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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: 7-Imps 7 Kicks, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 216
1. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #446: Featuring Marc Boutavant


“‘You must tell me honestly if you’re getting angry,’ he went on.
‘It would be too bad if you didn’t tell me, squirrel. It would be insulting.'”
– From
The Day No ONe Was Angry



 


Title page art from Edmond, the Moonlit Party


 

Want to join me this morning, dear Imps, in looking at some artwork from French illustrator Marc Boutavant? I’m looking at two new books, in particular, here — Astrid Desbordes’ Edmond, The Moonlit Party, which was originally published in France two years ago but came to American shelves in June, thanks to Enchanted Lion Books, as well as Toon Tellegen’s The Day No One Was Angry. I believe Toon’s stories originally published in 2002, and this is the First American Edition from Gecko Press (March 2015).

Edmond, the Moonlit Party, translated by Claudia Zoe Bedrick, is the enchanting story of a squirrel who lives in a tree also populated by an owl and a bear (his neighbors, that is). Edmond is shy, so he spends time alone, making nut jam and being “an amazing pompom maker.” He makes things like pompom hats in “no more than a day or two.” It’s very fun to spot his pompom creations, and the character himself is quirky and funny in such a way that is never too precious or cloying. His neighbor, the owl, likes to dress in disguises and eventually invites him to the party bear throws — and Edmond comes out of his shell. The story is laugh-out-loud funny in spots, and Boutavant’s illustrations are a perfect fit here, Leonard Marcus describing them in the New York Times as “a stylish retro-Pop brew with winsome notes of Takashi Murakami and Richard Scarry.” Yes. That.

The Day No One Was Angry is quite unlike any other story collection you’ll read this year — and different from the way many American books would handle such a thing. Here, Tellegen explores anger in 12 stories featuring a variety of creatures. The stories are funny and bizarre and thought-provoking — sometimes all three at once. Think: An elephant who argues with himself for having climbed a tree (and fallen, as he suspected he might). Or think: A lobster who sells anger door-to-door from his suitcase. (“I’m the lobster. Can I interest you in some anger?”) It’s an intriguing collection of stories and worlds apart from your typical story set.

Here’s a bit of art from each book so that you can see for yourself. …

[Pictured above left is a spot illustration from “The Hedgehog” from Tellegen’s The Day No One Was Angry.]

 

From The Day No One Was Angry:


 



 



“The hedgehog was sitting under the rose bush, thinking of all the things he’d been. I’ve been joyful, he thought. On the squirrel’s birthday, for instance,
when I danced with the cricket. …”


 



“The shrew sat at the table and tasted the cake the squirrel put in front of him. ‘Squirrel,’ he said, after two bites, ‘I think this really will make you angry,
but I have to tell you: I don’t like this cake. …'”


 



 

From Edmond, the Moonlit Party:


 



(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)


 



 

THE DAY NO ONE WAS ANGRY. First American edition published in 2015 by Gecko Press, and all illustrations here used by their permission.

EDMOND, THE MOONLIT PARTY. First published in 2015 by Enchanted Lion Books, and all illustrations here used by their permission.

* * *

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

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) Well, this is so wonderful for obvious reasons.

2) I didn’t think it could be possible to like Lily Tomlin even more than I already did, but then I listened to her Fresh Air interview

.

3) I’m driving a bit more these days, and I’m getting caught up on podcasts, both long-time favorites and brand-new delights. I’m sorry to the environment, but my ears and brain are happy.

4) My girls and I are reading this below, and it is very funny. We are racing through it, because we can’t put it down.

5) Invitations.

6) My middle-schooler continues to like her new school — and especially that the library opened this week.

7) Re-discovering old CDs and songs, such as Crowded House’s “Nails in My Feet.” Those guys and their lyrics. So good.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

4 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #446: Featuring Marc Boutavant, last added: 8/23/2015
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2. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #445: Featuring Matt Phelan



Matt: “[This is a] key moment from the book
that didn’t change much from the sketch dummy.”

(Click each image—dummy and final art—to enlarge)


 

Good morning, all. Matt Phelan is visiting 7-Imp today to share some sketches and art from Michelle Knudsen’s Marilyn’s Monster, which was published by Candlewick in March of this year. It’s the story of a young girl waiting patiently for her monster; some of her classmates have them, you see, but Marilyn knows that your monster is supposed to find you. So she “tried to be the kind of girl no monster could resist.” Things don’t go as Marilyn quite expects them to, but I’ll leave that for you to discover if you read this on your own.

It’s a story with a lot of heart, and as the Publishers Weekly review puts it, “it’s a warm, gently funny reminder to chase down one’s dreams, rather than waiting for them to appear on the doorstep.” I love to see Matt’s sketches and to hear him talk about the progression of the artwork for the book, and I thank him for visiting today. Let’s get right to it. …



 



Matt: “I signed on to illustrate Marilyn’s Monster in 2012 but still had to complete Bluffton, Miss Emily, and Druthers before officially working on the book. The lead time was spent filling this sketch book with random monsters. It served as both a warm-up exercise and casting call for possible monsters to use in the book.”


 






Matt: “These are all character studies and media tests. I also try to establish the tone for the illustrations in these early tests. When working with another author, establishing the correct tone or ‘key’ for the story is probably the most important early step.”
(Click last image to enlarge)


 


Matt: “It was somewhere during the sketch dummy phase that it was decided to re-design Marilyn’s Monster. I had been drawing him almost like a younger sibling,
but we decided that Marilyn’s friend should be closer to her age and size.”


 


Initial thumbnail sketches
(Click to enlarge)


 




Pages from the sketch dummy
(Click each to enlarge)


 


Final art: “‘Maybe I’m better off without a monster,’
she told her friend Deborah at school. ‘They seem like a lot of work.’
‘Hmm,’ said Deborah. She didn’t really seem to agree.”

(Click to enlarge)


 


Matt: “With Marilyn, I discovered that my studio is just long enough to be able to spread out the paintings on the floor for a final check. I did sweep first.”
(Click to enlarge)


 


Matt: “I’m a huge fan of Michelle’s Library Lion (who isn’t?) and Kevin Hawkes’ perfect drawings for that book. When the text for Marilyn’s Monster mentioned looking behind the stone lions at the library, I couldn’t resist this tip of the hat.”


 


Matt: “On tour with Michelle Knudsen! Although I’ve illustrated books for many authors, Marilyn’s Monster was the first time that I was actually friends with the author before the book. During the making of it, Michelle and I stuck to the traditional ‘separation of author and illustrator’ rule, for the most part. It did allow me to think of it
as ‘the book’ and not ‘my friend’s book.'”


 



 

MARILYN’S MONSTER. Text copyright © 2015 by Michelle Knudsen. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Matt Phelan. Published by Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA. All images here reproduced by permission of Matt Phelan.

* * *

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 * * *

Sorry to skip my kicks, dear Imps, but I have an ill parent, and so I’ve been at my parents’ home for a couple of days. And right now I just need to catch up on sleep. In sort of a pressing way. It might even be a tiny miracle this post is up, but I’m glad it is — because I like Michelle’s writing in the book and like seeing Matt’s art.

Please do tell me, though, what YOUR kicks are this week.

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #445: Featuring Matt Phelan, last added: 8/16/2015
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3. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #444: Featuring Ekua Holmes


“I was just six when I dragged / my first bag down a row of cotton.”
(Click to enlarge spread and read poem, “Delta Blues,” in its entirety)


 

I’ve got two spreads today from Carole Boston Weatherford’s new biography in verse of Fannie Lou Hamer, called Voice of Freedom (Candlewick, August 2015). The book is illustrated by Ekua Holmes, who is new to picture books but is a working fine artist. Her collage pieces in this book are simply exquisite.

In free verse, Weatherford tells the story of activist Fannie Lou Hamer, who was known as the voice of the civil rights movement and fought for voting rights for African Americans and racial equality. Weatherford takes readers from her childhood in the Mississippi Delta all the way to her lifelong service award in 1976 from the Congressional Black Caucus. In between—and with great reverence and passion for her subject matter—Weatherford touches upon Hamer’s many accomplishments, including Mississippi’s Freedom Summer, her establishment of grassroots Head-Start programs, her work for the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, her appearance at the 1964 Democratic National Convention in New Jersey, and her efforts toward the passing of the Voting Rights Act.

There are many moving and quite powerful moments here. In a poem called “Black Power,” Weatherford writes:

I mourned whites who died for freedom.
I have lived long enough to know
that no race has a corner on decency.
I feel sorry for anybody that could let hate wrap them up.
Ain’t no such thing as I can hate anybody
and hope to see God’s face.
Out of one blood God made all nations.

After Hamer’s own struggles to vote, due to the unfair literacy tests many African Americans were given, she ran for Congress in the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. “I meant to prove,” Weatherford writes, “that anyone, / black or white, rich or poor, / could get involved in American politics. / I cast my first vote for myself.

Gives me goosebumps, I tell you. Hamer’s story is an incredible one.

Also incredible is the art. Holmes’ textured, patterned collages offer up a visual feast for one’s eyes. I wish I could show you every spread in the book, but if you go find a copy on library or bookstore shelves, you won’t be disappointed.

Here’s another spread below. And here’s her website with lots more art.

 


“… Once, my father managed to buy a wagon, plow, three mules—
Ella, Bird, and Henry—and two cows, Mullen and Della.
But a white neighbor poisoned the livestock. …”

(Click to enlarge spread and read poem, “Fair,” in its entirety)


 

VOICE OF FREEDOM. Text copyright © 2015 by Carole Boston Weatherford. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Ekua Holmes. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

* * *

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) My picture book grad course is over. I’ve got lots of grading this weekend (which is why I’m tragically behind on all email having nothing to do with teaching), but I enjoyed teaching it.

2) My girls and I read Little Women this summer. It was my first time, too. (No, really.)

3) And then we watched the 1994 movie adaptation, and my, that was well-cast.

4) School has begun. I’ll miss more time with them, but I’ll also have quiet days once again for getting work done.

5) The oldest is in middle school (and a brand-new school), and the school thus far is really great.

6) And it has a GREAT LIBRARY STAFFED WITH TWO GREAT LIBRARIANS!

7) This!

7½) Also this great interview, and I like Rebecca’s new book an awful lot.

Bonus) This beautifully written post.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

9 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #444: Featuring Ekua Holmes, last added: 8/12/2015
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4. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #443: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Amanda Driscoll


“Together they battled sea monsters …
dodged icebergs …”

(Click to enlarge)


 

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

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

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



 

On Duncan:

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

 


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


 


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


 


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

(Click to enlarge)


 

On the Illustrations:

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

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

 


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


 


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


 

On Inspirations:

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

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

 


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


 

On What’s Next:

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

 


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


 


(Click to enlarge)


 

What Else?

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

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

* * *

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

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

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

What are YOUR kicks this week? Please do tell.

8 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #443: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Amanda Driscoll, last added: 8/3/2015
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5. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #442: Featuring Beatrice Alemagna


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

(Click to enlarge spread)


 

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

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

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

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



 


(Click to enlarge cover)


 

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

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

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





 


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

(Click to enlarge spread)


 


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

(Click to enlarge spread)


 




 

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

* * *

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

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) Picture book imports like this one.

2) Invitations.

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

4) New tracks from Laura Marling.

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

6) A crisis averted and …

7) … the kindness of strangers.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #442: Featuring Beatrice Alemagna, last added: 7/26/2015
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6. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #441: Featuring Cece Bell

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

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

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

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

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

 



 


(Click to enlarge)


 



(Click second image to see spread in its entirety)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 

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

* * *

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

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

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

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

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

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

5) The new issue of the Horn Book.

6) Story time.

7) It’s good to be home.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #441: Featuring Cece Bell, last added: 7/20/2015
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7. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #440: Featuring Mordicai Gerstein



 

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

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

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

I thank him for sharing.



 


Rough
(Click to enlarge)


 


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

(Click to enlarge)


 


Rough
(Click to enlarge)


 


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

(Click to enlarge)


 


Rough
(Click to enlarge)


 


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

(Click to enlarge)


 


Rough
(Click to enlarge)


 


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

(Click to enlarge)


 


Rough
(Click to enlarge)


 


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

(Click to enlarge)


 


Rough
(Click to enlarge)


 


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

(Click to enlarge)


 


Author’s Note


 



 

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

* * *

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

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

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

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

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

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #440: Featuring Mordicai Gerstein, last added: 7/13/2015
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8. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #439: Featuring Akiko Miyakoshi


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

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

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

 


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

(Click to enlarge spread)


 

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

 


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

(Click to enlarge spread)


 

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

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

 


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


 

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

 



 

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

* * *

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

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

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

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

3) Lots of great new music to explore.

4) Alabama Shakes’ new CD really is extraordinary.

5) Brian Selznick’s drawings.

6) Sparklers.

7) Pie.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #439: Featuring Akiko Miyakoshi, last added: 7/6/2015
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9. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #437: Featuring Jessixa Bagley



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


 

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

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

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

 


Opening endpapers
(Click to enlarge)


 


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

(Click to enlarge)


 


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


 


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

(Click to enlarge)


 


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

(Click to enlarge)


 


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


 


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


 

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

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

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

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

 


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

(Click to enlarge)


 


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


 

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

 


Closing endpapers
(Click to enlarge)


 

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

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

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

 










(Click each to enlarge)


 



Early samples


 



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

(Click each to enlarge)


 

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

Boatloads of thanks to Jessixa for sharing today.

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

* * *

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

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

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

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

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

3) She’s baaaaaack!

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

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

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

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

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

What are YOUR kicks this week?

8 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #437: Featuring Jessixa Bagley, last added: 6/22/2015
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10. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #436: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Louis Fratino

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

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

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



 

On Illustration:

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

 





 

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

 



 

On Influences:

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

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

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

 





(Click to enlarge fourth image)


 

On What’s Next:

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

 




 

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

 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 

All artwork is used by permission of Louis Fratino.

* * *

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

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are YOUR kicks this week?

9 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #436: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Louis Fratino, last added: 6/17/2015
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11. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #435: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Sarah Kaufman


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


 

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

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

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

On Artistic Influences:

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

 


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


 

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

 


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


 

On Her Work Thus Far:

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

 


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


 

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

 


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


 


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


 

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

 

On Both Writing and Illustrating
for the First Time:

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

 


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


 


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


 

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

 


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


 

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

 


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


 

On Painting:

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

 


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


 

On What’s Next:

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

 


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


 

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

* * *

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

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) The Deslondes.

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




 

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

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

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

6) Then I saw this.

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

What are YOUR kicks this week?

9 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #435: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Sarah Kaufman, last added: 6/8/2015
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12. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #434: Featuring Jason Chin

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




Dummy images
(Click last two to enlarge slightly)


 


Storyboard
(Click to enlarge slightly)


 


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


 


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


 



 

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

* * *

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

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) Letters from friends.

2) Book recommendations from friends and colleagues.

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

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

5) Biking to the library.

6) Surprises in the mail.

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

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #434: Featuring Jason Chin, last added: 6/2/2015
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13. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #433: Featuring Julie Paschkis


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


 

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

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

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

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

Enjoy …





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


 


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


 


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


 


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


 


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


 


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


 


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


 


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


 


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








 

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

* * *

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

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) A night out.

1½) With raspberry torte.

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

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

 


 

4) New bikes!

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

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

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

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

BONUS #2: Game of Thrones, The Musical.

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

What are YOUR kicks this week?

9 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #433: Featuring Julie Paschkis, last added: 5/25/2015
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14. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #418: Featuring Keith Graves



 

Today, I want to introduce you to The Amazing Bubbles and his assistant, Oop. They’re the stars of this very funny picture book from Keith Graves. Second Banana (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook) will be on shelves this week.

Bubbles there is the star of the circus, and Oop is very much not. Oop is always there for his friend, though — to clean up his messes and to help with the act. When Oop asks one day if he can be the star of the circus, too, Bubbles just laughs:

Obviously, I am the Top Banana. The Big Banana. Numero Uno Banana. You are Second Banana.

Second Bananas are pool filler-uppers, the pumper-uppers, music holder-uppers, and fuse lighter-uppers.

But Oop is only too happy to help one day when Bubbles gets a boo-boo. Things don’t go so well. He crashes the car. He breaks the piano. That’s only skimming the surface. But Bubbles has got his back after all, and it turns out the audience loves it.

The humor here is slapstick, and it’s a lot of fun. Graves gives both Bubbles and Oop tremendous character, and his over-the-top cartoon illustrations entertain. He uses comic book elements in spots, and it’s all very fitting for the action-packed story this is. Oop is so endearing—and his naivete and enthusiasm so real—that readers really root for him.

Here’s a bit more art. Enjoy!

 



(Click first image to see spread in its entirety)


 


“Oop was discouraged. She had a snack. Snacks always made Oop feel better.”
(Click to enlarge)



 



 


“Oop flew so high she thought she would never come down. Finally she began to zoom toward the ground. She couldn’t look. Far below, a pair of skinny arms reached up for her. ‘Don’t worry, Oop. I will catch you!’ called Bubbles. He did. KER-SPLAT!”
(Click to enlarge)


 



 

SECOND BANANA. Copyright © 2015 by Keith Graves. Published by Neal Porter Books/Roaring Brook Press, New York. Illustrations reproduced by permission of Keith Graves.

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 * * *

Because my girls were away the first half of this weekend, visiting their grandmother, I’m going to forego seven separate kicks this week, because a) I’m glad they’re home and b) we are reading about three novels at once and c) we have a very promising NEW novel to start and d) they’re ready to read with me.

But please do tell: What are YOUR kicks this week?

9 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #418: Featuring Keith Graves, last added: 2/11/2015
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15. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #419: FeaturingMiriam Busch and Larry Day

Good morning, all.

My Valentine to you today is going to be this post, because I’ve got two visitors this morning, and I not only like the book they made together, but I also really enjoyed their conversation and art today.

I’m (partly) looking back a bit — at 2014, that is. Author Miriam Busch and illustrator Larry Day, who has been illustrating picture books since 2001, are here to talk about Lion, Lion, a picture book that was released last September from Balzer + Bray.

Better late than never. It’s a wonderful book, and I’m pleased they stopped by to visit today.

The book tells the story of a conversation between a young boy and a lion, and Kirkus called it “sly, dark humor for little ones—at its best.” The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books called out its “Sendakian flair” and described it as an “excellent way to introduce younger listeners to the deliberate subversion of expectations.”

But we’re also looking ahead today in that, at the end of this post, we’ll look at what is on Miriam’s and Larry’s plates now — what projects are currently taking up their time.

I thank them for visiting.

Let’s get right to it …

Miriam: Hi, Jules! Miriam here. I’m going to talk a little, and then Larry will chime in. Larry and I created Lion, Lion together.

Here’s a short history.

In 2008, Larry asked me to write a story about Rusty:

Honestly, I was a little lost. I asked Larry who he thought he was (Rusty, not Larry — I didn’t say, “just who do you think you are?”), and Larry gave some vague answers about how Rusty was a king and how there should be lions. This did not help.


(Click to enlarge)

Here’s how some of our notes went. Often, we met for breakfast in a diner and then talked out our story ideas. Larry wrote this out (after pots of coffee, no doubt):

 


(Click to enlarge)


 

Eventually, we came up with this convoluted story about this bratty kid, who thinks he should be hunting lions, because that’s what kings do (don’t ask me — I’m even embarrassed to be telling you this) and then eventually uses a slingshot to save his new lion friends from a real hunter.

Right. No idea why there weren’t fistfights among editors over who got to publish that one.

After several rejections, we shelved Rusty.

(Don’t tell Larry, but I never liked this kid. Self-important with a slingshot? BUT: I loved Larry’s lions. I loved all of his animals, but I kept coming back to the lions in my head.)

So, several months after we shelved Rusty, we met for breakfast at a diner. The conversation turned to those lions, especially the one Larry had named Philbert. I had spent time in Africa and wondered about setting a story there — maybe with a different kid (one who was clever-but-matter-of-fact instead of self-important)?

We borrowed the first three lines from Rusty, and by the end of breakfast, we had hammered out script ideas on a napkin. Larry sketched, I sketched, we talked it through, and I wrote it down.

I was thinking a lot about double meanings and characters who speak at cross-purposes — and inlaid the script with this double-meaning. Within a week, Larry had a dummy ready to go.




(Click to enlarge)

We submitted it. Alessandra Balzer (Balzer + Bray) asked if we were willing to make the setting urban. (WHAT?? This entire new story came about because of the foundation of the setting!) But we agreed to try it, and I think the difference is both subtle and profound.

One of Larry’s initial urban drawings:

 



 

The final art:

 


(Click to enlarge)

In our first Lion Lion, there is no delineation between the boy’s reality and his fantasy (if that’s how you want to look at it). What happens now is that the boy steps from his stoop into his imagination (or does he?) and at the end, he returns to his stoop with his friends.

Because the setting changed, the animals changed too.

 


(Click to enlarge)


 

In the initial manuscript, the boy is tongue-in-cheek offering his friends to the hungry lion. The animals are all in on the gag, but Alessandra thought to make the story a bit less sinister by having the boy offer actual foods. Still, the speaking-at-cross-purposes remains: the lion reacts to the animals eating the foods.

 


(Click to enlarge)


 

Final art:

 


(Click to enlarge)


 

I can’t count how many different types of birds we went through!

Throughout this entire process of setting changes and character changes and simplifying the story, Larry drew and re-drew, and I wrote and re-wrote. Larry listened to every text revision, and I participated in the page-turn and image decisions.

As we go along, we write down what we think needs a spread, what needs single-page illustrations, and what might need vignettes (like the lion sneezing). Once we figure out rough visuals, we read through again and again for redundancies or holes. In most cases, Larry sketches to nail down character, and we talk back and forth about it — I might think a character’s head is too big, her hair needs more messing up, etc. Larry then sketches sequential thumbnails (or, as in the case with our current project, he sketches a rough dummy).

Here’s a progression from a thumbnail with notes to final art.

 


(Click to enlarge)




(Click to enlarge)


 

Lion, Lion was our PhD program for learning how to work together. We have collaborated on several more projects, and whether we’ve begun with an image or with a full manuscript, the process now goes something like this: I read the story to Larry. Together, we work through page turns/possible breaks on the manuscript. It’s not until we have a dummy that we can really read for pacing and pauses and more text changes.

Larry’s always so willing to re-sketch from another viewpoint, to try and try and try to get the emotion just right, and he doesn’t take any comment personally. I’m sure some of this ease in willingness to re-work art comes from his long-time work as a storyboard artist.



 

Other artists and writers ask how we can work together. We breathe story. The work is always about the story. Our collaboration leads us together to stories we wouldn’t know how to create separately.

 



 

* * *


 

Larry: Larry here! Hi, Jules. Here are a few other picture books I’ve illustrated:

From Voices from The Oregon Trail, written by Kay Winters (Dial, 2014):

 


(Click to enlarge)


 



 

From Nanook & Pryce: Gone Fishing, written by Ned Crowley (Harper Collins, 2009):

 


(Click to enlarge slightly)


 



 

From Civil War Drummer Boy, written by Verla Kay (Putnam, 2012):

 


(Click to enlarge)


 



 

The book’s trailer:

 



 

[Ed. Note: I don’t normally get super excited about book trailers, but dang, that’s a great one.]

From Duel! Burr and Hamilton’s Deadly War of Words, written by Dennis Fradin (Walker Books, 2008):

 


(Click to enlarge)


 



 

From Pearl Harbor, written by Steven Krensky (Simon and Schuster, 2001):

 


(Click to enlarge)


 



 

I studied painting with Gerald Merfeld, who lives near Westcliffe, Colorado. Gerald was an apprentice with Dean Cornwell. I not only learned how to paint from Gerald but gained a wealth of knowledge and appreciation of illustration. He introduced me to the art of Ernest Shepard, Harvey Dunn, Charles Dana Gibson, John Singer Sargent, Morton Roberts, Frank Brangwyn, and many others.

 



 

This is a sketch in a silver ore mill in Westcliffe, Colorado:

 



 

Here are a few other random drawings:

 






 

[Right now] I am finishing the final art for a third book with Suzy (Suzanne Tripp Jurmain). This is the title page for Nice Work, Franklin! (Dial, 2016):

 


(Click to enlarge)


 

* * *

Thanks again to Miriam and Larry for visiting today. Miriam, it turns out, is currently at work on several picture books, a middle grade novel, and a graphic novel. In addition to collaborating with Miriam on several more projects and Nice Work, Franklin!, Larry is also illustrating Voices From the Underground Railroad by Kay Winters (coming from Dial soon).

 

LION, LION. Text copyright © 2014 by Miriam Busch. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Larry Day. Published by Balzer + Bray, New York. All images here reproduced by permission of Larry Day.

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’ve already said this, but I really enjoyed talking to Miriam and Larry.

2) The name “Miriam.” My oldest is a Miriam, but she goes by her middle name. Sniff.

3) This CD has arrived, and it’s really good:

Oops. Guess you can’t tell from the cover what it is. It’s Horse Comanche from Chadwick Stokes.

4) Sharing music with friends.

5) Story times.

6) Good grub with good friends.

7) It’s a good time right about now to be a long-time Saturday Night Live geek.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #419: FeaturingMiriam Busch and Larry Day, last added: 2/15/2015
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16. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #420: Featuring Zachariah OHora

I’ve got a review over at BookPage of Ame Dyckman’s Wolfie the Bunny, illustrated by Zachariah OHora and released this month by Little, Brown. That review is here, and today—with thanks to OHora—I’ve got some dummy samples, alternate covers and endpages, character studies, and final art to share with you.

Let’s get right to it …


 

First Character Studies









 

Dummy samples
(click each one to enlarge)






 

Alternate Covers and Endpages


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)



Endpaper ideas


 

Some Final Spreads


Endpapers
(Click to enlarge)


“The Bunny family came home to find a bundle outside their door.”
(Click to enlarge)


“They peeked. They gasped. It was a baby wolf! …”
(Click to enlarge)


“Wolfie slept through the night. Dot did not.”
(Click to enlarge)


“Wolfie and Dot went to the Carrot Patch.”
(Click to enlarge)


“… ‘I’M A HUNGRY BUNNY,’ said Dot. …”
(Click to enlarge)



 



 

WOLFIE THE BUNNY. Text copyright © 2015 by Ame Dyckman. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Zachariah OHora. Published by Little, Brown and Company, New York. All images here reproduced by permission of Zachariah OHora.

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) My girls had the entire week off because of ice, and so we got to read a lot more than normal.

2) I love this:

3) Ice quakes aren’t fun, but the kick is that at least I know what that sound is now. Oof.

4) When my friend sees my book on the new nonfiction shelf at her library and snaps a pic for me:

5) Bill Murray’s “Jaws” theme song on SNL 40 last week.

6) My daughters’ friends make me laugh.

7) Not long now till House of Cards, season three.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #420: Featuring Zachariah OHora, last added: 2/22/2015
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17. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #421: Featuring Bryan Collier


“But first I needed an instrument. The great thing about music is that you don’t even need a real instrument to play. So my friends and I decided to make our own.”
(Click to enlarge spread)

It’s the first Sunday of the month, which means I normally feature the work of a student or debut illustrator. I’m breaking my own 7-Imp rules today, however, to … well, not do that — simply because I like this book and want to show you all some spreads from it. This won’t be on shelves till mid-April. Forgive me for posting about it so early, but to be honest, I’m just not that organized this week. But I had read and enjoyed this book and knew I had some spreads from it to share, so there ya go.

Trombone Shorty (Abrams) is the picture book autobiography from Grammy-nominated musician Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews. Illustrated by Bryan Collier, Andrews kicks the book off with “”Where Y’at?”, explaining that the folks in New Orleans have their own way of living and their own way of talking. Young Andrews grew up in Tremé, where “you could hear music floating in the air.” His older brother played the trumpet, and Andrews would watch and pretend to play his own. Andrews and his family would delight in the Mardi Gras parades, which “made everyone forget about their troubles for a little while.”

Andrews and his friends made their own instruments until the day Troy himself found an old, beaten up trombone. He joined a parade, his brother shouting, “TROMBONE SHORTY! WHERE Y’AT?” Thus a nickname was born.

Andrews goes on to describe the moment Bo Diddley called him out in a crowd at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Before he knows it, Andrews is on stage, playing with Diddley watching. The moment is illustrated, and in the backmatter readers are shown the actual photograph of this moment (two things I could show you today, but I’ll leave that for you to discover when you find a copy of this in April). “After I played with Bo Diddley,” Andrews writes, “I knew I was ready to have my own band.” Towards the book’s close, Andrews switches to present tense:

And now I have my own band, called Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, named after a street in Tremé. I’ve played all around the world, but I always come back to New Orleans. …

I don’t think it’d be possible for there to be a better illustrator for this book than Collier. And he’s on fire here. “Collier portrays the story of this living legend with energy and style,” writes the Kirkus review, “making visible the swirling sounds of jazz.” It’s a feast for one’s eyes. Below are some spreads from the book.

(If you purchase this book, come April, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Trombone Shorty Foundation.)


“And there was music in my house, too. My big brother, James, played the trumpet so loud you could hear him halfway across town! He was the leader of his own band,
and my friends and I would pretend to be in the band, too.
‘FOLLOW ME,’ James would say.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


“I listened to all these sounds and mixed them together, just like how we make our food. We take one big pot and throw in sausage, crab, shrimp, chicken, vegetables, rice—whatever’s in the kitchen—and stir it all together and let it cook. When it’s done, it’s the most delicious taste you’ve ever tried. We call it gumbo,
and that’s what I wanted my music to sound like—
different styles combined to create my own
musical gumbo!”
(Click to enlarge spread)


“From that day on, everyone called me Trombone Shorty! I took that trombone everywhere I went and never stopped playing. I was so small that sometimes I fell right over to the ground because it was so heavy. But I always got back up, and I learned to hold it up high. I listened to my brother play songs over and over,
and I taught myself those songs, too. I practiced day and night,
and sometimes I fell asleep with my trombone in my hands.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


“Today I play at the same New Orleans jazz festival where I once played with
Bo Diddley. And when the performance ends, I lead a parade of musicians around,
just like I used to do in the streets of Tremé with my friends. WHERE Y’AT? WHERE Y’AT? I still keep my trombone in my hands, and I will never let it go.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 

TROMBONE SHORTY. Text copyright © 2015 by Troy Andrews and Bill Taylor. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Bryan Collier. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Abrams Books for Young Readers, New York.

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

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) Being a part of Book ‘Em’s Read Me Day this week at Warner Elementary School in Nashville.

2) I’ll be speaking at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville, NC, this weekend. Here’s the low-down.

3) The girls got another Snow Day this week.

4) House concert for a friend (though not at my own home). It was lovely to hear her play some new songs.

5) Lunch with an out-of-town friend, who actually served on the Caldecott committee this past year. She positively glows from the experience.

6) My nine-year-old made up another song on the piano, and my musician friend has a music program that allowed him to print out the sheet music for the song she made up. And he also put it onto CD. That was a nice surprise.

7) Giving good children’s books as gifts. Gotta share the love, don’t you know.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

8 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #421: Featuring Bryan Collier, last added: 3/1/2015
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18. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #424: Featuring C. G. Esperanza


“With her trunk she grabbed a brush and joined my little game.”


 

This morning at 7-Imp, I welcome artist C. G. Esperanza (Charles, pictured right), whose newest book is from Sky Pony Press. Red, Yellow, Blue (And a Dash of White, Too!), a promising author-illustrator debut, was released this month. Charles has previously illustrated Tania Grossinger’s Jackie and Me: A Very Special Friendship (Sky Pony Press, 2013), a story that is partly about famed baseball player Jackie Robinson, and he lives in the South Bronx. He tells me and 7-Imp readers more about himself below, and we get to take a look at some more art from Red, Yellow, Blue (And a Dash of White, Too!), as well as some early sketches from the book and a few of his other portfolio pieces.

I thank him for visiting.

P.S. If you want to read Charles’ thoughts on why picture books are the new Hip Hop, head over to his piece at Afropunk

.

 

Jules: Can you talk about the seeds of this story, Red, Yellow, Blue … and how the story came to you?

Charles: I actually thought of the story back in my art school days, when I realized a lot of my non-artistic friends didn’t know the primary colors and how to make secondary colors. So I decided to make a picture book about the primary colors that would be cool enough for adults to read and would perhaps inspire people to express themselves artistically. I decided to design the main character after my sister Crystal, who was seven years old at the time, after I saw her running around the house with her gigantic afro and writing her name on everything in crayon. For the first version I created in Eric Velasquez’s picture book class, I used her as a model. Since then, I’ve revised the story multiple times — and added her big blue elephant friend, Elebooyah.


(Click to see spread in its entirety)


“Like a PINK dinosaur that can bite!”
(Click to enlarge spread)


“BLOOO BLOB BLUB! This mix made a muddy GREENISH GRAY
Like an ugly mud monster!
GRAAAAH is all he could say.”
(Click to enlarge spread)

Jules: You live in the South Bronx, yes? How do you think the Bronx has influenced your work, if at all?

Charles: I do live in the South Bronx. So does most of my family. For a long time I was ashamed of being from there. I didn’t learn to appreciate it till I met people in college from around the world, who had never been there before and were fascinated that I was from there. I became more interested in the history of these neighborhoods. They were once filled with beautiful mansions owned by the famous Tiffany heirs — and meadows that were demolished, burned, vandalized, and now rebuilt. I couldn’t help but let it all inspire me! My art is influenced by the hand-painted Bodega signs; the beautiful, vintage, abandoned architecture covered with colorful burners; the colorful bottles that sit on top of the old Puerto Rican dude’s Piragua cart; and all of the other untold stories waiting to be told.






Early sketches from Red, Yellow, Blue …
(Click each to enlarge)


 


Early cover
(Click to enlarge)

Jules: Who are some artists/illustrators who inspire you?

Charles: Jerry Pinkney’s amazing drawings full of imagination and color; Kadir Nelson’s stylized, powerful expression; Adam Rex’s edgy, whimsical characters; and Ezra Jack Keats’ gritty, simplistic, yet complex execution and ability to see the world through a different perspective all inspired and shaped my voice as a picture book illustrator.


Nelson Mandela, a 2012 piece from the Paint It Black series
(Click to enlarge)

Jules: What else inspires you?

Charles: There’s something inspirational about things like a dirty ice cream truck loudly playing a slightly warped, melodic tune, as children chase it down the street, or a beautifully sculpted statue, decorated with bird droppings, that really gets me going. The undiscovered beauty of something that is ugly or imperfect. I like to see the potential and emphasize its beauty.


(Click to enlarge)

Jules: Explain how you’re a “Visual Emcee,” as mentioned in the AfroPunk piece.

Charles: I once had a vision of Sam I am and Will I am eating green eggs and ham and then BAM! Hip Hop and street art were the fists of a Bronx-born spawn; with one fist the message was shouted and with the other it was drawn. Nothing Gold can stay, especially when it turns Green. So Hip Hop and Street art parted ways at the seams. Or at least that’s how it seems, until you take another look! I’ve brought Rhythmic poetry and Art back together in Picture Books!

Jules: I see at your blog that your father is West Indian and your mother is Puerto Rican. Do you think that (or they) influence your work in any way?

Charles: My parents are very Americanized, so they never really introduced me to their native cultures. But Heriberta, my grandmother who grew up in Borinquen, definitely inspires me. Her chairs are decorated with the finest wood-carved rococo designs and floral patterns on the cushions. Her wardrobe is filled with art nouveau textiles and pastel colors. She’s always loved collecting dolls and listening to Celia Cruz. She’s also very funny!


Percy Julian, a 2012 piece from the Paint It Black series
(Click to enlarge)

Jules: When did you know you wanted to illustrate picture books? What are the biggest joys of it for you? The biggest challenges?

Charles: Fortunately, I met Eric Velasquez while taking his Picture Book Illustration class. He reintroduced (or, in some cases, introduced) many of the students in his class to Jerry Pinkney’s, Shel Silverstein, David Wiesner, and E.B. Lewis. But it was after I saw Eric’s work in the book The Rain Stomper [by Addie Boswell] that I knew this was something I wanted to pursue.

 



 

The greatest joy of making picture books is making books that change people’s perspectives on what a children’s book should be. Also, being able to tell stories is great. The biggest challenge I’ve faced is trying to do things the way I want, while still pleasing my mentors, editors, peers etc. Thankfully, they all seem to love what I’ve done so far!

Jules: Any new projects you can talk about and/or anything you’re really eager to do next?

Charles: The boom bap beat in my head continues to loop, just waiting for a new rhythmic stanza that tells a story everyone can enjoy. I am having discussions with a couple of popular rappers about possibly collaborating on a fun story, using hip hop style rhymes that speak to the new generation of kids who love hip hop — and the older generation that loved Dr. Seuss and Slick Rick.


– From Tania Grossinger’s
Jackie and Me: A Very Special Friendship


(Sky Pony Press, 2013)
(Click to enlarge)

Jules: Anything else you want to add? What’d I forget to ask you?

Charles: I am very honored to contribute my voice to the amazing culture of picture books and to be talking about my work on Seven Imp! I consider this blog to be the best for discovering how awesome picture books can be. I hope to inspire everyone, especially people in the Bronx, where few are exposed to the visual arts. Also, I would love to adapt Red, Yellow, Blue (And a Dash of White, Too!) into a film. So, if Alejandro Jodorowsky or Ben Zeitlin are reading this, call me!


(Click to enlarge photo of Charles)

RED, YELLOW, BLUE (AND A DASH OF WHITE, TOO!) Copyright © 2015 by Charles George Esperanza. Published by Sky Pony Press, New York. All images here reproduced by permission of Charles.

Photos of Charles taken by Manny Sy and used by Charles’ permission.

* * *

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

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) I appreciate Charles’ kind words, and his art woke me RIGHT UP before I even had coffee.

2) Starting a project I should have started a good while ago.

3) My girls and I are reading Alice Hoffman’s Nightbird. We are enjoying it, and check out the beautiful cover art from Sophie Blackall:

4) Laura Marling’s South X lullaby at NPR.

5) Laura’s new CD is playing in its entirety here, and it’s good stuff.

6) We saw Song of the Sea on the big screen. Holy WOW, such beautiful animation.

7) We also saw What We Do in the Shadows. So funny, this movie.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #424: Featuring C. G. Esperanza, last added: 3/22/2015
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19. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #425: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Haejin Park



 

On the first Sunday of each month, I like to feature student or debut illustrators, but I’m doing things a bit early right now. I’m taking a tiny bit of a blog break this week, and since this means I will be posting on only a couple of days and also traveling, it would be harder to feature a student next Sunday. So, today it is.

Her name is Haejin Park, and she’s very close to graduating in Illustration at RISD. She talks about her work below, and she shares some art as well. (Most, but not all of it, is in watercolors.)

I thank her for visiting.

* * *

Hello! I am a senior, studying Illustration at Rhode Island School of Design. I am graduating in two months, and I am hoping to become a children’s book illustrator.

My favorite medium is watercolor, and I can say it will be for my life. It requires an attention and patience, but I love the special texture it makes. My first art teacher was a watercolor artist, so I remember exploring with it a lot when I was young. Also, I recently started using crayons, color pencils, and markers to create different marks.

 



 

Colors and patterns are important things that motivate me to keep working. My work is very colorful and happy, and I want the audience to feel cheerful and delightful by looking at my work. I like to draw people and objects in a whimsical way that belong in my illustration world.

I grew up with my grandparents in a suburban area in South Korea, because my parents were both working. I didn’t get a lot of chances to read or write as a child — but grew up hearing a lot of folk tales and stories from older people in the town.

 



 

Because of my background, the books and stories I grew up with are very different than American students. I try to read and study children’s books, and one of my favorite place to do that is the children’s book section in Athenaeum Library in Providence.

Surprisingly, I also enjoy writing children’s books, and I have lots of stories to tell. Most of my work is story-based, and I think they all come up from my personal experiences. I try to go out and also explore a lot of things to get inspired.

 



 

Right now, I love going to school, and I am enjoying my precious time at RISD.

My plan is to move to New York City and find an opportunity and talk to art directors for illustration and publishing. It is a bit scary to me right now, but I really feel passionate about my illustrations and style. One day, I want to be a full-time freelance illustrator, busy with multiple projects.

 




 

[Pictured below are some peeks into Haejin’s sketchbooks.]

 




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All artwork here is used by permission of Haejin Park.

* * *

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 * * *

I am getting ready to travel and take a bit of a break tomorrow, which means I have some packing to do — and some work to do in advance of my trip. For that reason, I’ll keep it short today. (My suitcase is givin’ me the ol’ skunk eye.) I’ll have to tell you about my trip when I return!

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #425: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Haejin Park, last added: 3/29/2015
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20. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #427: Featuring Barney Saltzberg


(Click to enlarge)


 

I’ve got a review over at BookPage of Barney Saltzberg’s Inside This Book (are three books), released by Abrams Appleseed this month. That is over here if you’d like to read about the book, and here at 7-Imp today I share a bit of art from the book.






(Click to enlarge)


 

INSIDE THIS BOOK (ARE THREE BOOKS). Copyright © 2015 by Barney Saltzberg. All images here reproduced by permission of the publisher, Abrams Appleseed, 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 traveled again this week, this time for work. And the best kick of all is that, since I was in her neck of the woods, I got to meet up with the kicker you all know and love so well, Moira Swiatkowski. I’m so glad she was willing to travel to Boston to meet me.

2) In fact, we ended up meeting up at Boston’s Kidlit Drink Night, where I got to meet a lot of nice people — and I got to see one of the editors at Candlewick who worked on Wild Things!

3) It was lovely to see my co-workers in Concord, Mass. We all work virtually from our respective homes, so to see all of them in person once a year is always fun.

4) It was even better to come home to my family.

5) Though it was cold and sleeting in Boston, it’s most definitely Spring in Tennessee.

6) NPR has a First Listen for both Villagers’ new CD, as well as Lowland Hum’s.

7) Have I mentioned how brilliant Laura Marling’s new CD is? (I may very well have. If I’m being redundant, sorry! Big fan here.) One of her best (and most accessible) yet.

 



 

What are YOUR kicks this week?

7 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #427: Featuring Barney Saltzberg, last added: 4/12/2015
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21. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #428: FeaturingBeatrice Alemagna and Sergio García Sánchez


– From Nadja Spiegelman’s and Sergio García Sánchez’s
Lost in NYC: A Subway Adventure


 


– From Beatrice Alemagna’s Little Big Boubo
(Click to enlarge)


 

I’m kickin’ it all international today with Italian author-illustrator Beatrice Alemagna, born in Bologna, and Sergio García Sánchez, who is a cartoonist from Spain.

If I had a dime for every time an illustrator here at 7-Imp has named Beatrice Alemagna as an inspiration, well … I’d be in Italy now. Yep. Why not? Italy sounds good right about now.

Last year she wrote and illustrated Little Big Boubo—on shelves here in the States this month, thanks to Tate Publishing—and I’ve got some spreads from it today. This book had me at its first lines:

Hello! My first name is Boubo.

My last name is Boubo too.

Boubo is proud of his growing independence and launches his best campaign in this story to convince readers that he’s a big boy. “I only wear my nappies one day a week,” he says, “like grown-ups.” With a small trim size, this story about a proud toddler is just right for toddler hands, perhaps those who have graduated from board books.

Know how he knows he’s big? His mother tucks him in nightly, saying “Sleep well, my BIGGEST love.” That’s how this story of child development also becomes a tribute to maternal love.

Also below, I’ve got some spreads from Nadja Spiegelman’s and Sergio García Sánchez’s

Lost in NYC: A Subway Adventure (TOON Books/A Toon Graphic, April 2015), which is so fun to read — and not just because we Danielsons returned fairly recently from our own NYC adventure. (The book’s opening endpapers depict a subway map, something to which we became very accustomed just a couple weeks ago.)

This is the story of a boy named Pablo, new to a NYC school and reluctant to make friends, since his family moves so often. His class heads out on a subway adventure and, along the way, learns about the history of the subway system. Pablo is paired with a girl named Alicia, who is trying her best to befriend him, despite the walls around him. The two of them eventually get on the wrong train but find their way back to their teacher and class. Sánchez’s spreads, colored by Lola Moral, are bursting with energy and life, and it’s a testament to his artistic sensibilities that he keeps these busy spreads from getting confusing for the reader. The book even closes with informational matter about the history of the subway system. Fascinating.

Below are some spreads from that too. Enjoy the art. …

 

Art from Little Big Boubo:


 




(Click each image to enlarge)


 

Art from Lost in NYC: A Subway Adventure:


 


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LITTLE BIG BOUBO. Copyright © 2014 by Beatrice Alemagna. All images here reproduced by permission of the publisher, Tate Publishing/Abrams, New York.

LOST IN NYC: A SUBWAY ADVENTURE. Copyright © 2015 by Nadja Spiegelman, Sergio García Sánchez, and TOON Books. All images here reproduced by permission of the publisher.

* * *

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) Very busy week. My first kick is just Getting Everything Done. (This also means that, if you’ve emailed me about something blog-related, boy howdy and howdy boy … sorry for the delay. One day, I’ll get caught up.)

2) A brand-new coffee maker that is oh-so, oh-so good at what it does.

3) My girls and I went to hear author Matthew Baker speak at Parnassus Books this weekend. We’re enjoying his debut children’s novel (pictured below) so far, and it was good to hear him talk about the writing of it.

 



 

4) I’ll be teaching my picture book grad course again this summer, and my kick is that I sat down to go through my lecture notes and slides and the syllabus, etc. in order to get ready to update them for this year — and I think I actually got my bearings. (I last taught it two years ago.) Lots more work ahead of me, but I’m ready to go, I think.

5) Whenever I think of summer (as I just did above), I get excited about the extra time I’ll have with my daughters.

6) Tonight, I’ll have dinner with a good friend. And that’s always good.

7) Opportunities.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

9 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #428: FeaturingBeatrice Alemagna and Sergio García Sánchez, last added: 4/22/2015
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22. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #429: Featuring Charles Santoso


– From Sean Ferrell’s I Don’t Like Koala
(Click to see spread in its entirety)



 


– From Jessica Young’s Spy Guy
(Click to enlarge)


 

I’ve got a review over at BookPage of Sean Ferrell’s I Don’t Like Koala (Atheneum, April 2015), illustrated by Charles Santoso. That is here, and I’ve got some art from the book here today at 7-Imp.

To boot, I’ve got some illustrations from another Santoso-illustrated book, Jessica Young’s Spy Guy, coming to bookshelves in May from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the story of a very loud, very bumbly spy and his “Chief” (a.k.a. his dad). Looks like the Spy Guy illustrations were created digitally, and the Koala illustrations were colored digitally — but originally created in pencil. There’s a definite difference in the two; there’s more texture, for one thing, in the Koala illustrations, and the Spy Guy illustrations channel more of a traditional cartoon vibe, which is fitting for this light and fun slapstick story.

Santoso, who lives in Australia, is an animation-studio concept artist/art director by day and illustrator by night! Here’s a bit more art from both books. Enjoy. …


 

Art from Sean Ferrell’s I Don’t Like Koala:


 


(Click to see spread in its entirety)


 


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Art from Jessica Young’s Spy Guy:


 


“So Spy Guy went to Headquarters to see the Chief. ‘Chief!’ he said. ‘Tell me the secret to spying!’ ‘Spy Guy,’ said the Chief, ‘that you must discover for yourself.
But if you seek to sneak, try not to speak.'”

(Click to enlarge)



 


“Spy Guy put on his brand-new shoes. He didn’t make a sound as he crept through town. But … everyone saw him coming.”
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I DON’T LIKE KOALA. Text copyright © 2015 by Sean Ferrell. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Charles Santoso. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York.

SPY GUY: THE NOT-SO-SECRET AGENT. Text copyright © 2015 by Jessica Young. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Charles Santoso. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston.

* * *

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

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

I’m typing this while listening to President Obama’s remarks at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, and it’s funny stuff. (The Anger Translator made me laugh outloud.) My kicks 1-7 will be that — and, selfishly, I want to hear the rest of it, so I’m off! But tell me …

What are YOUR kicks this week?

7 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #429: Featuring Charles Santoso, last added: 4/28/2015
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23. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #430: Featuring Frank Viva (sorta)

Dear kickers, I’m battling an ugly stomach bug this weekend, and since it’s best to be horizontal, I’ve got a short post today. I was going to feature the work of another illustrator, but I’ll have to do that later this week, since it was a much longer post.

I reviewed Frank Viva’s Outstanding in the Rain (Little, Brown, April 2015) over at BookPage (that is here), and I had planned on securing some of the beautiful spreads from the book to show you all. But again … you know, dastardly bug.

Instead, to keep things short so that I can lie back down, I’ll point you to these recent and quite wonderful posts at other places, posts all about the book — and with lots of art.

* Post at 32 Pages
* Post at Brain Pickings
* Write-up at the New York Times

Please do tell me: What are YOUR kicks this week?

7 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #430: Featuring Frank Viva (sorta), last added: 5/4/2015
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24. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #431: Featuring JiHyeon Lee


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I’ve got a review over at BookPage of JiHyeon Lee’s debut picture book, Pool, released by Chronicle this past week and originally published in South Korea in 2013.

Here’s the review if you want to read all about the book, and below is a bit more art.



 


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POOL. Copyright © 2013 by JiHyeon Lee. English translation copyright © 2015 by Chronicle Books LLC. All images here reproduced by permission of the publisher.

* * *

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) My stomach flu is gone.

2) I had a birthday this week, and people I love spoiled me.

3) People I love.

4) I’m actually in Wyoming as you read this for a children’s lit event. Maybe next week I can tell you about my trip. It’s my first time in Wyoming. You can maybe assume right now at this very moment that my view is spectacular.

5) Crises averted.

6) Reading a great novel (for grown-ups) I bummed from my husband. (Good timing, since I’m seeing airports this weekend.)

7) The countdown-to-end-of-school has begun.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #431: Featuring JiHyeon Lee, last added: 5/11/2015
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25. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #432: Featuring Elly MacKay


(Click to enlarge)


 

I love to see the paper-cut artwork of author-illustrator Elly MacKay, and I reviewed her newest book from Running Press, Butterfly Park, here at BookPage. It will be on shelves in June.

Today, I follow up the review with some art from the book and a few other images Elly sent along. I thank her for sharing.



 


“And then there was her house, plain and gray like all the others. But next to it was a gate unlike any other. The girl repeated the letters. Suddenly, she felt very lucky!”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 


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In the town
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Making the garden
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Little cat
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The surprise on the back of the dustjacket
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BUTTERFLY PARK. Copyright © 2015 by Elly MacKay. Published by Running Press Kids, Philadelphia. All images here reproduced by permission of Elly MacKay.

* * *

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

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) The Danielsons are heading to Knoxville this weekend (though I’ll be back before Sunday) for their wonderful Children’s Festival of Reading. (I wrote about it here.) I’m looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting others in person for the first time.

2) I’ll be moderating the picture book panel discussion, too, which I always enjoy doing.

3) I read Station Eleven while I traveled last weekend. (If you’ve read it, then you know how WEIRD it was for me to be reading it mostly in airports.) It’s good stuff.

4) And I got a new novel, since I realized that I miss reading grown-up books more often.

5) Nashville Kidlit Drink Night.

6) I had so much fun in Wyoming last weekend. I hope to write about that event soon. I got to meet lots of great folks, including Jerry Pinkney:

7) The story my 9-year-old is writing.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #432: Featuring Elly MacKay, last added: 5/17/2015
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