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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 #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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2. 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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3. 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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4. 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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5. 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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6. 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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7. 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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8. 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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9. 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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10. 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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11. 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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12. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #382: Featuring Marianne Dubuc

Hi, dear Imps. I’m going to be brief today. I’m actually typing this on Thursday night, since I’m heading out of town to a) see my nephew graduate from high school (I’m already teary-eyed about this, and I’m not even at the ceremony yet), and b) someone I used to babysit is all grown-up and I’m heading to her wedding. (Ditto on the tears.)

So, I’ll be skipping my kicks, though I always enjoy reading yours, so please do share. I do, however, have some art for you.

I’ve previously featured the work of Canadian author-illustrator Marianne Dubuc at 7-Imp — here and here. Her newest book, The Lion and the Bird (Enchanted Lion, May 2014), is a tender and moving story of friendship, first published in French in 2013 and translated by Claudia Z. Bedrick (intrepid leader of Enchanted Lion and possessor of exquisite taste). Maria Popova over at Brain Pickings writes that this book is an “ode to life’s moments between the words.” Oh, how I love that and wish I’d written it. That captures the book well. (You can read her entire post, also art-filled, about the book here, if you’re so inclined. She describes the book so wonderfully.)

The story is about a lion, who lives alone and one day finds a wounded bird. After nursing the bird lovingly, they become friends, and the bird stays on. Their friendship grows, but when Spring comes, Lion knows the bird must fly away. Lion adjusts to his loneliness, and then the following Winter, the bird returns.

But, as Popova notes in her piece, there’s so much to discover in the book’s artwork and the expert pacing of the story. I remember reading once in a theatre text in college that a play is interrupted silence. (I think it was a quote from a French playwright? I really should look this up.) Well, this story is interrupted silence. Dubuc does wonders here, not rushing the story, letting it breathe, inviting in child readers to be with Lion as he adjusts to his loneliness and melancholy after Bird leaves, as time marches on. A lot of the gentle pacing comes from Dubuc’s use of white space. (“White space—sometimes whole pages—speaks its own language of loss and hope,” writes the Kirkus review.) For instance, here’s very simply how we know that Bird has returned:

Even that tiny musical note is on the right side of a giant white double-page spread, and the page before that is white, too. Dubuc lets silence speak a lot here.

There’s a lot of emotion, Dubuc conveying a great deal with her soft lines and warm palette. So much that is left unstated is conveyed in the expressive faces, if not in very economical words. “Yes, I know” is all that Lion says to Bird, as you can see below, when he realizes that Bird must fly away for Spring, and after his friend leaves, Dubuc merely writes: “And so it goes. Sometimes life is like that.” The story sings with an earnestness that is never too loud or trying too hard. It’s simply lovely.

Here’s some more art. Enjoy.


(Click to enlarge slightly)






“The snow is cold and icy, but you’re snug and warm.”
(Click to enlarge)


“It snows and snows.”
(Click to enlarge)




That’s it for the art, but don’t toss and turn, worrying about Lion. Remember the illustration that opens this post? Yeah. That. They are reunited.

THE LION AND THE BIRD. Copyright © 2013 by Marianne Dubuc. First American edition © 2014 by Enchanted Lion Books, Brooklyn, NY. Images 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 * * *

Again, my apologies that I’m not kickin’ today, but as you read this, I’m heading back home.

But do tell: What are YOUR kicks this week?

12 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #382: Featuring Marianne Dubuc, last added: 5/19/2014
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13. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #383: Featuring David Soman


“And Mama Bear, being a mother, looked at each one of her three little bears,
hugged them all very, very tight, kissed the tops of their furry heads,
and forgave them. Then she brought them inside for a warm supper.”

(Click to enlarge)


 

Now, wouldn’t this have been the perfect post for Mother’s Day a couple Sundays back? Too bad I always do everything backwards.

This is art from David Soman’s Three Bears in a Boat, released just this past week by Dial Books for Young Readers. I reviewed this for BookPage, so if you want to read all about it, that link is here. I wanted to be sure to follow up with art. My very favorite illustration from the book is below, too.

Enjoy!


“Charlie and Theo smiled. And so just like that, the sly bears slide their into the sea and set sail. Their sail flew open like a wing, and the boat flashed across the water. Dotting the sea around their home were many other bears in boats.
Surely one of them would know where they could find a blue seashell.”

(Click to enlarge and see the full spread and the text)



“But the bears on the first boat did not have any idea where to look. The bears in the second boat were a little confused. And the bears in the third boat seemed a bit busy.”
(Click either image to see the spread in its entirety with the text)


“They sailed until the island rose in a hump before them,
and began to search for the seashell.”

(Click to enlarge)


“Mama was waiting for them. ‘I’m sorry I broke your shell,’ said Theo. ‘Me too,’
said Dash. ‘Me three,’ said Charlie. ‘But look what we found for you!’
Dash held up the beautiful new shell.”

(Click to enlarge)



 

THREE BEARS IN A BOAT. Copyright © 2014 by David Soman. Published by Dial Books for Young Readers, 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 * * *

1) Last weekend I saw my super cool nephew graduate from high school, and I saw a girl I used to babysit get married. MARRIED, I tell you. Time marches on.

I wasn’t sure I’d be able to stop by Knoxville’s Children’s Festival of Reading, but fortunately I did have time after all. I had a Zachariah OHora sighting (no, that’s not the ghost of Shel Silverstein) …

… and I got to hear (pictured left to right) Zachariah, Toni Buzzeo, Jessica Young, Andrea Davis Pinkney, and Brian Pinkney discuss picture books:


(Click to enlarge)

2) I have been wearing out St. Vincent’s new CD, because it is very, very good.

3) This week Neko Case told someone not to “Peggy-Olson” her.

4) Teachers who get it.

5) I got an F&G of Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen’s new picture book, Sam and Dave Dig a Hole (not out till October). I see so many picture books every week that it’s such a treat to see ones like this — funny and clever and one to pore over.

I hope to post about it closer to its release. I won’t be able to help myself. It’s a really wonderful book.

6) My daughters and I are reading some great novels aloud together.

7) School is very close to being out, so we’ll be reading even more.

BONUS: Thoughtful surprises from thoughtful friends in the mail.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #383: Featuring David Soman, last added: 5/26/2014
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14. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #386: Featuring Brian Floca


(Click to enlarge)


“The seal’s coat was silvery brown. She was eight feet long—as long as a long surfboard—and she weighed twelve hundred pounds — as much as fifteen Labrador retrievers. The people of Christchurch knew there was something very special about her. She was strong and powerful and regal — like Elizabeth, the Queen of England. And so they named her, Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas.”
(Click to enlarge)


 

Good morning, all. First up, it’s Father’s Day, so happy Father’s Day to you dad-readers out there. And happy Father’s Day to all the father figures in our lives. (It just so happens that I wrote here on Friday about some great picture books about fathers — and even some grandfathers can be spotted in some of those pages.)

This morning, Caldecott medalist Brian Floca is sharing some sketches from his latest illustrated book, Lynne Cox’s Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas (Schwartz & Wade, May 2014), and I’ve got some art from the book as well. And, since Atheneum Books for Young Readers just re-issued (in early June) Brian’s Five Trucks (pictured left), originally released back in 1999 by DK Publishing, I’ve got some art from that as well. And Brian has some early sketches from that book to share, too.

Lynne’s Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas opens with an Author’s Note about how Lynne once traveled to New Zealand (she is a world-renowned long-distance swimmer and writer and headed there to swim some lakes near Mount Cook), and it was there that she met a boy named Michael, standing along the Avon River near the city of Christchurch, who asked her if she was looking for Elizabeth. When she asked who it was that they meant, the boy explained that Elizabeth was an elephant seal, and both the boy and his sister told Lynne the story of the “Queen of the Seas.”

That story is the tale of this sunny picture book: Elizabeth lived not on the beach in New Zealand, but in the shallow waters of the Avon River in the city. The townsfolk named her after the Queen of England, and a young boy (named Michael, of course!) would frequently look for her and call out her name. Often, she’d manage to hoist herself up onto the road in town, Lynne writes, which caused great consternation for residents, as she’d already caused a traffic mishap or two. Volunteers decided to haul her out to the beach, where she belonged. Eventually, she returned, only to be taken back to the shore yet again by a boat crew. Yet she made the long journey back, once again, to the Avon River.

Floca’s palette, as you can see below after the sketches (as well as above), consists of warm greens, blues, and yellows, and Lynne’s storytelling is just as bright — it’s an entertaining story (and even closes with “Some Facts About Southern Elephant Seals Like Elizabeth”). It’s a loving story of community, and it’s also funny: As Sarah Harrison Smith wrote at the New York Times, “there’s something inherently funny in seeing commuters gawp and swerve around the huge, regal mammal.”

Five Trucks is, essentially, an informational book for children (calling all those children, boys and girls alike, who obsess over things that go vroom!) that describes the five airport vehicles typically seen on runways. Floca brings readers a diverse crew of men and women who work the trucks, and the spare, simple text makes this one a great beginning reader: “Floca offers a book that’s simple enough for a two-year-old (prime age for the young truck enthusiast), without being boring or simple-minded,” wrote Booklist.

Below are sketches and some final art from each book. Enjoy …

 

Some sketches from Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas:


 
















 



(Click either image to see sketch in its entirety)


 



(Click either image to see sketch in its entirety)


 




(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 



(Click either image to see sketch in its entirety)


 



(Click either image to see sketch in its entirety)


 



 




Various “welcome home” sketches
(Click each to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 



Endpaper ideas
(Click second image to enlarge)


 

Some final art from Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas:


 



(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


 



(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


 

Some sketches from Five Trucks:


 


Brian: “A sketchbook drawing of airport trucks, done when I got to Logan too early
for a flight in 1996 (!) and the genesis of the book.”

(Click to enlarge)





Brian: “Some photos of airport workings that I took when I got onto the tarmac at Logan to get some reference for the drawings. (In 1996, all you had to do to get on the tarmac with a camera and questions was find the right person,
explain your intentions, and ask.)”


 


Storyboard
(Click to enlarge)



 


(Click to enlarge)


 


Brian: “A sketch showing the fuel truck, [which didn't make] the cut (too few pages) …”
(Click to enlarge)


 



Sketches from an early draft of the book
(Click each to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


Brian: “A sketch for the new cover …”
(Click to enlarge)


 

Some final art from Five Trucks:


 



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ELIZABETH, QUEEN OF THE SEAS. Copyright © 2014 by Lynne Cox. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Brian Floca. Published by Schwartz & Wade Books, New York. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, and all sketches reproduced by permission of Brian Floca.

FIVE TRUCKS. Copyright © 1999 by Brian Floca. 2014 edition published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, and all sketches reproduced by permission of Brian Floca.

* * * * * * *

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) Right here, author David Sedaris says the following about bookstores:

Maybe I’m out of touch, but I’d rather go to an actual shop — preferably a small one — than to a harshly lit superstore, or, worse still, a website. I don’t want to buy my books and my toilet paper and my clothing all under the same roof. I want beauty in my life. I want charm. I want contact with actual people. It is, for me, a large part of what makes life worth living.

2) This:



 

Oh, the great WHIMSY. But I fall for it very hard, especially those lyrics.

3) Thus far, it’s been an absolute pleasure to read this prose outloud to my daughters, and we’re getting to the juicy-good parts:

4) Ditto for this. (We’re reading about four novels at once right now. Probably a bad habit.) This isn’t new, and it took us a while to get to it, but heavens, it is fun to read aloud:

This made me laugh, especially since Eisha always says my middle name is Hyperbole. It comes right after a pretty annoying adult excessively flatters the Incorrigibles at a party (with regard to their appearance):

As you may know, complimentary remarks of this type are all too often made by well-meaning adults to children who are, to be frank, perfectly ordinary-looking. This practice of overstating the case is called hyperbole. Hyperbole is usually harmless, but in some cases it has been known to precipitate unnecessary wars as well as a painful gaseous condition called stock market bubbles. For safety’s sake, then, hyperbole should be used with restraint and only by those with the proper literary training.

5) We’re watching season two of Orange Is the New Black. I thought season one was good, but season two … well, it’s remarkable. I am struck at each episode by all that Jenji Kohan gets away with. (This is a good thing.) And I am struck by how she has made so popular a show that tells the stories of underprivileged, incarcerated women, who are black, white, and about every other shade in between — and she pulls this off in a culture that seems most of the time to value young, white, middle- to upper-class, size-two women.

6) Oh, and I’m reading this right now. More on this book soon, but it’s definitely a kick:

7) I’m sorry if I sound like Annoying Braggy Parent here, but I love love love the simple design here of my ten-year-old’s ninja cat:

BONUS (and best kick) for Father’s Day: My husband. My girls are very lucky to have him for a father.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #386: Featuring Brian Floca, last added: 6/16/2014
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15. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #387: Featuring Kazuno Kohara

Have any of you seen Kazuno Kohara’s newest picture book, The Midnight Library (Roaring Brook, June 2014)?

I’m taken with it, and I love to see her linocut illustrations.

I reviewed The Midnight Library here for BookPage. So, if you’d like to read more about the book, you can head over there.

Today I’m following up with some illustrations from the book. The one pictured here to the left is toward the end of the book when the little librarian and her owls head upstairs to read one last book before bedtime.

And below is a bit more art.

Enjoy …

 


“Once there was a library that opened only at night.
A little librarian worked there with her three assistant owls.”

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(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


 


“A book of bedtime stories for three sleepy owls. Sleep tight!”
(Click to enlarge slightly)


 



 

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY. Copyright © 2014 by Kazuno Kohara. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Roaring Brook, 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 * * *

You’ll have to forgive me for not listing seven, separate kicks here, but I’ve got a stack of great books I’m reading (and I’m eager to start this new one from Gregory Maguire), so my one big kick is: Good books. And that, just like the little librarian, I’m going to go get comfy and read.

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

9 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #387: Featuring Kazuno Kohara, last added: 6/23/2014
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16. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #389: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Brooke Boynton Hughes


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It’s the first Sunday of the month, which means a student or just-starting-out illustrator here at 7-Imp. Today, I welcome Brooke Boynton Hughes, who has already illustrated one children’s book and is working on a handful of others now but is still relatively new to the field. It’s a pleasure to share some of her artwork today. Let’s get right to it, especially since Brooke gives us a few words of introduction.

Brooke: I’ve wanted to illustrate children’s books ever since I was little. When other kids my age were moving on to middle-grade books, I was still poring over picture books. I loved reading, but I was especially enthralled by visual storytelling. As a kid, I spent a lot of time drawing and becoming engrossed in whatever visual world I was into at the time. There were a couple of years where I drew almost nothing except for tree houses, and there was the year of underground rabbit houses. The imagined worlds that I created in my drawings felt really real to me. I guess I loved, and still love, residing in imagined worlds.


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I attended Colorado State University where I earned a BFA in printmaking. In 2006, I received an MFA in figurative art from the New York Academy of Art. I concentrated on drawing and relief printmaking and made a lot of woodcuts that focused on folktales. Today, I use pen and ink and watercolor on Arches 140lb hot press watercolor paper to create my illustrations.


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In 2005, while still in grad school, I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and began attending their conferences. I’ve learned so much from SCBWI and have met most of my close friends at SCBWI conferences.

This summer I’ve been working on putting the finishing touches on Baby Love, written by Angela DiTerlizzi and published by Beach Lane Books. Baby Love [pictured below] will come out next Spring.


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I’ve started on the illustrations for the second book in a middle-grade series, called Cupcake Cousins. The first Cupcake Cousins book, written by Kate Hannigan and published by Disney-Hyperion, came out at the beginning of May. I’m starting on the illustrations for a picture book titled MORE!, written by Linda Ashman and published by Random House. I’m also working on two book dummies of my own stories and am getting ready for this year’s SCBWI Summer Conference.

Some of my favorite books when I was little were The Little Moon Theatre by Irene Haas, Where’s Wallace by Hilary Knight, The Clown of God by Tomie DePaola, and The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher by Molly Bang. Oh, and I can’t leave out How Tom Beat Captain Najork and His Hired Sportsmen by Russell Hoban and illustrated by Quentin Blake! And just one more: Come Follow Me by Gyo Fujikawa. I spent so much time with that one that the binding broke and the cover fell off.

Thank you so much for sharing my work, Jules!



Jules: Thanks to Brooke for visiting. Because she gave me permission to pull more images from her website, I’d like to share these, too. The last two are my very favorites:


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All images used with permission of Brooke Boynton Hughes.

* * * * * * *

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

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

It was a distressing week in children’s lit, due to the very sad loss of Walter Dean Myers, and it was a distressing week for women’s rights in national news, so let’s work extra hard to find our kicks, shall we?

1) Though it’s challenging to get work done at home (since I always work from home) during the summers, I’m still enjoying more time with my girls — and especially more time for reading with them.

2) Remember how last week I was too tired to even leave kicks from re-organizing stuff in our home (mostly books)? Well, it feels good to be re-organized.

3) I love, in particular, what Sergio Ruzzier has to say in this interview about reading levels and children reading what they want.

4) We’re enjoying this CD:



 

And the cover art is by illustrator Marcellus Hall!

See? Here’s the best song:

 

5) Gelato.

6) Betsy Bird and I launched a website for our upcoming book, where we will share a story a day up until publication — stories, that is, which never made it in the book (but were in earlier drafts). Today’s story includes the best ALA conference photo ever.

7) I’ve lined up a book launch at Parnassus Books in Nashville for the book’s release, but I’ll try to remember to post about the website and the book launch here at 7-Imp tomorrow.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #389: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Brooke Boynton Hughes, last added: 7/6/2014
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17. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #391: Featuring Barbara McClintock


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

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

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

I thank Barbara for sharing …

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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



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

(Click each to enlarge)


 



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

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



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

(Click each to enlarge)


 



Sketches and final art:
“Guess who!”

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


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

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

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

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


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


 


“Studio chaos!”


 






“Inked 1st page spread”


 



 



 


“Cover idea”


 



 


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


 




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


 


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


 


“Coloring”


 


“One of many dummies/revised dummies”


 


“Another dummy”


 


“Three little dummies”


 


“Early napkin sketch of mouse household objects”


 


“Things for Maria’s room”


 


“Cut-out, reassembled drawings for cover”


 






“Early sketchbook drawings”


 


“The end result”


 

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

* * * * * * *

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

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

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

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

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

But do tell: What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #391: Featuring Barbara McClintock, last added: 7/22/2014
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18. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #392: Featuring Zack Rock

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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


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

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

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




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

(Click each to enlarge)

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


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


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


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


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

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


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

(Click to enlarge)

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


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

* * * * * * *

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

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #392: Featuring Zack Rock, last added: 8/10/2014
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19. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #393: Featuring Christopher Weyant



 

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

The review is here.

Enjoy the art …





 



 

YOU ARE (NOT) SMALL. Text copyright © 2014 by Anna Kang. Illustrations © 2014 by Christopher Weyant. Illustrations used by permission of the publisher, Two Lions, New York.

 

* * * * * * *

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

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) I got to Skype in yesterday to The Book Beat’s special book launch (in Oak Park, Michigan) for the late Peter D. Sieruta, one of my co-authors on Wild Things. Here’s a photo, courtesy of Rhonda Gowler Greene on Twitter, of Betsy (who was there) talking to Video Me at the launch:

 



 

2) Snowpiercer! WHOA. It is very good.

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

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

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

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

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

What are YOUR kicks this week?

6 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #393: Featuring Christopher Weyant, last added: 8/18/2014
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20. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #395: Featuring Bruce Eric Kaplan

Okay, you all. I just gotta write about another Bruce Eric Kaplan picture book, because whenever he writes and illustrates a new one, I’m reminded how wonderfully weird and refreshing they are. I see a lot of picture books on a regular basis, you see, and some of them start to blur together in my vision, but when one of his shows up, I know I’m likely in for a laugh.

Let me back up first. Kaplan is a cartoonist, whose work regularly appears in the The New Yorker, and since he’s known for his darker humor, his picture books have a touch of that as well (which means, of course, I’m going to be drawn to them). Dark humor in picture books is an easy thing to get wrong, though, yet Kaplan hasn’t made a misstep yet. At least, not in my book anyway. His debut picture book was 2010′s Monsters Eat Whiny Children, featured here at 7-Imp, and this was followed last year by Cousin Irv from Mars, which I wrote about here at Kirkus (and followed up here with art).

The new one, Meaniehead, came out in June (Simon & Schuster) and features more of his dark, hyperbolic humor and wry (and wise) observations on childhood. Henry and Eve are siblings who are experiencing an ugly new phase (as you can see above), involving lots of arguing. One day, an argument over an action figure (“There’s nothing sillier than fighting about what belongs to whom, but no kids and even fewer adults know that”) leads to a broken lamp, a wrecked bedroom, and the destruction of the house, the neighborhood, the local toy store, the library, the pizza place, the beauty parlor, the park, and all the town’s buildings, really. After a snack break, the intensive arguing continues until … well, I can’t give it all away, but some Texas football teams get involved …


… and in the end the world explodes.

That’s a Bruce Eric Kaplan book for you. Though you can never expect a moral with his books (thank goodness), there is some remorse, post-apocalypse. Best of all, he seems to really get those intense childhood fights. (My late brother and I grew up to be the best of friends, but boy howdy did we have some doozies when we were younger. I remember an argument over macaroni that is best not discussed.)

MEANIEHEAD. Copyright © 2014 by Bruce Eric Kaplan. Illustrations used by permission of the publisher, Simon & Schuster, 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 might have to listen to this great conversation with poet Marie Howe multiple times. This is excellent on so many levels.

2) I took my girls this weekend to this Coretta Scott King event at the Nashville Public Library, and they got to take writing and art workshops — and I finally got to meet in person R. Gregory Christie.

3) Reading about this smart idea (putting a social worker on staff at a D.C. library to work with homeless patrons) led me to this podcast. It’s from the Dallas Public Library; it’s about homelessness; and it’s hosted by a young man who is himself homeless. I’m on episode three at this point; so far, it’s interesting stuff.

4) It’s lovely to see Dolly Parton’s book program (which is FABULOUS) get some national love and attention.

5) I got a good stack of new novels at the bookstore today. On that note …

6) Bubble bath. Reading. Bye! (Sorry to kick #7.)

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #395: Featuring Bruce Eric Kaplan, last added: 9/2/2014
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21. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #397: Featuring David Biedrzycki

Hello, dear kickers. Today I have some artwork from author-illustrator David Biedrzycki, whose has a brand-new picture book out from Charlesbridge, Breaking News: Bear Alert (Charlesbridge, September 2014). It’s the story—in the style of a breaking-news, this-just-in television report—of two very curious bears who make their way into a busy town. It’s a fun story, and David has a handful of spreads from it to share today, as well as a few early sketches. The Kirkus review for this one notes that David’s Adobe Photoshop illustrations are “bold and playful, appropriately reminiscent of vintage Hanna-Barbera and a good match for the slapstick story,” while the Publishers Weekly review adds that David’s book “comically exploits our cultures of distraction and surveillance.” (They make an excellent point.)

The cover’s so entertaining that I’m opening this post with it, though I normally open with artwork (well, non-cover artwork).

While David’s here, he’s also sharing some other artwork, so let’s get right to it, shall we? To read more about the books from which these images come and more about David and his work, you can visit his site here.


 

Sketches and final art from
Breaking News: Bear Alert
(Charlesbridge, September 2014)

(Click on each piece of final art to enlarge and see in more detail)



 

















 

From the Me and My Dragon books
(Charlesbridge)

(You can click on most of these to enlarge and see in more detail)


 







 

From the Ace Lacewing books
(Charlesbridge)

(Click on each image to enlarge and see in more detail)


 






All artwork is used with permission of David Biedrzycki.

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 weekend with no big plans, which is good for relaxing and reading.

2) Good food and good conversations with friends this week.

3) I love the first song on this First Listen from Shara Worden, who evidently goes by the name My Brightest Diamond. (New to me, but I love all the sounds in that first tune.)

4) You gotta admit this is funny.

5) Picture books are always a kick for me, but I enjoyed two in particular this week: Joyce Sidman’s Winter Bees & Other Poems of the the Cold, illustrated by Rick Allen (see some beautiful spreads here!), and Jen Bryant’s The Right Word: Roget and his Thesaurus, illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Melissa shared some images from that book back in July (here), but this week I saw the hardback. MY GOODNESS, it’s gorgeous.

6) A friend recommended a BBC drama called Happy Valley, and my husband and I watched the whole first season in a few days. (Granted, there are only six episodes. Also I’m a hopeless night owl.) The acting is particularly wonderful, though it’s also intense and difficult to watch in spots.

7) I’m learning a Chopin piece on piano this week.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #397: Featuring David Biedrzycki, last added: 9/14/2014
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22. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #400, 3D-style: FeaturingSusan Eaddy, Maggie Rudy, and Karina Schaapman


Illustrator Susan Eaddy tweezes in an eyelash

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s to 3D art. Let’s get to it …

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


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


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


 



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


 



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


 



 

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



 


The Mouse Mansion
(Click to enlarge)


 


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


 


“Hoisting Time”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“The Bakery”
(Click to enlarge)


 



 

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


 


Figuring out the palette
(Click to enlarge)


 


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


 


Clay palette
(Click to enlarge)


 


Background
(Click to enlarge)


 


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


 


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


 


Laying in the mane, one hair at a time
(Click to enlarge)


 


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

(Click to enlarge)


 


Mama frog before spotting


 


Mama with spots


 


Bare baby
(Click to enlarge)


 


Spotted baby jumping


 


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

(Click to enlarge)


 


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


 


Bunny- and background-building
(Click to enlarge)


 


Final spread (front and back of book)
(Click to enlarge)


 

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

 



 

* * * * * * *

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

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

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

Author photo of Susan Eaddy used by her permission.

* * *

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

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) October.

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

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

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

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

5) My friend. Featured on the local news!

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

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

 


(Poster art created by Cage Free Visual)


 

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #400, 3D-style: FeaturingSusan Eaddy, Maggie Rudy, and Karina Schaapman, last added: 10/5/2014
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23. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #401: Featuring Richard Byrne


(Click to enlarge)

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

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

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

My, what a vicious book!

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

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

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


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge just a little bit)


(Click to enlarge slightly)

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

* * *

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

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

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

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

Best thing about Nashville in the Fall!

What are YOUR kicks this week?

9 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #401: Featuring Richard Byrne, last added: 10/15/2014
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24. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #402: Featuring David Mackintosh


(Click to enlarge)

Happy Sunday, all …

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



(Click second image to see spread in its entirety)


 



(Click second image to see spread in its entirety)


 


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


 

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

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

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

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

2) Some necessary Spring cleaning in Autumn.

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

4) Sleeping in.

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

6) Lattes with honey and cinnamon.

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

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #402: Featuring David Mackintosh, last added: 10/19/2014
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25. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #404: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Olivia Chin Mueller




 

It’s the first Sunday of the month, which means I welcome a student or brand-new illustrator to 7-Imp. Today I welcome Olivia Chin Mueller, who grew up in Connecticut but now lives in California. She recently graduated, as you’ll read below, from Rhode Island School of Design.

You’ll see I had trouble picking which illustration to feature at the very tip-top of this post. The first one, called Beware of the Bird, seemed fitting, since it’s Halloween weekend. But the one under it is called All Summer in a Day, and that’s the title of my very favorite Ray Bradbury short story (which, incidentally, HAUNTED me when I was a child). So, I thought I’d just put both up there.

Olivia is here to introduce herself. She sent me two pieces of art (Haze and the first Perrin piece of art), and she told me I had free reign of the art at her website to share here in this post. So, I chose all the rest you see here. I made sure to include pieces that would be considered more picture book-friendly, but I couldn’t help but also pick some of the other types of images too.

Here’s Olivia, and I thank her for visiting.

Olivia: Hello, everyone! My name is Olivia Chin Mueller, and I am a recent graduate of RISD’s illustration program — and aspiring children’s book illustrator!

 

Self-portrait


 
I always knew I wanted to be an illustrator, but it took me until senior year of college to realize that I wanted to do kids’ books. I took a really great class taught by my teacher, Judy Sue Goodwin Sturges, and since then I knew that was what I wanted to do.

Before then, I didn’t really know where my work fit in. I was making very different stuff then. I still love making those illustrations—like my piece, Haze (pictured below)—but it definitely wasn’t nearly as fun for me.

 



 

I found myself over-rendering and getting lost for hours in the details. I would come away with pieces I loved visually — but also with a giant headache. When I started doing children’s book stuff, I found that I really loved the process. I could be looser with my work and still love the outcome.

The first book I wrote and illustrated was in that senior year class. It was called Perrin and the Peculiar Poppy Pod. I made a book dummy and three finished illustrations. I’m hoping one day someone will like it enough to publish it!

Here is a small excerpt from the book:

“Perrin poked it gingerly, and with a ‘Ping’ the flower pod popped out of the ground and landed by Perrin’s paw. He picked it it up, and one of the purple seeds pattering about inside fell out onto the sandy dirt.”


 



Cover concept


 

I guess I should also talk about how I make my work. Sometimes people can’t tell, but my work is all done digitally. Most people usually think its done with gouache or watercolor, which I guess is a good thing. However, its all done from sketch to finish on Photoshop.

 



 

Right now, I am working on building my portfolio and looking for jobs. I’m hoping soon I will be lucky enough to support myself solely on illustration. But right now I’m relying on income from my Etsy shop and commissions. I’ve also been on the hunt for an artist rep, and things are looking good. I am crossing my fingers things keep on the right track.

So, that’s about it! Thank you so much for featuring my work and letting me ramble on a bit.

 


(Click to enlarge)


 








(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)

All artwork is used by permission of Olivia Chin Mueller.

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

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

My kicks this week are when brand-spankin’-new illustrators, like Olivia, visit the site. (And I wish her the best of luck in her career.)

AND that, after a long day of school-type chores with my girls, we have a brand-new book to read together. So, please forgive me while I go do that with them—instead of listing seven, separate kicks—’cause it’s chilly and windy out, and that would really be the most kickin’ thing of all right now. Cuddling up to read. Ahh.

But I’m countin’ on you all to tell me your kicks, because I always enjoy reading them.

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #404: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Olivia Chin Mueller, last added: 11/2/2014
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