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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: picture books, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light

I wish that I could have found more images to share with you from Have You Seen My Dragon, the superb new picture book from Steve Light, but you should really buy it and see for yourself anyway! As you can tell by what I do have to share of Light's artwork, he has a style that is reminiscent of another time, specifically the late 1960s and early 1970s. Read my review of Light's last picture

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2. Tap Tap Boom Boom by Elizabeth Bluemle, illustrated by G. Brian Karas

<!-- START INTERCHANGE - TAP TAP BOOM BOOM -->if(!window.igic__){window.igic__={};var d=document;var s=d.createElement("script");s.src="http://iangilman.com/interchange/js/widget.js";d.body.appendChild(s);} In Tap Tap BOOM BOOM, Elizabeth Bluemle's jazzy, jangly text is matched perfectly with  G. Brian Karas's exuberant illustrations. A combination of gouache and pencil drawings and

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3. Environmental Book Club

Check out Literacy, Families and Learning's Literature and Environmental Issues: 18 Challenging Picture Books. The blog breaks the eighteen titles into four groups:

  • The relationship of people to the environment
  • The negative impact of humanity on the environment
  • A celebration of the environment, its beauty and wonder
  • Environment as creation and the metaphysical experience of our world
Graeme Base makes the list twice.
_____________________

Make your comment in order to be considered for the Saving the Planet & Stuff giveaway.



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4. A Handful of Illustrations Before Breakfast:Featuring Renato Alarcão, K.G. Campbell,Emily Gravett, and Steve Jenkins



 

Last week at Kirkus, I wrote about a handful of new picture books I like. All the talk talk talk is over here in that column, if you missed it last week.

Today, I want to share some art from each book. And, in the case of Emily Gravett, I’ve got a couple of early sketches, too. Above is a thumbnail from one of her sketchbooks. The rest is below.

Enjoy the art.

(Note: The illustrations from Mama Built a Little Nest are sans text. The colors in those also appear here on the screen a bit brighter than they do in the book.)

Emily Gravett’s Matilda’s Cat
(Simon & Schuster, March 2014):


 


Early thumbnails
(Click to enlarge)


Emily: “A page of rejected cats.”
(Click to enlarge)


A final spread from the book
(Click to enlarge)



 

Mina Javaherbin’s Soccer Star
(Candlewick, April 2014),
illustrated by Renato Alarcão:


 


“… Maria sees that I’m impressed. ‘So now can I be on your team?’ She asks me this day after day. But my answer is always the same: ‘Our team’s rule is no girls.’”
(Click to enlarge)


“We’re off to the ocean, and when it’s time, I cast my net in the deep.
Wild storm clouds appear fast in the sky above. …”

(Click to enlarge)



 

K.G. Campbell’s The Mermaid and the Shoe
(Kids Can Press, April 2014):


 



(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


“There, one day, something new drifted into Minnow’s life. She couldn’t imagine
what it was for, but it was the loveliest thing she’d ever seen.”

(Click to enlarge)


“In the forest, she passed an octopus. ‘What is this?’ she asked it.
But the octopus just shrugged.”

(Click to enlarge)


“In the shallows, she happened upon a whale. ‘What is this?’ she asked it.
‘I swallowed one of those once,’ said the whale. ‘Yuck!’”

(Click to enlarge)



 

Jennifer Ward’s Mama Built a Little Nest
(Beach Lane Books, March 2014),
illustrated by Steve Jenkins:


 


Part of the male cactus wren spread: “Daddy built a little nest. / And then he built another. / And another. And another—/hoping to impress my mother.”
(Click to enlarge)


Part of the weaverbird spread: “Mama built a little nest. / She used her beak to sew /
a woven nest of silky grass, / the perfect place to grow.”

(Click to enlarge)


The grebe spread: “Mama built a little nest. / She gathered twigs that float /
and placed them on the water / to create a cozy boat.”

(Click to enlarge)


The hornbill spread: “Mama built a sealed nest / within an old tree’s hollow./
My daddy left a little hole / to pass her food to swallow.”

(Click to enlarge)



 

Steve Jenkins’ Eye to Eye:
How Animals See the World

(Houghton Mifflin, April 2014):


 



The halibut and panther chameleon spread
(Click either image to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)


The ghost crab and gharial spread
(Click to enlarge and read text)


The leopard gecko and tarsier spread
(Click to enlarge and read text)



 

Steve Jenkins’ and Robin Page’s
Creature Features:
25 Animals Explain
Why They Look the Way They Do

(Houghton Mifflin, October 2014):



 


“Dear harpy eagle: And why are your feathers sticking out?”
(Click to enlarge and read text)


“Dear horned frog: Your mouth is ginormous. Why so big?”
(Click to enlarge and read text)


“Dear sun bear: Why is your tongue so long?”
(Click to enlarge and read text)


“Dear shoebill stork: Why do you need such a burly beak?”
(Click to enlarge and read text)



 

* * * * * * *

MATILDA’S CAT. Copyright © 2014 by Emily Gravett. Published by Simon & Schuster, New York. Images reproduced by permission of Ms. Gravett.

SOCCER STAR. Text copyright © 2014 by Mina Javaherbin. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Renato Alarcao. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

THE MERMAID AND THE SHOE. Copyright © 2014 by K.G. Campbell. Published by Kids Can Press, Toronto. Images reproduced by permission of the publisher.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST. Text copyright © 2014 by Jennifer Ward. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Steve Jenkins. Published by Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster, New York. Images reproduced by permission of Steve Jenkins.

EYE TO EYE: HOW ANIMALS SEE THE WORLD. Copyright © 2014 by Steve Jenkins. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston. Images reproduced by permission of Steve Jenkins.

CREATURE FEATURES: 25 ANIMALS EXPLAIN WHY THEY LOOK THE WAY THEY DO. Text copyright © 2014 by Robin Page and Steve Jenkins. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Steve Jenkins. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston. Images reproduced by permission of Steve Jenkins.

1 Comments on A Handful of Illustrations Before Breakfast:Featuring Renato Alarcão, K.G. Campbell,Emily Gravett, and Steve Jenkins, last added: 4/17/2014
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5. Digger Dog by William Bee, illustrated by Cecilia Johansson

<!-- START INTERCHANGE - DIGGER DOG -->if(!window.igic__){window.igic__={};var d=document;var s=d.createElement("script");s.src="http://iangilman.com/interchange/js/widget.js";d.body.appendChild(s);} Digger Dog is the newest picture book from William Bee, marvelously illustrated by Cecilia Johansson and perfect for the littlest listeners.  Digger Dog loves to dig, especially

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6. Tyrannosaurus Wrecks! by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, illustrated by Zachariah Ohora

<!-- START INTERCHANGE - TYRANNOSAURUS WRECKS -->if(!window.igic__){window.igic__={};var d=document;var s=d.createElement("script");s.src="http://iangilman.com/interchange/js/widget.js";d.body.appendChild(s);} <!-- END INTERCHANGE --> Tyrannousaurus Wrecks by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen with great illustrations by Zachariah Ohara is an awesomely colorful, dinosaur filled wreck of a book. Well

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7. 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.

share save 171 16 Review of Here Comes the Easter Cat

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

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8. 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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9. 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.”
(Click to enlarge)


“Parade is over. Time for bed.”
(Click to enlarge)

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).


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)

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
(Click to enlarge)


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.

3 Comments on Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Julie Fortenberry, last added: 4/16/2014
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10. 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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11. 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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12. 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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13. 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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14. 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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15. 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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16. 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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17. 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?

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18. 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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19. 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. …”

(Click to enlarge)



“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.

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20. 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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21. 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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22. 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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23. 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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24. 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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25. 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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