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1. Review of Here Comes the Easter Cat

underwood here comes the easter cat Review of Here Comes the Easter CatHere Comes the Easter Cat
by Deborah Underwood; 
illus. by Claudia Rueda
Preschool    Dial    80 pp.
1/14    978-0-8037-3939-0    $16.99    g

Cat discovers an advertisement for the Easter Bunny’s arrival on the front endpapers of this witty offering, and from the very first page he is unhappy about it. The text addresses Cat directly throughout the book, and he responds using placards, humorous expressions, and body language to convey his emotions to great effect. When asked what’s wrong, Cat explains that he doesn’t understand why everyone loves the Easter Bunny. To assuage Cat’s jealousy, the text suggests that he become the Easter Cat and “bring the children something nice too.” Intrigued, Cat plans his gift idea (chocolate bunnies with no heads), transportation method (a motorcycle faster than that hopping bunny), and a sparkly outfit (complete with top hat). But multiple naps are an important part of Cat’s daily routine. When he discovers that the Easter Bunny doesn’t take any naps while delivering all his eggs, a forlorn Cat devises an unselfish way he can instead assist the hard-working rabbit. Rueda expertly uses white space, movement, and page turns to focus attention on Cat and the repartee. The combination of Underwood’s knowledgeable authorial voice and Rueda’s loosely sketched, textured ink and colored-pencil illustrations make this an entertaining, well-paced tale for interactive story hours. And if he isn’t going to usurp the Easter Bunny, then clever Cat will just have to take over another ho-ho-holiday.

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The post Review of Here Comes the Easter Cat appeared first on The Horn Book.

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2. Illustrator Interview – Lita Judge

This interview arose from one of those serendipitous moments. I had been liking all Lita’s posts on FB about her new picture book FLIGHT SCHOOL for several weeks and had been thinking that I must see if she would like … Continue reading

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3. Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Julie Fortenberry


 
Illustrator Julie Fortenberry is visiting 7-Imp today, and as you can see above, she brought her breakfast along — Cheerios with blueberries and coffee with milk. It looks just right to me (and healthy to boot), and I’m ready to chat with her over coffee.

I should say that Julie, who started her career as an abstract painter, is an author-illustrator, actually. Earlier this month, she saw her writing debut, though previously she’s illustrated others’ books. You can read more below about The Artist and the King, her author-illustrator debut and what Kirkus calls in their review “a nod to art’s twin powers of subversion and of transformation.” It was published by Alazar Press (whom we have to thank for re-printing Ashley Bryan’s compilations of Black American spirituals, but Julie talks about that below too).

Those of you familiar with the work of Kar-Ben Publishing (a division of Lerner Publishing Group), who publish new children’s books with Jewish content each year, may instantly recognize Julie’s work. As you’ll see below, she’s illustrated many of Jamie Korngold’s stories about a Jewish girl, the cheery and ever-resourceful Sadie.

Let’s get to it, and I thank Julie for visiting. (I’d like to take this opportunity, by the way, to thank Julie seven-thousand-fold for her blog about children’s illustration, which she writes with artist Shelley Davies. Oh, how I’ve enjoyed it over the years.)

* * * * * * *


A painting by Don Fortenberry of Julie at work
(Click to enlarge)

Jules: Are you an illustrator or author/illustrator?

Julie: Author/Illustrator.

Jules: Can you list your books-to-date?

Julie: Illustrator of the following:

Author/Illustrator of The Artist and the King [April 2014].

Jules: What is your usual medium?

Julie: Photoshop.



Sketch and final illustration for High Five

magazine

Jules: Where are your stompin’ grounds?

Julie: Pittsboro, NC. Population 3,743 (2010 census).

Jules: Can you tell me about your road to publication?

Julie: I started my career as an abstract painter, and I still paint abstractions from time to time. I was once in a Whitney Museum exhibit with Carroll Dunham (Lena’s dad) and the Starn Twins. That was a lifetime ago.


River (oil on pine)


Julie’s portrait of her uncle, Martin Balow
(Click to enlarge)

As an illustrator, I’m self-taught. I started tinkering with Adobe software that a friend gave me not long after I had children. It was satisfying to be creative in a way that was accessible to my kids. In 2006, the High Five magazine and Boyds Mills Press editors found my illustration portfolio on childrensillustrators.com. The art directors and editors of Honesdale, PA, gave me my first assignments.


“Cotton candy, sticky sweet, on Pippa’s fingers—tasty treat.”
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“Parade is over. Time for bed.”
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Above: Spreads from Karen Roosa’s Pippa at the Parade (Boyds Mill Press, 2009)

Jules: Can you please point readers to your web site and/or blog?

Julie: www.juliefortenberry.com.

My abstract work can be seen here.

Artist Shelley Davies and I blog about children’s illustration here. (Shelley finds the best stuff.) We recently started a Facebook page, too: www.facebook.com/childrens.illustration.9



More illustrations for High Five

Jules: Any new titles/projects you might be working on now that you can tell me about?

Julie: I have a new Sadie book coming out in September (Sadie, Ori, and Nuggles Go to Camp) and one more Sadie book in the pipeline. I’m also writing and illustrating an easy reader.



(Click to enlarge)

Pictured above: Work-in-progress pieces

Mmm. Coffee.Okay, I’ve got more coffee, and it’s time to get a bit more detailed with seven questions over breakfast. I thank Julie again for visiting 7-Imp.

1. Jules: What exactly is your process when you are illustrating a book? You can start wherever you’d like when answering: getting initial ideas, starting to illustrate, or even what it’s like under deadline, etc. Do you outline a great deal of the book before you illustrate or just let your muse lead you on and see where you end up?

Julie

: My process varies, depending on the editor. Some editors send layouts with the words in place and detailed instructions; others leave the layout up to me. For Eve Bunting’s Pirate Boy, I was free to create the page turns, to choose what to illustrate, and even to choose the dimensions of the book. I hand-drew little story boards to figure out how to pace the pictures. The sketches and final illustrations were done with Photoshop (using a mouse).


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Pictured above: Sketches and final spreads from Eve Bunting’s
Pirate Boy

(Holiday House, 2011).

As for The Artist and the King, the project started when my husband recounted a tale about WWII. The Danes, he said, had made Nazi orders unenforceable when they all opted to wear the yellow star. Really this is a myth, but I wished it were true. That idea of people working together to undermine a tyrant became the seed for The Artist and the King, and the yellow star became a dunce cap.

Of course, because I was writing for children, everything else changed too. My friend, the writer Kathleen O’Dell, helped me with the first couple of drafts (and by “couple,” I mean twenty). Almost from the start, the illustrating and writing happened simultaneously. The pictures sparked the words and vice versa. In fact, the entire road to publication was intertwined with the writing and rewriting process. I submitted a dummy of the story (by emailing a link to a web slideshow) to several editors and received feedback. One editor in particular outlined ways for improving the story. Still, after revisions, she wasn’t quite ready to commit to it.


“Neighbors and friends asked for caps of their own. She began selling her caps in the marketplace, and trading them for exotic ribbons, gems,
feathers and buttons to make new caps.”

(Click to enlarge)



“One by one, the others followed. When the soldiers saw their families going, they followed, leaving the King alone in the market square. Daphne looked back at that cap, then at the King’s spear, hovering directly above it. That beautiful cap, crumpled in the dirt! She made a run for it. But she stopped short.”
(Click to enlarge)



“‘Come now, your majesty,’ said Daphne. ‘We can still bring everyone home.’”
(Click to enlarge)

Pictured above: Sketches and final spreads from
The Artist and the King


(Alazar Press, 2014).

Around this time I moved to North Carolina, and I saw Ashley Bryan’s work at the North Carolina Museum of Art. His beautifully illustrated compilations of Black American spirituals (Walk Together Children and I’m Going to Sing) were republished by Alazar Press, just up the road from me. I queried the founder of Alazar, Rosemarie Gulla, about the project. Rosemarie loved the story and agreed to publish it. The final edit was done by the wonderful writer and editor Jacqueline Ogburn. And the book designer, Julie Allred, adjusted the layout in a way that improved the flow of the story.

With so much help, it was a little like making stone soup. But in this version of Stone Soup, the villagers are extremely talented and generous.



Sketch and final illustration for Babybug

magazine

2. Jules: Describe your studio or usual work space.

Julie

: Big. One of the perks of living in a small southern town is that I can afford work space. My husband and I use the top floor of our home as a studio. His side is for painting and collage. It’s full of paint, glue, and bits of ripped up Life magazines. If I want a watercolor backdrop to scan into my work, I can find it over there.


(Click to enlarge)


Julie’s husband, Don, in the studio
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Julie’s children

3. Jules: As a book-lover, it interests me: What books or authors and/or illustrators influenced you as an early reader?

Julie

: The first book I read alone was The B Book by Phyllis McGinley, illustrated by Robert Jones. I loved Marcia Brown’s Stone Soup (read by Captain Kangaroo) and my Little Golden Book Picture Dictionary illustrated by Tibor Gergely.

And then there’s The Five Chinese Brothers by Claire Huchet Bishop and Kurt Wiese. I remembered the picture of the ocean being swallowed by the one brother and his struggle not to spit it out, because when he does spit it out, a little boy will drown — and that’s just the first brother. There are four more brothers and four methods of execution, one involving suffocation by burning whipped cream. I think it’s safe to say that they don’t write ‘em like that anymore.

4. Jules: If you could have three (living) authors or illustrators—whom you have not yet met—over for coffee or a glass of rich, red wine, whom would you choose? (Some people cheat and list deceased authors/illustrators. I won’t tell.)

Julie: Lynda Barry, David Small, and Shirley Hughes.



Sketch and final illustration from Sadie’s Sukkah Breakfast
by Jamie Korngold (Kar-Ben, 2011)

(Click second image to enlarge)

5. Jules: What is currently in rotation on your iPod or loaded in your CD player? Do you listen to music while you create books?

Julie: Amy Winehouse, Kid Creole and the Coconuts, Lily Allen, Nellie McKay, The Kinks, Madeleine Peyroux, Sly and the Family Stone.

I listen to music when the reading/math part is over, yes.




Sketches and more art from Sadie’s Sukkah Breakfast

6. Jules: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

Julie: I’m a good dancer. Please, someone invite me to a wedding reception.


Spread from Jamie Korngold’s
Sadie’s Lag Ba’Omer Mystery

(Kar-Ben, January 2014)
(Click to enlarge)

7. Jules: Is there something you wish interviewers would ask you — but never do? Feel free to ask and respond here.

Julie: Who is your favorite writer for adults?

Anne Tyler. A review by Tara Gallagher accurately described Anne Tyler as a “master of the fine threads of human relationships.” I love movies about the fine threads, too. Mike Leigh’s Another Year is a favorite.


Illustration from Jamie Korngold’s
Sadie’s Almost Marvelous Menorah

(Kar-Ben, 2013)

* * * The Pivot Questionnaire * * *

Jules: What is your favorite word?

Julie: “Shoehorn.” It cracked me up the first time I heard it, and it still cracks me up.

“Flummoxed” is another good word.

Jules: What is your least favorite word?

Julie: “Yummy.”

Jules: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Julie: A liberal arts education — what Sarah Vowell calls “that trap door to a bottomless pit of beauty.”

Jules: What turns you off?

Julie: Bean-counting.

7-Imp: What is your favorite curse word? (optional)

Julie: Every word Susie Essman’s character, Susie Greene, has ever yelled. She has a talent for alliteration.

Jules: What sound or noise do you love?

Julie: The wail of loons on a lake. The voices of my family playing board games as I fall asleep on the couch.

Jules: What sound or noise do you hate?

Julie: Eric Cantor’s voice.

Jules: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Julie: Acting.

Jules: What profession would you not like to do?

Julie: Anything where I’d have to pronounce French words in front of people, like waitressing at the Lord Jeffery Inn. Just ask my friend Jennifer Thermes about my pronunciation of the word giclée.

Jules: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Julie: “It’s okay.” And then I’d like to hear Bobby Darin sing “Beyond The Sea.”

* * * * * * *

All artwork and images are used with permission of Julie Fortenberry.

The spiffy and slightly sinister gentleman introducing the Pivot Questionnaire is Alfred, © 2009 Matt Phelan.

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4. Bunny Books: A Round-Up of Rabbit Books

Move over doggy and kitty books (unless you're a book about a cat that wants to be a bunny), adorable bunny books are in abundance and multiplying all of the time. Whether you're looking for an Easter basket filler, a simply sweet tale or something classic like The Velveteen Rabbit, we've got you covered—and twice on the "Velveteen" front.

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5. Blog Tour de Toby Turtle 2014!

Pack your snorkel and fins. It's time for the Toby blog tour!

Toby is my upcoming picture book about a plucky sea turtle's adventures from egg to nest. I'll be signing books, talking turtles, divulging my innermost rhyming secrets (and just how many pencils I chewed through to finish this story!).

Without further ado, here is the tour call out:

Award-winning author Stacy Nyikos will be hosting a blog tour June 8-14, 2014, to celebrate the launch of her new book Toby.

Stacy is offering blog interviews, guest blogs, and a limited number of books for review and giveaways.  About Stacy Nyikos – In a quiet little office/at a comfy little desk/Stacy Nyikos chews on pencils/and scribbles silliness…when she’s not plucking splinters from her teeth, that is. Stacy holds an MFA is Writing (silliness) for Children from Vermont College. She spends her days chasing—or being chased—by stories. Toby is her latest catch. He sees it the other way around—catching her in the form of two very curious but courageous rescue sea turtle’s she met during a behind the scenes tour of her local aquarium. Either way, a lot of pencils got crunched writing his story.

About Toby - Birds, and crabs, and crocs - oh my! - stand between Toby and his new ocean home. Can he outslip, outslide, out-double flip and dive them? Join this plucky little sea turtle on his adventures from egg to ocean to find out!


Interviews and guest blogs should be completed prior to May 31, 2014.  This is a perfect opportunity for students, librarians and bloggers to access an award-winning author at no cost.  Bring the arts to life; involve students in the interview and blogging process.

If you require a book/book review prior to an interview, please let me know your mailing address.  We have a very limited number, so contact me right away.

The tour will be publicized by Provato Events through a press release prior to the event.  All interviews will be listed on the Provato Events Website and on Stacy Nyikos’ Blog with links to the blog sites. 

To participate in the blog tour, please contact me today. 

Thank you!

<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE <![endif]--> Michele Kophs
15114 NW 7th Ct. | Vancouver, WA 98685
360.597.3432 Direct | 646.219.4841 Fax
http://www.provatoevents.com/blog/Toby.html

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6. Going Global



I received some great news from my publisher that all of my books are going to be available for sale in China and other Asian markets.  Guardian Angel Publishing has finished negotiating with an agent to distribute English language books.  This is coupled with a mandate in China that all school children should learn English.  So I’m really excited that my books will be open to such a huge market.  Also in the works is distribution to India and other emerging markets where my books are not available.  I’ll keep you posted on any further developments.  But I couldn’t wait to spread the word.  How cool is that?

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7. Celebrate Earth Day Next Week with MAPLE!

Maple

By Lori Nichols

 

Recently I was coming out of a local breakfast gathering place in our small town. It happens to be next to the Historical Society’s building and as I put my hand on the door handle of the car, I glanced down at a brass plaque in the grass at my feet. It jogged my memory to something I had intended to do, but had forgotten; and that was, to plant a tree.

The town has a program to honor someone with the planting of a new tree. For a donation, the tree is planted along with a brass plaque at its base, inscribed with the name and details of the life of the honoree. I meant to do it for my parents. Sort of says, “I was here” and someone recognized that fact. It’s a look backward at a life, as compared with the look forward method celebrated in a picture book that BEGINS with a planting. 

Meet Maple. Even BEFORE her appearance, her parents plant a tiny maple tree in her honor. With the planting of that tree variety, comes the perfect name for the soon-to-be-born infant dovetailing rather perfectly with the tree planted – Maple!

Trees symbolize so many things to me, but chief among them are change and growth. And so it is with young Maple. She grows AND changes side by side with her namesake. I love the sense of camaraderie and acceptance that Ms. Nichols builds between the arboreal maple and the human one. If Maple is having a bad day, she visits her leafy counterpart. She sings to it, sways for it and even pretends to BE it. Sweet!

The maple’s leaves provide shade and a place for dreaming amid its branches, but as the seasonal changes inevitably occur and colder weather ensues, the branches are blown BARE! What’s the young Maple to do for her namesake? Why enfold it with her jacket, of course. It is absolutely something a child would do. Instinctively, they seem to want heal the hurting and protect the defenseless. But as we grow older, it sometimes seems a struggle to stay in touch with that basic instinct that we had as children. Thanks for the gentle reminder, Ms. Nichols!

Through a winter that sees new friendships born of snow, via the making of a snowman, Maple finds THAT friendship literally disappears with the appearance of warmer weather. But no matter, Maple and her tree are a forever friendship.

Remember what I said earlier about trees symbolizing growth AND change? What is young Maple to think when she sees a NEW tree planted by her parents? Yup, she is soon to be the BIG SISTER! And Maple is nothing if not adaptable to new situations, sharing HER hat and gloves if the new sibling seems cold, and introducing HER playthings to the baby for amusement. But even young Maple discovers babies can have their fussy times when you wonder WHAT next to try to pacify.

Maple remembers what and who soothed HER, and if past can sometimes provide prologue, then the solution is a simple one; the leafy shade of her tree and the dancing shadows that provide diversion is a nearby solution to this age-old problem. And so the theme of this picture book of nature as friend is both soothing and satisfying.    

And lest you think ANOTHER maple was planted for the new arrival to the family, you need not be surprised as Ms. Nichols is wise enough to know that just as no two trees are EXACTLY the same, no two children are EITHER! The new baby’s name and the tree planted in honor of her coming are both named WILLOW!

Lori Nichols has written a book taking the themes of siblings, growth and change and woven them all into a simple tale with a symbolically strong message for parents and young readers. Her art is perfectly matched to the story with Maple’s soft blue shirt, tan pants and standout red maryjanes painting a picture of a charming child going through every day events that may SEEM every day, but actually mark milestones of growth in her life as reflected in nature, not merely numerically, but emotionally.

And, oh yes, before I forget, I have TWO trees to plant, mom and dad!        

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8. Firefly July: A year of very short poems, selected by Paul B. Janeczko (ages 5-10)

I adore poetry--hooray for National Poetry Month! I love the amazing tumbling, turning and twisting that poets do with words. I marvel at the layered meanings in poems, and I have so much fun with the silliness of other poems. The only the I have such trouble with is memorizing poems. So imagine my delight when I read a whole book of poems just right for me to try to remember!
Firefly July
A year of very short poems
selected by Paul B. Janeczko
illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Candlewick, 2014
*best new book*
your local library
Amazon
ages 5-10
This picture book balances poetry and illustrations in a lovely way, so that children from preschool through upper elementary can linger over each page. Paul Janeczko has selected 36 poems to reflect our four seasons, and Melissa Sweet illustrates each poem, balancing literal and figurative meanings in ways that help children understand the poems fully. Take this lovely poem
"The Island", by Lillian Morrison
At first glance, this is just a peaceful picture of an island on a summer's day. But Sweet's illustration helps young children understand how "wrinkled stone" might indeed look "like an elephant's skin." As the Horn Book says, "Sweet's expansive mixed-media illustrations -- loosely rendered, collage-like assemblages in seasonal palettes -- are just detailed enough to clarify meaning without intruding on young imaginations."

Sweet includes children in so many of her illustrations. Do you see the young child looking out at the island? It's a small detail, but just enough for a young child to put themselves in the scene, to imagine being their on a summer's day. Take a look at the picture below, and notice how Sweet includes children just as silhouettes -- letting the fireflies take center stage, but inviting children to be part of the poem as well.
"Firefly July" by J. Patrick Lewis
I absolutely agree with five starred reviews Firefly July has received! This is a delightful collection that children will enjoy returning to time and again. My sense is that this collection will captivate children from kindergarten through fourth grade, precisely because poetry can be read on so many different levels. For other reviews, check out Betsy Bird's review on SLJ's Fuse #8, and Anita Silvey's post on The Children's Book-a-Day Almanac.

Illustration copyright ©2014 by Melissa Sweet. The review copy was kindly sent by the publishers, Candlewick Press. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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9. Steve and Wessley - Kid Art

I gave a copy of my latest book, "The Ice Cream Shop: A Steve and Wessley Reader" to the first grade boy that lives on my street.  He sent me a lovely letter saying he and his sister both love the book, plus he made me this awesome plaque.  I think it's so adorable, I'm going to hang it up in my studio this weekend.

Here's a page from the book.  I don't know why but all of my stories seem to revolve around food. 

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10. My First Book of Chinese Words: An ABC Rhyming Book | Book Review

This unique and charming alphabet book uses rhymes and fact snippets to introduce Chinese words to a pre-schooler. The words are written in Pinyin, a sound system using Roman letters to write Chinese sounds. Words introduced are significant in Chinese culture, but relatable in any culture.

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11. 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.”
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“She didn’t like being different.”
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“Sometimes Henny followed Mr. Farmer around. He was always very busy.”
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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?

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12. Two Classic New Zealand Picture Books Re-Issued


Two Classic New Zealand Picture Books Re-Issued
Bidibidi by Gavin Bishop, Scholastic New Zealand

It only seems a short time ago that I was reviewing the last re-released and re-designed edition of Bidibidi.I commented then that it’s very hard to review a classic book like this - it will simply go on forever. It was originally published in 1982, so if you’ve got tatty old copies of earlier editions on your shelves, here’s a chance to update your collection. I imagine every teacher and parent knows this book, but if you don’t all you need to be told is that it’s a story about searching for rainbows, that it can be slightly scary in parts, and that it’s imbued with “New Zealandness”. Every New Zealand child of about four to seven should read it or listen to it being read (there is a Te Reo edition available). My copy is going straight into my “must give to the grandchildren” pile.

ISBN 978-1-77543-192-3 $19.50 Pb

The Bantam and the Soldier by Jennifer Beck, ill. Robyn Belton, Scholastic New Zealand
Scholastic are taking the opportunity provided by the current WWI centenary events to publish a re-designed edition of another classic picture book. Originally published in 1996, this book won the New Zealand Children’s Book of the Year in 1997 - a prize richly deserved. On re-reading the book I was struck by the excellent integration of the story and the pictures. Bertha the bantam becomes a symbol of hope and survival for the unfortunate soldiers stuck in the trenches, and throughout the illustrations - mainly done in shades of brown and khaki and grey - Bertha’s rich red-gold feathers provide a cheering focal point. I particularly enjoyed the end papers with their reproductions of relevant photos, drawings and ephemera. Teachers will find these pictures useful for studies of WWI, along with the author and illustrator’s comments about their families during the war, also the Bibliography on the last page. This is another must-buy for public, primary school and intermediate school libraries; also for families who want to remember ancestors involved in The Great War.

ISBN 978-1-77543-207-4 $19.50 Pb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

 

 

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13. Big-city picture books

Visiting big cities can foster both excitement and anxiety. Whether young children are already well traveled or just curious about new places, these four picture books can provide them with excellent armchair tours of New York City and Europe.

jacobs count on the subway Big city picture booksA little girl traveling on the subway counts from one (“1 MetroCard”) to ten (“10 friends sway, boogie and bop…”) and back down again in Count on the Subway. Paul DuBois Jacobs and Jennifer Swender’s pleasantly rhyming text is full of the sights and sounds of a subway ride. Shout-outs to some New York City stations and train lines (“Find the 7 at Times Square”) give readers their bearings, but familiarity with the city isn’t a necessity. The clean page design encourages young children to participate in counting the objects and people mentioned in the text. Dan Yaccarino’s graphically dynamic illustrations pop with crisp lines and solid blocks of dazzling crayon-box colors. (Knopf, 3–5 years)

brown in new york Big city picture booksJoin a little boy and his father In New York, an enthusiastically busy story-book guide to New York City. Just about all of Manhattan’s child-pleasing sites get a place in Marc Brown’s stupendously detailed gouache and watercolor pictures, including the Empire State Building at sunset, Rockefeller Center at Christmas, the Statue of Liberty, the dinosaur gallery of the American Museum of Natural History, and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The minimal text is inviting, the endpapers offer additional child-friendly vignettes and facts, and appended info includes phone numbers and websites for all the highlights. (Knopf, 4–7 years)

banks city cat Big city picture booksIn City Cat, a small smoky-gray cat follows a family on its trip through Europe, making herself supremely comfortable wherever she goes. Kate Banks’s text is confident and rhythmic, dotted with rhymes and half-rhymes that bounce off the tongue. “She sits on piers with perked-up ears / and gazes out to sea.” Lauren Castillo’s drawings capture both the grandeur of great cities and their human dynamism. In each picture, we look for the family, and the family looks for the cat. An appended spread, both child- and cat-oriented, identifies the cities and the sights, and a map lets us trace the family’s eight-city journey. (Foster /Farrar, 4–7 years)

rubbino walk in paris Big city picture booksSalvatore Rubbino (A Walk in New York, A Walk in London) showcases another iconic city in A Walk in Paris. This time, a small girl and her grandpa tour sites such as Notre-Dame and the Pompidou Center; a bistro and an outdoor market; and the Métro. Following streets medieval and modern, they finally arrive, with a foldout, at the Eiffel Tower, “fizzing with lights!” It’s an amiable amble, the child’s travelogue nicely extended with extra facts in discreetly tiny type (“book stalls have lined the river since the mid-sixteenth century”). Rubbino’s evocative mixed-media art is full of gentle tones enlivened with verdant greens and a pâtisserie’s inviting raspberry-reds. An endpaper map details the route, and major sites are indexed. (Candlewick, 4–7 years)

From the April 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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14. Slithery Snakes – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Title: Slithery Snakes Story and art by Roxie Munro Published by Amazon Publishing, 2013 Ages: 7-11 Themes: snakes, habitats, skin patterns Nonfiction, 40 pages. Available in hard back and eBook formats. Opening Lines:  Can you guess what kind of snake this is?       … Continue reading

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15. Drawing it True



Today’s guest blogger is Cynthia Levinson.

With my first nonfiction picture book under development, I’ve begun to think about—and look hard at—the illustrations in nonfiction books for younger readers. Although it was challenging to ferret out photographs, pamphlets, legal documents, and memorabilia for images in my first nonfiction middle-grade, We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March, they served at least two purposes. Above all, as primary sources, they informed me about the times and events I was writing about. In addition, placed in the book, they broke the text and provided both visual interest and verisimilitude for readers.

Illustrations, I’m realizing, are very different. They’re not artifacts. They’re the artists’ imagined representations of time, place, events, and mood. Although they can be very precise and accurate, water colors, collages, oils, etc., don’t necessarily show the reader exactly how the spur attached to the boot, say, or that the temperature was 99 degrees. They can be more atmospheric and still be valid—not just valid but also emotionally true.

I’m beginning to think of the artwork in nonfiction picture books as the visual voice of the book. And, just as I struggled to make the textual voice in The Youngest Marcher authentic, even when I wasn’t quoting someone, I’ve been looking at illustrations for authenticity—even if they’re not photographically accurate.

Here’s a range of pictorial styles, in recently published and lauded picture books, from the concrete to the imagistic. (Warning: I am not an artist! These are merely my impressions.)

Brian Floca’s illustrations in Locomotive are as precise and detailed as those in any Richard Scarry word
book. After looking at the end papers’ labeled diagrams, I’d recognize a piston rod, throttle lever, and Johnson Bar anywhere! And the accuracy of those drawings tells me that every other illustration must be right also, even the water-colored elevation map of the Great Basin in the frontispiece and the sketch of a man chasing his horse, who must have been spooked by an approaching train. Floca not only conveys depth of information but he also gives the reader confidence that he knows what he’s writing—and drawing—about.

Similarly, many of Melissa Sweet’s illustrations, such as the medical drawings, in Jen Bryant’s A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams seem to be completely accurate. Other, blurrier ones, however, appear metaphoric, which seems appropriate for a book about a man who was a poet as well as a physician. Sweet’s blocky collages display a conglomeration on each page of neat facts and lyrical tone.
 
To Dare Mighty Things: The Life of Theodore Roosevelt, written by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by C. F. Payne, takes the realistic cum impressionistic approach a step further. Clothing is appropriate to the times, of course, as are saddles and ten-dollar bills. Furthermore, Payne might well have drawn the faces of politicians and bystanders by copying them exactly
from contemporary sketchbooks or photographs. Today’s facial recognition software could practically identify them! Yet, snow falling in the Dakota Territory looks like unnaturally soft polka-dots, and Teddy sometimes appears unrealistically eyeless behind his spectacles— appropriate for someone who was hard-of-seeing. And, in a spread of young Teddy’s dream, he seems to float along with a butterfly and a polar bear. As with Sweet’s illustrations, both accuracy and mood prevail.

There are many superlative nonfiction picture books I could focus on. Georgia in Hawaii: When Georgia O’Keefe Painted What She Pleased, written by Amy Novesky and illustrated by Yuyi Morales, must have been particularly challenging for Morales because it needed to convey both the truth of the paintings by its artist-subject and also the mood of O’Keefe’s lush surroundings.

Possibly at the furthest extreme of dispensing with concrete accuracy while maintaining recognizability might be On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by author Jennifer Berne. Most of illustrator Vladimir Radunsky’s images are sweetly cartoon-like. Yet, Einstein is obvious with his brushy mustache and distracted gaze.

I’d like to round off my exploration of visuals in nonfiction picture books with Grandfather Gandhiby Arun Gandhi and my friend Bethany Hegedus and illustrated by Evan Turk. Cloth and paint collages of the Mahatma’s posture and emaciated frame make him instantly recognizable, even in crowd scenes. The vivid background coloration sequence from beige to yellow to orange to red and back to beige again conveys not only India’s searing heat but also young Arun’s moods, from awe of his famous grandfather to anger and back, appropriately, to peace with himself and his family. Readers will sense the place, the times, and the moods without the need for photographic detail.

I’m curious to see how Vanessa Brantley-Newton, the wonderful illustrator of The Youngest Marcher, will choose to visualize its voice. Will she portray scenes of, say, jailed civil rights protesters by drawing hundreds of them packed into a cell, just the way they endured those stifling conditions? Or, will she take a more atmospheric approach?

The Youngest Marcher focuses on one of the people highlighted in We’ve Got a Job. While the books address the same topic, the readership is entirely different. Seeing them side-by-side will further inform me about the various ways that text and visuals can enhance each other. Check back in in January 2016 to see how she accounts for the same facts for a different audience.

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16. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week

This morning over at Kirkus, I write about a small handful of new picture books that caught my eye for one reason or another, including the one pictured above.

Next week here at 7-Imp, I’ll try to have some art from each book.

That link will be here later over at Kirkus.

Until Sunday …

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17. Ribbit! By Rodrigo Folgueira

We all know that pigs say “oink” – or do they?

One morning the most adorable pink pig is discovered by the frogs sitting on a rock in their pond. Seeing a pig in their pond is very confusing to the frogs. When asked why he is sitting in their pond the pig answers “RIBBIT!” The frogs don’t know what to make of a pig in their pond who says “RIBBIT!” Is he making fun of them? What exactly does he want from them?

When other animals arrive to see the pig for themselves, they begin to laugh which only upsets the frogs more than ever. The chief frog decides that they must go find the wise old beetle who will surely know what to do about a ribbit-ing pig. When the animals, along with the wise old beetle, return to the rock in the pond, the pig is gone. In all his wisdom the beetle says, “Maybe he just wanted to make new friends.” Oh no! the frogs and other animals hadn’t thought of that!

Sure enough, the adorable pink pig has found himself some new friends. What a delight to discover who all his new friends turn out to be!

This is a wonderful book about acceptance, friendship, as well as confidence. The charming illustrations draw the reader into the story. I read it over and over – it’s just that much fun!

Posted by: Wendy


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18. Review of the Day: Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan

RulesofSummer 300x279 Review of the Day: Rules of Summer by Shaun TanRules of Summer
By Shaun Tan
Arthur A. Levine Books (an imprint of Scholastic)
$18.99
ISBN: 978-0-545-63912-5
Ages 4 and up
On shelves April 29th

When I was a young teen my favorite book was Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine. Steeped in Bradbury’s nostalgia for his youth, I was in the throes of adolescence, probably on some level nostalgic for my own younger days. In this book I reveled in a childhood that was not my own but felt personal just the same. Summer seemed like the perfect time to set such a tale, what with its long days and capacity for equal parts mischief and magic. I loved my summers, even as I failed to know what exactly to do with them. I think of Bradbury’s novel from time to time, though its use for me has long since passed. I found myself going back to it after seeing Shaun Tan’s Rules of Summer. Encompassing a full summer season, Tan indulges his capacity for the odd and extreme while also managing to delve deeply into a relationship between two brothers. The family story is this book’s heart and soul meaning that when all is said and done this is a book for big siblings and little siblings. Miraculously both will see themselves reflected in the pages of the text. And both, if they approach it from the right direction, will find something to pore over in here for years and years to come.

“This is what I learned last summer,” says the book. It’s the kind of statement you might expect to find in an essay on How I Spent My Summer Vacation. Instead, what follows is a series of imaginative, wholly original extremes. Two brothers live in a world of fantastical creatures and gizmos. The younger continually breaks the rules as the elder either berates him or tries to save him from himself. A dinner party of well-dressed birds of prey contains the sentence, “Never eat the last olive at a party” as the older brother pulls his younger away from the potentially deadly entrée. “Never leave the back door open overnight” sees them both facing a living room awash in vegetation and giant lizards, the older boy clearly put out and the younger carrying a bucket and shovel. As the book continues you realize that the younger boy is often at odds with the rules his elder is trying to instill in him. The final straw comes after a massive pummeling, after which the elder brother sells his little bro off to a flock of black birds (“Never lose a fight”). Fortunately, a rescue is made and the book subtly shifts from admonitions to positive statements (“Always know the way home”). The final shot shows the two boys sitting on the couch watching TV, the walls of their living room wallpapered with drawings of the out-of-this-world creatures encountered in the rest of the book.

RulesSummer4 300x211 Review of the Day: Rules of Summer by Shaun TanAs a general rule I try to avoid reading other reviews of the children’s book in my hand until I’ve read the stories myself and gotten a sense of my own perspective. In the same frame of mind I avoid reading the bookflaps of books since they’ve a nasty tendency to give away the plot. Usually I’ll even avoid looking at them after I’ve read the book in question, but there are exceptions to every rule. After reading Rules of Summer I idly turned the book over and read this one on the back cover: “Never break the rules. Especially if you don’t understand them.” Huh. Oddly insightful comment. Aw, heck. I couldn’t resist. I looked at the bookflap and there, lo and behold, the book started to make more sense. According to the flap the rules are those seemingly arbitrary ones that younger siblings have to face when older siblings come up with them. Slowly a book that before had seemed to have only the slightest semblance of a plot began to make a lot more sense. Had I not read the flap, maybe I would have come up with an entirely different interpretation of the pages. Not sure. Whatever the case, I like where the flap took me, even as I suspect that some kids will have entirely different takes.

Tan’s strength here lies partly in the fact that these brothers command your equal respect. When I read the book through the first time I thought that the younger brother was the hero. A couple more reads and suddenly the older one started to get more and more sympathetic. Consider, for example, that very first shot of the two after the endpapers. The text reads, “Never leave a red sock on the clothesline.” There, hunched against a fence, the two brothers huddle while a scarlet-hued red-eyed rabbit eyes the sock in question. The older brother has one arm protectively around the younger’s back and his other hand gently cupping his mouth. In later images the younger will mess something up and the older won’t bother to hide his frustrations. The lack of parents in this book is the only way to make it work. When kids deal with one another in the absence of adults, they make their own rules. Even when the elder sells his brother to a flock of birds for a dented crown (his least likable moment) you’re almost immediately back on his side when he rescues his little brother with a pair of bolt cutters a couple pages later. And honestly, what older brother and sister hasn’t fantasized at some point about selling off their annoying little brothers and sisters (see: The great Shel Silverstein poem “Brother for Sale”)? Tan is capable of seeing both sides of the sibling equation. Few picture books even dare.

Tan’s always had a bit of a fascination with the surreal world of middle class life. Suburbia is his Twilight Zone, and he hardly has to add any mechanical monsters or sentient birds to make it unusual. In Tales from Outer Suburbia it was language that primarily painted suburban Australia’s canvass. Here, words are secondary to the art. As I paged through I began to take note of some of the mechanics present on a lot of the pages. Water towers, oilrigs, and even the occasional nuclear power plant. Most beautiful and frightening were the extremely large structures holding the power lines. In one picture the younger brother plays a paddle-based game against a robot opponent while his older brother arbitrates. The sky is an overcast slate gray with these unnerving grids of line and metal towering over them in the background. Extra points if you can find the single black bird that makes an appearance on almost every spread until that climatic moment when it no longer appears.

RulesSummer3 300x168 Review of the Day: Rules of Summer by Shaun TanEven the endpapers of this book have the power to make you sit and stare for long periods of time. They inspire a feeling that is just impossible to put into words. The endpapers are also the place where Tan makes it clear that he’s going to be playing with light quite a lot in this book. For a fun time, try to figure out where the light source is coming from in each and every one of the book’s pictures. Sometimes it’s evident. Other times, the answer could well be its own little story.

The thickness to Tan’s paints also marks this as significantly different from some of his other books. Nowhere is this more evident than the cover. Look at the Picasso-like grassy field where the older brother scowls at his younger sibling. The midday sun, the paints so thick you feel like the cover would feel textured if you stroked it, and even the pure blue of the noonday sky has a different Tan tone than you’re used to.

I don’t know if Tan has sons of his own. I don’t particularly care. For all I know the inspiration behind this book came from a relationship with his own brother at an early age. Wherever it might have appeared, one cannot help but feel that Tan knows from whence he illustrates. Thanks to films like Frozen we’re seeing an uptick in interest in stories about siblings of the same gender. Brothers have a tendency to tricky to render on the page (see: the aforementioned Dandelion Wine) but it can be done. Tan has perfectly rendered one such relationship with all its frustrations, betrayals, fights, complaints and deep, enduring love. This book sympathizes with those kids, regardless of their birth order. The rules of childhood are built on shifting sands, causing children everywhere to look longingly at the seeming sanity of adulthood. It’s only when they cross over that these kids will find themselves nostalgic for a time of outsized rules and their overblown importance. Without a doubt, the best book about what summer means to child siblings I’ve ever read.

On shelves April 29th.

Source: Galley acquired at ALA Conference for review.

Like This? Then Try:

Other Blog Reviews:

Professional Reviews:

Other Reviews: Australian Comics Journal

Interviews: Gillo talks to Shaun Tan about the book here.

Misc:

  • The book is available as an app, with music by the hugely talented Sxip Shirey.
  • Download the Teacher’s Guide for the book here.
  • If you don’t mind knowing as much as Tan himself knows about this book, you can read his commentary about each image here. And yes, he was quite close to his own older brother growing up.  So that solves that mystery.

Video:

Seven videos about this book exist on Tan’s website.  Check ‘em out if you’ve half a mind to.

And here’s a sneaky peek at the aforementioned app:

And here’s an interview with him about the book on ABC RN:

 

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19. Calling All Little Helpers!

Sprout Helps Out

By Rosie Winstead

 

 

Do you have a little helper at home? It can be, shall we say, challenging at times when we moms have umpteen things on the burner, and a small voice, says “Mom, can I help?” Moms do NOT want to discourage this kind of offer, though the “help” may come in very unique ways via a very small pair of hands. And it may take a very wise and knowing adult to allow this less than perfect assistance, that may have to be redone or undone, to feel appreciated and valued. But it is worth it because trust me, as those sprouts get older, you will be begging for assistance with household chores! So why not start them early with some positive reinforcement in the desire of little ones to help.

Rosie Winstead has a keen eye when it come to detailing the story of young Sprout and her very determined attempts to help out mom with the housework, as well as Sprout’s desire to become more self sufficient, as the family unit welcomes a new sibling.

Ms. Winstead’s charming tale of a girl whose idea of helping out a house where order is sorely needed, includes some of the following doubtful assistance: making the bed – with mom in it, making sure her own and the dog’s teeth are sufficiently brushed to pearly perfection with – MOM’s tooth brush, walking the fish in their bowl as the dachshund dog trails Sprout, pining for an “out out”. Her attempts at entertaining the baby are met with rollicking success, not because of Sprout’s efforts as puppeteer, but only through flying teacups spilling over and living room lamps tumbling.

No job outdoors or in, is too much of a leap for Sprout as she tackles dirty laundry (watch out, tabby cat), dusting, (does blowing on the dust count?) vacuuming (oops, is that lamp fixable?), and the trail of those recyclables is a sure giveaway as to where Sprout has been!

I can relate to this mom’s look as she views her kitchen floating in a wee bit of water from Sprout’s desire to wash up that mound of dirty dishes.

Rosie Winstead has captured the sweetness and charm surrounding a small child’s honest endeavors to “help out” and, as Rosie, herself is the 6th of 9 children, I think she just may know a thing or two about pitching in when mom seems overwhelmed, yet the author freely admits to hiding more than helping when she was a “sprout.”

Enjoy this affectionate look with your young reader at “trying to help mom” in “Sprout Helps Out”. And if you have a young Sprout, please do let them know how much you appreciate their endeavors. Practice does make perfect in learning a skill set, but after all, in the real world, perfection might just be very boring and very over rated!

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20. Review of You Can’t Have Too Many Friends!

gerstein you cant have too many friends Review of You Cant Have Too Many Friends!You Can’t Have Too Many Friends!
by Mordicai Gerstein; 
illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary    Holiday    32 pp.
4/14    978-0-8234-2393-4    $16.95    g
e-book ed.  978-0-8234-3101-4    $16.95

This retold French folktale (“Drakestail”) stars a farmer duck who, in this absurdist version, is wealthy in the jelly beans he has grown. When the little-boy king “borrows” his jelly beans and doesn’t return them, Duck sets off on a quest to get them back. Along the way, he meets a large, friendly, shaggy green dog who “shrinks and hops into Duck’s pocket”; “Lady Ladder” who does the same; a burbling brook that Duck carries in his gullet; and some wasps transported in Duck’s ear. These new friends all come in handy when the king declines to give back the candy. Listening children will anticipate the role of each of Duck’s pals and will enjoy seeing the king’s nasty acts rightfully rewarded, especially when he’s chased naked out of his bathtub by the wasps. This is anything but a heavy-handed moral treatment, though — Gerstein’s pen-and-ink, acrylic, and colored-pencil illustrations employ a cheerful palette, with scribbly lines and dialogue bubbles. Each picture includes humorous details such as the web-footed claw bathtub and the queen’s fuzzy slippers. And in the end, the king makes reparations, sitting down to a jelly-bean feast with Duck and his odd group of friends.

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21. Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Jeremy Holmes

I’m pleased to welcome illustrator Jeremy Holmes to 7-Imp this morning for breakfast. Back in 2010, I wrote about Jeremy’s delightfully creepy and beautifully bizarre adaptation of the mother of all cumulative children’s folk songs, “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” (complete with a slip cover and closing eyes on the lady’s head when she kicks the bucket). This book went on to win him a Bologna Ragazzi Opera Prima Award.

And it’s this Old Lady, which Jeremy notes at his site, who opened his eyes to the “imaginative and playful world of the picture book” (from primarily the world of graphic design, that is).

Jeremy’s here today to talk about his road to publication and what’s on his plate now — and he shares lots of art, especially from his latest illustrated book, J. Patrick Lewis’ and Douglas Florian’s Poem-mobiles (Schwartz and Wade, January 2014). So I want to get right to it.

I’m very good with Jeremy’s favorite breakfast: English muffins toasted with a smear of salted butter; one egg over hard, heavily peppered; “some pancetta, if ya’ got it, but Canadian bacon will do in a pinch”; a small glass of OJ; and a cup of strong, slightly creamed and sweetened coffee. (He got the coffee JUST RIGHT!)

I thank him for visiting. Without further ado …

* * * * * * *

Jules: Are you an illustrator or author/illustrator?

Jeremy: I’m an illustrator trying to author.

Jules: Can you list your books-to-date?

Jeremy:


Jules: What is your usual medium?

Jeremy: My medium-of-choice is still up for debate. Currently, I’m working with pencil, charcoal, watercolor, digital color, and paper collage. Maybe I should list my non-preferred mediums? But I’m not sure I have any. Wait … I know. I’d never make anything using Limburger cheese.

[Ed. Note: All of the pencil drawings immediately below are from J. Patrick Lewis' and Douglas Florian's Poem-mobiles.]


Drawing the “Caterpillar Cab” spread
(Click to enlarge)


The “Jurassic Park(ing)” spread
(Click to enlarge)


The “Balloon Car” spread
(Click to enlarge)


The “Bathtub Car” spread
(Click to enlarge)



Drawings for the “Giant Bookmobile of Tomorrow” spread
(Click each to enlarge)


The “Dragonwagon” spread
(Click to enlarge)


The “High-Heel Car” spread
(Click to enlarge)

Jules: Where are your stompin’ grounds?

Jeremy: My family and I live in a quaint little 1920s’ bungalow just outside of Philadelphia, PA.


Cover


“Giant Bookmobile of Tomorrow” and “Mini-Mini-Car”


“Fish Car” and “Eel-ectric Car”


“Caterpillar Cab”



“The Love Car”


“The Supersonic Ionic Car”

Above: Final spreads from Poem-mobiles (Schwartz & Wade, January 2014)
(Click each spread to enlarge)

Jules: Can you tell me about your road to publication?

Jeremy: While in grad school, I took a publication class with the uber-talented designer Paul Kepple of Headcase Design, during which I created my first children’s book, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. Once graduated, The Old Lady and I set out into the great wide world of publishing to see if anyone would have interest in making her. Everyone we met with revered the concept, but because of her complicated construction, no one felt she could be built for profit. So I sat her up on a shelf and began illustrating anything and everything that knocked at my door. Before I knew it, I was an editorial illustrator creating weekly assignments for the New York Times, Wired magazine, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, and CNN. Not exactly what I set out to do, but it paid the bills, and I was satisfied (for now) with the level of work being demanded by my clients.


“THERE WAS AN OLD LADY WHO SWALLOWED A SPIDER that wriggled and wiggled and tiggled inside her. SHE SWALLOWED THE SPIDER TO CATCH THE FLY.
I don’t know why she swallowed a fly. PERHAPS SHE’LL DIE.”
(Click to enlarge)

Then out of the blue, I received a call from Victoria Rock of Chronicle Books. She had come across the elaborate marketing piece I had created for The Old Lady three years ago (yes, three years had passed) and wondered if I would send my one-of-a-kind mockup of The Old Lady out to her. They wanted to take her over to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair to see what type of response she’d garner. It had taken me over 100 hours of hard labor to build her, so I was a bit nervous to let her go but figured it would be best for us both.


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A few (very quiet and long) weeks passed before I received another call from Victoria, saying she had some good and some bad news. Confused, I requested the bad news first. She went on to notify me that The Old Lady had been kidnapped, swiped, stolen from the book fair. Victoria immediately consoled my broken heart, saying everything would be alright, because soon there’d be thousands more of her out and about. And so it began.

Jules: Can you please point readers to your web site and/or blog?

Jeremy: www.jeremyholmesstudio.com/; twitter.com/jeremysdesk; www.facebook.com/jeremyholmesstudio.


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Jules: Any new titles/projects you might be working on now that you can tell me about?

Jeremy: I’m currently working with the fantastic Rebecca Sherman of Writers House on my first author/illustrated picture book and a graphic novel, but it’s all still too raw to provide any pictures/pages.

But don’t fret, there’s still a few things I can share. I recently created a piece for Tiny Pencil




 

… and I’m neck-deep in the jacket and interior art for a chapter book for Simon & Schuster (all still a work-in-progress).

 


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Mmm. Coffee.Okay, our coffee is ready, and it’s time to get a bit more detailed with five questions over breakfast. (We’re too busy eating English muffins for all seven.) I thank Jeremy again for visiting 7-Imp.

1. Jules: What exactly is your process when you are illustrating a book? You can start wherever you’d like when answering: getting initial ideas, starting to illustrate, or even what it’s like under deadline, etc. Do you outline a great deal of the book before you illustrate or just let your muse lead you on and see where you end up?

[Ed. Note: All of the images in this response are from Poem-mobiles.]


A process wall
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Exploring type
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Jeremy

: I begin every project with a mind map. It’s quite simple: I just take a piece of paper and start writing down everything my mind knows about the subject at hand. Depending on the material, this can go on for pages. As I’m recording what I know, I highlight certain subjects or thoughts that fit the mood of what I’ve read; I’ll make doodles and note interesting connections. After this initial brain spill, I start gathering research from books, the internet and any other pertinent sources. I stuff all of this info deep down into my noggin and then just sit and let it marinate for a bit. I imagine it’s a similar process to what an actor goes through when getting ready to play a specific part. The goal of all this is to try and figure out the essence of the story — something I can bounce ideas and images off of to see if what I’m creating fits and feels appropriate.


Watercolors for the “Banana Split Car” spread
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Coloring the “Paper Car” spread
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Fine-tuning the “Giant Bookmobile of Tomorrow” spread
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Edits to the “Supersonic Ionic Car” spread
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After this brief gestation period, my process is similar to many others. My sketches start as blurry thoughts and lines which, with the help of the art director and editor, slowly come into focus as tight sketches. From here I begin final art. I’ll spend time experimenting with a multitude of materials, trying to find the approach that best fits the mood of the book. Once I feel I’ve got something working, I’ll pick a spread, render it out, and share it with the publisher. If it works, I keep going. If it doesn’t, I go back to the board and start again. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that there’s always another solution. Never be scared to go looking for it.

2. Jules: Describe your studio or usual work space.


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Jeremy

: My studio is my sanctuary. No matter where I’ve worked, I’ve always transformed my space into a place that’s warm, inviting, comfortable. Currently, my studio is in an old stone Methodist church from the 1820s that’s been transformed into small working spaces for creatives by the fabulous owner and designer, Val Nehez. I knew the minute I walked into the building that I could create here. It smelled like my grandma’s kitchen.


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3. Jules: As a book-lover, it interests me: What books or authors and/or illustrators influenced you as an early reader?

Jeremy

: Anything by Dr. Seuss.

Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little by E.B. White.

Hubert’s Hair-Raising Adventure by Bill Peet.

Anything by Roald Dahl.

4. Jules: If you could have three (living) authors or illustrators—whom you have not yet met—over for coffee or a glass of rich, red wine, whom would you choose? (Some people cheat and list deceased authors/illustrators. I won’t tell.)

Jeremy: My body doesn’t respond well to meeting people I admire. My nose instantly turns to ice, and the heat that used to inhabit my schnoz goes straight to my hands and clams ‘em up, which makes for awkward handshakes. That said, I wouldn’t mind enjoying a delicious German beer at a bar where Lane Smith, Mac Barnett, and Jon Scieszka just happen to be sitting.

[Ed. Note: All of the images from here to the Pivot Questionnaire are early sketches from Poem-mobiles.]



Early cover sketches
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Early dustjacket sketch
(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)



Sketches for “Giant Bookmobile of Tomorrow”
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Bookmobile spines
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Concept sketch for “Mini-Mini-Car”
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Sketch for “Fish Car” and “Eel-electric Car”
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Sketch for “The Backwards Car”
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Sketch for “High-Heel Car”
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Sketch for “Balloon Car”
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Concept sketch for “Hot Dog Car”
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Sketch for “The Egg Car” and “Hot Dog Car”
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5. Jules: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

Jeremy: I really didn’t draw that much as a kid. I just daydreamed a lot.


Sketch for “The Sloppy-Floppy-Nonstop-Jalopy” and “Grass Taxi”
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Rejected Heart Car sketch
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Possible sign for “The Love Car” spread
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Sketch for “The Love Car”
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Sketches for “The Banana Split Car”
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* * * The Pivot Questionnaire * * *

Jules: What is your favorite word?

Jeremy: “Scrumdiddlyumptious.” (Gotta love Roald Dahl.)

Jules: What is your least favorite word?

Jeremy: “Disrespect.”

Jules: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Jeremy: Being with my family, the change of the seasons, time in the woods, odd and peculiar inventions, worn artifacts, live acoustic bluegrass music, color study, storytelling.

Jules: What turns you off?

Jeremy: Ignorance.

7-Imp: What is your favorite curse word? (optional)

Jeremy: “Shit on a shingle” (also one of my favorite breakfast foods).

Jules: What sound or noise do you love?

Jeremy: Got two for this one: Rain and belly laughter.

Jules: What sound or noise do you hate?

Jeremy: Kids crying.

Jules: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Jeremy: Chocolatier.

Jules: What profession would you not like to do?

Jeremy: Anything dealing with Limburger cheese.

Jules: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Jeremy: “Sorry. Not yet, Jeremy. You’ve still got a few more things I need you to make. But don’t worry. Yours is one of my best endings yet.”

* * * * * * *

All artwork and images are used with permission of Jeremy Holmes.

POEM-MOBILES: CRAZY CAR POEMS. Copyright © 2014 by J. Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Jeremy Holmes. Published by Schwartz & Wade Books, New York.

THERE WAS AN OLD LADY WHO SWALLOWED A FLY. Illustrations copyright © 2009 by Jeremy Holmes. These images were orginally reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA, in this previous 7-Imp post.

The spiffy and slightly sinister gentleman introducing the Pivot Questionnaire is Alfred, © 2009 Matt Phelan.

5 Comments on Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Jeremy Holmes, last added: 4/9/2014
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22. Illustrator Interview – Akiko White

As all my blog followers know, I am a huge fan of the SCBWI and highly recommend children’s authors and illustrators to join and become involved in this society. I apply for and follow keenly their awards, and just as … Continue reading

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23. Read & Romp Roundup: March 2014

Welcome to the March Read & Romp Roundup! Women's History Month was celebrated widely in March, so several of the submissions feature women who have broken boundaries in the world of dance -- the African American ballerina Janet Collins and the inspiring dancer and civil rights advocate Josephine Baker. And of course, no roundup would be complete without picture books and movement ideas to go with them, which are also included. Enjoy!


At Good Reads with Ronna, Rita Zobayan reviews the popular new picture book A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina's Dream by Kristy Dempsey and Floyd Cooper. "Inspired by the story of Janet Collins, the first African American ballerina at the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina's Dream is a story of high hopes and grand dreams," says Rita. Read the full review to see why this "wonderful tale of courage, perseverance, and determination" brought tears to her eyes.

Kidlit Celebrates Women's History Month hosts special guest blogger Kristy Dempsey -- the author of A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina's Dream. What a treat! Hear from the author herself about her inspiration and experience writing the book. "A Dance Like Starlight is my song of thanks to all the women throughout history who have shown us who we can be and have given us an example to pursue our dreams with passion," Kristy says.


At Booktalking #Kidlit, Anastasia Suen features the new picture book Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby and Christian Robinson. Josephine struggled in her early life but became a celebrated dancer and performer after moving from the United States to Paris in the 1920's. Anastasia's post includes a snippet of text from the book, which is written in free verse. It also includes a book trailer and plenty of examples of the book's illustrations, which are stunning.


Maria from Maria's Movers shares some creative activities to go with the picture book The Squiggle by Carole Lexa Schaefer and Pierr Morgan. With her younger students, Maria used long colorful strings (as squiggles) to explore some of the ideas from the book, and with her older students she made up string dances!


And finally, don't forget to check out the March Book to Boogie post at the Library as Incubator Project. Dance educator Liz Vacco shares movement ideas to go with the classic picture book Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh. She includes ideas for both younger and older students and recommends music to go with the movement!

0 Comments on Read & Romp Roundup: March 2014 as of 4/9/2014 1:59:00 PM
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24. Growing Bookworms Newsletter: April 9

JRBPlogo-smallToday I will be sending out a new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on children's and young adult books and raising readers. I currently send out the newsletter once every two weeks.

Newsletter Update: In this relatively brief issue I have four book reviews (picture book through middle grade) and two posts with links that I shared on Twitter recently. I also have a post documenting some recent literacy moments with Baby Bookworm. 

Reading Update: In the last two weeks I read two middle grade, three young adult, and five adult titles (one a short story). You'll notice that most of these were read on Kindle or MP3. This is because I've been on a bit of an exercise kick, and the only time I've had for reading has been while on the exercise bike (reading my Kindle) or while walking (listening to my MP3 player). 

  • Marcia Wells (ill. Marcos Calo): Eddie Red Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile. HMH Books for Young Readers. Middle Grade. Completed March 29, 2014. Review to come.
  • Richard Capwell: Witches Bureau of Investigation, Book 1. Amazon Digital Services. Middle Grade. Completed April 6, 2014, on Kindle. I just downloaded the second book in this series, and will talk more about both books after I read that one. 
  • Shannon Hale: Dangerous. Bloomsbury. Young Adult. Completed March 28, 2014, on Kindle.
  • E. Lockhart: We Were Liars. Delacorte. Young Adult. Completed March 30, 2014, digital ARC on Kindle. Review to come. 
  • Jennifer Brown: Torn Away. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Young Adult. Completed April 4, 2014, digital ARC on Kindle. Review to come. 
  • Maeve Binchy: Whitethorn Woods. Anchor. Adult Fiction. Completed March 30, 2014, on MP3.
  • Maeve Binchy: A Week in Summer. Random House. Adult Fiction (short story). Completed March 30, 2014, on MP3.
  • Ben Winters: The Last Policeman. Quirk Books. Adult Mystery. Completed April 2, 2014, on Kindle.
  • Richard A. Thompson: Lowertown. Forty Press. Adult Mystery. Completed April 8, 2014, on Kindle.
  • Laura Lippman: After I'm Gone. William Morrow. Adult Mystery. Completed April 9, 2014, on MP3.

I'm currently reading Hate List by Jennifer Brown on Kindle and Missing You by Harlan Coben on MP3. Baby Bookworm is still enjoying all things Mo Willems. At lunch today, out of nowhere, she suggested a new Willems book: Don't Let the Pigeon Climb a Tree. She was acting it out and everything ("No, Pigeon, you'll fall."). She also still loves Little Critter, Fancy Nancy, and Curious George books. You can check out the complete list of books we've read to her this year if you are interested to see more. 

What are you and your family reading these days? Thanks for reading the newsletter, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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25. I Like Dahlov Ipcar’s Art


“I wish I were a keeper in a great big zoo –
with elephants and camels and ponies to ride.”

(Click to enlarge)

First up, a quick blog-scheduling note, though I don’t know that I have any blog readers who pay attention this closely. (“Blog-scheduling” is making me giggle, ’cause I really don’t have much of a schedule—as in, I mostly fly by the seat of my pants around here—but that’s neither here nor there.)

Where was I?

Oh, right. When I write anything over at Kirkus, I always follow up here at 7-Imp one week later with art from the books I write about. Kirkus doesn’t ask me to do this; it’s purely a 7-Imp thing. It’s ’cause I start to get twitchy when I can’t see illustrations from the books. (Sketches are even more fun to see.)

All that’s to say that today I’d normally have some art and maybe even early sketches from Laurie Keller’s Arnie the Doughnut chapter books, because we chatted last week at Kirkus. I will be posting those follow-up images, but it’ll be most likely next week, since Laurie is traveling now — which also works out for me, because as you read this, I’m traveling myself, near Boston for work.

But what I can bring you today are some spreads from Flying Eye Book’s newly-remastered edition of Dahlov Ipcar’s I Like Animals. If you missed it last week, I wrote over at Kirkus about the impressive care Flying Eye put into the re-mastering of this book, originally published in 1960. That column is here.

Enjoy the art, and see you tomorrow …



“I like animals. All kinds of animals.
Plain ones, strange ones, little ones, big ones. …”

(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


“I’d have a cage full of pelicans and toucans and flamingos,
macaws and cockatoos and birds of paradise. …”

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“I’d have all kinds of puppies … “
(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)

* * * * * * *

I LIKE ANIMALS. All artwork, characters and text are © 1960 Dahlov Ipcar. © 2014 edition Flying Eye Books. Spread reproduced by permission of the publisher.

4 Comments on I Like Dahlov Ipcar’s Art, last added: 4/11/2014
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