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Our vision for this blog is pretty simple: we're going to talk about the books we read. We read lots of different kinds of books: picture books for toddlers, memoirs, young adult fiction, graphic novels, Man Booker Prize-winning high-art metafiction, whatever.
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1. 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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2. 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.

2 Comments on What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Daniel Miyares, last added: 7/5/2015
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3. 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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4. 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.

3 Comments on Loads of Headbutting Before Breakfast, last added: 7/4/2015
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5. 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.

6 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #438, the Love-Wins Version:Featuring Christian Robinson, last added: 6/30/2015
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6. 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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7. 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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8. 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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9. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #437: Featuring Jessixa Bagley



“That evening, Buckley and Mama went for a walk.
Buckley brought along the little boat he had made especially for Papa
with a note attached that said, ‘For Papa. Love, Buckley.'”


 

I read a brand-new picture book this week, which I found really moving. It’s from debut author-illustrator Jessixa Bagley (pictured below), originally from Portland, Oregon, and now living in Seattle. “[M]y love of picture books,” Jessixa writes at her site, “has been the constant goal my entire life and has always been a working focus.”

Boats for Papa (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook, June 2015), which will be on shelves at the end of this month, is about Buckley, an anthropomorphized beaver who lives with his mother in a tiny house by the sea. “They didn’t have much, but they always had each other.” Buckley’s father is gone. One doesn’t really know why—I suppose it’s possible he took off for one reason or another—but it’s also perfectly plausible that he has died. Readers who look closely will see loving family photos, which include Buckley’s father, on the walls of the house.

Buckley loves to make things, especially boats from the driftwood he finds on the shore. He makes boat after boat, his mother always encouraging his creative efforts. “Your papa would be proud!” his Mama tells him. Buckley, who misses his father, wants to show him his favorite boats, but he settles for carrying them to the sea, with notes attached that say “For Papa. Love, Buckley,” and he pushes the boats out on the tides — all in the hopes that the hand-made vessels will reach his father.

 


Opening endpapers
(Click to enlarge)


 


“Buckley and his mama lived in a small wooden house by the sea.
They didn’t have much, but they always had each other.”

(Click to enlarge)


 


“And he loved to make things with his hands.”


 


“‘Mama, look what I made for Papa!’ said Buckley.
‘What a wonderful boat! Your papa would be proud!’ said Mama.
‘I wish I could show it to him,’ said Buckley. He missed his papa.”

(Click to enlarge)


 


“After Buckley had drifted off to sleep, Mama went out onto the beach
and thought about Papa. She missed him too.”

(Click to enlarge)


 


“… boats with real sails, ropes, and even tiny anchors.”


 


“And each time he made a new boat, it was even better than the last.”
(Click to enlarge)


 

One day—it’s Buckley’s birthday, and he and his mother picnic on the shore—Buckley runs back to the house to grab paper for the note for Papa he wants to attach to his latest boat. When he looks into Mama’s desk for paper, he finds a pile of the boats he’d made for Papa — the ones he had pushed out to sea:

Buckley closed the lid and sat quietly. The boats must have washed back onto the beach, after all. They had never reached Papa.

Buckley runs back, after jotting something on his boat-note, and he and Mama watch the boat drift out to sea.

Later, readers see Mama walk to the beach, grab the boat that has sailed back, brush the sand off of it, and wrap it in her shawl. As she does so, she sees the note that reads: “For Mama. Love, Buckley.”

 


“Soon it was Buckley’s next birthday. They built a fort, played pirates, and looked for buried treasure on the beach. Mama even made Buckley a very special cake
in the shape of a boat!”

(Click to enlarge)


 


“At sunset, they went for their walk to send a boat to Papa. Suddenly Buckley realized he’d forgotten to write a message. ‘I’ll be right back. I need to go write my note, so Papa knows the boat is for him,’ he said anxiously.”
(Click to enlarge)


 

I don’t like to make a habit of giving you the entire plot of picture books, because I don’t like to ruin surprises for you or go on and on about how good stories are laid out. But I pretty much have to share that with you so that you can understand when I say that the ending moved me to tears. This is such a tender tale of loss and love. It’s striking in its subtlety and restraint; in the hands of a lesser author, such a story could be a treacle-fest. Once you turn the last page, you think back to the part I quoted above: “They didn’t have much, but they always had each other.” It’s clear that both mother and son ache over their loss, yet they are helping each other through the pain as best they can — and Buckley’s mother always there, always sure and kind. In fact, after he realizes his mother was trying to spare him more sorrow by keeping the returned boats from him, he merely says to her, “Thank you, Mama. I had a really great birthday. And thank you for making every day so wonderful too.” In this way, it’s almost as if he lets go of some of the loss, having realized the steadfast affection always directed his way from the parent he has left.

 


Closing endpapers
(Click to enlarge)


 

It’s an eloquent and poignant story, one you won’t soon forget.

As for the book’s rich watercolors, well … you can see that for yourself here today, since Jessixa (her site, by the way, says that the “x” is pronounced like a “c”) shares some paintings from the book, as well as some early sketches. She’s including the original thumbnails for the story before it changed. It was once called Drift. “Neal [Porter],” she tells me, “came up with the title Boats for Papa, because he said Drift was too melancholy, like Mama and Buckley were drifting aimlessly. I joked with Neal, telling him one day I would write a YA novel just so that I could call it Drift, because I still liked that title a lot.”

Jessixa also includes here today the original test pieces of art that she made when she got the idea for the book, “as well as a photograph of all the paint tests that I created during the painting process. These are some of my most favorite things in the world — all the little scraps of paper I tested colors on and figured out what color the sand, water, and sky would be at different times of the day.”

 










(Click each to enlarge)


 



Early samples


 



Jessixa: “Here are some pictures of actual wooden boats
and a nautical flag map alphabet that I made.”

(Click each to enlarge)


 

“I’ve been doing one boat drawing a day, leading up to the book launch,” Jessixa adds. “I’ve been posting them to Instagram, Twitter, and my blog. It’s under #30boatsin30days and #boatsforpapa. I usually add a boat fact with the image, too. My Instagram and Twitter handles are Jessixa Bagley, and my blog is jessixabagley.blogspot.com.”

Boatloads of thanks to Jessixa for sharing today.

BOATS FOR PAPA. Copyright © 2015 by Jessixa Bagley. Published by Neal Porter/Roaring Brook Press, New York. All images here today reproduced by permission of Jessixa Bagley.

* * *

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 * * *

Well, the news in Charleston this week was incredibly disturbing and sad, so we have to make the most of it, yes? Help me out with your own kicks, dear readers.

1) It’s Father’s Day, and my daughters are very lucky to have the father they do.

2) Story time at Parnassus Books with attentive children and my friend’s daughter (one of my favorite children on the planet) right by my side.

3) She’s baaaaaack!

I actually read an early copy of the book, but I’m happy to have the hardback. My girls and I laughed so hard when we read this that tears streamed down our faces.

4) One of my dearest friends, Susannah Fotopulos, was featured on Nashville Public Television recently. She is doing great things in local schools with her organization, Plant the Seed, creating outdoor classrooms in school gardens to educate and empower under-resourced children.

5) Evidently, my blog is listed as a good picture book website in the back of this new book from Martin Salisbury (a book I really want to read):

6) Getting a much-needed kick in the pants on a project.

7) I particularly enjoyed featuring Caroline Magerl’s work this week, and I am happy to share Jessixa’s today, too.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

8 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #437: Featuring Jessixa Bagley, last added: 6/22/2015
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10. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, FeaturingAmy June Bates, Gary Clement,Todd Stewart, and Peter Sís


– From Peter Sís’s Ice Cream Summer


 


“Every year we stay at the same place. I call it our cottage.
But it’s not really a cottage. It’s a motel.”
– From Andrew Larsen’s
See You Next Year, illustrated by Todd Stewart
(Click to see spread in its entirety)


 


“A long, long drive. It’s been a year of dreaming, waiting. Summer’s here.”
– From Deanna Caswell’s
Beach House, illustrated by Amy June Bates
(Click to enlarge spread)


 


– From Gary Clement’s Swimming, Swimming
(Click to enlarge spread)


 

This morning over at Kirkus, I’ve got two new picture books, especially perfect for preschoolers. That link will be here soon.

* * *

Last week, I wrote here about some very summer’y picture books — Andrew Larsen’s See You Next Year, illustrated by Todd Stewart (Owlkids, March 2015); Peter Sís’ Ice Cream Summer (Scholastic, May 2015); Gary Clement’s Swimming, Swimming (Groundwood, May 2015); and Deanna Caswell’s Beach House, illustrated by Amy June Bates (Chronicle, May 2015).

Here’s some art from each book. Enjoy!



 

Art from Andrew Larsen’s
See You Next Year,
illustrated by Todd Stewart:


 


“Every year we take the same roads. We pass through the same towns.
We arrive at the same beach.”

(Click to see spread in its entirety)


 


“We always come on a Saturday. We always stay for a week.
We’ve been coming to the same place every summer since I was little.
Nothing changes. That’s why I like it.”

(Click to see spread in its entirety)


 


“It’s not long before the beach is a sea of umbrellas.
You can hardly see the swirls or the sand.”

(Click to see spread in its entirety)


 



 

Art from Gary Clement’s
Swimming, Swimming:


 


(Click to enlarge spread)


 


(Click to enlarge spread)


 


(Click to enlarge spread)


 


(Click to enlarge spread)


 


(Click to enlarge spread)


 



 

Art from Deanna Caswell’s
Beach House,
illustrated by Amy June Bates:


 


“Breathe salt air. Squint at the sun.
Hot-foot hopping. Squeal and run.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“Marco Polo. Dives and dunks. Body surfing. Floating trunks.
Castles rise. Moats are filled. Stacking, smoothing. Smash, rebuild.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“Hungry tummies. Sun-kissed knees.
Salty skin. Chilly breeze.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 



 

Art from Peter Sís’
Ice Cream Summer:


 


“You can be sure my brain is still working.
I am reading the encyclopedias you gave me.
I am diving into world history!”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 



 

* * * * * * *

BEACH HOUSE. Copyright © 2015 by Deanna Caswell. Illustrations © 2015 by Amy June Bates. Published by Chronicle Books, San Francisco. Spreads reproduced by permission of the publisher.

Illustrations from Ice Cream Summer: Written and illustrated by Peter Sís. Illustrations © 2015 by Peter Sís. Used with permission from Scholastic Press.

SEE YOU NEXT YEAR. Copyright © 2015 by Andrew Larsen. Illustrations © 2015 by Todd Stewart. Published by Owlkids Books, Toronto. Spreads reproduced by permission of the publisher.

SWIMMING, SWIMMING. Copyright © 2015 by Gary Clement. Published by Groundwood Books, Toronto. Spreads reproduced by permission of the publisher.

1 Comments on What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, FeaturingAmy June Bates, Gary Clement,Todd Stewart, and Peter Sís, last added: 6/19/2015
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11. Bright Skies with Aimée Sicuro


“With the city suddenly darkened,
Phoebe and Dad sat in the store, listening to the rain. …”


 

Since I chatted last week (here) with author Uma Krishnaswami about her newest picture book, Bright Sky, Starry City (Groundwood, May 2015), I’m following up here today with some spreads from the book, which was illustrated by Aimée Sicuro.

Enjoy the art.

(Note: Some of the text in the spreads featured below varies slightly from the text in the final copy of the book.)

 


“Phoebe helped Dad set up the telescopes outside his store. …”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“Two of the planets—Saturn and Mars—would be up in the sky later, between those buildings. They’d be up, but Phoebe worried she wouldn’t be able to see them. …”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“… Rain blurred the lights. Clouds blotted out the sky.
Dad hurried Phoebe back into the shop.”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“Crash! Boom! The echoes faded. But something had changed.
Where were all the lights?”
(Click to see spread in its entirety)


 


“Above the newly washed city, with the power still out,
glowing, sparkling, gleaming lights painted the night …”
(Click to see spread in its entirety)


 


“… How deep the night was and how endless!”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“Phoebe breathed in the night, with all its stars and planets.
‘What a bright, bright sky,’ she whispered.”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 



 

* * * * * * *

BRIGHT SKY, STARRY CITY. Copyright © 2015 by Uma Krishnaswami. Illustrations © 2015 by Aimée Sicuro. Published by Groundwood Books, Toronto. Spreads reproduced by permission of the publisher.

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12. Hasel, Rose, and Caroline


“Rose caught it up out of the water.”
(Click to enlarge)


 

Good morning, all. I’ve got some artwork today from Caroline Magerl, born in Germany but raised (mostly) in Australia. Just last year, her book Hasel and Rose was published by Penguin-Viking Australia. I’ve got a copy of the book, and it’s beautifully, eloquently told, this story of starting over and friendship found. Magerl’s pen and ink and watercolor illustrations, with their relaxed lines and muted tones, contain ample charms. As I understand it, the book will be reprinted in 2016 by DoubleDay here in the U.S. — under the title Rose and the Wish Thing.

I’ve got some illustrations from Hasel and Rose today, and since I was so taken with her artwork, Caroline even shares some of her other pieces here. I thank her for sharing. You can see more illustrations from the book here. (Some of the artwork was shown at the Chris Beetles Gallery in St James, London, last November. Here’s my favorite moment in the book.)

Enjoy!


 

From Hasel and Rose:


 


“But the wish thing had no name.”
(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


“But perhaps there was no such thing.”
(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


“It was a short ride for Hasel and Rose.”
(Click to enlarge)


 



 

Other Artwork:


 



 



 



 


(Click to enlarge)


 



 



 



 



 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 



 



 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 



 



 


(Click to enlarge)


 



 





* * * * * * *

HASEL AND ROSE. Copyright © 2014 by Caroline Magerl. Published by Penguin Viking, Australia. All artwork here is reproduced by permission of Caroline Magerl.

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13. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #436: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Louis Fratino

I am breakin’ the 7-Imp rules this weekend and featuring a newly-graduated illustrator just one week after featuring another debut illustrator. (I normally do this the first Sunday of each month.) But, hey, rules are made for breaking.

My guest, Louis Fratino, graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art just under a month ago, majoring in Painting and concentrating in Illustration. He tells me he likes to draw more than anything, though his studio work is mostly oil on canvas.

Below is more from Louis, including some of his artwork. I thank him for visiting. I hope we see his work in (published) books one day.



 

On Illustration:

Drawing made me want to be an illustrator. I have been drawing and telling stories my whole life. It was something I spent enormous amounts of time doing as a child. I would go through reams of printer paper, which really irritated my parents, because I never wanted to draw on the back of an image. I still remember having a nice fat stack of clean paper in front of me, a feeling I think I understand more fully as an adult. I really loved illustration as a child, too, and continued to pay attention to children’s books through adolescence.

 





 

I am a painter, primarily, and I use painting as a means to tell stories about myself. I really enjoy illustration as a way to inform my painting practice — and to take a break from it. Since I am a storyteller and a draftsman, illustration excites me.

 



 

On Influences:

I love Persian and Indian miniature painting and American folk art. I am influenced by the ancient pattern work of the Etruscans. Painters that I really rely on would be Matisse and Hockney.

Some illustrators that influence me are Marc Boutavant, Enzo Mari, Maira Kalman, and Ben Shahn. I also am amazed at Blexbolex’s use of print and digital media. I love Chuck Groenink, Ignacy Witz, Makoto Kagoshima, Miroslav Šašek, Benjamin Chaud, Laurent Moreau, and Dahlov Ipcar.

This is, unfortunately, an insignificant number of things that I see that become part of the visual soup I am sampling from whenever I am making an image. I have a blog of imagery that I reference that can be seen here, which is maybe the most comprehensive answer!

 





(Click to enlarge fourth image)


 

On What’s Next:

I recently completed (maybe) a book project called Some Boys [pictured below] … that used colored drawing inks.

 




 

I was awarded a Fulbright in Painting and Printmaking to Berlin for 2015-2016. I will be there for a year, continuing my studio practice, which I still am completely speechless about!

 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 

All artwork is used by permission of Louis Fratino.

* * *

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) A late-night game of family laser tag. Just ’cause.

2) This song, “Little Bigot” by Villagers:

3) A flexible work schedule that allows for hanging out with my girls this summer.

4) Getting galleys in the mail just this week of children’s novels I really wanted to read.

5) I don’t normally get that fired up about book trailers, but this one is really good — and I always like to see anything animated by Christian Robinson:

6) And I’ve seen an early copy of that book, which I really like.

7) Re-discovering an older CD that is pretty much perfect. I mean, you know it’s perfect, but it’s always good to drag it out after years and years and re-discover its perfect-ness.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

9 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #436: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Louis Fratino, last added: 6/17/2015
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14. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Douglas Florian


“Drawing dragons isn’t hard.
Drag a dragon to your yard.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 

Today over at Kirkus, I’ve got a round-up of some very summer’y picture books, and that link will be here very soon.

* * *

Since I wrote here last week about Douglas Florian’s How to Draw a Dragon (Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster, April 2015), I’ve got some spreads from it today.

Enjoy.

[Please note: The type in the spreads pictured here differs from the type in the final version of the book.]



 


“Dragons may be large in size.
You’ll need lots of art supplies.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“Dragons, when they wake, are grumpy.
And their heads are rather bumpy.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“Soothe your dragon with a song
as you draw his teeth so long.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“Careful when you draw each claw.
Dragons also love to draw!”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“Draw your dragon’s pointed spines
using lots of jagged lines.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


* * * * * * *

HOW TO DRAW A DRAGON. Copyright © 2015 by Douglas Florian. Published by Beach Lane Books, New York. Spreads reproduced by permission of the publisher.

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15. Exploring the Skies with Uma Krishnaswami

The picture book is such a fabulous form! The great joy of writing picture book text is that I can hold the whole idea in my mind at once, all the way through the process of writing and rewriting. It’s like working with a small jewel.”

Today over at Kirkus, I talk with Uma Krishnaswami about writing picture books, her teaching, and her newest book, Bright Sky, Starry City, illustrated by Aimée Sicuro.

That Q&A is here, and I will have some art from the book next week here at 7-Imp.

* * * * * * *

Photo of Uma is used by her permission.

0 Comments on Exploring the Skies with Uma Krishnaswami as of 6/11/2015 11:31:00 AM
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16. Have You Seen What Steve Light’s Up To?


(Click to enlarge)


 

There is something about the intricate and beautiful pen illustrations of Steve Light that makes my eyes very happy — and would have made kid-me very happy too. He’s visiting today to share a tiny bit of final art from his latest book, Have You Seen My Monster? (Candlewick Press, April 2015), as well as a handful of early sketches from the book. (Pictured above is one of his beginning character designs.) Steve drew the illustrations in ink (using a Mont Blanc 149 with a B nib that “flips” to a fine line), and he colored them using inks as well.

This book is a follow-up to last year’s Have You Seen My Dragon? (see this 2014 7-Imp post), and hidden in this book, as a young girl tries to find her monster friend at the county fair, are color-enhanced shapes of all types. We’re talkin’ parallelograms, nonagons, curvilinear triangles, and more. These aren’t the typical shapes you see in most concept books for children.

And here’s a special treat: Steve shares below some sketches from two forthcoming books — one out in July; the other, next year.

Let’s get right to it, and I thank him for sharing.



 

Have You Seen My Monster?
A Final Spread and the Cover:


“He loves the fun house …”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 



 

Have You Seen My Monster?
Early Sketches:


Beginning character design
(Click to enlarge)


 





Sketches
(Click each to enlarge)


 


Endpaper sketch
(Click to enlarge)


 

* * *

Steve: This [below] is work from a book coming out from Powerhouse Books [POW!] in June or July of this year, called The Bunny Burrow Buyer’s Book. It’s about a rabbit family looking for a new burrow, and every burrow they look at has a dragon or Gryphon or something living in it — until they find an Oak Tree that has an nice big burrow for them all. They start out with just one baby bunny, but at every turn of the page, they have more and more babies — just like real bunnies!

 




(Click each to enlarge)


 

* * *

Steve: These are sketches from my next book with Candlewick Press. (I love them!) It is called Swap!, and is about a pirate boy — and a pirate who is down on his luck. His ship is all broken down, and then his button falls off! So the pirate boy says, “Lets SWAP!” and they trade the button for teacups, the teacups for rope, the rope for sails — until they have everything they need to fix up their ship. This book will be out April 2016. Yippee!

 







(Click each to enlarge)


 



Color studies
(Click each to enlarge)


 


Proposal art
(Click to enlarge)


 

* * * * * * *

HAVE YOU SEEN MY MONSTER? Copyright © 2015 by Steve Light. Published by Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA. All images here published by permission of Steve Light.

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17. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #435: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Sarah Kaufman


“Even the huge rhinoceros is walking on stilts.”
(Click to enlarge)


 

I’ve got some local talent today, Nashville artist Sarah Kaufman, whose picture book The Circus (Greenleaf Book Group) is out on shelves. She will also have a book launch next Saturday, June 13, at Parnassus Books at 2:00 p.m., where she will do a reading and answer questions.

As you’ll read below, Sarah used some of her existing paintings to create this book. I had the pleasure of meeting her in person recently, and she has a real passion for children’s literature and learning even more about picture book-making. (This is the first picture book she’s both written and illustrated.) She has a BFA in Painting and an MAT in Education and taught for many years. She’s a big believer in nurturing children’s creativity: “Look at art, make art, read books, and write stories,” she says. “That creativity is in everyone; it just needs a little encouragement.”

Below, she tells us more about herself and shares some paintings from the book. I turn things over to her now, and I thank her for visiting.

On Artistic Influences:

As far as children’s books go, I am a huge fan of Maurice Sendak, not only for his amazing illustrations, but also for his willingness to tell a strong story. And Maxfield Parrish, illustrator extraordinaire. When I was a kid, I used to copy his illustrations in my sketchbook, and my mom would critique them for accuracy. It really helped me with drawing. The illustrations from Alice Adventures in Wonderland, The Chronicles of Narnia, the original Oz books by L. Frank Baum, and the paintings of Alphonse Mucha all had a big effect on me as a child.

 


“People came from near and far.”
(Click to enlarge)


 

During this time, I have to say, though, my biggest influences were my mother and father. My mother is an artist, and she guided and encouraged me in drawing and painting. My father is a storyteller, and we used to take long walks and he would make up stories about “The Bubble Man,” who would create a giant bubble to transport me, my brother, and himself to any time, any place. The stories were fascinating, and listening to my dad create them on the spot was one of my favorite things to do. This enormous encouragement and modeling of creativity and development of my imagination laid the foundation for all my work today.

 


“They all wanted to see the circus.”
(Click to enlarge)


 

On Her Work Thus Far:

My first experience illustrating was the book Bambu Mouse by Marianne Bouldin. It is a charming story about a little mouse in China, who learns lots of lessons about home, friendship, and patience. The book also incorporates Chinese phrases, so the reader can learn a little about Chinese language along the way. I lived in China for a year, teaching English, and Marianne Bouldin’s grandmother was Chinese, so it was really fun to draw on those experiences to make the book.

 


“Some came by air.”
(Click to enlarge)


 

I was amazed at how the illustrations influenced the story. Obviously, the story is the inspiration behind the illustrations. But surprisingly, as I created the paintings, Marianne was able to further edit and change the story, because it was clear that some elements were fully realized in the illustrations. What a wonderful way to edit a book and completely integrate the words and pictures! It was an fantastic experience, because I learned how a children’s book is created — from the ground up. A huge amount of work but so rewarding! At that point, I was hooked.

 


“Jonathan brought his dog on his flying houseboat.”
(Click to enlarge)


 


Attention everyone! The performers are almost here!”
(Click to enlarge)


 

My current book is The Circus, and I both wrote and illustrated it. The reader is brought along with the audience of a mysterious circus. The patrons arrive in magical contraptions to be entertained by an assortment of surreal and magical performers. Flying boats, floating animals, rhinos on stilts. It is written for younger children, and my intention is for each page to create an opportunity for the parent and the child to talk about the mysterious and surreal images. Like my parents encouraging my imagination as a child, my hope is that it gives other parents and kids the opportunity to go off on some creative tangents as well.

 

On Both Writing and Illustrating
for the First Time:

Because of my career as a painter, the illustrations were the driving force for this story. They had been painted previously and worked into a story after the fact. As I paint, I am always telling myself the narrative of the painting — something is always happening visually, and there is always tension in it. I always wanted to bring the stories of these pieces together as a children’s book, but the business of being a painter and a mother took so much time. It was one of those dreams on the back burner.

 


“The birds bring the circus animals into the tent.”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“Lions, tigers, bears, and baboons.”
(Click to enlarge)


 

One day, I decided to give it a try. I looked over all the circus paintings I had done over the past several years and used some of them to form a narrative. It is not a traditional story line, but rather like a true visit to a circus. There is the journey to the carnival itself, and then the beginning of the show, then all of the performers and their acts, and finally the end of the show and the circus moves on. It is set up more like an art exhibit; you go from one painting to the next on a trip through an experience, rather than the traditional protagonist, antagonist, conflict, and resolution plot line.

 


“Here comes another tiger.”
(Click to enlarge)


 

I chose to self-publish using Greenleaf Book Group, mainly because of my impatience! Once I wrote it, I was ready to go and did not want to wait to be picked up by a publishing house or have the story changed. I had my vision for the story, and I didn’t want to deviate from it. I decided to use Kickstarter to get it funded, and it was an awesome experience. The energy of getting so many orders for books from all over the world was an amazing and validating thing. And with Kickstarter, if you don’t reach your goal, you don’t get any of the money, so the stakes are high! It was a real nail-biter. Once the goal was reached, I paid the balance on the publishing, and Greenleaf did an amazing job of laying out the book, giving me editing suggestions, and publishing it. Once it arrived, I was over the moon!

 


“A black bird carries in a little dog named Peanut.”
(Click to enlarge)


 

On Painting:

I paint on canvas. The first thing I do is lay down a texture of plaster and gesso. I seal that by applying many translucent layers of acrylic paint, very loose and messy and chaotic. I mostly use giant brushes, paper towels, and paint splatters. After I get the ground of the painting rich and exciting, I stop and let an image or idea come to me. Then I get the oil paint and render it on the abstract background. The idea for the painting develops as I paint it, so the process it very integral to the work itself.

 


“The crow makes Annabelle float through a hoop.”
(Click to enlarge)


 

On What’s Next:

After the book launch, there are a few projects on the calendar. I have a show in Madison, Wisconsin (Art Fair on the Square), and an exhibit at Blend Studio in Nashville. I am in Proto Pulp book fair in Nashville as well — and have a list of commissions to paint in between it all. And in March, I am the featured artist, along with sculptor Preston Farabow, at the Webb School in Knoxville. We will be creating a circus installation, complete with performers!

 


“Only the dancing bear took the day off.”
(Click to enlarge)


 

THE CIRCUS. Copyright © 2015 by Sarah Kaufman. Published by Greenleaf Book Group, Austin, TX. Illustrations here reproduced by permission of Sarah Kaufman.

* * *

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) The Deslondes.

2) The girls and I are having fun this summer with more time to read. We are reading all good things thus far but are probably enjoying these two the most:




 

3) Lying in the sun. I don’t mean tanning. But just soaking it in.

4) The 11-year-old survived her first fall from her bike. Her chin was one with the pavement. But she’s still going.

5) A friend told me the fun fact that, for a while, John Lennon and Paul McCartney had the working title of “Scrambled Eggs” for “Yesterday.” I told my 9-year-old, who ran off and wrote some new lyrics.

6) Then I saw this.

7) The first night of my grad course went well this past week. I seem to have a good group of students.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

9 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #435: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Sarah Kaufman, last added: 6/8/2015
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18. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, FeaturingSteve Jenkins, Rick Lieder, and Emmanuelle Walker


– From Helen Frost’s Sweep Up the Sun,
illustrated by Rick Lieder

(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“Cherries, berries. / Pluck and feed. / Leaving a dropping / full of seed.”
– From April Pulley Sayre’s
Woodpecker Wham!,
illustrated by Steve Jenkins

(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“C is for cranes, both whooping and crowned.
C is for cockatoos, crests abound.”
– From Jean Roussen’s
Beautiful Birds,
illustrated by Emmanuelle Walker

(Click to enlarge spread slightly)


 

This morning over at Kirkus, I write about Douglas Florian’s How to Draw a Dragon. That link will be here soon.

* * *

I am following up today here at 7-Imp with art from three books I wrote about here last week — Jean Roussen’s Beautiful Birds, illustrated by Emmanuelle Walker (Flying Eye Books, March 2015); Helen Frost’s Sweep Up the Sun, illustrated by Rick Lieder (Candlewick, March 2015); and April Pulley Sayre’s Woodpecker Wham!, illustrated by Steve Jenkins (Henry Holt, May 2015).

Enjoy the art.

Please note: The text in some of the Woodpecker Wham! spreads below differs from what was printed in the final book. My image captions show the final text.



 

Art from Helen Frost’s
Sweep Up the Sun,
illustrated by Rick Lieder:


 



(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


 



 

Art from April Pulley Sayre’s
Woodpecker Wham!,
illustrated by Steve Jenkins:


 


“Instant message. / Tap-one, two! / BONK-BONK-BONK. / Now back to you!”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“Early insects / click and crawl. / Flick and flake / to find them all.”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“Spring sap rises. / Who will drill? / Sapsucker, sapsucker, / sticky bill!”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“Fan those feathers. / Shower clean. / Sunbathe dry. / Then oil and preen!”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“Fledglings fly. Oops! / Fledglings flop. / Chase and feed. / When will it stop?”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 



 

Art from Jean Roussen’s
Beautiful Birds,
illustrated by Emmanuelle Walker:


 


“E is for egret: its yellow eyes that pierce
and E is for eagle, majestic but fierce.”

(Click to enlarge spread slightly)


 


“M is for macaw, rainbows that ruffle
and mandarin ducks, the oddest of couples.”

(Click to enlarge spread slightly)


 


“P is for paradise and all of its birds,
P is for peacock, it’s the proudest, I’ve heard…”

(Click to enlarge spread slightly)


 



 

* * * * * * *

BEAUTIFUL BIRDS © Flying Eye Books, 2015. Text © Jean Roussen, 2015. Illustrations © Emmanuelle Walker, 2015. Images reproduced by permission of Flying Eye Books, London and New York.

SWEEP UP THE SUN. Text copyright © 2015 by Helen Frost. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Rick Lieder. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

WOODPECKER WHAM! Text copyright © 2015 by April Pulley Sayre. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Steve Jenkins. Published by Henry Holt and Company, New York. Illustrations reproduced by permission of Steve Jenkins.

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19. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #433: Featuring Julie Paschkis


Julie: “P. Zonka is a Friesian Bantam.”


 

If I were really organized, you would have read this post months ago at the dawn of Spring. It’s a very Spring’y book, and it also has a lot to do with eggs, which are also very Spring’y. But sometimes I’m just slow. Better late than never, though. Right?

There is a closing note in Julie Paschkis’ new picture book about how she and her family have an annual party where they gather together with friends to decorate eggs and eat yummy food. She makes particular mention of pysanky, Ukrainian decorated eggs, and a brilliant, decorated egg is an integral part of the story in this bright and beautiful book, P. Zonka Lays an Egg (Peachtree, March 2015). When I say bright, I’m talking a primarily sunny yellow palette, punctuated by other warm and lovely colors.

The story itself is about a chicken who doesn’t lay her eggs on time, nor does she lay enough of them to suit all the other chickens. (Rebel, nonconforming chickens are my favorite kinds of chickens, even if I can’t start my day without scrambled eggs.) P. Zonka is too busy taking in her surroundings, observing all the world’s wonders and details, to lay her eggs. But never fear: She has a big surprise for everyone in the end. “Every page turn,” writes the Kirkus review, “reveals a stunning new composition of fowls with personality, baskets of eggs and floral design elements evocative of … the beautiful folk art found on a Ukrainian decorated egg.”

It’s technically still Spring, so let’s take a look at some art from the book. (Most spreads are sans text.) I thank Julie for sharing; she also sent some early sketches. Oh, and we’ll close with some of Julie’s decorated eggs.

Enjoy …





Julie: “I painted this test sheet of all the dyes in two strengths, but the printer couldn’t match the colors, so I did the book with watercolor and gouache.”


 


Julie: “Originally, I wanted to paint the book with Ukrainian dyes. This was a sample.”


 


“Maud laid one egg every day. Dora laid an egg every other day.
Nadine always laid exactly five eggs a week.”


 


“Gloria never laid an egg because he turned out to be a rooster.
It was his job and he did it well.”


 


“All the other chickens laid eggs regularly.
All of them except P. Zonka.”


 


“‘I will tell you why,’ said P. Zonka. ‘Because of the pale mornings, the soft dark moss, the stripes on the crocuses, the orange cat with one blue eye,
the shining center of a dandelion, the sky at midnight.'”


 


“‘I don’t get it,’ said Maud. ‘P. Zonka is just plain lazy,’ said Nadine.
‘Come on, P. Zonka,’ urged Dora. ‘You might like laying an egg.’
‘Cock-a-doodle-doo!’ ‘Can’t you at least try?’ they all asked.”


 


…spectacular! There were patterns of sun yellow, grass green, tulip red. There were blues as bright as day and blues as dark as midnight.”


 


“After that, P. Zonka went back to wandering around the farmyard. She looked down and she gazed up. She clucked in wonder at all the colors she saw.
She didn’t lay very many eggs…”








 

P. ZONKA LAYS AN EGG. Copyright © 2015 by Julie Paschkis. Published by Peachtree, Atlanta, Georgia. All images here reproduced by permission of Julie Paschkis.

* * *

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) A night out.

1½) With raspberry torte.

2) Letterman’s farewell on Wednesday night. One of my oldest friends and I had on our bucket list to see him live one day, and well … we missed out on that. [She was, however, on the show years ago, handing an animal to Jack Hanna (since she works with zoos), and she brought me some surprises from the green room. I still have them.]

3) Last weekend’s children’s reading festival in Knoxville was wonderful, as always. Pictured here is the good discussion we had about picture books. I moderated, and weighing in with great responses were: R. Gregory Christie, Phil Stead, Erin Stead, Laura Vaccaro Seeger, and Dan Santat.

 


 

4) New bikes!

5) I finally wrote about my trip to Wyoming here. Maybe next week I’ll share more photos from the day (here at 7-Imp).

6) I went from the Tetons to the Appalachians in the span of one week.

7) School is over! The girls and I have a huge stack of books we can’t wait to read. Summer time = more time to read. (And swim.)

BONUS #1: This. Kyle Mooney makes me laugh.

BONUS #2: Game of Thrones, The Musical.

BONUS #3: Reading lots of picture books this week at my daughters’ school. I also got a third-grade class turned on to Dory Fantasmagory and left them my copy. Since I’m a Dory Evangelist, my work there is done.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

9 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #433: Featuring Julie Paschkis, last added: 5/25/2015
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20. JooHee Yoon’s Beastly Verse (Plus a Sneak-Peek …)



(Click each image to enlarge)


 

I’ve got artwork below today from illustrator and printmaker JooHee Yoon’s first picture book here in the U.S., Beastly Verse, published by Enchanted Lion Books last month. Does anyone else remember when JooHee visited 7-Imp back in 2011 to share some art? It’s exciting to see this book now.

This is a collection of animal poems, many from poets long-gone (Ogden Nash, Hilaire Belloc, Christina Rosetti), with gatefold surprises and Yoon’s distinctive and stylized art, so vivid in its palette that the spreads pop off the page. (You’ll see this below.) Daisy Fried wrote in the New York Times that “[k]ids appreciate the bizarre and off-kilter, and are too often denied it when grown-ups edit for positive messages and sweetness. Hooray for Yoon for countering that.” I love that.

I can also (if you want really detailed reviews) direct you to Betsy Bird’s review of the book here, as well as the post at Brain Pickings (where credit is given to Claudia Zoe Bedrick, founder of Enchanted Lion Books, for being the poetry-lover she is).

Up above, at the very tip-top of this post, is a spread from JooHee’s rendering of James Thurber’s story “The Tiger Who Would Be King,” which Enchanted Lion will publish this September. It’s a sneak-peek at that book today (and its cover), and I thank Claudia for that.

Here are some images from Beastly Verse. Enjoy!

 


– From “Three Young Rats” — without text (Anonymous)
(Click to enlarge)


 


– From “The Eel” by Ogden Nash
(Click to enlarge)


 


– From “The Friendly Hen” by Arthur Waugh
(Click to enlarge)


 


– From “The Happy Hyena” by Carolyn Wells
(Click to enlarge)


 


– From “The Pelican” by Robert Desnos
(Click to enlarge)


 



– From “Eletelephony” by Laura E. Richards
(Click each to enlarge)


 


– From “The Yak” (without text) by Hilaire Belloc
(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge cover)


 

* * * * * * *

BEASTLY VERSE. Text and illustration copyright © 2015 by JooHee Yoon. First edition published in 2015 by Enchanted Lion Books, Brooklyn. All images here reproduced by permission of the publisher.

Images from THE TIGER WHO WOULD BE KING reproduced by permission of Enchanted Lion Books.

2 Comments on JooHee Yoon’s Beastly Verse (Plus a Sneak-Peek …), last added: 5/26/2015
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21. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I’ve Done at BookPage,Featuring Sara O’Leary and Julie Morstad


Julie Morstad’s early Sadie sketches
(Click to enlarge)


 


“Sadie has had adventures in Wonderland.”
– A final spread from Sara O’Leary’s
This Is Sadie,
illustrated by Julie Morstad

(Click to enlarge)


 

This morning over at Kirkus, I’ve got three new picture books that are pretty much for the birds. You can thank me later for this exceedingly punny moment. That link is here.

* * *

Over at BookPage, I’ve got a review of Sara O’Leary’s This Is Sadie (Tundra, May 2015), illustrated by Julie Morstad. That review is here. Today, I follow up that review with a chat with Sara, and Julie shares some early sketches and final art from the book.

Enjoy!

p.s. Speaking of Morstad, I keep hearing great things about Laurel Snyder’s Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova, illustrated by Julie and coming in August from Chronicle Books. I’m looking forward to seeing that one.



 

Jules: What sparked this story for you?

Sara: This is Sadie started with the idea of this little girl in her room. A lot of stuff from the first draft is gone now, but one of the things I recall was thinking about this game I used to play when I was small where I would lie on the floor and stare at the ceiling until suddenly it seemed like I was looking at the floor and lying on the ceiling. That sense of being able to wilfully disbelieve the laws of physics is so attractive in some ways!

 


“Sadie sails all the way round her room, and back again. And it still isn’t even time for breakfast. Sadie has learned to be quiet in the mornings
because old people need a lot of sleep.”

(Click to enlarge)


 

I was intrigued by that whole imaginative world of childhood, and I think there’s a slightly nostalgic tone to the book, but I really don’t believe that world is entirely lost.

There’s a great book called How To Do Nothing With Nobody All Alone By Yourself, and for me that’s one of the all-time great titles. It encapsulates childhood for me. Sadie is very much a child who can be perfectly all alone by herself, because she has a rich inner life. And the fact that her inner life has been fed by books is, of course, autobiographical.

Jules: I know you’ve worked with Julie previously on other books. What draws you to her artwork?

Sara: It was fantastic getting the opportunity to do a new book with Julie. There seems to be some way in which she and I occupy the same imaginative territory. A lot of her art, outside of picture books, is marvelously dark and strange, and I think that gives a strong undercurrent to her work that might be glibly termed merely whimsical otherwise. When we talk about other people’s books, we love and loathe many of the same things, which I think is a sign that our sensibilities match up quite well.



Jules: What was it like to see her artwork for the first time for Sadie?

Sara: I cried the first time I saw Julie’s art for Sadie, but then I think I have with each of our books. I didn’t see the art all at once this time. And the first spread I saw was the one where Sadie visits the world of fairy tales. And there she is—on her white steed, her quiver full of arrows—and somehow she is breaking that fourth wall and looking straight out at the viewer, daring them to dispute that she can play the hero. I think it’s a profoundly powerful image.

 


Early rough of the book’s first spread
(Click to enlarge)


 

Jules: Yes! That’s my favorite spread in the book, hands down. I don’t have it here to share today, but that just means people will have to find a copy of the book and see for themselves.

Have you shared the story with children yet? What have been the responses?



 


Rough of the mermaid spread
(Click to enlarge)


 

Sara: I haven’t read this story with a child yet, but a dear friend read the book to her son and then called to tell me he loved it. Then the following night, she called to tell me that when Emil went to pick his bed-time story from his stack of books, he chose This is Sadie over everything else, including his beloved collection of Oliver Jeffers’s books. “I want the O’Leary,” he said. So, I beat out Oliver Jeffers! (Just don’t tell him, because I don’t want to make him cry. We love his books.)

Also, people have been sending me pics of their little people with a copy of This is Sadie, and this is now pretty much my favourite thing. I may need to do a gallery wall of them or something.

 


Another rough
(Click to enlarge)


 

Jules: What’s next for you?

Sara: I have a couple of projects coming out in the next year. One is a baby book series with Owl Books to be illustrated by Karen Klassen, and it’s going to be utterly gorgeous. Karen did an edition of Breakfast at Tiffany’s with The Folio Society that is stunning. She is new to picture books but was such an interesting choice, because after all, why shouldn’t baby books be beautiful?

 


Karen Klassen’s cover art for Breakfast at Tiffany’s


 

A Family is a Family is a Family is pretty much my way of walking the walk of all my talk about the need for diverse representations in picture books. The book is with Groundwood Books and will be illustrated by the fabulous Qin Leng.

I’m also working on a few more picture book manuscripts, along with a middle-grade novel that I am writing with my younger son. And finally, I’m looking at turning This is Sadie into a children’s television series in which Sadie takes a role in various children’s classics. A bit like those great old episodes of Gumby!

Jules: Ooh, I really like Qin Leng’s artwork. I posted some here at 7-Imp last September (from Chieri Uegaki’s Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin). And Robert Heidbreder’s Song for a Summer Night: A Lullaby, released by Groundwood this month, is beautiful:

 



 

Thanks for visiting, Sara. Anything else you want to add?

Sara: This is my fourth picture book, but somehow this year marks a change for me in that I am really thinking of myself as a picture writer for the first time. This is partly a factor of having taught a workshop in writing for children for a few years and thinking very hard about how picture books work and what exactly they can do.

The real gift for me in all of this has been realising how wonderful picture book people are. I’m working with these fabulous women now: Tara Walker at Tundra/Penguin Random House; Karen Boersma at Owl Books; and Sheila Barry at Groundwood Books. Really, I’d go ahead and write the books I’m doing with them just for the sake of the conversations we get to have. Please don’t tell them that, though.

* * * * * * *

Spreads above excerpted from This is Sadie by Sara O’Leary, illustrated by Julie Morstad. Text copyright © 2015 by Sara O’Leary. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Julie Morstad. Published by Tundra Books, a division of Random House of Canada Ltd., a Penguin Random House Company. Spreads reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Early roughs/sketches are used by permission of Julie Morstad.

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22. The Copacetic Club

‘Loquacious’ (used in the book), along with ‘copacetic,’ were two words I learned from my sister’s boyfriend. When I was a kid, I loved knowing these big words. It made me feel grown-up. In fact, when my friends and I used to greet each other with ‘How ya doin’?’, the correct response was ‘copacetic.’ It was like a code or our own secret language, hidden right there in English vocabulary. If you knew the response, you were in the ‘copacetic club.’”

Today over at Kirkus, I talk with Jim Averbeck, quoted above, and Yasmeen Ismail, both pictured here, who are the author and illustrator (respectively) of the new picture book One Word from Sophia (Atheneum), which will be on shelves in June.

That Q&A is here, and I will have some art and early sketches from it next week here at 7-Imp.

* * * * * * *

Photo of Jim taken by Tim O’Meara and used by his permission.

Photo of Yasmeen taken by Olivia Hemingway Photography and used by her permission.

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23. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #434: Featuring Jason Chin

I’ve got a review over at BookPage of Miranda Paul’s beautiful Water Is Water (Neal Porter Books/Roaring Brook Press, May 2015), illustrated by Jason Chin. That is here. Today, Jason is sharing a bit of art from the book, as well as a few early sketches. I thank him for sharing.




Dummy images
(Click last two to enlarge slightly)


 


Storyboard
(Click to enlarge slightly)


 


One of the final spreads: “…they form low.”
(Click to enlarge slightly)


 


Another final spread: “…it forms flakes. Pack. Stack. Shape it and …”
(Click to enlarge slightly)


 



 

WATER IS WATER. Copyright © 2015 by Miranda Paul. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Jason Chin. Published by Neal Porter Books/Roaring Brook Press, New York. All images here reproduced by permission of Jason Chin.

* * *

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) Letters from friends.

2) Book recommendations from friends and colleagues.

3) I’m learning “Golden Slumbers” on the piano.

4) My girls learned to ride bikes (and a late start too — one is 9; the other, 11) in about thirty minutes! This is good, because now we can bike a lot.

5) Biking to the library.

6) Surprises in the mail.

7) My picture book grad course (for the University of Tennessee) starts this week. I hope my students are ready to read read read.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

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24. Marvin Bileck and Ashley Bryan:One Unique Collaboration Before Breakfast


“Spades for the circling turrets / Clubs for the towers above /
Diamonds for sparkling windows / And hearts for love …”
(Click to enlarge)


 

Do you know one reason I like to keep my eye on what Alazar Press is doing? They have previously published the work of Ashley Bryan (see this older 7-Imp post), and they’re doing it again this year. But this time it’s a very unusual collaboration they’re bringing into the spotlight, one that’s been 50 years in the making.

The book is called By Trolley Past Thimbledon Bridge and was released in early May. Once upon a time, Marvin Bileck—illustrator of Rain Makes Applesauce, a 1965 Caldecott Honor Book—created the illustrations for the only children’s manuscript written by Virginia Woolf. However, her estate withdrew the text after more than a decade of Marvin’s work. Ashley Bryan then stepped in to collaborate with Bileck on a new text, securing the help of the legendary Jean Karl, who founded Atheneum Books for Young Readers. Still, though, the book has taken decades to see light of day — and now it is on shelves, thanks to Alazar.

“When [Bileck] told his friend Ashley Bryan,” an opening note from Bileck’s wife states, “they began playfully bantering back and forth with words here and there, in and out of the drawings, and that’s how By Trolley Past Thimbledon Bridge came into being.” It’s a set of ten poems with a hand-lettered text all throughout the book, as well as Bileck’s delicate, whispery illustrations. “Bileck and Bryan capture the stuff of dreams in this mesmerizing and multifaceted pageant,” writes the Kirkus review.

Joseph Gulla of Alazar Press told me a bit about the book:

“Last year, we made two trips to Maine and spent days working on the book, sequencing the pages and discussing other materials that we would like to include. Here [is] an early meeting with Ashley. Rosemarie [Gulla of Alazar Press] and Ashley had a lot of fun working out details and making the first hand-made copy of the book:

It was at one of these meetings that we hatched the idea of taking the poems that are spread throughout the book and placing them on two pages in the early section of the book. So, the poems actually appear twice — once near the beginning of the book and then throughout the body of the book on the pages whose images they accompany:



 



(Click each to enlarge)


 

We worked with Emily Nelligan, Marvin’s widow, on some of the details of the book. When we asked for a photo, she sent us a black-and-white of a young Marvin, which we used. We found a photo of Ashley from around the time of his Cooper Union days, so we paired them on the bio page from the book:

 


(Click to enlarge)


 

When we think about the book, we think of the friendship between Ashley and Marvin. Marvin had the disappointment of losing the book contract with the Virginia Woolf estate. Ashley spent considerable time helping Marvin shape a new book out of the existing material. Ashley put enormous effort into the wonderfully complimentary poems that are on the pages of the book.”

The folks at Alazar Press have created a website for the book, which includes recordings of Ashley reading the ten poems from the book.

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

 


“Skip aboard children / Hurry if you can /
Trolley’s now leaving / For Thimbledon Land …”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“… The bridge too would crumble / And splash in our / Sassafras Tea! / Ah me!”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“The journey’s as silent / As snowfalls at night /
Folks think we’re nearby / But we’ve slipped out of sight. …”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“My dream trolley’s wheels / Shower sparks to the ground /
And grind to a half / As the children hop down. …”
(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge cover)


 

* * * * * * *

BY TROLLEY PAST THIMBLEDON BRIDGE. Illustrations copyright © 2015 Marvin Bileck and Emily Nelligan Trust. Text copyright © 2015 by Ashley Bryan; Marvin Bileck and Emily Nelligan Trust. All images here used by permission of the publisher, Alazar Press, North Carolina.

1 Comments on Marvin Bileck and Ashley Bryan:One Unique Collaboration Before Breakfast, last added: 6/2/2015
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25. The Many Sides of Sophia


“Sophia’s birthday was coming up, and she had five things on her mind –
One True Desire and four problems.”


 

Since last week over at Kirkus, I chatted with Jim Averbeck and Yasmeen Ismail about One Word from Sophia, coming to shelves in mid-June from Atheneum Books for Young Readers (that Q&A is here), I’ve got some art and early sketches from Yasmeen today.

I thank her for sharing.



 



Early sketches
(Click each to enlarge)


 





More early drawings


 


“…Her One True Desire was to get a pet giraffe for her birthday.”


 


“… and Grand-mamá, who was very strict.”


 


“So Sophia used fewer words with Father. ‘Giraffes,’ said Sophia, ‘are a good source of manure, which can be sold at a profit to garden centers and activists.”


 


“Her proposal was accompanied by a compelling graph
showing how much money she would make.”


 


“In a last, desperate attempt before her birthday, Sophia prepared to speak to everyone on once. She revised and shortened her proposition
until it was just one word.”


 


“‘One word really worked,’ she said.”


 


“And two words came in handy as well …”


 


Click to enlarge cover


 

* * * * * * *

ONE WORD FROM SOPHIA. Copyright © 2015 by Jim Averbeck. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Yasmeen Ismail. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York. Images here reproduced by permission of Yasmeen Ismail.

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