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1. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Eva Eriksson

All storytelling has its backbone in realistic fiction. So many kids, even at a surprisingly young age, are eager to read scary stories. I tried to fill that gap. ‘Scary’ thrills them. It makes their hearts beat faster. … To me, the great sentence is: The door knob slowly, slowly turned. That delicious moment of anticipation, of danger climbing the stairs. I’ve tried to provide those chills, while still resolving each book in a safe way.”

* * *

Over here at Kirkus yesterday, I talked to author James Preller, quoted above, about his Scary Tales series from Feiwel & Friends. The latest, The One-Eyed Doll, was recently released. Perfect for Halloween reading. We also chat about his middle-grade novels and school visits.

Next week, I’ll have some art from the Scary Tales books. They are illustrated by Iacopo Bruno.

Today at Kirkus, I write about some picture book imports — that is, those picture books originally published in other countries but now on American shores. That link will be here soon.

* * *

Last week, I wrote here about two early chapter books, one featured more in-depth on Wednesday of this week. Below are some illustrations from the other book, Rose Lagercrantz’s My Heart is Laughing, illustrated by Eva Eriksson (Gecko Press, May 2014). Enjoy the art.


“It was so high they had to go and find a chair so they could climb up it.
They climbed for hours pretending to be monkeys.”


“‘This is very sad!’ she sighed. ‘Is there anyone else this has happened to?’ It was quiet again. ‘Me,’ said Jonathan finally. ‘Vicky and Mickey keep pushing me all the time!’
And Susie waved her arm furiously.”


“‘I forgive you anyway,’ she said. Everybody breathed out. The drama was over.”


“Dani just sat and waved her pen around and smiled at Ella,
who had been given a sheet of paper to write on.”


 



 

* * * * * * *

MY HEART IS LAUGHING. First American edition copyright © 2014 by Gecko Press. Illustrations used by permission of the publisher.

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2. Preparing Your Supply of Light


“Ripe mango / Fresh mango / Yellow mango / Mango in-between / Mango clusters / Balance yourself below the branch / Produce more mangos / That taste of honey and delight / For the lovers of the universe / All while preparing your supply of light”
(a poem from Maríe-Andriele Charlot)

This morning, the New York Times Best Illustrated Books list for 2014 was announced. It’s here. I get excited every Fall about this list. If you love picture books, it’s a kick to see these lists, because how often are picture books celebrated on a national scale? I was happy to wake up and see the list had been announced.

You can see 2014 posts about nearly all of these books in the 7-Imp archives, but this morning I highlight one book I was particularly happy to see on this list, which I hadn’t yet blogged about. In fact, just yesterday I had connected with the publisher, thanks to wonderful Ellen Myrick of Myrick Marketing and Media, to try to secure some illustrations from the book to feature here at 7-Imp, because I really like it. And this morning, those images came through, so what good timing. Enjoy the art today! And congrats to the illustrator for being on the NYTimes list.

The book is called Haiti, My Country. Originally published in 2010, this English edition (March 2014) comes to us by way of Fifth House Publishers. It was illustrated by a Canadian artist, name Rogé. You can see more of his beautiful work here. The book is a series of poems, written by young people of Camp-Perrin in Haiti. For several months, the illustrator, who lives in Quebec and who was evidently awarded the Governor General’s Literary Award for Illustration in 2006, worked on these portraits. The book primarily focuses on the joy in their lives, though as the publisher writes so vividly, “misery often storms through Haiti” (earthquakes, floods, and other natural disasters). There are some exceptions, such as with the striking short poem: “Magnificent country becomes / Broken land / All smiles are lost.” But, as one young poet writes, there is always hope: “On the distant horizon, the sun disappears / To refresh our souls. / We observe the sea and the sky / In harmony, awaking tenderness within us.”

Here’s another illustration:


“I want to make it radiate everywhere / To make it known that Haiti is a gift from the heavens / Witnessing its greenery, its palm, / Apricot, mango, and avocado trees …”
(a poem from Lordanie Théodore)

* * * * * * *

HAITI: MY COUNTRY. English translation copyright © 2014, Fifth House Publishers. Illustrations used by permission of the publisher.

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3. When Terrifying Leaps of Faith Pay Off:An Art- and Sketch-Filled Q&A with Abby Hanlon

Last week at Kirkus, I wrote about two new chapter books for children, and today I’m going a bit more in depth with one of them, Abby Hanlon’s Dory Fantasmagory, released by Dial earlier this month. (I promise to have some art here at 7-Imp from the other chapter book this coming Friday.)

I’m smitten with Dory Fantasmagory, but you can read why in that column, if you’re so inclined. Today, Abby—who was featured here at 7-Imp back in 2012 at the release of her debut picture book—visits to share some illustrations from the book, some early sketches, and to talk about Dory a bit.

I thank her for visiting.


“Mary always wants to play with me. She thinks I’m the greatest.
At night, Mary sleeps under my bed.”


 

Jules: As I read Dory, I kept thinking about how HARD it is to write for this age and not be too precious about things. Or cloying. But you didn’t do that at all. Also, the emotional honesty of the book is spot-on. Do you want to talk a bit about trying to get those things right? Did you go through a ton of drafts? Did the story come easily to you in terms of those emotional rhythms and that honesty?


“All these pictures come rushing into my brain at once.”


 

Abby: Putting the story together with a strong narrative arc was difficult for me and came after I was already working with Lucia Monfried at Dial. But all the little bits and pieces of the story, I feel, almost wrote themselves. I came up with the idea for Dory and its sequel exactly a year before selling the manuscripts.

That is because I had a huge advantage –- I was writing a book about a six-year-old, and I had not one, but TWO, incredibly creative six-year-olds living in my house. I would read them parts, ask them questions, and make revisions with them. But mostly we would just be hanging out, and some very Dory-ish thing would happen that would make us laugh, and then together we would figure out how to expand on it. My kids were constantly giving me ideas, intentionally (often too bizarre to translate) or not.


“My name is Dory, but everyone calls me Rascal.
This is my family. I am the little kid.”


 


“On the way home, we pick up Luke and Violet at their friend’s house.
I quietly whimper like a dog to Luke so my mom can’t hear.
I raise my paws and make my eyes look droopy.”


 

The feeling of the story of the youngest child comes from my own childhood as the youngest of three, but all of the details and humor of the book come from my twins. I’ve always been fascinated by how my kids play imaginatively and what they find funny. The things I have done to “study” my kids while they are playing, I feel, could blur the line between being the most annoying obsessive helicopter mom and simply being a writer. For example, I’ve covertly taken videos of them in the midst of their imaginary games. I’ve taken dictation of their surrealist stories or of a long convoluted account of a game they played at recess. I’ve at times typed everything they say, as they are saying it. (They have no idea I’m doing it.). I’ve stood outside their bedroom door at night listening to their conversations in the dark. And generally, I follow them around the house saying, “Hey! What are you guys playing?” Because I really need to know.

Jules: I love how Mrs.Gobble Gracker made me think of Viola Swamp but not in a way that seemed copycat-like. Did you intend that? (I see, as I re-read your 2012 visit to 7-Imp, that you mentioned The Swamp!)

Incidentally, I love that she drinks coffee in the mornings.


“I run and hide under my parents’ bed. There’s something warm and furry under the bed. Someone is already hiding under this bed. It’s Mary.”


 

Abby: I did not intend to [reference Miss Viola Swamp], but I’m thrilled to be associated with James Marshall in any way. As a first-grade teacher, I would get so carried away reading the part of Viola Swamp that it would scare the kids (which, yes, I mentioned on my last visit to 7-Imp!) When I came up with Mrs. Gobble Gracker, my kids were really into Annie, and I was intrigued by how deliciously terrified my daughter was of Miss Hannigan. She would cover her ears and even cry for most of the song, “Little Girls.” (“Some day, I’ll step on their freckles.”) But she still wanted me to play the song.


“As I walk away, I hold my head up high and think, I don’t have time to play anyway. I’m way too busy. But what was I so busy doing? I can’t remember.
I know I was in the middle of something.”


 


“Mrs. Gobble Gracker stumbles around. She is walking into the wall, her knees are bending, her eyes are closing … she collapses! ‘I’ll find that girl when I wake up,’
she mumbles, and then she is sound asleep.”


 


“Yuck, I hate this stupid dress. Grrrrr.”


 

Miss Hannigan inspired me. And I thought about how so many fairy tales are centered around a female villain. My kids have a million picture books, but for a couple of years they mostly just wanted us to read their one book of fairy tales, the original Grimms’ tales that are gory – where Cinderella’s sisters cut different parts of their feet off to fit into the shoe, and at the end get their eyes pecked out by birds. I wanted to write a book that would interest kids on that same level. Without being quite as bloody, I used some of the fairy tale archetypes to write the story –- with a hero (Dory); a sidekick/trickster (her friend, Mary); the wise old man/fairy godmother (Mr. Nuggy); and of course the female villain, Mrs. Gobble Gracker.


“The next morning I warn Mary. ‘Mrs. Gobble Gracker is five hundred and seven years old, and she has black teeth that are sharp like needles, and her pockets are full of dirty tissues. And … she could be on her way over here right now,
so don’t act like a baby.” I’ve never seen a monster so scared.”


 


“When I look up at the trees through my tears, I see someone up there looking down at me. ‘Who are you?’ I ask, rubbing my eyes, squinting into the sun. ‘I’m your fairy godmother,’ says a little man, crawling down from the tree like a koala. ‘Are you sure?’ I ask. ‘You don’t look like a fairy godmother.’ ‘Well, pretty sure,’ he says, but he looks kind of confused to me. ‘Well, the important thing is, I’m here to help you.’
He says his name is Mr. Nuggy and that he lives in the woods.”


 

Jules: Can you talk about the illustrations?

Abby: The book has about 150 illustrations in it, which was incredibly challenging for me as a new illustrator. When I started the book, the scary thing was that I knew I would get better as I got to the end, and that I would have to re-do everything (somehow before the deadline). This was a problem, because I’m already a compulsive re-do’er -– which is the only way I’ve been able to learn. And I was right: The worst and best thing happened. I did improve (or stabilize), and I did end up re-doing almost everything at the end. So, for the final winter months I worked on the book, the only time I left my house was to take my kids to school and go to the grocery store.


“They didn’t even want to see me eat a napkin.”


 

The good thing was that I was working in black and white, which I feel is my natural medium. And I think the chapter book format, where most of the illustrations are vignettes also suited my style well. I’m about to start the final art for the second book, and I think it might actually be fun this time and not a terrifying leap of faith, like last time.


“Luke just can’t get enough of me. He loves Chickenbone.”


 


“Now that it’s quiet, Mr. Nuggy and I finally start cooking. We make the deadliest,
most delicious poison soup for Mrs. Gobble Gracker’s dinner.”


 

Jules: Will there be more books about Dory?

Abby: I am working on the sequel, called Dory and the Real True Friend, which will be out summer of 2015. In the sequel, Dory starts school and is on a quest to make a real friend. When she succeeds in finding the perfect companion (another fairy tale archetype, the princess), Dory’s siblings are convinced the friend is imaginary. At the end, the two friends triumphantly merge their separate imaginary worlds.

Some early sketches from Dory Fantasmagory:


 










 



 

* * * * * * *

DORY FANTASMAGORY. Copyright © 2014 by Abby Hanlon. Published by Dial Books for Young Readers, New York. All images here used by permission of Abby Hanlon.

3 Comments on When Terrifying Leaps of Faith Pay Off:An Art- and Sketch-Filled Q&A with Abby Hanlon, last added: 10/31/2014
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4. The Making of Viva Frida: Yuyi Morales’ Photo Essay



 

Yuyi Morales’ Viva Frida, released by Neal Porter/Roaring Brook in September, has been called “an ingenious tour de force” (Horn Book) and a “haunting beauty” (Publishers Weekly) and has been described as “resonant” (School Library Journal) and “luminescent” (Kirkus). The book is a visually rich tribute to artist Frida Khalo. As the starred Publishers Weekly review notes, in this book Frida is presented “less as a historical figure than as an icon who represents the life Morales holds sacred; Frida lives because she loves and creates.” (I’m quoting that in particular, because I think that reviewer really nails it there.)

To call the illustrations multi-media ones somehow seems an understatement: Yuyi used acrylic paints, photography, and stop-motion puppets made from steel, polymer clay, and wool to create these vivid 3D tableaus. To pull it all together, she relied on her computer, but then you can get the details on that below, since I had asked Yuyi a while back if she wanted to share a bit of behind-the-scenes images on the making of this beautiful book. I’m so glad she obliged. As you can see, she sent what is essentially a spectacular photo essay—her words and her images—on the creation of this book, one of the most beautiful picture books I’ve seen all year.

I thank her for sharing.

Yuyi: Hi, Julie.

After you contacted me about sharing images and insight into the making of Viva Frida, I went back to my files and found myself inundated with the images of a most beloved journey. From the very beginning, I started to document the process as best I could; however, most of the time the hands I needed to hold a camera and shoot the pictures were the same hands I had full with materials and work, so it wasn’t always easy — and I wasn’t as thorough as I had wished.

Nevertheless, the images are plentiful, since the process of the making of this book has taken several different ways of creating. I have assembled a few images from some of the different works I did when creating the illustrations. The images are just a few of many different things that were done.

 



 

Viva Frida, like almost anything, started as a small idea. My writer’s group, The Revisionaries, had its end-of-the-year assignment in which we chose an idea to trigger the creation of a new book. This is an annual assignment we have been giving to ourselves for years, and that year the assignment was based on the words “baby book.” As you can imagine, every creative person will come up with a different way to use those words to create. In my case, I decided to make a book that could be told to a very young child, even though the subject I chose was one I had had a hard time understanding when I was a kid myself. I chose the Mexican painter Frida Khalo.

 



 

Why Frida? Since I emigrated to the United States, Frida became to me a symbol of self-exploration and a symbol of self-love. Do you know that Frida celebrated—in her work, in the way she dressed, and in the way she lived—her own indigenous ancestry at a time when most Mexicans dug hard into their genealogical trees to find the slightest sign of European blood? In my own struggle to become proud of my identity as a Mexican immigrant, in the process to find my value, and in learning to believe that, no matter the shortcomings, I had everything I needed to be joyful me, Frida has been a beacon.

And so I very much wanted to celebrate her.

 






 

In the creation of the images of these book, I decided to dream beyond what I thought I was capable of. I had been musing about what big productions—with big budgets—some art projects can be, such as movies. And I kept thinking, why don’t we have “big production” children’s books, too? If I were making a movie, I would surely have to learn some things I had no idea how to do, and I might even have to hire some people that were experts on their field so that we together could tell the story. And yeah, I didn’t have a big budget, but nevertheless, I would even make a musical theme for my story like in the movies! My New Year’s resolution that winter had been that, when in doubt about choosing from different creative paths, I would always choose the one that stopped me hard and made me say, “Oh, I would never do that. That is too crazy!”

And so I began Viva Frida.

 




(Click this image to see it much larger)


 

As you will notice in some of these images, the making of this book comes to completion with the work and inspiration of my whole community. My husband, Tim O’Meara, photographed with me the scenes; Daluvia, a textile artist from Oaxaca, made me the first prototype of Frida’s dress, which later I used to learn how to do the embroidery and crafting of the final dresses myself. Camilo, who usually sells his metal creations at the Coatepec street market, made the hand earrings I wanted for Frida. When la comadre Linda heard I was making a Frida doll, she brought me from her house a tiny piece of striped fabric that much resembled the colors of the traditional rebozos women wear in Mexico, and with that material I crafted the one Frida wears in the book. Mike Emiglio is a Canadian artist that makes some of the finest stop motion armatures, and he created the “skeletons” that would become Frida, Xolot the Dog, and the monkey Fulan Chang. My son Kelly fed me and loved me while I worked long hours. Even my puppy Mojo lent me his nose to add it (digitally) to Xolot’s face, because Xolot the puppet didn’t have one. And finally, I also made our book’s theme song! My beloved friend Miguel created the music to the words I wrote to the song “La Venadita.”

 



Yuyi: “A photo of me that my husband took
when we visited Frida’s Blue House for the first time …”


 


(Click this image to see it much larger)


 




 

As you can see, at the end I managed to make a book that would usually make make me say, “Oh, I would never do that. That is too crazy!”

P.S. “La Venadita” can be played here.

 



 




Neal Porter’s photos of Yuyi at Casa Azul, Frida’s home
(Click the last two to enlarge)


 


Thumbnails from Viva Frida


 


“siento / I feel”
A final spread (without text) from the book

(Click to enlarge)


 


“que amo / that I love”
A final spread (without text) from the book

(Click to enlarge)


 



 

* * * * * * *

VIVA FRIDA. Copyright © 2014 by Yuyi Morales. Published by Neal Porter/Roaring Brook Press, New York. All images here used with permission of Yuyi Morales and Neal Porter.

10 Comments on The Making of Viva Frida: Yuyi Morales’ Photo Essay, last added: 10/30/2014
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5. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #403: Featuring Virginia Lee Burton

Did you all know that this year is the 75th anniversary of the publication of Virginia Lee Burton’s Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel? Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has released an anniversary edition, and I have a wee bit of art today from it — in the name of celebration.

So much has been written about this book, and many of you likely know it well. One thing I’d like to add on its birthday is this: If you have never read Barbara Elleman’s Virginia Lee Burton: A Life in Art—and if you enjoying reading about picture books and picture book creators—then I highly recommend it. Elleman, the founding editor of Book Links, opens the book, published in 2002, with the wonderful story of Dick Berkenbush, a story my late co-author, Peter D. Sieruta, once blogged about and a story we included in Wild Things: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Litearture (“The Boy Behind the Asterisk” in the “Hidden Delights” chapter).

I love what Elleman says here about Mike Mulligan, which is really a statement about Burton’s talents as an illustrator:

Underlining the basic story lies a concern for the changing times—both cultural and mechanical—that confront Mary Anne. Burton dealt with the changes visually: automobiles share the scene with horses and buggies, and faces reflect a diversity of age and economic status — an aspect not often found in picture books of the era. Furthermore, she supplied instant personality in the bend of an old man’s knee, the hunch of a child’s shoulder, the gesture of a woman’s hand, and the cock of a dog’s head.

Here are some spreads from the book:


“Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne had been digging together for years and years.
Mike Mulligan took such good care of Mary Anne she never grew old.
It was Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne and some others
who dug the great canals for the big boats to sail through.”

(Click to enlarge)


“It was Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne and some others who lowered the hills and straightened the curves to make the long highways for the automobiles.”
(Click to enlarge)


“And it was Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne and some others who dug the deep holes for the cellars of the tall skyscrapers in the big citites. When people used to stop and watch them, Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne used to dig a little faster and a little better. The more people stopped, the faster and better they dug. Some days they would keep as many as thirty-seven trucks busy taking away the dirt they had dug.”
(Click to enlarge)

MIKE MULLIGAN AND HIS STEAM SHOVEL. Copyright © 1939 by Virginia Lee Demetrios. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, 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 week at the 2014 conference of the Tennessee Association of School Librarians. Jazz hands and spirit fingers for good school librarians!

2) This made me laugh till my sides hurt.

3) Look at this new blog about picture books!

4) When I meet someone new, who also loves picture books, and they ask what my favorite picture books of the year are AND they have passionate responses to the same question when I ask them? That’s a kick.

5) The branch of the Nashville Public Library system that I use that is closest to my home has a brand-new, kickin’ location in a brand-new space, and I can’t wait to go see it. See? This is such a boost for that part of Nashville, and I’m so happy the library invested the money in it.

6) I linked to this last week, and I keep thinking about it. But I forgot to share THE BEST PART:

While we were working on the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony, Danny Boyle met David Hockney and talked to him about Humphrey Jennings’s Pandaemonium – a book I’d given Danny which evokes the industrial revolution and is filled with the clanking of machines, the yells of protests, tears of goodbye, cries of excitement and whispers of conspiracy. Hockney gave us this amazing image to think about. He said, imagine this, the sun pouring down energy from the beginning of time, energy that went into algae and into the leaves of trees, which then sank into the earth and fossilised. What is coal or peat but the stored memory of millions upon millions of uninhabited summers. When the industrial revolution came along, someone opened a hole in the ground and reversed that process. That energy poured out and was harnessed and turned into engines and rockets and aeroplanes and central heating and motor cars, unleashing this wave of incredible creativity. That’s how it should be with stories. They should be sunlight pouring down upon your head and being stored as energy until the day you need them. Whenever we ask for something in return, they are taking that powerful charge and earthing it. Wasting it into the ground. May I take this opportunity to wish you all endless sunlight.

“Stories should be sunlight pouring down upon your head and being stored as energy until the day you need them.” I’m gonna have that tattooed on my forehead.

7) Did I already kick about these wise words from Sam Phillips?

What are YOUR kicks this week?

6 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #403: Featuring Virginia Lee Burton, last added: 10/28/2014
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6. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week (the Halloween Edition), Featuring Gerald Kelley, Harriet Muncaster,Greg Pizzoli, and Laura Vaccaro Seeger


– From Carol Brendler’s Not Very Scary,
illustrated by Greg Pizzoli


 


“I don’t know where my mom goes. She’s always my mom, but I think that sometimes she just needs a break from being a witch.”
– From Harriet Muncaster’s
I Am a Witch’s Cat

(Click to see spread in its entirety)

 


– From Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s
Dog and Bear: Tricks and Treats


 


– From J. Patrick Lewis’
M is for Monster: A Fantastic Creatures Alphabet,
illustrated by Gerald Kelley


 

We’re celebrating Halloween today, 7-Imp style, with lots of artwork.

Last week here at Kirkus, I did a round-up of some good, new Halloween titles. Today, I’ve got some art from each one. All the art, all the info, and all the covers are below. Greg Pizzoli even sent some early dummy images for his illustrations for Carol Brendler’s Not Very Scary.

Today over at Kirkus, I write about two of my very favorite brand-new early chapter books for children (and both are illustrated). That link will be here soon.

Enjoy the art …



 

Dummy images and art from Carol Brendler’s
Not Very Scary, illustrated by Greg Pizzoli
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, August 2014)




Title page spread
(Click each to enlarge)


 



“Melly loved surprises and Malberta’s were the best.
So on the scariest night of all, Melly set out for a visit.”

(Click each to enlarge)


 



“…three wheezy withces following two skittish skeletons and one coal-black cat with an itchy-twitchy tail! ‘Not particularly scary,’ said Melly, but she bit her claws,
one by one. Then she saw …”

(Click each to enlarge)


 



“…five grimy goblins following four mournful ghosts, three wheezy witches, two skittish skeletons, and one coal-black with an itchy-twithcy tail! ‘Not remarkably scary,’
said Melly, but she backed away, right into a briar patch. Then she saw …”

(Click each to enlarge)


 



“…seven frenzied fruit bats following six sullen mummies, five grimy goblins, four mournful ghosts, three wheezy witches, two skittish skeletons, and one coal-black cat with an itchy-twitchy tail! ‘Not especially scary!’ Melly yelled,but her little monster heart skipped a beat-beat-beat. Then she saw …”
(Click each to enlarge)


 



“…nine rambunctious rats join eight spindly spiders, seven frenzied fruit bats, six sullen mummies, five grimy goblins, four mournful ghosts, three wheezy witches, two skittish skeletons, and one coal-black cat with an itchy-twitchy tail! ‘Not tremendously scary!’ Melly yelled, but she shivered as she raised the rusty latch on the gate. Then she saw …”
(Click each to enlarge)


 



“…ten vexing vultures join nine rambunctious rats, eight spindly spiders, seven frenzied fruit bats, six sullen mummies, five grimy goblins, four mournful ghosts, three wheezy witches, two skittish skeletons, and one coal-black cat with an itchy-twitchy tail!
‘NOT VERY SCARY!’ Melly yelled, but her fangs ch-ch-chattered
as she rang Malberta’s b-b-bell.”

(Click each to enlarge)


 



“‘Surprise!’ cried Malberta. A party! There was poison ivy punch and lizard tongue trail mix. There was bobbing for crawdads and a Pin the Drool on the Ghoul game. But there was no one to play with. Where were the other party guests?”
(Click each to enlarge)


 



“‘Here we are!’ shouted ten vultures, nine rats, eight spiders, seven fruit bats, six mummies, five goblins, four ghosts, three witches, two skeletons, and one coal-black cat with an itchy-twitchy tail. Malberta’s friends! They were invited, too.”
(Click each to enlarge)


 



Cover dummy and final cover
(Click dummy image to enlarge)


 

Art from Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s
Dog and Bear: Tricks and Treats
(Neal Porter/Roaring Brook, August 2014)
















 

Art from J. Patrick Lewis’
M is for Monster: A Fantastic Creatures Alphabet,
illustrated by Gerald Kelley
(Sleeping Bear Press, August 2014)


 




 



 

Art from Harriet Muncaster’s
I Am a Witch’s Cat
(Harper, July 2014)


 


“I know my mom is a witch because she keeps lots of strange potion bottles
in the bathroom that I am NOT allowed to touch.”

(Click to see spread in its entirety)


“And when we go shopping, she buys jars of EYEBALLS and GREEN FINGERS.”
(Click to see spread in its entirety)


“I know my mom is a witch because she grows magical herbs in the garden …”
(Click to see spread in its entirety)


“I know my mom is a witch because once a week she gets out her broomstick and whirls it around my room. Sometimes she lets me have a ride.
That is the BEST thing about being a witch’s cat.”

(Click to enlarge)


“On Friday nights my mom goes out and the babysitter comes. I don’t mind,
because the babysitter is nice.”

(Click to enlarge)


“She lets me watch TV and eat popcorn until it is time to go to bed.”
(Click to see spread in its entirety)



 

* * * * * * *

DOG AND BEAR: TRICKS AND TREATS. Copyright © 2014 by Laura Vaccaro Seeger. Published by Neal Porter/Roaring Brook Press, New York. Artwork reproduced by permission of Laura Vaccaro Seeger.

I AM A WITCH’S CAT. Copyright © 2014 by Harriet Muncaster. Published by Harper, New York. Artwork reproduced by permission of Harriet Muncaster.

M IS FOR MONSTER: A FANTASTIC CREATURES ALPHABET. Copyright © 2014 by J. Patrick Lewis. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Gerald Kelley. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Sleeping Bear Press, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

NOT VERY SCARY. Copyright © 2014 by Carol Brendler. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Greg Pizzoli. Published by Farrar Straus Giroux, New York. Dummy images and art reproduced by permission of Greg Pizzoli.

1 Comments on What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week (the Halloween Edition), Featuring Gerald Kelley, Harriet Muncaster,Greg Pizzoli, and Laura Vaccaro Seeger, last added: 10/24/2014
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7. Drawing Blind with Philip C. Stead


“SEBASTIAN sat high on his roof—something he was never supposed to do.
‘There is nothing to see on my street,’ he thought. ‘Nothing to see at all.’”

(Click to enlarge)


 

Author-illustrator Phil Stead is visiting today to chat with me about his newest picture book, Sebastian and the Balloon, released by Neal Porter Books/Roaring Brook earlier this month.

This is the story of a young boy who sets out on an adventure with “all the things he would ever need” and charts a course for the skies — in a balloon he’s built from his grandmother’s afghans. Along the way, he meets a bear (a real one), who joins him in the balloon, yet it’s popped at the beak of a “very tall bird.” Turns out, though, they’ve landed on the house of three elderly sisters, who mend the balloon and help the boy, the bear, and the bird shoo away some pigeons on the other side of the mountain near where they live. The pigeons have gathered on the “most perfect roller coaster,” which together the crew fixes up for an exhilarating ride.

Phil chats with me below about how he made his art, letting nature take its course on your illustrations (and embracing humor error), and leafless trees needing company too. (P.S.: You can see a few other spreads from the book in this June 2014 7-Imp post.)

Jules: Hi there, Phil. Let’s talk about Sebastian, shall we?

So, first up: I want to ask about the art. I hope that’s not a boring way to start.

It almost looked to me like the cover was painted on wood. But I’m not an artist, and I often get these things wrong. I see on the official copyright page note that you used pastels, oil paints, and pressed charcoal. Am I right that this is the first time you’ve used charcoal, or am I dreaming that?

Phil: Hi, Jules!

You are not dreaming. This is the first time I’ve used charcoal.

I gave myself a tricky challenge in making the art for this book. I really wanted to use oil paint as the primary medium. I can get bright color using oils that I’ve always had trouble getting with gouache or acrylic. At the same time, though, I wanted elements of the book to be drawn with my natural hand. The trouble is that you can’t really draw on an oil painting. Oil paint is usually the end of the road. I was getting really frustrated trying to figure this problem out when this little accident happened in my sketchbook:


(Click to enlarge)


 

Now, this might be confusing, but I’ll try to explain as best I can. When an oil painting is mostly dry—tacky to the touch—you can press charcoal into the paint by using homemade carbon paper. I coat one side of a sheet of paper in charcoal, lay that paper on top of the oil painting, then draw with a pencil on the white side of the paper. The pressure of the pencil presses the charcoal permanently into the oil painting. There is one big pitfall to this approach. That is, you’re essentially drawing blind. You can’t see what you’ve made until you peel the carbon paper back off the oil painting. I can live with the kind of mistakes and flubs that come from this kind of uncertainty, though. In fact, I kind of like it. The only time drawing blind made me really tense was on exacting, mechanical images, like these ones of the roller coaster:


“And for the rest of the day and into the night they rode …”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“and rode …”
(Click to enlarge)


 

But on others, like these, I didn’t mind:

 


“And when night fell, Sebastian boarded the balloon he’d built from Grandma’s afghans and patchwork quilts. He charted a course. He checked the breeze. He cut the strings …”
(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 

By the way, what you’re seeing as a wood-like texture is actually pastel drawing that’s showing from underneath the oil painting. I probably should’ve documented the making of one of these images so I could show rather than tell, but unfortunately I didn’t think of it at the time. David Ezra Stein used a similar technique as this, though, in his book Because Amelia Smiled. He calls his technique “Stein-lining.” You can watch a video about it here:



 

If you substitute crayon for charcoal, you basically get “Stead-lining.”

Does that help?

Jules: Ooh, neat. Thanks for the explanation. Plus, I hadn’t seen that David Ezra Stein video. Chickens playing oboes. Bonus!

This explains a lot about the lines in this book. The first time I read it, I thought that your line was more relaxed than in other books. I like this relaxed, sketchy quality.

One thing I’m very curious about is the color palette. The colors here remind me of picture books of yore. Any particular reasoning behind the dominant colors chosen here? That is, the rust, the tealy-blue (I have spent about 30 minutes now trying to find the name for this color, but I have failed and “tealy-blue” is the best I can do), the yellow.

Also, one more technique-type question before I ask a few more about the story: How’d you pull off the “milky gray fog”?

Phil: I’ll start with the fog.


“The wind picked up and soon it was time to go—up and up and into a milky gray fog. ‘Can you see the end of my nose?’ asked the bear. But before Sebastian could answer there came a loud POP!
(Click to enlarge)


 

It’s actually so simple that I hate to admit it. Especially since I seem to get more questions about this spread than any other. All I did here was make an entire finished image in full color, wait for it to dry, and then paint over the entire thing with white oil paint. The white paint has been thinned with a quick-drying medium, making it translucent. This is one of the biggest images of the balloon in the book, and I’ll admit that I was sad (and scared) to paint right over it, obscuring a lot of the detail. But it had to be done!

As for the color in this book, I decided early on that I wanted to work in a very limited palette. There are only nine colors used in the book, with some variance due to human error. (Fun fact: Erin used only eight colors in A Sick Day for Amos McGee.)


“The nine color swatches I made as a guide for myself …”
(Click to enlarge)


 

Any time you limit color choices in a children’s book, I think it naturally calls to mind an era when color choices had to be limited in the days of yore. That said, I did not deliberately limit the colors in this book in order to make it look old-fashioned. I did it, rather, in order to introduce a set of rules into a universe that could’ve easily gone spiraling out of control. A lot of weird things happen in this book. Keeping the color palette so orderly was one way to make the world seem grounded and believable. The restricted palette adds a dead-pan element to what is, admittedly, an pretty insane story arc.

And then there’s one more thing about the color, something that I didn’t originally intend. Remember I mentioned human error? So, I used a quick-dry medium to speed up the drying times of my oil paints.


(Click to enlarge)


 

When using this medium, my paintings would dry in about 48 hours. Without the medium, their drying times would vary from 4-6 weeks, which is way too long when you have a deadline. I’d used dryers before but never in high quantity. Turns out, I was using so much that it accelerated the aging process of all my paintings. About two months after a painting was finished, it would start to yellow and age. It turned my light blues into the tealy color you described. It turned my whites to cream. All of the colors were affected in some way, and to make matters worse they were all aging at different rates. Of course, at first I panicked. But then at some point I started seeing the process as something natural, completely out of my control, and in a weird way, desirable. It was like letting a cheese or a wine age: You begin the process, but nature finishes it.


Book jacket
(Click to enlarge)

Jules: I was going to say that it sounds like making the art for this one was a roller-coaster ride when, OUCH, I realized the horrible pun I’d made.

Okay, just a question or two about story. I always worry about analyzing a book to death when maybe we should just sit back and enjoy it and the art, so okay, I’ll only ask one:

I love how the story begins with Sebastian having a bad case of ennui. I don’t mean depression, which is a serious thing for many people. But he’s got the humdrums somethin’ fierce and really needs an adventure. Maybe I was thinking about that a lot today [Ed. Note: This part of our conversation clearly took place on a Sunday], because Sundays always run the danger of being Ennui Days for me. (Maybe ’cause Monday looms? I dunno.)

So, you call it a “pretty insane story arc.” Once you knew Sebastian needed an adventure, how’d you reign yourself in? I assume you have Sebastian outtakes, parts of his adventure that were maybe cut?

Also, apropos to not-that, I love how the leafless tree ends up having company there at the end. Everyone is happy.

Phil: There have been two feelings that have dominated my psyche over the course of my life so far. And those two feelings are the two main themes in my books as well. They are:

  1. I wish we could all learn to be kind.
  2. I gotta get the heck outta here.

Number two is an amorphous sort of feeling that is part boredom, part dread, part dissatisfaction, part curiosity. This feeling has been with me every day of my life. And to me it’s the feeling that drives Sebastian throughout the story. Boredom-Dread-Dissatisfaction-Curiosity is, after all, the makeup of most kids that I know.

Weirdly enough, there were no deleted scenes in this book. Everything present in the first draft is present also in the final book. When I was writing I wasn’t thinking WHAT NEXT! Really, I wasn’t even trying to be over the top or intentionally strange. The story just went where it wanted to go, and I tried not to get in the way.

I love that you mention the leafless tree. Those three lines are my favorites that I’ve ever written:

And the pigeons flew off,
all the way to the leafless tree.
And the tree was glad to have company.

I didn’t realize it till long after they’d been written, but they sum up everything I hope to accomplish as an artist. I wish I could explain it better than that, but I don’t think I can. All of my books exist in those three lines somewhere.

Jules: Ah. I think we should fade out here …

Thanks, Phil, for visiting.

* * * * * * *

SEBASTIAN AND THE BALLOON. Copyright © 2014 by Philip C. Stead. Published by Neal Porter Books/Roaring Brook Press, New York. All images here reproduced by permission of Philip C. Stead.

3 Comments on Drawing Blind with Philip C. Stead, last added: 10/22/2014
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8. Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Stephanie Graegin

Pictured above is the title page illustration from Nancy Van Laan’s Forget Me Not, released by Schwartz & Wade Books in August. This is the poignant and lovingly-rendered story of a young girl whose grandmother is experiencing significant memory loss. It slowly builds in the story — to the point where she is placed in an assisted living center, while her granddaughter watches with concern. The illustrations were rendered by my visitor today, Stephanie Graegin, pictured below.

As you’ll read below, this is Stephanie’s fourth picture book. (Three were released last year.) She’s also illustrated middle grade novels and is working on her own picture book. Graegin’s warm palettes capture the small moments of life, and I wanted to have her over for a cyber-breakfast to discuss her work and see even more art. Normally, she tells me, she’d have a bowl of cereal. But today we are going to splurge by taking a walk to pick up a bacon and egg dub pie from the Dub Pie Shop across the street, along with a coffee.

I thank her for visiting.

* * * * * * *

Jules: Are you an illustrator or author/illustrator?

Stephanie: Illustrator.

I am in the early stages of working on a picture book that I also wrote (although it has no words), but it feels too soon to call myself an author.


Chicken Soup with Rice Sendak tribute

Jules: Can you list your books-to-date?

Stephanie:



 

Picture Books:



 

Middle Grade Novels:

Jules: What is your usual medium?

Stephanie: I draw in pencil (mechanical 2B .5) on paper (Moleskine sketchbook, usually). I draw very tiny and scan the drawing in very high-res to blow it up larger, as I have found I just can’t draw as well large. I make many layers on duralar (a clear paper) of texture, shading, and patterns — using colored pencil, watercolor, and ink. I scan everything into the computer, then compile and color everything digitally in Photoshop. Drawing in pure pencil is my absolute favorite, though.




From the sketchbooks
(Click third image 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?

Stephanie: I have done both picture books and middle grade novels. While I love both, I’ll admit that illustrating a picture book is more challenging — but also more rewarding. A picture book’s text is less specific than a novel, and you are given much more room to explore and to create the world inside the book. A picture book is wide open; almost anything can happen. At times the multitude of options for a illustrating picture book can be overwhelming, but I love the challenge of it. It can be a nice balance to be working on both formats at once — to be able to go back and forth between working in color and in black & white.

Jules: Where are your stompin’ grounds?

Stephanie: I’m in Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY, right outside of Prospect Park (the park the book Water in the Park was inspired by). I lived in various neighborhoods in Brooklyn for the last 10 years. I came to Brooklyn to go to graduate school at Pratt Institute. Before I lived in Brooklyn, I lived in Austin, Texas, and Baltimore, MD (where I went to undergrad at The Maryland Institute College of Art). As a kid I lived in Houston, TX; Fort Wayne, IN; and Chicago IL.


“But ever so slowly, like a low tide leaving the bay, a change came along. Grandma was becoming more and more forgetful. First, it was names—of places she’d been or books she’d read or people she knew. Even us. We would joke and tell Grandma she liked to scramble our names for breakfast instead of eggs. And she’d laugh as much as we did.”
(Click to enlarge)


“When she called me Sally or Harry instead of my real name, Julia, I pretended it was a game that Grandma liked to play. After she called out all my wrong names, I’d say, ‘No, silly, my name is Julia!’ Then she’d laugh and clap her hands and say, ‘Oh, silly me! Hello, bright-as-sunshine Julia!’”
(Click to enlarge)


“‘Smells like rain,’ Grandma would say sometimes on a perfectly clear day. ‘Better get out the umbrella.’ Then, a couple of minutes later, she would say, ‘Smells like rain.
Better get out the umbrella.’ And Grandma’s head kept getting worse.”

(Click to enlarge)

Pictured above: Spreads from Nancy Van Laan’s
Forget Me Not

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

Stephanie: I studied Fine Arts, focusing on printmaking in college and graduate school. I made a lot of artist’s books with etchings, which looking back, were essentially hand-printed picture books. Illustrating children’s books was something I have wanted to do since I was about five, but it wasn’t until I was in my late twenties that I focused all my energy on making it a reality. Everything fell into place around the same time. I changed the way I was working — I had been making Edward Gorey-inspired work using pen and ink, but it wasn’t right for me. I started drawing only in pencil and adding the color digitally. Something clicked, and the work became so much better.

When the work was in a place where I felt ready to show it, I spent about a year making children’s book portfolio pieces and then about three months putting together a hand-bound mini portfolio booklet, which fit into a 4×6 envelope.


(Click to enlarge)

I sent these out to around 250 editors and art directors, and the calls for book work started happening. Around this same time, I was extremely fortunate that Nate Williams posted a blog post of my work on illustrationmundo, and literary agent Steven Malk at Writers House saw it. Steven reached out to me, and he’s been my agent since then.

[Pictured below are sketches and final art from Emily Jenkins'
Water in the Park

(Schwartz & Wade, 2013)].


“Very early thumbnail sketches of the first two spreads in the book.”
(Click to enlarge)


“An early sketch of the playground scene.”
(Click to enlarge)


“A later sketch of the same spread, with a new composition and lots of people added.”
(Click to enlarge)



Sketches that became part of the final artwork …
(Click each to enlarge)


“On very hot days, as the sun rises, an orange glow shines in the water of the pond.
Just before six o’clock, turtles settle on rocks. They warm their turtle shells in the light.
Good morning, park!”

(Click to enlarge spread)


“By seven o’clock, two babies have come to the park. One has a bagel in a brown paper bag. The other has a plastic box of apple pieces. The babies want drinks from the water fountain. They point their baby fingers and jump.
Their grown-ups lift them. Up and up.”

(Click to enlarge)


“It is seven o’clock. A stripey cat creeps from beneath a bush and laps a quiet puddle. Tup tup. Tup tup. And now the dogs come.
Rouw! Rouw! Rouw! Time for an evening swim.”

(Click to enlarge)



(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)

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

Stephanie:

Website: www.graegin.com.

Instagram: instagram.com/sgraegin.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Stephanie-Graegin/154714944541337.

Twitter: twitter.com/Steph_Graegin.


(Click to enlarge)

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

Stephanie: I’m very thankful that there are a lot of books on the way!

I illustrated a picture book for Penguin (Dial), titled Peace Is an Offering [pictured below], coming out in March 2015. Written by Annette LeBox, the text is a beautiful poem about finding peace in your community.


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)

I’m currently working on a second picture book for Farrar, Straus and Giroux about two young, adorable brothers. The first picture book in the duo is titled How to Share with a Bear and was written by Eric Pinder. It comes out in Fall 2015.

There are three other picture books I am newly working on, including the book I am writing — but its still too early to give details on those.




Character studies and sketches from
Nancy Van Laan’s
Forget Me Not
(Click each to enlarge)

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 Stephanie 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?

Stephanie

: The very first thing I do when given a manuscript is break up the text into pages. When I’m given a manuscript, it’s a Word document with no page breaks. I make very tiny thumbnails (about an inch big) to figure out the page count (32 or 40 pages) and what goes where.


Early sketch
(Click to enlarge)

I keep working slightly bigger as I revise. In the early rough sketch phase, I draw the whole book around 3×3 inches a page. After revising these, I draw larger, more refined sketches. I then send these sketches to the editor or art director. They make suggestions, and then I revise again — usually, a few times before going to final art. During the initial sketch stage, I also do a lot of character studies, drawing them in my sketchbook, which I take everywhere, to get to know what these characters look like before I start the final sketches.


Final art: “And she still smelled like cinnamon and lilac when we cuddled up close.”

The final art stage is the most time-consuming but can be the most rewarding — with the book finally coming to life in full color. I usually spend three months on final art. Those three months are filled with very late nights working, and I pretty much become a hermit. I start with very loose color studies over the final sketches in Photoshop to get an idea of the palette for the entire book. Nailing down the perfect palette for the mood of the book, for me, is one of the more difficult steps in the finals process. Once I have a palette that I’m comfortable with, I start making the layers of texture and shading with watercolors and colored pencil. Those are scanned in, and I start the assembly and digital coloring process. I pretty much keep working and reworking the art until the deadline day.


Studio sketchbooks
(Click to enlarge)

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

Stephanie

: I work out of my apartment, and it’s small. So really my whole apartment is my work space. My favorite spot to draw is at my kitchen table.


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


With studio assistant, Bustopher
(Click to enlarge)

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

Stephanie

: I was obsessed with the Richard Scarry Busytown books and What Do People Do All Day? He was a major influence in how I learned to draw animals.

I also loved Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad books and Maurice Sendak’s The Nutshell Library; they are still my favorite children’s books to this day.

As for novels, I loved Beverly Cleary, especially the Ramona books. I had the same haircut and attitude as Ramona and felt she was written just for me. One of my prized possessions is a postcard Beverly Cleary sent me when I was six. My older sister and I had written to her to tell her how much we loved the books.

Another favorite chapter book was The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. I reread that book multiple times a year for many years. My copy is held together with tape.

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.)

Stephanie: A glass of wine with Renata Liwska, Isabelle Arsenault, and Benji Davies. I’m very fond of all of their artwork.

[Pictured below are sketches and final art from Liz Garton Scanlon's
Happy Birthday, Bunny! (Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster, 2013)].


“Early thumbnails of spreads.”
(Click to enlarge)


Sketch that became part of the final artwork.
(Click to enlarge)


“Thumbnails of jacket ideas. The final cover ended up being
a combination of the two at the top.”

(Click to enlarge)





Final art
(Click each spread 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?

Stephanie: I listen to many podcasts — Radiolab, This American Life, Freakonomics, Matthew Winner’s Let Get Busy podcast

, along with listening to music. Music favorites at the moment are Beirut, The Dodos, Boards of Canada.


(Click to enlarge)

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

Stephanie: My family called me “Bird,” instead of Stephanie, until I left for college. My older sister gave me the nickname when I was a baby, and it stuck for 18 years.


(Click to enlarge)

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

Stephanie: I think I’ve been asked this before, but its something I’m asked often by students, so it’s good to repeat.

Advice to students/young illustrators starting out? Keep drawing and drawing and drawing. Practice is the only way to get better. Drawing skills are really the most essential thing to being an illustrator; there’s no way around that.

Also, don’t give up! The road to becoming a working illustrator is a long one — expect to still have work a day job for a while, even after you get those first projects.


(Click to enlarge)

* * * The Pivot Questionnaire * * *

Jules: What is your favorite word?

Stephanie: “Caddywhompus.”

Jules: What is your least favorite word?

Stephanie: “Vomit.”

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

Stephanie: A great story, a new sketchbook, a long walk.

Jules: What turns you off?

Stephanie: Negative people.

Jules: What is your favorite curse word? (optional)

Stephanie: “Crapola.”

Jules: What sound or noise do you love?

Stephanie: My cat Bustopher’s happy meow.

Jules: What sound or noise do you hate?

Stephanie: Annoying street noise I can hear from my apartment — sirens, car alarms, car horns, and the loud movie theater air conditioner next door to me.

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

Stephanie: Something outside — gardener or vegetable farmer.

Jules: What profession would you not like to do?

Stephanie: Retail. I spent too many years doing that already, and I’ve had my fill of it.

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

Stephanie: “The library is right over there.”

All artwork and images are used with permission of Stephanie Graegin.

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

9 Comments on Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Stephanie Graegin, last added: 10/23/2014
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9. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #402: Featuring David Mackintosh


(Click to enlarge)

Happy Sunday, all …

Right here over at BookPage, I reviewed Lucky from British designer and illustrator David Mackintosh, released by Abrams this month. Below, I’ve got some art from it, ’cause you know we just GOTTA take a peek inside the pages.



(Click second image to see spread in its entirety)


 



(Click second image to see spread in its entirety)


 


“Leo says, In Hawaii, you drive around in golf carts and have spending money and drinks with fruit in them. And … There are erupting volcanoes there, with rivers of boiling lava and clouds of rotten-egg gas. Plus … To protect against volcanoes and falling coconuts, people wear grass skirts and flower necklaces and strum tiny guitars called ukuleles.”
(Click to enlarge)


 

LUCKY. Copyright © 2014 by David Mackintosh. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Abrams Books for Young Readers, New York.

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) Well, I saw Shakey Graves live on Thursday night, and it was one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen. Next day’s slight hearing loss was even worth it. (We were standing RIGHT in front of the amazing drummer and right next to a huge amp.)

2) Some necessary Spring cleaning in Autumn.

3) Just now reading some totally weird and wonderful picture books, old and new, to my girls.

4) Sleeping in.

5) Discovering that Nashville’s Fido has a fabulous dinner menu. Though this is where we have our Nashville Kidlit Drink Night monthly, I’d never ordered dinner there till the other night. Yum.

6) Lattes with honey and cinnamon.

7) Hear hear for unpredictable and dangerous and exciting encounters with stories! Read here.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #402: Featuring David Mackintosh, last added: 10/19/2014
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10. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Jon Klassen


“So they kept digging.”
(Click to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)


 


“‘I have a new idea,’ said Dave. ‘Let’s split up.’ ‘Really?’ said Sam.
‘Just for a little while,’ said Dave. ‘It will help our chances.’”

(Click to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)


 

This morning over at Kirkus, I’ve got some good reads for Halloween — mostly picture books but a couple of books for older readers, too.

That link will be here soon.

* * *

Since I wrote last week (here) about Mac Barnett’s Sam and Dave Dig a Hole (Candlewick, October 2014), illustrated by Jon Klassen, I’ve got two spreads, pictured above.

See that second illustration? I highly recommend you head over here to Cynthia Leitich Smith’s blog to read Mac and Jon’s conversation about the emotional landscape (so to speak) of that spread. It’s a good, good read in many directions.

Click here to see the book’s cover:

* * * * * * *

SAM AND DAVE DIG A HOLE. Text copyright © 2014 by Mac Barnett. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Jon Klassen. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

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11. The Coretta Scott King Awards Book Fair

Ever heard of the Coretta Scott King Awards Book Fair? I hadn’t either till I took my children to one of these fairs in Nashville a few months back.

Today at Kirkus, I talk to the Fair’s organizer, Collette Hopkins. She’s pictured above (second from the left) at this year’s Fair with Angelica Washington, author Sharon Draper, storyteller Mama Koku, and illustrator R. Gregory Christie. Collette talks about what the Fair is and how interested teachers and librarians can bring it to their city.

That link will be here soon.

* * * * * * *

Image used with permission of Collette Hopkins.

3 Comments on The Coretta Scott King Awards Book Fair, last added: 10/17/2014
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12. The Art of Raúl Colón


“When Leontyne performed at the Metropolitan Opera House in 1955, she blew open the door that Marian left ajar. Six years later, Leontyne landed
her first lead role with the Met. …”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 

Since I’ve got a review of Raúl Colón’s Draw! (Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster, September 2014) over at BookPage, I thought I’d follow up with some illustrations from the book today. The review is here, and the art is below.

But, while we’re on the subject of Colón, I’ve also got some illustrations from two other books he has illustrated this year — Juan Felipe Herrera’s Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes, which was published in August by Dial, and Carole Boston Weatherford’s Leontyne Price: Voice of a Century, coming this December from Knopf. (Pictured above is an illustration from Weatherford’s book.)

Enjoy the art …

Art from Draw!


 



(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


 


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(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


 



 

Art from Juan Felipe Herrera’s
Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes


 


Julia de Burgos
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César Estrada Chávez
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Roberto Clemente
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Sonia Sotomayor
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Art from Carole Boston Weatherford’s
Leontyne Price: Voice of a Century


 


“Until the college president heard her solo and convinced her to study voice instead. Leontyne changed course. Led by song, she cracked the door that Marian had opened years earlier. And before long, Leontyne went to Juilliard. There, she found her teacher, Florence Page Kimball, and her calling.”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“Yes, the world-famous Miss Price could be all mink and pearls when she wanted to, rolling her r’s like an Italian contessa, wearing Viennese hats
and silk dresses from Rome.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 



 

* * * * * * *

DRAW! Copyright © 2014 by Raúl Colón. Spreads used by permission of the publisher, Simon & Schuster, New York.

PORTRAITS OF HISPANIC AMERICAN HEROES. Copyright © 2014 by Julian Felipe Herrera. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Raúl Colón. Spreads used by permission of the publisher, Dial Books for Young Readers, New York.

LEONTYNE PRICE: VOICE OF A CENTURY. Copyright © 2014 by Carole Boston Weatherford. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Raúl Colón. Spreads used by permission of the publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, New York.

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13. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #401: Featuring Richard Byrne


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Today’s post will be brief, because it’s the weekend of the Southern Festival of Books here in middle Tennessee. My co-author was in town from New York City to present with me about our book (which was yesterday and went well). But it’s been an unusually busy work week, and this weekend itself is hoppin’. I’m, quite simply, worn out, so I’m going to tell you briefly about this entertaining book by Richard Byrne. And then I’m going to relax with a cup of hot cocoa.

Know your picture book terminology? Know what a gutter is? The gutter is the place between two pages where the binding meets. Awards committees (think: Caldecott) care an awful lot about gutters and whether or not an illustrator can effectively work around them. You don’t want, for instance, to let the gutter swallow an illustration whole.

Well, cue Byrne’s book. This UK illustrator’s newest picture book, This Book Just Ate My Dog! (Henry Holt, September 2014), embraces the gutter, to put it mildly. In this story, a young girl named Bella takes her dog for a walk “across the page,” only to discover that he is suddenly gone. He’s walked straight into the gutter, you see; the dog’s leash just disappears into the center of the book, leaving Bella with a look of shock on her face. When Bella sees her friend Ben, she declares, “THIS BOOK JUST ATE MY DOG!” When Ben investigates … you guessed it: He disappears into the gutter too. So do the fire truck, police car, and more: “Things were getting ridiculous,” Byrne writes.

My, what a vicious book!

So, our protagonist turns to readers to ask for help. She herself has disappeared after all. She tosses out a note, asking the reader to kindly turn the book and shake it.

If you’ve read Wild Things, by chance, you know that there’s a section about picture books in which the protagonists get eaten. Well, now we have a new one to add to the list, and in this case, it’s the very book itself causing all kinds of mischief. Chomp, chomp.

Here’s a bit more art. Big fun, this book …


(Click to enlarge)


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(Click to enlarge just a little bit)


(Click to enlarge slightly)

THIS BOOK JUST ATE MY DOG! Copyright © 2014 by Richard Byrne. Spreads used by permission of the publisher, Henry Holt, New York.

* * *

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 * * *

My kicks one to seven are this weekend’s festival. Betsy and I presented about Wild Things yesterday, as I said, which went very well. It was good to see Betsy here in Nashville, and my family and I saw some great authors and illustrators speak. The highlight was probably hearing John Rocco read Blackout and Blizzard to us all.

Tomorrow we head back for the likes of Jacqueline Woodson, Deborah Wiles, and Lev Grossman.

Best thing about Nashville in the Fall!

What are YOUR kicks this week?

9 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #401: Featuring Richard Byrne, last added: 10/15/2014
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14. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Oliver Jeffers


 
This morning’s Kirkus column is all about Mac Barnett’s Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, illustrated by Jon Klassen.

That link will be here soon.

* * *

I wrote last week (here) about Oliver Jeffers’ Once Upon an Alphabet (Philomel, October 2014).

Today, I follow up with a bit of art from it.

Enjoy.

 


 


(Click to enlarge)


“How many elephants can you fit inside an envelope?”
(Click to enlarge)


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“The King of France / Went out for a dance /
And forgot to bring along keys.”

(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)

* * * * * * *

ONCE UPON AN ALPHABET: SHORT STORIES FOR ALL THE LETTERS. Copyright © 2014 by Oliver Jeffers. Illustrations used by permission of the publisher, Philomel Books, New York.

1 Comments on What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Oliver Jeffers, last added: 10/11/2014
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15. Because I Like Seeing Zelinsky’s Sketches, Too …


(Click to enlarge)


 

Last week at Kirkus, I chatted here with author Kelly Bingham and author-illustrator Paul O. Zelinsky about Circle, Square, Moose (Greenwillow, September 2014), the sequel to 2012′s Z Is for Moose.

Today, I follow up with some early sketches from the book from Zelinsky. He notes that he has no recollection of the pig holding the bow and arrow, who was never going to be in the book. I love this usurper MYSTERY PIG so much that I’m opening the post with that sketch.

Zelinsky also shares a bit of final art from the book.

P.S. You can read here about Moose’s Australian adventure.

Enjoy.


(Click to enlarge)


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Final art
(Click to enlarge)


Final art
(Click to enlarge)



 

* * * * * * *

CIRCLE, SQUARE, MOOSE. Copyright © 2014 by Kelly Bingham. Illustrations © 2014 by Paul O. Zelinsky. Published by Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins, New York. All images here used by permission of Paul O. Zelinsky.

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16. Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Ben Clanton

Pumpkin granola with vanilla almond milk. Sourdough toast. And a cup of hot apple cider with caramel. Mmm. That’s the breakfast I’m having this morning with author-illustrator Ben Clanton.

Once upon a time—2010, to be exact—Ben visited 7-Imp before he was even a published author and illustrator, and it’s good to have him back. As you’ll read below, Ben has several picture books under his belt and more on the way. His brand-new picture book, Rex Wrecks It! (Candlewick, September 2014), is filled with what the Kirkus review calls a joyous energy. And I know for a fact that it is a story-time hit.

I love, in particular, to see Ben’s pencil and watercolor drawings (there are many in this interview today), and guess what? He recently started a Facebook page showing off his darker doodles. It’s called—you guessed it—”Dark Doodles,” and it’s here. Want to see one? Ben posted this just last night.

Perfect. It is nearly Halloween, after all.

Ben seems to be enjoying the new Facebook page, and so do those who have gone to visit it (including me). “I’m always careful about which sketchbooks to bring to signings and school visits,” he tells me. “Often there are dark things amongst the oodles of cute.”

So, to see both the dark and cute, keep reading below. Ben sent tons of art (which is how you win this blogger’s heart). I thank him for sharing.

* * * * * * *

Jules: Are you an illustrator or author/illustrator?

Ben: Author/Illustrator!



Jules: Can you list your books-to-date?

Ben: I’ve written and illustrated four picture books: Mo’s Mustache; Vote for Me!; The Table Sets Itself; and Rex Wrecks It! And I’m happy to say several more are in the works.

Books I have illustrated: Jasper John Dooley: Star of the Week by Caroline Adderson; Jasper John Dooley: Left Behind by Caroline Adderson; Jasper John Dooley: Not in Love by Caroline Adderson; Max Has a Fish by Wiley Blevins.


(A 2015 Jasper John Dooley title)

Jules: What is your usual medium?

Ben: Typically, I use a mix of ink (micron pens and dip pens), watercolor (Daniel Smith watercolor sticks), and pencil (6B or HB) — plus a bit of digital magic (Photoshop CS5).

My preferred paper is Strathmore Aquarius II.



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?



Ben: I find that illustrating a chapter book comes with certain expectations — generally the pieces are black and white, have backgrounds and/or depict scenes, and do less of the storytelling than the words. Not always the case! But usually it is.

I find that picture books are much more open and allow for greater creativity. The format is more malleable when it comes to shape, size, color, the integration of the text, content, and design. For me this sort of freedom is both challenging and rewarding.





The above spot illustrations are from
Caroline Adderson’s
Jasper John Dooley series

Jules: Where are your stompin’ grounds?

Ben: I currently live in an old brick mill next to a pond in North Andover, MA. But Seattle, WA; Kalispell, MT; and Portland, OR, will always be home, too.


The mill
(Click to enlarge)

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

Ben: I first became interested in writing children’s books when I was a freshman at Willamette University. I had a developing passion for social justice and service-learning and figured that I could make a difference by addressing important topics in children’s books. As a result, my original story attempts were extremely didactic. But with some encouragement from my girlfriend Kelsey (now my wife!) and her mother, Teresa Walsh (who happens to be an illustrator), I started to read picture books voraciously and began drawing and painting.



I became hugely passionate about making books. I joined SCBWI (an excellent decision for anyone who has an interest in creating children’s books) and attended conferences and workshops. When I graduated from Willamette (Anthropology major, Politics minor), I moved to Seattle and started to work at a before- and after-school program. My typical day started with reading stories with kids (sometimes my own stories — great opportunity to test them!), working on my stories between shifts, and playing with the kids. I learned A LOT about how to make books of interest to kids because of that experience.



It was during that time that I was featured on this very blog (a 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks post)! Shortly after that post (and because of it!), I received an email from Tara Walker at Kids Can Press saying she would love to see more of my work. I sent her several picture book dummies but none of them were quite right for Kids Can. However, Kids Can was interested in having me illustrate a new chapter book series, Jasper John Dooley by Caroline Adderson. Not very long after that I came up with a picture book that Tara and Kids Can were interested in, Vote for Me! [pictured below].



(Click each to enlarge)

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

Ben: www.benclanton.com.



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

Ben: I love doing school visits! Generally I prefer to meet with smaller groups (one or two classes) at a time, because that way I can do more specialized hands-on stuff with the kids — like play drawing games or make up stories with them! I enjoy getting the kids involved. Often when I’m making drawings for the kids I’ll have them come up and pose as angry unicats and that sort of thing.

I also really like corresponding with kids. It is fun and inspiring to hear about what the kids enjoy, and I love the drawings kids make.


(Click to enlarge)



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

Ben: My latest picture book, Rex Wrecks It! (Candlewick), just came out. The story started out in an unusual way for me. Typically, a story idea comes all at once for me and I start by writing it down. This one started with pictures. I wanted to do a book that featured some of my favorite things to draw — things like dinosaurs, robots, monsters, and unibbits. The narrative came about from a comic I had drawn in my sketchbook about a little Godzilla character who kept messing up playtime for everyone.

My next book will be Something Extraordinary (Simon & Schuster), pictured below. I think I set the bar rather high with that title! It comes out next June.


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I’m also currently working on a graphic novel and just finishing my first draft of the first chapter book I’ve ever written.

 


A cover mock-up for the chapter book
(Click to enlarge)

Mmm. Coffee.Okay, we’ve got more cider, and it’s time to get a bit more detailed with seven questions over breakfast. I thank Ben 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?

Ben

: So far, I’ve found that each book is a little different. But I have noticed that my best ideas usually come in a flash of inspiration. Often this happens when I’m allowing my mind to wander (not an uncommon occurrence). I might be out for a walk, taking a shower, or driving somewhere when suddenly I stumble upon something I find funny and/or interesting. Next thing I know a story is playing out in my mind. Often I’ll let it tumble around my head for a bit and write down the occasional note about it in my sketchbook.

Funnily, some of my best ideas also come about when I’m under pressure. When I was working at a before- and after-school program in Seattle, I would make comics for the kids on the spot. Two of my books (Mo’s Mustache and Rex Wrecks It!) were a result of such comics.

When I feel like it is time for the idea to really get my attention, I sit down at the computer and type up a manuscript. I let it sit for a bit and then start the process of editing and fine-tuning. For me writing a picture book feels the same way as writing a poem. Each word counts, and the way they are organized (or not!) is imperative.

Once I have actually written the story down, I start the process of drawing the characters and exploring the visual style of the story. I also start the storyboarding process at this point. Typically, I start with small thumbnail scribbles and with each revision make it all a bit bigger and more precise. At this point I have to change up a lot of the wording to fit with the visual half. I want the words to be able to stand on their own and for the pictures to be able to as well, but for both to work best when together. The interplay of the two is very important to me.


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When creating a book dummy, I draw all the elements by hand and then assemble them in Photoshop so that I can move them around easily on the spread and try a number of compositions.

I approach final art in a similar way. I draw and paint each character and element individually, scan, and then assemble in Photoshop. It can be a bit of a time-consuming and meticulous affair, but also strangely cathartic. There is the danger at this point in the process of snuffing the life out of the illustrations. I try to allow happy accidents. I want the human hand visible in my work. I often find myself battling the perfectionist in me.


Final art
(Click to enlarge)


Final art
(Click to enlarge)

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


(Click to enlarge)


Robot helpers
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View from the studio window
(Click to enlarge)


Ben loves books
(Click to enlarge)

Ben

: I work from home and pretty much everywhere I go (always have a sketchbook with me). I tend to be a messy person, but recently I’ve been doing a good job of keeping it all somewhat organized. I definitely feel best when my work space is on the clean side.


I have a number of studio assistants [pictured above]. My dinosaur, Rex, isn’t so helpful. When my workspace is messy, it is usually his fault. My robot helpers make much better assistants.

I also have an intern, who joins me for walks in the woods. Her name is gigi.





Ben and gigi

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

Ben

: A lot of the classics! Where the Wild Things Are, The Very Quiet Cricket, Make Way for Ducklings, The Story of Ferdinand, everything by Tomie dePaola, and all the books by Dr. Seuss were frequent reads for me.

And when I say “reads” I mean that I read them visually. I wasn’t too keen on reading words when I was a kid, but I loved the pictures. Recently I discovered some correspondence between my mom and my third-grade teacher in which my mom expressed concern that all I did was look at pictures. She was afraid I’d get too far behind, because I didn’t bother with the words. It was Harry Potter that ended up getting me into the words. That series made me the book addict I am today!

Oh, also, It Zwibble and the Greatest Cleanup Ever! LOVED that book!

[Pictured below are some early images and final art from
Mo’s Mustache,
published last year by Tundra Books.]


Thumbnail doodles
(Click to enlarge)


 







Pictured above: Early drawings
(Click the last two to enlarge)


 


Character work
(Click to enlarge)


Cover wrap idea
(Click to enlarge)


Cover wrap
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Cover
(Click to enlarge)


“Mo’s Mustache Manual”
(the flip side of the dust jacket)


Endpapers
(Click to enlarge)


Dummy image
(Click to enlarge)


Final spread
(Click to enlarge)


Dummy image


Dummy image
(Click to enlarge)


Dummy image
(Click to enlarge)


Final spread
(Click to enlarge)


Final spread
(Click 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.)

Ben: Quentin Blake, David Roberts, and Chris Riddell. I have a thing for those British illustrators!

[Pictured below are some early images and final art from
The Table Sets Itself

,
published last year by Walker Books for Young Readers.]


(Click to enlarge)


Final spread: “Where in the universe were Dish and Spoon?”
(Click to enlarge)


Final spread: “It looked like Dish and Spoon might never return. …”
(Click to enlarge)


Final spread: “Izzy would have taken off for France right then and there,
but her parents didn’t understand.”

(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?

Ben: I like to listen to audio books, when illustrating. I go through several per week. Currently, I’m listening to Stoneheart by Charlie Fletcher and read by Jim Dale. I’ve got a voice crush on Jim Dale. Kelsey (my wife) and I have all the Harry Potter audiobooks (read by Jim Dale), and we fall asleep to them every night. Many people are surprised when they find out I work while listening to an audio book, but for me drawing is sometimes like breathing and, at other times, a meticulous task. In both cases, it is nice to do something else at the same time.


(Click to enlarge)


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When I write, I tend not to listen to anything, but sometimes I’ll listen to music — Jack Johnson, Vampire Weekend, and James Taylor are a few favorites of mine. My book Mo’s Mustache was a bit of an exception. When I worked on that book, I listened to The Bee Gees and anything else that put me in the mood to dance. Drawing and dancing at the same time is lots of fun! I also make sound effects when drawing, but typically when I’m the only one around.


(Click to enlarge)

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

Ben: Whenever I mow a lawn, I imagine it is a televised lawn-mowing competition. The announcers evaluate my technique and everything. Speed matters — but so does the quality of the cut. Yep.


(Click to enlarge)

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

Ben: What is your dream project?

I really want to start or take part in making a quarterly children’s magazine with 100+ pages, printed on uncoated stock. It would have oodles of random awesomeness — stories, comics, coloring pages, drawing games, jokes, nonsense, and art made by kids. And all of my favorite illustrators would take part, of course. Something akin to The Goods but magazine format — so room for even more.


(Click to enlarge)


 

* * * The Pivot Questionnaire * * *

Jules: What is your favorite word?

Ben: “Doodles!”

Jules: What is your least favorite word?

Ben: I feel that most words (even the ones that grate on me a bit) have their place. But one that does send a shiver down my spine is “moist.”

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

Ben: Walking in the woods, ice cream, bookstores, hot chocolate, games, drawing …

Jules: What turns you off?

Ben: Apathy.

Jules: What sound or noise do you love?

Ben: The sound of the ocean.

Jules: What sound or noise do you hate?

Ben: Shouting. But that depends on the situation.

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

Ben: Professional basketball player!

Jules: What profession would you not like to do?

Ben: Butcher.

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

Ben: “What do you want to go back as? I think you’d make an excellent dragon!”

All artwork and images are used with permission of Ben Clanton.

REX WRECKS IT. Copyright © 2014 by Ben Clanton. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

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

6 Comments on Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Ben Clanton, last added: 10/8/2014
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17. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #400, 3D-style: FeaturingSusan Eaddy, Maggie Rudy, and Karina Schaapman


Illustrator Susan Eaddy tweezes in an eyelash

It’s the first Sunday of the month, which usually means I feature a student illustrator. But I’m breaking my own rules and doing something different today.

I wrote a review last month for Chapter 16, which is a daily online journal about books and author events in Tennessee. I reviewed Julie Hedlund’s My Love for You Is the Sun, illustrated by Nashville artist Susan Eaddy, pictured right, and published by Little Bahalia Publishing last month. I’ve enjoyed reading Chapter 16 for years, so it’s particularly great to contribute to the site. That Chapter 16 review is here.

Regular 7-Imp readers know that I like to follow up these reviews I write at other places with picture book art. So, for today’s post, I asked Susan if she’d be interested in sharing some photos of what it’s like to create her illustrations. I thought it’d be fun to see Susan’s process in particular, because Susan works in clay. She shared generously, including some images of final spreads, and all of that is below.

But there’s more! Because I love to share as much picture book art as possible, I’ve also got illustrations from a couple of other new books. I mentioned in the Chapter 16 review that 2014 has given us a handful of picture books illustrated, like My Love for You Is the Sun, in what can best be described as a sculptural technique — not the traditional, two-dimensional illustrations we typically see in picture books. There is Yuyi Morales’ Viva Frida, for example, rendered in stop-motion puppets, paints, photography, etc. Yuyi will visit 7-Imp soon to share images from that. Or Loretta Holland’s Fall Leaves, illustrated in 3D paper vignettes by Elly MacKay, who will also visit 7-Imp soon. And remember Princesse Camcam’s Fox’s Garden, featured in this post? Yep. That one, too.

This year, we’ve also seen Karina Schaapman’s The Mouse Mansion, originally published in the Netherlands in 2011 but coming to the States next month from Dial. And there’s Maggie Rudy’s I Wish I Had a Pet (pictured above), published by Beach Lane Books in July.

Karina’s and Maggie’s three-dimensional tableaux are pictured below. Last up—because she sent so many images, which makes me happy—are the photos Susan sent, and I thank her for that.

Here’s to 3D art. Let’s get to it …

From Maggie Rudy’s I Wish I Had a Pet:


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


“…that you had a pet?”
(Click to enlarge)


 



(Click second image to enlarge and to see spread in its entirety)


 



(Click second image to enlarge and to see spread in its entirety)


 



 

From Karina Schaapman’s
The Mouse Mansion (without text):



 


The Mouse Mansion
(Click to enlarge)


 


“Little Sophie’s Birthday”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“Hoisting Time”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“The Bakery”
(Click to enlarge)


 



 

Susan Eaddy and My Love for You Is the Sun,
written by Julie Hedlund:


 


Figuring out the palette
(Click to enlarge)


 


Trying a new palette — with reference
(Click to enlarge)


 


Clay palette
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Background
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Laying in the grass, one piece at a time
(Click to enlarge)


 


Building a face — with anatomy reference
(Click to enlarge)


 


Laying in the mane, one hair at a time
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Final spread: “My love for you is the wind. /
Blowing kisses in your ears, / It wipes away your salty tears.”
Susan: “See how the mane changed? The art director thought
the first manes looked too ‘wormy.’”

(Click to enlarge)


 


Mama frog before spotting


 


Mama with spots


 


Bare baby
(Click to enlarge)


 


Spotted baby jumping


 


Making ripples
Susan: “You can see how many audio books I go through during the building stages!”

(Click to enlarge)


 


Putting in raindrops one at a time
(Click to enlarge)


 


Bunny- and background-building
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Final spread (front and back of book)
(Click to enlarge)


 

Finally, want to see Susan create a spread (really, really fast)? Here we go:

 



 

* * * * * * *

I WISH I HAD A PET. Copyright © 2014 by Maggie Rudy. Spreads used by permission of Beach Lane Books, New York.

THE MOUSE MANSION. Copyright © 2011 by Karina Shaapman. U.S. Edition 2014. Spreads used by permission of the publisher, Dial Books, New York.

MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN. Text copyright © 2014 by Julie Hedlund. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Susan Eaddy. Published by Little Bahalia, Milwaukee. All images related to this book are used by permission of Susan Eaddy.

Author photo of Susan Eaddy used by her permission.

* * *

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) October.

1½) That my 10-year-old collects acorn caps in October.

2) The Boxtrolls. Totally off the wall and slightly demented and very entertaining.

3) I got our tickets to see Shakey Graves live in Nashville in a couple of weeks:

4) My girls and I are usually reading a small stack of novels at once (maybe a bad habit?), but once we started Laura Amy Schlitz’s A Drowned Maiden’s Hair, it trumped everything else and it turned into a reading frenzy. I swear, I nearly kept them home from school on Friday (but didn’t) just so we could finish it. ‘Cause WHAT A GOOD BOOK. It was a re-read for me, and I knew they’d hang on every word. Which they pretty much did.

5) My friend. Featured on the local news!

6) It was really wonderful to visit Karen MacPherson’s blog and talk about Wild Things! Her work was important to our research, and she has a great site for children’s book fans.

7) The Southern Festival of Books is next weekend. It’s, hands down, the best thing about Nashville in the Fall.

 


(Poster art created by Cage Free Visual)


 

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #400, 3D-style: FeaturingSusan Eaddy, Maggie Rudy, and Karina Schaapman, last added: 10/5/2014
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18. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Lane Smith


 
This morning over at Kirkus, I write about Once Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters by Oliver Jeffers.

That link will be here soon.

* * *

Last week’s column was devoted to Bob Shea’s Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads (Roaring Brook, October 2014), illustrated by Lane Smith. That link is here.

Today I’ve got some illustrations from this very funny book.

Bonus: Lane shares some early pieces of art — with text that didn’t end up in the final book. Consider them the Kid Sheriff outtakes.

I thank him for sharing.

Enjoy the art …


 

Some Early Kid Sheriff Pieces
(with Alternate Texts):



 


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)



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(Click to enlarge)


 

Some Final Spreads from the Book:



 


“Then hope rode into town. Slowly. On a tortoise.”
(Click to enlarge)


“‘Howdy stranger. What brings you to our spicy town?’ asked the mayor.
‘I’m your new sheriff,’ said the boy. …”

(Click to enlarge to see full spread with text)


“It were the Toads. Itchin’ for some hootin’, hollerin’, and cattle kissin’.
‘No time for your foolishness. Dinosaurs just robbed the bank,’ said the sheriff. …”

(Click to enlarge to see full spread with text)


“…’Well, I reckon I could arrest you for being such a plumb nuisance, but I need this here jail for the real criminals. Dinosaurs are mighty big,’ said the sheriff.”
(Click to enlarge to see full spread with text)



 

* * * * * * *

All early images are used by permission of Lane Smith.

KID SHERIFF AND THE TERRIBLE TOADS. Text copyright © 2014 by Bob Shea. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Lane Smith. Final illustrations used by permission of Roaring Brook Press, New York.

2 Comments on What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Lane Smith, last added: 10/6/2014
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19. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #398: Featuring Ninja Cat Vs. Angel Cat

Hi, dear kickers. The illustrations I had planned to share today aren’t up, because I had some issues with the image files. Well, most of the images are fine, but two of them are not, so I’ll just wait. I’ll get that fixed soon (I hope) and post about the book another day.

But since posting without images is just not something I can tolerate here at 7-Imp, I’m sharing a piece of art my 10-year-old made. She and her sister are all the time drawing ninja cats, and this particular image cracks me up. It’s the age-old narrative of good vs. evil. This time it’s Ninja Cat vs. Angel Cat. Who will win?

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 for this super short post, but I’m going to let kicks 1 to 7 be sleep. Sleep when you really need it. I’ve had a long, busy day, and I’m going to put myself to bed.

But please do tell me: What are YOUR kicks this week? I always enjoy reading them.

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #398: Featuring Ninja Cat Vs. Angel Cat, last added: 9/22/2014
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20. Greek Gods and Fearsome Blizzards:A Visit with John Rocco


“I was the only one light enough to walk on top of the snow.”
Spread (without text) from Blizzard
(Click to enlarge)


“Zeus got angry and decided to destroy the entire race. I mean, Come on.
How bad could the humans have been?”

(Click to enlarge)

Pictured right is author-illustrator John Rocco in 1971. With him is his sister, Denise, and their dog, Toby-Tyler. This photo is the inspiration for John’s newest picture book, Blizzard (Disney-Hyperion), which will be released at the end of October. Blizzard tells the true story of John’s winter of 1978, when New England, as he explains in a closing author’s note, was slammed with one of the biggest snowstorms in its history. At first, it was all a bit thrilling and fun—we’re talkin’ school lets out early, snowdrifts cover doors, and tunnels and secret rooms are dug under piles of snow—and much hot cocoa (with milk!) was consumed. Then, things started to get a bit scary, but the young boy in the tale (John himself) heads out bravely to gather groceries for his family, as well as his neighbors, since as you can see above, he was “the only one light enough to walk on top of the snow.” It’s an adventure tale with cheer and heart, and at its core it’s a story about the resiliency and bravery of children.

Today, John is sharing some early drawings from the book, as well as some final art and a couple of other surprises. To boot, he’s throwing in four of his paintings from Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods, released by Disney-Hyperion in August.

Enjoy the art …

 

Preliminary drawings from Blizzard


 






 

Watercolor textures John created for Blizzard

John: The two watercolor textures seen here were created by doing a wash of color and then spraying them with a water bottle from about 10 feet away. My daughter and I created about 50 of these images one afternoon, and I used them throughout the book.

The ink splatter was done with black ink (borrowed from Sergio Ruzzier) and flicked onto the paper using an old toothbrush. I ended up doing about 50 of these as well, which I then would invert and use as the snowflakes throughout.

 





 

Some final art from Blizzard
(without text)


 


“The wind whipped up, and school closed early.
By the time my sister and I got home, the snow was already over our boots.”

(Click to enlarge)


“The snow continued to fall through the night …”


 


“… and I thought it would never stop.”
(Click second image to see spread in its entirety)


 


John: “The gatefold image is definitely an homage to the great Bill Keane’s
Family Circus comic strip that I grew up on.”
(Click to enlarge)


 



 

Art from Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods

John: [This book] is over 300 glossy pages and weighs just over four pounds! It has about 60 full-color paintings that were a herculean task. And this beautiful book is only $25! That’s right, only $25.

I guess you could say I am pretty excited about this book. The printing quality and the physicality of this book are above and beyond what I had hoped for and I am really proud of it.

 


“Apollo drew his bow and shot the snake between the eyes.
Then he sang a song about his awesomeness.”
(Click to enlarge)


“Pretty soon hunters from all over the world flocked to Kalydon.
They put on the first Annual and Hopefully Last Annual Kalydonian Boar Hunt.”

(Click to enlarge)


“Battus gave the baby god his pruning knife,
and Hermes led his cattle onward.”

(Click to enlarge)



 

* * * * * * *

BLIZZARD. Copyright © 2014 by John Rocco. Published by Disney-Hyperion, New York.

PERCY JACKSON’S GREEK GODS. Text copyright © 2014 by Rick Riordan. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by John Rocco. Published by Disney-Hyperion, New York.

All images here reproduced by permission of John Rocco.

3 Comments on Greek Gods and Fearsome Blizzards:A Visit with John Rocco, last added: 9/25/2014
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21. An Arabesque of Wings with Christopher Myers


“I was a dancer just like you / a dreaming shooting star of a girl /
with work and worlds ahead”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 

Since I chatted here last week with Misty Copeland and Christopher Myers about Firebird, their new picture book from Putnam, I thought I’d follow up today with some of Chris’ art from the book.

Enjoy.


“darling child, don’t you know / you’re just where I started /
let the sun shine on your face / your beginning’s just begun”

(Click to enlarge and see full spread with text)


“before the fireworks of costumes / before before it all”
(Click to enlarge spread)


“even birds must learn to fly / like me, you’ll grow steady in grace /
spread an arabesque of wings / and climb”

(Click to enlarge spread)


“you will soar / become a swan, a beauty, a firebird for sure /
soon with the same practice / you’ll join me / in this dancing dream”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 


(Click to enlarge cover)


 

* * * * * * *

FIREBIRD. Text copyright © 2014 by Misty Copeland. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Christopher Myers. Spreads reproduced by permission of the publisher, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, New York.

3 Comments on An Arabesque of Wings with Christopher Myers, last added: 9/28/2014
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22. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Benji Davies

This morning over at Kirkus, I write about Bob Shea’s Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads, illustrated by Lane Smith. That link will be here soon.

* * *

Last week, I wrote here about Benji Davies’ The Storm Whale, first published in the UK last year but released here this month by Henry Holt. I’m following up with art today, and since I love these illustrations so much, I asked Benji if he’d like to do a 7-Imp “breakfast” interview. He said yes, so I hope to post that in the next couple of months.

Enjoy the art …


“Noi lived with his dad and six cats by the sea.”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 



(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


 



(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


 


(Click to see full spread)


 


“Noi knew it was the right thing to do, but it was hard to say good-bye.
He was glad his dad was there with him.”

(Click to enlarge)



 



 

* * * * * * *

THE STORM WHALE. Copyright © 2013 by Benji Davies. First American Edition copyright © 2014. Illustration reproduced by permission of the publisher, Henry Holt and Company, New York.

4 Comments on What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Benji Davies, last added: 9/27/2014
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23. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #399: Featuring Marla Frazee


(Click to enlarge)

Pictured here is an early comp from Marla Frazee’s newest picture book, The Farmer and the Clown (Beach Lane Books, September 2014). This book is something special, and since I recently reviewed it for BookPage, I figured I would see if Marla could share some early sketches and such from it. Lucky for me and all of 7-Imp’s readers, she said yes. She also includes below some final art from the book.

So, to read about this book and why it’s so good, that BookPage review I wrote is here. Below are the preliminary images and final art.

I thank Marla for sharing.

Enjoy!


Marla: “This is the first drawing I did of the two characters.
It kicked off my thinking about what the story could be.”


 


Marla: “This is one of the many, many, many versions of early thumbnails.”
(Click to enlarge slightly)


 


Early small sketch dummies
(Click to enlarge slightly)


 


A sketch from the full-size sketch dummy
(Click to enlarge)


 


Early comps
(Click to enlarge)


 


Marla: “The direction I decided to go in for the finishes …”
(Click to enlarge)


 


A finished pencil, close-up
(Click to enlarge)


 


Finished drawing before painting
(Click to enlarge)


 


Farmer and clown, pre-painted
(Click to enlarge)


 



Two more pre-painted final images
(Click each to enlarge)


 

Some Final Spreads from the Book:



 


(Click to enlarge)


 



(Click second image to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)


 



(Click second image to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)


 



(Click second image to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 



 

THE FARMER AND THE CLOWN. Copyright © 2014 by Marla Frazee. Published by Beach Lane Books, New York. All images here are posted with permission of Marla Frazee.

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 love love LOVE looking at Marla Frazee’s pencil drawings. Even her early sketches are spectacular.

2) Lev Grossman’s The Magicians! AH! THE ENDING!

3) Grossman will be speaking at the Southern Festival of Books in a couple of weeks. I’ll have to go hear him. (Hey, I will also speak at the Southern Festival of Books in a couple of weeks! My co-author will be in town for that too.)

4) Transparent. It’s good stuff, you all.

5) I’m learning to play “Honey Pie” on the piano. My 8-year-old loves this song, so if I can nail it (I’m still a beginner), I’ll surprise her.

6) Surprises in the mail.

7) Laura Marling has surfaced — and in such a lovely, melodic way:

BONUS: I get to meet Lauren Castillo in person today!

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #399: Featuring Marla Frazee, last added: 9/28/2014
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24. Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Hadley Hooper


“Would it be a surprise that you grew up to be a fine painter
Who painted red rooms …”

Over at BookPage, I had the pleasure of reviewing Patricia MacLachlan’s newest picture book, The Iridescence of Birds (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook, October 2014), illustrated by Hadley Hooper, pictured left. I fell hard for this book, you all. It’s probably my favorite from this year. It’s simply exquisite in every way. I won’t go on. If you want to know what the book is about and why I love it so, that BookPage review is here.

I’m happy that Hadley obliged when I asked if she’d like to visit 7-Imp for a cyber-breakfast and talk more about her illustration work, this book, and what’s next for her. Best of all, she sent lots of art. This is her second picture book (her first being Shana Corey’s Here Come the Girl Scouts!, published in 2012), though she’s hardly new to illustration. She’s spent years as an editorial illustrator for magazines and newspapers.

When I ask her about breakfast, Hadley says, “well, I’m in Denver where we have A LOT of choices for morning coffee, perhaps because the night before we had A LOT of choices for craft beers. So, there are many opportunities to frustrate a barista with orders like a triple dry cappuccino or shots of espresso over ice. We’ll wait to eat until later if that’s okay!” I’m good for an espresso, though I’ll take mine hot. Let’s get right to it so that we can see more of Hadley’s art.

I thank her for visiting.

* * * * * * *

Jules: Are you an illustrator or author/illustrator?

Hadley: I’m an illustrator/painter. I’d love to write a book one day.


Jules: Can you list your books-to-date?

Hadley: I’ve done two picture books. The most recent is The Iridescence of Birds, a book about Henri Matisse (out in October of 2014!) by Patricia MacLachlan for Neal Porter. And Here Come the Girl Scouts by Shana Corey.


“And she let you mix the colors of paint …”
(Click to enlarge)


“And on the dirt parlor floor
So all the world looked red …”

(Click to enlarge)

Pictured above: Spreads from Patricia MacLachlan’s
The Iridescence of Birds …

Jules: What is your usual medium?

Hadley: In the ’90′s when I started as an editorial illustrator, I was still working in oils. Early on I Fed-Exed a piece of final art that was still tacky but well packed to Ray Gun magazine. I waited until the magazine came out to find the art director had published it with the packing tissue stuck to the image. It actually looked okay, but after that I switched to water-based paints.

For most illustrations, I’ll cut and/or emboss foam and cardboard to make relief prints. I use different transfer techniques and old carbon paper to get interesting line qualities. I’ll scan all the parts in and assemble in Photoshop.


Hadley: “This is a photo of the relief print parts.
(Some of my Photoshop files had over 100 layers.)”

(Click to enlarge)

Jules: Where are your stompin’ grounds?

Hadley: I live with Hugh and Maddie the dog in a now trendy part of Denver called Highland. My studio is ten minutes away in a now trendy part of north Denver called RiNo.


(Click to enlarge)

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

Hadley: I got out of art school with degrees in both illustration and painting and messed up my first assignment and got a kill fee. I put my portfolio away forever and started working odds jobs — as a scenic painter for theatre, painting murals in homes, painting traditional cells for an animation studio (that was GRRReat!), and waiting many, many tables. In the meantime, I did my own work, joined a co-op to exhibit, and after a time I felt I had something of my own, so I made cards of my paintings and sent them to art directors at magazines. I figured I might as well fail at the top, so I sent samples to the New Yorker and Harper’s and Rolling Stone and got jobs right away. After a year, I quit my waitressing job. My road into children’s books was through the editorial work.


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge and see text)


(Click to enlarge and see text)

Pictured above: Spreads from Shana Corey’s Here Come the Girl Scouts!

,
published in 2012 by Scholastic. See more art here in this previous 7-Imp post.

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

Hadley: www.hadleyhooper.com.


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)

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

Hadley: I have three books on the boards right now with three wonderful publishers, including another for Neal Porter. (My agent of 12 years has great folks, like Serge Bloch, and is responsible for me meeting Neal.)





Illustrations for a workbook from Chronicle, called Back to Us
(Click each to enlarge)

Mmm. Coffee.Okay, I’ve got more espresso, and it’s time to get a bit more detailed with six questions over breakfast. I thank Hadley 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?

Hadley

: I love to do research. I will still go to the library, since there’s nothing like having real books sitting open around the studio. I like Pinterest for finding references online. Since the Matisse book is fresh in my mind, it’s easy to talk about in this context.

I looked at every painting of his I could find. What a great luxury! I tried to find fabrics that he may have seen in his hometown, which was a textile town. I looked at the era’s fashion, architecture, even thought about the music he might have listened to. I used Google Maps to knit together the street he grew up on, which really hadn’t changed much, architecturally.


Rough of the opening spread of The Iridescence of Birds


 


Final art: “If you were a boy named Henri Matisse who lived
in a dreary town in northern France where the skies were gray …”

(Click to enlarge)


Final art: “And the days were cold
And you wanted color and light / And sun …”

(Click to enlarge)

I didn’t leave myself much time for the finals on Matisse, because four completed spreads in, I decided to start over. It was the right thing to do for sure, but it was sort of painful. I had been feeling uncertain about my direction but sent a spread to Neal and Jennifer Brown (the art director) for a look anyway and waited. Uncharacteristically, I didn’t hear back from them right away. That silence, intended or not, was the best art direction ever; it felt like they were letting me come to my own conclusion that it wasn’t quite working. In the next days, I did a totally new “market” spread, the scene of Matisse and his mom, and knew right away it was the way to go. I sent that one back, got approval, and was off and running.


“And let you arrange the fruit and flowers
She brought from the market …”

(Click to enlarge)

I do lots of drawings to get the characters to where I understand what they look like from different angles and poses. I use grease pencil on butcher paper, so I can’t get too detailed or too attached to my first drawings.

I typically like to have more time on roughs, so I’ll design each spread and decide what the color story will be for each. This way when I go to finals, I’ve got a good road map. But I always try to allow the final art to have its own say about where it’s going. I try and pay attention and not kill the energy. It’s a real challenge.


“And the iridescence of birds …”


 


Jacket art from The Iridescence of Birds
(Click to enlarge)

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

Hadley

: On a typical day, I’ll put Maddie in the car and drive about ten minutes to my studio. Ironton sits on three quarters of an acre and has 20 studios, including a couple wood shops, a metal fabricator, a one-man bronze foundry, painters, and a gallery. All these different people with their diverse approaches to making art and objects are really fun to be around. Plus, there’s a new artist and show in the gallery every six weeks! I’ve got a studio that looks out onto the garden which I care for. It’s a big room and often a chaotic one. As of this writing (mid September 2014), I’m painting for a gallery show in early November and, yes, the paintings will be wet. The room reflects the different hats I wear, as the gallery coordinator, the gardener, illustrator, and painter.


A photo of the view of the Ironton garden from Hadley’s studio
(Click to enlarge)



Studio photos
(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?

Hadley

: As a young reader, Are You My Mother? was my favorite. I had to Google the book and found that P. D. Eastman did Go, Dog. Go! too, another one in heavy rotation. And all the Seuss books and anything Peanuts. I had the whole Childcraft series, which was heavily illustrated. It’s the same one that’s part of the set dressing for Andy Cohen’s Clubhouse on Bravo! Later reading was Judy Blume and Tolkien.

Weirdly, the most visually memorable thing as a little kid was my favorite sheet set. It had a farm scene on it, and I would spend lots of time daydreaming, looking at all those drawings of hens and animals and a girl with a pail, sort of Roger Duvoisin-like in style.


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.)

Hadley: I’d invite Georganne Deen, Robert Andrew Parker, and Vivienne Flesher. And someone who’s a friend already, whom I don’t get to see but once a year, and he’ll make everyone laugh — John Cuneo. Let’s raise the dead and invite Saul Steinberg, Edward Gorey, Dorothy Parker, and Ben Shahn.

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?

Hadley: I think that music is the number one perk of my job. I love music. I can’t draw a line or even type a letter without it. Recent purchases are the new Damon Albarn, the soundtrack to The Great Beauty (great movie, too), Sylvan Esso, Tindersticks, Sam Amidon, Arvo Pärt. I’m counting the days until Nick Cave’s movie 20,000 Days on Earth opens here.

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

Hadley: I was named after Hadley Hemingway, the wife he liked the best. According to my mom.

* * * The Pivot Questionnaire * * *

Jules: What is your favorite word?

Hadley: “Ennui.”

Jules: What is your least favorite word?

Hadley: “Panties.”

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

Hadley: Generosity.

Jules: What turns you off?

Hadley: Self-confidence. I guess it’s more confusing than anything.

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

Hadley: “Fuck.” “Screwed the pooch” is a great and useful phrase.

Jules: What sound or noise do you love?

Hadley: Cicadas.

Jules: What sound or noise do you hate?

Hadley: Those gas-powered leaf blowers.

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

Hadley: I’d love to be in a band, something truly collaborative. I’d be the drummer.

Jules: What profession would you not like to do?

Hadley: Accountant.

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

Hadley: “Surprise!”

All artwork and images are used with permission of Hadley Hooper.

THE IRIDESCENCE OF BIRDS. Copyright © 2014 by Patricia MacLachlan. Illustrations © 2014 by Hadley Hooper. Published by Neal Porter/Roaring Brook Press, New York.

Illustrations from Here Come the Girl Scouts! by Shana Corey, illustrated by Hadley Cooper. Copyright 2012. Published by Scholastic Press.

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

5 Comments on Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Hadley Hooper, last added: 10/1/2014
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25. Circle, Square, Moose, Bingham, Zelinsky.



 


 


 


 


 


 

This morning over at Kirkus, I chat with author Kelly Bingham and illustrator Paul O. Zelinsky at the release of Circle, Square, Moose, the sequel to 2012′s Z Is for Moose. Kelly and Paul are pictured here. So is Moose. But of course.

That Q&A will be here soon.

Next week here at 7-Imp, I’ll have a bit of art from the book, as well as some Zelinsky sketches.

* * * * * * *

Author photo of Kelly is by Marty Bingham and used with permission. Photo of Paul O. Zelinsky also used with permission.

1 Comments on Circle, Square, Moose, Bingham, Zelinsky., last added: 10/2/2014
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