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1. A Visit with Artist Keith Mallett


“And let’s say one day when you were a little older,
you sat right down at a black piano and you commenced to play …”


 

There’s a new picture book biography on shelves, Jonah Winter’s How Jelly Roll Morton Invented Jazz (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook Press, June 2015), illustrated by Keith Mallett (pictured right). The book opens in a tremendously inviting way:

Here’s what could’ve happened if you were born a way down south in New Orleans, in the Land of Dreams a long, long time ago.

Let’s say you had a godmother, and she put a spell on you because she was a voodoo queen. …

Voodoo queen? Hoo boy, my attention is piqued.

Author and illustrator go on to lay out the musician’s early life and rise to fame, as well as his contributions to jazz. They address the whole who-invented-jazz conundrum—“And, to tell the truth of it, maybe Mister Jelly Roll didn’t invent jazz, not exactly, ’cause it took a lot of cooks to make that stew … but he sure did spread it around the towns”—and in an informative closing author’s note [“How Jelly Roll Morton (Might Have) Invented Jazz”], Winter goes into more detail about this and what distinguished Morton from his fellow musicians. Robin Smith captured the book well in the Horn Book’s review: “Much like jazz itself, Winter has created a book filled with ebbs and flows, rhythm and rhyme, darkness and light, shadow and sunshine.”

This is Mallett’s first picture book, though he’s been an artist and designer for more than thirty years. His acrylic paintings in this bio, bustling with energy and filled with beguiling shadows, are rich and reverent. He’s visiting today with some art (sans text) and early sketches from the book — and to talk a bit about his work. He even shares a bit of other art (not from this biography). I thank him for visiting.

* * *

Keith: From the time that I first saw Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, I dreamed of illustrating a children’s book. But my career took me in a different direction. I became an artist working mainly in the fine art print industry. About ten years ago I was asked to illustrate a children’s book, but I realized the time it would take, so due to my busy schedule I had to decline.

Once I retired, I had plenty of time, so when Neal [Porter] reached out to me to illustrate Jonah Winter’s new book, I was thrilled.

 


“And let’s say that when you were a baby, your godmother brought you to an old saloon and set you down on top of the bar, which is not a place for a little baby. Let’s say that some trouble broke out, and she got arrested and thrown in jail,
and you got tossed in the can as well.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 

When I first read Jonah’s unconventional manuscript, I felt a little intimidated. The script was beautifully written, kind of like a jazz riff with some linear storytelling, some rhyming, and even a bit of stream-of-consciousness thrown in. Both Neal and Jennifer [the art director] pointed out that, because the story was so unusual, I would have a lot more freedom with my interpretation. So I dove in.


“And let’s say you just wouldn’t stop crying unless all the roughnecks sharing your cell commenced to singing—’cause music was the only thing that calmed you down.”


 


Early sketch
(Click to enlarge)


 

Doing the research for Jelly Roll was fun. I loved reading about early New Orleans and the dawn of the Jazz Age. The Library of Congress was a great resource for the architecture of New Orleans at the turn of the century; I also scoured the Internet in search of the clothing styles of the late 1800s. Jennifer helped me understand the importance of accuracy in interpreting details, even as small as the style of an early New Orleans police badge.

 



Early sketch and final art: “… and you learned to play so well that soon you were playing with grown-ups, sneaking out when the evening sun went down, playing in bars, surrounded by lowlifes and dangerous people and folks who loved to hear you play,
and making more dollars a night than you knew what to do with.”

(Click each to enlarge)


 

I chose to do the book using acrylic paints because of their fast drying time. They allow you to quickly do numerous glazes and easily build up texture. I also like printing aquatint etchings on my press.

I’d love to do another book. It was fun illustrating this one.

 


“… and only one thing, just one thing in the world, could make the crying stop: And this is why and this is how a thing called JAZZ got invented by a man named Jelly Roll Morton. Leastwise, that’s what I thought I heard Mister Jelly Roll say. Sing it …”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 



Early sketch and final art: “If you’d been Jelly Roll Morton you would’ve known that the only way to rise up and fly away was one piano at a time. One piano note at a time you’d show the folks in New Orleans who was the best. You’d show the folks in
New Orleans how it was done—jazz, that is.”

(Click sketch to enlarge)


 



 


Above: One of Keith’s aquatint etchings


 


Above: One of Keith’s open edition fine art prints


 



 

* * * * * * *

HOW JELLY ROLL MORTON INVENTED JAZZ. Copyright © 2015 by Jonah Winter. Illustrations © 2015 by Keith Mallett. Published by Neal Porter Books/Roaring Brook Press, New York. All images here reproduced by permission of Keith Mallett and the publisher.

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2. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #443: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Amanda Driscoll


“Together they battled sea monsters …
dodged icebergs …”

(Click to enlarge)


 

It’s the first Sunday of the month (welcome, August!), so I have a debut author-illustrator today. But she’s also local talent (local to 7-Imp Land, that is), and I always like to shine the spotlight when I can on local picture book-creators.

Amanda Driscoll’s first book, Duncan the Story Dragon (Knopf, June 2015), is the story of a dragon who loves to read. As you can probably guess, his problem is that, though his imagination catches fire when he reads, so do his books. Quite literally. All Duncan wants to do is finish a book. So many plots; so many questions. “I want to read those two wonderful words,” he says, “like the last sip of a chocolate milk shake … ‘The End.'” Eventually, Duncan finds a friend to read to him, but I won’t ruin the entire story for you.

Amanda is a graphic designer and artist and lives in Louisville, Kentucky. She’s here today to tell us more about herself, this debut picture book, and her work. I thank her for visiting.



 

On Duncan:

The Duncan story “spark” began long ago with my own love of reading. I remember as a child (and still today) being utterly transported by books. As a writer, I wanted to convey that feeling to kids. As an illustrator, I love visually interesting characters, and the image of a dragon lodged in my mind. Then one day, the two ideas merged and Duncan the fire-breathing, book-reading dragon was born. Once I had the character, the plot came easily. Sparks fly when you combine fire breath and flammable books!

 


Amanda: “A sketch of the original ‘early’ Duncan …”


 


Amanda: “The same page with the new Duncan character …”


 


Final spread: “After searching the entire countryside,
Duncan trudged back to this cottage.”

(Click to enlarge)


 

On the Illustrations:

I start with pencil sketches. First thumbnails, then larger, more detailed drawings. Once the sketch is finalized, I scan it and open it in Photoshop. I tweak it a bit, and then use the sketch as a background layer, applying color, texture, and line over top of it. I love working digitally, because corrections are so much easier. I have to admit, “undo” is a wonderful thing, and I use it liberally.

The process with Duncan was interesting, because the character changed a great deal (for the better) from my early sketches to the final dummy. Duncan began as a fairly traditional dragon, but transitioned into a more kid-friendly, child-like character. People often tell me they love his untied red high-top sneakers. So, of course, I wear red high-tops to my book signings. (Although I tie mine. I’m clumsy enough without untied shoes.)

 


Amanda: “A preliminary sketch for [a spread] …”


 


Amanda: “… then we decided a two-page spread would have more impact. …”


 

On Inspirations:

Story inspirations generally come from my children or from my own childhood. When I was a kid, if the sun was up, we were outside. Our imaginations transformed the world around us. I would love for my books to share some of that experience with today’s more electronically-connected generation. And although my kids are teenagers now, I frequently draw from the many memories of their younger years.

Regarding artists who inspire me, can I answer “everyone”? There are so many talented illustrators that it’s really difficult to narrow it down. I’m a big fan of Dan Santat and was thrilled Beekle won the Caldecott. It’s a beautiful book, and I love that he works digitally. I adore Patrice Barton’s expressive characters, texture, and line work. Marla Frazee’s talent is mind-boggling. I admire John Rocco, Jon Klassen, Loren Long, LeUyen Pham, Peter Brown, Peter Reynolds. … I could seriously go on for days.

 


“When Duncan read a book, the story came to life …”
(Click to enlarge)


 

On What’s Next:

I am currently illustrating my second book, Wally Does Not Want a Haircut, due out next summer from Knopf. It’s about a sheep who goes to great lengths to avoid his first shearing, which leads to some hair-raising situations. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) This story was directly inspired by my exploits with my own children’s haircuts, or lack thereof. The humor is wacky, but it still has the warmth and heart that I strive for in all my stories. It’s been wonderful working with the same editor and art director as I did with Duncan.

 


“Duncan tried everything to keep his cool.
Really. Truly.”


 


(Click to enlarge)


 

What Else?

I hope my stories have a positive message sent in a subtle manner. Kids are smart. They can spot a preachy story a mile away. But if you can teach them with subtlety and humor, there’s value in that. I’m a huge believer in kindness and compassion, and I hope my characters always convey those morals.

DUNCAN THE STORY DRAGON. Copyright © 2015 by Amanda Driscoll. Published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York. All images reproduced by permission of Amanda Driscoll.

* * *

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

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

It’s been a looooong week—you know those weeks, right?—so my kick right now is that I’m going to take a bubble bath with a good novel. (I’m finally reading this one, after many, many years of both my husband and best friend telling me I should.) And that’s kick enough to make up for seven.

What are YOUR kicks this week? Please do tell.

8 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #443: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Amanda Driscoll, last added: 8/3/2015
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3. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week, Plus What I DidLast Week, Featuring Marianne Dubuc and Olivier Tallec


“Who is in disguise?”
– From Olivier Tallec’s
Who Done It?
(Click to enlarge)


 


“Ambassadors from far and wide would also
travel long distances to pay tribute to him, king of the sheep.”
– From Olivier Tallec’s
Louis I: King of the Sheep
(Click to enlarge)


 


“It’s Monday, and Mr. Postmouse is starting his rounds. …”
– From Marianne Dubuc’s
Mr. Postmouse’s Rounds
(Click to enlarge)


 

Today over at Kirkus, I write about two new picture books about the 50th anniversary of the historic Voting Rights Acts of 1965. That link is here.

* * *

Today here at 7-Imp, I have some art from the three French imports I wrote about last week (here): Mr. Postmouse’s Rounds (Kids Can Press, August 2015), written and illustrated by Marianne Dubuc, as well as Louis I: King of the Sheep (Enchanted Lion, September 2015) and Who Done It? (Chronicle, October 2015), each written and illustrated by Olivier Tallec.

Enjoy the art. …



 

Art from Louis I, King of the Sheep:


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


“The first thing Louis I thought was that
to govern, a king should have a scepter.”

(Click to enlarge)


 


“Other than that, he would spend his time hunting,
chasing after deer, wild boards and, above all, lions.
But since there were no lions in his kingdom,
he would have them brought to him for his pleasure.”

(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge cover)


 

Art from Mr. Postmouse’s Rounds:


 


“… Then it’s time for lunch. Mr. Postmouse stops at his friend
Mr. Dragon’s for some barbecue.”

(Click to enlarge)


 


“Mr. Postmouse lets nothing stand in the way of his deliveries.”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“… At the Penguins’ place, it’s winter all year long. Brrrrr!”


(Click to enlarge)

 



 

Art from Who Done It?:


 


“Who played with that mean cat?”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“Who ate all the jam?”
(Click to enlarge)


 



 

* * * * * * *

LOUIS I, KING OF THE SHEEP. First American edition published in 2015 by Enchanted Lion Books, Brooklyn. Translated from the French by Claudia Zoe Bedrick. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher.

MR. POSTMOUSE’S ROUNDS. English translation © 2015 Kids Can Press. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Kids Can Press, Toronto.

WHO DONE IT? Copyright © 2014 by Actes Sud, Paris. First published in the United States of America in 2015 by Chronicle Books, San Francisco. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher.

2 Comments on What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week, Plus What I DidLast Week, Featuring Marianne Dubuc and Olivier Tallec, last added: 8/1/2015
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4. The Return of Dory


Final art:
“That night my brain keeps waking me up with so many questions.”


 


Above: Early sketch


 

Today, author-illustrator Abby Hanlon shares some final art and early sketches from Dory and the Real True Friend (Dial, July 2015), which she and I talked about last week here at Kirkus.

Enjoy the art. …



 

Some Final Art:


 


“… tomorrow is the first day of school!
I tell Mary the big news
while we are playing our favorite game, exercise club.”


 


“There is somebody at my table who is stuck in a shirt.”


 


“I played school with all the monsters today. I was the teacher!”


 


“Without Mr. Nuggy, I’m on my own. And now Mary is so jealous of Rosabelle,
she is having a fit.”

(Click to enlarge)


 


“The next morning, I wake up early
because I need time to put on my outfit.”

(Click to enlarge)


 


“During circle time, I have to wait forever and forever for my turn to speak.
Everyone in this class has something to say!
(Click to enlarge)


 


“At lunch I can barely talk to Rosabelle
because George won’t stop talking about the hamster game.”

(Click to enlarge)


 


“‘Is she real in the same way Mary is real?’ asks Violet.”


 


“‘I will free Mr. Nuggy if you can get me what I want.’
‘Yes, anything,’ I say.”


 


“Along the way, many animals stop to greet us.”


 


“I clear a path through the forest by chopping down
little trees and branches with Rosabelle’s sword.”

(Click to enlarge)


 


“But with one ninja slash from me, and a squirt of lemon juice in the eye
from Rosabelle, Mrs. Gobble Gracker is blinded and her cape catches on fire.”

(Click to enlarge)


 


“… And lose.”


 

Some Early Sketches:


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 



 

* * * * * * *

DORY AND THE REAL TRUE FRIEND. Copyright © 2015 by Abby Hanlon. Published by Dial Books for Young Readers, New York. All images here reproduced by permission of Abby Hanlon.

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5. A Lisbeth-Zwerger Moment


“Every afternoon, as they were coming from school,
the children used to go and play in the Giant’s garden.
It was a large lovely garden, with soft green grass. …”


 

Because Lisbeth Zwerger has always been one of my favorite illustrators, including one of the artists who made me want to study children’s literature, and because seeing her artwork improves the very quality of my day (and yours, I hope), I have a bit of art today from Oscar Wilde’s The Selfish Giant, as illustrated by Zwerger.

Zwerger originally illustrated this story back in 1984, but Minedition has released a new edition (April of this year). In fact, it’s called a “mini-Minedition,” because the book has a tiny trim size.

“The Selfish Giant” is Oscar Wilde’s classic short story, first published in 1888 in Wilde’s own collection of original fairy tales, The Happy Prince and Other Tales. The story itself is a heavily didactic Christian allegory, all about a giant whose garden is visited by neighboring children, while the giant is away. The children play in the garden, unbeknownst to the stingy man (depicted as a very tall man in Zwerger’s version), and when he discovers them, he shoos them away — only to discover afterwards that his garden is dying. It’s a curious little fairy tale, and now I can’t help but think of Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming every time I read it. In her memoir, Woodson she writes about the impact this story made on her as a girl:

The first time my teacher reads the story to the class
I cry all afternoon, and am still crying
when my mother gets home from work that evening. …

(I hope that quote is accurate, as I loaned my copy of the book to a dear friend, but I am fairly certain, thanks to the internet, that the above is correct.)

Zwerger’s illustrations are restrained and lyrical and, as always, graceful. Here are a few more.


“The only people who were pleased were the Snow and the Frost. ‘Spring has forgotten this garden,’ they cried,’ so we will live here all the year round.’ The Snow covered up the grass with her great white cloak, and the Frost painted all the tree silver.
Then they invited the North Wind to stay with them, and he came. …”


 


“And when the people were going to market at twelve o’clock they found the Giant playing with the children in the most beautiful garden they had ever seen. …”


 


“And the child smiled on the Giant, and said to him, ‘You let me play once in your garden, today you shall come with me to my garden, which is Paradise.’
And when the children ran in that afternoon, they found the Giant lying dead
under the tree, all covered with white blossoms.”


 



 

* * * * * * *

THE SELFISH GIANT. Illustrations copyright © 1984 by Lisbeth Zwerger. English edition published 2015 by Michael Neugebauer Publishing Ltd., Hong Kong. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher.

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6. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #442: Featuring Beatrice Alemagna


“This morning I heard my sister says these words:
‘birthday—Mommy—fuzzy—little—squishy.’
‘Oh, no!’ I thought. ‘She’s going to give Mom the most amazing present!’
I had to do something too. But what?”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 

Today I’ve got some illustrations from Beatrice Alemagna’s The Wonderful Fluffy Little Squishy. Originally published in France last year, it’s coming to American shelves in September from Enchanted Lion Books.

Look closely on the title page spread, and you’ll see a quote from Fifi Brindacier (a.k.a. Pippi Longstocking, as she’s known in France):

It’s best for young children to live an orderly life. Especially if they order it themselves.

I love this, and it’s the perfect fit for this story, in which a five-and-a-half-year-old girl named Edith (but her friends call her Eddie) sets out to find a fuzzy little squishy.



 


(Click to enlarge cover)


 

Eddie has overheard her sister talking about their mother’s birthday, while using the words “fuzzy—little—squishy.” Not to be outdone, Eddie heads out to find a spectacular present. She asks the baker for help — and then she heads to the florist, Mimi’s clothing shop, the antique dealer, and the butcher shop. After all, each of these friends (even the very grouchy butcher) has fluffy and/or little and/or squishy items in their shops. Just when she’s about to give up, she sees it — “an adorable little creature! … A true FLUFFY LITTLE SQUISHY, at last!” She’s found the present for her mother, and as it turns out, a fluffy little squishy has “a thousand uses.” (Anyone other librarians thinking how great it would be to pair this book with Charlotte Zolotow’s Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present, illustrated by Sendak?)

There’s a lot to like here, including Alemagna’s vivid mixed-media illustrations (or what appear to be mixed-media to me), as well as the cast of characters in Eddie’s community that she visits on her quest. Eddie leaps off the page in her neon pink jacket, and she brims with character. Best of all, she manages to find precisely what she’s looking for—rather, she manages to create just the gift she wants—-and this is especially triumphant, given that she says on the book’s first spread, “I don’t know how to do anything.” This is one girl’s journey of self-discovery — and along the way she picks up a bit of self-confidence to boot.

Here are some more of the colorful illustrations to pore over. …





 


“So off I ran to Mr. John the baker.
With all of his wonderful squishy things, he had to be able to help me.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“I went to every shop in the neighborhood, but nobody knew anything.
In the center of town was Theo’s butcher shop. The big grump was my last hope.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 




 

THE WONDERFUL FLUFFY LITTLE SQUISHY. Copyright © 2015 by Enchanted Lion for the English-language translation. Illustrations reproduced by permission Enchanted Lion, Brooklyn.

* * *

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

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) Picture book imports like this one.

2) Invitations.

3) A bit of home decluttering that really needed to happen.

4) New tracks from Laura Marling.

5) I got a late start to the show Veep, but my God, it’s funny.

6) A crisis averted and …

7) … the kindness of strangers.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #442: Featuring Beatrice Alemagna, last added: 7/26/2015
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7. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Julie Morstad


“…Finally, she steps onto the stage alone … and sprouts white wings, a swan.
She weaves the notes, the very air into a story. All those sitting see.
They stare—Anna is a bird in flight, a whim of wind and water.
Quiet feathers in a big loud world. Anna
is the swan.”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 

This morning over at Kirkus, I’ve got some French picture book imports. That link will be here soon.

* * *

Last week, I wrote here about Laurel Snyder’s Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova, illustrated by Julie Morstad (Chronicle), coming to shelves in August 2015. Today, I’ve got some spreads from it.

Enjoy.



“…The story unfolds. A sleeping beauty opens her eyes…”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“…and so does Anna. Her feet wake up!
Her skin prickles. There is a song, suddenly, inside her.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 


(Click to enlarge cover)


 

* * * * * * *

SWAN: THE LIFE AND DANCE OF ANNA PAVLOVA. Copyright © 2015 by Laurel Snyder. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Julie Morstad. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco.

1 Comments on What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Julie Morstad, last added: 7/24/2015
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8. Abby and the Really Truly Good Book

I pick up my kids every day from the school bus at 2:45, so within an already tight production schedule, I have a limited time each day to work. But that also means I have limited time to worry. When I’m working, I focus on making the best book possible for myself, my kids, and my editor. Beyond that, I don’t allow myself to think too much about how the book is going to be received, because those thoughts are so counter-productive to creative work.”

* * *

Over at Kirkus today, I talk to author-illustrator Abby Hanlon, pictured here, about her newest book, Dory and the Real True Friend (Dial, July 2015), which sees the return of one of my favorite characters. (Dory, of course.) That link will be here soon.

Last October (here), Abby and I talked about the first book, Dory Fantasmagory. It’s an art-filled post, my favorite kind of post.

Both of these books are the kind of funny that makes your sides hurt from all the laughing.

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

Until tomorrow …

* * * * * * *

Photo of Abby taken by Sophie Elbrick and used by her permission.

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9. “Rondo Concerns Everyone”: A Guest Post by Oksana Lushchevska



 

Back in March of this year (here), Oksana Lushchevska, a PhD student in Reading, Writing, Children’s Literature, and Digital Literacy in the Department of Language and Literacy Education at The University of Georgia, visited 7-Imp to contribute a guest post on contemporary Ukrainian children’s literature. She’s back again today to talk about a recent winner at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair.

Romana Romanyshyn’s and Andriy Lesiv’s The War that Changed Rondo was given a Special Mention in the category of New Horizons. She’s here to tell us about the book, share some thoughts from the creators, and share some art from it as well. I thank her for her contribution!

* * *

Oksana (pictured left): In this post, I would like to feature The War that Changed Rondo (2015), a picturebook created by Romana Romanyshyn and Andriy Lesiv and published by the Old Lion Publishing House, Ukraine. This picturebook was listed in a section of “Special Mentions” of the Bologna New Horizons Award, 2015. Since it was originally published in Ukraine and successfully reached the global community at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in March, the picturebook also immediately crossed geographical borders right after the Fair. The War that Changed Rondo will soon be published in Slovakia by OZ BRAK Publishing House. It is my hope that this picturebook will be translated into many languages and will be added to the international body of picturebooks that stimulate fruitful dialogues about our world-mindedness, global awareness, and global interconnectedness.

 


(Click to enlarge)


 

The War that Changed Rondo addresses the complex and devastating issues of war. It represents both a valuable artistic creation and a response to the current events in Ukraine. It narrates a story of three friends—Danko, Star, and Fabian—who live peacefully in the small town of Rondo. They have their work and hobbies that always keep them busy — until the war comes. The three friends have never experienced war before, so they are unsure how to act. In the hopes of stopping the war, they talk to it and fight it, but it’s all in vain. Ultimately, they discover an effective deterrent against the darkness of war — the power of light. With the help of all the residents of Rondo, Danko, Star, and Fabian build a huge light machine that disperses the darkness and stops the war:

“So, to stop the War, it was necessary to build a huge machine of Light that would destroy the darkness and save the singing flowers!

The three friends immediately began to work. Other residents started coming to help them and soon the whole central square looked like a busy anthill. Everyone united for the common cause and did something they were best at. The town worked like well-tuned clockwork.”

[The above excerpt was translated by Oksana Lushchevska and edited by Oksana Lutsyshyna and Michelle Falter.]

 



(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


 

Literacy educators and literary scholars agree that it is tough to read about and discuss the topic of war with children (Crawford & Roberts, 2009; Kidd, 2005). Therefore, during tragic times, books often become a conduit for communication. Picturebooks offer a possibility for focusing on sophisticated and sensitive messages through their verbal and visual texts. These two narratives capture the complexities with more nuances and allow educators, adult mediators, and children to develop both coping skills and visual literacy (Crawford & Roberts, 2009). Consequently, the books of high literary quality are in high demand.

 


(Click to enlarge)


 

While readers need to find a starting point for their discussion of the books, authors and illustrators also need to find a so-called departure point for creating the book. This process is challenging and often involves multiple considerations and reconsiderations, especially while working on the books that offer deep and wide glimpses of turmoil and horrific events. To learn more about challenges on the way to creating The War that Changed Rondo, I asked the authors of the book to share some steps from their process and share what this particular picturebook means to them:

“One of the most difficult aspects was to create the appearance of the main characters. We definitely did not want them to look like humans – it is hard to choose some particular look, since today there are so many real, not mythical, heroes who live beside us and fight for us. Thus, we decided to make our characters creatures comprised of fragile materials, which highlighted the vulnerability of those touched by war in visual images.

The award at the Bologna Children’s Book fair for two years acts as a signal for us that we are moving in the right direction. Among other things, such awards provide a lot of new contacts and create new opportunities for the book to be published in other countries and languages. In part due to such events as Bologna Children’s Book Fair, the Ukrainian children’s book may create its own ‘continent’ on the literary map of the world. There is the need for consistent participation and initiative, though.”

— Romana Romanyshyn & Andriy Lesiv


 


(Click to enlarge)


 

Additionally, I learned that Romanyshyn and Lesiv often meet with kids in Ukraine to talk about The War that Changed Rondo, so I asked them to share some of their observations about children’s responses:

“To be honest, we are pleasantly surprised by the sincere and positive reaction of children on our book. The children warmly accept the main characters, empathize [with] them, understanding that Rondo is a kind of prototype of their own towns as well. We are receiving a lot of letters and drawings from children all over Ukraine, even from the children living in front-line towns. We know of many touching stories of children reading our book. Recently, a father in one of our friend’s families was mobilized into Armed Forces and his little son explained it to himself that ‘Rondo concerns everyone …’”

— Romana Romanyshyn & Andriy Lesiv


 


(Click to enlarge)


 

In summary, The War that Changed Rondo not only heightens readers’ awareness about Ukraine and the Ukrainians, but it provides a strong basis for setting up a dialogue between readers about the devastating consequences of war in general. The questions that this picturebook might help to raise are: How do people live during times of war? What do their daily routines look like? What are the major consequences of war for people? What are their inner and outer wounds? The War that Changed Rondo reflects the ambiguity of war and is definitely a tribute to peace. It is a masterfully crafted international picturebook that might significantly widen the horizons and potentially influence reading communities of many geographical areas, and I am hopeful that it will.

 



 

References

  • Crawford, P.A. & Roberts, S.K. (2009). Ain’t gonna study war no more? Explorations of war through picture books. Childhood Education, 85(6), 370-374.
  • Kidd, K. (2005). “A” is for Auschwitz: Psychoanalysis, trauma theory, and the “children’s literature of atrocity.” Children‘s Literature, 33,120-149.

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10. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #441: Featuring Cece Bell

Good morning, fellow imps. I’m highlighting a bit of artwork today from award-winning author-illustrator Cece Bell’s newest picture book, I Yam a Donkey!, published by Clarion Books in June.

There are several things I like about this book (whose story starts on the title page itself)—its humor, its memorable two main characters, its irreverence—but my favorite thing is that it is inherently subversive, if you consider the existence of prescriptive linguistics, which is concerned about the rules governing what people should or shouldn’t say (rather, how they say it). Descriptive linguistics is concerned with how language is used, instead of telling people how to use language properly.

Prescriptive linguists would shake their fist at this entertaining story, complete with a tongue-in-cheek moral, and that is part of its beauty. Or, as the Publishers Weekly review notes, “pedants who can’t adapt will be left in the dust.” And that’s because it’s all about a donkey who has a particular way of talking, though the stubborn and opinionated grammarian yam he meets keeps telling him he’s talking incorrectly. Or, as the vegetables watching it all go down (well, most of it) put it, it’s a “big fight about grammar.” The ending is delicious in more ways than one, but I’ll let you discover that for yourself.

I was just about to tell you all about Cece’s art for the book, rendered in china marker and acrylics, but you can see for yourself below.

p.s. Here’s my 2008 breakfast interview with Cece. (Was it really seven years ago?)

 



 


(Click to enlarge)


 



(Click second image to see spread in its entirety)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 

I YAM A DONKEY! Copyright © 2015 by Cece Bell. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston.

* * *

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

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) I spoke this past week in Knoxville about the best children’s books of the year (well, the best books from last Fall and this Spring) at an event I participate in yearly, and it was (as always) good fun. I always enjoy hearing my colleagues speak as well.

2) My daughters went with me, and we made a little trip out of it.

3) They don’t often get to see me work, so I hope they enjoyed hearing me talk about picture books (though they mostly sat in the back and read).

4) I got to catch up with friends, while in Knoxville and Maryville.

5) The new issue of the Horn Book.

6) Story time.

7) It’s good to be home.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

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11. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week

Over at Kirkus today, I write about this new picture book biography from Laurel Snyder and illustrated by Julie Morstad.

That link will be here soon. I’ll have some spreads from it here at 7-Imp next week.

Until Sunday …

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12. A Moment with the Art of Ted & Betsy Lewin


“We saw magnificent Masai warriors, called Marons,
and women mantled in beautiful beadwork.”

(Click to enlarge)


 

Last week at Kirkus, I chatted with Betsy and Ted Lewin about their new book, How to Babysit a Leopard: And Other True Stories from Our Travels Across Six Continents (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook, June 2015). That Q&A is here.

Today, I follow up with a bit of artwork from the book.

Enjoy.



 


“At last we stopped for lunch at a small hotel above Kasese. Sitting at a table on an open patio, and still keeping a wary eye on the mountains, we heard the screech of brakes, slamming car doors, and gruff, muffled voices. We jumped up and ran to the steps where I nearly collided with a soldier the size of a refrigerator in camouflage, a green beret, and green jungle boots. He glared at me, stone-faced. …”
–Ted and Betsy in Kasanai, Uganda, December 1997


 


“She was as sleek and graceful as a ballerina as she tiptoed along the branch of a huge jackalberry tree. Then she lay down, back legs straddling the branch.
She peeked demurely at us through the leaves. …”
–Ted and Betsy in Xakanaxa Camp, Okavango Delta, Botswana, May 2007

(Click to enlarge)


 


South America
(Click to enlarge)


 



 

* * * * * * *

HOW TO BABYSIT A LEOPARD: AND OTHER TRUE STORIES FROM OUR TRAVELS ACROSS SIX CONTINENTS. Copyright © 2014 by Ted and Betsy Lewin. Illustrations used by permission of the publisher, Neal Porter Books/Roaring Brook Press, New York.

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13. Some I Likes Before Breakfast


“Ask me some more I likes.
How about some more
I likes?
I like the color red. I like red everything.”

(Click to enlarge)



 

Here’s a quick post to share a bit of artwork from Suzy Lee. On shelves now is a new picture book from Bernard Waber (published posthumously), called Ask Me (Houghton Mifflin, July 2015), and Suzy has provided the beautiful colored pencil illustrations.

In this book, a father and his daughter walk through a neighborhood, discussing what they see and what they like the best. “Ask me what I like,” says the girl. “Ask me what else I like,” she says later. “Ask me some more I likes,” she insists further. The girl talks about mostly the natural world—the colors she loves and the best things about being outside (birds and their nests, splishing in the rain, dragonflies, and much more), but she makes sure to include things like ice cream cones, words (she particularly likes “rain words”), and next Thursday. Next Thursday, you see, is her birthday. Her father tells her he’d never forget her birthday — “not even in a billion years.”

 


“And I like beetles, and bumblebees, and dragonflies. And I like flowers. No, I love flowers. Bees love flowers too. Right? Right. And bees make honey. Right? Right.”
(Click to enlarge)



 

The text is this back-and-forth dialogue—the father’s words in a light purple font, and the girl’s in a black one, though it is sometimes challenging to discern the differences in font color—and Lee’s illustrations are relaxed and warm and colorful. (These are predominantly autumn colors; it’s interesting it’s seeing a summer release. After all, the girl likes “the color red. I like red everything.”) The girl’s world is one of love and reassurance; her day ends in her bed, her father kissing her goodnight:

Wait. Ask me something else.

What?

Ask me if I want another good night kiss.

Would you like another good night kiss?

Yes, I would like another good night kiss.

Good night.

Good night.

It’s a vibrantly-illustrated story about the father-daughter bond. Lovely.

 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge cover)


 

* * * * * * *

ASK ME. Copyright © 2015 by Bernard Waber. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Suzy Lee. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher.

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14. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #440: Featuring Mordicai Gerstein



 

I’ve got a review over at BookPage of Mordicai Gerstein’s newest picture book, The Night World (Little, Brown, June 2015). That is here if you want to read all about the book.

I’ve got some art today here at 7-Imp from the book, and Mordicai also sent some early roughs from the book. “As you will see,” he tells me, “the ruffs are very close to the final art.”

They roughs are, indeed, similar to the final art, but if you’re an illustration fan like me, you love to see these kinds of comparisons, so I’m going to post Mordicai’s roughs and follow each one with the final art as seen in the book.

I thank him for sharing.



 


Rough
(Click to enlarge)


 


Final art: “‘Meow?’
‘It’s too late to go out, Sylvie … or it is too early?'”

(Click to enlarge)


 


Rough
(Click to enlarge)


 


Final art: “Everyone is sleeping, even the goldfish.
Everyone except for Sylvie and me.”

(Click to enlarge)


 


Rough
(Click to enlarge)


 


Final art: “That shadow is a deer. Is this one a rabbit?
A porcupine looks up and whispers, ‘It’s almost here.’
‘It’s coming,’ murmur all the animals. ‘It’s almost here!'”

(Click to enlarge)


 


Rough
(Click to enlarge)


 


Final art: “Here and there, shadows start to slip away.
‘Where’s everybody going?’ I ask.
‘This is our bedtime,’ says the porcupine. ‘Sweet dreams!’ say I.
The glow flares above the trees. Clouds turn pink and orange.”

(Click to enlarge)


 


Rough
(Click to enlarge)


 


Final art: “The grass turns green. The roses turn pink and red.
The lilies and sunflowers turn yellow. ‘It’s here!’ says Sylvie.”

(Click to enlarge)


 


Rough
(Click to enlarge)


 


Final art: “And the great, glowing golden disk of the sun
bursts from the tops of the trees.
‘Good morning, sun,’ says Sylvie. ‘Good morning!’ sing all the birds.
‘It’s going to be a beautiful day!’ I sing, too. ‘Good morning, sun!'”

(Click to enlarge)


 


Author’s Note


 



 

THE NIGHT WORLD. Copyright © 2015 by Mordicai Gerstein. Published by Little, Brown and Company, New York. All roughs and final art reproduced by permission Mordicai Gerstein.

* * *

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

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

Forgive me as I forgo seven, separate kicks (band name — I call it!), but the girls and I are reading a galley of this …

… and I’m really curious to know how it ends, so my kicks are this book and that I’m going to go read some more with them. (We’re close to being done!)

How about you all? What are YOUR kicks this week?

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15. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week,Featuring Kate Beaton, Lisa Brown, & Anita Lobel


“In a kingdom of warriors, the smallest warrior was Princess Pinecone.
And she was very excited for her birthday.”
– From Kate Beaton’s
The Princess and the Pony


 


“One golden morning, 26 playful pigs woke up. ‘What a day,’ they oinked as one.
‘A fine day to go exploring!'”
– From Anita Lobel’s
Playful Pigs from A to Z


 


“For she was the girl-queen, Hat-shup-set!
And he’d been her
hero, not just her pet!
The
boldest cat ancient Egypt had seen—
the number-one cat: the cat of the
queen!”
– From Marcus Ewert’s Mummy Cat, illustrated by Lisa Brown


 

Today over at Kirkus, I’ve got a little something different, and it has to do with reading and how readers respond to books. That link is here.

* * *

Last week, I wrote here about Marcus Ewert’s Mummy Cat (Clarion, July 2015), illustrated by Lisa Brown; Anita Lobel’s Playful Pigs from A to Z (Knopf, July 2015); and Kate Beaton’s The Princess and the Pony (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, June 2015). I’ve got art from each book today, and Lisa Brown also shares some preliminary images (dummies, sketches, etc.).

Enjoy!



 

From Kate Beaton’s
The Princess and the Pony:


 


“Most warriors get fantastic birthday presents. Shields, amulets, helmets with horns on them. Things to do battles with. Things that make them feel like champions. Princess Pinecone got a lot of cozy sweaters. Warriors do not need cozy sweaters.”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“Now, as it happens, a great battle was coming up,
and battling is a warrior’s favorite thing to do.”

(Click to enlarge)


 


“‘You’re right,’ said Otto.
‘But we warriors don’t often get to show our cuddly sides.'”


 


Final endpapers
(Click to enlarge)


 



 

From Anita Lobel’s
Playful Pigs from A to Z:


 


“Clara Pig cleaned a C.”
[Note: Final art says “cleaned,” not “cleansed.”]
(Click to enlarge)


 


“Philip Pig pushed a P”
(Click to enlarge)


 



 

From Marcus Ewert’s Mummy Cat,
illustrated by Lisa Brown:


 


Manuscript
(Click to enlarge)


 


Dummy
(Click to enlarge)


 



Thumbnails
(Click to enlarge and see in its entirety)


 



 


(Click to enlarge)


 


“A CAT who moves without a breath:
a
mummy cat, who’s passed through Death.”
(Click to enlarge)


 



 


“But the very next picture makes Mummy Cat wail:
the queen struck down by a SCORPION’S TAIL!
Mummy Cat knows he’s not to blame —
but he couldn’t save her, all the same. …”

(Click to enlarge)


 


“And through that door, there is a room—
the very center of the tomb.
A chamber stuffed with lovely things:
a crown, a throne, four golden rings,
mirrors, dolls, and makeup kits …
Nothing that matters the slightest bit.”

(Click to enlarge)


 


“Will tonight be the night that she comes back?
Will the coffin open, even a crack?
He’ll wait, he’ll wait, till his friend reappears:
the queen of his heart …”

(Click to enlarge)


 


“Each of the following sets of hieroglyphs occurs within the pages of Mummy Cat.
Can you find them all?”

(Click to enlarge)


 



 

* * * * * * *

MUMMY CAT. Copyright © 2015 by Marcus Ewert. Illustrations © 2015 by Lisa Brown. Published by Clarion Books, Boston. Images reproduced by permission of Lisa Brown.

PLAYFUL PIGS FROM A TO Z. Copyright © 2015 by Anita Lobel. Published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York. Images reproduced by permission of the publisher.

Illustrations from The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton. Illustrations copyright 2015 by Kate Beaton. Used with permission from Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic.

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16. Globe-Hopping with the Lewins

As children we were both fascinated by a book called I Married Adventure by Osa Johnson. It’s about her and her husband Martin’s travels to wild places around the world. We both aspired to their kind of life, and our childhood dreams came true. Our book is the culmination of all our travels. … We wanted to make this a true representation of what it felt like to be in these places. It would be less than honest if we made all our adventures look like a piece of cake.”

* * *

Over at Kirkus today, I talk to Betsy and Ted Lewin, pictured here, about their new book, How to Babysit a Leopard: And Other True Stories from Our Travel Across Six Continents (Neal Porter Books/Roaring Brook, June 2015). That link will be here soon.

Next week, I’ll have a few of the watercolors from the book.

Until tomorrow …

* * * * * * *

Photo of the Lewins used by their permission.

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17. Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Michael Emberley



 

Well, dear readers, it’s been a while since I’ve done a breakfast interview. Since I’ve been teaching this summer, it takes me longer to get to these more time-intensive Q&As. My visitor today, illustrator Michael Emberley, deserves an award (or a free breakfast perhaps) for his patience with me. We started talking last year about doing this interview.

And I’m really glad we got around to it. I enjoy seeing his illustration work, and I really enjoyed chatting with him and hearing his responses to these questions. Emberley, the son of legendary illustrator Ed Emberley, has been illustrating since 1979. He was born and raised in Massachusetts but now makes his home in Ireland, near Dublin. (I highly recommend taking time to read this page of his site, where he talks about why he started illustrating and why he decided to stick with it: “I began illustrating because I needed money, but now I truly appreciate what I do. I can keep myself from being bored by doing a variety of book projects and using different techniques. This is more difficult than mastering one style but it is the only way for me.”)

His work has been described as “an unassuming wonder” and “a playful masterclass in using the page.” His vivid characters leap off the page, and his loose-line watercolors communicate a spontaneity and energy that is infectious. His artwork also communicates the great warmth of family and friends; pictured at the top of this post is but one example of this, an illustration from 2008’s Mail Harry to the Moon, written by Robie Harris. And Emberley’s never been one to let gender stereotypes get in the way of his boy and girl protagonists; he had that covered well before it became PC to let such a thing happen.

When I asked him about breakfast, I got a hearty response:

Hey! My favorite meal of the day! Okay. If writing early morning, good coffee and pastry in a café. If heading off cycling, add granola yoghurt and fruit or a ‘fry,’ if I need something extra. (A “fry” here in Ireland means [vegetarians, read no further]: sausage, rashers (thick bacon), eggs, black and white pudding (blood sausage), grilled tomato (pronounced toe-mah-toe), and a farl (potatoe pancake) if you’re up north. All on the same plate.)

A fry it is then. (Hey! If I don’t like it, well … it’s only a pretend cyber-breakfast.) And lots of coffee, of course.

Oh, and guess what? Michael shares below something he’s been thinking about doing for a while — a complete, single-scrolling image of all the sketches for one book. They are from Barbara Bottner’s Miss Brooks’ Story Nook, published last year. “I didn’t dare count them,” he told me. “Hundreds. It’s never been on any of my blogs or Facebook.” That is at the very bottom of this post.

I thank him for visiting 7-Imp.

* * * * * * *

Jules: Are you an illustrator or author/illustrator?

Michael: Definitely both. I’m an illustrator first, but I’m trying to get better at writing more “books without pictures.” But even when writing a novel, my mind is full of images — a theatre with sets and scenes, costumes and colored lights, players and performances. As I draw a picture book character, I hear them speaking. As I write about a middle grade character, I see their eyes. They’re real to me.

Pictured below: Sketch pages of different early ideas for Miss Brooks’ Story Nook (Knopf, 2014). See even more sketches in this 2014 7-Imp post.

 





Pictured below: More sketches for Miss Brooks’ Story Nook, followed by a piece of final art. These were Michael’s “wish for a gruesome end to Billy by a Missy-conjured snake. None were accepted for final art. Notice even the final composition in the scene of the snake confronting Billy. I played around with different morphs of Missy into her imaginary snake. My idea of her turning into her creation can be seen in the sequential scene in the final book art where a close-up of her face/eyes is clearly becoming reptile, and then the snake becomes more a morph of her scarf (look at the color stripes and tail), but my original idea—using a half-Missy, half-snake head, though a more logical extension of the “snake eyes” sequence—was ultimately rejected. It’s all subjective in fantasy.”





” … which is exasperating boys like YOU.”
(Click to enlarge)


 

Pictured below: “Development of another hard-to-visualize concept of Billy being a yoke on Missy’s neck. Some things come out first draft with very little change in final art.”

 



Pictured below: An unused concept for the neighbor’s basement:

 



 

Pictured below: Lion sketches:

 



 

Pictured below: Ideas for Missy in her raincoat. Not used. “Note the skull pattern, expressing her less than stereotypical ‘girlie’ nature.”

 




 

Pictured below: Some final art from the book:

 



(Click second image to see spread in its entirety)


 



(Click second image to see spread in its entirety)


 



(Click second image to see spread in its entirety)


 

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

Michael: Yikes. Lots. I could list them, but it’s not nearly as impressive a list compared to what others have done. You can look at my website.

Unfortunately, I like to live life rather than spend it all in the studio. This will ultimately limit the number of books I finish, I guess. You can only do so much. I try not to be too hard on myself, but I usually feel I’m not working hard enough. The question is: What do I want to do with the finite time I’ve got?

 






 

Jules: What is your usual medium?

Michael: Line, as I said, first and foremost. Preferably pencil. Sometimes pen. Occasionally brush and ink. [As for] color: Mostly liquid watercolor, but also dry pastel. If I could get away with just a pencil, I’d be happy. I’m experimenting with using digital color.

 





(Click each to enlarge)


 

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

Michael: I’ve illustrated for young and old. Fiction and non-fiction. I love all ages. I wish I could draw for everyone. I do as much drawing making cards and notes for adults as I do for kids. I do a comic strip for my local coffee shop. It’s fun seeing people smile. I rarely get that from the book industry. I work so remotely from that whole world.

 


(Click to enlarge)


 

Jules: Where are your stompin’ grounds?

Michael I’ve lived on the east coast and west coast of the USA (Boston, Oakland, San Diego) but now live in a small village on the east coast of Ireland, near the Irish Sea. We’re just south of Dublin, so we’re in the city a lot, too. It’s a beautiful spot for cycling (my other life) and close to trains and an airport shuttle. It’s getting too pricey, though, so my lovely Irish wife Mel and I may be forced to move soon. An artist is always being chased away by gentrification. My life has been pretty nomadic — at least 20 pillows so far.

 






(Click each to enlarge)


 

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

Michael: Short story: My father was/is in the biz (Ed Emberley). He worked at home. I did odd stuff for him when I still lived there. A series of sketches I did for a drawing book he was working on was a failure, because it looked less like his work than he wanted, but instead of throwing it out, he suggested I take it away and make it into a stand-alone book for myself. Clever way of getting me to pay my way I took it in to my father’s editor, the kindly John Keller, and he said, “Let’s go!” I was 19 and never looked back. [That was] Dinosaurs! A Drawing Book, 1979.

 



 

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

Michael: http://www.michaelemberley.com/.

 



(Click each to enlarge)


 

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

Dan: They’re less about me and all about the prep that the school, teachers, librarians, and parents put into the visit. The more they put in, the better the kids are prepared, and the better it goes for everyone. I’m pretty good with the kids. I’m a kid myself. I can be very silly. I draw a lot. Most people like that.

But if they have no idea who you are or why you’re there, it’s like climbing Everest. Everyone loses. I should do more visits. But no one knows me here in Ireland. Very few of my books are sold here. My publishers claim the Irish don’t want my books. What can you do? I enjoyed visiting a tiny school in Co. Mayo recently. I got them rapping with me to one “You Read to Me” book. They’re so funny.

One thing I can say is I stopped prepping for specific audiences long ago, because I was blind-sided so many times with either a completely different age group or topic than I was told. Or it’s teens and five-year0olds in the same room. You have to think on your feet and read the vibe going on. I’ve done some seriously bad talks — and great ones. Worst was an ALA author breakfast years ago. I bombed. Best was my last U.S. gig – in Rhode Island, I think. The kids were great and, therefore, so was I. We all won.

 






Illustrations from Barbara Bottner’s Miss Brooks Loves Books!
(and I don’t)
(Knopf, 2010)


 

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

Michael: Oh boy. Tons of stuff. I’ve taken time out this past year, making a big lunge back towards writing after mainly illustrating for several years. I’m writing for all ages. I have stuff for YA down to picture books. I have at least 15 manuscripts on the go. Yikes! I know: Focus on one, right? I’m working on that. But I’m too excited. I have so many books I want to do.

And I love all my new characters! Does that sound silly? I sincerely hope I can learn to write well enough so others will “meet” them and enjoy their company as much as I do. That sounds trite, but who cares? It’s true.

 






Michael: “These are Mom sketches from a book I’m doing now. These were nixed for publication. Only the [Mom at the doorframe] is in the current dummy.”


 

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

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

Michael

: Lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of sketching. I seem to do more and more as years go by. Loads of it done in coffee shops. I’ll use pencil, but since it smudges if you draw on the opposite page, I only use the right-hand pages. When I get to the end, I turn the sketchbook upside down and draw on those pages in pen. Hey, paper is expensive.

I do quite a bit of direct sketching on type layouts too. Impulsive ideas first — inventing the characters, their clothing, hairdos, and expressions. You know, the cast and performance of the play. I might add a few backgrounds. I only explore color in the finals, unless there is a color idea that dominates the scene.

I did this alphabet book with Barbara Bottner with 26 different kids and one teacher. I created 27 distinct individuals that moved through the book. Then I played them out. That was work. Lots of sketchbooks were filled on that one.

 






(Click each to enlarge)


 

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

Michael

: My workspace is wherever I am. I worked in a classic sixth floor factory building loft studio in Boston for ten years; in second bedrooms; in my own bedroom; in a closet-like space, like the one I’m renting at the moment. I make do. I get on with it.

My fantasy would be a bigger, well-lit, more open space to lay things out. A picture book is a whole, not discrete pieces. It’s great to see it all at once. But I can’t afford that kind of space right now. You make do. I’m writing this interview in my local pub. But maybe that’s an Irish thing.

 




(Click each to enlarge)


 

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

Michael

: My influences are few as a reader. I did not read much fiction as a kid, sorry to say. Mrs. Bowman read us Dahl in 3rd grade, and I loved it. I was forced to read things beyond my age and hated them, like Melville’s Billy Budd in 5th grade. That said, I loved all of Richard Scarry, Charles Shulz comics, and Charles Harper books.

 



(Click each to enlarge)


 

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

Michael: I like lots of people’s work. But it’s hard to know who would be a good dinner guest if I haven’t met them. A lousy artist might be great craic, and a brilliant one might only be good for, as a friend once described, “a couple of grim pints.” But it is nice to sit down with a fellow book person and not have to explain what you do the whole night.

I admire many people’s work and do occasionally wonder if they are anywhere near as interesting as their art/writing. “My authors” are all good craic. I met author Barbara Bottner at a gig once, and whether she believed me or not, I was a huge fan of her book, Bootsie Barker Bites. And I can tell you, she ain’t boring. It’s great to be doing books with her. Mary Ann Hoberman and her husband Norm are great dinner partners. My friends Robie Harris and her husband Bill are always great around the table.

[Pictured below: Art from Mary Ann Hoberman’s Forget-Me-Nots: Poems to Learn by Heart

(Little, Brown, 2012). Read more about it here.]

 


– From Theodore Roethke’s “Dinky”


 


“Nancy Hanks” by Rosemary and Stephen Vincent Benét


 


“Mary Middling” by Rose Fyleman, “A Frog in a Well Explains the World”
by Alice Schertle, and “Bat Patrol” by Georgia Heard

(Click to enlarge spread and read poems)


 


If-ing” by Langston Hughes and “Things” by Eloise Greenfield
(Click to enlarge spread and read poems)


 



 

I like work I don’t imagine non-artists can truly appreciate to the same degree as another illustrator would. Brian Karas is a quiet genius. Ditto Ana Juan; Frida is a fantastic. I love Raúl Colón, Marla Frazee, and Jon Klasssen’s stuff is gorgeous. That tree house book — wow. Ed Young, the Dillons. Jim Kay’s work in A Monster Calls is one of the best things I’ve ever seen.

I love stuff I’ve seen from Spain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and eastern Europe. I’m in love with stuff that won’t sell in the U.S. I would love to publish in Poland or someplace like that. France would be impossible to break into, but they have amazing children’s book illustrators. Japan too. Gorgeous stuff. The U.S. book-buyer can be too, uh, American, sometimes. Too limited in their tastes. There is a big world out there beyond the bright lights.

I love the comic/graphic novelists coming out of Europe and the U.S. They might be good for a laugh over a glass.

I want to talk to someone who sees no boundaries between art, science, religion, and philosophy. I like thinkers and dreamers. I like smart — but not at the expense of wonder. I like talking to people who teach me things but don’t lecture. I like people who can skip between genres and genders, fact and fiction, pain and persuasion. Someone who can stay off their phone. Someone funny and kind. If they are an artist, so much the better. But the creative arts is no secret passport to the land of interesting company. (Sounds like a personal ad!)

Writers? Hmmm. Too many. Short list:

Okay. That’s more than three, isn’t it?

 


(Click to enlarge)


 

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

Michael: Tons of stuff. I listen all the time. All styles. Mostly when doing art. Writing is problematic with most music. But I write in noisy coffee shops with background music, so it’s possible. For example, West African is okay, since I don’t speak the lingo. Mainstream stuff — Salif Keita, Youssou N’Dour, etc. Puccini is nice, too, sometimes.

Random thoughts on music that’s sticking in my head recently:

Gillian Welch, “Everything’s Free.” Haunting song. And what better lament for the world of pre-internet/free content. I’m paraphrasing her lyrics here:

Everything is free now / That’s what they say / Everything I’ve ever done, They’re gonna give it away. … If there’s something that you wanna hear / you can sing it yourself.

I also keep listening to this acoustic version of Springsteen’s “Thunder Road.” I never listened to him before, and I’m not a groupie. But these lyrics, though, won’t go away. Paraphrasing again:

… it’s a looong walk from your front porch to my front seat / the door’s open, but the ride, it ain’t free.

I can see that grey wooden porch floor, feel the chasm between the screen door and the open car door. The gulf between what she knows and what could be waiting for her. The tremendous courage it takes to cross that porch, to imagine another future for herself. It kills me every time.

Eddi Reader. Check out the video “What You Do With What You’ve Got”. Amazing. Try to see this Scottish original live, singing her version of Robby Burns’ “Ae Fond Kiss.” And try not to feel it. This verse:

Had we ne’er loved so kindly
Had we ne’er loved so blindly,
Nor ne’er met, Nor ne’er parted,
We would ne’er been so broken-hearted.

Ah, as a Czech friend of mine once said, “Melancholy is best emotion.”

I admit I love Elvis Costello’s lyrics. Random lines I remember (some may be off):

“She threw her hands up, like a tulip…”
“They’re mopping up all the stubborn ones who just refuse to be saved.”
“He’s planting a paperback book for accidental purchase, containing all the secrets of life, and other useless things.”

Canadian Holly Cole has this amazing album of Tom Waits covers. Another great writer. Love the “doorknob” lyric in “Falling Down”:

Everyone knew that old hotel was a goner. … They broke all the windows, and took all the doorknobs, and they hauled it away in a couple of days. …

Also Cole’s other cover album with this song-lyric by Patty Larkin:

He said: ‘I read the Bible every day,
Just to keep the demons at bay,
Thank God when the sun goes down,
I don’t blow away.’

And one more: Lori McKenna‘s “Stealing Kisses.” Poignant “housewife drama”:

I was stealing kisses from a boy,
And now I’m begging affection from a man…
Don’t you know who I am?
I’m standing in your kitchen.


 




Illustration and covers for two of Emberley’s books
with Robie Harris (read more here)


 

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

Michael: Well, most people who know me know this, but I am a competitive athlete when I’m not at the desk. Cycle racing has been my ‘thing’ since the late ’70s. It’s unusual in my experience for artists or writers to be athletic or competitive, and vice versa. I actually know no one who is in both worlds. A lot of artists/writers live in their heads all the time, come out at night, and they’re pretty neglectful or out of touch with their bodies.

The racing is a good balance for me. You can think out there. Mostly it’s training on back roads, wandering around, wind in your ears, a Zen thing, shutting down your “busy mind.” But racing itself is different. Aggressive, intense, clawing up hills, screaming down, diving into a sharp bend with people at each elbow. The pain, the exhaustion, the fear. Moving at high speed is an entirely different way of seeing the world than being in a chair.

 


Michael: “This is the kind of thing I do for books, as well as cards and letters. These self-portraits were done really fast one after the other on the holiday card envelopes of friends, family, etc. (I used to draw the recipient, but that gets you into a lot of trouble. Easier to pan yourself.) This shows how different each take can be. I do this for book characters as well, until I see the one I like. If this were a book,
I have two favorites here. The rest are trash.”


 

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

Dan: How does the way artists are perceived in society inform your decision to become an artist? Or: Why are you really doing this? No, I mean, really?

I grew up in a household with a professional artist. That’s my perspective. I saw the great Oz from the back first. Great artists seem to come from both great resistance and great encouragement. But it’s something you learn and earn, not get by faith or are born with. I think there’s too much mystery, awe, and romance surrounding artists and writers that they haven’t earned and, frankly, isn’t good for them. It does us no favors. It sets us apart, instead of bringing us together. Creatives all too often either marginalized or put on a pedestal by society.

Here in Ireland, the attitude is pretty balanced: You’re given a comfortable chair, but no pedestal. That’s good. Pedestals are to knock people off of.

My pet peeve on the topic of the “artist’s life” is people who are writing or drawing so they can just “be the thing,” wrap themselves in the label Artist or Writer. Being an artist is just a name, a part of creating art, not the other way round. The goal is the work, not the label.

There are people who hold onto this thing they imagine an artist to be — some adolescent fantasy born from years of too much dreamy misinformation, like wanting to be a princess as a little child. To be famous—a celebrity—with the added thrill of being photographed, signing a hardbound book with your name on it. Jaysus feck. That’s the pinnacle of an adolescent dream, imagining being asked for their autograph.

Okay, I’d like to see art and writing and creative expression in general as something more acceptable and more readily available to a broader segment of the population. It’s a means of self-exploration and consolation — and generally enhances your life.

But that’s not professional art. There’s a difference. Professional art is work. You need to train for it, learn it, and hopefully get paid for it. It’s not something you do “if you only had the time.”

You wouldn’t expect anyone who likes to spin around in circles and likes how they look in a tutu to join the Bolshoi Ballet.

I think people should be asked more often why are they honestly doing it.

Pictured below: Thumbnails and early sketches from Barbara Bottner’s An Annoying ABC (Knopf, 2011).

 



Jacket thumbnails


 


Final sketch for book jacket


 


(Click to enlarge)


 








Above: Sketches
(Click each to enlarge)



 



Color sketches


 



 

* * * The Pivot Questionnaire * * *

Jules: What is your favorite word?

Michael: “Balance.”

Jules: What is your least favorite word?

Michael: “Hate.”

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

Michael: Kindness.

Jules: What turns you off?

Michael: Bullies.

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

Dan: “Me bollocks!”

Jules: What sound or noise do you love?

Michael: An Irish accent.

Jules: What sound or noise do you hate?

Michael: Loud, mechanical things at 7 a.m.

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

Michael: Theatre.

Jules: What profession would you not like to do?

Michael: Foreclosure.

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

Dan: “Forgive yourself.”

 

Reminder: Below is a complete, single-scrolling image of all the sketches for Barbara Bottner’s Miss Brooks’ Story Nook, published last year.

 



 

All images are used by permission of Michael Emberley.

AN ANNOYING ABC. Copyright © 2011 by Barbara Bottner. Illustration © 2011 Michael Emberley. Published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York. Images reproduced by permission of Michael Emberley.

FORGET-ME-NOTS: POEMS TO LEARN BY HEART. Copyright 2012 by Mary Ann Hoberman. Illustrations copyright 2012 by Michael Emberley. Spreads reproduced with permission of the publisher, Megan Tingley Books/Little, Brown and Co., New York.

MISS BROOKS LOVES BOOKS! (AND I DON’T) Text copyright © 2010 by Barbara Bottner. Illustrations copyright © 2010 by Michael Emberley. Spread reproduced by permission of the publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY.

MISS BROOKS’ STORY NOOK (WHERE TALES ARE TOLD AND OGRES ARE WELCOME!). Text copyright © 2014 by Barbara Bottner. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Michael Emberley. Published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY. Images reproduced by permission of Michael Emberley.

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

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18. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #439: Featuring Akiko Miyakoshi


It just so happens that my very favorite medium in picture book illustration is charcoal. I get all googly-eyed when I see it done well. But that’s not the only reason I love this book from author-illustrator Akiko Miyakoshi, The Tea Party in the Woods, coming in August from Kids Can Press and originally published in Japan back in 2010. The visuals here are pure magic and filled with intriguing details, and the story is one of mystery and friendship.

A young girl, named Kikko, awakes to a “winter wonderland.” She heads out to deliver a pie to her Grandma, the one that her father, who has already set out for Grandma’s house, left behind. This is all slightly reminiscent of the classic tale “Little Red Riding Hood” in that the girl’s destination involves her grandmother, and her skirt and winter hat are bright reds (much like Red’s cape) in a sea of white snow and dark charcoals. But that’s where the similarities end: There’s no menacing wolf here.

Instead, she is fairly sure after heading out that she spots her father ahead, and in an effort to catch up to him, she falls in snow drifts and the pie box is crushed. She follows her father anyway to “a strange house. Has it always been here? Kikko wondered.”

 


“Kikko followed her father all the way to a strange house. Has it always been here? Kikko wondered. She couldn’t remember having seen it before.
She watched as her father went inside.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 

Her father enters the house, and when she peeks in the window, she is surprised to see, not her father, but a great big bear. A kind lamb asks Kikko, still outside, if she is there for the tea party. She goes inside with the lamb, and here is where the magic and mystery amp up. There is a fabulous spread where all the creatures at this party—forest creatures of every stripe—turn to stare at her. But Miyakoshi places readers right with Kikko, so it’s the reader who gets a stare-down too. It’s a wonderful, rather spine-tingling moment.

 


“‘Are you here for the tea party?’ asked a kind voice. Kikko turned to see a little lamb standing nearby. ‘This way,’ said the lamb,
gently taking Kikko’s hand and leading her inside.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 

Despite their stares, they welcome her. And the feasting begins, Kikko’s yellow hair the only spot of color in this sea of charcoals. (Later, we see a bit more color when we pan out to see the group as a whole.) I love to see happy feasts in picture books, one reason I’m a John Burningham fan. The book closes with a lovely surprise from the tea party members, one that benefits both Kikko and her grandmother. (It’s hinted at in the illustration opening this post.)

Was it all a dream or did she really feast with forest creatures? It doesn’t really matter. The adventure was worth it, either way.

 


“The woods were filled with joyful sounds as everyone paraded to Grandma’s house, singing and laughing and playing music as they went. ‘This way!’ the animals called. Kikko held the pie box tightly and walked on.”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 

Here’s the splendid cover one more time, a little bit bigger:

 



 

THE TEA PARTY IN THE WOODS. Copyright © 2010 by Akiko Miyakoshi. English translation © 2015 by Kids Can Press. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Kids Can Press, Toronto.

* * *

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

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) Did I mention I love to see charcoal illustrations like this?

2) Being thanked by name by Dan Santat in his Caldecott acceptance speech last weekend. It was tremendously thoughtful of him to thank bloggers.

3) Lots of great new music to explore.

4) Alabama Shakes’ new CD really is extraordinary.

5) Brian Selznick’s drawings.

6) Sparklers.

7) Pie.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #439: Featuring Akiko Miyakoshi, last added: 7/6/2015
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19. Two Best Friends Before Breakfast


Back cover illustration


 

I’ve got a review over at BookPage of Liz Rosenberg’s What James Said (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook, June 2015), illustrated by Matt Myers. That review is here.

Today I follow up with a bit of art from the book, as well as one of Matt’s early sketches. The sketch you’ll see below shows that, originally, Matt had considered merely pen and ink with the only color being watercolor splashes, but plans changed and the book ended up in color. “The book,” he tells me, “became less cartoony and more (I hope) realistic — not in the style of art especially, but in the emotion. A more cartoony book wouldn’t have been as personal.”

Enjoy, and thanks to Matt for sharing.


“Later, James slid a bag of my favorite chips onto my desk.
I didn’t eat them. At least not right away.”


 


“He drew a funny picture of himself
that almost made me laugh outloud.”


 



 


Above: Original idea for the look of the art


 



 

* * * * * * *

WHAT JAMES SAID. Copyright © 2015 by Liz Rosenberg. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Matt Myers. Published by Neal Porter Books/Roaring Brook Press, New York. Images reproduced by permission of Matt Myers.

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20. A Conversation with Emily Hughes

The idea of sustainability, respect and nurturing of the land, is not a foreign concept to me, especially because in Hawaii there are lots of traditional morals linking to the earth. …

‘Malama ka aina’ means to respect the land, and they are strong words that resonate in the islands. ‘Ua Mau ke Ea o ka Āina i ka Pono’ is the state motto of Hawaii, and I think shines closer to the book: ‘The life of the land is perpetuated by righteousness.’”

* * *

Over at Kirkus today, I talk to author-illustrator Emily Hughes, pictured here, about her newest picture book, The Little Gardener (Flying Eye Books, August 2015), as well as last year’s Wild.

That link will be here soon.

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

Until tomorrow …

* * * * * * *

Photo of Emily used by her permission.

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21. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week,Featuring Sergio Ruzzier and Paul Schmid


Preliminary art from My Dog Is the Best


 


Preliminary art from Whose Shoe?


 

Today over at Kirkus, I write about Daniel Miyares’ newest picture book, Float. That link will be here soon.

Last week, I wrote (here) about Eve Bunting’s Whose Shoe? (Clarion, June 2015), illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier, and Laurie Ann Thompson’s My Dog Is the Best (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, June 2015), illustrated by Paul Schmid. Today, I follow up with some early and final art from each book, thanks to Sergio and Paul.


 

From Eve Bunting’s
Whose Shoe?,
illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier:


 


Early character work


 


Early dummy sketch
(Click to enlarge)


 


Spider sketch


 



“There’s one thing I find hard to take
when I’m standing in my lake:
I hate that mud between my toes.
(I’m rather fussy, I suppose.) …”

– Early rough and final art
(Click final art to enlarge)


 



“Hello! I’ve found a lonesome shoe.
Someone lost it. Was it you?”

– Early rough and final art
(Click each to enlarge)


 



“Who says that shoes are just for feet?
I’m glad my search is now complete.
The stars are shining overhead. …
I’m happy in my king-size bed!”


 




 

From Laurie Ann Thompson’s
My Dog Is the Best,
illustrated by Paul Schmid:


 


Early dog


 


Dog poses


 


Early design
(Click to enlarge)


 


Final art: Title page spread (without text)
(Click to enlarge)


 


Final art (without text): “My dog is the best. He is strong and brave.
He helps the firemen.”

(Click to enlarge)


 


Final art (without text): “My dog is the best. He makes me smile.”
(Click to enlarge)


 



 

* * * * * * *

MY DOG IS THE BEST. Copyright © 2015 by Laurie Ann Thompson. Illustrations © 2015 by Paul Schmid. Published by Farrar Straus Giroux, New York. Preliminary and final art reproduced by permission of Paul Schmid.

WHOSE SHOE? Copyright © 2015 by Eve Bunting. Illustrations © 2015 by Sergio Ruzzier. Published by Clarion Books, Boston. Preliminary and final art reproduced by permission of Sergio Ruzzier.

1 Comments on What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week,Featuring Sergio Ruzzier and Paul Schmid, last added: 6/26/2015
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22. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #438, the Love-Wins Version:Featuring Christian Robinson



 

My one giant kick this week—all wrapped around kicks one to seven—is the news from the Supreme Court on marriage equality for all. It was a wonderful day on Friday when the news was announced, and it’s a new day in America. Today’s image is from Christian Robinson. (For those interested, the roosters can be purchased here at Red Cap Cards or as a print from Gallery Nucleus.)

Love wins, y’all!

What are YOUR kicks this week?

Oh, and the necessary spiel:

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

* * * * * * *

Illustration is copyright © 2015 by Christian Robinson and used by his permission.

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23. Loads of Headbutting Before Breakfast


“This is my rock.”
(Click to enlarge slightly)


 

British author and illustrator David Lucas has a new book out, This Is My Rock (Flying Eye, May 2015), and I’ve got some art from it today. I always like to check out Lucas’ books, and this one has a poignant back story to its dedication.

This is a story of power and ultimately, friendship, as a domineering goat atop a mountain claims it for himself but in the end discovers his own loneliness. It invites, as the Kirkus review notes, “a broader consideration of the ins and outs of ownership than the usual toy-oriented run of ‘sharing’ titles.” Lucas’ geometric designs and angular speech bubbles give the book a distinctive look. Keep your eye on the sky here to note his shooting stars and zooming clouds and rising suns (note the one on the first spread, featured above). These are visually pleasing spreads, ones evoking the Southwest in color palette and border design (though it’s never specifically noted where the story takes place).

Here’s some more art from the book. Enjoy!


“Not your rock.”
(Click to enlarge slightly)


 


“This my rock. Not your rock.”
(Click to enlarge slightly)


 


“This my rock. Not your rock.”
(Click to enlarge slightly)


 

* * * * * * *

THIS IS MY ROCK. Copyright © 2015 by David Lucas. Published by Flying Eye Books, London. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher.

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24. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Daniel Miyares



(Click to enlarge second image)


 

I’ve got a wee picture book round-up over at Kirkus today. That link is here.

* * *

I wrote over at Kirkus last week about Daniel Miyares Float (Simon & Schuster, June 2015), so today I follow up with some final spreads from the book. Daniel also sent some early sketches.

Note: I wrote in that column last week that Daniel created these illustrations digitally. That wasn’t entirely correct, and it’s since been corrected over in my piece. These were rendered via watercolors with digital tools.

Enjoy!



(Click to enlarge sketch)


 


(Click to enlarge sketch)


 


(Click to enlarge sketch)


 


(Click to enlarge sketch)


 


(Click to enlarge spread)


 


(Click to enlarge spread)


 


(Click to enlarge spread)


 


(Click to enlarge spread)


 


(Click to enlarge spread)


 


(Click to enlarge spread)


 



 

* * * * * * *

FLOAT. Copyright © 2015 by Daniel Miyares. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York. Illustrations and sketches reproduced by permission of Daniel Miyares.

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25. The Art of Emily Hughes


“It was a flower. It was alive and wonderful. It gave the gardener hope
and it made him work even harder.”
– From
The Little Gardener
(Click to see spread in its entirety)


 


From Wild
(Click to enlarge)


 

Last week, I talked to author-illustrator Emily Hughes over at Kirkus, so today I’m sharing some spreads from her new book, The Little Gardener, coming to shelves in August, as well as 2013’s Wild (both published by Flying Eye Books).

Enjoy!


 

Art from The Little Gardener (August 2015):


 


“This was the garden. It didn’t look like much …”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“… but it meant everything to its gardener.”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“Only, he wasn’t much good at gardening. It wasn’t that he didn’t work hard.”
(Click to enlarge)


 



“He would have no joy. One night, feeling tired and sad, he made a wish.”
(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


 



“The next day the gardener was weary and slept the whole day.
He slept the whole week. He slept the whole month.”

(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


 


“And when he finally awoke, it had been just lost enough for something to change.”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“He doesn’t look like much, but he means everything to his garden.”
(Click to see spread in its entirety)


 


(Click cover to enlarge)


 


 

Art from Wild (2013):


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 



 

* * * * * * *

THE LITTLE GARDENER. Copyright © 2015 by Emily Hughes. Published by Flying Eye Books, London. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher.

WILD. Copyright © 2013 by Emily Hughes. Published by Flying Eye Books, London. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher.

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