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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: 7-Imps 7 Kicks, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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51. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #382: Featuring Marianne Dubuc

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s some more art. Enjoy.

(Click to enlarge slightly)

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

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

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

THE LION AND THE BIRD. Copyright © 2013 by Marianne Dubuc. First American edition © 2014 by Enchanted Lion Books, Brooklyn, NY. Images reproduced by permission of the publisher.

* * * * * * *

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

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

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

But do tell: What are YOUR kicks this week?

12 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #382: Featuring Marianne Dubuc, last added: 5/19/2014
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52. 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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53. 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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54. 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.

* * * * * * *

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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55. 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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56. 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.

(Click to enlarge)

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 …

(Click to enlarge)

…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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57. 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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58. 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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59. 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.

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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.)

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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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60. 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.

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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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61. 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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62. 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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63. 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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64. 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).


25 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #289: Featuring Tad Hills, last added: 7/25/2012
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65. 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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66. 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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67. 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.


26 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #293: Featuring Andrea Dezsö, last added: 9/8/2012
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68. 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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69. 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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70. 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

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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71. 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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72. 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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73. 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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74. 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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75. 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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