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Our vision for this blog is pretty simple: we're going to talk about the books we read. We read lots of different kinds of books: picture books for toddlers, memoirs, young adult fiction, graphic novels, Man Booker Prize-winning high-art metafiction, whatever.
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1. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Sibylle Delacroix


“Jenny is feeling out of sorts, but she doesn’t want to talk about it.
She just wants to be loved.”

(Click image to see spread in its entirety)


 

This morning at Kirkus, I weight in on the anniversary edition of Heather Has Two Mommies, as well as a couple of Heather’s descendants. That link will be here soon.

* * *

Last week I wrote here about an import originally published in Quebec in 2013, Sibylle Delacroix’s Prickly Jenny (Owlkids Books, March 2015), so today I’m following up with some art from the book.

Enjoy.


“There’s nothing but ice cream for dessert,
and Jenny says she wants nothing to do with it.”

(Click image to see spread in its entirety)


 


“Wait … Is that a smile, Jenny?”
(Click image to see spread in its entirety)


 


“Jenny doesn’t know what she wants today.
But tomorrow, when she’s bigger, it will get better.”

(Click image to see spread in its entirety)


 



 

* * * * * * *

PRICKLY JENNY. Copyright © 2013 Bayard éditions. Published in North America in 2015 by Owlkids Books Inc. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher.

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2. Jay Hosler and Sentient Beetles Before Breakfast

Here’s a book I’ve been wanting to blog about for a while, Jay Hosler’s Last of the Sandwalkers (First Second, April 2015). If you haven’t seen an early copy of this book, you’re in for a treat, especially if you love science and/or graphic novels. That’s because it’s a graphic novel created by a biology professor/entomologist and cartoonist, and it tells the story of Lucy, a beetle (a “sandwalker”), who loves to explore and investigate. She lives in a community of beetles, which includes a group of elders who harbor a secret about the world beyond the palm tree in the desert where they live. Lucy, who puts the spunk in spunky, heads out into the wild world to discover its secrets, even breaking the rules to do so — and learns that beetles aren’t the only creatures in the world.

This is an entertaining story that packs in a lot of science — but also much more. As the Publishers Weekly review notes, Hosler “mingles themes of family, forgiveness, and freedom of ideas, and even manages to make big-eyed, mandibled crawlers emotive without getting too cartoony.” There’s a lot of adventure packed into this graphic novel.

First Second invited Jay, pictured above, to visit a small handful of blogs and share, at each one, an original drawing, as well as beetle facts. An original drawing. I just couldn’t say no, given that 7-Imp is, for all intents and purposes, an art blog. And I’m happy to post about the book, given it’ll be a big hit, in particular, with children who love to read about science (but not limited to just them, by any means). Pictured above is the Bark Beetle. They’re characters in the book, but below are all kinds of fun facts about them, straight from Jay:

Character Name: The Bark Beetle Gang
Species: Dendroctonus ponderosae
Length: 5 mm
Color: Black
Habitat: Pine forests
Superpower: Giant killer

Imagine a bowl of rice attacking a big, mature ponderosa pine tree and killing it. That would be pretty impressive for a bowl of rice. Now imagine that this was an outbreak of killer rice and the little buggers went on to destroy 70,000 square miles of pine forests. This is precisely what is happening in the western United Stets and Canada, except the culprit isn’t rice, but rice grain-sized bark beetles.

Now, to be fair, despite the devastation, these little beetles aren’t mustache-twirling villains. They’re actually a normal part of a healthy pine forest ecosystem. Bark beetles live on and in pine trees. They lay their eggs under the bark and consume both living and dead tissue in the trees. The trees fight back by secreting toxins or resin to kill the beetles, but bark beetles typically only attack weak or dying trees that can’t put up much of a fight. Consequently, bark beetles play an important role in removing older, less healthy trees form a forest and making it easier for younger, stronger trees to take their place. Unfortunately, this delicate balance has recently been upset, and there has been a massive outbreak of bark beetles that has overwhelmed healthy, as well as more susceptible, trees. The result is a devastating loss of forest. There are number of possible reasons for this outbreak, but climate change seems to be playing a significant role.

Over the last several years, rising warming global temperatures have made summers drier and winters milder in the western U.S. and Canada. These changes have a cascading effect. Drier summers and an increasing number of droughts have weakened more pine trees and made them susceptible to attack by bark beetles. In addition, milder winters have allowed the bark beetle to reproduce more frequently and spread into new forests full of trees that have not evolved defenses against their attacks. As a result, bark beetles are on the most wanted list of insect pests and are only one of two beetle species to have their genome sequence. The hope is that the more scientists know about their behavior and genetics, the more likely they will be to find a means of controlling the outbreak.

In Last of the Sandwalker, our intrepid band of beetle scientists meets an insipid band of bark beetles during their first foray into the wild. These little pests make a nuisance of themselves, but our heroes soon learn that their bark is much worse than their bite.

Many thanks to Jay for the drawing. If you want to see even more from the book, here’s the list of blogs he’ll be visiting in the next couple of weeks.

* * * * * * *

The Bark Beetle drawing is copyright © 2015 Jay Hosler.

Photo of Jay taken by Lisa Hosler and used by his permission.

4 Comments on Jay Hosler and Sentient Beetles Before Breakfast, last added: 3/25/2015
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3. Oksana Lushchevska: An International Collaboration

What a treat I have for readers today, especially those of you who, like me, enjoy following international picture books. In fact, next week is the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in Italy (how I wish I were going!), so the timing of this post is particularly good.

Today, I welcome Oksana Lushchevska, a PhD student in Reading, Writing, Children’s Literature, and Digital Literacy in the Department of Language and Literacy Education at The University of Georgia. She is contributing a guest post on contemporary Ukrainian children’s literature. Oksana’s doctoral research is focused on international children’s literature, and she also translates picture books from Ukraine into the English language, some of which have been awarded the Bologna Ragazzi Award. She also works with a private publishing house in Ukraine, creating bilingual picture books for children.

Oksana reached out to me to see if she could write here at 7-Imp about Ukrainian picture books. “I strongly believe that contemporary Ukrainian children’s literature might be of interest in the U. S.,” she told me, “especially bilingual picturebooks and award-winning translations.”

I was so pleased she contacted me; I’m glad to have met her, if only online; and I am grateful she is contributing this post today, especially since it’s filled with art. She calls this piece “Contemporary Ukrainian Children’s Picturebooks: Why Shouldn’t We Welcome Them?” Let’s get right to it …

* * *

Oksana: First of all, I am very thankful to Jules for this wonderful opportunity to introduce contemporary Ukrainian picturebooks on her marvelous blog, which I’ve been following for quite a while. To briefly introduce myself, I’d say that I can surely call myself a children’s literature enthusiast, and my involvement in children’s literature is multifold. I must admit that all my activities often divide my daily routines into two parts: my “Ukrainian” phase of the day and my “American” phase of the day (because of the seven-hour time difference). It is sometimes really challenging, but is also very interesting!

I am currently a third-year PhD student at the University of Georgia, researching and studying U.S. and international children’s literature. Together with my academic advisor, Dr. Jennifer Graff, I am serving as a columnist for the “How Does That Translate” column. Additionally, I regularly contribute to the IBBY European Newsletter, which focuses on contemporary Ukrainian children’s literature. From time to time, I am doing children’s book reviews for Bookbird, WOW, JoLLE, the WGRCLC Blog, and several Ukrainian literary websites.

Three years ago, my friend Valentyna Vzdulska, a Ukrainian children’s book author, and I co-established Kazkarka, a blog about children’s literature written in the Ukrainian language. A year ago, I initiated a Kickstarter project, A Step Ahead: Becoming Global with Bilingual Ukrainian-English Picturebooks, and I cherish the incomparable experience that I am gaining from it!

In my spare time, I write my own children’s books in the Ukrainian language and translate contemporary Ukrainian children’s literature into English. Also, from time to time, I work on interviews with international children’s book writers.

In this post, I would like to present five contemporary Ukrainian picturebooks. These books might effectively foster global awareness and visual literacy, broaden cultural horizons, and provide social messages with “a high degree of cultural authenticity” (Markus, 2010, p. 50). They might also serve as a set of quality titles to start communication about similarities and differences between cultures via both vibrant verbal and visual narratives.

Perhaps, the strongest picturebook that features the Ukrainian landscape is A Tale about an Old Lion, written by a popular Ukrainian poet, Marjana Savka, and illustrated by Volodymyr Shtanko. A Tale about an Old Lion is a “postcard” of the “cultural” capital of Ukraine — the city of Lviv. The main character of this book is an Old Lion who settles on a mansard of the City Hall, which is home to the City Council and is one of the most cherished symbols in Lviv. From his perch there, the Lion admires picturesque views of the Old City. Since the weather is often rainy in Lviv, the Old Lion’s ceiling starts to leak. He needs immediate assistance with its major repairs and maintenance. His friends—a Crocodile, Elephant, and Giraffe—come to Lviv to help. On their way, the guests get into a number of misfortunes and turbulences, but in the end, the Mayor of the city welcomes all of them and invites them to enjoy Lviv. The story’s ending offers a verbal invitation to tourists all over the world to come to Lviv and see with their own eyes the welcoming atmosphere of an ancient city:

Tell me, have you still not heard of the city of Lviv?
Hurry right now to book hundreds of tickets indeed.
Invite all your relatives and closest friends,
Come to Lviv soon, come to our land!
This is a city where you’re bound to be lucky,
Poets and singers think it’s just ducky!
There are squares, and cobblestones, shiny tram tracks,
And on the oldest mansard, the Lion still lives,
He drinks some tea and smokes a pipe,
And books for children he happily writes!

A Tale about an Old Lion offers not only vivid views of the city and the layouts of its famous landscapes, but also warm colors in the illustrations, brown and yellow, that depict a unique authentic state of both the old and contemporary Lviv. Since the city is often known as “the city of coffee” with its numerous coffee houses and pastry shops, this particular color palette is the best choice to recreate the aroma of the city.




(Click each image to enlarge)

A Tale about an Old Lion was published in Lviv in 2011 by the Old Lion Publishing House. The book was awarded the Best Book of the Year Award and was included in the White Raven Online Catalogue, 2012.

The bilingual picturebook “Монетка”/A Coin is written by Ania Chromova and illustrated by Anna Sarvira. This playful story offers the universal experiences of a child: activities during daycare and relationships with parents and friends. When Romko receives a coin from his mother, he takes it to his daycare. Unfortunately, Romko has a hole in his pocket, and he losses the coin without noticing. At first he gets upset, but not for long, since he acquires something much more valuable — a rewarding communication with his father, who helps him to understand that humor and imagination can be essential to overcoming misfortune. While A Tale about an Old Lion represents Lviv, “Монетка”/A Coin recreates some geographical and cultural must-see places in Kyiv, the official capital of Ukraine. This book provides a vibrant visual experience that moves readers through the pages of an unfolding story. Additionally, it is important to mention that this book was published as part of the project A Step Ahead: Becoming Global with Bilingual Ukrainian-English Picturebooks, which is an on-going bilingual picturebook project that provides some important possibilities for literacy practices and developing global awareness. With the emphasis on two languages, this book provides advantages to learn from/about Ukrainian children’s literature, to familiarize readers with the Ukrainian language, to use this literature in educational settings and Ukrainian immigrant communities, and to assist Ukrainian readers in learning the English language. It also contributes to the body of bilingual picturebooks that offer a joyful reading experience.


… “‘It looks like a dried apricot!’ said Romko. ‘It also clanks.
Mommy, may I take it to the daycare?'”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 


… “‘It’s not magical, daddy. It’s not magical!
It’s holey!’ Romko grew angry. …”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“‘I can put the Earth in it. Or, the entire Ukraine. Together with the Dnipro River!'” …
(Click to enlarge spread)


 

Another book that was published through this project is a picturebook Скільки?/How many?, a poem written by Halyna Kyrpa and illustrated by Olha Havrylova.

 


(Click to enlarge cover)


 

The text of this poem raises many philosophical questions and might stimulate deep critical thinking:

Скільки у сонця промінчиків? / How many rays does the sun have?
А скільки хмарок у небі? / And how many clouds are in the sky?
А скільки піщинок на березі річки? / How many grains of sand are there on a riverbank?
А скільки хвиль у Дніпра? / And how many waves are in the Dnipro River?


 


“How many rays does the sun have?”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“And how many clouds are in the sky?”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“And how many waves are in the Dnipro River?”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 

Both “Монетка”/A Coin and Скільки?/How Many? were published in Kyiv in 2014 and 2015 by Bratske Publishers. Скільки?/How Many? is recommended by the Ukrainian “Critic’s Rating.”

A traditional Ukrainian folk tale, The Mitten, designed by Art Studio Agrafka (Andriy Lesiv and Romana Romanyshyn), is—to put it in Martin Salisbury and Morag Styles’ words (2012)—“‘the unique art’ of picturebooks” (p. 50). The story about a mitten is primarily known in the U.S. due to Jan Brett’s version.

A Ukrainian version of The Mitten was retold and recorded in the 19th century. It is a cumulative folktale that tells the story of how an old man loses his mitten in the forest and how a number of animals try to fit in it. Lesiv and Romanyshyn’s The Mitten not only has full-color illustrations, but also represents the meaningful and thoughtful process of creating a book as a cultural artifact. The designers masterfully reinterpret the traditional story and offer an adorable example of synthesis between text and image. Page by page, they demonstrate a number of design variations to introduce the artistic merits of contemporary Ukrainian illustrators and the printing technology available in Ukraine. The Mitten can generate a broad and “an effective cultural message” (Marcus, 2010, p. 49), while revealing a new version of a well-known folktale for English-speaking communities.

 




(Click each image to enlarge)


 

This picturebook was published by the Navchal’na Knyha – Bohdan Publishing House. It was included in the White Raven Catalogue, 2013 and was given an award by Biennial of Illustration Bratislava (BIB).

 

Another picturebook by Romana Romanyshyn and Andriv Lesiv, Stars and Poppy Seeds, narrates the story of a young girl, Dora, who is interested in mathematics. She is the daughter of well-known mathematicians, and she inherits her parents’ enthusiasm for figures and numbers. Dora counts everything around her: real and imagined animals, grains of rice, beads on her mother’s necklace, stars in the sky, and even poppy seeds. Figures are always in her head. While admiring the Milky Way, Dora plans to count all the particles of stardust. However, she finds this task to be impossible. Dora is upset, but her mother explains that to achieve any dream, one needs to handle challenging tasks by accomplishing small steps. Romanyshyn and Lesiv’s illustrations of mathematical, geometrical, and astronomical features connect readers with science, while emphasizing the humanities as well. Stars and Poppy Seeds was awarded the Bologna Ragazzi Award 2014 in the category of Opera Prima. It is translated into four languages (French, Korean, Spanish, and English). It was published in 2014 by the Old Lion Publishing House.

 


“Dora strove to count everything around her. …”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“During a walk in the park, Dora counted the leaves, dandelions, stones,
ants moving every which way, the buttons on coats of passersby,
and even the holes in those buttons.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“… Looking at the Milky Way, Dora imagined the stardust and
strove to count each of its particles.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 

In a nutshell, these are five selected Ukrainian picturebooks that I wanted to share with enthusiasts of children’s literature, but there are many, many others! Additionally, I want to say that the English translations of the texts of these picturebooks are available. Starting in the summer of 2013, I co-translated these picturebooks, together with Michael M. Naydan, a professor at Pennsylvania State University, and cherish a wish that one day these books will be published in the U.S. and reach U.S. readers.

In her article “Where Worlds Meet,” Maria Machado (2011) reinterprets the possibility of building and extending an understanding of humankind by touching on the marvelous diversity between cultures (p. 397). She believes that representing the art of literature created all over the world will provide opportunities to cross borders, to meet neighbors, to get to know different people, and to see a variety of landscapes. Moreover, it will offer the possibility of fueling readers with unknown languages and authentic reflections of their otherness. Machado raises the question: “… why not meet otherness through what otherness creates?” (p. 398). Indeed, I believe that the best way to represent the rich experiences of voices from many countries is to translate and read what is created and written in them. In this scope, contemporary picturebooks for children from Ukraine not only represent creative approaches and perspectives of Ukrainian authors and artists, but invite readers to enjoy many exciting literary journeys. Today, Ukrainian children’s literature strives to claim its place on the international stage, so why shouldn’t we welcome it?

References

  • Khromova, A. (2015). “Монетка”/A coin. Kyiv, Ukraine: Bratske Publishers.
  • Kyrpa, H. (2014). Скільки?/How many? Kyiv, Ukraine: Bratske Publishers.
  • Machado, A.M. (2010). “Where worlds meet.” In Shelby Wolf et al. (Eds.), Handbook of research on children’s and young adult literature (pp. 397-403). New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Marcus, L. S. (2010). “Outside over where?: Foreign picture books and the dream of global awareness.” The Horn Book, 86(6), 45.
  • Romanyshyn, R., & Lesiv, A. (2012). The mitten. Ternopil, Ukraine: Navchal’na Knyha – Bohdan.
  • Romanyshyn, R., & Lesiv, A. (2014) Stars and poppy seeds. Lviv, Ukraine: Old Lion Publishing House.
  • Savka, M. (2011). A tale of old lion. Lviv, Ukraine: Old Lion Publishing House.

2 Comments on Oksana Lushchevska: An International Collaboration, last added: 3/24/2015
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4. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #424: Featuring C. G. Esperanza


“With her trunk she grabbed a brush and joined my little game.”


 

This morning at 7-Imp, I welcome artist C. G. Esperanza (Charles, pictured right), whose newest book is from Sky Pony Press. Red, Yellow, Blue (And a Dash of White, Too!), a promising author-illustrator debut, was released this month. Charles has previously illustrated Tania Grossinger’s Jackie and Me: A Very Special Friendship (Sky Pony Press, 2013), a story that is partly about famed baseball player Jackie Robinson, and he lives in the South Bronx. He tells me and 7-Imp readers more about himself below, and we get to take a look at some more art from Red, Yellow, Blue (And a Dash of White, Too!), as well as some early sketches from the book and a few of his other portfolio pieces.

I thank him for visiting.

P.S. If you want to read Charles’ thoughts on why picture books are the new Hip Hop, head over to his piece at Afropunk

.

 

Jules: Can you talk about the seeds of this story, Red, Yellow, Blue … and how the story came to you?

Charles: I actually thought of the story back in my art school days, when I realized a lot of my non-artistic friends didn’t know the primary colors and how to make secondary colors. So I decided to make a picture book about the primary colors that would be cool enough for adults to read and would perhaps inspire people to express themselves artistically. I decided to design the main character after my sister Crystal, who was seven years old at the time, after I saw her running around the house with her gigantic afro and writing her name on everything in crayon. For the first version I created in Eric Velasquez’s picture book class, I used her as a model. Since then, I’ve revised the story multiple times — and added her big blue elephant friend, Elebooyah.


(Click to see spread in its entirety)


“Like a PINK dinosaur that can bite!”
(Click to enlarge spread)


“BLOOO BLOB BLUB! This mix made a muddy GREENISH GRAY
Like an ugly mud monster!
GRAAAAH is all he could say.”
(Click to enlarge spread)

Jules: You live in the South Bronx, yes? How do you think the Bronx has influenced your work, if at all?

Charles: I do live in the South Bronx. So does most of my family. For a long time I was ashamed of being from there. I didn’t learn to appreciate it till I met people in college from around the world, who had never been there before and were fascinated that I was from there. I became more interested in the history of these neighborhoods. They were once filled with beautiful mansions owned by the famous Tiffany heirs — and meadows that were demolished, burned, vandalized, and now rebuilt. I couldn’t help but let it all inspire me! My art is influenced by the hand-painted Bodega signs; the beautiful, vintage, abandoned architecture covered with colorful burners; the colorful bottles that sit on top of the old Puerto Rican dude’s Piragua cart; and all of the other untold stories waiting to be told.






Early sketches from Red, Yellow, Blue …
(Click each to enlarge)


 


Early cover
(Click to enlarge)

Jules: Who are some artists/illustrators who inspire you?

Charles: Jerry Pinkney’s amazing drawings full of imagination and color; Kadir Nelson’s stylized, powerful expression; Adam Rex’s edgy, whimsical characters; and Ezra Jack Keats’ gritty, simplistic, yet complex execution and ability to see the world through a different perspective all inspired and shaped my voice as a picture book illustrator.


Nelson Mandela, a 2012 piece from the Paint It Black series
(Click to enlarge)

Jules: What else inspires you?

Charles: There’s something inspirational about things like a dirty ice cream truck loudly playing a slightly warped, melodic tune, as children chase it down the street, or a beautifully sculpted statue, decorated with bird droppings, that really gets me going. The undiscovered beauty of something that is ugly or imperfect. I like to see the potential and emphasize its beauty.


(Click to enlarge)

Jules: Explain how you’re a “Visual Emcee,” as mentioned in the AfroPunk piece.

Charles: I once had a vision of Sam I am and Will I am eating green eggs and ham and then BAM! Hip Hop and street art were the fists of a Bronx-born spawn; with one fist the message was shouted and with the other it was drawn. Nothing Gold can stay, especially when it turns Green. So Hip Hop and Street art parted ways at the seams. Or at least that’s how it seems, until you take another look! I’ve brought Rhythmic poetry and Art back together in Picture Books!

Jules: I see at your blog that your father is West Indian and your mother is Puerto Rican. Do you think that (or they) influence your work in any way?

Charles: My parents are very Americanized, so they never really introduced me to their native cultures. But Heriberta, my grandmother who grew up in Borinquen, definitely inspires me. Her chairs are decorated with the finest wood-carved rococo designs and floral patterns on the cushions. Her wardrobe is filled with art nouveau textiles and pastel colors. She’s always loved collecting dolls and listening to Celia Cruz. She’s also very funny!


Percy Julian, a 2012 piece from the Paint It Black series
(Click to enlarge)

Jules: When did you know you wanted to illustrate picture books? What are the biggest joys of it for you? The biggest challenges?

Charles: Fortunately, I met Eric Velasquez while taking his Picture Book Illustration class. He reintroduced (or, in some cases, introduced) many of the students in his class to Jerry Pinkney’s, Shel Silverstein, David Wiesner, and E.B. Lewis. But it was after I saw Eric’s work in the book The Rain Stomper [by Addie Boswell] that I knew this was something I wanted to pursue.

 



 

The greatest joy of making picture books is making books that change people’s perspectives on what a children’s book should be. Also, being able to tell stories is great. The biggest challenge I’ve faced is trying to do things the way I want, while still pleasing my mentors, editors, peers etc. Thankfully, they all seem to love what I’ve done so far!

Jules: Any new projects you can talk about and/or anything you’re really eager to do next?

Charles: The boom bap beat in my head continues to loop, just waiting for a new rhythmic stanza that tells a story everyone can enjoy. I am having discussions with a couple of popular rappers about possibly collaborating on a fun story, using hip hop style rhymes that speak to the new generation of kids who love hip hop — and the older generation that loved Dr. Seuss and Slick Rick.


– From Tania Grossinger’s
Jackie and Me: A Very Special Friendship


(Sky Pony Press, 2013)
(Click to enlarge)

Jules: Anything else you want to add? What’d I forget to ask you?

Charles: I am very honored to contribute my voice to the amazing culture of picture books and to be talking about my work on Seven Imp! I consider this blog to be the best for discovering how awesome picture books can be. I hope to inspire everyone, especially people in the Bronx, where few are exposed to the visual arts. Also, I would love to adapt Red, Yellow, Blue (And a Dash of White, Too!) into a film. So, if Alejandro Jodorowsky or Ben Zeitlin are reading this, call me!


(Click to enlarge photo of Charles)

RED, YELLOW, BLUE (AND A DASH OF WHITE, TOO!) Copyright © 2015 by Charles George Esperanza. Published by Sky Pony Press, New York. All images here reproduced by permission of Charles.

Photos of Charles taken by Manny Sy and used by Charles’ permission.

* * *

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 appreciate Charles’ kind words, and his art woke me RIGHT UP before I even had coffee.

2) Starting a project I should have started a good while ago.

3) My girls and I are reading Alice Hoffman’s Nightbird. We are enjoying it, and check out the beautiful cover art from Sophie Blackall:

4) Laura Marling’s South X lullaby at NPR.

5) Laura’s new CD is playing in its entirety here, and it’s good stuff.

6) We saw Song of the Sea on the big screen. Holy WOW, such beautiful animation.

7) We also saw What We Do in the Shadows. So funny, this movie.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #424: Featuring C. G. Esperanza, last added: 3/22/2015
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5. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week, Plus What I DidLast Week, Featuring Jon Agee and Brooke Kerrigan


“There once lived three fishermen: Peter, Santiago, and Ahab. They were tough.
They were as salty as the bottom of a pretzel bag. They were as weathered as a twisted stick of driftwood. Yes, these three were fishermen through and through.
Which is not to say that they didn’t sometimes dream of things
other than fish, knotted nets, and saltwater.”
– From Colleen Sydor’s
Fishermen Through & Through,
illustrated by Brooke Kerrigan

(Click to enlarge spread)


 


– From Jon Agee’s It’s Only Stanley
(Click to enlarge spread)


 

Today over at Kirkus, I’ve got a picture book import, called Prickly Jenny. That link is here.

* * *

Last week, since I wrote (here) about Jon Agee’s It’s Only Stanley (Dial, March 2015) and Colleen Sydor’s Fishermen Through & Through, illustrated by Brooke Kerrigan (Red Deer Press, originally released in 2014), I’ve got some spreads from each book. (The spreads from Fishermen Through & Through are sans text.)

Enjoy.

 


– From It’s Only Stanley
(Click to enlarge spread)


 



 


“… The white lobster stared back with equal wonder, for never in its life had it seen anything quite like these three strange creatures with neither shells nor scales.
– From

Fishermen Through & Through
(Click to enlarge spread)

 


“Blow me down. What were they to do?”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“… All three stood silently trying to imagine life without the sea. …”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 



 

* * * * * * *

FISHERMEN THROUGH & THROUGH. Copyright © 2014 by Colleen Sydor. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Brooke Kerrigan. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Red Deer Press, Ontario.

IT’S ONLY STANLEY. Copyright © 2015 by Jon Agee. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Dial Books for Young Readers, New York.

1 Comments on What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week, Plus What I DidLast Week, Featuring Jon Agee and Brooke Kerrigan, last added: 3/22/2015
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6. A Conversation with Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

It’s really hard for me to say where this story came from. It’s not like any of my other novels. I was researching first-person accounts of World War II and the homefront in England, and the child evacuations always interested me, but Ada herself seemed to spring out of nowhere — and then Susan, and then Jamie. I had arguments with Jamie in my dreams. This one was somehow buried in my subconscious.”

* * *

I’ll get back to picture books tomorrow, but over at Kirkus today I talk to author Kimberly Brubaker Bradley about her newest children’s novel, The War That Saved My Life.

That link is here.

Until tomorrow …

 

Photo of Kimberly taken by Katie Bradley and used by permission of the author.

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7. Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Benji Davies


“Almost … asleep….”
– From Jory John’s
Goodnight Already! (Harper, December 2014)
(Click to enlarge)


“… But he said they must take the whale back to the sea, where it belonged.”
– From
The Storm Whale (Henry Holt, September 2014)
(Click to enlarge)

I always open my “breakfast” illustrator interviews with art — but usually just one image. I have two images today, though, from British illustrator Benji Davies, because I couldn’t pick.

The first image is from his latest illustrated book here in the States, Jory John’s Goodnight Already!, which was released at the tail end of last year.

And that second image? It’s from The Storm Whale, which Benji both wrote and illustrated and which was released last Fall here in the U.S. (2013 in the UK). I wrote about that book here at Kirkus last year, and I couldn’t get over then what a beautiful illustration the one above, in particular, is. (That happens also to be the U.S. cover for the book.) And I still can’t get over it. Scroll back up and take a moment to enlarge that illustration and soak it in. Ah.

So that’s why I have two Benji art moments up there.

Benji—who, as you will read below, has been making picture books and board books for years now—is here for breakfast this morning. “Definitely with eggs,” he told me. “Preferably Benedict.” How’d he know I can’t start my day without eggs? Also, not without coffee. So, I’ll get that brewin’ while I get the basics from him before we chat over breakfast.

I thank him for visiting. (And if you want more, there’s Matthew Winner’s February podcast with Benji.)

* * * * * * *

Jules: Are you an illustrator or author/illustrator?

Benji: Both at once and the latter by itself.

Jules: Can you list your books-to-date? (If there are too many books to list here, please list your five most recent illustrated titles or the ones that are most prominent in your mind, for whatever reason.)

Benji: All books listed as published first in UK, unless shown.


The UK cover of The Storm Whale
(Click to enlarge)

As illustrator:

As illustrator — forthcoming:

As author-illustrator:

  • The Storm Whale — Simon & Schuster – August 2013 (U.S., September ’14, Henry Holt)

As author-illustrator — forthcoming:

Jules: What is your usual medium?

Benji: Predominantly digital—Photoshop, using a Wacom—but I always sketch and do roughs in ink or pencil and sometimes incorporate that into my digital work, too.




From the sketchbook
(Click each 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?

Benji: I have dipped into illustrating for picture, board, and chapter books.

I most enjoy illustrating my own texts, though, I think. There is a freedom to it, and I also find it the most fulfilling thing to see something that is my own creation, has only my name on the cover, on a bookshelf. Its a very proud feeling to have that achievement.

Jules: Where are your stompin’ grounds?

Benji I live in a part of northeast London in the UK, called Walthamstow.




Illustrations from Linda Sarah’s On Sudden Hill, released last year
but coming to the U.S. in Fall 2015 (Henry Holt) as
Big Friends
(Click each to enlarge)

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

Benji: I have been working in children’s illustration, making books for nearly ten years. I also spent several years simultaneously working as an animation director, creating commercials and music videos, until a couple of years ago when I got my first author commission and decided it was time to give children’s publishing my full attention.


Front endpapers from The Storm Whale
(Click to enlarge)


Title page from The Storm Whale
(Click to enlarge)


“Noi lived with his dad and six cats by the sea.”
– From
The Storm Whale
(Click to enlarge)


“Every day, Noi’s dad left early for a long day’s work on his fishing boat. …”
(Click to enlarge)


“Noi did everything he could to make the whale feel at home. …”
(Click to enlarge)

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

Benji: benjidavies.com. Also twitter.com/Benji_Davies and facebook.com/benjidaviesdraws.

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

Benji: They’re fun to do, and its great to interact with the kids and explore their imaginations. It’s amazing how unusual and interesting some of their ideas can be, and I try to encourage them, especially the ones who think their ideas are bad or that they can’t draw. They are usually the ones who don’t come up with the obvious stuff, and I like that.


“The night was drawing in and it was growing dark. Noi was worried
that his dad would be angry about having a whale in the bath.”

(Click to enlarge)


“Noi knew it was the right thing to do, but it was hard to say goodbye.
He was glad his dad was there with him.”

(Click to enlarge)


“… he would see his friend again.”
(Click to enlarge)

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

Benji: Goodnight Already! came out in the U.S. in December. I created an image for a book idea that my wife (who is not a writer but a fashion designer) came up with about a bear who couldn’t sleep. HarperCollins picked up on the image and the title I had given it but had other ideas for the words. (They weren’t so keen on the story she had written.) They got Jory John on board and asked him to write a story based on the cover image, which remains essentially as I had created in the original sample. The brilliantly funny text he wrote was a perfect fit to the characters. So it had a kind of back-to-front start in life. (My wife was fine with it, by the way!)



Benji: “[This is a] birthday card for my editor at Harper.”
(Click to enlarge)

I’ve also recently completed artworking my second self-penned title. Its called Grandad’s Island and is about a little boy, called Syd, who discovers that when he goes up into the attic, his Grandad’s house becomes an old steam ship. It is also a story about losing his Grandad. I hope that it does this in a life-affirming way and could be empowering to a small child who reads it and has to deal with a similar situation to Syd. It’s already picked up several co-editions before publication, so that’s really exciting — and I hope it makes its way to the States soon.


(Click to enlarge cover)

I also have more in the works with Harper and Jory, an extension of the Goodnight Already! book into a series, and I’ve been working with Macmillan Children’s Books in the UK with an author called Elli Woollard on a really great book called The Giant of Jum.



 

Its been an intense and busy time the past 18 months, and I’m looking forward to things easing up slightly towards the second half of 2015, so I can get a bit of breathing space and get down to writing and planning new projects.

Mmm. Coffee.Okay, we’ve got our eggs, and it’s time to get a bit more detailed with six questions over breakfast. I thank Benji 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?

Benji

: When illustrating for another author, I usually read the text a couple of times and then straight-away jot down my initial visual response — to get an immediate feel for how the book could look and feel. These seeds make it right through into the final book in one way or another. They might change a lot, some hardly at all. When I look back, I can see all the cues I created and what they led to. I often have to push myself to divert from this course or things can get too cliché, [meaning] I’m not pushing things as imaginatively as I could be. I have to look at what I’m doing and self-critique and think, where else I can take things, strengthen the concepts, or even step away and come back. I think a lot of the real work happens in these gaps, and they’re really important. Subconsciously, the brain is chipping away at a solution, but also consciously I am thinking about an image I am working on while I’m walking down the street or doing something unrelated, re-thinking the colours and the compostion — things like that. If I’m still struggling, I find at that stage it’s best to show the work to someone else — maybe my wife. She’s only a couple of rooms away in her studio, but then I’ll maybe email the book’s art director and editor, so they can shape and push things.


Sketch from The Storm Whale
(Click to enlarge)

I go from loose ideas and sketches; to a full set of thumbnails, changes and re-thumbing; then full rough work, editorial changes to these before artworking; followed by colour tweaks and additional artworking. But all my books are different, and the process fluctuates. I like it like that. It keeps things interesting. I don’t like to be formal about it. Every project takes its own course.


An unused vignette from The Storm Whale
(Click to enlarge)

When I write my own text, a lot of the process is similar, but the story comes together much more haphazardly. I might generate sketches that inform the beginning of a story or re-visit old ideas and put new life into them, taking them somewhere else. Or I might take photographs and collect visual references, make notes in the middle of the night on my phone or when I’m travelling. Theres no set way, but all these things gradually weave together and inform a story that has grown from both words and pictures. They are totally intertwined. I think of my stories as films playing in me head, and I pull ‘shots’ or beats from this mental movie and arrange them on the page.



Rug that Benji created as part of Made By Node‘s curated Fair Trade project;
see more information here

(Click to enlarge)

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

Benji

: My studio is in the spare room of my house. I have two desks — one for drawing, one for computer work. I spend most of my time at the computer. I always wish I spent more time at the drawing table, which I mainly use for lightbox work.



(Click each image to enlarge)

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

Benji

: I still have some of my favourite books on the shelf here in the studio –- Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel, The Tiger who came to Tea by Judith Kerr, The Little Grey Men by BB, Watership Down (actually, more the film than the book, which I read much later in my teens – I watched that film a hundred times, I still love it).


(Click to enlarge)

I also read all the Redwall books by Brian Jacques and lots of books by Dick King-Smith and Colin Dann. There’s a theme here – talking animals. When reading the Redwall books, I used to like to imagine them as hand-drawn animated films playing in my head as I read the words.

In terms of illustration, I loved anything highly detailed and intricate, books with cutaways of houses built inside tree stumps — that kind of thing. I loved visiting my local library after school. I found book illustration so absorbing; I would get into a cosy corner somewhere when I got home and just get lost in them.

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.)

Benji: I feel really lucky to have met and know a lot of my contemporaries and favourite artists, at least in the UK.

From the past: Tove Jansson. Present: Jon Klassen. Can I say an author-only too? Neil Gaiman. He seems very wise. I would probably not be able to speak.




(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?

Benji: I love listening to music, but equally I can go all day in silence and not realise.

I make soundtracks for a particular book and will collect together playlists, especially for my own author-illustrator work — tunes that help get my mind in the right mode of thought, emotionally or atmospherically. It can be anything and everything, but it tends to be more unusual electronic or classical stuff, or scores from films. Things that suit the mood of the project, so it often has to be really timeless or evocative to get the right tone.

I think I have quite a range of taste — from Led Zeppelin to Ryuichi Sakamoto. All sorts, really.

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

Benji: I hate aquariums. I blame Jaws.

 



(Click to enlarge)


 

* * * The Pivot Questionnaire * * *

Jules: What is your favorite word?

Benji: I’m terrible with favourites. No, really. I can’t pick one.

Jules: What is your least favorite word?

Benji: Oh no. See above.

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

Benji: The natural world doing its thing.

Jules: What turns you off?

Benji: Ignorance.

Jules: What is your favorite curse word? (optional)

Benji: “Twonk.”

Jules: What sound or noise do you love?

Benji: Rain on the roof.

Jules: What sound or noise do you hate?

Benji: Cats fighting in the night.

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

Benji: Drummer.

Jules: What profession would you not like to do?

Benji: Cleaning windows on skyscrapers.

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

Benji: “Did you remember to turn off the iron?”

All images are used by permission of Benji Davies.

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

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8. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #423: Featuring Ed Young


– From Gary Golio’s Bird & Diz
(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“Should you be a vaporous smoke, I’ll lift you to touch the heavens.”
– From
Should You Be a River
(Click to enlarge spread)

It’s an Ed Young kind of day here at 7-Imp.

Over at BookPage, I have a review of Gary Golio’s Bird & Diz (Candlewick, March 2015), which Ed illustrated. That review is here. I’ve got some spreads from it here at 7-Imp today.

To boot, I’ve got some spreads from Ed’s Should You Be a River, which will be on shelves in mid-April from Little, Brown. This is a poem that, as he explains in the closing Author’s Note, Ed wrote two years after the death of his daughters’ mother, his late wife. Ed’s friend, photographer Sean Kernan, contributed his photography to the project, and the book is a series of collages with these photos as a base. Calligrapher Barbara Bash also contributed to the book (hand-lettered calligraphy).

The poem is, at turns, intense (“Should you be a waterfall, I’ll scream when you plunge”) and poignant (“Should you be a rain shower, I’ll be a gentle valley to receive you”). The Kirkus review describes it as “mystifying and ultimately uplifting.” It’s quite possibly a book that will appeal more to adults, but people of all ages should see Ed’s cut-paper collages in this one, breathtaking in spots.

I’ll just let the art speak for itself. Below are some more spreads. Enjoy.



 


“Two hearts—one heartbeat. You can’t even tell whose notes are whose!
But then Diz’s cheeks swell up, like a frog with glasses.
He points his trumpet and shoots out fireworks. Tag, Bird—you’re it!”
– From Gary Golio’s
Bird & Diz
(Click to enlarge spread)


 



 


“Should you be a great forest, I’ll caress your branches and make you sway.”
– From
Should You Be a River
(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“Should you be a breeze, I’ll be ripples dancing to your tunes.”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“Should you be a beach, I’ll build a fire to keep you warm.”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“Should you be a flame, I’ll hold you snugly in my hearth.”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 


(Click to enlarge cover)



 

BIRD & DIZ. Text copyright © 2015 by Gary Golio. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Ed Young. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

SHOULD YOU BE A RIVER. Copyright © 2015 by Ed Young. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Little, Brown and Company, New York.

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) My oldest daughter turned eleven this week!

2) She is sweet and kind and clever and pretty much wonderful. She really loves the magnet I got her that says “YAY WEIRD,” if that gives you any idea how great she is. (Of course, I had to grab this one for myself.)

3) New music from Lowland Hum:

4) I visited Asheville last weekend to speak at Malaprop’s Bookstore, which was lovely. Asheville was where my late brother was living when he died, and it was wonderful to be there (and to see his best friend for the first time after about fifteen years). But it was also hard in some ways to be there again. That said, I’m grateful to have been once again in the city he loved.

5) Speaking of music, I bought a copy of a CD that I wore OUT back in high school (but hadn’t listened to since then), and it’s really wild to hear again and to still know all the words.

6) Playing Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue for my girls as we read the end of this book:

7) The way Jon Snow smiles at Ygritte when he sees her again (despite what happens afterwards) in Game of Thrones, season four.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

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9. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week,Featuring Yevgenia Nayberg and Gemma O’Callaghan


“On a day that shamed the sky, people were herded into the center of the town and forced to hand over their musical instruments—wooden or metal, it made no difference—to the Tyrant’s guards who carelessly pitched them into wagons.”
– From
The Wren and the Sparrow
(Click spread to enlarge)


“I must have been about twelve when I first went to see him on my own in the Scilly Isles for my summer holiday, and by then the nightmares had gone. That’s not to say I wasn’t still apprehensive in those first few days after I arrived. But I was always happy to be there, happy just to get out of London. …”
– From
Half a Man
(Click spread to enlarge)


 

This morning over at Kirkus, I write about two new picture books — one from a smaller publisher that came out of nowhere and I really enjoy, as well as a brand-new picture book from the great Jon Agee. That link will be here soon.

* * *

Since I wrote here last week about J. Patrick Lewis’ The Wren and the Sparrow, illustrated by Yevgenia Nayberg, and Michael Morpurgo’s Half a Man, illustrated by Gemma O’Callaghan, I’ve got a bit of art (above and below) from each book today.

Until Sunday …

 


“After a while, when the war was over, I left the hospital and came home to Annie, home to Scilly. My dream had come true, I thought. But of course it hadn’t.
I soon found that out. Annie tried—tried her best. I tried too. We had a baby—
your mother, Michael—but Annie still wasn’t looking at me. …”
– From
Half a Man
(Click spread to enlarge)


 



 


(Click to enlarge cover)


 

* * * * * * *

HALF A MAN. Text copyright © 2014 by Michael Morpurgo. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Gemma O’Callaghan. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA on behalf of Walker Books, London.

THE WREN AND THE SPARROW. Copyright © 2015 by J. Patrick Lewis. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Yevgenia Nayberg. lllustration reproduced by permission of the publisher, Kar-Ben Publishing, Minneapolis.

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10. A Peek into Roller Girl


“IS THAT ALL YOU CAN DO?!? SHOW ME YOUR WARFACE!!”


 

Last week at Kirkus, I had a lovely conversation (here) with Victoria Jamieson about her graphic novel, Roller Girl (Dial, March 2015). Today, she shares some early sketches and final art (without text) from the book.

Enjoy.

 



Sketches of book’s opening spread
(Click second image to enlarge)


 



“RRRR-OLLER DERBY?!”
(Click first image to enlarge)


 


“… At first I couldn’t tell what was going on –
just a bunch of skating, hitting, and falling.”


 


Early sketch: “‘Ooh, and Rainbow Bite takes a big hit in turn two!'”


 


Early sketch: “C’mon, it’s time to go, weirdo!”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“Everyone ready? On the track!”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“The jammer was obviously the most important player. She had to be fast.
And wily. She was the star — just like Rainbow Bite. …”


 


“‘Try this on! This looks cute!'”


 


“‘Let’s do this.'”


 


“… And a massive hit to Asteroid!
Braidy Punch just launched her way into orbit!”


 



 

* * * * * * *

ROLLER GIRL. Copyright © 2015 by Victoria Jamieson. Published by Dial, New York. All images here reproduced by permission of Victoria Jamieson.

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11. A Visit with Darren Farrell

Author-illustrator Darren Farrell (or is it Shel Silverstein?) visits 7-Imp this morning to talk about his work and to give me a sneak-peek at his upcoming 2015 book, Stop Following Me, Moon! (pictured above). I asked him about his inspirations, and then he took it from there, as you’ll see below.

This is Darren’s third picture book, his most recent being last year’s Thank You, Octopus! from Dial Books, which the Horn Book described as a “hilarious nautical comedy of errors.” And never was there a weirder or more wonderful bedtime companion than Octopus. Bleep, blarp, bloop.

Let’s get right to it. I thank Shel Darren for visiting.

* * *

What inspires me? John Oliver, street art, Oliver Jeffers, hip hop, jazz, skate videos, Mo Willems, The Monster At The End Of This Book, heaps of yogurt, writing in a notebook while commuting on public transportation, hanging out with my family, the New York Times, church, and—right now—the color purple (not the book, although it is fabulous, but the actual color purple).

My original inspirations were Hong Kong artists Michael Lau and Eric So, mixed with the minimalist black and white work of Shel Silverstein. I set out to create odd characters who had a unique, asymmetrical design. I didn’t want them to be perfectly cute or perfectly symmetrical. And so I gravitated toward a design with one huge pink eye and one dot eye. To me that felt cool and strange and graphically strong. People I showed those early big eye characters to really seemed to like them, and so I kept working on that style. Originally, I intended to make black and white illustrations, where the only color was that big pink eye.


Darren: “A very early Doug-Dennis and the Flyaway Fib spread,
where he was still a wild haired human and before he turned into a colorful sheep.”

(Click to enlarge)


Darren: “Doug-Dennis as a colorful, cutie sheep
– still with the pink eye”

(Click to enlarge)

Ultimately, I began to explore color, and today color is one aspect of creating a book that I most enjoy. Honing a color palette, trying to tighten everything into a cohesive color theme — this is something I spend loads of time on, mostly because I do not know what I am doing and I just keep working until my eyes are happy.

For the opening endpaper of my latest book, Thank You, Octopus, I tried oodles of color combinations for the city and the sunset. I wanted four shades of the same color — with the buildings and trees reflecting the sky and blending into the it. I tried a chocolate city with a creamy sky, an all-pink city with a dark pink sky. So many different versions. I finally landed on a yellow city with a deep golden sky, and I just fell in love with it. From here, the gold worked its way into my Thank You, Octopus color palette and was used throughout the book.


Opening endpapers from Thank You, Octopus
(Click to enlarge)



 

My next book, Stop Following Me, Moon! [Dial, Winter 2015], has a grape-jelly color scheme with lots of plums, mauves, lavenders, and deep grayish purples.


Page from the beginning of Stop Following Me, Moon!
(Click to enlarge)

I also experimented with a new shading concept in Stop Following Me, Moon!, which was loosely inspired by vintage Missoni prints. I added bands and waves of shade to almost everything on each page. So the colors get several steps deeper as they move away from the moon. Usually, there are two waves on each item for three shades of deepening color.

The act of shading Stop Following Me, Moon! was for me almost an exercise in Zen meditation, as I made wave after wave of color and shadow.


Where the Stop Following Me, Moon! mayhem begins
(Click to enlarge)

Stop Following Me, Moon! was inspired by a taxi ride in Seoul, South Korea. My wife, son, and I were riding home from dinner, and as we wound around one of Seoul’s elevated expressways, we kept watching the moon dodge in and out between the tall apartment buildings. My son was three at the time, and so we talked about how the moon was following us — and I watched his eyes as he kept searching for it while we drove along.


Darren: “A Seoul taxi. They come in silver, white, orange and fancy black ones,
which charge extra $$ for being extra fancy”

My son’s fascination stayed with me, and almost immediately what popped into my head was, wow, what is you don’t want the moon to be following you? I mean, who wants something following them around all night long!? And I just imagined this crazed bear out in the woods, running away from the moon and yelling these funny outbursts up at the moon in a hopeless effort to escape.

We get to see toward the end of the book how this bear feels when the moon actually does “listen” to him.

Stop Following Me, Moon! is a really nice and silly way to begin a discussion about how and why the moon follows you around all night long. It’s also a book about sharing, so hopefully it will generate good discussions about what it means to be a kind friend.

Here’s how a Stop Following Me, Moon! page comes together for me:

1. A rough pencil sketch. Here, we see the bear running almost directly into the camera, right through a picnic two beavers are having.


(Click to enlarge)

2. I block everything out in greys, full-size on my computer, and take measurements so that I know roughly how large everything needs to be.


(Click to enlarge)

3. I draw everything by hand—in pencil, item by item—and add everything to the page, based on the measurements I took earlier. And one by one, the grey items disappear — and the final pencils take their places.


(Click to enlarge)

4. I color.


(Click to enlarge)

5. I shade.


(Click to enlarge)

6. I refine the colors and fine-tune the shading and build on the artwork and the layout — until I am completely happy with everything right up until the very end. Here, I revised the hills and the shape of the bear and played with the colors and shading quite a bit.


(Click to enlarge)

7. I add the final type. Here, I swapped in a new line to help set up the story in a stronger way and give the bear’s dialogue slightly better pacing.


(Click to enlarge)

Speaking of type: When I make my type, I use a combination of hand and digital. First, I lay the words out in a chunky typeface to use as a guide. Then I hand-make all of the type. And last, I digitally fill the hand-made type with a color and take away my line work. What’s left is a hand-made type that sort of looks like it is cut out with scissors.


(Click to enlarge)

P.S. I’ve made an awesome new Letters for Kids over at The Rumpus. You can check out the first page of my four-page letter below. It’s hand-made by me, and it features my delicious recipe for Bulgogi (Korean BBQ), plus other stories and fun things I’ve experienced in Seoul. Head to The Rumpus and subscribe to Letters for Kids! It’s an exciting (and super affordable) program to join. You’ll receive two real live letters from two real live authors or illustrators each month. We’re talking real paper letters you can hold in your hand, delivered conveniently to that box your mail appears in (whatever that box is called, I can’t remember).

My letter goes out in March or April, so sign up soon!


(Click to enlarge)

And you can always check out more of my sketches, work, and ideas at darren-farrell.com.

By the way, I was so happy to read in Wild Things! that you are all big fans of the Shel Silverstein author photos. I made a vain attempt at Penguin allowing me to use this below with the subheading “My Shel Silverstein Years,” along with a regular photo that I guess read something like, “My Me Years.” Here’s the official Shel photo so you can see the side-by-side twin-ness. Uncanny, no?



 

* * * * * * *

All images here are reproduced by permission of Darren Farrell.

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12. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #422: Featuring Kristof Devos

This morning, I’ve got some spreads from Pimm van Hest’s Weatherboy, illustrated by Kristof Devos. The book was first published last year in Belgium and Holland and has been translated from the Dutch by Clavis Publishing. It is on shelves this month, and pictured above is the cover art.

It’s the story of a boy whose moods dictate the weather: “When he was happy, the sun shone, and when he was sad, the clouds cried too.” Everyone starts to call him “Weatherboy” and make terrible demands upon him. When folks want warm weather for the beach, they hope for illness to beset him so that he’ll have a fever. If their sunflowers need rain, they ask him to cry. This makes him sad, which casts his village into a dark fog.

Feeling alone, even among his family, he leaves town. He finds a small house in a tree and lives there, alone. A boy who loves frost and snow heads out onto the ice one day and later meets Weatherboy. His presence makes Weatherboy happy. They have so much fun that “they didn’t even notice that the world was slowly thawing.” Afraid that his friend might leave, Weatherboy opens the refrigerator door to let cold fill their small house again. In the end, Weatherboy comes to the conclusion that he must tell his friend—and, really, all the world—to accept him just as he is. “This is who I am!” he says triumphantly as he floats along “golden rays of sunshine.”


“The little boy grew older and changed. And every day, the weather changed along with him. When he was happy, the sun shone, and when he was sad, the clouds cried too.
If he had an outburst of anger there was thunder and lightning, and when he sneezed suddenly the trees bent over and people were blown off their bikes.
Before long, everyone started calling him ‘Weatherboy.'”

(Click to enlarge)

And that’s the end of the story. It’s abrupt, and it remains to be seen how his friend will respond. But Weatherboy has done what he must do to find his own happiness. It’s a story that works on more than one level, and I’ve been thinking about it all week.

Below are some more of Kristof Devos’ beguiling spreads from the book (without the text). …


“At first, Weatherboy liked being able to influence the weather. But slowly that changed. Because everyone around him wanted something from him. ‘Can you make Weatherboy cry?’ someone would ask. ‘My sunflowers could use some rain.’ Or …
‘Does Weatherboy have a fever? It’ll be a perfect beach day!’ This made Weatherboy very sad and when that happened, the village disappeared into a dark and gloomy fog.”

(Click to enlarge)


 


“One afternoon Weatherboy was having lunch with his mother and father. ‘Darling, you are so quiet,’ his mother said. ‘Is something the matter?’ ‘Well…’ the boy said, and suddenly there were tears in his eyes. ‘Oh, darling! Can’t you hold your tears for just a little bit longer?’ Our clothes are drying outside!’ She left the table and ran into the garden. This made his father laugh out loud. Weatherboy’s tears of sadness became tears of anger. Through the kitchen window his father saw big hailstones falling on his vegetable garden. ‘Look what you did!’ he shouted angrily, and he ran out too. Weatherboy felt sadder and more alone than he ever had before.”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“That night in bed, Weatherboy made a decision. He didn’t want to stay a moment longer. The next morning, before the rooster crowed, he left home. He met a lot of people on his way. And it didn’t take long before they all were asking something of him. ‘I want sun!’ ‘I want cold!’ ‘I want snow!’ I want, I want, I want… Heat waves, rainbows, thunder, lightning, hail, storm, fog…. Everyone wanted something from him and they all wanted something different. After every disappointment he walked farther.
Farther and farther.”

(Click to enlarge)


 



“Day by day, Weatherboy became more unhappy and lonely. At first you could only tell by the snowflakes that whirled down around him. But eventually it affected the whole world. The temperature dropped below freezing, and it stayed there. Ditches, canals and rivers turned into ice, and even lakes and seas froze over. Weatherboy saw it happen, but he didn’t know what to do about it. He found a little house and lived there all by himself. At night he dreamed of sun and warmth.”
(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


 


“Far away there lived a boy who just loved the frost and snow. Every morning when he opened the curtains his face lit up. He could do what he loved doing the most –
ice skating! Every day! He was on the ice from early morning till late at night.
But soon that wasn’t enough. He wanted to skate farther. Farther and farther.”

(Click to enlarge)


 

WEATHERBOY. Text copyright © 2014 by Pimm van Hest. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Kristof Devos. Published by Clavis Publishing, New York. Illustrations reproduced by permission of Krisof Devos.

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 big kick is that I’m in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina, right now to visit friends and talk about Wild Things at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe. But do tell me …

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #422: Featuring Kristof Devos, last added: 3/9/2015
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13. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week,Featuring Eva Erikkson and Sydney Smith


– From JonArno Lawson’s Sidewalk Flowers,
illustrated by Sydney Smith


“Dad lifted me up so I’d be closer to the stars that were far, far away. ‘Some of them don’t even exist,’ he said. ‘They’ve gone out already.’ ‘But we can still see them,’ I said. ‘Yes, we can see their light,’ said Dad. ‘It may take several hundred years to arrive here.’ I looked at the stars that weren’t there. And Dad went on telling me their names and carrying me. ‘The Swan,’ he said. ‘The Harp. Big Dog.'”
– From Ulf Stark’s
When Dad Showed Me the Universe,
illustrated by Eva Erikkson

(Click to enlarge spread)


 

This morning over at Kirkus, I write about Michael Morpurgo’s Half a Man, illustrated by Gemma O’Callaghan, and J. Patrick Lewis’s The Wren and the Sparrow, illustrated by Yevgenia Nayberg. That link will be here soon.

* * *

Today I’ve got some art from JonArno Lawson’s Sidewalk Flowers, illustrated by Sydney Smith (Groundwood, March 2015), as well as Ulf Stark’s When Dad Showed Me the Universe, illustrated by the great Eva Eriksson (originally released in Sweden in 1998 but coming to American shelves later this year). I wrote about both books here at Kirkus last week and want to share some art today.

Don’t miss Philip Nel’s post on Sidewalk Flowers, and here Roger Sutton talks to Lawson.

Enjoy.


 

Art from Sidewalk Flowers:


 



(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


 



(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


 



(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


 


(Click to see cover in more detail)


 

Art from
When Dad Showed Me the Universe:


 







 

* * * * * * *

SIDEWALK FLOWERS. Copyright © 2015 by JonArno Lawson. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Sydney Smith. Published by Groundwood Books, Toronto. Illustrations here reproduced by permission of the publisher.

WHEN DAD SHOWED ME THE UNIVERSE. English language edition © Gecko Press Ltd 2015. Illustrations here reproduced by permission of the publisher.

1 Comments on What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week,Featuring Eva Erikkson and Sydney Smith, last added: 3/6/2015
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14. Victoria Jamieson and Roller Girl

The issue of friendships ending was certainly central for me, and it was the concept I was most interested in exploring in the book. Although the details of the story are different, the heart of the issue—the pain of a slipping friendship—was from my own experience.”

* * *

Over at Kirkus today, I have a back-and-forth with author-illustrator Victoria Jamieson, pictured here, about her first graphic novel for children, Roller Girl, which will be on shelves next week — and which is really good.

That link will be here soon.

Next week, I’ll have some art from the book, as well as some early sketches and such.

Until tomorrow …

 

Photo of Victoria taken by Herminio Jacome and used by permission of the author.

1 Comments on Victoria Jamieson and Roller Girl, last added: 3/8/2015
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15. Christopher Myers’ My Pen


“But I know my pen can do anything, anywhere. There are a million pens in the world and each one has a million worlds inside it. So if you have a pen,
see what you can do—let those worlds inside your pen out!”

(Click to enlarge and spread in its entirety)


 

I’ve got a review over at BookPage of Christopher Myers’ newest picture book, My Pen (Disney-Hyperion, March 2015).

That review is here, and I’m following up today with a few spreads from the book.

Enjoy.



 


“… then tells everyone I love that I love them.”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“… but it doesn’t always get it right.”
(Click to enlarge)


 



 

* * * * * * *

MY PEN. Copyright © 2015 by Christopher Myers. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Disney-Hyperion, New York.

4 Comments on Christopher Myers’ My Pen, last added: 3/5/2015
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16. From Zine to Picture Book: Greg PizzoliDiscusses the Making of Tricky Vic

Author-illustrator Greg Pizzoli visits 7-Imp this morning to talk about his entertaining new picture book from Viking, Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower, on shelves next week — and a book, as you’ll read below, that started its life as a zine. It tells the story of the sly and brilliant con artist Robert Miller, who later became Count Victor Lustig and who is known, as the title tells you, as the “Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower.” It’s a fascinating story with a smart closing Author’s Note from Pizzoli. (“Stay sharp” are his final words to readers.) And he created the art using pencil, ink, rubber stamps, halftone photographs, silkscreen, Zipatone, and Photoshop. Many of the photos in the book come from a Paris trip he took years ago, but then again, you can read a lot more about this below.

Greg has a couple more books coming out this year, but he may actually visit again at a later date to discuss those. Right now, it’s a Tricky Vic kind of morning. Let’s get to it. Grab your coffee and get ready to get conned. I thank him for visiting.

Oh, and by the way: Greg mentions Mac Barnett below, which makes me think of his new book, co-written with Jory John and illustrated by Kevin Cornell and which also happens to be about conning (and practical jokes and all-things-mischief). It’s called The Terrible Two, and it was released in January by Amulet Books. It is very funny. It’s selling well and was recently optioned for a film adaptation, as Travis Jonker noted here. So, you’ve probably heard of it already. If not, I highly recommend it. No joking.

Now, I welcome Greg …

* * *

Greg: Okay. So, Tricky Vic.

Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower is a nonfiction picture book about the life of one of the world’s greatest con artists [Robert Miller/”Count Victor Lustig”]. His most infamous trick, of course, was selling the Eiffel Tower for scrap metal, but he also conned Al Capone, escaped from prison by literally tying bedsheets together and climbing out a window, and repeatedly sold “money-printing boxes,” which in reality did nothing at all.

Tricky Vic started back in 2009 when I was in graduate school, studying Book Arts and Printmaking. I had heard the major points of Miller/Lustig’s life and had the idea to make a comic or a zine out of it — but never did. Then I graduated and sort of forgot about it.

Fast forward a few years of working hard at illustration, getting my first book deal (for The Watermelon Seed) and, one day, getting lunch with Mac Barnett. Actually, we went to The Rosenbach Museum and Library here in Philadelphia, which at the time housed the Sendak collection, where we saw Sendak’s pencil sketches for a proposed edition of The Lord of the Rings, among other things.

But after that, we got lunch. And we were talking about nonfiction picture books and why they often seem to fall flat. Mac was at the time working on President Taft is Stuck in the Bath, and I told him my con-artist idea from back in grad school. He told me I had to make it. I said, “I guess I could make a zine.” And he said “MAKE A ZINE!”

A few months later, I made a zine. Here it is:


Greg: “The original zine was about 4×6 inches and 16 pages.”

The University of the Arts, where I went to grad school and where I occasionally teach, has a couple of offset presses. And once a year the Printmaking department offers a class called Book Production, where you make a book in an edition of at least 100 copies. So, the first half of the class you are making book dummies (which some people seem to call “mock-ups,” but which I will always call dummies), and you talk out ideas during critiques and try out different formats. And the second part of the semester you are printing and assembling the books. I had taken this class previously as a student, and my department head was the instructor. She graciously allowed me to audit the course so I could explore Tricky Vic.


Making plates in the offset shop

I was going to illustrate the book in a more “usual for me” kind of way, but the limitations of only being able to print five layers of ink (two colors on one side of the paper and three on the other)—plus having basically three weeks to put the whole thing together, not to mention the approaching deadline of Not Very Scary—forced me to simplify everything. I approached each spread or illustration like it was an editorial assignment and came up with stuff that looked pretty different than my usual kidlit work.

Here are some examples:


Greg: “Stay weird, kids …”
(Click to enlarge)

So, then I put a couple dozen of the zines together (they were all hand-sewn by me) and made little rubber stamps for the envelopes and sent them to kids’ book people I know — and one to my agent Steve. I sold a few on Etsy, too, I think.


Finished two-color print


Assembling zines by hand


Zines were sent out in small envelopes with rubber stamp elements

I really enjoyed making it, but I had no thought that it could be a “real” picture book. It just seemed too weird, too dark, too much about-a-criminal-who-scammed-people-out-of-their-life-savings to work for kids’ books, ya know?


“Zut alors!”

Well, like I said, I sent it to my agent Steve, and he just has an amazing vision for this kind of thing. And before I really even realized what was happening, I had a two-book deal with Viking.

Then came researching, re-writing, more researching, re-writing, re-writing, re-writing, and nine months or so later, I had the story at a point where I could start thinking again about pictures.


Incognito Pizzoli

Part of my research process involved going to Paris, and since I had just proposed to my (now) wife, we left for Paris the next day. We stayed in the suburbs with some family friends, who live in a 17th-century converted farmhouse. They live a nice life.


Outside the Gerome household
(Click to enlarge)


Where’s Greg? Outside the Hôtel de Crillon,
which appears in
Tricky Vic
(Click to enlarge)

We went all over Paris doing all the things two newly-engaged people do, especially when one of them is working on a picture book about a guy who sold the Eiffel Tower. I took a ton of photos, and a lot of Paris is in the book — in subtle ways sometimes. For example, this is part of the floor of the Eiffel Tower platform:



 

It’s also the photo I used to make all of the halftones throughout the book. The gritty texture, this stuff:

 


Halftone texture made from Parisian textures


 

Also, this photo. This is the floor of The Louvre.

 



 

That shape is used throughout the book. And I don’t expect that anyone would recognize it or—in the case of the halftone grit—even have a chance of knowing, but to me it adds layers to everything. It makes it all more about my experience there, and it feels more (again, to me) like it has more depth than if I hadn’t included those elements.

 


The Louvre floor shape in action
(Click to enlarge)


 

The original zine had a huge influence on the look of the final book, and lots of the ideas from the zine came through unscathed to the final. I’m really happy about that in one sense, but I definitely think the final book is a great improvement, largely due to my editors, art director, and friends who helped me along the way. It’s much more considered, but I hope not fussy. I had more time to work on it — the zine took three weeks, and the book took six months. At this point, the zine feels like a sketch for the book that came later. Pictures probably work better than my ramblings. Here are some side-by-side comparisons:





(Click each to enlarge)

One of the things I did for this book’s final art is incorporate rubber stamps. I love rubber stamps. At some point I want to illustrate a whole book with custom-made rubber stamps — but I’m taking it one step at a time.

For Tricky Vic, I drew police cars, limousines, etc. and had a company I’ve been using for years, Simon’s Stamps, make wooden handle rubber stamps for me. It’s a nice way to have something that’s reproducible and quick, but—whereas copying it digitally would be maybe a little lazy and maybe look too slick—this adds some grit that I like.



(Click each to enlarge)

Something else: On another trip—for another book I hope we talk about next year—I went to London and, at the Museum of London, found this report card from 1906. Like a criminal, I lifted the basic layout and the tone of the language for Miller’s school report card, which in the book shows that he got an “F” in Conduct but an “Excellent” in Theatre. I made those grades up.


Report card from The Museum of London
(Click to enlarge)


Greg: “Ken Wright, one of my editors, and Jim Hoover,
my art director, snuck into the report card.”

Again, I don’t necessarily expect that everyone will notice these things, but I think some kids will, and I bet we would get along. My dream for this book—besides, ya know, ten million copies sold—is that some kid who maybe is dreading yet another book report on a goody-goody President “who never told a lie” can pick up Tricky Vic and write a biography of the man who conned Al Capone. I’d love to see that.


Greg: “Thanks for the good advice, Mac.”
(Click to enlarge)

Another thing that might be of interest is the case cover. Like all of my books I’ve written so far, the case cover is different than the jacket. The jacket is obviously pretty close to the zine — just (I think) more sophisticated.


Zine v. Picture Book
(Click to enlarge)

The case cover, though, was a blank slate, and as publishers seem to generally let me do whatever I want on the case covers, I decided to recreate the envelope that I used when I sent out the original zines. It shows up in the book, too. I figure when the pristine uncoated paper stock of the jacket gets ripped to shreds, there will be the case cover — with this mysterious envelope that reads “OPEN IN PRIVATE.”


Case cover — front and back

And, probably to the annoyance of librarians everywhere, I hid something under the back flap. Miller/Lustig is credited as writing the “Ten Commandments for Con-Artists.” And sneaking them under the back flap seemed the best solution to make sure that they weren’t spotted by concerned parents — and weren’t missed by discerning kids.


“Peel …”
(Click to enlarge)


“… slowly …”
(Click to enlarge)


“… and see.”
(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


 

Also, you should know: Yes, that is my thumbprint.

 


Endpapers
(Click to enlarge)



 

* * * * * * *


 

TRICKY VIC. Copyright © 2015 by Greg Pizzoli. Published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Group, New York. All images here reproduced by permission of Greg Pizzoli.

9 Comments on From Zine to Picture Book: Greg PizzoliDiscusses the Making of Tricky Vic, last added: 3/6/2015
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17. Wild Things at Malaprop’s

I’ll be in Asheville, NC, this weekend to speak about Wild Things at Malaprop’s Bookstore and Café. If you live in the Asheville area, will I see you there? Hope so.

Here’s the information, and you can click to see the image more clearly:

2 Comments on Wild Things at Malaprop’s, last added: 3/5/2015
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18. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #421: Featuring Bryan Collier


“But first I needed an instrument. The great thing about music is that you don’t even need a real instrument to play. So my friends and I decided to make our own.”
(Click to enlarge spread)

It’s the first Sunday of the month, which means I normally feature the work of a student or debut illustrator. I’m breaking my own 7-Imp rules today, however, to … well, not do that — simply because I like this book and want to show you all some spreads from it. This won’t be on shelves till mid-April. Forgive me for posting about it so early, but to be honest, I’m just not that organized this week. But I had read and enjoyed this book and knew I had some spreads from it to share, so there ya go.

Trombone Shorty (Abrams) is the picture book autobiography from Grammy-nominated musician Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews. Illustrated by Bryan Collier, Andrews kicks the book off with “”Where Y’at?”, explaining that the folks in New Orleans have their own way of living and their own way of talking. Young Andrews grew up in Tremé, where “you could hear music floating in the air.” His older brother played the trumpet, and Andrews would watch and pretend to play his own. Andrews and his family would delight in the Mardi Gras parades, which “made everyone forget about their troubles for a little while.”

Andrews and his friends made their own instruments until the day Troy himself found an old, beaten up trombone. He joined a parade, his brother shouting, “TROMBONE SHORTY! WHERE Y’AT?” Thus a nickname was born.

Andrews goes on to describe the moment Bo Diddley called him out in a crowd at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Before he knows it, Andrews is on stage, playing with Diddley watching. The moment is illustrated, and in the backmatter readers are shown the actual photograph of this moment (two things I could show you today, but I’ll leave that for you to discover when you find a copy of this in April). “After I played with Bo Diddley,” Andrews writes, “I knew I was ready to have my own band.” Towards the book’s close, Andrews switches to present tense:

And now I have my own band, called Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, named after a street in Tremé. I’ve played all around the world, but I always come back to New Orleans. …

I don’t think it’d be possible for there to be a better illustrator for this book than Collier. And he’s on fire here. “Collier portrays the story of this living legend with energy and style,” writes the Kirkus review, “making visible the swirling sounds of jazz.” It’s a feast for one’s eyes. Below are some spreads from the book.

(If you purchase this book, come April, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Trombone Shorty Foundation.)


“And there was music in my house, too. My big brother, James, played the trumpet so loud you could hear him halfway across town! He was the leader of his own band,
and my friends and I would pretend to be in the band, too.
‘FOLLOW ME,’ James would say.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


“I listened to all these sounds and mixed them together, just like how we make our food. We take one big pot and throw in sausage, crab, shrimp, chicken, vegetables, rice—whatever’s in the kitchen—and stir it all together and let it cook. When it’s done, it’s the most delicious taste you’ve ever tried. We call it gumbo,
and that’s what I wanted my music to sound like—
different styles combined to create my own
musical gumbo!”
(Click to enlarge spread)


“From that day on, everyone called me Trombone Shorty! I took that trombone everywhere I went and never stopped playing. I was so small that sometimes I fell right over to the ground because it was so heavy. But I always got back up, and I learned to hold it up high. I listened to my brother play songs over and over,
and I taught myself those songs, too. I practiced day and night,
and sometimes I fell asleep with my trombone in my hands.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


“Today I play at the same New Orleans jazz festival where I once played with
Bo Diddley. And when the performance ends, I lead a parade of musicians around,
just like I used to do in the streets of Tremé with my friends. WHERE Y’AT? WHERE Y’AT? I still keep my trombone in my hands, and I will never let it go.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 

TROMBONE SHORTY. Text copyright © 2015 by Troy Andrews and Bill Taylor. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Bryan Collier. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Abrams Books for Young Readers, New York.

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) Being a part of Book ‘Em’s Read Me Day this week at Warner Elementary School in Nashville.

2) I’ll be speaking at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville, NC, this weekend. Here’s the low-down.

3) The girls got another Snow Day this week.

4) House concert for a friend (though not at my own home). It was lovely to hear her play some new songs.

5) Lunch with an out-of-town friend, who actually served on the Caldecott committee this past year. She positively glows from the experience.

6) My nine-year-old made up another song on the piano, and my musician friend has a music program that allowed him to print out the sheet music for the song she made up. And he also put it onto CD. That was a nice surprise.

7) Giving good children’s books as gifts. Gotta share the love, don’t you know.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

8 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #421: Featuring Bryan Collier, last added: 3/1/2015
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19. The Real World at a 45-Degree Angle

See that post title? It’s a phrase that illustrator Nicholas Gannon once used when he visited 7-Imp back in 2011. (I’m fond of the phrase.) Back then, Nicholas was an unpublished author-illustrator, but now he’ll see the publication this year (later in the Fall) of his first illustrated children’s novel, The Doldrums (HarperCollins). I find this exciting.

Today, in honor of this news, I’m sharing a few peeks inside the book. Be sure to visit that 2011 post, if you’re so inclined, to see even more art from Nicholas. In fact, you can read there the genesis of this book; it all started with The Doldrums Press.

Congrats to Nicholas!


(Click to enlarge)


* * * * * * *

THE DOLDRUMS. Copyright © 2015 by Nicholas Gannon. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, HarperCollins, New York.

10 Comments on The Real World at a 45-Degree Angle, last added: 2/20/2015
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20. A Conversation with A. F. Harrold

I think poetry and writing for children have something in common, which I think of as ‘get on with it.’

Children’s stories that are full of waffle and verbiage are boring. We want the story to kick off as quickly as we can and to tell us only what we need and to roll downhill like a snowball until the end.

And poetry is similar: It’s all about cutting and cutting until all you have left are the handful of words that do the job.”

* * *

Over at Kirkus today, I talk to British author and poet A. F. Harrold, pictured here, about his children’s novel, The Imaginary, illustrated by Emily Gravett and originally released in the UK last year. It will come to American bookshelves in early March.

That link will be here soon.

Next week, I’ll have some art from the book, as well as some of Emily’s early sketches.

Until tomorrow …

* * * * * * *

Photo of A. F. taken by Naomi Woddis and used by his permission.

1 Comments on A Conversation with A. F. Harrold, last added: 2/19/2015
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21. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week,Featuring Intelaq Mohammed Ali,Emma Chichester Clark, Omer Hoffmann,Briony Stewart, and Duncan Tonatiuh


“‘That’s that,’ said Mama. ‘We’ll just have to cure Sadie ourselves. But how?'”
– From Orna Landau’s
Leopardpox!,
illustrated by Omer Hoffmann

(Click to enlarge spread)

 


“I was a very studious person who accepted challenges and explored subjects deeply. … In Gorgan, near the Caspian Sea, I met a friend
who opened a school where I taught logic and astronomy. …”
– From Fatima Sharafeddine’s
The Amazing Discoveries of Ibn Sina,
illustrated by Intelaq Mohammed Ali
(Click to enlarge spread and see full text)

 


“I go outside and find you …”
– From Briony Stewart’s
Here in the Garden

(Click to enlarge spread)

 


“Ahí los esperan las cebollas / y los ajos. / The onion / and garlic are waiting …”
– From Jorge Argueta’s
Salsa: Un Poema Para Cocinar / A Cooking Poem, illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh

(Click to enlarge spread and read poem)

 


From Emma Chichester Clark’s Bears Don’t Read!


 

That’s a very long post title, but I have a lot of art today.

Last week, I wrote here at Kirkus about some new picture book imports, so I’m following up today here at 7-Imp with some art from each book (some art above and some more below).

* * *

Today over at Kirkus, I have three new picture books that are oh-so lovely, and that link will be here soon.

Enjoy the rest of the art below.


 

Art from Emma Chichester Clark’s
Bears Don’t Read! (Kane Miller, March 2015)


 


(Click to see spread in its entirety)


 


“But when he arrived everyone was running! Some were even screaming!
‘WAIT!’ cried George. …”
(Click to enlarge and read full text)


 


“George moved into the summerhouse at the end of Clementine’s garden and each day, after school, Clementine showed him everything she’d learned. It wasn’t long before George knew all the letters of the alphabet.”
(Click to enlarge)


 



 

Art from Orna Landau’s Leopardpox!,
illustrated by Omer Hoffmann
(Clarion, February 2015)


 


“‘A LEOPARD!’ cried Mama. Sadie had LEOPARDPOX! The little leopard cub jumped off the bed and scampered around the room.”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“… The other parents complained.
‘Who brings a leopard to a pediatrician?’ they shouted.
Mama was insulted. ‘This isn’t a leopard! It’s my girl.’ …”
(Click to enlarge and see full text)


 



 

Art from Fatima Sharafeddine’s
The Amazing Discoveries of Ibn Sina,
illustrated by Intelaq Mohammed Ali
(Groundwood, March 2015)


 


“They call be Ibn Sina, or sometimes Avicenna, but my full name is Abou Ali al-Hussein ibn Abdullah ibn al-Hassan ibn Ali ibn Sina.
I was born in 980, over a thousand years ago …”
(Click to enlarge and see full text)


 


“Today they say that I was one of the most brilliant thinkers and eloquent writers of my time. … In the science of nature, for instance, I discovered that
light travels faster than sound. …”
(Click to enlarge and see full text)


 



 

Art from Briony Stewart’s Here in the Garden
(Kane Miller, March 2015)


 


“We’d slip under the shade of a tree with cold drinks and popsicles
as the sky burned every shade of blue. “
(Click to enlarge)


 



 

Art from Jorge Argueta’s Salsa:
Un Poema Para Cocinar / A Cooking Poem
,
illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh
(Groundwood, March 2015)


 


“Me dice mi mamá / que el molcajete / era como la licuadora / para nuestros antepasados. / My mother tells me / molcajetes were / our ancestors’ / blenders. …”
(Click to enlarge and see full text)


 


“Ya tengo listos cuatro tomatoes.
I am ready with four tomatoes. …”
(Click to enlarge and see full text)


 


“Mi mamá viene a calentar las tortillas, / y viene bailando salsa.
My mother warms up tortillas, / and she’s dancing salsa. …”
(Click to enlarge and see full text)


 



 

* * * * * * *

THE AMAZING DISCOVERIES OF IBN SINA. Text copyright © 2013 by Fatima Sharafeddine. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Intelaq Mohammed Ali. First published in English in Canada and the USA in 2015 by Groundwood Books. Illustrations reproduced by their permission.

BEARS DON’T READ! Text and illustrations copyright © Emma Chichester Clark 2014. First American Edition 2015 Kane Miller. Illustrations reproduced by their permission.

HERE IN THE GARDEN. Copyright © 2014 Briony Stewart. First American Edition 2015 Kane Miller. Illustrations reproduced by their permission.

LEOPARDPOX! Text copyright © 2012 by Orna Landau. Illustrations copyright © 2012 by Omer Hoffmann. Translated from the Hebrew by Annette Appel. Published in English in the United States by Clarion Books, 2014. Illustrations reproduced by their permission.

SALSA: UN POEMA PARA COCINAR / A COOKING POEM. Text copyright © 2015 by Jorge Argueta. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Duncan Tonatiuh. English translation copyright © 2015 by Elisa Amado. Published in the Canada and the USA in 2015 by Groundwood Books. Illustrations reproduced by their permission.

1 Comments on What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week,Featuring Intelaq Mohammed Ali,Emma Chichester Clark, Omer Hoffmann,Briony Stewart, and Duncan Tonatiuh, last added: 2/21/2015
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22. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #420: Featuring Zachariah OHora

I’ve got a review over at BookPage of Ame Dyckman’s Wolfie the Bunny, illustrated by Zachariah OHora and released this month by Little, Brown. That review is here, and today—with thanks to OHora—I’ve got some dummy samples, alternate covers and endpages, character studies, and final art to share with you.

Let’s get right to it …


 

First Character Studies









 

Dummy samples
(click each one to enlarge)






 

Alternate Covers and Endpages


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)



Endpaper ideas


 

Some Final Spreads


Endpapers
(Click to enlarge)


“The Bunny family came home to find a bundle outside their door.”
(Click to enlarge)


“They peeked. They gasped. It was a baby wolf! …”
(Click to enlarge)


“Wolfie slept through the night. Dot did not.”
(Click to enlarge)


“Wolfie and Dot went to the Carrot Patch.”
(Click to enlarge)


“… ‘I’M A HUNGRY BUNNY,’ said Dot. …”
(Click to enlarge)



 



 

WOLFIE THE BUNNY. Text copyright © 2015 by Ame Dyckman. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Zachariah OHora. Published by Little, Brown and Company, New York. All images here reproduced by permission of Zachariah OHora.

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) My girls had the entire week off because of ice, and so we got to read a lot more than normal.

2) I love this:

3) Ice quakes aren’t fun, but the kick is that at least I know what that sound is now. Oof.

4) When my friend sees my book on the new nonfiction shelf at her library and snaps a pic for me:

5) Bill Murray’s “Jaws” theme song on SNL 40 last week.

6) My daughters’ friends make me laugh.

7) Not long now till House of Cards, season three.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #420: Featuring Zachariah OHora, last added: 2/22/2015
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23. Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Ethan Long

Author-illustrator Ethan Long likes a good breakfast, such as Belgian waffles with strawberries and whipped cream and lots of bacon. But overall, he tells me, “these days, since I am a 46 year old man and I can get chubby pretty easily, I make it a point to consume a bowl of oatmeal with walnuts and raisins and a glass of orange juice every morning.”

I’m going to say we splurge this morning during our breakfast interview and have some of those Belgian waffles. One must always splurge.

Plus coffee. Gotta have coffee.

As you can see, if you scroll down to the bibliography at the very end of this post, Ethan is a prolific children’s book author and illustrator. He received the 2013 Geisel Award for Up, Tall and High, released by Putnam. This is an interview I intended to post at the end of last year, but things got busy. Better late than never. At least now, we can hear about which new books are on the horizon for Ethan in 2015.

Without further ado …

* * * * * * *

Jules: Are you an illustrator or author/illustrator?

Ethan: I am an Author/Illustrator, trained as an illustrator and self-taught as an author. That answer seems too short, but my goal is always to stay as succinct as possible with my writing.



Illustration from Up, Tall and High (Putnam, 2012)

Jules: Can you list your books-to-date? (If there are too many books to list here, please list your five most recent illustrated titles or the ones that are most prominent in your mind, for whatever reason.)

Ethan: [See Ethan’s complete bibliography at bottom of post.]


One of Ethan’s mixed-media sculptures

Jules: What is your usual medium?

Ethan: Everything I do ends up digital in the end, but I try to stay flexible on how I want the story/art to look in print. I may have vintage postcards on my mind, or classic cartoons, or wet ink splatters.

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?

Ethan: The difference? The difference is in the amount of sarcasm and anger I show. Chapter books can show characters being angry with each other, or annoyed, or jealous, but for board books, happiness and safety is key.


Illustration from Me and My Big Mouse (Two Lions, 2014)

Jules: Where are your stompin’ grounds?

Ethan My wife, Heather, and I live in Orlando, Florida. We’ve got three kids and do a lot of stompin’ the grounds. Orlando is the home of the Valencia orange, a beautiful downtown area (which is close to where we live), and some red-shorted mouse character who Must-Not-Be-Named.



The family — and the cat

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

Ethan: I snail-mailed illustration promo cards for nine years until I got my first book in the year 2000. Was that brief enough?


A Chamelia illustration
(Click to enlarge)


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

Ethan: http://www.ethanlong.com. It’s the only website you will ever need to visit.

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

Ethan: They are wonderful, and inspiring, and exhausting. The kids are usually great. The adults are amazing and supportive. The traveling takes me away from the family and the studio, but I spend too much time at home anyway, so it’s a good thing, always.

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

Ethan: I teach here and there, and it never fails: When I’m helping a student work something out, it dawns on me that I should be taking that advice myself. Also, it’s nice when you’re lucky enough to get a student whose eyes light up at something you’ve said or done. There’s usually one of them in every class.

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

Ethan: I have a few books coming out by the end of the summer: HI!, a board book published with Abrams/Appleseed; In, Over and On the Farm, the follow-up to the Theodor Seuss Geisel-winning Up, Tall and High; and a Halloween book with Bloomsbury called Fright Club. I am also developing some animated projects, based on my books, with productions companies. We recently pitched some original properties, and my partner will be taking them to Kidscreen at the end of February. Always something going on.

Mmm. Coffee.Okay, we’ve got more coffee, and it’s time to get a bit more detailed with seven questions over breakfast. I thank Ethan 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?

Ethan

: For the writing, the ideas come in all shapes and sizes, but overall, for it to be a good idea my wife has to say “that’s cute.” I try to just go with the flow. The harder I try to make something work, the worse it gets. When I just sit down and spit something out and put on some music and just sit and play with it and see where it takes me, those are the best things.



Sketches and a final illustration from a Clara and Clem book

But for the craft of writing and illustrating, there is the rough draft or sketches, the revised draft or sketches, and the final draft or sketches. Then the real work comes of making things fit into dimensions and layouts. Consistency is key with illustration. If a character is wearing a green shirt on one page, he should be wearing that same shirt on the next page. And his finger count should match throughout. Always.


A Max and Milo sketch

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

Ethan

: I work in a very small space and try to keep everything contained. Despite my ability to juggle enormous amounts of projects, I actually work on one thing at a time. I work until it looks good, then send it out for review, then while I am waiting for that to come back, I pick up and work on something else. It all happens on my small desk on my laptop. I have tried many set-ups over the years, but the smaller the better for me. Less to maintain and clean.


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

Ethan

: I was heavily influenced by TV and comics as a kid. Books were still apart of my life, but more when I was really young. Curious George, Harold and the Purple Crayon, anything by Dr. Seuss — except Yertle the Turtle. Not a fan of Yertle.

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.)

Ethan: I would love to chat with Mo Willems about the craft of writing and how he handles his big-time, off-the-charts fame, but his agent keeps me away from him.

If I weren’t married, I’d go for beers with Gary Baseman, then head out to pick up chicks.

As for the red wine, I’d pick Eric Carle, because he seems to have led a full life, and I would want to hear his stories.


Illustration from Soup for One (Running Press Kids, 2012)

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?

Ethan: I listen to everything. But I do have a playlist called “Ethan’s Bumpin’ Grinds,” which has all my favorite rap and hip-hop, including Destiny’s Child, Dr. Dre, Snoop, Beastie Boys, and a song by Blackstreet, called “No Diggity.”

Yes, I listen to music all the time. I have a playlist called “Rock out Jams,” “Jazzy Beats,” and “Calmer Favorites,” depending on my mood. I also listen to a lot of alternative, because there’s always something new. My three new favorite bands are Arctic Monkeys, Vampire Weekend, and Milky Chance.






Stick Dog illustrations

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

Ethan: I used to write a column called “College Nark” for my local paper, The College Park Community Paper. We live in College Park, Orlando, and my column tattled on people who ran stop signs, left dog poo in people’s yards, and drove too fast, as well as many, many other things.

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

Ethan: I wish more interviewers would ask to arm wrestle. Especially the females, because then I could win easier. BOOM! Yeah, I said it, females.

 



 

* * * The Pivot Questionnaire * * *

Jules: What is your favorite word?

Ethan: It’s a swear word that starts with the letter “f.” Sorry, kids.

Jules: What is your least favorite word?

Ethan: Sucks, as in that “sucks.” Especially when my kids say it.

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

Ethan: A day off, but I take too few of them.

My wife’s smile.

Jules: What turns you off?

Ethan: Law-breakers.

Jules: What is your favorite curse word? (optional)

Ethan: Same as my favorite word. But I’ll throw around the “c” word now and again, believe it or not.

Jules: What sound or noise do you love?

Ethan: A cat’s purr.

Jules: What sound or noise do you hate?

Ethan: A dog licking itself.

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

Ethan: Disc jockey.

Jules: What profession would you not like to do?

Ethan: Daycare manager.

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

Ethan: “You did good.”

 

Ethan’s bibliography:

As author/illustrator:

PICTURE BOOKS:

  • Me and My Big Mouse, 2014, Amazon/2 Lions
  • Clara and Clem Under the Sea, 2014, Penguin
  • Scribbles and Ink: Out of the Box, 2014, Blue Apple
  • The Wing Wing Bros. Geometry Palooza, 2014, Holiday House
  • Max and Milo The Mixed-Up Message!, 2013, Simon & Schuster
  • Scribbles and Ink: The Contest, 2013, Blue Apple
  • Clara and Clem In Outer Space, 2013, Penguin
  • The Wing Wing Bros. Carnival De Math, 2013, Holiday House
  • Chamelia & the New Kid in Class, 2013, Little Brown
  • Scribbles and Ink: Doodles for Two!, 2012, Blue Apple
  • Max and Milo Go To Sleep!, 2013, Simon & Schuster
  • The Wing Wing Bros. Math Spectacular, 2013, Holiday House
  • Scribbles and Ink, 2012, Blue Apple
  • Clara and Clem Take a Ride, 2012, Penguin
  • Pig Has a Plan, 2013, Holiday House
  • Soup For One, 2012, Running Press
  • It’s Pooltime!, 2012, Blue Apple
  • Up, Tall and High, 2012, G.P. Putnam
  • Chamelia, 2011, Little Brown
  • The Book That Zack Wrote, 2011, Blue Apple
  • The Croakey Pokey, 2011, Holiday House
  • My Dad, My Hero, 2011, Sourcebooks
  • Rick & Rack and the Great Outdoors, 2010, Blue Apple
  • One Drowsy Dragon, 2010, Scholastic/Orchard
  • Bird and Birdie in: One Fine Day, 2010, Tenspeed Press

NOVELTY BOOKS:

  • Tickle the Duck!, 2005, Little Brown
  • Stop Kissing Me!, 2007, Little Brown
  • Duck’s Not Afraid of the Dark!, 2009, Little Brown
  • Too Many Kisses!, 2009, Little Brown
  • Have You Been Naughty or Nice?, 2009, Little Brown

As illustrator:

PICTURE BOOKS:

  • You & Me: We’re Opposites (illustration only), 2009, Blue Apple Books
  • Muddy as a Duck Puddle (illustration only), 2011, Holiday House
  • Fritz Danced the Fandango (illustration only), 2009, Scholastic
  • One Little Chicken (illustration only), 2007, Holiday House
  • Greedy Apostrophe: A Cautionary Tale (illustration only), 2009, Holiday House
  • Tortuga in Trouble (illustration only), 2009, Holiday House
  • Trollerella (illustration only), 2006, Holiday House
  • The Zombie Nite Café (illustration only), 2007, Holiday House
  • Count on Culebra (illustration only), 2010, Holiday House
  • Halloween Skyride (illustration only), 2006, Holiday House
  • Fiesta Fiasco (illustration only), 2010, Holiday House
  • Oh Yeah! (illustration only), 2003, Holiday House
  • Stinky Smelly Feet (illustration only), 2004, Dutton Children’s Books
  • Mañana Iguana (illustration only), 2003, Holiday House
  • The Day My Runny Nose Ran Away (illustration only), 2002, Dutton Children’s Books

PAPERBACKS:

  • The Luckiest St. Patrick’s Day Ever! (illustration only), 2008, Scholastic Book Clubs
  • The Best Thanksgiving Ever! (illustration only), 2007, Scholastic Book Clubs
  • The Spookiest Halloween Ever! (illustration only), 2009, Scholastic Book Clubs
  • Bunny Race! (illustration only), 2010, Scholastic Book Clubs

CHAPTER BOOKS:

  • The Confe$$ion$ & $ecret$ of Howard J. Fingerhut (illustration only), 2002, Holiday House
  • Snarf Attack, Underfoodle and the Secret of Life: The Riot Brothers Tell All (illustration only), 2007, Holiday House
  • Drooling and Dangerous: The Riot Brothers Return (illustration only), 2008, Holiday House
  • Stinky and Successful: The Riot Brothers Never Stop (illustration only), 2009, Holiday House
  • Take the Mummy and Run! The Riot Brothers Are on a Roll! (illustration only), 2010, Holiday House
  • Super Schnoz (illustration only), 2013, Albert Whitman
  • Stick Dog (illustration only), 2012, Harper Collins
  • Stick Dog Wants a Hot Dog (illustration only), 2013, Harper Collins
  • Stick Dog Chases a Pizza (illustration only), 2014, Harper Collins

GRAPHIC NOVELS:

    Wuv Bunnies From Outers Pace
(illustration only), 2008, Holiday House

POETRY BOOKS:

  • Countdown to Summer (illustration only), 2009, Little Brown
  • My Hippo Has the Hiccups (illustration only), 2009, Sourcebooks
  • The Tighty Whitey Spider (illustration only), 2010, Sourcebooks

JOKE BOOKS:

  • Galaxy’s Greatest Giggles (illustration only), 2008, Sterling
  • Nuttiest Knock Knocks Ever (illustration only), 2008, Sterling
  • No Boredom Allowed! Paper Games and Puzzles (illustration only), 2009, Sterling
  • No Boredom Allowed! Nutty Challenges and Zany Dares (illustration only), 2008, Sterling
  • Funny Mummy (illustration only), 2010, Sterling
  • The Summer Camp Survival Guide (illustration only), 2010, Sterling


 

All images are used by permission of Ethan Long.

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

2 Comments on Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Ethan Long, last added: 2/26/2015
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24. A Moment with Emily Gravett’s Art — and Sketchbook

Last week, I talked over at Kirkus with poet and author A. F. Harrold about his children’s novel, The Imaginary, released overseas last year but coming to American shelves in early March from Bloomsbury. That conversation is here. Today, I’m following up with some of Emily Gravett’s art from the book, as well as some peeks into her sketchbook for this one. (That’s an early sketch pictured above.)

I thank her for sharing. Enjoy the art.



 

Some of Emily’s Early Sketches:


 



(Click above image to see sketchbook page in full)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 

Some Final Art from the Book:


 


“A flash of lightning hit the study and, through the wooden legs of the chair, she saw, illuminated in the split-second snap of the light,
a pair of thin, pale human legs in the middle of the room.”

(Click to enlarge)



 


“In the middle of the library, where the bookcases gave way to tables and chairs, ‘people’ were gathered. Rudger used the word ‘people’ loosely as he looked at them, and left the word ‘real’ out of his thoughts entirely.”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“In the the mirror she met John’s eye, and she winked.”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“Rudger stood at the foot of her bed and looked at her. She looked peaceful.”
(Click to enlarge)


 



 

* * * * * * *

THE IMAGINARY. Text copyright © 2014 by A. F. Harrold. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Emily Gravett. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Bloomsbury, New York. Sketches reproduced by permission of Emily Gravett and Bloomsbury.

6 Comments on A Moment with Emily Gravett’s Art — and Sketchbook, last added: 2/28/2015
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25. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week,Featuring Luc Melanson,Christopher Silas Neal, and Stephanie Yue


“… I said we should have a funeral. Rosario just smiled.
He didn’t seem very sad, but I know he loved that tree.”
– From Charis Wahl’s
Rosario’s Fig Tree,
illustrated by Luc Melanson (Groundwood, March 2015)


 


S n a p! Someone else is faster!
Down in the dirt, a smooth, shining garter snake crunches on supper.”
– From Kate Messner’s
Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt,
illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
(Chronicle, March 2015)

(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“Every morning in summer, one … two … three! He pops out of his hole.
Such a little mouse. Off he goes into the wide world.”
– From Alice Schertle’s
Such a Little Mouse,
illustrated by Stephanie Yue (Orchard Books, March 2015)
(Click to enlarge spread)


 

This morning over at Kirkus, I write about two new picture books I really like, one out on shelves in mid-March and one, not till the Fall, though it was released overseas many years ago. That link will be here soon.

* * *

Last week, I wrote here about the three picture books above. I have art (and covers) from each book below.

Enjoy.


 

Art from Such a Little Mouse:


 


“He tunnels under piles of leaves. Rustle, rustle, rustle, go the leaves.
He feels the autumn wind tickle his whiskers.
‘Winter is coming,’ whispers the wind.”

(Click to enlarge)


 


“He makes a loaf of acorn bread. He makes seed-and-watercress soup.”
(Click to enlarge)


 



 

Art from Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt:


 


“Up in the garden, I stand and plan—
my hands full of seeds and my head full of dreams.”

(Click to enlarge)


 


“Up in the garden, we pick cukes and zucchini, harvesting into the dark. Bats swoop through the sunflowers, and I pluck June bugs from the basil until it’s time for bed.”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“Down in the dirt, skunks work the night shift.
They snuffle and dig, and gobble cutworms while I sleep.”

(Click to enlarge)


 



 

Art from Rosario’s Fig Tree:


 


“Rosario lives next door. He’s a magician. He doesn’t pull rabbits out of hats or find pennies behind your ears. He’s a garden magician. Here’s how I know.”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“Last spring he did a strange thing. One day he brought a big pot out of the house.
It had a tree in it as tall as he is. ‘It’s a fig tree,’ he said. ‘At home
we have fig trees everywhere. Here it’s too cold for figs. But we’ll see.’
He took the tree out of the pot and planted it in a hole.”

(Click to enlarge)


 


“‘Now we bury it,’ he said, and bent the tree over, lower and lower, until it lay in the hole. ‘Good-bye, tree.’ He put leaves all around it and plastic over the top. Then he shoveled in soil until you couldn’t see that there had ever been a tree there. …”


 


“All winter I thought about the tree. It had snow all over it,
and the cold wind swooshed around the garden.
Did dead things feel lonely?”

(Click to enlarge)


 


“Then he started digging where the grave was. What was he doing? Did he forget about the tree? I tried to stop him, but his friends just patted me on the head. ‘Don’t worry, little one,m’ they said. ‘It’s okay.’ Off came the soil and the plastic and the dead leaves. But the tree lay still and dead.”
(Click to enlarge)


 



 



 

* * * * * * *

ROSARIO’S FIG TREE. Text copyright © 2015 by Charis Wahl. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Luc Melanson. Published in Canada and the USA in 2015 by Groundwood Books. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher.

SUCH A LITTLE MOUSE. Text copyright © 2015 by Alice Schertle. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Stephanie Yue. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Orchard Books, an imprint of Scholastic, Inc., New York.

UP IN THE GARDEN AND DOWN IN THE DIRT. Text copyright © 2015 by Kate Messner. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Christopher Silas Neal. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco.

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