and read Kafka’s books. So, the books of Kafka are not suitable for adults.

In assessing books, one mistakenly starts from the perception that ‘not understanding’ is a problem. “We think we understand the rules when we become adults, but what we really experience is the narrowing of our imagination,” said David Lynch. Maybe we should assume that ‘not understanding’ creates fascination and imagination, that we should understand that there is something called mystery, and that children intuitively assume that they need to learn if they want to grow. Let me quote Guus Kuijer: “If we don’t want to learn, then everything is elitist and unintelligible, even opening a door.”

Jules: Where are your stompin’ grounds?

Klaas: Brugge, close to the Groeninge Museum. My neighbors are Bosch, Memling, and van Eyck.

Jules: Can you tell me about your road to publication?

Klaas: I produced my first illustrations when I was still in uniform. It is a career born more or less out of need: As I was liable for military service, I helped shape the military weekly, Vox, and when there was a lack of photos, I filled in any empty spaces with drawings. I studied Advertising Graphics and Photography from 1982 to 1986 in an art high school in Ghent, Belgium. After my military service, I worked for a few advertising agencies and continued to do my illustrating after office hours. In 1990, I decided to become a full-time illustrator. Advertising acted as a handy training ground for my new profession, teaching me to analyse issues and to get a story across to the public at large.

Jules: Can you please point readers to your web site and/or blog?

Klaas: http://www.klaas.be.



Above: Klaas at the Society of Illustrators’ Original Art opening, 2013;
Klaas and Klassen at the opening

Jules: If you do school visits, tell me what they’re like.

Klaas: I lecture for students. I try to make them familiar with visual literacy and storytelling so that they can apply this in their future jobs — and convey an enthusiasm and love for books.


7-Imp: If you teach illustration, by chance, tell me how that influences your work as an illustrator.

Klaas: Every day I do a lot of things intuitively in my artwork. Teaching requires me to bring these actions into words. In other words, teaching is a constant self-reflection, which is so very instructive for me. I give a lot, but I get a lot back from the students themselves. Their questions, thresholds, and viewpoints broaden my way of seeing and evaluating.






Some editorial work

Jules: Any new titles/projects you might be working on now that you can tell me about?

Klaas: A new picture book after the success of Applesauce is particularly difficult and confrontational. I have a dozen books going through my head.

In the meantime, I’m engaged in two new animation projects as an art director, which is very exciting. Here are character designs and storyboard sheets:


Below is a preview of another new book project, a series of humorous interviews with daily objects. The title in French (the language of the original rhyming text was written by Pierre Coran, inventor and creator of this concept and father of another famous french writer, Carl Norac) is Paroles d’une casserole & d’autres bricoles. Google translates this as Words of a Pan and Other Odds.

Every spread combines two objects/interviews in one surrealistic, weird, or crazy scene. I use a special digital technique, which I cannot yet reveal completely, but it is based on a combination of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black — and inspired by vintage Polish and Russian picture books. The first book of this series will be published by the end of this year.





(Click each image to enlarge)

In addition, I am currently working on two new picture books, for which I wrote the text — but they will be illustrated by two other illustrators. Very exciting! One is a famous illustrator from Japan; the other, an author from Poland, not yet known. But, unfortunately, I cannot reveal the names yet. When writing these stories, I obviously had particular ideas in mind. Now it is extremely exciting and interesting to compare my personal vision with the imagination of another illustrator. It opens my mind, broadens my horizons, and obliges me to question certain evidences or automations.

These are sketchy illustrations I made for the Dare to Dream project:


Mmm. Coffee.Okay, our espressos (and champagne) are ready, and it’s time to get a bit more detailed with seven questions over breakfast. I thank Klaas again for visiting 7-Imp.

1. Jules: What exactly is your process when you are illustrating a book? You can start wherever you’d like when answering: getting initial ideas, starting to illustrate, or even what it’s like under deadline, etc. Do you outline a great deal of the book before you illustrate or just let your muse lead you on and see where you end up?


A a self-portrait drawn by Klaas’s son Pieterjan,
whose questions were the inspiration for
Applesauce

Klaas: Picasso once said, “There are artists who transform the sun into a yellow spot, but some artists transform a yellow spot into a sun.” I would like to suggest a variation on this quote: There are illustrators who transform a word into an image, but some illustrators transform an image into a feeling or a thought.




Klaas’s character studies, based on Pieterjan’s self-portrait

Drawing is reproducing what you see. But René Magritte was right: “Ceci n’est pas une image.” What you see is not an image but imagination, and we all look and imagine different about the same. That’s why the storyteller in The Little Prince draws a sheep in a box with two holes. What we look at is a shell. What’s really important is invisible.

We look, we understand, and we feel. That’s the process of seeing. He who understands this process understands how to imagine.



Early sketch and final spread from Applesauce
(Click to enlarge second image)

When I illustrate, I try to draw what we see when we close our eyes, to capture the invisible in images. All those feelings we all experience ourselves but we cannot represent in any way: How do you draw joy, loneliness, being in love, hope, sorrow? How do you give a face to such abstract concepts that are both surprising and immediately recognizable?

That is why I fret a great deal before I actually get down to drawing. I have to delve long into a story before I can get something out of it. Images emerge from a chaos of thoughts, impressions, and memories — and gradually take shape. It’s a long, tough, and unknown road between the image in your head and the final result on paper or in a book. It’s an adventure, because you never know which obstacles you may encounter en route. But you always come home differently than when you left, even after 22 years of making books.















Early ballpoint-pen sketches from Applesauce

The silence of an image is deafening significant. It is the secret place where reader/viewer and story meet. I like this intriguing contradiction in terms, because it’s a sort of perfect definition of the essence of a good illustration (or image, in general), namely the lack of response or the suggestion that stimulates the soundless process of thinking and searching for the meaning, the story behind the layers we see in an image. That respect for mystery, to not fill in everything, is in my opinion one of the essential differences between print and digital media. The reader of a soundless, static image has to create the third, fourth, and fifth dimension within his imagination. What happened before and after the image I see? Whereas in digital media every aspect is determined.

Seeing is believing. Or should we say: Seeing is feeling, and feeling is believing. Really happened is not important as long as it is true. The art of illustrating is that the reader images that the image is his own imagination.

2. Jules: Describe your studio or usual work space.




 

Klaas

: I think the pictures speak for themselves. A long time ago, this place was a factory. It looked like this:

 





 

Now it looks like this:

 














3. Jules: As a book-lover, it interests me: What books or authors and/or illustrators influenced you as an early reader?

Klaas

: Like every true Belgian, I was a big fan of the famous Belgian comics, such as Tintin, the Smurfs, Guust Flater, Suske & Wiske, Lucky Luke, and Jommeke. Apart from that, I was a slow reader of children’s books, but I read all the Flemish and Dutch classics. One of the most intriguing books was, no doubt, Koning van Katoren by Jan Terlouw. I loved this book, because it was an adventurous, exciting, and at once classic and modern fairy tale I did not fully understand. It continued to fascinate me, and the layering of the story and the themes became clear later.

4. Jules: If you could have three (living) authors or illustrators—whom you have not yet met—over for coffee or a glass of rich, red wine, whom would you choose? (Some people cheat and list deceased authors/illustrators. I won’t tell.)

Klaas: God, Jeroen Bosch, and myself at the age of 80.


With Peter Sís at a USBBY conference in St. Louis

5. Jules: What is currently in rotation on your iPod or loaded in your CD player? Do you listen to music while you create books?

Klaas: Everything between Monteverdi, Rammstein, and complete silence. It depends on the mood. Right now I’m listening to some ambient mix.










Portraits

6. Jules: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

Klaas: I can hold my breath for two minutes. I prefer well-baked bread, especially the crunchy tops. And I have an obsessive technique for filling the dishwasher.






7. 7-Imp: Is there something you wish interviewers would ask you — but never do? Feel free to ask and respond here.

Klaas: In fact, this a question I would like to ask to my colleagues: When do you know an image is finished? When and why do you stop?

Honestly, it’s the deadline that decides when I finish a drawing. I use all the time I have, and still it is always different from what I imagined. Every nuance, every space, every line is a choice and means the release of other ideas and opportunities. You draw a lot to draw little. It’s a strange cocktail of excitement and frustration. Finishing a detail and then back stepping. These three, four seconds without doubts — these are the happiest moments in my work.

But I can live with the imperfection. That makes art human. A ten-year-old girl once said: “Children need to see art from time to time, so that we never forget that some things in this world are made with love and passion.”


Klaas: “This is an accidental snapshot made by Junko Yokota,
while I was posing as a stand-in for a portrait shoot for someone else.”

* * * The Pivot Questionnaire * * *

Jules: What is your favorite word?

Klaas: “Yes.”

Jules: What is your least favorite word?

Klaas: “No.”

Jules: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Klaas: Everything that looks or sounds seemingly common or simple, but hides conviction, sacrifice, vulnerability, sustained hard labor, and profound thinking — such as, Ella Fitzgerald singing, or Hopper’s painted light, or the reflection in van Eyck’s jewelry.

Jules: What turns you off?

Klaas: Pretension and immodesty. Heroes do not exist. You’re nobody, when nobody is watching.

7-Imp: What is your favorite curse word? (optional)

Klaas: “Miljaardenondedjubegot.” Don’t try this at home. It’s Dutch.

Jules: What sound or noise do you love?

Klaas: Crunchy bread.

Jules: What sound or noise do you hate?

Klaas: Chalk scratching on a chalkboard.

Jules: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Klaas: Being Bach, Picasso, Magritte, and Santa Claus at the same time.

Jules: What profession would you not like to do?

Klaas: Painting dots on dice.

Jules: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Klaas: “Well done lad. But next time you should be drawing instead of losing time on Facebook.”


me, myselfie, and i (the first of a series)

* * * * * * *

All artwork and images are used with permission of Klaas Verplancke.

APPLESAUCE. English translation copyright © 2012 by Helen Mixter. Published in 2012 by Groundwood Books, Toronto. The APPLESACUE art and sketches are re-posted here from this 2012 post.

The spiffy and slightly sinister gentleman introducing the Pivot Questionnaire is Alfred, © 2009 Matt Phelan.

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19. A Quick Art Break, Watercolor-Style


“… I remember my aunt Gladys’s house next door. It was also a big stone house, but it smelled different from ours, like old milk, and there was randomness in the way that everything was placed as though it had been dropped in haste wherever it was.
There was also a crucific on the living-room wall.
It was an object that was missing from our living room. …”

(Click to enlarge)


 

Since I chatted at Kirkus last week (here) with author-illustrator and graphic designer James McMullan about his new memoir, Leaving China: An Artist Paints His World War II Childhood (Algonquin, March 2014), I am following up today with two watercolors from the book.


“… The stories [my father] wrote were filled with inside jokes about Cheefoo life and personalities, and he stole unashamedly in much of his music from the tunes of popular songs. He cast the productions with friends and family members,
whether or not they could sing or dance or act …”

(Click to enlarge)



 

And that’s that. Until tomorrow …

* * * * * * *

LEAVING CHINA: AN ARTIST PAINTS HIS WORLD WAR II CHILDHOOD. Copyright © 2014 by James McMullan. Published by Algonquin, Chapel Hill. Paintings here reproduced by permission of the publisher.

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20. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Chris Van Dusen


“It was a pretty good plan. And so those eight great minds rolled up their sleeves,
and they yanked and they tugged.”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 

This morning over at Kirkus, I have a bit of a Shel Silverstein appreciation. That link will be here.

* * *

Last week, I wrote here about Mac Barnett’s newest picture book, President Taft Is Stuck in the Bath (Candlewick, March 2014), illustrated by Chris Van Dusen. As a follow-up today, I have two spreads.


“‘Blast butter!’ said Taft. ‘As soon as I’m out, I’ll just need a bath.”(Click to enlarge spread)



 

Until Sunday …

* * * * * * *

PRESIDENT TAFT IS STUCK IN THE BATH. Text copyright © 2014 by Mac Barnett. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Chris Van Dusen. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

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21. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #373:Featuring Sophie Benini Pietromarchi


(Click to enlarge)

In The Color Book, to be released by Tara Books next month, Sophie Benini Pietromarchi explores color with child readers in a multitude of ways. “If you ask me,” she writes on page one, “I would have preferred to color quietly, instead of talking. I’m marking this great white page with blue ink, but ideally, I would rather not have written any words at all. Color speaks for itself better than words can — you can ‘feel’ color, and it goes straight to your heart.” But despite this, she notes, she wrote the book to invite children to “get to know colors” — by playing with them, contemplating their subtleties and meanings, considering the emotions that they evoke. It’s what she calls a color dance.

It’s a book both poetic and practical. She opens by relaying the feelings she remembers from her childhood — all based on colors. She then explores what colors are capable of by creating a character for each one (the Red Dragon, Mrs. Brown Snail, etc.), and she further discusses colors and moods by devoting an entire chapter to them. In the book’s second section, “The Basics,” she discusses such things as primary colors, complementary colors, and contrasting colors. And she closes the book by suggesting readers create their own books that explore color; her suggestions for readers’ color books are detailed, and child readers could easily follow along.

Pietromarchi, who both wrote and illustrated the book, uses collages, photos, and found objects in nature to lay it all out, and with an infectious passion for art, she invites readers to make connections and create art meaningful to them.

Here are a few more spreads …


“Yellow is a Bird of Paradise — wearing a flowery scent. Her eyes are two glowing lanterns, and she lives in a castle of straw with a thousand rooms. …”
(Click to enlarge and see full text)


“Here’s a sunny, laughing face. And the surrounding colors are equally happy — cheerful, strong and direct.”
(Click to enlarge)


” … I was thinking of Ms Yellow who carries a lemon in her yellow bag;
or a startled blue goat whose milk is made of ink …”

(Click to enlarge and see full text)

THE COLOR BOOK. Copyright © 2013 by Sophie Benini. Translated from the original Italian by Guido Lagomarsino and edited by Gita Wolf. Images reproduced by permission of the publisher, Tara Books, UK and India.

* * * * * * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

My daughter, who turned ten years old this week, is having a birthday party sleep-over, so needless to say, I can hardly focus now. (Our house is tiny. It’s LOUD.) Consider it a minor miracle if anything I typed above makes any sense whatsoever, so I’ll forego kicks this week, except to say I’m extra grateful to have had the pleasure of my daughter’s company for ten whole years now.

Also, remember this August 2013 up-and-coming illustrator feature with Kate Berube? I’m happy to say she’s signed with an agent. News like this makes me want to do jazz hands AND spirit fingers. Check it out:



 
What are YOUR kicks this week?

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22. One Busy Week … Er, Day

My co-author and I had (what we think might actually be) final edits on our book this week, so I’ve been busier than normal. I don’t have art for you today for different reasons, but I do have a short review I wrote at BookPage about Lola M. Schaefer’s One Busy Day, illustrated by Jessica Meserve.

That’s here.

Until Thursday …

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23. Loïc Dauvillier on the Duty of Remembrance

Marc Lizano and I were wondering about our roles as fathers in the duty of remembrance. We are fathers and we are also authors. Soon enough, we wondered about our roles as authors in passing on the memory of things. We started from a principle that knowing past events can help to avoid repeating them.”

* * *

This morning over at Kirkus, I chat briefly with author and comics writer Loïc Dauvillier.

Dauvillier’s latest graphic novel for children, illustrated by Marc Lizano and Greg Salsedo, is called Hidden (First Second). Subtitled A Child’s Story of the Holocaust, it’s the story of a young Jewish girl living in Paris during the Holocaust, and it will be released in April.

That chat is here this morning.

* * * * * * *

Image of Loïc Dauvillier used by permission of First Second.

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24. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week,Featuring Douglas Florian and Diane Goode



“The boogie man is coming. / I can hear him in the night. /
He has chains he likes to rattle / when my mom turns out the light. …”

(Click to enlarge spread)

Above: A poem and drawing from Douglas Florian’s Poem Depot,
followed by a spread from Karma Wilson’s
Outside the Box,
illustrated by Diane Goode

This week at Kirkus, I’ve got two picture books all about moving — Liz Garton Scanlon’s The Good-Pie Party, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton, and Rosemary Wells’s Stella’s Starliner. This is something my family needs to do—move into a slightly bigger space, that is—but it’s so stressful to think about, this ginormous task of schlepping all your stuff from one place to the next, that the subject quickly gets changed every time it comes up.

That’s to say: Moving is not for the faint of heart. In many ways, as these stories tell us.

Also, we don’t often see families who live in trailer homes in picture books, but we do in one of these.

That column is here this morning.

And since my column from last week, a tribute to Uncle Shelby himself, included mention of Douglas Florian’s Poem Depot: Aisles of Smiles (Dial, February 2014), as well as Karma Wilson’s Outside the Box: A Book of Poems (Margaret K. McElderry Books, March 2014), illustrated by Diane Goode, I’ve got some art from each today. (First up is one more spread from Outside the Box, followed by some more poems and drawings from Florian’s book.)

Enjoy.


“I built a robot, / just for me / a friend to keep / me company …”
(Click to enlarge spread)



 

* * *


 







* * * * * * *

POEM DEPOT: AISLES OF SMILES. Copyright © 2014 by Douglas Florian. Published by Dial Books for Young Readers, New York. Images reproduced by permission of Douglas Florian and Dial.

OUTSIDE THE BOX: A BOOK OF POEMS. Copyright © 2014 by Karma Wilson. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Diane Goode. Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books, New York. Images reproduced by permission of the publisher.

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25. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #374: Featuring Katherine Tillotson

This morning, we’re going to meet a dog, who is—in the words of illustrator Katherine Tillotson—a little more than a scribble and a smudge.

Shoe Dog (Richard Jackson/Atheneum Books for Young Readers), written by Megan McDonald and illustrated by Katherine, hits bookshelves next week. It tells the story of one very enthusiastic dog, adopted from a shelter, who loves to chew shoes. His owner—whom McDonald calls She, Herself—scolds the dog, but he repeatedly gets into trouble. Shoe Dog most certainly loves his cozy and warm home, where he’s so happy to be, but he struggles to behave. No worries. She, Herself eventually comes up with just the right solution, involving a cat. Of sorts.

Katherine is here today to tell us how she created the illustrations for this story — and what inspired her to do so. The story, particularly the artwork, are nothing short of “totally ebullient,” as the starred Kirkus review puts it. Shoe Dog is all action, energy, and bounce—I mean, right? Just look at him up above there—and it’s fascinating to read how Katherine put him together, as well as to read about the tools she used for everything that surrounds our naughty, but loving, protagonist.

So, let’s get right to it. I thank Katherine for sharing.

* * *

Katherine: When I begin work on a new book, it is always with small scribbly page layouts, but when I began work on the book Shoe Dog, I never expected that a small scribble would make his way to the final pages of the book.

A couple of my very early, very scribbly sketches:



(Click each to enlarge)

When Shoe Dog originally landed on the page, he was a bull terrier. You can see him here in a couple early dummies for the book.



(Click each to enlarge)

In the final illustrations, Shoe Dog still holds onto a smidgeon of terrier, but he is now little more than a scribble and a smudge. His essence.

I used crayons, a square graphite pencil, and charcoal to build the illustrations.

I will have to back up a little to describe the technique. My friend and crit-mate, Christy Hale, introduced me to a wonderful book, Creative Rubbings, published in 1967. I found the techniques described in the book irresistible.


(Click to enlarge)

Shapes were cut out of tag board, and then a crayon was used to rub an impression, much as we place a penny under a piece of paper and rub it with graphite to create a flat rendering of that penny. I loved the idea of using crayon rubbings to illustrate the world inhabited by the scribbly Shoe Dog.

I experimented with rubbing all sorts of textures …


(Click to enlarge)

…but mostly I cut out shapes and then made rubbings. These are how the environments—the house, furniture, stairs, shoes, etc.—were constructed.


(Click to enlarge)

Black and white sketches helped me determine value before I rendered the final illustrations in color.



(Click each to enlarge)

The computer is a wonderful tool for collage, and Shoe Dog is basically collage. I scribbled and made crayon rubbings and then combined all the hand-made marks by using the computer.

Here is some of the final art [without the text]:


“Dog wanted a home. A real home. A place full of hundreds of nose kisses,
dozens of tummy rubs. A place as warm as soup and cozy as pie.”

(Click to enlarge)


“A place with room to run …”
(Click to enlarge)


“BAD BAD DOG! She, Herself said. That night, Shoe Dog slept downstairs on the cold, cold floor with only a mop for a friend. Shoe Dog did not want to go back to the
Land of Sad Puppies and Scratched-Up Cats and One-Eared Bunnies. No!

(Click to enlarge)

And lastly the cover, front and back:


Thank you so much for asking me to show and tell. I had such fun creating the illustrations for this story!

SHOE DOG. Copyright © 2014 by Megan McDonald. Illustrations © 2014 by Katherine Tillotson. Published by Richard Jackson/Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York. All images here reproduced by permission of Katherine Tillotson.

* * * * * * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) I really love how an old, obscure book from 1967 gave Katherine such inspiration.

2) Because my oldest was home for three days this week (adenoid surgery), I got to see an awful lot of her.

3) Painting clay.

4) A day out with the family yesterday to see Muppets Most Wanted. Very funny.

5) I got nice and unsolicited feedback about 7-Imp this week, which I really appreciate. In this day and age of rampant social media, I often stop to wonder if my blog is still relevant (I think this is a natural question for any blogger today; I promise I’m not just self-deprecating for fun), so to get compliments, ones that are truly informative, can be energizing.

6) Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings.

7) I read a galley of E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars (a YA novel) in just about 24 hours. It’s a compelling novel, to say the least.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

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