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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: 7-Imps 7 Kicks, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. 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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2. 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)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


In the town
(Click to enlarge)


 


Making the garden
(Click to enlarge)


 


Little cat
(Click to enlarge)


 


The surprise on the back of the dustjacket
(Click to enlarge)


 



 

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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3. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #431: Featuring JiHyeon Lee


(Click to enlarge)


 

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.



 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 



 

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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4. 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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5. 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)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 



 

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.”
(Click to enlarge)


 



 


 

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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6. 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:


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 

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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7. 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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8. 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.]

 




(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 



 

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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9. 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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10. 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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11. 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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12. 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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13. 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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14. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #417: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Molly Walsh

It’s the first Sunday of the month, which means I invite a student illustrator or recent grad to visit 7-Imp, and today I’ve got the latter. Molly Walsh graduated in 2013 from RISD, and she’s here today to share art and tell us a bit about herself.

Without further ado …

Molly: Hello! My name is Molly Walsh, and I am an illustrator living on Cape Cod. I graduated in 2013 with a degree in Illustration from Rhode Island School of Design.

 




 

I work by day as a designer at a gift company in Cape Cod and, by night, as a freelance illustrator. I love creating art for decoration, but my first love is telling stories, large or small, through my illustration. Inspiration for my illustrations could come from something as small as a little detail from a friend’s story to something as large as trying to sum up an entire concept or emotion in one image. My love of nature and goofy characters also have a way of creeping into the images I make.

 




 

I started working in my current style toward the end of my time at RISD. I had been making 3D sculptures as a way to compensate for my lack of confidence in my drawing skills. Sculpting somehow gave me a better understanding of shapes and lighting, and I began drawing and painting again to save time. (Funny how that works!)

 



 

One of my professors, Fred Lynch, was of great help to me settling into a style that suited my voice as an illustrator. I do most of my work in watercolor and gouache, though my surface design job has taught me a great deal about digital media, which I’ve started incorporating into my work.

 




 

My current sketchbook is full of doodles and sloppily-written ideas for future projects, both somewhat formed idea for series and comics, as well as notes about “great ideas” I’ve written myself while half asleep. (The other day I found the words “Gastronaut — astronaut with gas” written on one page.) Looking forward, I hope to find more opportunities to tell both my own stories, as well as the stories and ideas of others through freelance work for books and magazines. Illustration is a wonderful, exciting thing, and I hope to use this power for good!

 












 

All artwork here is reproduced by permission of Molly Walsh.

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

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) I love the characters in Molly’s work. Also I love: “Illustration is a wonderful, exciting thing, and I hope to use this power for good!” (P.S. The last illustration up there is from Ray Bradbury’s “All Summer in a Day,” which is something like the third or fourth illustration I’ve shared at 7-Imp from that story, which used to HAUNT me as a child. I’m starting a 7-Imp trend.)

2) Yesterday, we saw a stage adaptation at the Nashville Children’s Theatre of Mo Willems’ Elephant & Piggie stories. It was fun. Here’s a bit of what it was like:

3) I talked to a big group of second-graders at a school in Nashville this week about favorite 2014 picture books and Caldecott contenders, and it was a thing of beauty to hear their strong opinions. Those lucky kids have some great teachers and librarians.

4) Oh, and the Twitter chat this week with Metro Nashville School librarians was fun too.

5) Author-illustrator Lori Nichols is going to come have breakfast at 7-Imp when life slows down and sent this preview of us in the meantime:

6) It’s neat to see friends’ photos on Facebook from ALA Midwinter.

7) Speaking of kick #2, my New Year’s resolution (though I don’t usually do resolutions) was to see more live theatre, so hey, I’m not doing too badly.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #417: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Molly Walsh, last added: 2/2/2015
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15. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #405: Featuring Keiko Kaichi


“‘We will not open the door,’ they cried. ‘You are not our mother!
She has a soft, kind voice and your voice is gruff. You are the wolf!’”


 

We’re goin’ Grimm today, you all.

Back in September, Minedition (whose books I’m always eager to see) released a picture book adaptation of the Grimms’ tale “The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids” with illustrations from Keiko Kaichi. The Wolf & the Seven Kids was translated by Anthea Bell and is very faithful to the Grimms’ version, viciousness and all. And this is the debut book from Kaichi, who was born and raised in Japan and who currently lives in Osaka.

Kaichi’s kids, the baby goats, are clearly snuggly and … well, flat-out adorable, as you can see here. But the book doesn’t shy from the original tale’s dramatic turn-of-events. The wolf still eats every kid but one, and the mama still releases the six from the wolf’s stomach with her scissors, needle, and thread. Oh, and that’s right: The big bad wolf also still sees his demise at the bottom of a well.

This has always been one of the most terrifying Grimms’ tales to me. An intruder bursts into the home and kidnaps, then devours, each and every kid — but one. The one who manages to hide and hear the entire thing. Oof. This makes it all the more satisfying when the mama comes home to save everyone. With her SEWING KIT, nonetheless! And then she distributes very tight hugs.

Kaichi’s color palette is particularly soothing, but I’ll let you see for yourself with some more art below.

Enjoy.



“But the wolf found them all and quick as a flash he swallowed them one by one, whole. The youngest in the grandfather clock was the only one he didn’t find.”
(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


 


“…She looked for her children but they were nowhere to be found. She called them one after another by name but no one answered. At last, when she came to the youngest,
a soft voice called, ‘Dear mother, I am in the grandfather clock.’ She took the kid out, and he told her that the wolf had come and had eaten all the others.
Then how she wept over her poor children.”

(Click to see spread in its entirety)


 


“Then the kid had to run home to fetch scissors and a needle and thread, and the mother goat cut open the monster’s stomach. Hardly had she made one cut than a little kid thrust his head out, and when she cut further out sprang all six, one after another, all still alive, and they were not hurt at all, for in his greediness the monster had swallowed them down whole. How happy they all were!”
(Click to see spread in its entirety)


 


THE WOLF & THE SEVEN KIDS. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Keiko Kaichi. English text translation by Anthea Bell. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Minedition, Hong Kong.

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) Visiting a brand-new, beautiful library.

2) Visiting with friends.

3) Friends who feed you delicious meals.

4) My latest book club read, Eugene Yelchin’s Arcady’s Goal, is so good.

5) Songs that take you back …

6) Re-reading beloved novels with my girls.

7) Kick in advance: I’ll see some old friends this week.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

9 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #405: Featuring Keiko Kaichi, last added: 11/12/2014
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16. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #406: Featuring Alex Barrow


“This tale begins with Samuel Drew, wherever he goes, his dog goes too.
The day is fine, the sky is bright, as Sam and dog stroll into sight.
Look there he is, the little boy with dog-on-wheels, his favourite toy.
Let’s watch and find out where they go … But hurry up — we can’t be slow!”

(Click to enlarge)


 

This week over at BookPage, I have a review of Gabby Dawnay’s A Possum’s Tail, illustrated by Alex Barrow. The two have worked together on stories and poems for the UK’s OKIDO magazine, and this is their first picture book together. It was published this month from Tate Publishing in London but is distributed by Abrams here in the States.

The review is here, so you can head over there if you want more information. This morning, I share two spreads so that we can all get a sneak peek inside the book. One more is below.


“…London Zoo! They pass the cheeky chimpanzees and noisy parrots in the trees.
Past hippos snoozing in the sun and sliding penguins having fun.
Past sleeping snakes and tigers snoring, tall giraffes and lions roaring …
Sam looks around, he knows his mind, he knows exactly where to find …”

(Click to enlarge)


 



 

A POSSUM’S TAIL. Copyright © 2014 by Gabby Dawnay. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Alex Barrow. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Tate Publishing/Abrams.

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 in Knoxville this week about Wild Things—at a bookstore and at the University—and that went well.

2) I got to see old friends, while there.

3) I read B. J. Novak’s The Book With No Pictures at story time at Parnassus Books just yesterday, and one little girl, a regular whom I always enjoy seeing, laughed so hard that her whole body shook.

4) Since we got a galley of the fourth Penderwicks book, the girls and I are re-reading books 1 to 3 (mostly to refresh our memories). And they are having so. much. fun. Even more fun than the first time. I am enjoying the re-reads but am super eager to get to the new one.

5) We are also reading the Joey Pigza books, which I may have already said recently, but it’s truly a kick to read Gantos’ writing outloud. Also, I’ve decided Grandma is one of children’s literature’s best characters ever. (Books 1 to 4 are re-reads for me, but they’re all new to the girls, who now love Joey. When we’re done with the fourth, the brand-new one awaits, the one I haven’t read yet. I’m eager to get to that, too.)

6) The score in the TV show The Leftovers. I also really like the show itself thus far, though it’s often deeply sad and though the title makes me giggle every time. It makes me think of things like meatloaf. In fact, I’ve just been referring to it as Meatloaf, though really and truly, the episodes I’ve seen so far have been good.

7) Nashville’s Kidlit Drink Night. So good to see folks there. AND to have the Local Latte, because honey, cinnamon, milk, coffee … YUM.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #406: Featuring Alex Barrow, last added: 11/17/2014
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17. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #407: Featuring August Hall


“Foxes, wolves, deer nest too. Forest knows waking, opening up.”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 

I always look forward to new picture book releases from Kentucky novelist and poet, George Ella Lyon. I reviewed her newest picture book, What Forest Knows (Atheneum, November 2014), illustrated by August Hall, for BookPage. That link is here, if you’d like to read more about it. And today I’m sharing some spreads from it.

While we’re on the subject of Lyon, I’m also currently reading this wonderful book, which she wrote with J. Patrick Lewis and which was released by WordSong last month:

There’s more about the book here, including several starred reviews, and here’s an interview with Lyon at Sylvia Vardell’s site.

Here are two more spreads from What Forest Knows:

 


“Then forest knows snow. While Earth travels round the sun
Forest knows each season, each creature, needs the others.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 


Sniff. Forest knows everything belongs.”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 

WHAT FOREST KNOWS. Copyright © 2014 by George Ella Lyon. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by August Hall. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Atheneum 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) Naomi Shihab Nye. One of my favorite writers, and this interview from this week is wonderful. Also, I’m excited to start her new book, which I just got.

2) While we’re discussing Naomi, she wrote my favorite poem.

3) This made me laugh:

4) Gantos has a Tumblr!

5) I have ordered this book and am really eager to see it.

6) Ditto for this one.

7) My 9-year-old’s second-ever piano recital.

BONUS: A friend told me to check out Gravity Falls. It’s a hoot and makes everyone in the family laugh. Also, I love Mabel.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

8 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #407: Featuring August Hall, last added: 11/23/2014
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18. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #408: Featuring Elizabeth Zunon



 

Today I’m featuring the artwork of Elizabeth Zunon, pictured left, whose illustrations I’ve actually shared here previously (in this 2011 post). And I’m looking ahead a bit here; this isn’t a book out on shelves now. It will be out on shelves in February of 2015 (Millbrook Press). Written by Miranda Paul, One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia tells the story of one woman who transformed her community.

The book is set in Njau, Gambia. We meet a young girl, carrying fruit in her palm-leaf basket. When the girl’s basket breaks, she picks up a plastic bag that has flown by her, and she gathers her fruits in this bag. Eventually, she learns that it’s one of many plastic bags littering the landscape of the community where she lives.

Years go by, and Isatou becomes a woman. “She barely notices the ugliness growing around her … until the ugliness finds it way to her,” the author writes. Her grandmother tells her that many goats are perishing after having eaten the plastic trash. Isatou and her friends decide to dry the bags and then cut the bags into strips. They then roll the strips into spools of plastic thread to use for the creation of purses. The women crochet with these plastic strips, and they do so away from the community — for fear they will be mocked. When they set out to sell the recycled purses (“fingers sore and blistered”), they discover that they sell well.

A closing Author’s Note from Miranda explains how she once visited Gambia and actually visited with Isatou in her home in Njau. (They are pictured right.) The book’s back matter also includes a Wolof glossary and pronunciation guide, as well as a timeline and suggested further reading.

Zunon herself grew up in the Ivory Coast in West Africa but now makes her home in Albany, New York. Her collaged, multi-media illustrations for this story are very textured and colorful, capturing well the transformation at the hands of Isatou.

See for yourself. Here are some spreads from the book. Enjoy.

 



(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


 



(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


 


“One woman lays dalasi coins on the table. She chooses a purse and shows it to one friend. Then two. Then ten. Soon everyone wants one!”
(Click to enlarge)



 


“…it was.”
(Click to enlarge)


 

ONE PLASTIC BAG: ISATOU CEESAY AND THE RECYCLING WOMEN OF THE GAMBIA. Copyright © 2014 by Miranda Paul. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Elizabeth Zunon. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Millbrook Press, Minneapolis.

The photos of Elizabeth, Miranda, and Isatou are taken from Elizabeth’s website.

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) You know how at Thanksgiving people talk about gratitude? That is something we do here weekly. So, thanks to you all for meeting here to do that with me.

2) It was really good yesterday to volunteer at Parnassus Books for Indies First Day. My friend and I, who did story time together, even hand-sold the book pictured here, Deirdre Gill’s Outside, after we read it to the children there that day. Their eyes got really big at the beautiful illustrations in this book, and there was one parent there who just had to have it.

3) When the girls are off from school for the holidays, we have more time to read aloud together.

4) This is a great conversation.

5) The Star Wars teaser. I mean, RIGHT? You saw that, right?

6) Invitations.

7) Did you see this performance below on SNL last week? I see a CD purchase in my future.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

8 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #408: Featuring Elizabeth Zunon, last added: 12/1/2014
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19. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #409: Featuring Roger Duvoisin


“‘Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! On, Cupid!
On, Donder and Blitzen! To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away, all!’”


 

I’m going vintage today, you all.

Want to know one of my favorite things about this holiday season? Back in September, Knopf re-released Caldecott Medalist Roger Duvoisin’s very tall The Night Before Christmas, which was originally published in 1954.

Duvoisin’s take on the classic Christmas poem includes his vivid colors, robust line, and elegant shapes. Know what I just read in the Publishers Weekly review, too? “The illustrator’s fans may notice that the stuffed yellow lion among Santa’s gifts bears a notable resemblance to Louise Fatio’s The Happy Lion, which Duvoisin illustrated the same year.” Well, huh. That hadn’t occurred to me.

That same review also notes the use of primary colors in Duvoisin’s illustrations here, which you can see for yourself in the images featured here today.

This is one of many Christmas stories Duvoisin illustrated. In the classic American Picturebooks from Noah’s Ark to the Beast Within, Barbara Bader writes, “Nobody celebrates Christmas like Duvoisin — except children.”

Here’s some more art (without the text). Enjoy.


“The children were nestled all snugs in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.”


 


“As I drew in my head, and was turning around, Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound. He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot. A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.”


 

THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS. Originally published in 1954. Illustrations copyright © 1954 by Roger Duvoisin. New edition published September 2014 by Alfred A. Knopf, New York. Illustrations 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 * * *

I have a big ‘ol writing assignment I’m working on now, and I’m holed up today, working on that. Please do tell me your cheery kicks so that, during my breaks, I can come read them. You can even DOUBLE them, if you’re so inclined, to make up for my lack of them this week. (Not that I didn’t have any; I just gotta write write write!)

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #409: Featuring Roger Duvoisin, last added: 12/7/2014
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20. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #410: Featuring Chris Raschka


“And that is the very best sort of thing to be.”


 

I’ve got some illustrations today from Caldecott Medalist Chris Raschka, and I think taking a look at his artwork is pretty much always a good way to start one’s day.

If You Were a Dog (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, September 2014) was written by Jamie A. Swenson and is an engaging title for very young children. Swenson introduces a series of animals, using the conditional if-you-were question — from dogs to dinosaurs and lots of other animals in between (including a human at the book’s close). The text has an infectious energy, its fair share of entertaining onomatopoeia, and a very playful rhythm that begs to be shared in group story times. You can see some of that below in the spreads shared here today. It’s a book that invites young children to use their imagination and play along; I kinda wish I could snap my fingers right now and have a group of children to share it with.

Kirkus calls this one a “cheery picker-upper.” It’s true. See for yourself below. And please enjoy Raschka’s menagerie of swooping, swimming, stomping, swooshing, fluttering, buzzing creatures. His color palette here is spot-on, and I love the way he captures the movement and energy of all these creatures.



 


“Would you howl at the moon? …”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 



(Click second image to see spread in its entirety)


 


“If you were a dinosaur, would you be a stomping-roarer, earth-quaker, tree-shaker, sharp-pointed toothy-grinner, colossal-chomper, super-duper,
longest-neck-o-saur sort of dinosaur?”

(Click to enlarge)


 



 

P.S. Raschka has another 2014 title out, this one from Atheneum Books and released in August. But I haven’t seen this one yet. (Well, I’ve seen it on bookstore shelves, but I haven’t yet spent a lot of time with it.) Have any of you? Oh, and you all saw the Sun Ra biography from earlier this year, yes?

 



 

IF YOU WERE A DOG. Copyright © 2014 by Jamie A. Swenson. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Chris Raschka. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Farrar Straus Giroux, 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 * * *

Last week, I was super busy with a writing assignment (which I’m still working on), so I didn’t leave seven separate kicks. And this week I’m, once again, not leaving seven separate kicks, because I’m actually out of town for a very short trip. So, I apologize, but I’m SURE to have listy kicks next week.

I’ll be back today, and as always, I’m eager to hear that you all had a good week. At least I hope you did. So, please do kick here — if you’re so inclined.

(Also, Seven Separate Kicks. Band name. I call it!)

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #410: Featuring Chris Raschka, last added: 12/14/2014
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21. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #411: Featuring Christine Brailler


“The children were nestled all snug in their beds …”
(Click to enlarge)


 

I’m handing the site over this morning to artist Christine Brailler, pictured right, for something totally different — stained glass mosaics. (Have I ever posted about stained glass mosaics? I actually don’t think I have.) Last year, Christine released her first picture book (Brownian Bee Press), The Night Before Christmas. I read it last year, but did I post about it? Nope. I had intended to, but I got busy. When I contacted her about it this year, we decided better late than never. So, she visits today to talk about how she makes her mosaics and to share process images, as well as some photos of the stained glass pieces from the book.

Let’s get right to it. For those who are interested in even more information, Christine blogged here about her process from start to finish.

Christine: Before I discovered mosaics, I had always wanted to illustrate a children’s book but never felt very confident about my painting abilities. Once I found mosaics in 2005, I thought, what a unique idea it would be to illustrate a book with my mosaics. About six years ago on Christmas Eve, my family and I were reading “The Night Before Christmas,” as we always do, when suddenly I thought, “I would love to illustrate this book, personalize it with my family in it, and read it every year!” So, I began the process of designing and creating fifteen stained glass mosaics over the next four years.

The first thing I did was draw quick 2×3” thumbnail sketches, not thinking too much about it — really just getting the idea of it down, the side story of the cat, etc. Here’s one I did of the reindeer, which—don’t laugh—look much more like donkeys!



Some of my ideas changed dramatically, once I started the mosaic process, like eliminating the reindeer altogether when Santa is flying over the house. I simply couldn’t fit eight reindeer in the design, let alone one, since I wouldn’t be able to cut the glass tiny enough for all the detail that would require. I found such limitations to be a fun challenge — that is, for me to come up with something different, which often led to more creative choices and end results.

From there, I did hours and hours of research on pretty much every element in the book. For example, I didn’t know how to draw reindeer (as you can see), so I spent a lot of time looking at photos to find the qualities I wanted to express. In my notes, I wrote “joyful, playful, not dainty, sturdy and strong.” I found what I was looking for in images of reindeer races. What got me was that they run with their tongues hanging out, like dogs riding in a car with the top down – they look so happy! I knew I had to include that detail in my design.

I planned for an 8×10” book in the end, so I drew my final designs at 5×8”. (I draw more accurately when I draw small; don’t ask me why!) I do only a line drawing for the design and then work out all of the details, once I get to the glass cutting stage.

The preparation for the mosaic work goes like this: enlarge the design to the final mosaic size of 15×24”, tape down on cardboard (so I can move it if necessary), tape plastic wrap down over the design, and then tape fiberglass mesh down over the plastic wrap. I can see the design through the plastic wrap and will then glue the glass onto the mesh. The plastic wrap keeps the glass from being glued to the design underneath. This process allows me to make changes to the mosaic with ease, as opposed to trying to remove glass that has been glued to a board. And I made some major changes throughout, as you will see. In this image, you can see how it all works:


(Click to enlarge)

I don’t generally color my designs in advance, as I like to work with the glass to see what looks best together. Once I have the design taped down, I play with glass colors like this. The colors on the top are too harsh. The ones on the bottom are softer and much more appealing to me, so I went with those.



(Click each to enlarge)


 

Deciding on colors for the quilt:


(Click to enlarge)

A big part of my process is printing out the design small and using it to play with a few different things: color, value, and andamento (the visual flow of the mosaic that is produced by how the glass is cut and how it is placed in the design). In this one, I worked on color and value:

On this one, I worked out how I wanted the reindeers’ blankets to be designed. I sometimes tweak a design at this stage, too; for instance, here I decided the tongue needed to be shorter.

In this example, I’m working out the andamento in the cat, the guitar, their clothing, and their faces. You can see the direction lines of how the glass will be laid, as well as shapes of the cuts.



 

In progress, working with my guides:



(Click each to enlarge)

The biggest part of making this book was to be able to include my family in it. I worked from photos of my husband, myself, our son, and our cat. My husband posed for all of the pages he was featured in and even posed for some of Santa’s body positions, so I could get them just right.








 

The process of creating our cat, Raymi:



Sometimes I wouldn’t have a photo of Raymi that matched what I wanted her to be doing, so I’d do a very extensive search online for a cat in the pose I wanted. Then I’d adapt it to her colors and markings.




When I finished all 15 of the mosaics, there were changes to be made. Some were minor, but others were huge. The interesting thing is that by the time I got to the final mosaic, it had been four years since I started and my technique had changed and improved. I needed the earlier mosaics to match the quality and style of the later ones. In this mosaic, I changed the wall from dark random pieces of glass to lighter, straight cut pieces and added a darker frame around the mosaic on the wall. Much better!



 

This one went through a lot of revisions:



(Click each to enlarge)

Other changes were a matter of aesthetics. I originally did the house grey, because I wanted it to be personal to us and our house is grey. It just looked so dull against the snow, so I changed it to brick. It was an additional 17 hours to change — but worth it.



(Click each to enlarge)

This change was a necessity – I had made Santa’s bag green in the fifth mosaic, but when I got to the ninth mosaic, I realized it wasn’t going to work, because the green bag was sitting right in front of the Christmas tree and was disappearing. This is downside to not planning out all of the designs in advance. So, I had to re-do the bag in both mosaics.



(Click each to enlarge)

Sometimes I’d get partway through an area, only to realize the colors weren’t working. Fortunately, I didn’t get too far before I decided this one didn’t work for me.



(Click each to enlarge)

Finally, I’m satisfied with the mosaics but there is still a lot to do. I have to cut the boards, attach hanging hardware, transfer the mosaics to the boards, grout them, finish the edges, and paint the backs. When I went to attach the mosaics to the boards, I found that they were too floppy and unmanageable, so I had to first apply glue to the backs of the mosaics and let them dry so that hey’d be rigid enough for me to hold onto without all the pieces of glass falling off.


(Click to enlarge)

Once they were glued to the boards, my favorite part was next, filling in all those gaps with grout. I spread the grout all over the mosaic and then wipe off the surface so that only the grout in between the glass remains.


(Click to enlarge)

I love grouting and seeing how the mosaic changes, how it becomes cohesive and complete — and even softens the mosaic. Here is a detail from one of the mosaics, before and after grouting.



(Click each to enlarge)

One of the last steps is finishing the edges of the mosaics with thinset to match the grout. [Ed. Note: This is pictured above in the photo of Christine that opens this post.]

I did it! Thanks so much for reading about my process.




Finished mosaics
(Click each to enlarge)


 

All images are copyright © 2013 by Christine Brailler and used by her permission.

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

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) The girls are off from school for the holidays, and this always means more time to read together. We’re reading a handful of good novels right now.

2) I’ve graduated to Level Two in my piano lessons, meaning book two in the course I’m using. My teacher would veer from book one an awful lot in order to let me do what I wanted, so it’s been a while with book one, but now I’m moving on. It feels good to “graduate.”

3) I so super bad wish I could see this show.

4) Last Tango in Halifax.

5) A kicker shared his writing with me, and it was a pleasure to read it.

6) Last weekend we saw a stage production of A Christmas Carol, and it fake-snowed on us inside the theater at the end. (Well, it only snowed on some rows, so we had extra-great seats.)

7) My husband was in Portland this past week and snapped this picture of our book in Powell’s. That was fun to see.



 

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #411: Featuring Christine Brailler, last added: 12/21/2014
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22. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #413: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Esther Lui


Crazy Like a Fox, 2014


 

It’s the first Sunday of the month—the first one of 2015, of course, and Happy New Year to all!—which means a student or debut illustrator here at 7-Imp. Today, I’ve got a recent graduate. Her name is Esther Lui, her website is here, and she’s here to tell us a bit about her work, as well as share some art.

I thank her for visiting. Oh, and she does comics, too! (This one will take care of my nightmares for a while. HOO HA.)


Circus, 2014

Esther: Hi! I’m Esther Lui. I graduated with a degree in Illustration from RISD last May and am currently working as a textile designer and illustrator in my hometown of Philadelphia.

When I was little, I spent all of my spare time reading. I think at one point I was going through ten books a week! That’s where my love of narrative started. But rather than writing, I ended up expressing my own stories through pictures instead.


Llama Wrangler!, 2013

Because I view a lot of my illustrations as stand-alone stories, I try to fit in as much detail as possible. That way, the viewer can really get immersed in the world I created and wonder about what the characters are like and what’s going to happen to them.

I usually work with a mix of traditional and digital media techniques. I like the physicality of a drawing on paper, and on the computer I can freely experiment with different colors and textures. It’s a good fit for me, because I don’t like having a messy palette.


Dirty Secrets, 2013


 

Right now, I’m working on some personal projects of stories that I’ve wanted to work on for a while. I really enjoy the process of it, because sometimes in the middle, the piece will take a very different direction that what I first intended – and it becomes even better as a result!

 


The Herbarium, 2013


 


The Magnolia Room, 2013


 


Summer Flowers, 2013


 


What Liesel Thinks of Horses, 2014


 


Cover illustration for Ray Bradbury’s “All Summer in a Day,” 2014


 

All artwork here is used by permission of Esther Lui.

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) We didn’t watch Fargo, the T.V. series, when it first came out this year, but I kept seeing it on year-end best-of lists (from critics I trust), so we watched it. And boy howdy, is it good — especially the acting.

2) I can’t get over how good this song from Blake Mills is:

3) Finishing this book with my girls:

4) Finishing a galley with my girls of Jeanne Birdsall’s The Penderwicks in Spring (coming in March).

4½) The girls wanted to RE-READ the Penderwick books, one to three, before starting the galley AND they had never read the Joey Pigza books (though I had) AND the one pictured above was the last Joey book, as I understand it, so it was a lot of Joey and a lot of the Penderwicks for the past month or so AND this was a good, good thing.

5) I’m reading Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See, and that man can turn. a. phrase.

6) I knew that Kate Berube, once featured here at 7-Imp as an up-and-coming illustrator, had a good year, but I was extra-happy to see on Facebook that she landed four book contracts this year. Given that one of her 2014 resolutions was to get one book contract, I’d say she’s doing well! Congratulations to her!

7) I got to see friends visiting town for the holidays (including Eisha, who co-founded 7-Imp with me back in the day). This was lovely.

BONUS #1: At the time of this writing, it’s 29 days and 9 hours till the ALA Youth Media Awards!

BONUS #2: Llama-wranglers!

 

What are YOUR kicks this week?

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23. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #414: Featuring April Pulley Sayre


“Raindrops reflect.”
(Click to enlarge slightly)

I’m having a very BookPage week here at 7-Imp. (There was this post and then this post.)

One more today! I reviewed April Pulley Sayre’s newest picture book, Raindrops Roll. That review is here, and today I’ve got some spreads from this beautiful book.

Enjoy.

 


“Rain is coming. You can feel it in the air.”
(Click to enlarge)


“Rain waters … and washes … and weighs down.”
(Click to enlarge)



 

RAINDROPS ROLL. Copyright © 2015 by April Pulley Sayre. Published by Beach Lane Books, New York. All images here are reproduced by permission of April Pulley Sayre.

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 really thoughtful surprise for my girls from a friend.

2) An anniversary.

3) Birdman.

4) Finishing a writing assignment. Here’s hoping it’s well-received!

5) Spiked shakes.

6) Mailbox letters from friends.

7) Good stationery.

 

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #414: Featuring April Pulley Sayre, last added: 1/11/2015
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24. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #415: Featuring Steven Weinberg

Every now and then here at 7-Imp, I like to link back to this 2008 post I wrote with my friend and librarian extraordinaire (and current Caldecott committee member!) Adrienne Furness, and I always like to add books to our Straight Talk About the Food Chain bibliography. (There’s no actual bibliography — just one in my head.) Rex Finds an Egg! Egg! Egg!—the debut picture book from Steven Weinberg, who is visiting 7-Imp today—would be a great addition to the list. The book will be on shelves in late February from Margaret K. McElderry Books.

The story is of a very energetic young dinosaur, who thinks he’s found an egg. You can see his reaction pictured below. He runs for his life in the next moment, because a volcano has just exploded. Rather he does this: “Run. Run! RUN!” (The wonderfully spastic text is filled with a lot of these monosyllabic moments.) Rex takes his discovery and attempts to find a quiet spot, but there are many obstacles in his way: A cliff and other dinosaurs (including a pterodactyl). Look closely at his surroundings, and you’re likely to see another volcano, ready to blow up and out. (This is the Mesozoic Era after all. Things were probably very rarely quiet and soothing.)

After one particularly active explosion, his “egg” flies away. When it lands and doesn’t break, he discovers—thanks to another smaller dinosaur who’s been following his trail all the while—it’s really a rock. And then comes the kicker, the funny, rather twisted, and deliciously dark ending, which … well, I’M SORRY, but I can’t give it away if you want to read this for yourself. (This isn’t a review blog, so dems the breaks, and I don’t want to spoil your reading experience.) The key word above is “deliciously.” A dinosaur’s gotta eat.

This is a funny story, especially that ending. (Just when you think you’re reading yet one more picture book about a happily-ever-after friendship, Weinberg throws you a curve ball.) And Rex is a lovable protagonist (despite the ending). He isn’t the sharpest tool in the tool box, but he has an infectious and rambunctious energy. Weinberg’s lines are relaxed, and his palette is eye-opening, to say the least. “Using garish colors and a thick, red crayon for the scribbly linework,” the Kirkus review writes, “Weinberg crafts a mad cartoonist’s vision of a prehistoric setting that, seemingly on the verge of shaking apart at any moment, ratchets Rex’s flight into a giddy scramble.”

Steven is visiting this morning to talk about his work (in his own words) and share some art and preliminary images. I thank him for visiting (and I can’t wait to see what he does next)!


Steven in the studio
(Click to enlarge)


 

On Debuting a Picture Book …


 

It’s really exciting to think this book began somewhere on my many trips to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, growing up in D.C. I loved staring up at the dinosaur skeletons and those murals where, magically, every living thing happens to be out at that exact same moment. Flash forward twenty-some years to me in my studio having the idea for Rex.

 



 

Through all the drafts of writing and drawing, I’ve had my agent Marcia Wernick (Wernick & Pratt), editor Ruta Rimas, and designer Lauren Rille at Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster) helping me shape it all. They’re an all-star team. So basically, having this as my debut picture book is kind of a blur. A really really really exciting blur.


“First first first sketch of opening spread …”
(Click to enlarge)



 


“First go at final art. [It] pretty much stayed the same all the way through.”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“The kind of notes that editor Ruta and I made on the first dummy of the sketches.”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“And at some point, months and months later, I made the final.”
(Click to enlarge)


 

On Other Work …


 

Up until now, I’ve been a real jack-of-all trades illustrator. For one reason or another, I’ve ended up doing a lot of work for bars: murals, posters for events, tee shirts, and even hand-painting their signs.

I moved up to the Catskills from Brooklyn just over a year ago with my wife, Casey Scieszka. We opened the Spruceton Inn [pictured below], a nine-room inn with a bar. Casey really runs all of that, day-to-day, while I work on new books and such. Though I have discovered I’m something of a carpenter! I built our bar and the booth in there, plus a whole lot of tables, all from reclaimed wood in our barn.


(Click to enlarge)


 

Since moving up here, I’ve also been doing a weekly (often animated) cartoon all about being a Brooklyn-artist-turned-Catskills-artist for the art site hyperallergic.com.

 



 

That’s been a really fun way to keep track of this crazy move and make sure I never stop drawing. Here’s my most recent one all about a recent trip to Montreal with some restauranteur friends.

 



 

And I’ve been watercolor-painting up a storm since moving to the mountains. I have great views right from my studio and will be showing a bunch of these down in NYC next month.


(Click to enlarge)


 

On Influences …


 

I really like cartoons. And still cannot get enough of The Simpsons and anything Looney Tunes. I love the dynamism of all that and love the challenge of getting picture books (which of course are inherently static) to feel like they have the same amount of energy.

I also lucked out, and my mom is a children’s librarian. So, growing up, I remember spending hours in libraries and then getting to take home as many picture books as I wanted. I loved eating up new books and also making my parents re-read and re-read books, like Judith Viorst’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. (I’m the middle kid, so there’s a lot to be terrible about.)

 



 

I also happen to have a pretty cool father-in-law: Jon Scieszka. He’s been a huge supporter of Rex from the get-go. My jaw is still kind of dropped from the first time I showed him a dummy of Rex, and he said “Dammit! I wish I’d thought of this!” He’s also a good check on making sure everything I do has the kind of manic energy I would have wanted as a kid.

 

On What’s Next …


 

I’m finishing up final art for my next book with Simon & Schuster, called You Must Be This Tall. It’s the classic story of two snakes who want to ride a roller coaster, but one of them isn’t tall enough. As someone who grew up as a younger brother, it’s a concept near and dear to my heart. That one will come out next Spring, and then they have me for another one after that too.



 

Rex is officially out on February 24th, and I’m just really excited to get out and start doing events for it from then on. It’s really fun to write and draw books in my studio — but even more fun to read the final product with kids. I’m also really pretty good at drawing dinosaurs, so I kind of can’t wait to just go to schools and see how long I can just draw dinos on command.

You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram as @Steven_Draws. And most everything else is on my site at StevenWeinbergStudio.com.

Here are more images from Rex:


“First go at the underwater spread. Thought it could be best at two moments.”
(Click to enlarge)



 


“Then, realizing it could be a great moment to slow things down and show off the underwater world, I re-did it as one spread. (Not shown: time spent watching underwater dinosaur documentaries on YouTube
and sketching these insane looking guys from that.)”

(Click to enlarge)


 


“The final ….”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“First go [of pterodactyl spread].
Have action going right to left, which is a little counterintuitive.”

(Click to enlarge)


 


“The final. (Changed the orientation and made the pterodactyl bigger and
more dramatic. Just more fun fun fun.)”

(Click to enlarge)


 

REX FINDS AN EGG! EGG! EGG! Copyright © 2015 by Steven Weinberg. Margaret K. McElderry Books, New York. All images here are reproduced by permission of Steven Weinberg.

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 very funny.

2) Last week, I wrote that I had submitted an essay I hoped would be well-received. It was well-received! Whew.

3) A weekend (this one) with no big plans and pretty much no busy-ness.

4) I’ll be speaking at this event at the Nashville Public Library (but hosted by Parnassus Books) this week. I’m looking forward to it.

5) Oh, and I’ll be doing a Twitter chat about Caldecott contenders on Tuesday, January 27, at 7:30pm with the librarians at Metro Nashville Public Schools. I’m excited about that too, because as I’ve said before here at 7-Imp, school librarians are my jam.

6) A surprise copy of Uptown Special sitting on my desk on Monday morning. “Don’t believe me just watch.” (Here’s where I’d post a video of me, I dunno, dancing or something, but I don’t have the smooth moves for that great song. I just sort of balter when it comes on.)

7) These words of wisdom. (Just say no to small talk.)

 

What are YOUR kicks this week?

8 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #415: Featuring Steven Weinberg, last added: 1/18/2015
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25. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #416: Featuring Peter Carnavas



 

Today’s picture book is an import. Peter Carnavas’ Jessica’s Box was initially published in Australia back in 2008, but Kane Miller will bring it to U.S. shelves in March.

When we first meet Jessica, her mind is racing. It’s “too busy for sleep. Her thoughts were already with tomorrow.” And that’s because tomorrow will be her first day of school, and she’s eager to make new friends. When she shows up, she brings with her a big cardboard box. By lunchtime, though her box is neglected at first, curious children gather ’round, and Jessica reaches into her box to pull out a stuffed toy bear. The reaction Jessica wants isn’t exactly the one she’s met with: Some students laugh at her, and others ignore her. The next day, Jessica brings cupcakes. Needless to say, the treats are met with enthusiasm, but they’re consumed and forgotten. “Not even a thank you?” Jessica wonders.

Jessica keeps trying, yet she reaches the point of mild despair: “She just wanted to disappear.” So, she puts the box on her head one day. And a boy approaches and befriends her; he thinks she’s playing hide-and-seek. Later at home, when she tells her family she’s finally made a friend, her Grandpa says, “You must have had something very special in your box today.” Jessica smiles and responds, “I did.” (I read this at a bookstore story time yesterday—the story really seemed to get everyone’s attention—and found myself asking the children, “what was in her box?” “Her head,” one child said, which made me laugh.)

I love this sweet, but never saccharine, tale. Jessica’s family at home is warm and loving, yet they never coddle or overprotect her, letting her come to realizations about friendship on her own. In one particularly lovely spread, it was “Dad’s turn to talk to Jessica that night,” and the next illustration shows them outside together (Jessica on his shoulders), just looking into the sky: “They didn’t say very much.” Sometimes silence is best.

And, as you can see from the illustrations (which are somewhat reminiscent to me of the artwork of Ole Könnecke), rendered with a sunny, warm palette, Jessica is in a wheelchair. Yet the story isn’t some huge “issue” story about her having to overcome her disability or some such. Her lack of friends has nothing to do, in fact, with that, and never once does her wheelchair come up in conversation. I suppose one could argue that is why she’s nervous about school, but many children do, indeed, get apprehensive about the first day, wheelchair or not.

This one’s a gentle story, quiet and wise. It’s a keeper.



JESSICA’S BOX. First American Edition 2015. Text and illustrations © 2008 Peter Carnavas. Published by Kane Miller, Tulsa, OK. Illustration 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) I forced this song I heard this week on all my music-lovin’ friends, because I immediately fell in love with it (and only listened to it about seven HUNDRED times).

2) New music from Laura Marling:

3) I don’t normally re-watch TV shows, but we re-watched season two of House of Cards, because season three will be here soon. And it’s so good. And on my second watch, I saw all new things to appreciate about the direction of and writing and acting in this show.

4) This panel discussion this past week went well, and it was wonderful to talk about this topic with Sharon Draper.

5) Thoughtful gifts from thoughtful friends.

6) A story time yesterday with very responsive children and their parents — and some great, brand-new picture books, including Jessica’s Box, which everyone seemed to really like.

7) The ALA Youth Media Awards will be announced a week from tomorrow!

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #416: Featuring Peter Carnavas, last added: 1/26/2015
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