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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Picture Books, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1326. Picture Book Monday - A review of No Two Alike

Many of us find it all too easy to rush though our days without taking a moment to notice the beauty of nature. Even in a city there are pockets of nature that can be enjoyed if you just take the time to do so. In today's picture book we accompany two little birds as they explore their environment. The birds figure out that every plant and animal is unique, just as they are. Every plant and animal is a gift that we can enjoy looking at and watching.

No Two Alike
Keith Baker
Picture Book
For ages 4 to 6
Simon and Schuster, 2011, 978-1-4424-1742-7
It is a beautiful snowy day and two little red birds are flying around the woods. They notice that no two snowflakes are alike. Some almost seem to be the same, “but not quite.” As they explore their world they discover that snowflakes are not the only things that are not alike.
   When they look at nests they discover that though two nests are both soft and round, they are still different. Tracks in the snow are also similar but different. As they sit and hang from a branch they find that no two branches are alike, and every leaf is unique. As they make snowballs and use a stick to brush snow off a fence, the little birds find more things that are similar and yet not the same.
   With a delightful lyrical rhyming text and gorgeous illustrations showing snowy scenes, this book, with its charming little bird characters, is a joy to read. Children will enjoy seeing what the two little birds get up to, and they will see that we are all different. Celebrating our differences is one of the wonderful things to do in life. 

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1327. Review – Peggy

PeggyIt is little secret I love chooks and pigeons. So when I noticed this lovely new picture book featuring a little black hen and her feathered friends, there was instant grab appeal.

Peggy, a beguiling little black hen, lives a contented albeit somewhat isolated life in the burbs until one day she is unceremoniously whipped up by a fateful gust of wind and dumped in the middle of a strange new world, the city.

Peggy embarks on all the things an out-of-towner in the big smoke might be expected to do; she shops, dines on new cuisine, feasts her senses on curiosities of all shapes and sizes; thoroughly enjoying her big adventure until homesickness suddenly strikes.

When she spies a familiar sight, a sunflower like the one from her yard, she pursues it tenaciously; her only tentative link with all that she knows and misses. But the sunflower soon disappears. Alone and forlorn, Peggy waits in an empty train station until salvation appears; the pigeons, the very same ones she used to observe from a distance. They show her the way home.

Peggy passes her days now as before only now she shares her existence with the pigeons, even taking the occasional outing with them – via train to the city.Peggy and pigeons

Anna Walker has deftly created a simple little tale of a brave chook on a big adventure with the use of ink and photo collage. Her economic of words ensures we keep turning the pages, keen to keep up with Peggy’s exciting explorations.

The use of photo imagery adds marvellous depth, and warm authenticity to the lusciously thick pages in spite of the chilly damp of autumn the illustrations suggest. Muted background colours ensure details are highlighted with sensitive playfulness: the bunch of bright, yellow sunflowers, brown, wind-blown autumn leaves, and cherry-red umbrellas.

I especially loved Peggy; plucky, stoic, simply black, with that inquisitive look that only a chook can wear. A look that wonders; Can I eat this before it eats me? Peggy gently suggests that it’s worth expanding your horizons from time to time, and that this is not as scary as you might think it is because there are always friends around to help you, if you keep an eye out for them.

Recommended for pre-schoolers and appreciators of avian.

Peggy is published by Scholastic Australia 2012


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1328. 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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1329. A Rant on Illustration Rights for Self Publishing Authors

Since I started my journey as a children's illustrator, I've been approached by so many authors who want me to illustrate their books. It surprises me how little research the majority of them have done!

One of my biggest pet peeves is the subject of rights. Most authors are unable (or unwilling) to pay a fair fee to an artist to illustrate a picture book ($3,000 and up for a typical 32-page book), but also expect to get all rights to the artwork for that fee! Why? Traditional publishers don't even do that.

Typically, the payment gives all book rights to the author. Which means that the illustrator can't sell the art to anyone else to be used in another book, and the author is free to use the art to promote the book. That's all you need!

Then this question comes up: "What if my book gets so popular that I want to license my characters to make plush animals or action figures out of them to sell?"

A self-published book typically makes less than $500. If that HIGHLY UNLIKELY scenario does play out, there can always be re-negotiation talks for more rights. It's sad that so many first-time authors won't hire an artist who won't give them full rights. Most professional illustrators won't agree to do that, so the talent pool for the author to choose from is shrunk to the inexperienced. I feel like the authors are really shortchanging themselves from having great art for their story. And who is going to want to buy a plush of a mediocre character anyway?

I feel better to get that off my chest. :–)

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1330. Moo Hoo by Candace Ryan

Moo HooCow and Owl are best friends. They do everything together…just the two of them. Until Kangaroo shows up, that is. Suddenly Kangaroo wants to join the fun. Is there room for “Roo too?” He likes all the same things as Cow and Owl, but Cow and Owl like being a twosome. Kangaroo tries in vain time after time to show Cow and Owl that he can play too, but the tight-knit duo are not interested in adding another friend into the mix. Kangaroo can only take so much rejection, and eventually he gives up trying to play with Cow and Owl. Only then do Cow and Owl realize that maybe Kangaroo is an alright guy. He is pretty good at drawing, and he does know how to make some pretty cool airplanes for their super hero toys. Cow and Owl decide to try to find Kangaroo and ask him to play again, and when they do they realize that three can be even more fun than two.

Told through very simple text and delightfully quirky illustrations, Moo Hoo is a charming story about friendship and acceptance. Presented with a gentle sense of humor, author Candace Ryan creates three very lovable characters. Mike Lowery’s inviting illustrations and soft color palette enhance the story through their simplicity and warmth. It is not hard to see why Kangaroo would want to befriend Cow and Owl and, conversely, how the “New Roo” is able to win over the pair.

It is all too easy to get swept away in the routines of our lives and feel like there is no room for anything new. However, sometimes taking a risk and opening yourself up to new experiences and people can bring great rewards, as Cow and Owl discover when they take a chance on Kangaroo. So take a chance on Moo Hoo…you just might find that this new crew is perfect for you too.

Posted by: Staci

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1331. What I Did at Kirkus Last Week,Featuring Suzy Lee and Adam Rex

(Click on image to see entire spread from which it comes,
though in the final, printed version, it says “…open another!”)

Squeak. Grunt. Stumble. That’s how I feel my words are today, since I took a sort of holiday blog break there, didn’t I? (That is, with the exception of my ginormously nerdy 2012 recap, but I think those are fun.)

But here I am, and fortunately today I don’t have to compose that many words, since this is a follow-up post to last week’s Kirkus column. It was over there last Friday that I wrote about the good thing that happened when author Neil Gaiman and author/illustrator Adam Rex collaborated. I’m talking specifically about Chu’s Day, released by HarperCollins in early January. Chu is pictured right, mid-sneeze. I know what you’re thinking: THE PRECIOUS. Yes, he appears adorable. But no, my dear imps, keep outta the way of that boy’s sneeze, I tell you. (As a reminder, we got a sneak-peek of this book back in July of 2012.)

I also weighed in on debut author (and editor) Jesse Klausmeier’s Open This Little Book, illustrated by Suzy Lee and released by Chronicle. (An illustration from it is pictured at the tippy-top of this post.) That column is here, if you missed it last week and are so inclined to read.

Today, I’m here to share art, since I start to get twitchy if I don’t get to showcase picture book art from the books about which I write.

Also, there are two special treats today: Adam shares early sketches from Chu’s Day, and for Open This Little Book … well, you’ll see the treat below.

Enjoy. (more…)

5 Comments on What I Did at Kirkus Last Week,Featuring Suzy Lee and Adam Rex, last added: 1/15/2013
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1332. Bill Traylor & the Third Graders

MainAt the start of the school year in September, I found out that Ms. B. had moved up from 2nd grade to 3rd. Ms. B. was the teacher in the public school classroom where I read picture books aloud for the last two years, and I insisted on following her she invited me along to Grade 3. I happily made the switch. Ms. B. runs an efficient class in which the children seem happy, and she treats her students with respect. There are 30 kids in this year's group, much too big a contingent for the reading rug, which is both good and bad. No more elbow wars among the back-row listeners, but harder for everyone to see the pictures in the book. I try to walk around alot.

Because of weather and consequent half days, delayed report-card conferences, and so on, I've been lucky to read once or twice a month. (As a volunteer, I aim for weekly.) But we've still had a good time. Well, except for the day I read Mrs. McTats and Her Houseful of Cats, a Seussian tale of stray felines, when guffaw-inducing descriptions of dog house-training challenges (completely unrelated to the book) overtook the post-reading discussion. It happens.

Several weeks before, the class and I had had the most fantastic conversation about It Jes' Happened, Don Tate's picture-book biography of Bill Traylor. A self-taught artist and former slave, Traylor (1854-1949) began creating his art in his eighties, drawing from his memories of the Alabama farm where he had grown up and lived. The kids were intrigued, and had lots to say about the book. Since they're citified Northeasterners, I explained what a mule was; the donkey-horse crosses and other animals were some of Traylor's favorite subjects. Ms. B. turned to the computer-connected Smart Board projection system and showed some examples of Traylor's work. 

One boy wanted to know about Traylor's wife: "Is she dead?" (A very third-grade response. I remember my 13-year-old at the same age.) Others wondered what happened to Traylor's children. Were author Don Tate and illustrator Gregory Christie his sons? (No, but wouldn't that be cool?) They puzzled over Traylor's living circumstances; he was homeless at times in Montgomery, AL, and sometimes bedded down in a funeral parlor. Many seemed amazed (and relieved) that museums now held many pieces of Traylor's art.

 As I was leaving the class, one of the girls pulled me aside, and quietly asked, "Are mules really real?" "Yes, " I whispered back. "They are." I loved the idea that someone thought that the hardworking farm animals were in the same magical realm as unicorns and dragons. Maybe Traylor thought so, too.


Mrs. McTats and Her Houseful of Cats
Written by Alyssa Satin Capucilli; illustrated by Joan Rankin
Margaret K. McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, 2001
(from our personal library of favorite picture books)

It Jes' Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw
Written by Don Tate; illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
Lee & Low Books, 2012
(review copy)

For additional information, see  "Guest Post: Don Tate on 'It Jes' Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw," at the blog Cynsations, and "Jes' a Hit: An Interview with Don Tate," at The Brown Bookshelf.

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1333. Dragon Brush - a magical book app set in ancient China (ages 4 - 8)

Some of the best interactive storybook apps show children that magical leap from the ordinary into a magical world. Dragon Brush, a finalist in the 2012 Cybils Book App Award, weaves a story based on a Chinese folktale that keeps children coming back to it again and again.

Dragon Brush
by Andy Hullinger and John Solimine
developed by Small Planet Digital
2012 Cybils Book App Award finalist
ages 4 - 8
available on iTunes
What would you paint if you had a magic paintbrush? Would you paint all the riches you might want? But what might happen if an evil lord tries to steal this away? Dragon Brush takes children into this scene, using interactive features to draw children along but never overwhelming the story.

As Cathy Potter, of The Nonfiction Detectives, writes in her review of Dragon Brush for the Cybils,
An old woman gives young Bing-Wen a magic paintbrush made from a dragon’s whiskers in this imaginative original story. Bing-Wen uses the paintbrush to paint a chicken to provide food for his family, a tree to grow fruit for the village, and a comical dragon that isn’t very fierce.

Children will enjoy wiping their fingers across the screen to reveal intricate paintings that come to life. Readers will cheer when the clever Bing-Wen outwits the greedy emperor and teaches him a lesson. Soft guitar music, effective narration, kid-friendly illustrations, and bits of added humor bring a whimsical feeling to this app. A dragon, a greedy emperor, hidden inkpots, and artwork that comes to life…this is an app with kid appeal, for sure!
Dragon Brush embodies all that the Cybils stands for: an excellent story that draws children back to it again and again. Children are fascinated with the interactive features, revealing the intricate paintings that magically come to life, and finding each of the hidden inkpots.

But the story resonates with heart and kindness as Bing-Wen discovers the true gift of artwork - creating a gift for those you love.  The artwork, narration and background music complement the story. The characters have a cartoon appeal but the style is restrained and appropriate to the folktale setting in ancient China. As you can see in the trailer, the music and narration by Mark Berninger and Aaron Dessner, of the band The National, gives the app a soothing feel.

Enjoy this trailer for Dragon Brush:

Dragon Brush from Small Planet Digital on Vimeo.

As Andy Hullinger writes on his website, "Sharing a story and bringing the images life with your imagination is a special kind of magic all its own. This is the heart of Dragon Brush, especially if you have an iPad. Be sure to try it together, With a little one snuggled next to you, mute the narration and read aloud for them as they touch and tap to move the story along." My only wish is that the authors provided a little more information about the folktale that inspired their story.

2 Comments on Dragon Brush - a magical book app set in ancient China (ages 4 - 8), last added: 1/5/2013
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1334. New Year! New Book!!

Happy New Year, Paper Waiters! I am so excited to be starting off the new year with some good news... some VERY good news! My picture book, Mystery at the Miss Dinosaur Pageant has been... acquired by Caroline Abbey of Bloomsbury Children's Books!! Yay!!!!

I am so excited I finally get to share my good news. This fun and wacky picture book is near and dear to my heart and I would like to extend a huge thank my awesome Paper Wait critique group for guiding me through revisions (and for believing in it when they first saw an early draft!). And a huge thank you to my awesome agent, Teresa Kietlinski, for believing in this story and helping it to find the right editor!

So please help me celebrate! Take a piece of cake, a scoop of ice cream and join the party!

Can't wait to celebrate lots more good news for all the wonderful Paper Waiters in 2013!

25 Comments on New Year! New Book!!, last added: 1/10/2013
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1335. The Oldest Mother in the World Wins Book Award

Wisdom, the Midway Albatross, the subject of my 2012 picture book has returned to Midway Island and laid a new egg. She was banded by Chandler Robbins on December 10, 1956 while sitting on an egg and presumed to be a minimum of five years old. That makes her at least 62 years old–and she’s going to be a new momma. Wow!

Wisdom and her mate prepare to begin their first shift of incubation, Photo credit: Pete Leary, USFWS

More from Pete Leary, the wildlife biologist on Midway.

Wisdom, the Midway Albatross by Darcy Pattison
We also have exciting news about the book: it is the winner of the 20th Annual 2013 Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards, in the children’s picture book category. Among other prizes is a $1000 cash award. Winners will be officially announced in the February issue of Writer’s Digest magazine.

Read more about alternate publishing. Read more about how to write a children’s picture book.

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1336. 2012 Cybils Book Apps Finalists - a fantastic group of apps to explore!

I am so excited to announce the finalists for the 2012 Cybils Book Apps Award. The Cybils Award recognizes books for children and young adults that combine both excellent literary quality and high kid appeal. I am honored to serve as the category organizer for the Book Apps category.

Here are this year's finalists for the 2012 Cybils Book Apps Award! Here is our full list of finalists, with links to the apps. This week I will share more about each of these apps. For a full description today, head over to the Cybils website.

Bats! Furry Fliers of the Night
written by Mary Kay Carson
developed by Bookerella and StoryWorldwide, 2012
nominated by Cathy Potter

Dragon Brush
created by John Solimine and Andy Hullinger
developed by Small Planet Digital
nominated by Aurora Celeste

Rounds: Franklin Frog
written by Emma Tranter
illustrated by Barry Tranter
developed by Nosy Crow
nominated by Danielle Smith

The Voyage of Ulysses
based on the epic by Homer
developed by Elastic Srl
nominated by Viktor Sjöberg

Where Do Balloons Go? An Uplifting Story
written by Jamie Lee Curtis
illustrated by Laura Cornell
developed by Auryn, Inc.
nominated by Teresa Garcia

Our fantastic team of judges debated long and thoughtfully to come up with this list of finalists. We evaluated over 80 book apps, ranging from picture books for the very youngest readers to nonfiction apps developed for young adults. We sought to highlight the full range of apps that are being produced, recognizing those that integrate text, illustrations, narration, animation and interactive features to produce an engaging reading experience.

I want to thank all of the round one Book App judges: Cathy Potter, Paula Willey, Carisa Kluver and Lalitha Nataraj. They all contributed so much, bringing different perspectives and experiences to our deliberations. I am so grateful for their time and thoughtful conversations about these apps. I am also so very grateful to the whole Cybils team for their support and exploration of this new way of sharing books with children. I hope you all enjoy these book apps with your children!

Head over to the Cybils website to learn more about these five fantastic book apps for children. This week, I will share more about each one of them. Over the next six weeks, the fabulous round two judges will select one winner from these apps - to be announced on February 14th.

©2013 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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1337. Lemonade in Winter: Emily Jenkins & G. Brian Karas

Book: Lemonade in Winter: A Book About Two Kids Counting Money
Author: Emily Jenkins
Illustrator: G. Brian Karas
Pages: 40
Age Range: 3 and up

I rarely like picture books that use fiction as a transparent means of teaching something to kids. This so, so often results in a book that's either boring or didactic, or both. And my problem with such books is that people buy them, thinking "oh, it will be good to teach this to my kid", but the result is to make the child think that books are boring and/or manipulative. 

So, when I saw that the book Lemonade in Winter has a subtitle "A Book About Two Kids Counting Money", I almost didn't even read it. But I've liked Emily Jenkins' other books, so I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. And I'm glad that I did. Because Lemonade in Winter is that rare book that tells a kid-friendly story, while also illustrating a particular concept (in this case, counting money).

Pauline decides, one cold winter day, that it would be fun to have a lemonade stand. Actually, a lemonade, limeade, and lemon-limeade stand,. Her little brother John-John immediately begs to help. Despite the objections of their parents ("it's freezing... Nobody will want cold drinks"), the two embark on their project. They round up some money (searching under the sofa cushions), buy their supplies, make the product, and create the lemonade stand. When business doesn't go as well as expected, they undergo a variety of stunts to get people to buy their product. At the end of the day, they sit down to figure out whether they've turned a profit of not. 

So you see, the counting part is definitely in here. They have to add up the coins that they find, figure out what supplies they can buy for that amount, decide what to charge for each sale, and calculate the profit and loss at the end of the day. But this is all so well integrated into the story that it just augments the story, rather than seeming like the point of the book. Like putting a recipe for apple pie at the end of a book about making an apple pie. Lemonade in Winter reads like, "if you're going to write a book about a lemonade stand, you might as well explain how the financials go". Rather than "if you're going to write a book about counting and money, you might as well use selling lemonade as an analogy." Make sense?

The thing that is wonderful about Lemonade in Winter is Pauline and John-John's relentless enthusiasm for their project. When there is no one around on the cold street, Pauline suggests "Maybe we should advertise". Without missing a beat, the two launch into a cheer:

"Lemon lemon LIME, lemon LIMEADE!
Lemon lemon LIME, lemon LIMEADE!
All that it will ya? Fifty cents a cup!
All that it will cost ya? Fifty cents a cup!"

When that's not sufficient, they add entertainment (cartwheels and drums), have a sale, and make decorations. Their neighbors, like the reader, are simply unable to resist their efforts.

Karas' illustrations (brush and ink, colored via Photoshop and then finished with pencil) celebrate Pauline and John-John's irrepressible energy. Every time they sing, he shows them with heads tilted up, and smiling mouths wide open. I find this aspect of the pictures reminiscent of the Charlie Brown specials (though Karas' illustrations are otherwise quite a bit more detailed). After Pauline and John-John add decorations, the lemonade stand is irresistible, lit up with flashlights as floodlights, bedecked with balloons and cocktail umbrellas, and with a teddy bear holding a sign. 

The bottom line is that Lemonade in Winter works as a story about two siblings executing a crazy idea. It also works as a vehicle for preschoolers to painlessly learn a bit about counting and money, and profit and loss. Emily Jenkins succeeds again. Lemonade in Winter is a nominee for the 2012 Cybils in Fiction Picture Books. Recommended, and a must-purchase title for libraries. 

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade (@RandomHouseKids)
Publication Date: September 11, 2012
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2012 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you). 

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1338. Picture Book Monday - A review of Brontorina

All too often people are told by others that they cannot do something because they are not suited to doing that thing. We are told "you are too small," or "you are too old," or "you are too young," or "you are too large," or "you are too small," and so on. It is very tiresome to be told these things, and often one is better off if one ignores such negative thinking. In today's picture book you will meet a dinosaur who wants to be a dancer, and who is told that she is just too large. 

Illustrated by Randy Cecil
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Candlewick, 2010, 978-0-7636-4437-6
Brontorina the dinosaur has a dream; she wants to be a dancer. So, she goes to Madame Lucille’s Dance Academy for Girls and Boys and she tells Madame that she “wants to dance.” Madame Lucille has never had a dinosaur for a student before and she is concerned because Brontorina is very large and she does not have the right shoes for dancing. Luckily for Brontorina, Clara and Jack believe that Brontorina should be allowed to join the academy and they ask Madame Lucille to let the dinosaur join their classes.
   Madame Lucille soon sees that Brontorina is a very graceful dancer with a natural ability for dance. Unfortunately, it soon becomes apparent that Brontorina is just too big for the school. When she does her releves and jetes the poor dinosaur’s head goes through the roof. Madame Lucille reluctantly has to tell the dinosaur that she cannot accommodate a student who is so large.
   In this splendid story readers will meet a character who is incredibly sweet and loveable, even though she is two stories tall. Children will see how problems can be solved, even enormous ones, if you are willing to make changes, and if you think about the problem in a different way. The story wraps up with an ending that is perfect and funny. 

1 Comments on Picture Book Monday - A review of Brontorina, last added: 1/12/2013
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1339. One Very Possible2012 7-Imp Retrospective Before Breakfast

It’s time to look back, dear Imps, on what happened at 7-Imp during 2012 and look at who graced the site with their presence—all with my buddy here, Alfred—simply because I am a hopeless nerd, who enjoys recaps. As I’ve said during the past couple of years, including during 2011’s recap, this is fun to me. Also, it satisfies the tremendous picture book junkie in me.

Since 7-Imp is devoted to contemporary illustration—with a particular focus on picture books—these end-of-year recaps can be an awful lot like looking back at the state of picture books during a given year, even though I certainly didn’t have the time to cover every book I wanted to discuss. I’m not promising any kind of analysis or commentary here on picture book-dom in 2012, by any means. I just like to kick back and see who has visited and what insightful things they had to say, as well as look at some wonderful illustrations. Besides, I don’t consider 7-Imp a review blog. There are lots of other blogs who are very good at that. As I write at this page of the site, I like to think of it as a sort of literary salon where authors and illustrators stop by, after getting a cup of cyber-coffee, to share their craft — and where illustrators wake us up with art.

All of that is also one way of saying, as I did last year: This long post is good for browsing, especially if you like to see picture book art.

And, because I occasionally like to give the 7-Imp platform over to student illustrators or up-and-coming illustrators, you’ll see more experienced authors and illustrators, even the award-winning ones, sharing space here with the illustrators of the future … future … future. [Say that with an echo.] I think it’s a) important to give newbies the spotlight and b) it’s fun, too.

If I take a look at what was new to 7-Imp in 2012—before we look at who visited, that is, and all kinds of artwork—I run the risk of actually sounding organized, which I’m not. Or as if I’m someone who blogs 40 hours a week, which I’m also not. Since blogging comes after my children, the work-that-pays, and other things that allow me to have a life, I’m kind of scattered, have no real 7-Imp Action Plans, and you should just see my system of organization (chicken-scratch-scrawled Post-it notes stuck all over my very messy desk).

(This is precisely what I said last year, but it bears repeating. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, that is Frank Viva’s rodent up above from September’s A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse. I rather covet his winter hat there.)

But … let me give this a shot anyway, an attempt to ponder what was new in 2012: (more…)

27 Comments on One Very Possible2012 7-Imp Retrospective Before Breakfast, last added: 1/7/2013
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1340. 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…)

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1341. Holiday Reading for Little Boys and Girls

The Wreck of the Diddley by Fatcat and Fishface (Craig Potton Publishing)

Fatcat and Fishface musical duo originally played this song in an animated video for a competition. It was so popular they decided to turn it into a picture book.

Young boys (3-6 years) will love this rollicking pirate tale about a Captain and his crew going down with their ship.  Told in rhyme with colourful illustrations by Stephen Templer - it also comes with a DVD - young boys (and little girls who love a good song and story) will enjoy singing along while reading the book. A must-have for car journeys (if you have a portable DVD player), and holiday playing on boring raining days inside. 

Kindergartens will also find this book and DVD a great addition to their library for reading time on the mat.  Afterwards, little boys and girls can dress up as pirates and have some pirate adventures of their own in the sandspit and or paddling pool. 

Great fun for the holidays!

Buy direct from the publisher in paperback $24.99 (with free CD) or hardback $34.99 (with free CD).

Pipimoomoo by Justine Summers (Craig Potton Publishing)

Pipimoomoo wore her jeans everywhere until the day she wets them while playing over at her friend Pinky Pickle's house. Pinky Pickle gives Pipimoomoo her favourite flowery skirt to wear home. Pipimoomoo loves the red flowery polka dot skirt so much she wears it to bed. That night she dreamt of skirts of all different colours and patterns. The next day she asked her Mum if she could make her own colourful skirt...

A perfect book for little imaginative girls. Perhaps mother and daughter can make their own colourful skirt afterwards...

See inside here

Buy here for $19.00 paperback and $29 hardback.

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1342. 2012 The Best Of Illustrator Saturday

At the end of each year, I go back and look at all the featured illustrator’s for that year and try to pick my favorite illustration for each one. With so many wonderful illustrations, it is a very hard task. I am sure, if you go back and look, you will come up with different picks. But here’s mine:


Michele Noiset



Betsy Snyder



Juanna Martinez-Neal



Cheryl Kirk Noll



Kathi Ember



Mellisa Iwai


Gabrielle Grimard



Lisa Anchin



Lauren Gallegos



Vin Vogel



Sara Jane Franklin



Jennifer Gray Olsen



Josee Bisaillon



Jon Stommell



Kim Dwinell



Jill Dubin


dillardwindy day

Sarah Dillard



Robbie Gilbert



Kirstie Edmunds



Tim Bowers



Sarah Brannen



Barbara Jonansen Newman



Roger Roth

leeza rabbitscropped

Leeza Hernandez


The days of wine and peonies 2

Anne Belvo



Alik Arzoumanian


Nancy Cote


Louise Bergeron



Elizabeth Rose Stanton



Brian Bowes



Susan Drawbaugh



Nancy Armo


barbaradilorenzo parade

Barbara DiLorenzo



Kathleeen Kemly



Sandra Salsbury



Ruth Sanderson



Joanne Friar



Nina Mata



Kelly Kennedy



Roberta Aangaramo



Kris Aro McLeod



Casey Girard



Wendy Grieb



Brooke Boynton Hughes



Courtney Autumn Martin



Roberta Baird


Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: authors and illustrators, illustrating, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, picture books Tagged: 2012 Best of Illustrator Saturday, children's book illustrators

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1343. What I’m Doing at Kirkus Today

You all know how I like to do 7-Imp year-end recaps (here was last year’s), on account of being a ginormous nerd? I’m working on 2012’s now. I enjoy doing them.

In the meantime, though, I took a break to write, over at my Kirkus column, about two juicy-good early 2013 picture book titles:

That link is here this morning, if you’re so inclined to read it.

[Note: I just discovered that it’s best to read those columns using Internet Explorer — that, if you use Google Chrome, as I tend to do, some text gets cut off. Just noting this for any readers.]

Until later …

3 Comments on What I’m Doing at Kirkus Today, last added: 12/28/2012
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1344. 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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1345. Week-end Book Review: Sora and the Cloud by Felicia Hoshino

Felicia Hoshino, Japanese translation by Akiko Hisa,
Sora and the Cloud
Immedium, 2012.

Bilingual: English/Japanese

Ages: 3-8

Sora and the Cloud is award-winning illustrator Felicia Hoshino’s debut as an author. Featuring Sora, a little boy whose name means “sky,” this very delicate, whisper-like story in English and Japanese is about Sora discovering the world with the help of a fluffy cloud friend. And how appropriate that cloud and sky should come together!

While Sora and Cloud float around town dreaming up adventures, little Sora gets to see many familiar places (some readers will recognize the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Chinatown) and to learn more about his Japanese heritage. “Like a mobile in the breeze, Sora’s sky adventure spins all around him,” until he drifts gently into sleep and back down to earth, where more adventures await. The last page shows Sora and his family relaxing together under a big tree – the image of his little sister looking up to the sky and saying hello to a cloud fittingly pointing to the universality of children’s sense of wonder and boundless imagination.

Fans of Hoshino’s illustration work in A Place Where Sunflowers Grow and Little Sap and Monsieur Rodin will find the watercolors/mixed media in this bilingual treat a treasure trove to pore over and marvel at. The double spread of cute ants busily moving around town, matching Sora’s impression of people as tiny ants when seen from up above, is priceless. It adds a touch of sweet humor to a story that is all warmth, delicacy and gentle embrace.

Sora and the Cloud soars in more ways than one, and is a perfect story to share with very young ones who are starting to look at the world with wonder and amazement.

The short Japanese phrases and cultural references sprinkled throughout the book are translated and explained in the end matter, where we also learn that a portion of the book’s proceeds go to the Japan Earthquake Relief.

Aline Pereira

December 2012

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1346. Best Picture Books of 2012

THE BEST PICTURE BOOKS OF 2012 This marks my fourth annual list of the best picture books of the year. This also marks my last year of compiling this list as a professional story-time lady. Working at the bookstore, weekly story times were always my favorite part of the job. I loved trying out books on the kids (who, on the whole, sat rapt no matter what I read) and I especially loved

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1347. Picture Book Monday - A review of The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

Happy Christmas Eve folks! I hope you are having a splendid day surrounded by friends and family members. For today's picture book I have chosen a title that would make a wonderful gift - just in case you need a last minute idea. Or, should you get a gift certificate or a gift of money tomorrow, you can buy this book for yourself.

This is the kind of book that children and adults alike will enjoy. It's message is universal in nature, and every reading makes one think about stories, books, and what they mean to us. The story in the book won an Academy Award for best animated short film in 2012.

William Joyce
Illustrated by William Joyce and Joe Bluhm
Picture Book
For ages 7 and up
Simon and Schuster, 2012, 978-1-4424-5702-7
Morris Lessmore loves words, stories, and books. He loves to write about his “joys and sorrows” in a book every day. Unfortunately, just like most stories, Morris Lessmore’s story has an “upset.” A terrible storm blows Morris Lessmore and everything around him through the air, and when Morris finally comes to earth, he has no idea where he is. Even worse, the storm has clean blown the words off the pages of his book.
   Feeling quite lost and not knowing what to do, Morris begins to wander. Then Morris sees a pretty lady drifting by. She is being carried across the sky by “a festive squadron of flying books.” Morris wishes his own book would fly, but it refuses to do so. The pretty lady knows that Morris needs a flying book of his own so she gives him one of hers.
   The flying book leads Mr. Morris to a building that is full of flying books, and he decides to stay there. Mr. Morris is delighted with his new home, and he spends time repairing the books that are damaged. He also reads the stories in the books, gives the books to people who need them, and he once again writes his own story. Little does he know that one day his story will play an important role in the life of another book lover.
   William Joyce started writing this story many years ago. It began as a tribute to a book lover, and then evolved over time to become an award winning animated short film, a fabulous story app, and now this book.
   The story of Morris Lessmore takes readers on an extraordinary journey, one that they will never forget. It will remind readers that books are treasures to be loved and treasured. How grim and lonely our lives would be without them.

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1348. Santa on the Loose: A Seek and Solve Mystery: Bruce Hale & Dave Garbot

Book: Santa on the Loose: A Seek and Solve Mystery
Author: Bruce Hale (@StoryGuy1)
Illustrator: Dave Garbot
Pages: 32
Age Range: 4 and up 

Santa on the Loose, by Bruce Hale and Dave Garbot, is a Christmas-themed seek and find mystery, suitable for kids old enough to look for detail in a very busy background. The premise is that:

"All the North Pole is in a tizzy! Someone stole Santa's toys, and it's almost Christmas Eve! Mr. Claus is in hot pursuit -- can you figure out who did it?"

Six suspects are shown on the first page. After that, readers look for Santa in each of several subsequent page spreads. Santa is always holding (or adjacent to) a clue. Together, the clues point back to one of the six suspects. 

It's not much of a mystery, in the traditional sense. The clues don't lead to other clues - they are more just tidbits that happen to match up to one of the suspects portrayed on the first page. Each page spread focuses on a different aspect of the pre-Christmas rush at the North Pole: the workshop, "Ye Olde Elf Inn", the stables, etc. And on each page, Santa uncovers a clue. 

As an adult reader, I didn't find it too difficult to pinpoint Santa on any of the pages (though I can imagine very young children having to work at it). The fun, of course, lies in absorbing the many details of the scenes. In the stables, four reindeer and an elf are sitting around in a big bathtub/hot tub. One ladder flight up, another reindeer is getting a mud facial in the Salon. The mall features stores like "Hoof Locker" and "Bear Essentials". And much, much more. I can imagine four and five year olds poring over this book, giggling. 

Santa on the Loose! isn't going to work for storytime. But if you are looking for a holiday-themed activity book, something to keep the kids busy while you wrap presents or mix up the cookie dough, this seek and solve mystery should do the trick. We'll keep our copy on hand until the 2 1/2 year old is a bit older, and more able to appreciate it. 

Publisher: HarperCollins (@HarperChildrens)
Publication Date: September 25, 2012
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2012 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

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1349. Scary Mary by Paula Bowles

Scary MaryWell of course the title of this book caught my eye, and I was happy to discover that this is a wonderful book covering a subject that is not so wonderful. Scary Mary is a chicken and also happens to be a barnyard bully – she rules the roost and doesn’t want to share anything, not the barnyard and definitely not “her” sunflower seeds. She makes signs, she puts up gates, and even builds a fort to keep the others out. She also continues to work on her very scary faces and various other ways to scare the barnyard animals away. As you might suspect, Mary succeeds in keeping the other animals out and ends up playing by herself and eating by herself and clucking by herself. Of course, she quickly realizes that being scary is SO LONELY. In the end, Mary decides she doesn’t like to be lonely and asks the other animals if she could play too. Wouldn’t you know it, they say YES!, because they already know that it is much more fun to do things together. While still being fun to read, this simple story manages to get an important message across about bullying.

Posted by: Mary

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1350. Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty?: David Levinthal & John Nickle

Book: Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty? (and Other Notorious Nursery Tale Mysteries)
Author: David Levinthal
Illustrator: John Nickle
Pages: 40
Age Range: 5 - 8

Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty? (and Other Notorious Nursery Tale Mysteries) is nursery rhyme noir. Frog-faced cop Binky investigates five crimes, ranging from a housebreak by a blond, pigtailed dame to a suspicious queen judging a beauty pageant. Not to mention, of course, the sad case of much-loved band member Humpty Dumpty, fallen to pieces but leaving surprisingly little yolk on the ground. 

As a long-time reader of adult mysteries, I love the hardboiled tone to this book. David Levinthal channeling Raymond Chandler. Like this:

"I'd heard that story before. It could only be one dame: Goldilocks! I nabbed her trying to make her getaway."


"I took him downtown for some questions. It wasn't long before he confessed. He knew his bacon was cooked."

The latter is particularly apt, as the suspect is actually a pig.

Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty? is text dense. That and the relatively mature content make this a picture book for slightly older readers. While it is perhaps not strictly necessary to know the original fairy tales on which Levinthal's versions are based, this context certainly makes the book funnier. And, of course, the average three-year-old may not be ready to read about attempted murder and the like (depends on how many Disney movies they've seen, I guess). 

John Nickle's illustrations add to the fun of Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty? He uses deep tones to add to the noir feel, but also adds plenty of humor. Officer Binky, as a frog, is appropriately small, which makes the image of him driving a police car, while barely reaching the steering wheel, inherently funny. At the end of the case of Hansel and Gretel, we see a smiling bear with utterly rotten teeth standing in front of a mostly demolished candy house. And so on. The pictures that show action from the past (someone's story) are rendered in sepia, clearly separating them from the main action. 

Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty? is certainly not for everyone. The whole concept, not to mention the noir details, is going to go completely over the head of younger kids. But for slightly older kids, and their parents, particularly those who enjoy mysteries, Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty? is a lot of fun. 

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade (@RandomHouseKids)
Publication Date: September 25, 2012
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2012 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you). 

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