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1. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #393: Featuring Christopher Weyant



 

Over at BookPage, I’ve written a review of Anna Kang’s You Are (Not) Small (Two Lions, August 2014), illustrated by her husband, Christopher Weyant. So, I’m sending you over there today to read about it, but I’ve got a bit art here at 7-Imp today to go with it.

The review is here.

Enjoy the art …





 



 

YOU ARE (NOT) SMALL. Text copyright © 2014 by Anna Kang. Illustrations © 2014 by Christopher Weyant. Illustrations used by permission of the publisher, Two Lions, 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) I got to Skype in yesterday to The Book Beat’s special book launch (in Oak Park, Michigan) for the late Peter D. Sieruta, one of my co-authors on Wild Things. Here’s a photo, courtesy of Rhonda Gowler Greene on Twitter, of Betsy (who was there) talking to Video Me at the launch:

 



 

2) Snowpiercer! WHOA. It is very good.

3) The Giver wasn’t half-bad either. It was interesting to see so soon after having read it to my girls.

4) Speaking of, my girls and I are reading some good novels again. (We had a dry spell for a while there.)

5) I love this idea, this book, and this smart, smart teacher.

6) Educating my girls in the way of The Beatles.

7) Wild Things got a starred Booklist review (though it’s not published yet). That was so lovely to see.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

6 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #393: Featuring Christopher Weyant, last added: 8/18/2014
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2. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week,Featuring Leo & Diane Dillon and Liniers



 

Today over at Kirkus, I write about a new collaboration from J. Patrick Lewis and Gary Kelley, Harlem Hellfighters.

That will be here soon.

* * *

Last week, I chatted (here) with Diane Dillon, and I also wrote (here) about Liniers’ What There Is Before There Is Anything There (Groundwood, September 2014).

Today I have art from that book (pictured right), as well as the last book Diane and Leo Dillon did together (pictured above), If Kids Ran the World (Blue Sky Press/Scholastic, August 2014).

Enjoy …


 

Art from What There Is
Before There Is Anything There


 



(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


 



(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


 



(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


 



 

Art from If Kids Ran the World
(without text)


 


“Maybe we’d run the world in a big tree house,
and everybody would be welcome.
We’d take care of the most important things.”

(Click to enlarge)



 


“We know people are hungry, so all over the world, everyone would have enough to eat. The food would taste delicious, and it would make people healthy and strong.
Kids who had extra food would help bring it to people who needed it.”

(Click to enlarge)


 


“And that’s why, if kids ran the world,
we’d make it a wonderful place for everyone to live.”

(Click to enlarge)


 



 

* * * * * * *

WHAT THERE IS BEFORE THERE IS ANYTHING THERE. Text and illustrations copyright © 2006 by Liniers. First published in English in 2014 by Groundwood Books. English translation copyright © 2014 by Elisa Amado. Illustration reproduced by permission of the publisher.

Illustrations from IF KIDS RAN THE WORLD © 2014 by Leo & Diane Dillon. Used with permission from The Blue Sky Press/Scholastic.

1 Comments on What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week,Featuring Leo & Diane Dillon and Liniers, last added: 8/15/2014
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3. Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Birgitta Sif

Yesterday I did a guest blog post at BookPage, talking about my favorite new illustrators. That is, those illustrators who have come to prominence in the past couple of years. I snuck author-illustrator Birgitta Sif onto my list, and today she visits for breakfast.

Here’s what I wrote at BookPage:

“Hailing from Iceland (but currently living in Sweden) is author-illustrator Birgitta Sif. Her debut, Oliver

(2012), is the picture book I’d point to that most accurately gets what it is to be an introvert. And Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance and Dance, coming at the end of August, pretty much nails shyness. And Sif executes it all with style and warmth.”

Yep. That. I think she’s one to watch, and below she talks about what else she’s done, beyond Oliver and Frances Dean, as well as what’s next for her. Best of all, she shares some art and sketches.

As for what we’re going to pretend-eat while we pretend to sit across an actual table from one another (though I really super-bad wish I were in Sweden right now), Birgitta says, “I would say a scone with apricot marmalade and a perfectly hot cup of coffee. Or on fancy days, Nutella-filled aebleskiver with strawberries. Mmm. Those are yum. But truth be told, on most mornings I’m lucky to grab a quick piece of toast and and lukewarm coffee. A 2.5-year-old and 6-month-old keep me on my toes from very early in the morning to night.”

Let’s dream big and go for the Nutella-filled aebleskiver with strawberries.

I thank Birgitta for visiting!

* * * * * * *

Jules: Are you an illustrator or author/illustrator?

Birgitta: Both. But perhaps illustrator/author, English not being my first language. I’m from Iceland. But I’d say perhaps pictures are my first language.



– From Sue Monroe’s The Magnificent Moon Hare (Egmont Books, 2013)

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

Birgitta: Oliver (illustrator/author), Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance and Dance (illustrator/author), [Sue Monroe's] The Magnificent Moon Hare (illustrator, chapter book series), Miss Hazeltine’s Home for Shy and Fearful Cats (illustrator — forthcoming), Where Our Feet Go (illustrator/author — forthcoming).

Jules: What is your usual medium?

Birgitta: Pencil. It’s my favourite tool. Then digital colouring.

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?

Birgitta: I worked also on a series called The Magnificent Moon Hare, which were chapter books for children. I think in that particular case, when having so much more text and perhaps story, the illustrations play a different role. They are aiding or punctuating the story. Picture books are creating worlds with pictures and text, hand in hand. But there are exceptions to this, of course.


Jules: Where are your stompin’ grounds?

Birgitta: Currently, we live just outside of Gothenburg, Sweden. But I am originally from Iceland. We are a bit of a traveling family. We love to adventure and show our little girls the world.



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

Birgitta: I started as a designer for a newspaper in the mountains of a small town named Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Then I interned for Candlewick Press and moved on to work in the children’s book art department in NYC (HarperCollins and Henry Holt and Co.). Finally, I jumped oceans to England to try my heart at a masters degree in Children’s Book Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art. At our final degree show in London, I was offered an amazing chance to work with Walker Books, UK, and they have been lovely!


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)

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

Birgitta: www.birgittasif.com; Instagram: www.instagram.com/birgittasif; Facebook: www.facebook.com/birgittasif.illustration.


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


“Oliver felt a bit different.”
(Click to enlarge)


“The next day, as he was playing tennis on his own . . .”
(Click to enlarge)


Sketches and illustrations from Oliver

(Candlewick, 2012)

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

Birgitta: I recently did an illustration for a new book Amnesty International is publishing called, What is Freedom? I’m really so honored to be part of such an incredible project. My book Oliver is also endorsed by Amnesty International, which makes working with them again even more amazing.

And currently, I’m also working on a new book with Knopf, Random House, called Where Our Feet Go. It’s really exciting, and I’m thrilled to be working with the great people at Knopf.


From Miss Hazeltine’s Home for Shy and Fearful Cats (forthcoming)
(Click to enlarge)

Mmm. Coffee.Okay, I’ve got more coffee (a perfectly hot cup), and it’s time to get a bit more detailed with six questions over breakfast. I thank Birgitta 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?

Birgitta

: I’m still learning as I go and developing new ways to do things. But I usually start with doodling, and a main idea evolves from that. And when I feel the doodles start to make some sort of sense together, I start adding text. And then I add more doodles to make it all come together — and more text, like layers upon layer, oftentimes erasing or taking out just as often as adding. It’s like one of those sliding puzzles, each piece moving opens up new possibilities, but you hope that after sliding it around and around, a beautiful story will emerge.


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


“When no one was around, she would feel the wind and dance …
and hear the singing of the birds and dance and dance and dance.”

(Click to enlarge)



Sketches and final art from
Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance and Dance


(Candlewick, August 2014)

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

Birgitta

: I work in the living room. I have a little corner there where my desk faces out to our yard, filled with trees and birds. Being a mamma to two little girls means that I need to grab moments whenever I can. I often work when they are playing, but I do most of my work at night when they’ve both gone to bed and the quiet fills the house.



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

Birgitta

: Growing up in the U.S. and in Scandinavia, I had a variety of different kinds of books. But I did love reading Roald Dahl — a little bit of mischief in his books. And many of Astrid Lindgren’s books.

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.)

Birgitta: Halldór Laxness, an Icelandic author (I named my second daughter after one of his books, a beautiful story with a strong female character, Salka); Astrid Lindgren; and Bill Peet.


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?

Birgitta: Ásgeir Trausti, or anything swing or folk or even a bit of ’50s, although I often have the Icelandic radio on. I love having Icelandic on in the background. It makes me feel less far away from home.

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

Birgitta: I taught wood carving to residents at a nursing home in Reykjavík.


(Click to enlarge)

* * * The Pivot Questionnaire * * *

Jules: What is your favorite word?

Birgitta: “Bergmál.” It means “echo” in English, but in Icelandic it translates to “the talking of the mountains.” Icelandic has a lot of beautiful words.

Jules: What is your least favorite word?

Birgitta: “No.”

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

Birgitta: Sleep.

Jules: What turns you off?

Birgitta: No sleep.

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

Birgitta: “Andskotinn.” I don’t curse in English, only occasionally in Icelandic.

Jules: What sound or noise do you love?

Birgitta: My girls’ laughter or the soft sound of their sleep.

Jules: What sound or noise do you hate?

Birgitta: Honking of horns.

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

Birgitta: Toy-maker.

Jules: What profession would you not like to do?

Birgitta: Being a suit.

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

Birgitta: “You’ve been loved.” Or: “Oh, hi Birgitta! I’m a big fan!”

* * * * * * *

All other artwork and images are used with permission of Birgitta Sif.

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

3 Comments on Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Birgitta Sif, last added: 8/14/2014
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4. So hard to narrow …



 

I’m guest-blogging over at BookPage today, who asked me about my favorite new illustrators. Needless to say, I loved this challenge.

It’s here.

Thanks to BookPage for having me!

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5. Nervous Children and Magic Pencils Before Breakfast


“‘No!’ said Joe.”
Spread from Anthony Browne’s What If …?
(Click to enlarge)


 

Over at BookPage, I’ve got a review of Anthony Browne’s What If …?, published by Candlewick this month. This was evidently first published last year but sees its U.S. release this year. That is here, and I’m following up with a bit of art from the book today at 7-Imp.

I’ve also got a spread from Browne’s The Little Bear Book, which was originally published in 1988 but re-released by Candlewick this year.

Enjoy …


 

Art from What If …?



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


 



 

Art from The Little Bear Book


 



(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


 



 

* * * * * * *

THE LITTLE BEAR BOOK. Copyright © 1988 by Brun Ltd. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA on behalf of Walker Books, London.

WHAT IF…?. Copyright © 2013 by AET Browne. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

0 Comments on Nervous Children and Magic Pencils Before Breakfast as of 1/1/1900
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6. Velvet Devils & Kung-Fu Girls

Take a moment, if you’re so inclined, to head over to the Wild Things! site today and hear about precisely which wines you can read while reading our book! All that is here.

Until tomorrow …

0 Comments on Velvet Devils & Kung-Fu Girls as of 8/11/2014 4:38:00 AM
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7. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #392: Featuring Zack Rock

Hey, look! It’s an animated GIF in which debut author-illustrator Zack Rock is showing us a spread being painted. I hope the animation is working for everyone.

It’s good to have Zack back at 7-Imp. In 2012 (here), his artwork was featured on one of my Up-and-Coming Illustrators Sunday posts, and now his first book is out with Creative Editions. In fact, if you look again at that post from two years ago, you will see that he included two images from this new book back then. (Also, it’s a fun post to re-read, since he talks about studying at England’s Cambridge School of Art with scholar Martin Salisbury. Zack described it as “a no-holds-barred, steel cage death match of mutual respect and encouragement.”)

The new book is called Homer Henry Hudson’s Curio Museum and will be released in mid-August. “Everything has a story,” the book opens, and Zack’s is a beguiling one. Henry is a bulldog, who owns a museum of curios from all over the world. He proudly displays several in the book and tells readers about them — from a Conatusaurus Skull from the Late Jurassic Period to a Humble Willow Root Cane. The collection includes delightfully bizarre artifacts, and Homer is a fine storyteller. I like the art in this book (illustrations that the Kirkus review describes as possessing “touches of humble elegance”), and the writing is outstanding. (“My job is to keep the place spick-and-span,” Henry says when we first meet him. “My eyesight isn’t what it used to be, but I’m a proper Magellan at nose navigation. You’d be surprised how well a 6th-century Byzantine bedpan keeps its distinctive aroma.”) Zack Rock is one to watch.

I’m going to let Zack talk now and share some of his artwork. Enjoy.

p.s. If you visit his 2012 7-Imp post, you can spot Maurice Sendak, Shaun Tan, and Lisbeth Zwerger in one of the illustrations from this book.

* * *

Zack: Thanks again for having me back aboard the good ship 7-Imp! It was an honor being previously featured as an up-and-coming illustrator and an absolute joy to return as an arrived-and-here illustrator. I can only hope 7-Imp will continue to record my career in the decades to come, even if it’s only in a Where Are They Now-type feature, far down the road (SPOILER: undefeated tango champion at Deer Glen Assisted Living Facility).

For now, I’m super excited to share my first book, Homer Henry Hudson’s Curio Museum! It’s the tale of a globetrotting explorer and the bounty of bizarre bits-and-bobs he collects on his adventures. Part Indiana Jones, part Hoarders, but with the one element those series were conspicuously lacking: an elderly, half-blind talking dog.


Zack: “A photo from the sketchbook page I first worked out the idea for HHH on.”
(Click to enlarge)

Starting in the present day with an introduction to the crowded museum, the book then flashes back to the rise and fall of Homer Henry Hudson via the curio descriptions themselves. It was a fun way to narrate his biography and buys the reader a ticket to all the exotic locales HHH has pilfered (as well as a sushi restaurant).

But the big draw for many has been the smörgåsbord of artifacts in the book. Every drop of my imagination was wrung out to fill the museum, leaving a scoosh over 100 exhibitions in the book. Each has a story, though for the most part I’ve left them for the reader to dream up.




“Everything has a story: the dullest clam may hold the brightest pearl. …”
Zack: “{These are} step-by-steps of an illustration from thumbnail to final illustration.”

(Click each to enlarge)

The journey from first draft to final was almost as calamitous as one of H³’s adventures. The original idea sprawled out to include seven main characters, a trio of taxidermic bulldogs, a pair of dead parents, and one sinister white squid. After some minor retooling (picture an axe-wielding lunatic with a vendetta against paper), I pared it down to only one main character. And only one dead parent.


“My eyesight isn’t what it used to be …”
(Click to enlarge and read full text)


“… the future is never set in stone (or, in this case, bronze).”
(Click to enlarge and read full text)


“She begged I accept her bear as a token of gratitude.”
(Click to enlarge and read full text)


“Reward from the temple’s caretakers for convincing the parrot priest to unbeak a panel of wood he’d stripped off the dilapidated temple wall.”
(Click to enlarge and read full text)

Working with Creative Editions on the book was beyond wonderful. Tackling a project like this is daunting to say the least, but the dedication Creative’s publisher Tom and art director Rita had to Homer carried me through the many harrowing legs of the journey. When I first approached them with my portfolio, I felt like the high school Science Fiction Club president asking the prom queen for a dance, and I’m still stunned by the faith they have in my work.


Zack: “My work space back in Seattle where I wrote and illustrated the book.
(I’m living in Berlin nowadays.) My cat sat right behind me like that for most of the project, kept my posture straight.”

(Click to enlarge)

Sadly, two individuals whose talents helped shape Homer Henry Hudson’s Curio Museum passed away before its release: my editor Aaron and printer, Ermanno. Along with writing some of the most engaging titles Creative Editions has released, Aaron’s deft red pen led my original text away from the brink of obscurity. And Ermanno’s genius not only revived the illustrations after my particularly poor scanning job nearly derailed the project, he made them just shine on the page. But beyond their professional abilities, they were a couple of the warmest and kindest people I’ve ever met. The world’s poorer for their absence.


(Click to enlarge)

Currently, I’m chiseling away at another book for Creative [pictured above], this time about an acrobatic young pig whose life changes after an encounter with a bookstore. Something about surrounding short, squat little animals with stuff evidently appeals to me. It’s called The Unexpected, and you can expect it 2016.

* * * * * * *

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 * * *

Hi, kickers! I’ve missed you the past two weeks. Let’s get caught up …

1) It’s really neat to have Zack back at 7-Imp.

2) I GOT TO MEET JAMA, YOU ALL! And her very nice husband. And hang out with her in her beautiful home. I also got to see Sara Lewis Holmes, though it wasn’t my first time meeting her in person, and meet her husband. I’m lucky to have these people as friends in my life (and I could have spent all day talking to them).

3) This was all while we were in D.C. last week for vacation, which was a fun trip (“fun AND a lot like Social Studies,” said my 8-year-old).

4) There was this Wyeth exhibit at the National Gallery of Art. Hoo boy, I could have stayed ALL DAY in that one exhibit.

5) The book I wrote with Peter Sieruta and Betsy Bird came out on Tuesday of last week! (Should you wanna read it, by chance, here’s the low-down.) I had a book launch at Parnassus Books, which was fun. A local wine shop manager, Dan Hutchinson at The Wine Shoppe at Green Hills in Nashville, paired my book with some wines for the event, and he chose The Velvet Devil and Kung-Fu Girl (both from here). I mean, how wonderful is that? I have a video of the talk he gave at my launch, so I’ll try to share it soon.

6) People have been very supportive of and generous about the book launch, and I really appreciate it.

7) I’m reading this, and I love it thus far. I had to back up and start over (before I had gotten very far at all) just so I could read it with my girls:

I think I used the word “fun” an awful lot in this post, but it’s been a fun couple of weeks, in fact.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #392: Featuring Zack Rock, last added: 8/10/2014
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8. What I’m Doing at Kirkus Today,Plus Art from Princesse Camcam, Lizi Boyd,Richard Scarry, and Hervé Tullet


– From Hervé Tullet’s Mix It Up!


 


– From Princesse Camcam’s Fox’s Garden


 


– From Lizi Boyd’s Flashlight


 


“So Chicken Little and Henny Penny and Ducky Lucky and Goosey Loosey and Turkey Lurkey hurried off down the road to tell the king the sky was falling.
And on the way they met Foxy Loxy.”

– From

Richard Scarry’s Best Little Golden Books Ever!
(Click to enlarge)

 

Today over at Kirkus, I take a look at Liniers’ new picture book What There Is Before There Is Anything There, to be released by Groundwood Books next month.

That link is here.

* * *

Last week, I wrote here about a small handful of new picture books. Since you know I always like to follow up with art, today I have art from each book. It’s all below. (Please note: The colors in the spreads from Richard Scarry are a bit off; the colors are a bit brighter than they appear in the book.)

Enjoy.

 

Art from Princesse Camcam’s Fox’s Garden
(Enchanted Lion Books, September 2014)


 






(Click each to enlarge)


 



 

Art from Hervé Tullet’s Mix It Up!
(Chronicle, September 2014)


 


“If you rub the two colors together really hard … then what happens?”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“You got it!”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“…White makes colors lighter. Go ahead, try it!”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“See?”
(Click to enlarge)


Art from Richard Scarry’s
Best Little Golden Books Ever!
(Random House, July 2014)


 


“Here comes the mail truck to pick up mail. A man sells ice cream.
A delivery motorcycle hurries by.”

(Click to enlarge)


 


“The little mouse ran through the city. She ran and ran and ran. And she did not stop until she was safe in the quiet green country.”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“And on he ran, with the little old woman, the little old man, the gentle brown cow,
and the big brown bear all running after him.”

(Click to enlarge)


 


Art from Lizi Boyd’s Flashlight
(Chronicle, August 2014)


 




(Click each to enlarge)


 



 

* * * * * * *

RICHARD SCARRY’S BEST LITTLE GOLDEN BOOKS EVER! Compilation copyright © 2014 by Random House, New York. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher.

FLASHLIGHT. Copyright © 2014 by Lizi Boyd. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco.

FOX’S GARDEN. First American edition published in 2014 by Enchanted Lion Books, Brooklyn. Translation © 2014 by Enchanted Lion Books. Originally published in France. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher.

MIX IT UP! Copyright © 2014 by Hervé Tullet. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco.

3 Comments on What I’m Doing at Kirkus Today,Plus Art from Princesse Camcam, Lizi Boyd,Richard Scarry, and Hervé Tullet, last added: 8/11/2014
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9. What I’m Doing at Kirkus Today,Plus Some Art from Bob Graham

Today over at Kirkus, I chat with acclaimed author-illustrator Diane Dillon. Pictured above is Diane with her late husband, Leo.

That link will be here soon.

* * *

A couple weeks ago, I chatted with Australian author-illustrator Bob Graham, one of my favorites. That link is here, and I’m following up below with art from three of his books.

Enjoy.

 

Art from Vanilla Ice Cream (August 2014)


 


“… in just one fleeting moment …”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“Edie’s life changes forever.”
(Click to enlarge)



 

Art from The Silver Button (2013)


 


“He swayed, he frowned, he tilted forward …”
(Click to enlarge)


 



 

Art from How to Heal a Broken Wing (2008)


 




 

* * * * * * *

Photo of Leo and Diane Dillon taken by Pat Cummings and used with permission.

HOW TO HEAL A BROKEN WING. Copyright © 2008 by Bob Graham. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA on behalf of Walker Books, London.

THE SILVER BUTTON. Copyright © 2013 by Bob Graham. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA on behalf of Walker Books, London.

VANILLA ICE CREAM. Copyright © 2014 by Bob Graham. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA on behalf of Walker Books, London.

1 Comments on What I’m Doing at Kirkus Today,Plus Some Art from Bob Graham, last added: 8/9/2014
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10. It’s here!

I guess I failed to mention here at my very own blog yesterday that I had a book release! I blame the bunny on the left. Yes, he knows he’s in trouble.

Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature, written with Betsy Bird and the late Peter D. Sieruta, is out from Candlewick Press. If you’re at all interested in reading it, the website we created for the book has ordering information here. And we’ve been posting daily over there stories that were cut from the book. It’s been fun. I’ve enjoyed writing at that site with Betsy, though of course we wish Peter were still with us. So super bad do we wish that. (On that note, don’t miss this special event, if you live near Oak Park, Michigan.)

Starting today, we are also sharing videos from authors and illustrators over at the Wild Things site. They’ll be telling behind-the-scenes stories about their upcoming 2014 books. We’re doing that, because … well, Wild Things is really a celebration of the children’s books we know and love, so this seems a fitting way to celebrate. Today’s video is from author N. D. Wilson, and boy howdy is it a treat (especially around moment 2:43 where N. D. quotes Beowulf’s opening lines, which pretty much just made my week).

For those of you near Nashville, I will have a book launch tomorrow night at Parnassus Books. Here’s the low-down. There will be wine, thanks to Dan Hutchinson at The Wine Shoppe at Green Hills. (I cannot WAIT to see which wine he chooses for our book — and why!)

Also, I’d like to quickly add that this has been one of my favorite write-ups about the book. Tracy is a talented writer.

Until tomorrow!

* * * * * * *

WILD THINGS!. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by David Roberts. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

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11. Because I Want Even More of Julia …

Hey, my blog’s still working! It probably just needed a vacation, which is precisely what I did last week. So. Well, that worked out. We are both relatively well-rested.

I’m playing a bit of catch-up this week, and today here is how I will start:

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Ben Hatke’s latest book, Julia’s House for Lost Creatures (First Second), which will be out in early September. That was here.

So, today I have some art from the book, as well as (in no particular order) what Ben describes as “some of the preparatory/mock-up/notebook stuff.” (Also, over at Facebook, Matthew Winner of the Let’s Get Busy Podcast described this book as “Miyazaki-esque,” which I love. He also wrote about it here.)

I don’t know about you, but I could look at even just Ben’s sketches all day.

Enjoy …

 














 




(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 




 

Some Final Art:


 


“That evening there was a warm fire and toast and tea.”
(Click to enlarge)



 



(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


 



(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


 



(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


 



 

* * * * * * *


 

JULIA’S HOUSE FOR LOST CREATURES. Copyright © 2014 by Ben Hatke. Published by First Second, New York. Illustration reproduced by permission of the publisher.

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12. Hey, my blog said it forgives me, and I’m back in(just in time for a week-long blog break, though) …


“‘Children, stand up.’ Mother smiled. They pushed their chairs back and stood up.
‘This is your sister. … Loretta Mason Potts … but it’s not Potts any more.
She has come to live with us—at last.’”


 

Granted, I’m not so sure what I did to my blog, but it’d had enough of my nonsense and packed its bags last week and went to some remote island resort — and without leaving me the keys. As I noted in yesterday’s quickie post (it had to be brief, lest the blog kick me out again), I just couldn’t get in to edit a post without the blog hanging on me and kicking me out repeatedly, but my smart tech-support husband managed to figure it out. At least we think … we hope that it’s finally fixed.

BUT … I had planned on announcing a week-long blog break anyway (for other reasons), which I’m still going to do. I can leave you this with this art below, though. It’s what I had intended on posting last Friday. A couple weeks back, I wrote about The New York Review Children’s Collection’s reissue of Mary Chase’s children’s novel Loretta Mason Potts (pictured above), originally published in 1958 and illustrated by Harold Berson. So, I have some art from that book today. Bonus: The folks over at the New York Review also sent some art from some of their other reissues, which makes me very happy. (This means there’s art below from the likes of Lillian Hoban

, Marc Simont, and William Pène du Bois, to name a few. I embiggened their names here, just ’cause I like seeing their art and get excited.)

Also: Over at Kirkus on Friday, I wrote about Ben Hatke’s newest project, a picture book called Julia’s House for Lost Creatures. That link is here.

Next week I’ll have some art from Ben Hatke, as well as some from Bob Graham, since I chatted with him last Thursday.

Enjoy the art below … And I will be back here at 7-Imp in about a week.



 

Art from Mary Chase’s Loretta Mason Potts (1958), illustrated by Harold Berson


 


“The Countess threw back her head and laughed a silvery, tinkling laugh. ‘How very amusing!’ She waved her little fan. ‘How utterly, utterly refreshing!’ And all of them laughed gaily again as Loretta grinned and kicked her feet back and forth.”


 


“He got up and followed her into her room, watched her walk into the closet and push against the wall. There was the tunnel!”


 


“There it lay. A dollhouse of a mansion with the broad stone steps no bigger than the width of his hand. Why, he could step over and kick it with his foot
and it would tumble down.”


 



 

Art from Ruth Krauss’ The Backward Day (1950), illustrated by Marc Simont


 


“He put on his shoes. Over his shoes, he put on his socks.
Then he turned his head backward as far as he could, to see over his shoulder,
and he walked backward out of his room and backward down the stairs.”


 


“‘Time to go to bed,’ he said and got up from the table.
He turned his head backward as far as he could, to see over his shoulder,
and walked backward out the breakfast room.”


 



 

Art from Barbara Sleigh’s
The Kingdom of Carbonel (1961),
illustrated by Richard Kennedy


 


“The black cat had slipped from her and melted into the other shadows.”



 

Art from Barbara Sleigh’s Carbonel and Calidor (1978), illustrated by Charles Front


 




 

Art from Maria Gripe’s The Glassblower’s Children (1973), illustrated by Harald Gripe


 


“Klas sat still as a mouse in his corner and watched one glistening bubble after another swell up, conjured out of Albert’s long glassblowing pipe.”


 


“It is not known how she got hold of him—whether she caught him herself,
for instance—but she’d always had him, and he was a very remarkable creature.”


 



 

Art from Esther Averill’s Jenny and the Cat Club
(very first published in 1944)


 


“By evening the garden was entirely white. Jenny stole outdoors and hunted in the drifts. She found snowflakes shaped like flowers
and stars and spiderwebs—but no skates.”


 


“How proud she was to teach them how to dance the sailor’s hornpipe!”



 

Art from Rumer Godden’s The Mousewife (1967), illustrated by William Pène du Bois


 


“…[I]n winter they were bare until the snow came and they were white with snow.
The mousewife saw all these through the windowpane,
but she did not know what they were.”


 


“The dove kept his wings folded. The mousewife thought him large and strange and ugly with the speckles on his breast and his fine down.”


 


“He told her these things as a dove would see them, as it flew, and the mousewife, who was used to creeping, felt her head growing as dizzy as if she were spinning on her tail, but all she said was, ‘Tell me more.’”



 

Art from Russell Hoban’s The Sorely Trying Day (1964), illustrated by Lillian Hoban


 


“Mother was saying, ‘Stop that!’
But the children would not stop.”


 


“‘Dora did not tell you everything. I did not strike her until she sat heavily on the ship model I was building. When I complained about that, she pulled my hair.’”


 



 

* * * * * * *

All art is posted by permission of The New York Review Children’s Collection.

4 Comments on Hey, my blog said it forgives me, and I’m back in(just in time for a week-long blog break, though) …, last added: 7/30/2014
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13. Blog Break

P.S. This includes next Sunday! I’ll be back after that, so as for you kickers, I’ll see you in two weeks.

9 Comments on Blog Break, last added: 7/27/2014
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14. Vanilla Ice Cream Before Breakfast

It’s sometimes hard to come out from behind my stories and articulate reasons for things, as the stories are not written that way. I don’t go into them with a reason or issue — only that the characters will treat each other with respect and tolerance. And that their dogs can do anything they like around the house. The rest will hopefully follow.”

* * *

Over at Kirkus today, I talk to author-illustrator Bob Graham, pictured here, whose books I consistently like. He chats with me about his newest book, Vanilla Ice Cream, coming from Candlewick in August, as well as what’s next for him.

That Q&A will be here here soon.

Next week, I’ll have some art from some of Bob’s books.

Until tomorrow …

* * * * * * *

Photo of Bob Graham used with permission of Candlewick Press.

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15. Wildness



 

I don’t have art for you all today, but I will later this week.

This is just a quick post to, once again, point you all to the Wild Things! site. My co-author and I are still sharing stories over there, ones cut from the original manuscript of our book, and we will have a story-a-day until publication on August 5th. (We’re even going to have some fun with author videos after that.)

Yesterday, we had a short post about the precocious ones of children’s lit. (Can you guess what Maurice Sendak’s first illustrated title was? It may not be what you think.) That link is here.

Today, we have a short post on celebrity children’s books (which gets an entire chapter in our book). We have the nice folks at the Horn Book to thank for re-posting a piece Peter once wrote about the celebrity book trend. (And when I read the Twitter response mentioned in this post, I laughed so hard, my husband came in the room to ask me if I was okay.)

Later this week, we’ll look at some feuds, some early exits of children’s lit, a funky Buddha party, films and children’s books, and more. It’s all here.

Until Thursday …

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16. Wildness



 

I don’t have art for you all today, but I will later this week.

This is just a quick post to, once again, point you all to the Wild Things! site. My co-author and I are still sharing stories over there, ones cut from the original manuscript of our book, and we will have a story-a-day until publication on August 5th. (We’re even going to have some fun with author videos after that.)

Yesterday, we had a short post about the precocious ones of children’s lit. (Can you guess what Maurice Sendak’s first illustrated title was? It may not be what you think.) That link is here.

Today, we have a short post on celebrity children’s books (which gets an entire chapter in our book). We have the nice folks at the Horn Book to thank for re-posting a piece Peter once wrote about the celebrity book trend. (And when I read the Twitter response mentioned in this post, I laughed so hard, my husband came in the room to ask me if I was okay.)

Later this week, we’ll look at some feuds, some early exits of children’s lit, a funky Buddha party, films and children’s books, and more. It’s all here.

Until Thursday …

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17. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #391: Featuring Barbara McClintock


Author-illustrator Barbara McClintock is here today to talk about creating the artwork for Beverly Donofrio’s Where’s Mommy?, released in March by Schwartz & Wade, which Kirkus calls “irresistible.” This is a companion book to Mary and the Mouse, the Mouse and Mary, released back in ’07. Those of you familiar with the first title will know that Maria is Mary’s daughter, and Mouse Mouse is Mouse’s daughter. In this new book, Maria and Mouse Mouse are (separately) looking for their mothers, their experiences and goings-on fully parallel, as McClintock gives us a peek into each one’s home and surroundings.

Soon, Barbara will also see the release of another 2014 illustrated title, Jim Aylesworth’s My Grandfather’s Coat (Scholastic), which has already received two starred reviews. (Barbara also discusses below some other new projects. Fans of Adèle & Simon will be happy.) I haven’t seen My Grandfather’s Coat yet, but maybe she can come back to talk about it, especially since she’s also interested in talking further about the March Leave Your Sleep exhibit at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, as well as the Leave Your Sleep Carnegie Hall concert (back in April), which had, in Barbara’s words, “images from the book projected big as a barn behind the stage. Maybe [we can have] a discussion about ways picture books extend beyond their printed avatars.” (If you’re not familiar with Leave Your Sleep—with Natalie Merchant—you can visit this 2012 7-Imp post.)

I’d love to discuss those things, but for now, let’s look at Where’s Mommy?

I thank Barbara for sharing …

Barbara: Hi there, Jules! Great to be back at 7-Imp!

Thanks for inviting me to talk about Where’s Mommy? I had the great pleasure of working with Lee Wade, Rachael Cole, Stephanie Pitts, and Anne Schwartz again for round two of the mouse/girl adventure.

Where’s Mommy? is a definite nod to The Borrowers by Mary Norton. The Borrowers was one of my favorite books when I was growing up. I wished with all my might when I was little that I’d had my very own tiny family living under my bedroom floor, going about their life with furnishings poached from forgotten small stuff under the couch or lost in the back corner of cluttered kitchen drawers.

Beth and Joe Krush’s fluid black and white illustrations for The Borrowers were—and still are—enthralling. The Krushes really had their drawing chops down. Their loose, sketchy illustration style jumps out of a solid background in highly-skilled, realistic drawings. Love it!

The secret friendship, the risk of discovery, the parallel worlds — it’s all there in Where’s Mommy? with whiskers and tails added. I had a lot of fun thinking of all the modern household debris that would make perfect furnishings for a comfy contemporary mouse house. Just imagine what little midnight visitors to a recycling bin would find, making good use out of plastic berry containers and caps and bottles and used-up toothpaste tubes. And I now know where my missing set of ear buds might be.

Where’s Mommy? is a step away from my usual style. I was excited about mixing up the visual pacing by using very simple, minimal images along with those complex drawings that invite hunting for details. I relied on watercolor more than cross-hatch to get effects like that light-glowing-through-clear-plastic thing goin’ on in Mouse Mouse’s kitchen. The word balloons hearken back to my girlhood obsession with drawing comics, and I am over-the-moon thrilled with Chris Costello’s gorgeous hand lettering in the balloons throughout the book and on the front cover.


(Click to enlarge)

There was a vibrant conversation between Lee, Rachael, Anne and me about the dummy and elements in the sketches and finished art. We were definitely a team finding our way to making the book as engaging, energetic, and fun as possible.


“Sketches taped up on my studio wall”
(Click to enlarge)

I began the art for Where’s Mommy? right after I finished art for Leave Your Sleep, the last book I worked on to completion with my beloved editor Frances Foster. I’m so very lucky to have known Frances and worked with her on five and a half books. She was universally loved by her authors, illustrators, and anyone who worked with her. She was intensely involved with every aspect of my creative process, always available, always there for me. I’d send Frances an email at 11:30 at night and get an email back 15 minutes later. Her husband Tony referred to her weekends as “work ends.”

To have had such access to her inventive, brilliant mind was a a rare and precious gift. I still feel a deep sense of grief and loss, even feeling lost, but she was ready to take flight and leave all of us with her legacy and the memory of her elegance, wit, and genius.



Sketches and final art:
“If Maria’s parents knew there were mice in the house, they’d get a cat.”

(Click each to enlarge)


 



Sketches and final art:
“Have you seen Mom?”

(Click each to enlarge)

I’m working on finished art for Adèle & Simon in China at the moment. This was the last project Frances and I worked on together; we’d gotten to the sketch stage. Simon Boughton is my new editor on this book. He’s enthusiastically cheering me on with the book and is also being amazingly sensitive to honoring Frances’ vision and work on this book. I can’t imagine how tricky that must be, and I admire his tact and am grateful for his belief in my work. The book is really in place, but I admit to missing hearing Frances’ voice and reading her emails as I’m drawing crowded market streets in Hong Kong or coloring a scene of the desert near Dunhuang. My partner David Johnson encourages me to “channel my inner Frances” — not quite the same as actually being in contact with her, but it is a comfort nonetheless.



Sketches and final art:
“Where’s Mom?”

(Click each to enlarge)


 



Sketches and final art:
“Guess who!”

(Click each to enlarge)

Adèle & Simon in China, by the way, is looking FABULOUS! My son Larson DiFiori is getting his PhD in Chinese philosophy and ancient Chinese language studies at Brown and has been at my elbow as my go-to guy to answer questions — or put me in touch with people who can answer questions about China that come up as I’m working on the book. Plus he and David pop into my studio from time to time wearing funny hats and make me laugh. What could be better than that?


“Hey, what’s this? It’s my son Larson, wearing a klondike hat in my studio!
He just popped in while I was working to offer some comic relief.”

AND … there’s more! I’m also working on Emma and Julia Love Ballet with the wonderful, dear Dianne Hess at Scholastic Press. Emma and Julia shows a day in the life of Emma, a young girl who dreams of being a ballet dancer, and Julia, a professional ballet dancer. They both have breakfast, go to lessons, and are ultimately at the same evening dance performance — Emma in the audience and Julia on stage. They meet back stage after the performance, Emma with her dreams of the future and Julia with encouragement and the memory of her early dreams. I wrote the book thinking of my sister who loved ballet as a girl. I’m having a blast drawing and photographing dancers at a local ballet school, as well as drawing and inking the final artwork. Dianne, like Frances, is that rare breed of marvelous editors who is always there, always supportive and caring. This will be our ninth book together. Holy Cow, time flies!

My Grandfather’s Coat, written by Jim Aylesworth and edited by Dianne Hess for Scholastic Press, comes out this fall. Stay tuned!

Here’s a promiscuous hodge-podge of work-in-progress/process pics [from Where's Mommy?]:


“Working on spread of family at beginning of book. Why not have a Goya poster on the wall? I was fascinated by this painting as a child, and if I stop to think about it now,
it’s a little weird and scary. So I don’t stop to think about it!”


 


“Studio chaos!”


 






“Inked 1st page spread”


 



 



 


“Cover idea”


 



 


“Finding the perfect Maria-yelling-‘Mommy!’-head”


 




“Various failed attempts to get the right inked drawing of Maria yelling”


 


“At last — got the inked Maria head and everything else down!”


 


“Coloring”


 


“One of many dummies/revised dummies”


 


“Another dummy”


 


“Three little dummies”


 


“Early napkin sketch of mouse household objects”


 


“Things for Maria’s room”


 


“Cut-out, reassembled drawings for cover”


 






“Early sketchbook drawings”


 


“The end result”


 

WHERE’S MOMMY? Copyright © 2014 by Beverly Donofrio. Illustrations © 2014 by Barbara McClintock. Published by Schwartz & Wade Books, New York. All images here reproduced by permission of Barbara McClintock.

* * * * * * *

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 through seven this week will be that I saw Hurray for the Riff Raff live in Nashville a second time this year. They always put on a highly entertaining show.

And it always makes me happy to see Barbara’s artwork. (And this recent Wild Things! post reminded me that I wanted to share some of her artwork here.)

It’s not that I didn’t have other kicks this week, but as usual, I’m typing past midnight (I’m a hopeless night owl), so I think I’ll hang it up for now.

But do tell: What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #391: Featuring Barbara McClintock, last added: 7/22/2014
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18. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #391: Featuring Barbara McClintock


Author-illustrator Barbara McClintock is here today to talk about creating the artwork for Beverly Donofrio’s Where’s Mommy?, released in March by Schwartz & Wade, which Kirkus calls “irresistible.” This is a companion book to Mary and the Mouse, the Mouse and Mary, released back in ’07. Those of you familiar with the first title will know that Maria is Mary’s daughter, and Mouse Mouse is Mouse’s daughter. In this new book, Maria and Mouse Mouse are (separately) looking for their mothers, their experiences and goings-on fully parallel, as McClintock gives us a peek into each one’s home and surroundings.

Soon, Barbara will also see the release of another 2014 illustrated title, Jim Aylesworth’s My Grandfather’s Coat (Scholastic), which has already received two starred reviews. (Barbara also discusses below some other new projects. Fans of Adèle & Simon will be happy.) I haven’t seen My Grandfather’s Coat yet, but maybe she can come back to talk about it, especially since she’s also interested in talking further about the March Leave Your Sleep exhibit at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, as well as the Leave Your Sleep Carnegie Hall concert (back in April), which had, in Barbara’s words, “images from the book projected big as a barn behind the stage. Maybe [we can have] a discussion about ways picture books extend beyond their printed avatars.” (If you’re not familiar with Leave Your Sleep—with Natalie Merchant—you can visit this 2012 7-Imp post.)

I’d love to discuss those things, but for now, let’s look at Where’s Mommy?

I thank Barbara for sharing …

Barbara: Hi there, Jules! Great to be back at 7-Imp!

Thanks for inviting me to talk about Where’s Mommy? I had the great pleasure of working with Lee Wade, Rachael Cole, Stephanie Pitts, and Anne Schwartz again for round two of the mouse/girl adventure.

Where’s Mommy? is a definite nod to The Borrowers by Mary Norton. The Borrowers was one of my favorite books when I was growing up. I wished with all my might when I was little that I’d had my very own tiny family living under my bedroom floor, going about their life with furnishings poached from forgotten small stuff under the couch or lost in the back corner of cluttered kitchen drawers.

Beth and Joe Krush’s fluid black and white illustrations for The Borrowers were—and still are—enthralling. The Krushes really had their drawing chops down. Their loose, sketchy illustration style jumps out of a solid background in highly-skilled, realistic drawings. Love it!

The secret friendship, the risk of discovery, the parallel worlds — it’s all there in Where’s Mommy? with whiskers and tails added. I had a lot of fun thinking of all the modern household debris that would make perfect furnishings for a comfy contemporary mouse house. Just imagine what little midnight visitors to a recycling bin would find, making good use out of plastic berry containers and caps and bottles and used-up toothpaste tubes. And I now know where my missing set of ear buds might be.

Where’s Mommy? is a step away from my usual style. I was excited about mixing up the visual pacing by using very simple, minimal images along with those complex drawings that invite hunting for details. I relied on watercolor more than cross-hatch to get effects like that light-glowing-through-clear-plastic thing goin’ on in Mouse Mouse’s kitchen. The word balloons hearken back to my girlhood obsession with drawing comics, and I am over-the-moon thrilled with Chris Costello’s gorgeous hand lettering in the balloons throughout the book and on the front cover.


(Click to enlarge)

There was a vibrant conversation between Lee, Rachael, Anne and me about the dummy and elements in the sketches and finished art. We were definitely a team finding our way to making the book as engaging, energetic, and fun as possible.


“Sketches taped up on my studio wall”
(Click to enlarge)

I began the art for Where’s Mommy? right after I finished art for Leave Your Sleep, the last book I worked on to completion with my beloved editor Frances Foster. I’m so very lucky to have known Frances and worked with her on five and a half books. She was universally loved by her authors, illustrators, and anyone who worked with her. She was intensely involved with every aspect of my creative process, always available, always there for me. I’d send Frances an email at 11:30 at night and get an email back 15 minutes later. Her husband Tony referred to her weekends as “work ends.”

To have had such access to her inventive, brilliant mind was a a rare and precious gift. I still feel a deep sense of grief and loss, even feeling lost, but she was ready to take flight and leave all of us with her legacy and the memory of her elegance, wit, and genius.



Sketches and final art:
“If Maria’s parents knew there were mice in the house, they’d get a cat.”

(Click each to enlarge)


 



Sketches and final art:
“Have you seen Mom?”

(Click each to enlarge)

I’m working on finished art for Adèle & Simon in China at the moment. This was the last project Frances and I worked on together; we’d gotten to the sketch stage. Simon Boughton is my new editor on this book. He’s enthusiastically cheering me on with the book and is also being amazingly sensitive to honoring Frances’ vision and work on this book. I can’t imagine how tricky that must be, and I admire his tact and am grateful for his belief in my work. The book is really in place, but I admit to missing hearing Frances’ voice and reading her emails as I’m drawing crowded market streets in Hong Kong or coloring a scene of the desert near Dunhuang. My partner David Johnson encourages me to “channel my inner Frances” — not quite the same as actually being in contact with her, but it is a comfort nonetheless.



Sketches and final art:
“Where’s Mom?”

(Click each to enlarge)


 



Sketches and final art:
“Guess who!”

(Click each to enlarge)

Adèle & Simon in China, by the way, is looking FABULOUS! My son Larson DiFiori is getting his PhD in Chinese philosophy and ancient Chinese language studies at Brown and has been at my elbow as my go-to guy to answer questions — or put me in touch with people who can answer questions about China that come up as I’m working on the book. Plus he and David pop into my studio from time to time wearing funny hats and make me laugh. What could be better than that?


“Hey, what’s this? It’s my son Larson, wearing a klondike hat in my studio!
He just popped in while I was working to offer some comic relief.”

AND … there’s more! I’m also working on Emma and Julia Love Ballet with the wonderful, dear Dianne Hess at Scholastic Press. Emma and Julia shows a day in the life of Emma, a young girl who dreams of being a ballet dancer, and Julia, a professional ballet dancer. They both have breakfast, go to lessons, and are ultimately at the same evening dance performance — Emma in the audience and Julia on stage. They meet back stage after the performance, Emma with her dreams of the future and Julia with encouragement and the memory of her early dreams. I wrote the book thinking of my sister who loved ballet as a girl. I’m having a blast drawing and photographing dancers at a local ballet school, as well as drawing and inking the final artwork. Dianne, like Frances, is that rare breed of marvelous editors who is always there, always supportive and caring. This will be our ninth book together. Holy Cow, time flies!

My Grandfather’s Coat, written by Jim Aylesworth and edited by Dianne Hess for Scholastic Press, comes out this fall. Stay tuned!

Here’s a promiscuous hodge-podge of work-in-progress/process pics [from Where's Mommy?]:


“Working on spread of family at beginning of book. Why not have a Goya poster on the wall? I was fascinated by this painting as a child, and if I stop to think about it now,
it’s a little weird and scary. So I don’t stop to think about it!”


 


“Studio chaos!”


 






“Inked 1st page spread”


 



 



 


“Cover idea”


 



 


“Finding the perfect Maria-yelling-‘Mommy!’-head”


 




“Various failed attempts to get the right inked drawing of Maria yelling”


 


“At last — got the inked Maria head and everything else down!”


 


“Coloring”


 


“One of many dummies/revised dummies”


 


“Another dummy”


 


“Three little dummies”


 


“Early napkin sketch of mouse household objects”


 


“Things for Maria’s room”


 


“Cut-out, reassembled drawings for cover”


 






“Early sketchbook drawings”


 


“The end result”


 

WHERE’S MOMMY? Copyright © 2014 by Beverly Donofrio. Illustrations © 2014 by Barbara McClintock. Published by Schwartz & Wade Books, New York. All images here reproduced by permission of Barbara McClintock.

* * * * * * *

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 through seven this week will be that I saw Hurray for the Riff Raff live in Nashville a second time this year. They always put on a highly entertaining show.

And it always makes me happy to see Barbara’s artwork. (And this recent Wild Things! post reminded me that I wanted to share some of her artwork here.)

It’s not that I didn’t have other kicks this week, but as usual, I’m typing past midnight (I’m a hopeless night owl), so I think I’ll hang it up for now.

But do tell: What are YOUR kicks this week?

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19. Celebrating 75 years of Madeline



 

Today over at the Wild Things! site, we celebrate Madeline, 75 years old and still showing off her scar. There’s some art from the book over in that post. Pictured above is my favorite illustration of all.

That link is here.

Until tomorrow …

* * * * * * *

MADELINE. Copyright © 1939 by Ludwig Bemelmans. First published in the U.S. by Simon and Schuster. First published by The Viking Press, 1958. Illustration reproduced by permission of Viking Press, New York.

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20. Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Lisa Brown

It’s a sort of miracle that this breakfast interview is even happening, since both author-illustrator Lisa Brown and I are not morning people. Oh wait, right. It’s a cyber-breakfast, but still … If it were a real, face-to-face breakfast, you can bet that we’d be having our chat over an afternoon snack, despite the name of this blog.

Another thing we share in common? A deep and abiding love for coffee (which certainly helps make our mornings easier), so I’m glad she was willing to come have pretend coffee with me today so that we could see lots and lots of her art. In fact, she says her usual breakfast is “a cup of coffee, then some toast and peanut butter, maybe some fruit smoothie if there is any left over from my husband and son, who will have been awake and functioning WAY before I shuffle into the kitchen in my pajamas, exhausted with the effort of having to wake up and shuffle into the kitchen. Then more coffee.” I can get behind these multiple rounds of coffee.

This year, Lisa saw the release of two illustrated titles, Lemony Snicket’s

29 Myths on the Swinster Pharmacy (McSweeney’s McMullens, February 2014) and Cathleen Daly’s Emily’s Blue Period, which just received a starred Horn Book review.

I love to follow Lisa’s work, and it was good to have a chance here to ask her what she’s up to next. There is a freshness and warmth to her watercolors that can be terrifically child-friendly, but there’s also an edge to many of her books (especially for older readers) and paintings. (She’s doing a sketch a day this year, as you’ll read below, which you can follow here.) As Martha Parravano writes in that Horn Book review, her work can be elegant. Yet she also embraces the enigmatic, as with 29 Myths. And embracing the enigmatic is always good. (Embracing the Enigmatic. Band name. I call it!)

I thank Lisa for visiting this morning and sharing as much art as she does.

* * * * * * *

Jules: Are you an illustrator or author/illustrator?

Lisa: I like to say “Illustrator/Author/Cartoonist.”











Above: Lisa’s New Year resolution was to post a sketch for every day of 2014.

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

Lisa: As writer and illustrator:


 




 

As illustrator:

As co-author and illustrator:


Lisa: “To promote Picture the Dead, Adele Griffin and I would dress as Victorians.”

Jules: What is your usual medium?

Lisa: I jump between brush and India ink with watercolor and a purely digital style that I do with Adobe Illustrator. Lately, I’ve also been combining the watercolor stuff with some digital collage: I scan in my original watercolor and ink drawing, then layer it over different found or created textures that I’ve scanned into the computer.

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?

Lisa: I find that there isn’t really a difference to my approach in terms of the age range of my audience. It has more to do with the subject matter; each one is different and so requires a different angle, whether it be different medium, structure or style. A humorous book about the Pope will look different than a board book will look different than a cozy bedtime book will look different than an illustrated ghost story for young adults.

Jules: Where are your stompin’ grounds?

Lisa: San Francisco most of the time. Cape Cod some of the time.

 


Color test for Emily’s Blue Period


 


Thumbnails


 



Early sketches and tests


 



“Jack is hiding behind a big couch. He won’t comeout. ‘This is my FORTRESS! No one can come back here!’ ‘Come on, Jack,’ says Dad. But Jack won’t budge.”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“THIS IS MY COUCH FORTRESS AND NO ONE CAN TOUCH ME!
NO ARMS ALLOWED IN MY FORTRESS!”

Above: Some final art from Emily’s Blue Period (without text)


 

[The below images are an illustration from Emily's Blue Period ---the last image just below, that is---with reference images: the paintings on the wall, plus reference for the character’s stuffed animal, based on a toy horse belonging to Picasso’s son Claude.]

 






(Click to enlarge)

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

Lisa: Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to write and illustrate picture books. But then I went to college, got a degree in English and History, and sort of lost momentum on my art. I started working for a magazine doing admin, editing, and production, and then went back to school for graphic design. In the meantime, my husband, whom I met in college, was busy becoming Lemony Snicket. So when I was ready and had paid off some student loans, I borrowed his agent and his editor and pitched (and sold) my first book.

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

Lisa: www.americanchickens.com; americanchickens.tumblr.com.

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

 

Lisa Brown -- photo is © Ashley Thompson Photography

Lisa at a school visit, explaining where the picture book gutter is


 

Lisa: I used to do a specific presentation tailored to each of my books: How to Be, for instance, was a slide show starring my father-in-law pretending to be different animals, to ridiculous effect.

 


Lisa: “[This is] from a school visit slide show. My lovely late father-in-law,
acting ridiculous for me.”


 

Vampire Boy’s Good Night had pictures of my husband dressed up as a very low-rent vampire and stalking me in my studio and reacting to a light box.

 





(Click each to enlarge)

Nowadays, I do a presentation that talks about how I make a book, in general, with slides, cartoons, and the showing of sketch dummies. I always end my talks with a collaborative drawing for and with the students, which grew out of my work leading bookmaking field trips at 826 Valencia.


Lisa: “[This is] a cartoon I made based on a workshop I’ve run at 826 Valencia tutoring center for kids — about how to write ghost stories.”
(Click to enlarge)

Jules: Tell me how teaching illustration influences your work as an illustrator, if at all.

Lisa: I’ve just started to teach picture book writing and illustration at the California College of the Arts, and I absolutely love it. I find that the act of trying to explain what makes a picture book or an illustration successful helps me to figure out how to go about making a successful book myself. I also use the class as a bully pulpit to extol the importance of picture books as perfect little pieces of mass-produced art.

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

Lisa: Mummy Cat, written by Marcus Ewert and illustrated by me, is all handed in and coming out in the summer of 2015.

 


(Click to enlarge)








 

The Airport, written and illustrated by me, is in process and coming out. [Below are sketches, color tests, etc.]

 






(Click to enlarge)


 

I dunno. I work unbearably slowly on things I care a lot about. Don’t tell my editor.

Mmm. Coffee.Okay, I’ve got more coffee, and we are sufficiently awake. It’s time to get a bit more detailed with seven questions over breakfast. I thank Lisa 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?

Lisa

: When I’m writing the book myself, I start with an almost finished manuscript. I recognize that words will change once I get to drawing, but I need a text with a beginning, middle, and end upon which to build. Then I sketch out a tiny thumbnail storyboard of all the pages. It helps me if I can see the entire structure of a book all at once, number of pages and proportions and everything. I redraw my thumbnails bigger and bigger until they are almost full-size, and then I construct a dummy book. I need to see the book as a physical book, with turnable pages and set type, so I can grasp how everything is working. I was trained as a graphic designer, so I lay out everything in a layout program as if I am designing the final book. It often ends up very close to looking like the final book.

I’m also addicted to reference. I have stacks of books and folders of JPGs, sourced both on the internet and via my camera, for every book I do.

When it’s time to do the final art, I play around and test techniques and pull my hair out and cry and complain to anyone who will listen and then figure it out.

[Pictured below are some thumbnails and dummies, etc. from a presentation Lisa gives about how she makes a book. Click each to enlarge.]
























(Click each image above to enlarge)

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

Lisa

: I work in a little studio apartment in the basement of a house where my best friend from high school (and senior prom date, pictured above) lives with his husband. It’s filled with books and pictures cut out from magazines and printed out from the computer and stuck all over the walls and with lots of tubes of paint and bottles of ink and stained brushes and a sink full of dirty coffee cups.














(Click each studio pic to enlarge)

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

 


Lisa: “My brother and I watching Sesame Street, 1976.
I was terrified and obsessed with The Count.”

Lisa

: Oh I was, and am, SUCH a bookworm. My favorite books as a little kid were The Lonely Doll by Dare Wright, Georgie by Robert Bright, A Woggle of Witches by Adrienne Adams, and Sarah’s Room by Doris Orgel, illustrated by Maurice Sendak.


My chapter book obsessions: The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare, the Emily of New Moon books by L.M. Montgomery, The Girl With the Silver Eyes by Willo Davis Roberts, the Westmark books by Lloyd Alexander, and the Wizard of Earthsea trilogy by Ursula Le Guin. And I finally, after many an extensive internet search, found a book that I absolutely adored but had been unable to hunt down before, Elizabeth Elizabeth by Eileen Dunlop, published in 1977.

In high school, I became smitten with the work of Edward Gorey, with whom I have never fallen out of love.

 


Lisa: “A friend of mine won one of Edward Gorey’s fur coats at an auction,
and she let me try it on.”

Now I am immersed in reading a bunch of classic novels that I’ve never gotten around to exploring — for a book that I’m doing with more of my three-panel book reviews.

 



 



 


(Click each to enlarge)

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

Lisa: Tomi Ungerer. Quentin Blake. Isabelle Arsenault.

[Pictured below are sketches and finals from Lemony Snicket's 29 Myths on the Swinster Pharmacy

, including how Lisa applies digital texture and collage, as well as different versions of the same page.]

 


Thumbs
(Click to enlarge)


 


(Color test)


 


Final art: “‘What can you tell me about it that I don’t already know?’
Your lies bounce off its windows like spinning discarded tops.”


 


Reference image


 



Outtake
(Click sketch to enlarge)


 


Final art: “People get sick all the time,
but nobody gets better because of the Swinster Pharmacy.”


 


(Click to enlarge)


 




“…We followed one of them home one night and he lived in a house right across from another pharmacy. The employee, not the coat.”


 

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?

Lisa: The Free Pop Electronic Concept is the album that is playing on my stereo right now. It’s kinda go-go jazz, I dunno. It sounds like a disco in a 1960s’ comedy. My husband put it on. He listens to music — all kinds, non-stop. I listen to it too, because I live with him.

When he’s out of town, I have been known to sit in silence for days on end — to his total amazement. When I’m drawing, I listen to NPR all day long. When I’m writing, it’s something without words, like Haydn or Bach, that I put on and then don’t hear a note.

That last album just ended and now, apparently, we are listening to the soundtrack to The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, 1958. Very orientalist.

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

Lisa: That I’ve seen every single episode of Golden Girls. More than once.

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

Lisa: Q: Would you like another cup of coffee?

A: I thought you’d never ask.

* * * The Pivot Questionnaire * * *

Jules: What is your favorite word?

Lisa: “Ennui.”

Jules: What is your least favorite word?

Lisa: “Panties.”

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

Lisa: My husband.

Jules: What turns you off?

Lisa: Fonts masquerading as hand-lettering.

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

Lisa: “Fuck-ing A.”

Jules: What sound or noise do you love?

Lisa: Waves crashing on the beach.

Jules: What sound or noise do you hate?

Lisa: Kids whining in the supermarket.

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

Lisa: Librarian.

Jules: What profession would you not like to do?

Lisa: Receptionist who has to be at work early in the morning. I hate talking on the phone. I hate waking up in the morning.

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

Lisa: “Come on in, and feel free to sleep as late as you like … for eternity.”

* * * * * * *

All artwork and images are used with permission of Lisa Brown.

The opening head shot of Lisa Brown and the studio pics are copyright © Kristen Sard.

The school visit photo of Lisa is copyright © Ashley Thompson Photography.

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

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21. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Matt Phelan


Anyone else remember Loretta Mason Potts, written by Mary Chase and originally published in 1958? That’s (mostly) the subject of my Kirkus column today, as the book was just reissued by The New York Review Children’s Collection. That link will be here soon.

* * *

Last week, I chatted (here) with author-illustrator Matt Phelan about his 2014 projects, Burleigh Mutén’s Miss Emily (Candlewick), released back in March, and his own picture book, Druthers (also from Candlewick), coming in September. (Pictured above is an early sketch from Druthers.)

Today, we’ll look at a bit of art from each book, as well as some sketches from Matt. I thank him for sharing.

Enjoy.



 

Early sketches from Burleigh Mutén’s Miss Emily


 










 

Final art from Burleigh Mutén’s Miss Emily


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


“Till the ribbon made her into a Maypole.”
(Click to enlarge and see text)


 



 

Early sketches from Matt’s Druthers


 





(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 



 

Final art from Druthers


 


“If I had my druthers …”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“I would be a pirate captain.”
(Click to enlarge)


 



 

* * * * * * *


 

DRUTHERS. Copyright © 2014 by Matt Phelan. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

MISS EMILY. Text copyright © 2014 by Burleigh Muten. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Matt Phelan. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

All sketches posted with permission of Matt Phelan.

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22. Flop Sweat and Butt Trampolines

This week over at the Wild Things! site, my co-author and I are doing the following:

  • Taking a look at the phenomenon that is the author school visit — the good, the bad, and the ugly. (You’ll see, if you read this post over at Wild Things!, that the title of this post today here at 7-Imp tips its hat to that.)
  • Asking whether or not Beatrix Potter really yelled at young children. (The Horn Book’s Lolly Robinson gives us the low-down.)
  • Udder Indecencies of one sort or another; or, The Saga of the Unobtrusive Monster Penis (pictured above).

Tomorrow, we’ll have a post Leonard Baskin fans, in particular, will appreciate.

On Saturday, we’ll look at two of children’s literature’s most cryptic picture books.

On Sunday, we’ll look at some true tales behind famous awards speeches.

That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.

* * * * * * *

The above image is used with permission of Sergio Ruzzier.

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23. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Matt Phelan


Anyone else remember Loretta Mason Potts, written by Mary Chase and originally published in 1958? That’s (mostly) the subject of my Kirkus column today, as the book was just reissued by The New York Review Children’s Collection. That link is here.

* * *

Last week, I chatted (here) with author-illustrator Matt Phelan about his 2014 projects, Burleigh Mutén’s Miss Emily (Candlewick), released back in March, and his own picture book, Druthers (also from Candlewick), coming in September. (Pictured above is an early sketch from Druthers.)

Today, we’ll look at a bit of art from each book, as well as some sketches from Matt. I thank him for sharing.

Enjoy.



 

Early sketches from Burleigh Mutén’s Miss Emily


 










 

Final art from Burleigh Mutén’s Miss Emily


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


“Till the ribbon made her into a Maypole.”
(Click to enlarge and see text)


 



 

Early sketches from Matt’s Druthers


 





(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 



 

Final art from Druthers


 


“If I had my druthers …”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“I would be a pirate captain.”
(Click to enlarge)


 



 

* * * * * * *


 

DRUTHERS. Copyright © 2014 by Matt Phelan. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

MISS EMILY. Text copyright © 2014 by Burleigh Muten. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Matt Phelan. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

All sketches posted with permission of Matt Phelan.

0 Comments on What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Matt Phelan as of 1/1/1900
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24. Flop Sweat and Butt Trampolines

This week over at the Wild Things! site, my co-author and I are doing the following:

  • Taking a look at the phenomenon that is the author school visit — the good, the bad, and the ugly. (You’ll see, if you read this post over at Wild Things!, that the title of this post today here at 7-Imp tips its hat to that.)
  • Asking whether or not Beatrix Potter really yelled at young children. (The Horn Book’s Lolly Robinson gives us the low-down.)
  • Udder Indecencies of one sort or another; or, The Saga of the Unobtrusive Monster Penis (pictured above).

Tomorrow, we’ll have a post Leonard Baskin fans, in particular, will appreciate.

On Saturday, we’ll look at two of children’s literature’s most cryptic picture books.

On Sunday, we’ll look at some true tales behind famous awards speeches.

That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.

* * * * * * *

The above image is used with permission of Sergio Ruzzier.

0 Comments on Flop Sweat and Butt Trampolines as of 1/1/1900
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25. Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Lisa Brown

It’s a sort of miracle that this breakfast interview is even happening, since both author-illustrator Lisa Brown and I are not morning people. Oh wait, right. It’s a cyber-breakfast, but still … If it were a real, face-to-face breakfast, you can bet that we’d be having our chat over an afternoon snack, despite the name of this blog.

Another thing we share in common? A deep and abiding love for coffee (which certainly helps make our mornings easier), so I’m glad she was willing to come have pretend coffee with me today so that we could see lots and lots of her art. In fact, she says her usual breakfast is “a cup of coffee, then some toast and peanut butter, maybe some fruit smoothie if there is any left over from my husband and son, who will have been awake and functioning WAY before I shuffle into the kitchen in my pajamas, exhausted with the effort of having to wake up and shuffle into the kitchen. Then more coffee.” I can get behind these multiple rounds of coffee.

This year, Lisa saw the release of two illustrated titles, Lemony Snicket’s

29 Myths on the Swinster Pharmacy (McSweeney’s McMullens, February 2014) and Cathleen Daly’s Emily’s Blue Period, which just received a starred Horn Book review.

I love to follow Lisa’s work, and it was good to have a chance here to ask her what she’s up to next. There is a freshness and warmth to her watercolors that can be terrifically child-friendly, but there’s also an edge to many of her books (especially for older readers) and paintings. (She’s doing a sketch a day this year, as you’ll read below, which you can follow here.) As Martha Parravano writes in that Horn Book review, her work can be elegant. Yet she also embraces the enigmatic, as with 29 Myths. And embracing the enigmatic is always good. (Embracing the Enigmatic. Band name. I call it!)

I thank Lisa for visiting this morning and sharing as much art as she does.

* * * * * * *

Jules: Are you an illustrator or author/illustrator?

Lisa: I like to say “Illustrator/Author/Cartoonist.”











Above: Lisa’s New Year resolution was to post a sketch for every day of 2014.

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

Lisa: As writer and illustrator:


 




 

As illustrator:

As co-author and illustrator:


Lisa: “To promote Picture the Dead, Adele Griffin and I would dress as Victorians.”

Jules: What is your usual medium?

Lisa: I jump between brush and India ink with watercolor and a purely digital style that I do with Adobe Illustrator. Lately, I’ve also been combining the watercolor stuff with some digital collage: I scan in my original watercolor and ink drawing, then layer it over different found or created textures that I’ve scanned into the computer.

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?

Lisa: I find that there isn’t really a difference to my approach in terms of the age range of my audience. It has more to do with the subject matter; each one is different and so requires a different angle, whether it be different medium, structure or style. A humorous book about the Pope will look different than a board book will look different than a cozy bedtime book will look different than an illustrated ghost story for young adults.

Jules: Where are your stompin’ grounds?

Lisa: San Francisco most of the time. Cape Cod some of the time.

 


Color test for Emily’s Blue Period


 


Thumbnails


 



Early sketches and tests


 



“Jack is hiding behind a big couch. He won’t comeout. ‘This is my FORTRESS! No one can come back here!’ ‘Come on, Jack,’ says Dad. But Jack won’t budge.”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“THIS IS MY COUCH FORTRESS AND NO ONE CAN TOUCH ME!
NO ARMS ALLOWED IN MY FORTRESS!”

Above: Some final art from Emily’s Blue Period (without text)


 

[The below images are an illustration from Emily's Blue Period ---the last image just below, that is---with reference images: the paintings on the wall, plus reference for the character’s stuffed animal, based on a toy horse belonging to Picasso’s son Claude.]

 






(Click to enlarge)

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

Lisa: Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to write and illustrate picture books. But then I went to college, got a degree in English and History, and sort of lost momentum on my art. I started working for a magazine doing admin, editing, and production, and then went back to school for graphic design. In the meantime, my husband, whom I met in college, was busy becoming Lemony Snicket. So when I was ready and had paid off some student loans, I borrowed his agent and his editor and pitched (and sold) my first book.

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

Lisa: www.americanchickens.com; americanchickens.tumblr.com.

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

 

Lisa Brown -- photo is © Ashley Thompson Photography

Lisa at a school visit, explaining where the picture book gutter is


 

Lisa: I used to do a specific presentation tailored to each of my books: How to Be, for instance, was a slide show starring my father-in-law pretending to be different animals, to ridiculous effect.

 


Lisa: “[This is] from a school visit slide show. My lovely late father-in-law,
acting ridiculous for me.”


 

Vampire Boy’s Good Night had pictures of my husband dressed up as a very low-rent vampire and stalking me in my studio and reacting to a light box.

 





(Click each to enlarge)

Nowadays, I do a presentation that talks about how I make a book, in general, with slides, cartoons, and the showing of sketch dummies. I always end my talks with a collaborative drawing for and with the students, which grew out of my work leading bookmaking field trips at 826 Valencia.


Lisa: “[This is] a cartoon I made based on a workshop I’ve run at 826 Valencia tutoring center for kids — about how to write ghost stories.”
(Click to enlarge)

Jules: Tell me how teaching illustration influences your work as an illustrator, if at all.

Lisa: I’ve just started to teach picture book writing and illustration at the California College of the Arts, and I absolutely love it. I find that the act of trying to explain what makes a picture book or an illustration successful helps me to figure out how to go about making a successful book myself. I also use the class as a bully pulpit to extol the importance of picture books as perfect little pieces of mass-produced art.

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

Lisa: Mummy Cat, written by Marcus Ewert and illustrated by me, is all handed in and coming out in the summer of 2015.

 


(Click to enlarge)








 

The Airport, written and illustrated by me, is in process and coming out. [Below are sketches, color tests, etc.]

 






(Click to enlarge)


 

I dunno. I work unbearably slowly on things I care a lot about. Don’t tell my editor.

Mmm. Coffee.Okay, I’ve got more coffee, and we are sufficiently awake. It’s time to get a bit more detailed with seven questions over breakfast. I thank Lisa 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?

Lisa

: When I’m writing the book myself, I start with an almost finished manuscript. I recognize that words will change once I get to drawing, but I need a text with a beginning, middle, and end upon which to build. Then I sketch out a tiny thumbnail storyboard of all the pages. It helps me if I can see the entire structure of a book all at once, number of pages and proportions and everything. I redraw my thumbnails bigger and bigger until they are almost full-size, and then I construct a dummy book. I need to see the book as a physical book, with turnable pages and set type, so I can grasp how everything is working. I was trained as a graphic designer, so I lay out everything in a layout program as if I am designing the final book. It often ends up very close to looking like the final book.

I’m also addicted to reference. I have stacks of books and folders of JPGs, sourced both on the internet and via my camera, for every book I do.

When it’s time to do the final art, I play around and test techniques and pull my hair out and cry and complain to anyone who will listen and then figure it out.

[Pictured below are some thumbnails and dummies, etc. from a presentation Lisa gives about how she makes a book. Click each to enlarge.]
























(Click each image above to enlarge)

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

Lisa

: I work in a little studio apartment in the basement of a house where my best friend from high school (and senior prom date, pictured above) lives with his husband. It’s filled with books and pictures cut out from magazines and printed out from the computer and stuck all over the walls and with lots of tubes of paint and bottles of ink and stained brushes and a sink full of dirty coffee cups.














(Click each studio pic to enlarge)

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

 


Lisa: “My brother and I watching Sesame Street, 1976.
I was terrified and obsessed with The Count.”

Lisa

: Oh I was, and am, SUCH a bookworm. My favorite books as a little kid were The Lonely Doll by Dare Wright, Georgie by Robert Bright, A Woggle of Witches by Adrienne Adams, and Sarah’s Room by Doris Orgel, illustrated by Maurice Sendak.


My chapter book obsessions: The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare, the Emily of New Moon books by L.M. Montgomery, The Girl With the Silver Eyes by Willo Davis Roberts, the Westmark books by Lloyd Alexander, and the Wizard of Earthsea trilogy by Ursula Le Guin. And I finally, after many an extensive internet search, found a book that I absolutely adored but had been unable to hunt down before, Elizabeth Elizabeth by Eileen Dunlop, published in 1977.

In high school, I became smitten with the work of Edward Gorey, with whom I have never fallen out of love.

 


Lisa: “A friend of mine won one of Edward Gorey’s fur coats at an auction,
and she let me try it on.”

Now I am immersed in reading a bunch of classic novels that I’ve never gotten around to exploring — for a book that I’m doing with more of my three-panel book reviews.

 



 



 


(Click each to enlarge)

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

Lisa: Tomi Ungerer. Quentin Blake. Isabelle Arsenault.

[Pictured below are sketches and finals from Lemony Snicket's 29 Myths on the Swinster Pharmacy

, including how Lisa applies digital texture and collage, as well as different versions of the same page.]

 


Thumbs
(Click to enlarge)


 


(Color test)


 


Final art: “‘What can you tell me about it that I don’t already know?’
Your lies bounce off its windows like spinning discarded tops.”


 


Reference image


 



Outtake
(Click sketch to enlarge)


 


Final art: “People get sick all the time,
but nobody gets better because of the Swinster Pharmacy.”


 


(Click to enlarge)


 




“…We followed one of them home one night and he lived in a house right across from another pharmacy. The employee, not the coat.”


 

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?

Lisa: The Free Pop Electronic Concept is the album that is playing on my stereo right now. It’s kinda go-go jazz, I dunno. It sounds like a disco in a 1960s’ comedy. My husband put it on. He listens to music — all kinds, non-stop. I listen to it too, because I live with him.

When he’s out of town, I have been known to sit in silence for days on end — to his total amazement. When I’m drawing, I listen to NPR all day long. When I’m writing, it’s something without words, like Haydn or Bach, that I put on and then don’t hear a note.

That last album just ended and now, apparently, we are listening to the soundtrack to The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, 1958. Very orientalist.

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

Lisa: That I’ve seen every single episode of Golden Girls. More than once.

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

Lisa: Q: Would you like another cup of coffee?

A: I thought you’d never ask.

* * * The Pivot Questionnaire * * *

Jules: What is your favorite word?

Lisa: “Ennui.”

Jules: What is your least favorite word?

Lisa: “Panties.”

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

Lisa: My husband.

Jules: What turns you off?

Lisa: Fonts masquerading as hand-lettering.

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

Lisa: “Fuck-ing A.”

Jules: What sound or noise do you love?

Lisa: Waves crashing on the beach.

Jules: What sound or noise do you hate?

Lisa: Kids whining in the supermarket.

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

Lisa: Librarian.

Jules: What profession would you not like to do?

Lisa: Receptionist who has to be at work early in the morning. I hate talking on the phone. I hate waking up in the morning.

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

Lisa: “Come on in, and feel free to sleep as late as you like … for eternity.”

* * * * * * *

All artwork and images are used with permission of Lisa Brown.

The opening head shot of Lisa Brown and the studio pics are copyright © Kristen Sard.

The school visit photo of Lisa is copyright © Ashley Thompson Photography.

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

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