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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: 7-Imps 7 Kicks, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 51 - 75 of 185
51. 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.”


17 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #276:Featuring Daniel Salmieri (Er, Part One!), last added: 4/16/2012
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52. 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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53. 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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54. 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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55. 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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56. 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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57. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #267: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Maja Sereda

“This is from my first published book, titled Danie Dreyer se dinosouruseier en ander alfabetpret, written by Jaco Jacobs. It is an alphabet book, and this illustration was done for the letter ‘H,’ which is about a girl who is always late,
in spite of all the clocks on her hat (gouache on paper).”

That’s illustrator Maja Sereda speaking up there. I’m bending the rules a bit this morning with her visit. On the first Sunday of each month, I feature student or new-to-the-field illustrators, and it’s the first Sunday of February, but Maja is not exactly new to illustrating. However, she may be new to many of us readers here in the U.S., since she is from Poland and now lives and works in South Africa.

I’ll let Maja tell you about herself, and she has some more images to share below. I thank her for visiting. (more…)

19 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #267: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Maja Sereda, last added: 2/7/2012
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58. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #266: Featuring Peter McCartyand Why This Was a Great Week toBe a Fan of Children’s Literature

Top illustration from Peter McCarty’s The Monster Returns;
Bottom spread from McCarty’s

(Click bottom image to enlarge and see in detail)

I’m having a McCarty Party today.

Caldecott Honor author/illustrator Peter McCarty, that is.

I love his picture books. He always keeps us readers on our toes. You never quite know what he’s going to do next. (The soft-focus art of Hondo and Fabian? Or the spikier-lined art of Jeremy Draws a Monster, featured here at 7-Imp in ‘09?) And he can go from quiet to funny in one second flat. The books he’s illustrated or both written and illustrated are smart, never talking down to children, and with each new book, he seems to get more inventive in his artwork. I always look forward to a new McCarty title.

So, it’s with happiness that I share art from two new McCarty picture books this morning, one out in a couple of days and the other coming out in May. (more…)

14 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #266: Featuring Peter McCartyand Why This Was a Great Week toBe a Fan of Children’s Literature, last added: 1/30/2012
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59. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #262: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Lia Marcoux

Happy 2012, everyone! Welcome to 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks, 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.

I hope you rang in the new year just the way you wanted to. It’s the first Sunday of the month, so that means I invite a student illustrator or brand-spankin’-shiny-new illustrator over to share some art and say a few words. Today, I have a student, whose name is Lia Marcoux. Let’s get right to it. She’s here to introduce herself, and I raise my cup of coffee to her. (more…)

8 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #262: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Lia Marcoux, last added: 1/3/2012
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60. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #260: FeaturingOne Very Possible and Very Festive2011 Holiday Illustration Before Breakfast #9

“Henry planted the pinecone beside the new house. In time, a seedling emerged. Henry watered and weeded it. As time passed, both he and the tree grew tall and strong. Henry especially liked to hammer away in its shade, and he became quite a good carpenter, building many projects with his skilled hands.”
(Click to enlarge and see entire spread from which this comes)

Today’s featured holiday title, The Carpenter’s Gift, is a tribute to the tradition of annually erecting a Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. Historian David Rubel wrote this one in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity, and it’s illustrated by Jim LaMarche, whose work I’m always interested to see. (I think this one is rendered in colored pencil, but don’t quote me on that.) (more…)

17 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #260: FeaturingOne Very Possible and Very Festive2011 Holiday Illustration Before Breakfast #9, last added: 12/21/2011
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61. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #231: Featuring Maria Zaikina(Not to Mention Will You Join Me in Celebrating 7-Imp’s Birthday?)

It’s the first Sunday of August (whoa, it feels like just yesterday I said that for January 2011), so it’s time to shine the spotlight on a student or new-to-the-field illustrator. And I’m doing the latter today — not a student, but an artist whose first illustrated picture book was just released this year (the only picture book this year, I can safely say, in which a sheep is slaughtered, grilled, and made into shish kebab). Maria Zaikina rendered the art in Lucine Kasbarian’s The Greedy Sparrow: An Armenian Tale, released by Marshall Cavendish in April, with layers of wax and oil paint and then cut away the layers to reveal the colors underneath. (Is this a sort of scratchboarding, perhaps?) I’m a nerd who, yes, reads reviews for fun, and I like how Kirkus described the illustrations as having, as you can see above, “an appealing, vigorous heft.” Yeah. What they said.

But, first. Quickly. It just occurred to me that it’s the five-year anniversary of 7-Imp. I’d almost forgotten. Back last month, when I realized a birthday was coming up, I figured I should do something special for the big five-year one. But then I got busy, and now I’m at a loss anyway. I’d really rather just do what I always do — feature some art. But I want to say, quickly: One of the reasons I started this blog five years ago—co-founded it, remember, with my best friend, who is still my best friend but just no longer a blogger (here’s the low-down)—was to connect with others and to keep my foot in the door of children’s lit. I was suddenly at home (my choice) with young babies, who were puddin’ heads (though screamy ones) and kept me on my toes, but altogether incapable of expounding on the latest and greatest in children’s lit with me. (All I was gettin’ was some goo-gah here and some baa-baa there.) I was no longer in a school library, where I could gab daily with teachers and other librarians who loved children’s and YA lit as much as I did. And I really missed that.

So, feeling isolated (while also joining forces with my long-distance best friend, with whom I LOVED discussing books), I reached out via my laptop to sort of create my own colleagues, if you will, through this blog. Eisha and I found the other children’s lit bloggers, and we jumped into the discussion. And I am forever grateful for what it has brought to my life. I always say—and I mean it—I wouldn’t know how to count blogger stats if you put a gun to my head. I honestly don’t care. I just want to connect. If one person is reading, I’ll keep doing it. And so thank you to all you One Persons out there stopping by to read and see and chat and let me be a part of the discussion. And to all my blogging friends, whom I truly admire. AND to all the authors and illustrators and etc. who stop by here to visit the 7-Imp cyber-salon over coffee and keep things interesting and beautiful with their words and their art.

I’m done. Now, back to Maria’s arresting art. (more…)

39 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #231: Featuring Maria Zaikina(Not to Mention Will You Join Me in Celebrating 7-Imp’s Birthday?), last added: 8/9/2011
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62. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #232: Featuring Elisa Kleven

I’ve had an early, unbound copy of today’s featured book for the longest time and, after deciding just this week to showcase some art from it, I see that it arrived on shelves just this past week. I have the best luck with the timing of these things, since I’m not organized enough to actually plan ahead.

So, the book is a story by author Elka Weber, called One Little Chicken, illustrated by Elisa Kleven (Tricycle Press). It retells a story in the Talmud. Well, wait. I’ll let the author tell you a bit more, as this comes straight from the closing author’s note:

“Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa lived in Israel in the frst century. He was so poor he sometimes had to live from one week to the next on nothing more than a few carob seeds, but he was so righteous that the Talmud says the entire world was sustained by his goodness.

Rabbi Chanina carefully followed all the teachings in the Torah. Among them is the directive to return lost property to its owner. (’If you see another person’s animal, you shall not hide from it; you must return it to the owner. If the owner is not known to you, then you should bring the object into your house, where it shall remain until the owner inquires after it, and you will return it to him. So shall you do for his donkey, his garment, or any lost article that you may find. . . .’ …) (more…)

13 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #232: Featuring Elisa Kleven, last added: 8/15/2011
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63. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #233:Featuring Jennifer L. & Matthew Holm

Every now and then, in the name of graphic novels for the youngest of children, I like to check in on Babymouse.

And she’s back. Well, she’s been back since May of this year, but sometimes I’m slow with my posts.

And this is her fourteenth title from Jenni and Matt Holm. Yes, fourteenth.

In this one, Babymouse #14: Mad Scientist (Random House), Babymouse meets her new science teacher, Mr. Shelldon (who has “received little support from my colleagues for my discovery that slime mold makes a great pet,” he tells his class). Babymouse, entering the school science fair, has to decide upon a project and eventually lands on amoebas. Looking one day at what she calls a “blob” in her microscope, she meets an amoeba, named Squish. Squish likes to eat cupcakes. Ah, an amoeba after her own heart.

That same month, the Holms released their first title (volume 1), all about this new character, Squish, Super Amoeba (also from Random House), which Kirkus in their starred review called the “hilarious misadventures of a hapless young everylad who happens to be an amoeba.” Yes, a fun science’y series about an amoeba: Leave it to the Holms. Worth seeing for Peggy the paramecium alone, it’s a promising series, particularly for those children who are drawn to the Holms’ funny, manic, accessible style, yet might mutter, “Babymouse is for girls” (which I’d argue anyway). Squish loves comics (”Super Amoeba!”) and Twinkies, and he—like Babymouse—is simply navigating life through elementary school (though if you want to know if tacos can stop global warming, not to mention if single-celled creatures can be counted on to step up to do what’s right, this is the book for you). (more…)

18 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #233:Featuring Jennifer L. & Matthew Holm, last added: 8/23/2011
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64. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #234: Featuring Joyce Wan

Every now and then, the 7-Imp portion of my brain realizes that I don’t spend enough time focusing on board book illustrations, art for the wee’est of humans.

Well, today I’m gonna.

This morning I shine the spotlight on Joyce Wan, whose art, she tells me, is inspired by Asian traditional and popular culture. She also comes from an architectural design background and loves creating those books for wee ones that are tactile or contain interactive elements.


21 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #234: Featuring Joyce Wan, last added: 8/30/2011
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65. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #235: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Bethanie Murguia(And the Announcement of a Wee-Tiny Blog Break)

(Click to enlarge)

I’ve been totally swamped, but it is the first Sunday of the month, right? If I’m wrong and you’re giggling, please humor me and do so behind my back. Come on. A good friend would, right?

On first Sundays, I like to shine the spotlight here at 7-Imp on student or brand-new illustrators in the field. Today, I’ve got Bethanie Murguia, whose debut picture book was released in May by Tricycle Press. (more…)

13 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #235: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Bethanie Murguia(And the Announcement of a Wee-Tiny Blog Break), last added: 9/7/2011
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66. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #237: Featuring Alison Friend

Today, I’m featuring an illustrator whose latest picture book title I haven’t seen yet. It comes out in October, and I don’t have an early copy, but a) I like what I see and b) it’s written by Phyllis Root, and boy howdy and howdy boy does she have a great track record with picture books. So, it’s with confidence that I say: I bet this book is goooood. If I’m wrong, one of my readers can come back later and scold me. I guess.

The book I speak of is called Scrawny Cat (Candlewick), and its illustrations come from Alison Friend, who lives and works in Sheffield, England. Alison, who previously worked in greeting cards, illustrated her first picture book in 2010, Maxine Kumin’s What Color Is Caesar?, also published by Candlewick.


22 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #237: Featuring Alison Friend, last added: 9/20/2011
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67. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #238: Featuring Sophie Blackalland a Handful of Illustrators and Designers(I’ll Explain, Promise)

Happy Fall, one and all.

This morning, I’m featuring illustrations from two books meant for grown-ups, Sophie Blackall’s Missed Connections: Love, Lost & Found (from which the second illustration above comes) and Graphic USA: An Alternative Guide to 25 U.S. Cities (from which Austin designer Bryan Keplesky’s wonderful don’t-shave image above comes), edited by Ziggy Hanaor and with art from various illustrators and designers — but two books with exciting art, nonetheless. And exciting art, which talented illustrators and designers create, is what 7-Imp is all about, yes? I’d like to think so.

And can I just say that these two books are super-rad-neato-skeeto, to be erudite about it? They really are. I love them.

First up …


18 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #238: Featuring Sophie Blackalland a Handful of Illustrators and Designers(I’ll Explain, Promise), last added: 9/27/2011
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68. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #239: Featuring Shelley Davies

(Click to enlarge)

Happy October, one and all. I think this may be my favorite month of all, and I cannot believe October of 2011 is already here.

Since it’s the first Sunday of the month, I’ve got a beginning illustrator visiting today. Painter and illustrator Shelley Davies is not new, by any means, to making art, but she’s got her mind set on doing children’s book illustrations and is here today to share some of her artwork. Shelley lives on the western coast of Canada with her family (here’s her self-portrait)—pictured above is her own Mad Hatter tea party—and I’ll let her tell you all about her background and what she wants to do next:


14 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #239: Featuring Shelley Davies, last added: 10/5/2011
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69. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #240: Featuring Kevin Hawkes

“The strange old owl awakens / in the middle of the night, / looks up at the moon / that’s already out of sight, / polishes his glasses, / gives the cat a wink, /
and writes these silly poems / with invisible ink.”

(Click to see entire spread)

I’m happy to be highlighting a wonderful poetry collection today, a picture book called A Little Bitty Man and Other Poems for the Very Young, published by Candlewick in August. This is poetry from Danish poet Halfdan Rasmussen, who was known during his career for his playful children’s verses, as well as his poetry for adults, often about social issues and human rights issues. Before his death in 2002, he granted Marilyn Nelson—poet, children’s book author, translator, and National Book Award finalist—permission to produce English versions of his works. Pamela Espeland joined Marilyn in translating this collection of verses for children, and illustrator Kevin Hawkes provides the altogether joyous and inviting pastel illustrations, rendered in acrylic and charcoal pencil.


14 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #240: Featuring Kevin Hawkes, last added: 10/11/2011
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70. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #241:Featuring Matt Phelan and Bob Shea

(Click on image to see entire spread from which it comes)

“The only time she truly enjoyed herself was
when she secretly listened to the crew singing songs late at night.”

You know, I’m all the time here at 7-Imp having pretend breakfasts with authors and illustrators, when they’re really just cyber (the breakfasts, that is, not the people), but this morning I will have actual breakfast with the two author/illustrators featured here today. Or at least coffee. And I’m excited to meet them.

Here in Nashville this weekend, we are celebrating the Southern Festival of Books, and I will be hosting the session this afternoon for author/illustrators Matt Phelan and Bob Shea (and, as mentioned, get to meet up with them before-hand for a cup ‘o’ joe). Opening this post is an image from one of Bob Shea’s newest picture books, Dinosaur vs. the Library (Hyperion, September 2011); the cover and more images are below, as well as images from another of his new titles, which I haven’t seen yet but hope to today, called I’m a Shark (Balzer + Bray, May 2011). And below Bob’s dinosaur up there is an image from the Nellie-Bly portion of Matt Phelan’s newest graphic novel, called Around the World, published by Candlewick this month. I’ve got more art below from that as well.

If you’re not familiar with Bob’s books, you should run to the nearest library or bookstore and fix that. He’s illustrated many picture books others have written, and he’s both written and illustrated a handful of them himself. If you’re not familiar with his “Dinosaur vs. …” books, then I recommend you see his rendition of Dinosaur vs. the Potty here at the Texas Book Festival in 2010, I think it was, and also his mock Dinosaur vs. Writing Kids’ Books had me SNORT-LAUGHING (and has me all the more eager to hear him speak today):


12 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #241:Featuring Matt Phelan and Bob Shea, last added: 10/17/2011
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71. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #242: Featuring Leo & Diane Dillon

“The years passed in a march of seasons. / The boy grew tall and strong / Under the loving eyes of his father. / And the protective forces of the Mother Elements, /
Who were his teachers, / His counselors, / His friends.”

How do you introduce illustrators like Leo and Diane Dillon? Well, they’re not here visiting today (I wish), but how, I wonder, do I introduce their art without sounding like a blithering starstruck halfwit? Their work is simply stunning and quite often breathtaking and always beautiful. They are living legends, who have illustrated more than sixty books for children and are two-time Caldecott Medal winners.

If you’re a fan, as I clearly am, you’ll want to see a copy of their latest illustrated title, written by the great Patricia C. McKissack, who herself has also acquired a slew of impressive awards in her career, including a Newbery Honor and a Coretta Scott King Award. It’s called Never Forgotten, was released by Schwartz & Wade this month, and has been met with starred reviews all-around.

Written in verse (”a searing cycle of poems” Kirkus calls it), it’s the chilling story of a young African boy taken by slave traders to America. (more…)

19 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #242: Featuring Leo & Diane Dillon, last added: 10/25/2011
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72. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #243:Featuring Stephanie Brockway and Ralph Masiello

(Click to enlarge)

I think I’ve had a copy of Stephanie Brockway’s and Ralph Masiello’s The Mystic Phyles: Beasts (Charlesbridge, July 2011) for nearly four months now, but sometimes I’m just slow here at 7-Imp. Better late than never, right?

Also, better to post this around Halloween anyway. Mystical beasts. Mystery letters. Goblin spiders. Black cats of doom. Really evil bunyips. Strange fires in a creepy house. Cryptic necklaces that strengthen one against attacks. Weird things all-around. Yep, it’s fitting.

This is the story of Abigail Thaddeus, who lives with her eccentric grandmother and very controlling grandfather. Abigail can count her friends on one hand—okay, one finger—and her social life at her junior high school is really difficult, to say the least. But, after a black cat delivers her a note and a key, her life changes forever, launching her on a quest for … well, research. “What I’d like you to do is research,” an anonymous letter (”Your Devoted Friend,” it is signed) says. “You will start with mythical beasts….Find as much information as you can. Educate yourself. Investigate the mysteries, then discern for yourself the fact and fiction.”

The book is designed to look like a sort of scrapbook or journal of Abigail’s: Filled with drawings, journal entries, notes, confessions, details of her days at school and home, and her research, it is composed of original illustrations from Stephanie and Ralph, as well as re-printed photographs and illustrations (i.e., the 1936 photo in Popular Science of the bull made to look like a unicorn by Dr. W. F. Dove at the University of Maine). Young Abigail notes her research findings (pictured above is part of her research on Sea Monsters, including what you don’t see in that spread, “Species of Sea Monsters”), most followed by “My Incredibly Brilliant (But Not Very Scientific) Ideas” about what each creature could actually be: Sea Monsters, as reported by sailors over the years, could in fact have been giant squids, finally discovered in the mid-1850s. Or, my favorite, Bigfoot could in fact be a “worldwide hallucination…One person sees what they think is Bigfoot and runs home to the tell the story. The story spreads. Then other people claim to see it, either because they’re dying to see it, too, or they’re afraid of it, or it’s the first thing that pops into their heads when they spy something strange. Could this really happen on a worldwide scale?” (more…)

16 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #243:Featuring Stephanie Brockway and Ralph Masiello, last added: 10/31/2011
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73. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #244: Featuring JooHee Yoon

It’s the first Sunday of the month, which means it’s time to shine the spotlight on a student illustrator or recently-graduated one, and I’ve got the latter today. JooHee Yoon joins me today, and she’s just finished school and is setting out to find her place in the world of illustration. Will you help me welcome her?

Here she is to tell us a bit about herself (and here’s an October interview about her printing techniques for those wanting to learn more), and I’ll follow it up with a handful of images. I thank her for visiting. (more…)

15 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #244: Featuring JooHee Yoon, last added: 11/7/2011
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74. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #257: Featuring David Ezra Stein

Deer Dear Grandmouse, Today is Thursday. You left three days ago and
I mouse you. Mama said, Why don’t I write you a letter to say hello, so I am.

Meet Mouserella. I love this above illustration of her. It’s somehow both moving and funny in its honest pathos. (I’m not sure how that works, as calling it “funny” just makes me sound cruel. The poor creature misses her grandmother somethin’ fierce. But maybe I think it’s also ADORABLE, which it clearly is, and somehow that adorable-ness makes me laugh in a with-Mouserella, not an at-Mouserella, way.)

David Ezra Stein’s Love, Mouserella—released in September from Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin and recently named a Kirkus Best Children’s Book of 2011—is told from the point of view of young Mouserella, who is not happy about her grandmother’s departure. She takes her mother’s advice and writes a letter to her Grandmouse, giving her a recap of what’s gone on since she left for the country (including an exciting loss of electricity in their home, making this one of two memorable picture book blackouts this year). She also fills her letter with the types of meandering details to which young children pay great attention. (”I don’t know what to write . . .” she starts. “Guess what? My beaded belt is almost done now.”) In fact, the entire book captures so accurately the train of thought of young children — er, creatures. “Mama says we won’t come see you till the leaf falls off our oak tree,” she writes at the book’s close, Stein nailing the ways in which really young children mark time (there’s also “till….me and Ernie go to school”). She also sends along things like a pack of ketchup, a picture of herself smooching the camera, and lots of doodles and drawings. (more…)

15 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #257: Featuring David Ezra Stein, last added: 11/27/2011
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75. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #258: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Elizabeth Zunon

“I snip a patch of color and add a cut-out face. / Oh! I glue on jazzy blue for sky and add another face. / People walk into my work as if it’s always been their place. / My hands sing the blues when I paint and cut and paste. / I never know what I’ll create when I paint and cut and paste. / I use paper, fabrics, photos,
and nothing goes to waste.”

(Click to enlarge)

It’s the first Sunday of the month (the last first-Sunday of 2011, GASP!), and so that means I’m shining the spotlight on a student or debut illustrator. In today’s case, I’ve got the latter. Elizabeth Zunon, who was born in Albany, New York, but grew up in West Africa, attended RISD. Jeanne Walker Harvey’s My Hands Sing the Blues: Romare Bearden’s Childhood Journey, published by Marshall Cavendish in September, marks her debut as a picture book illustrator, which Hazel Rochman at Booklist called “handsome” and a “lively introduction to the artist for young children and for older readers, too.”

With a text “loosely based…on the concept of the blues,” as Harvey writes in her closing Author’s Note, the book is told (nearly sung) from the point-of-view of Bearden as an adult, looking back on a particular time in childhood during which he left North Carolina to take a train trip with his parents to Harlem. Having to heed Jim Crow laws, his family knows they must head North: (more…)

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #258: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Elizabeth Zunon, last added: 12/5/2011
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