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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: 7-Imps 7 Kicks, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 51 - 75 of 208
51. 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.


(Click to enlarge)

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.


(Click to enlarge)

Then I tinted the drawing in Photoshop …


(Click to enlarge)

… 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 …)


(Click to enlarge)


 

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)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


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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52. 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.


(Click to enlarge)

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.


(Click to enlarge)

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!


(Click to enlarge)

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.


(Click to enlarge)

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


(Click to enlarge)

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


(Click to enlarge)

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.


(Click to enlarge)

The publishers liked this one best:


(Click to enlarge)

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.


(Click to enlarge)

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


(Click to enlarge)

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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53. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #316: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Colin Sutherland


Birches
(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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54. 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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55. 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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56. 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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57. 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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58. 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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59. 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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60. 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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61. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #296:Featuring Susan Eaddy and Mary Uhles



 

Above: Artwork from Mary Uhles


 



 

One of Susan Eaddy’s portfolio pieces, Bad Bunny
(Click to enlarge)

Do you know something I enjoy doing yet haven’t done as often as I’d like here at
7-Imp?

Pass out snacks? Why, yes. If I could pass out actual snacks, I would. But another thing is to feature local talent. Local, as in local to me, of course. Meaning, middle Tennessee. The Nashville area.

And I’m here to do that today.

Yup, it’s 7-Imp Local Talent Sunday. (more…)

24 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #296:Featuring Susan Eaddy and Mary Uhles, last added: 9/11/2012
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62. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #295: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Susan Sorrell Hill


Journey; watercolor, pen & ink.
“She traveled with only a bird for company.”


 

It’s a pleasure to be featuring illustrator Susan Sorrell Hill this morning on the first Sunday of September. FIRST SUNDAY OF SEPTEMBER? Yes, I’m doing a double-take. Are you? How did this shifty month sneak up on us so quickly? I blame the ringleader on the right. (More on him below.)

Well, it’s not that September is inherently shifty. It’s that it’s gotten here so quickly, it seems. It’s even almost officially Fall, y’all. (Here I am saying that which is kinda silly and pointless. Those “where does the time go?” mutterings we all do at one point or another are rather inevitable and unanswerable, but 2012’s really flown by. Don’t you think?)

Where was I? On the first Sunday of each month, as many of my imp readers know, I like to feature the work of student illustrators, debut illustrators, or those otherwise seeking out that elusive thing called publication.

Having studied both textile design and children’s book illustration, Susan—who lives in northern California with her husband, sculptor Ernest Caballero—has for many years now worked in both illustration and the fine arts. She has worked in printmaking, pen and ink, oil painting, silversmithing, ceramics, silk painting, and more. However, watercolor and pencils on fine papers are still her favorites, as she notes at her Etsy site. She has also started writing and creating picture book manuscripts.

As she notes at her site, she can be found most days painting — or thinking about painting. “Lizards, deer, blue jays, jack rabbits and very tall trees (plus the occasional mountain lion, bear or skunk) are my neighbors,” she writes at Etsy. These creatures, she further writes, remind her of the inscrutable mysteries of life.

And one can see in her artwork that she’s trying to capture those mysteries, those fleeting graces.

As you’ll see below, Susan’s work has an imaginative, ethereal quality to it. Her fairy-tale pieces, in particular, are lovingly, elegantly visualized. I thank her for visiting today, and I’ll let her tell us more about herself and her work. (more…)

42 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #295: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Susan Sorrell Hill, last added: 9/5/2012
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63. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #294: Featuring E. B. Lewis


“One day, while we were near the slide, Maya came over to us. She held open her hand to show us the shiny jacks and tiny red ball she’d gotten for her birthday.
It’s a high bouncer, she said. But none of us wanted to play.
So Maya played a game against herself.”

(Click to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)

Just about everywhere you look these days, you see one campaign or another against bullying. Surely, many of these efforts do some good, though what bothers me is the occasional organization with inherently exclusive inclinations (you can belong to this group, as long as you’re not ____ or _____) mounting such campaigns. Personally, I think it all starts and ends with parents teaching their children that we should all treat each other the way we ourselves want to be treated, and that’s about all there is to it. At the same time, I know these things can be complicated.

Nevertheless, what I always want to say in response to the fight-against-bully campaigns is that there are some great picture books in the world that tell straight-up good stories about kindness and empathy. And storytelling is the way we should go about this, yes? No child wants to be lectured, and who doesn’t want to hear an engaging story? Right? Right!

Cue Jacqueline Woodson’s latest picture book, illustrated by E. B. Lewis. It’s called Each Kindness and will be released in October by Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin. Booklist’s starred review has already described this as a “quiet, intense” book, and they aren’t kidding about the “intense” part. I may or may not have sought the nearest tissue to wipe my goofy ‘ol wet face after having first read it to my own children. (more…)

30 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #294: Featuring E. B. Lewis, last added: 9/8/2012
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64. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #293: Featuring Andrea Dezsö


“…My troll fiancée explodes in frustration. MOTL / and I take the treasure and get out of there. / I’m a king now with three kids and a spaniel. I rule / in the daytime,
but at night I’m just a dad who puts / the kids to bed. …”
– From “East of the Sun and West of the Moon”

(Click to enlarge)

Remember how we got a bit dark and grim/Grimm a couple weeks ago? I’m gonna do that again today, because I just can’t pass up the opportunity to post some of the illustrations of Andrea Dezsö.

And, to be clear right off the bat, this is an illustrated book, but it’s not a picture book for young children. This is very much a YA/adult title.

Many of you may have already seen this collection of free verse poems, Ron Koertge’s Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses, released in July by Candlewick. U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis has said it’s “the best antidote I know to the sanctimonious sanitizing of fairy tales.” (Once I read that, I knew I had to read this book myself.)

Here, Koertge isn’t afraid to get gruesome, subversive, and downright nightmarish in his re-telling of 23 classic fairy tales. The blood-red endpapers give you a taste of this, followed by an invitation right off the bat from our author: “Do you want to sleep? Find another storyteller. Do you want to think about the world in a new way? Come closer. Closer, please. I want to whisper in your ear.”

This is the world of Ever After, and this ain’t no Disney.

(more…)

26 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #293: Featuring Andrea Dezsö, last added: 9/8/2012
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65. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #275: Featuring Kenneth Kraegel


“High in the branches of a massive chestnut tree, Henry found the grim Griffin. He held out his sword and cried: ‘AHA, STRANGE BIRD! I AM COME! AND AT LAST I HAVE FOUND A WORTHY OPPONENT! NOW UNSHEATHE YOUR CLAWS AND LET US HAVE ADO!’ And to Henry’s delight, the formidable beast agreed . . .”

Okay, I’m gonna be straight-up honest with you right off the bat this morning: No stealthy April Fool’s joke is hiding ’round the corner here at 7-Imp today. I know of other bloggers with sneaky, winky plans, but … well, since blogging comes after things like my children and work, I’m lucky to produce normal, non-jokey posts on a fairly consistent basis. My co-author, Peter D. Sieruta, even had a great idea for me. But, while I consider myself a mildly to moderately clever human (who really appreciated his funny suggestion), I have a terrible poker face, y’all, and I always ruin the punch line anyway.

Glad we got that out of the way.

So, no kidding, my post today is one of those where I feature a student or debut illustrator, since it’s the first Sunday of the month. (March, WHERE’D YOU GO anyway? That March. So zippy-quick and tricky.) Today it’s the latter, a self-taught debut author/illustrator, who lives in Michigan. His name is Kenneth Kraegel, and he’s visiting today to say a bit about his first book. Now, this picture book, King Arthur’s Very Great Grandson, comes out in July of this year (Candlewick), so I apologize for showing you art from a book you can’t quite yet purchase or find on library shelves, but July will be here before you know it. Moving on then … (more…)

18 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #275: Featuring Kenneth Kraegel, last added: 4/3/2012
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66. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #276:Featuring Daniel Salmieri (Er, Part One!)


“Just remember: Dragons hate spicy salsa.
Before you host your taco party with dragons, get rid of all the spicy salsa.
In fact, bury the spicy salsa in the backyard so the dragons can’t find it.”

(Click to enlarge spread)

Do you know those really funny picture books that don’t get in the way of their own humor, that perhaps don’t even get how very funny they are, much like that wicked funny friend you have, who cracks you up yet doesn’t realize how wicked sharp her own wit is? Or perhaps doesn’t even know the power of her own goofy and how extremely entertaining it is to everyone around her?

Or, better yet, here are the words of the late, great James Marshall on the matter:

“[H]umor, which I do—comedy—is very tricky. You can’t show how hard you work. You can’t call attention to yourself. You can’t show the wheels turning. It’s got to be like a balloon that floats up into the air. You don’t make the reader, the viewer aware of anything but the story.”

(more…)

17 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #276:Featuring Daniel Salmieri (Er, Part One!), last added: 4/16/2012
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67. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #277: Featuring Polly Dunbar

I always look forward to new picture books from Polly Dunbar (who visited 7-Imp back in ‘08).

Kirkus calls her newest, Arthur’s Dream Boat, released by Candlewick in February, a “real attention-getter.” In this book, Dunbar asks child readers to consider what is real and what is but a dream.

Arthur awakes one morning to recall an amazing dream. He’s got a sailboat on the mind — in more ways than one. He’s dreamt of one, not to mention there is a tiny sailboat perched on his head. (”A few years ago,” Dunbar notes in the book’s back-flap bio, “I was sitting on Brighton beach, looking out to sea. There was a small boy in the water and a boat far away on the horizon. For one magic moment, the boat looked as though it was perched on the boy’s head. I remember thinking, I’m the only one who can see that boat on his head; it must be a dream boat. And I drew a quick sketch.”)

He sets out to tell family members about his “amazing” dream, but no one is quite listening. Observant readers will notice that the boat is increasingly embellished with features he sees on or near his own family members—the rainbow-colored fish food his mother is tossing into the aquarium becomes the “polka-dotted sails,” and the baby food his sister is flinging around the kitchen becomes the “golden flag”—as well as other nautical clues, including a message in a bottle on the family’s kitchen table. (more…)

23 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #277: Featuring Polly Dunbar, last added: 4/25/2012
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68. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #278: Featuring R. Kikuo Johnson


(Click to enlarge)

In the Summer of 2011, I wrote at Kirkus about TOON Books. Today’s post is about a new TOON title, R. Kikuo Johnson’s The Shark King, so if you’re thinking, TOON hubba WHAT? and what is Jules going on about NOW?, then you can head on over to that Kirkus column to get the low-down on this imprint.

And I like this new title. I do. You won’t see anything else like it this year. (more…)

19 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #278: Featuring R. Kikuo Johnson, last added: 5/1/2012
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69. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #280 (Mother’s Day 2012 Edition):Featuring Gianna Marino


Work-in-progress illustration from Gianna Marino’s Meet Me at the Moon
(Click to enlarge)

It’s Mother’s Day, the day we celebrate all the mamas and mama-like people in our lives.

I thought the best way I could celebrate today here at 7-Imp would be to highlight the latest picture book from Gianna Marino, Meet Me at the Moon, released by Viking in late March. And Gianna is visiting today to share a collection of early dummies, early sketches, work-in-progress images, and final spreads from the book.

She also has the loveliest true tale about her own mother and the creation of this book.

The book, which Booklist describes as “[h]eartfelt and sincere, yet never cloying,” tells the story of a young elephant and his mother. Little One is worried, because his mother must leave to “climb the highest mountain to ask the skies for rain.” Telling Little One to listen for her song on the wind, know that the warmth of the sun means she loves him, and find the brightest star to see her, she leaves. “When the night sky is bright, Little One,” she adds, “meet me at the moon, where the sky touches the earth.”

In their starred review, Kirkus writes: “The textured mixed-media art paired with the flowing text elevates this title above most missing-mama fare. The full-bleed double-page spreads evoke the vastness of the plains and the night sky, while the finely detailed striping of the zebras and the intricate branches of the trees produce a striking contrast with the huge circles of the sun or moon that dominate most scenes. Radiating warmth and comfort, this distinguished title strikes home.”

This one also made it in the New York Times just the other day.

Here’s Gianna, and I thank her for visiting and sharing. (more…)

19 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #280 (Mother’s Day 2012 Edition):Featuring Gianna Marino, last added: 5/16/2012
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70. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #281: In Which I Rejoice Overthe Return of the Rosenthals’ Willy, Bobo, and Earl


(Click to enlarge and see entire spread from which this comes)

I may have said only about 7,000 times in 2011 that one of my favorite picture books of that year was Eileen and Marc Rosenthal’s I Must Have Bobo! (I featured it here at 7-Imp in January with illustrations from the book, and Marc also visited the blog here in October.) The book, as I wrote last January, was a straight up showdown between one young boy, Willy, and the family cat, Earl, the dilemma being that the object of their affection is one beloved sock monkey, named Bobo. Bobo, however, can only be with one creature at a time. I also wrote back then that, if I could play for you all the main theme song from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly when discussing the book, I would.

It’s a very funny book.

Well… Willy, Bobo, and Earl are back in 2012. Can someone give me a “WOO!”? Rather, they returned in early April in I’ll Save You Bobo! (brought to us once again by Atheneum Books), and I’m finally getting around to giving the three of them the 7-Imp spotlight. Marc sent some illustrations from the book, as well as some early sketches.

As Publishers Weekly wrote about this one, the “war rages on!” Indeed. Willy is trying to read all about giant dinosaurs, but Earl hasn’t given up on his quest for Bobo and keeps interrupting. When Earl decides to write his own book, a scary adventure in which he’ll save Bobo, his imagination goes into overdrive as he incorporates a jungle, fierce wild animals, tigers, a scary snake tree, and even more. As he’s writing and illustrating this tale in the fort he’s made for himself and Bobo, Earl wreaks his own havoc upon the tale in more ways than one. But, ah, the power of creativity (and catharsis and channeling your rage into your works of art): The snake in Willy’s own story could always eat Earl alive … (more…)

9 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #281: In Which I Rejoice Overthe Return of the Rosenthals’ Willy, Bobo, and Earl, last added: 5/23/2012
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71. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #282: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Robert Trujillo


“When we finished our lowrider, I was so proud of my mama.
People thought she couldn’t do it, but we sure proved ‘em wrong!
And I was proud of myself for helping her choose some pretty colors for the painting.”

It’s the first Sunday of the month, which means it’s time here at 7-Imp to shine the spotlight on a student or new-to-the-field illustrator.

Today I’ve got illustrator, artist, and mural-maker Robert Trujillo, who is from Oakland, California. Robert has yet to be published as an illustrator but is, as he told me, trying to learn more about the field and meet like minds “in real time or through the Web.”

Speaking of the Web, Robert’s site is the cool side of satin, especially if you dig art and jazz (and/or funk and/or soul). Case-in-point is here.

Okay, digression over.

The illustration above, rendered in watercolor and ink, is one of two illustrations Robert created from a short story he’s written about a mother and daughter who build their own lowrider. The second illustration, as well as more artwork from Robert, is below.

And here are more words from Robert, who is pictured above at a recent visit to an elementary school in Sacramento. (More on that visit and more pictures are here at Robert’s site.) (more…)

18 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #282: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Robert Trujillo, last added: 6/4/2012
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72. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #284: Featuring Jeff Mack

Happy Father’s Day to all you fathers and father-type people out there. I don’t have Father’s Day-esque art today, but author/illustrator Jeff Mack is visiting and sharing illustrations, and I’m happy he’s stopped by.

So, here’s the thing … About a couple of months ago, I guess it was, I read Jeff’s Frog and Fly: Six Slurpy Stories (Philomel Books, March 2012) and enjoyed it. (Some spreads and the book’s cover are featured below.) These are funny stories, rendered in big cartoon art, for so-called emerging readers, involving a slightly macabre, straight-talk-about-the-food-chain kind of humor. (The frog manages to catch and consume a fly in each story, since that’s how the good ‘ol-fashioned food web tends to work, though in the end, he just might get his comeuppance.)

“Newly fledged readers should be amused by the early-Muppet–style humor,” wrote the Kirkus review. “The comic-book pacing keeps each separate ‘chapter’ fresh and funny, and the sunny palette keeps the tone light, even as the fly gets snaggled, over and over.”

And I had decided back then, when first reading the book, to see if Jeff wanted to visit the blog and share images.

And then, as often happens, I got busy and never asked him directly.

But then, just last week, I read his other new title, pictured here, and my eight-year-old and I laughed our fool heads off. It’s called Good News, Bad News (Chronicle Books), and I think it’s scheduled for an early July release. With just five words (”good news” and “bad news” on each spread — and a “very” thrown in for good measure at the end), Jeff tells the mighty funny and briskly-paced story of two friends, one half-glass-full and one glass-mostly-empty. Rabbit’s cheery nature and spontaneous naïveté, paired with Mouse’s sour disposition, make for some hearty laughs. There’s some slapstick humor to boot, and this one also serves as a great title for emerging readers. (They will read these five words with great confidence, as Jeff relays the dramatic action via the energetic artwork.)

Right after I read this one, I contacted Jeff immediately. Finally. So, he’s here today to share some images from those books, as well as a couple of others that I haven’t seen yet that are forthcoming titles. (more…)

17 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #284: Featuring Jeff Mack, last added: 6/19/2012
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73. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #289: Featuring Tad Hills

This is the first time Tad Hills’ Rocket, pictured above, has visited 7-Imp, and it’s long overdue.

So, when I write weekly columns for Kirkus, I always follow up one week later here at 7-Imp with art from the book. (To not post as much art as I’m allowed makes me twitch a little.) In early May, I did a short Q & A over at Kirkus with author/illustrator Tad Hills. He has created many picture books over the years that my children and I have enjoyed, including the Duck & Goose books, one of which I covered here at 7-Imp in 2007 (back when, shudder, I only included book covers).

(more…)

25 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #289: Featuring Tad Hills, last added: 7/25/2012
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74. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #291: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Jördis Brier


“She left the house, sad and disappointed,
to go on a quest in order to find her brothers.”

(Click to enlarge)

It’s gonna get dark and heavy and raw around here this morning, y’all.

However, if you look at 7-Imp’s home page right now, you’ll see some cute, fluffy dogs; some endearing cats; a screamingly adorable baby bear; a dancing egg; and even more happy happy joy joy (the wonderfully creepy bats from The Brothers Hilts being the one exception). So, I say it’s high time we got ominous and grim (and Grimm) around here, don’t you think? Hey, it’s only fair, and it’s my turn, says The Sinister, given last week was a heartwarming story about books.

That’s to say: If you’re still sipping your coffee and aren’t in the mood to read about bones and blood and angry ravens tearing at someone and straight-up murder as only fairy tales (or, in this case, fairy tale adaptations) can tell ‘em, consider yourself warned now.

It’s the first Sunday of the month, which means we get to look at the work of a student or brand-new illustrator, and today I’ve got a German student of illustration, named Jördis Brier, who was actually once a student of American illustrator Shadra Strickland. One of Jördis’s classroom projects (not yet published) is the subject of today’s post, and I’m going to let her tell you more about it. (more…)

17 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #291: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Jördis Brier, last added: 8/6/2012
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75. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #292: Featuring Erin and Philip Stead


“Bear helped Mouse find seeds on the forest floor.”

Yesterday at Kirkus, I rambled incessantly about Fall 2012 picture books for which I’ve already fallen and fallen hard. Since I like to follow Kirkus columns one week later with 7-Imp posts that feature art art and lots of art—if I don’t post lots of art, I start to get twitchy—I started gathering at least one spread from each book to feature here at 7-Imp later this week.

But then when I ended up with more than one spread from the new book Bear Has a Story to Tell (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook), written by Philip C. Stead and illustrated by Erin E. Stead, I couldn’t resist the urge to go ahead and post about it today. It will be released relatively soon anyway (early September).

If I gave away the entire story here, I’d not be able to sleep at night for having ruined the reading experience for you. So, I’m going to do something rare and unusual for long-winded me: I’m going to just list a small handful of things about it that I like. I’ll list seven of them (at the risk of looking formulaic here), given the blog’s title. (Why not?) Then, I’ll just let the beautiful art speak for itself. (more…)

25 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #292: Featuring Erin and Philip Stead, last added: 8/14/2012
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