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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: 7-Imps 7 Kicks, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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51. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #313: Featuring Angela Dominguez



 

It’s kicks #313 on the 13th in 2013.

Surely that means something?

Ah well. I am declaring it means only good things.

Today at 7-Imp I welcome a debut author/illustrator, named Angela Dominguez (pictured left with Hugo), who is originally from Mexico City but now lives in San Francisco, where she also teaches at the Academy of Art University. Angela’s debut picture book will be released this March from Dial Books. Let’s Go, Hugo! tells the story of a bird who prefers walking to flying. He’s not trying to be different for the sake of it; he’s actually afraid of flying. Not that Dominguez opens the book this way. “Hugo was content to live on the ground,” she writes, but we readers ease into the notion that he’s really beset by fears.

Things change when Hugo meets Lulu, the same day he’s building a model (on the ground, of course) of the Eiffel Tower. When Lulu tells him they can fly to the Eiffel Tower and see the real deal, Hugo’s got all kinds of excuses as to why he won’t go. Just when things start to feel really hopeless for Hugo (since Lulu does what she can, but nearly gives up on him) … well, I can’t give the entire story away, but if you’re interested in reading it, it’ll be on bookstore and library shelves, come Spring.

The illustration note on the copyright page indicates that Dominguez uses “Canson paper, ink, [and] tissue paper … on illustration board.” Angela’s here today to tell us a bit more about this and her work, so let’s get right to it. I thank her for visiting. (more…)

29 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #313: Featuring Angela Dominguez, last added: 1/18/2013
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52. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #311(New Year’s Edition): Featuring Elisa Kleven


(Click to enlarge)

Instead of featuring a brand-new picture book today or an up-and-coming illustrator, I’ve got artwork from one of my favorite picture book artists, Elisa Kleven.

The new year is upon us, and when I thought about sharing artwork as we edge up on 2013, some art that would buoy our spirits, I immediately thought of her.

Elisa sent me a handful of illustrations, and it was hard to choose which to share (for many reasons, I’m going to keep this post relatively short and sweet this week), but I chose the one above, and these two: (more…)

31 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #311(New Year’s Edition): Featuring Elisa Kleven, last added: 1/2/2013
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53. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #310: FeaturingSelina Alko (And a Handful of Other Visitors)


“Mountains of gifts are placed under the tree for eight nights of Hanukkah,
plus Christmas Day. How lucky am I?”

(Click to enlarge spread)

This morning, I welcome author and illustrator Selina Alko to tell us all a bit about her latest picture book, Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama, a story about a family who merges two holiday traditions. Sadie, the young girl narrating the story, has a father who has always celebrated Christmas, a mother who has always celebrated Hanukkah, and they annually combine the traditions of each holiday event in order to teach their daughter about both. Selina—using gouache, collage, and colored pencil, which result in such appealing textures here—lays it all out on the pages of this book with vibrant colors and great joy. She’s here today to share some artwork from the book (sans text), as well as early dummy images, and to tell us the story behind the book.

Toward the end of this post, I’ve also got some holiday illustrations from several illustrators, just ’cause I’m an illustration junkie and couldn’t help it. Let’s get right to it all … (more…)

21 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #310: FeaturingSelina Alko (And a Handful of Other Visitors), last added: 12/31/2012
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54. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #309: Featuring Melissa Guion


Mrs. Santa

This morning, I welcome new-to-the-field illustrator Melissa Guion. She’s here to share some of her bright, gentle watercolors and talk about her debut title, Baby Penguins Everywhere!, a picture book as much for the parents and teachers of this world as it is for children (as Melissa herself notes below). It tells the story of a lonely penguin, suddenly visited by a gaggle of baby penguins. (Can penguins exist in gaggles? I’m going to pretend they can, even though I think gaggles involve geese.) Finding herself a bit frazzled by all the wee penguins in her care, she comes to understand that she needs a moment’s peace. (Ah, isn’t that the truth if ever the truth was spoken?) She needs, as Publishers Weekly put it in their review, time to recharge, though she comes to appreciate the company of the young penguins, even when it’s chaotic.

I’ll let Melissa tell you more about it — and her work. I certainly look forward to what she brings readers next. Also, please note that Melissa’s online portfolio is here, if you’d like to see more art. (more…)

26 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #309: Featuring Melissa Guion, last added: 12/27/2012
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55. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #308: Featuringa Moment with Susan Sorrell Hill

The first Sunday of the month is upon us once again (the last 2012 one, at that — GASP), which means I normally feature the work of a student or debut illustrator. I had the latter lined up for today, but it didn’t quite work out in time. This author/illustrator will, most likely, visit next week instead, which is all good and a-okay and all that. I’m easy like Sunday morning (as I told her — and you’re welcome for that Commodores song now on your brain radio).

Know what I have for you today? I’ll be ever-so brief: (more…)

17 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #308: Featuringa Moment with Susan Sorrell Hill, last added: 12/3/2012
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56. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #297: Featuring Edward Hemingway

Here’s an illustration from artist Edward Hemingway’s forthcoming illustrated title, Tiny Pie, written by Mark Bailey and Michael Oatman and coming in May from Running Press Kids.

Edward, who paints with oils on canvas and wood, also saw the release this year of Bad Apple: A Tale of Friendship (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, August 2012), all about an apple and a worm who become good friends — and weather hard times, given the funny looks and mean comments they get for being friends in the first place. (Let us not forget the enduring wisdom of the popular mid-’90s bumper sticker.)

Edward is here today to talk a bit about his books, his paintings, and I also couldn’t resist briefly asking him about his heritage. Yes, he’s Ernest’s grandson.

Let’s get right to it, since Edward shares so many images today. And for that I thank him.

P.S. If you read below, you’ll see that this is a very special day for Edward … (more…)

25 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #297: Featuring Edward Hemingway, last added: 9/25/2012
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57. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #296:Featuring Susan Eaddy and Mary Uhles



 

Above: Artwork from Mary Uhles


 



 

One of Susan Eaddy’s portfolio pieces, Bad Bunny
(Click to enlarge)

Do you know something I enjoy doing yet haven’t done as often as I’d like here at
7-Imp?

Pass out snacks? Why, yes. If I could pass out actual snacks, I would. But another thing is to feature local talent. Local, as in local to me, of course. Meaning, middle Tennessee. The Nashville area.

And I’m here to do that today.

Yup, it’s 7-Imp Local Talent Sunday. (more…)

24 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #296:Featuring Susan Eaddy and Mary Uhles, last added: 9/11/2012
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58. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #295: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Susan Sorrell Hill


Journey; watercolor, pen & ink.
“She traveled with only a bird for company.”


 

It’s a pleasure to be featuring illustrator Susan Sorrell Hill this morning on the first Sunday of September. FIRST SUNDAY OF SEPTEMBER? Yes, I’m doing a double-take. Are you? How did this shifty month sneak up on us so quickly? I blame the ringleader on the right. (More on him below.)

Well, it’s not that September is inherently shifty. It’s that it’s gotten here so quickly, it seems. It’s even almost officially Fall, y’all. (Here I am saying that which is kinda silly and pointless. Those “where does the time go?” mutterings we all do at one point or another are rather inevitable and unanswerable, but 2012’s really flown by. Don’t you think?)

Where was I? On the first Sunday of each month, as many of my imp readers know, I like to feature the work of student illustrators, debut illustrators, or those otherwise seeking out that elusive thing called publication.

Having studied both textile design and children’s book illustration, Susan—who lives in northern California with her husband, sculptor Ernest Caballero—has for many years now worked in both illustration and the fine arts. She has worked in printmaking, pen and ink, oil painting, silversmithing, ceramics, silk painting, and more. However, watercolor and pencils on fine papers are still her favorites, as she notes at her Etsy site. She has also started writing and creating picture book manuscripts.

As she notes at her site, she can be found most days painting — or thinking about painting. “Lizards, deer, blue jays, jack rabbits and very tall trees (plus the occasional mountain lion, bear or skunk) are my neighbors,” she writes at Etsy. These creatures, she further writes, remind her of the inscrutable mysteries of life.

And one can see in her artwork that she’s trying to capture those mysteries, those fleeting graces.

As you’ll see below, Susan’s work has an imaginative, ethereal quality to it. Her fairy-tale pieces, in particular, are lovingly, elegantly visualized. I thank her for visiting today, and I’ll let her tell us more about herself and her work. (more…)

42 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #295: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Susan Sorrell Hill, last added: 9/5/2012
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59. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #294: Featuring E. B. Lewis


“One day, while we were near the slide, Maya came over to us. She held open her hand to show us the shiny jacks and tiny red ball she’d gotten for her birthday.
It’s a high bouncer, she said. But none of us wanted to play.
So Maya played a game against herself.”

(Click to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)

Just about everywhere you look these days, you see one campaign or another against bullying. Surely, many of these efforts do some good, though what bothers me is the occasional organization with inherently exclusive inclinations (you can belong to this group, as long as you’re not ____ or _____) mounting such campaigns. Personally, I think it all starts and ends with parents teaching their children that we should all treat each other the way we ourselves want to be treated, and that’s about all there is to it. At the same time, I know these things can be complicated.

Nevertheless, what I always want to say in response to the fight-against-bully campaigns is that there are some great picture books in the world that tell straight-up good stories about kindness and empathy. And storytelling is the way we should go about this, yes? No child wants to be lectured, and who doesn’t want to hear an engaging story? Right? Right!

Cue Jacqueline Woodson’s latest picture book, illustrated by E. B. Lewis. It’s called Each Kindness and will be released in October by Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin. Booklist’s starred review has already described this as a “quiet, intense” book, and they aren’t kidding about the “intense” part. I may or may not have sought the nearest tissue to wipe my goofy ‘ol wet face after having first read it to my own children. (more…)

30 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #294: Featuring E. B. Lewis, last added: 9/8/2012
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60. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #293: Featuring Andrea Dezsö


“…My troll fiancée explodes in frustration. MOTL / and I take the treasure and get out of there. / I’m a king now with three kids and a spaniel. I rule / in the daytime,
but at night I’m just a dad who puts / the kids to bed. …”
– From “East of the Sun and West of the Moon”

(Click to enlarge)

Remember how we got a bit dark and grim/Grimm a couple weeks ago? I’m gonna do that again today, because I just can’t pass up the opportunity to post some of the illustrations of Andrea Dezsö.

And, to be clear right off the bat, this is an illustrated book, but it’s not a picture book for young children. This is very much a YA/adult title.

Many of you may have already seen this collection of free verse poems, Ron Koertge’s Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses, released in July by Candlewick. U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis has said it’s “the best antidote I know to the sanctimonious sanitizing of fairy tales.” (Once I read that, I knew I had to read this book myself.)

Here, Koertge isn’t afraid to get gruesome, subversive, and downright nightmarish in his re-telling of 23 classic fairy tales. The blood-red endpapers give you a taste of this, followed by an invitation right off the bat from our author: “Do you want to sleep? Find another storyteller. Do you want to think about the world in a new way? Come closer. Closer, please. I want to whisper in your ear.”

This is the world of Ever After, and this ain’t no Disney.

(more…)

26 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #293: Featuring Andrea Dezsö, last added: 9/8/2012
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61. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #292: Featuring Erin and Philip Stead


“Bear helped Mouse find seeds on the forest floor.”

Yesterday at Kirkus, I rambled incessantly about Fall 2012 picture books for which I’ve already fallen and fallen hard. Since I like to follow Kirkus columns one week later with 7-Imp posts that feature art art and lots of art—if I don’t post lots of art, I start to get twitchy—I started gathering at least one spread from each book to feature here at 7-Imp later this week.

But then when I ended up with more than one spread from the new book Bear Has a Story to Tell (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook), written by Philip C. Stead and illustrated by Erin E. Stead, I couldn’t resist the urge to go ahead and post about it today. It will be released relatively soon anyway (early September).

If I gave away the entire story here, I’d not be able to sleep at night for having ruined the reading experience for you. So, I’m going to do something rare and unusual for long-winded me: I’m going to just list a small handful of things about it that I like. I’ll list seven of them (at the risk of looking formulaic here), given the blog’s title. (Why not?) Then, I’ll just let the beautiful art speak for itself. (more…)

25 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #292: Featuring Erin and Philip Stead, last added: 8/14/2012
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62. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #291: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Jördis Brier


“She left the house, sad and disappointed,
to go on a quest in order to find her brothers.”

(Click to enlarge)

It’s gonna get dark and heavy and raw around here this morning, y’all.

However, if you look at 7-Imp’s home page right now, you’ll see some cute, fluffy dogs; some endearing cats; a screamingly adorable baby bear; a dancing egg; and even more happy happy joy joy (the wonderfully creepy bats from The Brothers Hilts being the one exception). So, I say it’s high time we got ominous and grim (and Grimm) around here, don’t you think? Hey, it’s only fair, and it’s my turn, says The Sinister, given last week was a heartwarming story about books.

That’s to say: If you’re still sipping your coffee and aren’t in the mood to read about bones and blood and angry ravens tearing at someone and straight-up murder as only fairy tales (or, in this case, fairy tale adaptations) can tell ‘em, consider yourself warned now.

It’s the first Sunday of the month, which means we get to look at the work of a student or brand-new illustrator, and today I’ve got a German student of illustration, named Jördis Brier, who was actually once a student of American illustrator Shadra Strickland. One of Jördis’s classroom projects (not yet published) is the subject of today’s post, and I’m going to let her tell you more about it. (more…)

17 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #291: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Jördis Brier, last added: 8/6/2012
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63. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #289: Featuring Tad Hills

This is the first time Tad Hills’ Rocket, pictured above, has visited 7-Imp, and it’s long overdue.

So, when I write weekly columns for Kirkus, I always follow up one week later here at 7-Imp with art from the book. (To not post as much art as I’m allowed makes me twitch a little.) In early May, I did a short Q & A over at Kirkus with author/illustrator Tad Hills. He has created many picture books over the years that my children and I have enjoyed, including the Duck & Goose books, one of which I covered here at 7-Imp in 2007 (back when, shudder, I only included book covers).

(more…)

25 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #289: Featuring Tad Hills, last added: 7/25/2012
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64. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #284: Featuring Jeff Mack

Happy Father’s Day to all you fathers and father-type people out there. I don’t have Father’s Day-esque art today, but author/illustrator Jeff Mack is visiting and sharing illustrations, and I’m happy he’s stopped by.

So, here’s the thing … About a couple of months ago, I guess it was, I read Jeff’s Frog and Fly: Six Slurpy Stories (Philomel Books, March 2012) and enjoyed it. (Some spreads and the book’s cover are featured below.) These are funny stories, rendered in big cartoon art, for so-called emerging readers, involving a slightly macabre, straight-talk-about-the-food-chain kind of humor. (The frog manages to catch and consume a fly in each story, since that’s how the good ‘ol-fashioned food web tends to work, though in the end, he just might get his comeuppance.)

“Newly fledged readers should be amused by the early-Muppet–style humor,” wrote the Kirkus review. “The comic-book pacing keeps each separate ‘chapter’ fresh and funny, and the sunny palette keeps the tone light, even as the fly gets snaggled, over and over.”

And I had decided back then, when first reading the book, to see if Jeff wanted to visit the blog and share images.

And then, as often happens, I got busy and never asked him directly.

But then, just last week, I read his other new title, pictured here, and my eight-year-old and I laughed our fool heads off. It’s called Good News, Bad News (Chronicle Books), and I think it’s scheduled for an early July release. With just five words (”good news” and “bad news” on each spread — and a “very” thrown in for good measure at the end), Jeff tells the mighty funny and briskly-paced story of two friends, one half-glass-full and one glass-mostly-empty. Rabbit’s cheery nature and spontaneous naïveté, paired with Mouse’s sour disposition, make for some hearty laughs. There’s some slapstick humor to boot, and this one also serves as a great title for emerging readers. (They will read these five words with great confidence, as Jeff relays the dramatic action via the energetic artwork.)

Right after I read this one, I contacted Jeff immediately. Finally. So, he’s here today to share some images from those books, as well as a couple of others that I haven’t seen yet that are forthcoming titles. (more…)

17 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #284: Featuring Jeff Mack, last added: 6/19/2012
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65. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #268: FeaturingKara LaReau and Scott Magoon


“They dined on twigs and bark and clover and cabbage.”

Welcome to the Valentine’s Day 2012 edition of the 7-Kicks list.

One of my favorite things in all of PictureBook-dom is when Kara LaReau and Scott Magoon join forces and make books together. Today, both Scott and Kara are visiting to share images and early sketches from the two most recent books on which they collaborated, and they’re also here to say a bit about these books, their work together, and what’s next for each of them.

Their very most recent picture book, Mr. Prickles (pictured here)—what Publishers Weekly called a “tale of misfits” (aw, I have a soft spot for misfits)—was released at the tail end of last year (from Roaring Brook), and it’s the “quill-fated love story” of two porcupines. Porcupines are “very hard to get close to,” so poor Mr. Prickles has a difficult time making friends. He tries, he fails, he gets lonely, and he even gets prickly-angry. (The other woodland creatures are downright mean to him.) That is, till he meets Miss Pointypants. And then (just in time for your Valentine’s-Day read), love is in the air.

As you are wont to get with a LaReau/Magoon collaboration, there’s humor, emotion, and lots of style. It’s also got a pulsing heart at its center without being overly schmaltzy about it.

And, if you missed it last summer, don’t forget to take a look at their other collaboration, Otto: The Boy Who Loved Cars, also released by Roaring Brook (but in June of last year). (more…)

22 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #268: FeaturingKara LaReau and Scott Magoon, last added: 2/15/2012
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66. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #269: Featuring Shane W. Evans


(Click to enlarge)

I know that tomorrow we celebrate President’s Day and that Martin Luther King, Jr. Day has already passed, so forgive my blatant disregard of the calendar here. But I wanted to show a few illustrations from a book I meant to highlight in January. (Not to mention we should celebrate King any day of the year. For a more presidential post, should that be your desire today, see my Kirkus column from yesterday.)

Shane W. Evans’ We March, released last month by Neal Porter/Roaring Brook, is the simple and elegantly-told account of one family’s march in the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Filled with just nine short sentences (and I mean some as short as “We sing”), Evans lets the focus here be on the people involved, shining a spotlight on their determination and spirit. I love what Evans does with lines (what the Publishers Weekly review calls his “angular characters”) and how you can see his very brushstrokes on the characters’ faces — and even in the textured backgrounds. (The art I’ve got here today, though not a lot and not full spreads, speaks way better than I, so be sure to take a look.)

With a palette getting progressively warmer as the story unfolds, it culminates in a luminescent spread of King himself giving his historic speech, the sun rising in shimmering yellows behind his head. It’s lovely. (more…)

21 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #269: Featuring Shane W. Evans, last added: 2/21/2012
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67. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #270: Featuring Steve Salerno


(Click to enlarge and see entire spread from which this illustration comes)

Today, I shine the spotlight on a nonfiction picture book, called Brothers at Bat: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team (Clarion Books), written by Audrey Vernick and illustrated by Steven Salerno. It’ll be released in early April.

Baseball is not a sport that I play (though I enjoy it), and it’s not a sport that I watch either. (We’ve been over how you don’t want me in a room when I’m rooting for a team, right?) But I love this book, because it’s really not only about baseball. It’s about brotherhood (literally and figuratively, I might add).

I love the opening:

When winter’s chill melts into spring, back doors swing open and slap shut as kids just home from school run outside—mitts, bats, and balls in hand.

In one New Jersey town near the ocean, back in the 1920s and ’30s, you could hear the same door slam over and over. Three brothers raced out. Out went three more. And more … And still more.

Yup, the Acerra family had “twelve baseball-playing brothers,” as well as four sisters. (In the spread where Vernick notes that “most people thought sports were just for boys” back then, Salerno depicts the sisters playing determinedly at their own game of ball with a broom and ball of yarn. I like that.) (more…)

17 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #270: Featuring Steve Salerno, last added: 2/28/2012
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68. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #273: Featuring Jeanette Winter

Anyone else seen Jeanette Winter’s newest picture book? My, it’s lovely.

Kali’s Song, released by Schwartz & Wade Books just last week (and already met with starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly), is rendered in acrylics and pen and ink, using handmade paper. As always, I’ve got more art from it to share with you below, since the art says it all.

I don’t want to give too much away about this minimalist story, but I’ll summarize by saying that it’s about a boy, who lived “thousands and thousands and thousands of years ago,” who grows up to be a shaman. His mother is an artist, painting on the cave walls. But, seeing as how our characters here are cave people, she’s also a hunter, along with his father.

After being told to go practice shooting arrows, Kali heads out to do so, but at night, when resting, he plucks the strings on his bows to create music. “That night, the sounds from Kali’s bow filled his dreams with peace.”

And, again, I don’t want to give it all away, but what I’ve summarized so far captures the book’s major themes — peace and the power of art to bring it about. (more…)

25 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #273: Featuring Jeanette Winter, last added: 3/20/2012
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69. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #275: Featuring Kenneth Kraegel


“High in the branches of a massive chestnut tree, Henry found the grim Griffin. He held out his sword and cried: ‘AHA, STRANGE BIRD! I AM COME! AND AT LAST I HAVE FOUND A WORTHY OPPONENT! NOW UNSHEATHE YOUR CLAWS AND LET US HAVE ADO!’ And to Henry’s delight, the formidable beast agreed . . .”

Okay, I’m gonna be straight-up honest with you right off the bat this morning: No stealthy April Fool’s joke is hiding ’round the corner here at 7-Imp today. I know of other bloggers with sneaky, winky plans, but … well, since blogging comes after things like my children and work, I’m lucky to produce normal, non-jokey posts on a fairly consistent basis. My co-author, Peter D. Sieruta, even had a great idea for me. But, while I consider myself a mildly to moderately clever human (who really appreciated his funny suggestion), I have a terrible poker face, y’all, and I always ruin the punch line anyway.

Glad we got that out of the way.

So, no kidding, my post today is one of those where I feature a student or debut illustrator, since it’s the first Sunday of the month. (March, WHERE’D YOU GO anyway? That March. So zippy-quick and tricky.) Today it’s the latter, a self-taught debut author/illustrator, who lives in Michigan. His name is Kenneth Kraegel, and he’s visiting today to say a bit about his first book. Now, this picture book, King Arthur’s Very Great Grandson, comes out in July of this year (Candlewick), so I apologize for showing you art from a book you can’t quite yet purchase or find on library shelves, but July will be here before you know it. Moving on then … (more…)

18 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #275: Featuring Kenneth Kraegel, last added: 4/3/2012
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70. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #276:Featuring Daniel Salmieri (Er, Part One!)


“Just remember: Dragons hate spicy salsa.
Before you host your taco party with dragons, get rid of all the spicy salsa.
In fact, bury the spicy salsa in the backyard so the dragons can’t find it.”

(Click to enlarge spread)

Do you know those really funny picture books that don’t get in the way of their own humor, that perhaps don’t even get how very funny they are, much like that wicked funny friend you have, who cracks you up yet doesn’t realize how wicked sharp her own wit is? Or perhaps doesn’t even know the power of her own goofy and how extremely entertaining it is to everyone around her?

Or, better yet, here are the words of the late, great James Marshall on the matter:

“[H]umor, which I do—comedy—is very tricky. You can’t show how hard you work. You can’t call attention to yourself. You can’t show the wheels turning. It’s got to be like a balloon that floats up into the air. You don’t make the reader, the viewer aware of anything but the story.”

(more…)

17 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #276:Featuring Daniel Salmieri (Er, Part One!), last added: 4/16/2012
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71. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #277: Featuring Polly Dunbar

I always look forward to new picture books from Polly Dunbar (who visited 7-Imp back in ‘08).

Kirkus calls her newest, Arthur’s Dream Boat, released by Candlewick in February, a “real attention-getter.” In this book, Dunbar asks child readers to consider what is real and what is but a dream.

Arthur awakes one morning to recall an amazing dream. He’s got a sailboat on the mind — in more ways than one. He’s dreamt of one, not to mention there is a tiny sailboat perched on his head. (”A few years ago,” Dunbar notes in the book’s back-flap bio, “I was sitting on Brighton beach, looking out to sea. There was a small boy in the water and a boat far away on the horizon. For one magic moment, the boat looked as though it was perched on the boy’s head. I remember thinking, I’m the only one who can see that boat on his head; it must be a dream boat. And I drew a quick sketch.”)

He sets out to tell family members about his “amazing” dream, but no one is quite listening. Observant readers will notice that the boat is increasingly embellished with features he sees on or near his own family members—the rainbow-colored fish food his mother is tossing into the aquarium becomes the “polka-dotted sails,” and the baby food his sister is flinging around the kitchen becomes the “golden flag”—as well as other nautical clues, including a message in a bottle on the family’s kitchen table. (more…)

23 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #277: Featuring Polly Dunbar, last added: 4/25/2012
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72. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #278: Featuring R. Kikuo Johnson


(Click to enlarge)

In the Summer of 2011, I wrote at Kirkus about TOON Books. Today’s post is about a new TOON title, R. Kikuo Johnson’s The Shark King, so if you’re thinking, TOON hubba WHAT? and what is Jules going on about NOW?, then you can head on over to that Kirkus column to get the low-down on this imprint.

And I like this new title. I do. You won’t see anything else like it this year. (more…)

19 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #278: Featuring R. Kikuo Johnson, last added: 5/1/2012
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73. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #280 (Mother’s Day 2012 Edition):Featuring Gianna Marino


Work-in-progress illustration from Gianna Marino’s Meet Me at the Moon
(Click to enlarge)

It’s Mother’s Day, the day we celebrate all the mamas and mama-like people in our lives.

I thought the best way I could celebrate today here at 7-Imp would be to highlight the latest picture book from Gianna Marino, Meet Me at the Moon, released by Viking in late March. And Gianna is visiting today to share a collection of early dummies, early sketches, work-in-progress images, and final spreads from the book.

She also has the loveliest true tale about her own mother and the creation of this book.

The book, which Booklist describes as “[h]eartfelt and sincere, yet never cloying,” tells the story of a young elephant and his mother. Little One is worried, because his mother must leave to “climb the highest mountain to ask the skies for rain.” Telling Little One to listen for her song on the wind, know that the warmth of the sun means she loves him, and find the brightest star to see her, she leaves. “When the night sky is bright, Little One,” she adds, “meet me at the moon, where the sky touches the earth.”

In their starred review, Kirkus writes: “The textured mixed-media art paired with the flowing text elevates this title above most missing-mama fare. The full-bleed double-page spreads evoke the vastness of the plains and the night sky, while the finely detailed striping of the zebras and the intricate branches of the trees produce a striking contrast with the huge circles of the sun or moon that dominate most scenes. Radiating warmth and comfort, this distinguished title strikes home.”

This one also made it in the New York Times just the other day.

Here’s Gianna, and I thank her for visiting and sharing. (more…)

19 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #280 (Mother’s Day 2012 Edition):Featuring Gianna Marino, last added: 5/16/2012
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74. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #281: In Which I Rejoice Overthe Return of the Rosenthals’ Willy, Bobo, and Earl


(Click to enlarge and see entire spread from which this comes)

I may have said only about 7,000 times in 2011 that one of my favorite picture books of that year was Eileen and Marc Rosenthal’s I Must Have Bobo! (I featured it here at 7-Imp in January with illustrations from the book, and Marc also visited the blog here in October.) The book, as I wrote last January, was a straight up showdown between one young boy, Willy, and the family cat, Earl, the dilemma being that the object of their affection is one beloved sock monkey, named Bobo. Bobo, however, can only be with one creature at a time. I also wrote back then that, if I could play for you all the main theme song from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly when discussing the book, I would.

It’s a very funny book.

Well… Willy, Bobo, and Earl are back in 2012. Can someone give me a “WOO!”? Rather, they returned in early April in I’ll Save You Bobo! (brought to us once again by Atheneum Books), and I’m finally getting around to giving the three of them the 7-Imp spotlight. Marc sent some illustrations from the book, as well as some early sketches.

As Publishers Weekly wrote about this one, the “war rages on!” Indeed. Willy is trying to read all about giant dinosaurs, but Earl hasn’t given up on his quest for Bobo and keeps interrupting. When Earl decides to write his own book, a scary adventure in which he’ll save Bobo, his imagination goes into overdrive as he incorporates a jungle, fierce wild animals, tigers, a scary snake tree, and even more. As he’s writing and illustrating this tale in the fort he’s made for himself and Bobo, Earl wreaks his own havoc upon the tale in more ways than one. But, ah, the power of creativity (and catharsis and channeling your rage into your works of art): The snake in Willy’s own story could always eat Earl alive … (more…)

9 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #281: In Which I Rejoice Overthe Return of the Rosenthals’ Willy, Bobo, and Earl, last added: 5/23/2012
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75. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #282: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Robert Trujillo


“When we finished our lowrider, I was so proud of my mama.
People thought she couldn’t do it, but we sure proved ‘em wrong!
And I was proud of myself for helping her choose some pretty colors for the painting.”

It’s the first Sunday of the month, which means it’s time here at 7-Imp to shine the spotlight on a student or new-to-the-field illustrator.

Today I’ve got illustrator, artist, and mural-maker Robert Trujillo, who is from Oakland, California. Robert has yet to be published as an illustrator but is, as he told me, trying to learn more about the field and meet like minds “in real time or through the Web.”

Speaking of the Web, Robert’s site is the cool side of satin, especially if you dig art and jazz (and/or funk and/or soul). Case-in-point is here.

Okay, digression over.

The illustration above, rendered in watercolor and ink, is one of two illustrations Robert created from a short story he’s written about a mother and daughter who build their own lowrider. The second illustration, as well as more artwork from Robert, is below.

And here are more words from Robert, who is pictured above at a recent visit to an elementary school in Sacramento. (More on that visit and more pictures are here at Robert’s site.) (more…)

18 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #282: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Robert Trujillo, last added: 6/4/2012
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