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<<August 2014>>
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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: 7-Imps 7 Kicks, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 173
1. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #393: Featuring Christopher Weyant


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

The review is here.

Enjoy the art …



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


* * * * * * *

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

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

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



2) Snowpiercer! WHOA. It is very good.

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

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

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

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

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

What are YOUR kicks this week?

6 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #393: Featuring Christopher Weyant, last added: 8/18/2014
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2. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #392: Featuring Zack Rock

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Click each to enlarge)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Click to enlarge)

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

(Click to enlarge)

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

* * * * * * *

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

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #392: Featuring Zack Rock, last added: 8/10/2014
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3. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #391: Featuring Barbara McClintock

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

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

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

I thank Barbara for sharing …

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Click to enlarge)

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

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

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

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

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

(Click each to enlarge)


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

(Click each to enlarge)

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

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

(Click each to enlarge)


Sketches and final art:
“Guess who!”

(Click each to enlarge)

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

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

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

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

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

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


“Studio chaos!”


“Inked 1st page spread”




“Cover idea”



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


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


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




“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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4. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #389: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Brooke Boynton Hughes

(Click to enlarge)

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.

(Click to enlarge)

(Click to enlarge)

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.

(Click to enlarge)

(Click to enlarge)

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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.

(Click to enlarge)

(Click to enlarge)

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:

(Click to enlarge)

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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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5. 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.”

(Click to enlarge)


(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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6. 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)


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(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)


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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.)”


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


Brian: “A sketch showing the fuel truck, [which didn't make] the cut (too few pages) …”
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Sketches from an early draft of the book
(Click each to enlarge)


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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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7. 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.


“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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8. 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.”
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“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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9. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #380: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator Elizabeth Lilly

An illustration of Nikki Giovanni’s poem, “Migrations”
Bicycles: Love Poems)


It’s Sunday! It’s Spring! Hurrah!

It’s also the first Sunday of the month, so today I welcome a student illustrator. Her name is Elizabeth Lilly, and she’s here to tell us all about her work, as well as share some of her art.

So, without further ado …

* * *

Elizabeth: When I was a kid, I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I mostly just loved reading, so when I was eight I decided to be a librarian. How great would it be to be surrounded by books every day?

In high school, I was drawing rabbits and animating dancing grapes while my friends were all applying to Ivy League schools, with promising lawyer/doctor-type futures ahead. I applied to be an architect, went to a prestigious architecture program, and was miserable.

Abuelita Gallina (Grandma Chicken)

After two years of crying over elevation drawings and chipboard staircases, I left and transferred to MICA [Maryland Institute College of Art] as an animation major and finally settled in the General Fine Arts department.

Starting over in Baltimore was lonely, but soon I started to feel at home, as I wrote my own stories and made images to go with them. Crumbled brick buildings, rats in the train stations, geese that waddled between gravestones — everything in my new city seemed to swim with stories.

This year, my last year in school, I took my first illustration class, a book illustration class taught by the fantastic Shadra Strickland, and everything made perfect sense. I loved the thrill of telling a story with images, of composing pages, of making words and lines and colors all work together.

Nicaragua Bus
(Click to enlarge)

Now I’m working on a new story about Geraldine Giraffe, who has a hard time fitting in (literally) when her family moves from a giraffe town to a human one. I’m excited to show it to publishers this summer, and I’m working with a friend to make an animated version of the story as well.

Character work
(Click to enlarge)


Thank you, Jules, for featuring my work!

* * *

Be sure to explore Elizabeth’s website, if you’re so inclined. Some of her narrative illustrations have a definite Thacher Hurd vibe. Best of luck to her in her career!

All artwork is used by permission of Elizabeth Lilly.

* * * * * * *

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 Tennessee Renaissance Festival — jousting, lutes, pirates, pixies, and people generally (and gloriously) letting their freak flags fly.

2) The We Need Diverse Books campaign, which launched this past week. One of the best photos/statements I saw is here at author-illustrator Grace Lin’s blog.

3) I presented at the 2014 Tennessee Library Association conference on Friday, which went well, and I got to have breakfast with a dear friend, in town for the conference.

4) This trailer cracks me up, and I love my Jemaine Clement sightings:

5) Tiramisu.

6) Walks in the park.

7) I’m still enjoying The Goldfinch.

Congratulations to Peter Brown on the 2014 Bull-Bransom Award!

What are YOUR kicks this week?

11 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #380: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator Elizabeth Lilly, last added: 5/4/2014
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10. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #377: Featuring Elizabeth Rose Stanton


Good morning, all.

Author/illustrator Elizabeth Rose Stanton visits 7-Imp today to talk about her debut picture book, Henny, which was published by Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster in January. The painting above, called Ignition, is not from that book, but I like it and it makes me laugh.

Henny is the story of a chicken who has arms, and below Elizabeth tells us how she came to this premise, what reactions have been (the creeptacular painting below is my second favorite), and she also tells us a bit about what she’s up to next. I thank her for visiting and for sharing lots of art.

Henny, by the way, is packing her bags and learning her French. Her story will be published in France by Seuil Jeunesse in 2015. Bon voyage, Henny.

Here’s Elizabeth …

Elizabeth: I’m often asked how I thought up the idea of writing a picture book about a chicken with arms.

(Click to enlarge)

It all began a few years ago after a bout of strenuous doodling. I do my best thinking when I’m drawing, and one day I was thinking about (which means I was drawing) birds. What a shame, I thought, that some birds have wings that are relatively useless—birds like ostriches and dodos—when out popped a sketch of a bird with arms. Much more useful, I thought. I found myself getting quite carried away with the idea.

First thoughts about birds with arms

Then I started thinking about chickens. What about a chicken with arms? Much more useful, I thought. I had so much fun imagining what a chicken could do with a pair of arms that, soon after, Henny was born. I became so intrigued that I drew her in every imaginable scenario in every handy medium — from pen and ink to gouache to colored pencil. By the time Henny was published, I had more than a few fat binders and numerous sketchbooks overflowing with her.

Early Henny doodles

Early Henny cover idea

Study sketches for Henny

Then came time for the final art. It happened that Henny was acquired by Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books based on a rough dummy, rendered entirely in pencil, so I had to decide what to use for the final art. Having been trained as an architect and scientific illustrator and having been a portrait artist, I was very used to working in pencil, pen and ink, pastel, and gouache.

Pen and ink, colored pencil

Gouache, colored pencil

Shortly before the book offer, I (serendipitously) inherited a generous supply of watercolors, brushes, and what seemed like an endless supply of watercolor paper from a distant relative. So I thought, why not?

All of the final art for Henny was rendered in pencil and watercolor on cold press watercolor paper.

First rough watercolor sketch of Henny

“Soon Henny begain to imagine all the other things she could do.”
(Click to enlarge)

“She didn’t like being different.”
(Click to enlarge)

“Sometimes Henny followed Mr. Farmer around. He was always very busy.”
(Click to enlarge)

(Click to enlarge)

(Click to enlarge)

So now that it’s been a couple of months since Henny’s book debut and I can step back from it all a little, I have to say how much I am enjoying reading and seeing some of the reactions to my unusual character. Some of the most frequently used words I’ve read in comments and reviews about her are: adorable, weird, funny, lovely, quirky, sweet, and hilarious — and someone even said she was creeptacular.

I just can’t resist drawing Henny as creeptacular:

I love all these observations, because I think it shows there’s a complexity to Henny’s character that’s getting people thinking and feeling on multiple levels.

But I have to say that the most satisfying responses have been from the kids. They seem to take it in stride that Henny was born different. Even if they initially think Henny is a bit odd, by the end of the story her personality seems to win them over.

“… she tried to act natural … and fit in.”

At the moment, I have no plans for a Henny sequel, but I find I just can’t stop drawing and painting her. She’s been such a fun character and, after all, her story is about possibilities and using your imagination …

Henny being regal

Henny, waving like the Queen

Henny in her debut attire


So now, cue the pig:

My next book, also with Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, is Peddles (due out early 2016). Peddles is still in the works, but let’s just say it’s a story about a little pig with some BIG ideas.

(Click to enlarge)

Meanwhile, I’m continuing on with my strenuous doodling. I have a standing goal to draw something everyday and post it. I have to admit I don’t always make it, but I like the challenge and it’s certainly led me to come up with some interesting character and story ideas — so stay tuned.

Sketchbook and some works-in-progress


Character ideas from my sketchbooks:



Beginnings of some story ideas from my sketchbook:


Thanks so much for having me, Jules!

HENNY. Copyright © 2014 by Elizabeth Rose Stanton. Published by Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York. All images here reproduced by permission of Elizabeth Rose Stanton.

* * * * * * *

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) Traveling.

2) Getting home when you’re weary of airports and small talk on planes with extroverts — and when you really want big hugs from your daughters.

3) Big hugs from the daughters.

4) My co-workers (from one of my many contractor jobs and the reason I flew to Massachusetts this week). We work virtually, so meeting up once a year, face to face, is always fun.

5) The I-miss-you notes my eight-year-old snuck in my luggage, which I was supposed to pretend not to see when I was packing.

6) Though I wish they’d let a woman host a major late-night talk show from time to time, COLBERT!

7) I knew that Nickel Creek covered a Sam Phillips’ song on their new CD, but before I even ordered it, Little Willow emailed me a link to it on Grooveshark. (Thanks, LW!) It’s even her Poetry Friday post from this past week.

So gorgeous, this cover, and Sam is such a fabulous songwriter:

Where Is Love Now by Nickel Creek on Grooveshark

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #377: Featuring Elizabeth Rose Stanton, last added: 4/13/2014
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11. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #297: Featuring Edward Hemingway

Here’s an illustration from artist Edward Hemingway’s forthcoming illustrated title, Tiny Pie, written by Mark Bailey and Michael Oatman and coming in May from Running Press Kids.

Edward, who paints with oils on canvas and wood, also saw the release this year of Bad Apple: A Tale of Friendship (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, August 2012), all about an apple and a worm who become good friends — and weather hard times, given the funny looks and mean comments they get for being friends in the first place. (Let us not forget the enduring wisdom of the popular mid-’90s bumper sticker.)

Edward is here today to talk a bit about his books, his paintings, and I also couldn’t resist briefly asking him about his heritage. Yes, he’s Ernest’s grandson.

Let’s get right to it, since Edward shares so many images today. And for that I thank him.

P.S. If you read below, you’ll see that this is a very special day for Edward … (more…)

25 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #297: Featuring Edward Hemingway, last added: 9/25/2012
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12. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #308: Featuringa Moment with Susan Sorrell Hill

The first Sunday of the month is upon us once again (the last 2012 one, at that — GASP), which means I normally feature the work of a student or debut illustrator. I had the latter lined up for today, but it didn’t quite work out in time. This author/illustrator will, most likely, visit next week instead, which is all good and a-okay and all that. I’m easy like Sunday morning (as I told her — and you’re welcome for that Commodores song now on your brain radio).

Know what I have for you today? I’ll be ever-so brief: (more…)

17 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #308: Featuringa Moment with Susan Sorrell Hill, last added: 12/3/2012
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13. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #309: Featuring Melissa Guion

Mrs. Santa

This morning, I welcome new-to-the-field illustrator Melissa Guion. She’s here to share some of her bright, gentle watercolors and talk about her debut title, Baby Penguins Everywhere!, a picture book as much for the parents and teachers of this world as it is for children (as Melissa herself notes below). It tells the story of a lonely penguin, suddenly visited by a gaggle of baby penguins. (Can penguins exist in gaggles? I’m going to pretend they can, even though I think gaggles involve geese.) Finding herself a bit frazzled by all the wee penguins in her care, she comes to understand that she needs a moment’s peace. (Ah, isn’t that the truth if ever the truth was spoken?) She needs, as Publishers Weekly put it in their review, time to recharge, though she comes to appreciate the company of the young penguins, even when it’s chaotic.

I’ll let Melissa tell you more about it — and her work. I certainly look forward to what she brings readers next. Also, please note that Melissa’s online portfolio is here, if you’d like to see more art. (more…)

26 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #309: Featuring Melissa Guion, last added: 12/27/2012
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14. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #310: FeaturingSelina Alko (And a Handful of Other Visitors)

“Mountains of gifts are placed under the tree for eight nights of Hanukkah,
plus Christmas Day. How lucky am I?”

(Click to enlarge spread)

This morning, I welcome author and illustrator Selina Alko to tell us all a bit about her latest picture book, Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama, a story about a family who merges two holiday traditions. Sadie, the young girl narrating the story, has a father who has always celebrated Christmas, a mother who has always celebrated Hanukkah, and they annually combine the traditions of each holiday event in order to teach their daughter about both. Selina—using gouache, collage, and colored pencil, which result in such appealing textures here—lays it all out on the pages of this book with vibrant colors and great joy. She’s here today to share some artwork from the book (sans text), as well as early dummy images, and to tell us the story behind the book.

Toward the end of this post, I’ve also got some holiday illustrations from several illustrators, just ’cause I’m an illustration junkie and couldn’t help it. Let’s get right to it all … (more…)

21 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #310: FeaturingSelina Alko (And a Handful of Other Visitors), last added: 12/31/2012
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15. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #311(New Year’s Edition): Featuring Elisa Kleven

(Click to enlarge)

Instead of featuring a brand-new picture book today or an up-and-coming illustrator, I’ve got artwork from one of my favorite picture book artists, Elisa Kleven.

The new year is upon us, and when I thought about sharing artwork as we edge up on 2013, some art that would buoy our spirits, I immediately thought of her.

Elisa sent me a handful of illustrations, and it was hard to choose which to share (for many reasons, I’m going to keep this post relatively short and sweet this week), but I chose the one above, and these two: (more…)

31 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #311(New Year’s Edition): Featuring Elisa Kleven, last added: 1/2/2013
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16. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #313: Featuring Angela Dominguez


It’s kicks #313 on the 13th in 2013.

Surely that means something?

Ah well. I am declaring it means only good things.

Today at 7-Imp I welcome a debut author/illustrator, named Angela Dominguez (pictured left with Hugo), who is originally from Mexico City but now lives in San Francisco, where she also teaches at the Academy of Art University. Angela’s debut picture book will be released this March from Dial Books. Let’s Go, Hugo! tells the story of a bird who prefers walking to flying. He’s not trying to be different for the sake of it; he’s actually afraid of flying. Not that Dominguez opens the book this way. “Hugo was content to live on the ground,” she writes, but we readers ease into the notion that he’s really beset by fears.

Things change when Hugo meets Lulu, the same day he’s building a model (on the ground, of course) of the Eiffel Tower. When Lulu tells him they can fly to the Eiffel Tower and see the real deal, Hugo’s got all kinds of excuses as to why he won’t go. Just when things start to feel really hopeless for Hugo (since Lulu does what she can, but nearly gives up on him) … well, I can’t give the entire story away, but if you’re interested in reading it, it’ll be on bookstore and library shelves, come Spring.

The illustration note on the copyright page indicates that Dominguez uses “Canson paper, ink, [and] tissue paper … on illustration board.” Angela’s here today to tell us a bit more about this and her work, so let’s get right to it. I thank her for visiting. (more…)

29 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #313: Featuring Angela Dominguez, last added: 1/18/2013
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17. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #315: Featuring Gabriella Barouch

“There was an Old Man with a beard, / Who said, “It is just as I feared! /
Two Owls and a Hen, / Four Larks and a Wren, /
Have all built their nests in my beard!” — (Edward Lear)

(Click to enlarge)


Lately I’ve been featuring quite a few student illustrators or illustrators new to the field, haven’t I? I guess it’s because, as I noted the other day, it’s still January, and I still have a lot of new F&Gs and picture books to go through, and until then, I’ll shine the spotlight on the young ‘uns. Plus, I really enjoy seeing their work.

Today, I welcome Israeli artist and illustrator Gabriella Barouch, who works digitally. I emailed her, after seeing the artwork she shares here today, to clarify: “You mean that you start out with pencil on paper, right? And then you muck around with the art, using your computer?” Nope, she said. It’s all digital. Even her sketches. (more…)

17 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #315: Featuring Gabriella Barouch, last added: 2/6/2013
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18. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #316: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Colin Sutherland

(Click to enlarge)

I’ve featured a lot of student or brand-new illustrators lately and have yet another today. It’s the first Sunday of February, and the first Sundays of each month are devoted to the new folks, so I keep my promise today.

And I’m happy to welcome Colin Sutherland, whom I’d be pleased to tell you all about, but I’m going to hand 7-Imp over to him so that he can tell you about himself. He’s also sharing some art, of course, and my personal favorite is pictured above.

[Note: Colin and I would both like to point out that Bear Hunt, pictured below in this post, is—in Colin’s words—”a little graphic and upsetting.” Consider yourselves notified, dear Imps.] (more…)

17 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #316: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Colin Sutherland, last added: 2/8/2013
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19. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #347: Featuring Jamie Hogan

Happy Sunday to all. Illustrator Jamie Hogan is visiting today to talk about her latest illustrated book, written by April Pulley Sayre and released back at the beginning of this year. It’s called Here Come the Humpbacks! (Charlesbridge, February 2013), and it tells the story of a humpback whale calf and its mother, as well as the dangers they face during migration.

The image above is from one of Jamie’s sketchbooks. It has nothing to do with April’s book (way more on that below); I just like it.

Let’s get to it, since Jamie talks a bit about creating the illustrations for this book and what’s next for her. (I wish we were chatting in person on the beautiful island where she lives in Maine.)

* * *

Jamie: I have a thing for seven. Is it cosmic or coincidental that my last 7-imp [visit] was in July of 2007?

It so happens I’ve now illustrated seven books. A couple of them have been published in other countries, too. No small thrill for one who lives on a rock about three miles around.

(Click to enlarge)

The main thing is, I live on an island in Maine. Three miles out to sea, in fact. I began drawing pastels of seascapes and boats after moving here 21 years ago. Getting to the ferry on time punctuates my life.

I was ecstatic to be asked to illustrate April Pulley Sayre’s story about a humpback whale and her calf, Here Come the Humpbacks!. I learned so much doing research for the book. It also meant using a lot of blue pastel — and dreaming about whales right out in the water beyond my cluttered studio.

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When I take the ferry to Portland, there are always tankers in Casco Bay.

I drew them for the story, since shipping lanes are one of the hazards for humpback whale migration.

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Here’s one of the sketches I provided. I typically draw around the text areas in pencil. I waited almost two months for approval of sketches, because they needed to be verified by marine scientists for accuracy. That’s non-fiction for you!

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I transferred my sketches to a sanded pastel paper –in this case, a deep red. I let some of the red show through in order to create a color vibrancy with all the blue.

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With soft pastels I’m able to layer over colors, like painting with pigment.

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I left the jelly fish for last! Here’s the final illustration, in which the humpbacks travel many miles — over trash and turtles.

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I worked on the cover illustration absolutely last. I showed seven sketches, of course! This was my favorite. I liked the whale being too big for the book jacket.

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The publishers liked this one best:

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They asked that both the mother and calf appear on the cover, so I did this revision and added a lobster boat on the back.

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Here’s the final book jacket cover, designed by Martha Sikemma at Charlesbridge:

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All during this time, which was about six months, I also was drawing in a sketchbook for the Sketchbook Project 2013 as a fun alternative to my deadline. I drew people and places in Portland, such as Kirsten Cappy, below, sitting pretty in front of a Portland restaurant, Bresca.

She’s also the whiz behind Curious City, who helped me plan a really fun book launch that included a 40-foot inflatable humpback whale, named Istar. Istar just barely fit in the Portland Public Library’s auditorium. This is Curious City intern, Delany Honda, making sure everything is ready.

(Photo by Greta Rybus)

It was truly awesome.

(Photo by Greta Rybus)

I illustrated cards for a migration game that went all around the room, in which kids pretend to be a baby whale going on the journey that happens in the book.

Should I be surprised that kids really like blowing bubbles like baby whales do?

(Photo by Greta Rybus)

The highlight of my summer was finally going on a whale watch in Nova Scotia. And we saw humpback whales! I gave a copy of my book to Petit Passage’s friendly nature guide, Suzanne, who immediately shared it with this family on board for the ride back to port. Absolutely made my entire YEAR.

Now that I’m back in my studio, I’m just starting on another book for Charlesbridge, this one titled John Muir Wrestles a Waterfall by Julie Danneberg. It takes place in Yosemite. All I’ve done so far are preliminary thumbnail sketches, enough to need more reference. I’ve gotten twelve books from the library about him and, yesterday, watched John Muir in the New World, a pretty cool documentary. I had my neighbor, Peter, pose for me out in my daughter’s little pine clubhouse in the backyard.

She’s sixteen now and has no use for it, but it suddenly felt to me like just the right spot to be unplugged. Maybe I’ll do my sketches out there!

I grew up in the White Mountains and visited Yosemite during my years living in San Francisco. I’ve worked before with the designer for this book, Whitney Leader-Picone (a California native), on Nest, Nook & Cranny (Charlesbridge, 2010) by Susan Blackaby and A Warmer World (Charlesbridge, 2012) by Caroline Arnold. We have fun together, and I am eager to draw tall pines and waterfalls!

HERE COME THE HUMPBACKS! Copyright © 2013 by April Pulley Sayre. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Jamie Hogan. Published by Charlesbridge, Watertown, MA. All images here used with permission of Jamie Hogan.

* * * * * * *

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

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

Sorry to be brief, but my seven kicks today are wrapped up in the fact that it’s my husband’s birthday this weekend, and we’ve been celebrating. I was so busy celebrating I almost didn’t get to this post. (Blogging should never get in the way of life, mind you, so I made sure to celebrate first, but I’d also never let my kickers down. So, here I am. In the nick of time.)

What are YOUR kicks this week?

Quick note: Here’s a Publishers Weekly article about the fundraiser author/illustrator Joe McKendry and his wife, Susan, put together shortly after the Boston Marathon bombing. Many artists have signed on to participate. In case anyone is interested in contributing, all the info is at that link.

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #347: Featuring Jamie Hogan, last added: 9/9/2013
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20. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #348: Featuring Adam Rex

“I walked over and under and around
to where Mom and Dad waited. ‘What now?’”

(Click to enlarge spread)

Morning, everyone. Author/illustrator Adam Rex is visiting today to tell us a bit about his newest picture book, Moonday, released by Disney-Hyperion earlier this month. Moonday tells the goosebump-inducing story of the moon lowering itself into a young girl’s backyard, putting all the town under its sleepy spell. Was it real or a dream? That’s for readers to decide.

I really like Adam’s paintings for this story. No need to describe them; you can see them on display here. And the writing? The writing is superb. This one makes an outstanding read-aloud, best for (but not excluded to) a cozy one-on-one read with your favorite child. It possesses a rhythm and cadence to savor. Kirkus gave this one a starred review. I just read the entire review, and they put it this way: “Gentle rhymes, recurring consonance and almost subliminal rhythms make murky, dreamy paintings vivid and the surreal story sleepily spectacular.”

Yep. What they said.

Here’s Adam. I thank him for visiting …

* * *

Adam: Here’s the first image I tackled. It ended up being kind of a proof of concept piece. I thought it was going to be the cover, too.

“It was in our backyard.”
(Click image to enlarge)


[Here's] the process for this piece:

“At school we slumped in desks and slept through lunch. I looked through my heavy lashes, through the window, through lean trees to see
my blue moon staring back at me.”

(Click to enlarge)

My earliest sketch was just a thumbnail, which I then overlaid with some crude perspective lines to pint out and use as guides to refine the drawing.

(Click to enlarge)

That got me here, and this is what my editor saw when I put together a dummy of the whole book.

Looks like I basically sketched this whole thing in Photoshop with my Wacom, actually. I’m doing that more and more, but I didn’t do it much back then.

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Shot a lot of photo reference. This poor kid ended up filling in for the whole class.

All of the images for Moonday got rendered in vine charcoal on paper, with my photo reference as a guide.

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Then I tinted the drawing in Photoshop …

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… and colored it on a different layer.

(This is actually the same [image as the one from earlier]. But I had a narrative going, so …)

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Shot a lot of photos of me …


… and my wife, too. We’re the mom and dad. Had to borrow a kid.


Here’s another photo …


…and the accompanying sketch …

(Click to enlarge)


…and the finished piece:

“That was when the tide came in. It trickled into our backyard.
The tide came in, smooth and thin, and settled underneath our moon.”

(Click to enlarge)

I had to draw a number of views of the same building, so I actually built a little 3-D neighborhood in Google SketchUp. I made the buildings in the foreground, but not in the background. (The background buildings didn’t actually end up in the book anyway.)

(Click to enlarge)

More random sketches:

(Click either image to enlarge sketch)

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Final art for sketch above: “Then I started a yawn that swayed up the block,
crossed two policemen, rounded the square, and followed me home.”

(Click to enlarge)

MOONDAY. Copyright © 2013 by Adam Rex. Published by Disney-Hyperion Books, New York. All images here are used with permission of Adam Rex.

* * * * * * *

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 * * *

When I was a child, I would have been utterly spellbound by Moonday.

1) I love how challenging my piano lessons are (even if I was all, “THERE IS ANOTHER HAND POSITION TO LEARN ALREADY?” on Thursday of this week). As I discussed with a friend the other day, piano lessons are working lots of different parts of my brain. And that is good.

2) Dinner with friends, followed by free bluegrass in Nashville.

3) My girls and I have been dancing around the house to this slammin’ tune below. When my second grader comes home with worries and anxiety (which seems to be a theme this year), I listen and hug her and do the “there there now, it’ll be okay”s, and then we get up and dance, too.

Come on, y’all. None of this “but I’m dance-challenged” will be accepted here. Put on your best dance face, and let’s do it:

4) I’m reading the newest novel from my very favorite novelist (for grown-ups), and I love to linger over her sentences.

5) Calling Caldecott is back for 2013! I learn so much, reading that blog.

6) On the first song on Neko Case’s new CD, the guitar growls like a tiger at one point.

7) Hey, why am I still typing? As I’m composing this post (Saturday), it’s a gorgeous early Fall-like day, so I’m outta here. The park calls my name.

P.S. The unabashed goofy-ness of this book trailer has endeared itself to me. Plus, I really like that book, as I mentioned earlier here at 7-Imp.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

11 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #348: Featuring Adam Rex, last added: 9/16/2013
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21. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #371: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Jaime Kim

(Click to enlarge)

It’s the first Sunday of the month, which means a student illustrator will share some artwork this morning. Today it’s Jaime Kim, who is one of the winners of this year’s SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) Student Illustrator Scholarship. This means, I believe, that she will soon head to New York City to meet picture book artists, editors, and art directors, so what a great time to feature her work.

Jaime is a student at the Maryland Institute College of Art, is originally from South Korea, and has lived in the U.S. since the age of 18.

She tells us more about herself below, too, so let’s get right to it, and I thank her for visiting.

Jaime: There once was a little girl who could not sleep very well, because she was afraid of the dark. Then, one day her fear went away after she received a complete collection of picture books as a gift from her parents. Her fear went away when her mother read a picture book to her, and she could sleep easily at night.

This is a story of my childhood, and this is how picture books first became part of my life.

Reading or making picture books is a kind of meditation for me; I feel relaxed when I do so.

New characters

I am majoring in Illustration at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). MICA has such a big illustration department that every semester I feel excited about choosing my classes. Among them, Shadra Strickland’s Book Illustration and Advanced Book Illustration courses have convinced me that children’s book illustration is my future field.

I love to make whimsical and dreamy illustrations, and acrylic paint is one of the best materials for me to convey those kinds of moods. Most of my works are created with mixed media, and I always re-touch texture and color through Photoshop. Sometimes I make all the layers separately in a traditional way, then scan and combine them in Photoshop, one by one. That process takes a long time but helps me to make better colors.

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I am thinking about making a series of illustrations based on children’s poems for my BFA thesis. It was my first poem illustration (image above) which won me the Society of Children’s Book Writer and Illustrator (SCBWI) student scholarship. Poems are a great source of inspiration for me to create whimsical images. I always feel excited to making an imaginary landscape or dreamy mood, based on poems.

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As you can see from these pieces above (Goldilocks and the Three Bears), I am interested in re-designing traditional fairy tales and re-making them in a modern style of illustration.

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I did this piece above (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs) for the SCBWI Illustrator Intensive program.

All artwork is used with permission Jaime Kim.

* * * * * * *

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 think I can summarize seven kicks here by saying that I saw a very entertaining show this week, Hurray for the Riff Raff opening up for Shovels & Rope at The Cannery in Nashville. Hoo boy, it was wonderful all-around. I’m now in the process of getting all of Hurray for the Riff Raff’s older music, because they’re just so good. (See below, though that’s not the full band there.) And Shovels & Rope really put on quite the show.

p.s. Hurray for the Riff Raff = Best Band Name EVER.

p.s. Shovels & Rope sang this Springsteen cover:

Incidentally, Jack White produced that with a Tom Waits cover as a B-side. About the songs he wrote, “This is the perfect soundtrack for two doomed souls dancing in the glow of a jukebox in a greasy spoon diner.” I love that. That summarizes Shovels & Rope well — in general, I think.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #371: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Jaime Kim, last added: 3/3/2014
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22. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #373:Featuring Sophie Benini Pietromarchi

(Click to enlarge)

In The Color Book, to be released by Tara Books next month, Sophie Benini Pietromarchi explores color with child readers in a multitude of ways. “If you ask me,” she writes on page one, “I would have preferred to color quietly, instead of talking. I’m marking this great white page with blue ink, but ideally, I would rather not have written any words at all. Color speaks for itself better than words can — you can ‘feel’ color, and it goes straight to your heart.” But despite this, she notes, she wrote the book to invite children to “get to know colors” — by playing with them, contemplating their subtleties and meanings, considering the emotions that they evoke. It’s what she calls a color dance.

It’s a book both poetic and practical. She opens by relaying the feelings she remembers from her childhood — all based on colors. She then explores what colors are capable of by creating a character for each one (the Red Dragon, Mrs. Brown Snail, etc.), and she further discusses colors and moods by devoting an entire chapter to them. In the book’s second section, “The Basics,” she discusses such things as primary colors, complementary colors, and contrasting colors. And she closes the book by suggesting readers create their own books that explore color; her suggestions for readers’ color books are detailed, and child readers could easily follow along.

Pietromarchi, who both wrote and illustrated the book, uses collages, photos, and found objects in nature to lay it all out, and with an infectious passion for art, she invites readers to make connections and create art meaningful to them.

Here are a few more spreads …

“Yellow is a Bird of Paradise — wearing a flowery scent. Her eyes are two glowing lanterns, and she lives in a castle of straw with a thousand rooms. …”
(Click to enlarge and see full text)

“Here’s a sunny, laughing face. And the surrounding colors are equally happy — cheerful, strong and direct.”
(Click to enlarge)

” … I was thinking of Ms Yellow who carries a lemon in her yellow bag;
or a startled blue goat whose milk is made of ink …”

(Click to enlarge and see full text)

THE COLOR BOOK. Copyright © 2013 by Sophie Benini. Translated from the original Italian by Guido Lagomarsino and edited by Gita Wolf. Images reproduced by permission of the publisher, Tara Books, UK and India.

* * * * * * *

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 daughter, who turned ten years old this week, is having a birthday party sleep-over, so needless to say, I can hardly focus now. (Our house is tiny. It’s LOUD.) Consider it a minor miracle if anything I typed above makes any sense whatsoever, so I’ll forego kicks this week, except to say I’m extra grateful to have had the pleasure of my daughter’s company for ten whole years now.

Also, remember this August 2013 up-and-coming illustrator feature with Kate Berube? I’m happy to say she’s signed with an agent. News like this makes me want to do jazz hands AND spirit fingers. Check it out:

What are YOUR kicks this week?

11 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #373:Featuring Sophie Benini Pietromarchi, last added: 3/16/2014
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23. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #374: Featuring Katherine Tillotson

This morning, we’re going to meet a dog, who is—in the words of illustrator Katherine Tillotson—a little more than a scribble and a smudge.

Shoe Dog (Richard Jackson/Atheneum Books for Young Readers), written by Megan McDonald and illustrated by Katherine, hits bookshelves next week. It tells the story of one very enthusiastic dog, adopted from a shelter, who loves to chew shoes. His owner—whom McDonald calls She, Herself—scolds the dog, but he repeatedly gets into trouble. Shoe Dog most certainly loves his cozy and warm home, where he’s so happy to be, but he struggles to behave. No worries. She, Herself eventually comes up with just the right solution, involving a cat. Of sorts.

Katherine is here today to tell us how she created the illustrations for this story — and what inspired her to do so. The story, particularly the artwork, are nothing short of “totally ebullient,” as the starred Kirkus review puts it. Shoe Dog is all action, energy, and bounce—I mean, right? Just look at him up above there—and it’s fascinating to read how Katherine put him together, as well as to read about the tools she used for everything that surrounds our naughty, but loving, protagonist.

So, let’s get right to it. I thank Katherine for sharing.

* * *

Katherine: When I begin work on a new book, it is always with small scribbly page layouts, but when I began work on the book Shoe Dog, I never expected that a small scribble would make his way to the final pages of the book.

A couple of my very early, very scribbly sketches:

(Click each to enlarge)

When Shoe Dog originally landed on the page, he was a bull terrier. You can see him here in a couple early dummies for the book.

(Click each to enlarge)

In the final illustrations, Shoe Dog still holds onto a smidgeon of terrier, but he is now little more than a scribble and a smudge. His essence.

I used crayons, a square graphite pencil, and charcoal to build the illustrations.

I will have to back up a little to describe the technique. My friend and crit-mate, Christy Hale, introduced me to a wonderful book, Creative Rubbings, published in 1967. I found the techniques described in the book irresistible.

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Shapes were cut out of tag board, and then a crayon was used to rub an impression, much as we place a penny under a piece of paper and rub it with graphite to create a flat rendering of that penny. I loved the idea of using crayon rubbings to illustrate the world inhabited by the scribbly Shoe Dog.

I experimented with rubbing all sorts of textures …

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…but mostly I cut out shapes and then made rubbings. These are how the environments—the house, furniture, stairs, shoes, etc.—were constructed.

(Click to enlarge)

Black and white sketches helped me determine value before I rendered the final illustrations in color.

(Click each to enlarge)

The computer is a wonderful tool for collage, and Shoe Dog is basically collage. I scribbled and made crayon rubbings and then combined all the hand-made marks by using the computer.

Here is some of the final art [without the text]:

“Dog wanted a home. A real home. A place full of hundreds of nose kisses,
dozens of tummy rubs. A place as warm as soup and cozy as pie.”

(Click to enlarge)

“A place with room to run …”
(Click to enlarge)

“BAD BAD DOG! She, Herself said. That night, Shoe Dog slept downstairs on the cold, cold floor with only a mop for a friend. Shoe Dog did not want to go back to the
Land of Sad Puppies and Scratched-Up Cats and One-Eared Bunnies. No!

(Click to enlarge)

And lastly the cover, front and back:

Thank you so much for asking me to show and tell. I had such fun creating the illustrations for this story!

SHOE DOG. Copyright © 2014 by Megan McDonald. Illustrations © 2014 by Katherine Tillotson. Published by Richard Jackson/Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York. All images here reproduced by permission of Katherine Tillotson.

* * * * * * *

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 really love how an old, obscure book from 1967 gave Katherine such inspiration.

2) Because my oldest was home for three days this week (adenoid surgery), I got to see an awful lot of her.

3) Painting clay.

4) A day out with the family yesterday to see Muppets Most Wanted. Very funny.

5) I got nice and unsolicited feedback about 7-Imp this week, which I really appreciate. In this day and age of rampant social media, I often stop to wonder if my blog is still relevant (I think this is a natural question for any blogger today; I promise I’m not just self-deprecating for fun), so to get compliments, ones that are truly informative, can be energizing.

6) Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings.

7) I read a galley of E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars (a YA novel) in just about 24 hours. It’s a compelling novel, to say the least.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #374: Featuring Katherine Tillotson, last added: 3/23/2014
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24. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #375: Featuring Manuel Monroy

“‘Why are you doing that?’ asked Chepito as his mother stood at the stove, cooking eggs and frying beans. … ‘These eggs and beans will make you really strong.’ …”
(Click to enlarge spread)

Today’s featured book won’t be out till June. Yes, June! Sorry to be posting about it so early — I try not to make a habit of this.

Why Are You Doing That? (Groundwood Books) is a picture book for very young readers, written by Elisa Amado and illustrated by Manuel Monroy. Elisa is an author and translator, born in Guatemala. Manuel is one of Mexico’s most celebrated illustrators. It’s a companion to their first picture book, What Are You Doing? (2011).

In this book, a young boy, named Chepito, explores his environment one morning—from his mother, cooking breakfast, to his neighbors, flattening dough and milking cows and feeding chickens—all the while asking in his sing-song way (as if he’s a bird), “Why are you doing that … What for? What for?” All the patient, accommodating adults answer him; this is a gentle read about curiosity and rural communities and not only where food comes from, but also how we nurture our bodies and the animals that feed us. It even closes with a short glossary.

Monroy evidently started out with color pencil and watercolor drawings, and then he went the digital route from there. The illustrations are warm and affectionate. Please note, however, that they appear a bit brighter here on the screen than they do in the book.

Here are a couple more spreads. Enjoy.

“There was his neighbor, Manuel, digging in the ground. … ‘Look at this nice elote,’ Manuel said as he peeled back the husk.”
(Click to enlarge spread)

“Chepito ran around the corner. He saw Doña Ana throwing corn to some chickens. … ‘What for? What for?’ sang Chepito. ‘So that they can grow strong and lay good eggs like the ones you just had for breakfast.’”
(Click to enlarge spread)

WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT? Copyright © 2014 by Elisa Amado. Illustrations © 2014 by Manuel Monroy. Published by Groundwood Books, Toronto. All images here reproduced by permission of the publisher.

* * * * * * *

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

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) Hands down, my biggest kick of the week was an opportunity to chat with Barry Moser about Appalachian children’s literature, as a favor for some friends at UT in Knoxville, who are planning an upcoming exhibit about that very topic. I got a picture afterwards. It was a pleasure to chat with him.

2) And the night before, I heard him and author Ann Patchett speak at Vanderbilt about writing and typography and design and illustrations and books and such.

3) And that reminded me to pick up Ann’s latest book, which I’ve been wanting to read for a while now.

4) I’m mildly to moderately obsessed with Rufus Wainwright’s cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Chelsea Hotel,” which I only listened to about 77 times this week. Not this particular rendition below, but still …


“Well, never mind / we are ugly, but we have the music” …

5) This CD is now on my Want List.

6) Planetariums.

7) Sean Lennon! New sound! (It’s the first song there, called “Too Deep.”) Well, it’s Sean Lennon with Charlotte Kemp Muhl, and they call themselves The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger.

Did you all see that the Hans Christian Andersen Award was given this week — as well as the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award?

What are YOUR kicks this week?

11 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #375: Featuring Manuel Monroy, last added: 3/31/2014
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25. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #376: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Christine Allen


It’s the first Sunday of the month, which means I welcome a student or new illustrator. Today, Christine Allen visits. Christine, who lives in Colorado, studied painting and is transitioning into illustration. She tells us more about herself below, so let’s get right to it.

I thank her for visiting …

* * *


My Schooling/Training and
Transition into Illustration:

I received my BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where I studied painting. I also studied at Parson’s The New School for Design and Yale School of Art and Music. All exceptional experiences, all challenging and fulfilling. Following all of this study, I had a bit of a crisis, a loss of excitement and energy when it came to painting. I began to realize that, despite identifying as a creative person, I was at that time very rigid in my thinking. It was painting or nothing. As I began to lift the walls, so to speak, and go (not to sound hokey) where the energy took me, I came to children’s books. And as often happens when one looks back, it seemed exceedingly obvious that this connection had walked with me all along the windy road and back to where I began.


What I Am Working on Now:

I am currently playing around with circus images. The imagery is rich. The animals are unsettled and haunted by distant memories of life in the wild. I am also painting animal gods that look to be from somewhere in China.



Illustrators and writers I greatly admire are David Lucas, Jon Agee, Tove Jansson, David Small, John Burningham, and of course all things William Steig, James Thurber, and Virginia Lee Burton. I am in complete awe of Rob Dunlavey, Blexbolex, Laurent Moreau, Astrid Lindgren, Maira Kalman, Quentin Blake, Sophie Blackall, Kevin Waldron, Marjorie Priceman, Mo Willems. Honestly, it’s just too many to name here, but it’s hard to stop. I want to just keep naming them. So much incredibly wonderful work out there.


What I Am Reading Now and Love:

Unless I am deeply absorbed in a novel, I usually have two or three books going at once and another 20 due back to the library. Currently, it is Design as Art by Bruno Munari, The Bat Poet by Randall Jarrell/Maurice Sendak, and The Owl in the Attic and Other Perplexities by James Thurber. Since the day I became a parent, in addition to pleasure reading came the desperate reading of books by experts on child-rearing and of self-help books.


From the Sketchbooks:


All images here are used by permission of Christine Allen.

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

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

I’m going to keep it short today, since I’m going out of town later this week for work and have my work cut out for me (for before I leave).

I’m grateful Christine visited today, as I enjoy seeing her artwork.

My big kick is that I finished Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings, such a great novel.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

9 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #376: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Christine Allen, last added: 4/6/2014
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