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1. Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Michael Emberley



 

Well, dear readers, it’s been a while since I’ve done a breakfast interview. Since I’ve been teaching this summer, it takes me longer to get to these more time-intensive Q&As. My visitor today, illustrator Michael Emberley, deserves an award (or a free breakfast perhaps) for his patience with me. We started talking last year about doing this interview.

And I’m really glad we got around to it. I enjoy seeing his illustration work, and I really enjoyed chatting with him and hearing his responses to these questions. Emberley, the son of legendary illustrator Ed Emberley, has been illustrating since 1979. He was born and raised in Massachusetts but now makes his home in Ireland, near Dublin. (I highly recommend taking time to read this page of his site, where he talks about why he started illustrating and why he decided to stick with it: “I began illustrating because I needed money, but now I truly appreciate what I do. I can keep myself from being bored by doing a variety of book projects and using different techniques. This is more difficult than mastering one style but it is the only way for me.”)

His work has been described as “an unassuming wonder” and “a playful masterclass in using the page.” His vivid characters leap off the page, and his loose-line watercolors communicate a spontaneity and energy that is infectious. His artwork also communicates the great warmth of family and friends; pictured at the top of this post is but one example of this, an illustration from 2008’s Mail Harry to the Moon, written by Robie Harris. And Emberley’s never been one to let gender stereotypes get in the way of his boy and girl protagonists; he had that covered well before it became PC to let such a thing happen.

When I asked him about breakfast, I got a hearty response:

Hey! My favorite meal of the day! Okay. If writing early morning, good coffee and pastry in a café. If heading off cycling, add granola yoghurt and fruit or a ‘fry,’ if I need something extra. (A “fry” here in Ireland means [vegetarians, read no further]: sausage, rashers (thick bacon), eggs, black and white pudding (blood sausage), grilled tomato (pronounced toe-mah-toe), and a farl (potatoe pancake) if you’re up north. All on the same plate.)

A fry it is then. (Hey! If I don’t like it, well … it’s only a pretend cyber-breakfast.) And lots of coffee, of course.

Oh, and guess what? Michael shares below something he’s been thinking about doing for a while — a complete, single-scrolling image of all the sketches for one book. They are from Barbara Bottner’s Miss Brooks’ Story Nook, published last year. “I didn’t dare count them,” he told me. “Hundreds. It’s never been on any of my blogs or Facebook.” That is at the very bottom of this post.

I thank him for visiting 7-Imp.

* * * * * * *

Jules: Are you an illustrator or author/illustrator?

Michael: Definitely both. I’m an illustrator first, but I’m trying to get better at writing more “books without pictures.” But even when writing a novel, my mind is full of images — a theatre with sets and scenes, costumes and colored lights, players and performances. As I draw a picture book character, I hear them speaking. As I write about a middle grade character, I see their eyes. They’re real to me.

Pictured below: Sketch pages of different early ideas for Miss Brooks’ Story Nook (Knopf, 2014). See even more sketches in this 2014 7-Imp post.

 





Pictured below: More sketches for Miss Brooks’ Story Nook, followed by a piece of final art. These were Michael’s “wish for a gruesome end to Billy by a Missy-conjured snake. None were accepted for final art. Notice even the final composition in the scene of the snake confronting Billy. I played around with different morphs of Missy into her imaginary snake. My idea of her turning into her creation can be seen in the sequential scene in the final book art where a close-up of her face/eyes is clearly becoming reptile, and then the snake becomes more a morph of her scarf (look at the color stripes and tail), but my original idea—using a half-Missy, half-snake head, though a more logical extension of the “snake eyes” sequence—was ultimately rejected. It’s all subjective in fantasy.”





” … which is exasperating boys like YOU.”
(Click to enlarge)


 

Pictured below: “Development of another hard-to-visualize concept of Billy being a yoke on Missy’s neck. Some things come out first draft with very little change in final art.”

 



Pictured below: An unused concept for the neighbor’s basement:

 



 

Pictured below: Lion sketches:

 



 

Pictured below: Ideas for Missy in her raincoat. Not used. “Note the skull pattern, expressing her less than stereotypical ‘girlie’ nature.”

 




 

Pictured below: Some final art from the book:

 



(Click second image to see spread in its entirety)


 



(Click second image to see spread in its entirety)


 



(Click second image to see spread in its entirety)


 

Jules: Can you list your books-to-date? (If there are too many books to list here, please list your five most recent illustrated titles or the ones that are most prominent in your mind, for whatever reason.)

Michael: Yikes. Lots. I could list them, but it’s not nearly as impressive a list compared to what others have done. You can look at my website.

Unfortunately, I like to live life rather than spend it all in the studio. This will ultimately limit the number of books I finish, I guess. You can only do so much. I try not to be too hard on myself, but I usually feel I’m not working hard enough. The question is: What do I want to do with the finite time I’ve got?

 






 

Jules: What is your usual medium?

Michael: Line, as I said, first and foremost. Preferably pencil. Sometimes pen. Occasionally brush and ink. [As for] color: Mostly liquid watercolor, but also dry pastel. If I could get away with just a pencil, I’d be happy. I’m experimenting with using digital color.

 





(Click each to enlarge)


 

Jules: If you have illustrated for various age ranges (such as, both picture books and early reader books OR, say, picture books and chapter books), can you briefly discuss the differences, if any, in illustrating for one age group to another?

Michael: I’ve illustrated for young and old. Fiction and non-fiction. I love all ages. I wish I could draw for everyone. I do as much drawing making cards and notes for adults as I do for kids. I do a comic strip for my local coffee shop. It’s fun seeing people smile. I rarely get that from the book industry. I work so remotely from that whole world.

 


(Click to enlarge)


 

Jules: Where are your stompin’ grounds?

Michael I’ve lived on the east coast and west coast of the USA (Boston, Oakland, San Diego) but now live in a small village on the east coast of Ireland, near the Irish Sea. We’re just south of Dublin, so we’re in the city a lot, too. It’s a beautiful spot for cycling (my other life) and close to trains and an airport shuttle. It’s getting too pricey, though, so my lovely Irish wife Mel and I may be forced to move soon. An artist is always being chased away by gentrification. My life has been pretty nomadic — at least 20 pillows so far.

 






(Click each to enlarge)


 

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

Michael: Short story: My father was/is in the biz (Ed Emberley). He worked at home. I did odd stuff for him when I still lived there. A series of sketches I did for a drawing book he was working on was a failure, because it looked less like his work than he wanted, but instead of throwing it out, he suggested I take it away and make it into a stand-alone book for myself. Clever way of getting me to pay my way I took it in to my father’s editor, the kindly John Keller, and he said, “Let’s go!” I was 19 and never looked back. [That was] Dinosaurs! A Drawing Book, 1979.

 



 

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

Michael: http://www.michaelemberley.com/.

 



(Click each to enlarge)


 

Jules: If you do school visits, tell me what they’re like.

Dan: They’re less about me and all about the prep that the school, teachers, librarians, and parents put into the visit. The more they put in, the better the kids are prepared, and the better it goes for everyone. I’m pretty good with the kids. I’m a kid myself. I can be very silly. I draw a lot. Most people like that.

But if they have no idea who you are or why you’re there, it’s like climbing Everest. Everyone loses. I should do more visits. But no one knows me here in Ireland. Very few of my books are sold here. My publishers claim the Irish don’t want my books. What can you do? I enjoyed visiting a tiny school in Co. Mayo recently. I got them rapping with me to one “You Read to Me” book. They’re so funny.

One thing I can say is I stopped prepping for specific audiences long ago, because I was blind-sided so many times with either a completely different age group or topic than I was told. Or it’s teens and five-year0olds in the same room. You have to think on your feet and read the vibe going on. I’ve done some seriously bad talks — and great ones. Worst was an ALA author breakfast years ago. I bombed. Best was my last U.S. gig – in Rhode Island, I think. The kids were great and, therefore, so was I. We all won.

 






Illustrations from Barbara Bottner’s Miss Brooks Loves Books!
(and I don’t)
(Knopf, 2010)


 

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

Michael: Oh boy. Tons of stuff. I’ve taken time out this past year, making a big lunge back towards writing after mainly illustrating for several years. I’m writing for all ages. I have stuff for YA down to picture books. I have at least 15 manuscripts on the go. Yikes! I know: Focus on one, right? I’m working on that. But I’m too excited. I have so many books I want to do.

And I love all my new characters! Does that sound silly? I sincerely hope I can learn to write well enough so others will “meet” them and enjoy their company as much as I do. That sounds trite, but who cares? It’s true.

 






Michael: “These are Mom sketches from a book I’m doing now. These were nixed for publication. Only the [Mom at the doorframe] is in the current dummy.”


 

Mmm. Coffee.Okay, we’ve got more coffee, and it’s time to get a bit more detailed with seven questions over breakfast. I thank Michael 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?

Michael

: Lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of sketching. I seem to do more and more as years go by. Loads of it done in coffee shops. I’ll use pencil, but since it smudges if you draw on the opposite page, I only use the right-hand pages. When I get to the end, I turn the sketchbook upside down and draw on those pages in pen. Hey, paper is expensive.

I do quite a bit of direct sketching on type layouts too. Impulsive ideas first — inventing the characters, their clothing, hairdos, and expressions. You know, the cast and performance of the play. I might add a few backgrounds. I only explore color in the finals, unless there is a color idea that dominates the scene.

I did this alphabet book with Barbara Bottner with 26 different kids and one teacher. I created 27 distinct individuals that moved through the book. Then I played them out. That was work. Lots of sketchbooks were filled on that one.

 






(Click each to enlarge)


 

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

Michael

: My workspace is wherever I am. I worked in a classic sixth floor factory building loft studio in Boston for ten years; in second bedrooms; in my own bedroom; in a closet-like space, like the one I’m renting at the moment. I make do. I get on with it.

My fantasy would be a bigger, well-lit, more open space to lay things out. A picture book is a whole, not discrete pieces. It’s great to see it all at once. But I can’t afford that kind of space right now. You make do. I’m writing this interview in my local pub. But maybe that’s an Irish thing.

 




(Click each to enlarge)


 

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

Michael

: My influences are few as a reader. I did not read much fiction as a kid, sorry to say. Mrs. Bowman read us Dahl in 3rd grade, and I loved it. I was forced to read things beyond my age and hated them, like Melville’s Billy Budd in 5th grade. That said, I loved all of Richard Scarry, Charles Shulz comics, and Charles Harper books.

 



(Click each to enlarge)


 

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.)

Michael: I like lots of people’s work. But it’s hard to know who would be a good dinner guest if I haven’t met them. A lousy artist might be great craic, and a brilliant one might only be good for, as a friend once described, “a couple of grim pints.” But it is nice to sit down with a fellow book person and not have to explain what you do the whole night.

I admire many people’s work and do occasionally wonder if they are anywhere near as interesting as their art/writing. “My authors” are all good craic. I met author Barbara Bottner at a gig once, and whether she believed me or not, I was a huge fan of her book, Bootsie Barker Bites. And I can tell you, she ain’t boring. It’s great to be doing books with her. Mary Ann Hoberman and her husband Norm are great dinner partners. My friends Robie Harris and her husband Bill are always great around the table.

[Pictured below: Art from Mary Ann Hoberman’s Forget-Me-Nots: Poems to Learn by Heart

(Little, Brown, 2012). Read more about it here.]

 


– From Theodore Roethke’s “Dinky”


 


“Nancy Hanks” by Rosemary and Stephen Vincent Benét


 


“Mary Middling” by Rose Fyleman, “A Frog in a Well Explains the World”
by Alice Schertle, and “Bat Patrol” by Georgia Heard

(Click to enlarge spread and read poems)


 


If-ing” by Langston Hughes and “Things” by Eloise Greenfield
(Click to enlarge spread and read poems)


 



 

I like work I don’t imagine non-artists can truly appreciate to the same degree as another illustrator would. Brian Karas is a quiet genius. Ditto Ana Juan; Frida is a fantastic. I love Raúl Colón, Marla Frazee, and Jon Klasssen’s stuff is gorgeous. That tree house book — wow. Ed Young, the Dillons. Jim Kay’s work in A Monster Calls is one of the best things I’ve ever seen.

I love stuff I’ve seen from Spain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and eastern Europe. I’m in love with stuff that won’t sell in the U.S. I would love to publish in Poland or someplace like that. France would be impossible to break into, but they have amazing children’s book illustrators. Japan too. Gorgeous stuff. The U.S. book-buyer can be too, uh, American, sometimes. Too limited in their tastes. There is a big world out there beyond the bright lights.

I love the comic/graphic novelists coming out of Europe and the U.S. They might be good for a laugh over a glass.

I want to talk to someone who sees no boundaries between art, science, religion, and philosophy. I like thinkers and dreamers. I like smart — but not at the expense of wonder. I like talking to people who teach me things but don’t lecture. I like people who can skip between genres and genders, fact and fiction, pain and persuasion. Someone who can stay off their phone. Someone funny and kind. If they are an artist, so much the better. But the creative arts is no secret passport to the land of interesting company. (Sounds like a personal ad!)

Writers? Hmmm. Too many. Short list:

Okay. That’s more than three, isn’t it?

 


(Click 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?

Michael: Tons of stuff. I listen all the time. All styles. Mostly when doing art. Writing is problematic with most music. But I write in noisy coffee shops with background music, so it’s possible. For example, West African is okay, since I don’t speak the lingo. Mainstream stuff — Salif Keita, Youssou N’Dour, etc. Puccini is nice, too, sometimes.

Random thoughts on music that’s sticking in my head recently:

Gillian Welch, “Everything’s Free.” Haunting song. And what better lament for the world of pre-internet/free content. I’m paraphrasing her lyrics here:

Everything is free now / That’s what they say / Everything I’ve ever done, They’re gonna give it away. … If there’s something that you wanna hear / you can sing it yourself.

I also keep listening to this acoustic version of Springsteen’s “Thunder Road.” I never listened to him before, and I’m not a groupie. But these lyrics, though, won’t go away. Paraphrasing again:

… it’s a looong walk from your front porch to my front seat / the door’s open, but the ride, it ain’t free.

I can see that grey wooden porch floor, feel the chasm between the screen door and the open car door. The gulf between what she knows and what could be waiting for her. The tremendous courage it takes to cross that porch, to imagine another future for herself. It kills me every time.

Eddi Reader. Check out the video “What You Do With What You’ve Got”. Amazing. Try to see this Scottish original live, singing her version of Robby Burns’ “Ae Fond Kiss.” And try not to feel it. This verse:

Had we ne’er loved so kindly
Had we ne’er loved so blindly,
Nor ne’er met, Nor ne’er parted,
We would ne’er been so broken-hearted.

Ah, as a Czech friend of mine once said, “Melancholy is best emotion.”

I admit I love Elvis Costello’s lyrics. Random lines I remember (some may be off):

“She threw her hands up, like a tulip…”
“They’re mopping up all the stubborn ones who just refuse to be saved.”
“He’s planting a paperback book for accidental purchase, containing all the secrets of life, and other useless things.”

Canadian Holly Cole has this amazing album of Tom Waits covers. Another great writer. Love the “doorknob” lyric in “Falling Down”:

Everyone knew that old hotel was a goner. … They broke all the windows, and took all the doorknobs, and they hauled it away in a couple of days. …

Also Cole’s other cover album with this song-lyric by Patty Larkin:

He said: ‘I read the Bible every day,
Just to keep the demons at bay,
Thank God when the sun goes down,
I don’t blow away.’

And one more: Lori McKenna‘s “Stealing Kisses.” Poignant “housewife drama”:

I was stealing kisses from a boy,
And now I’m begging affection from a man…
Don’t you know who I am?
I’m standing in your kitchen.


 




Illustration and covers for two of Emberley’s books
with Robie Harris (read more here)


 

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

Michael: Well, most people who know me know this, but I am a competitive athlete when I’m not at the desk. Cycle racing has been my ‘thing’ since the late ’70s. It’s unusual in my experience for artists or writers to be athletic or competitive, and vice versa. I actually know no one who is in both worlds. A lot of artists/writers live in their heads all the time, come out at night, and they’re pretty neglectful or out of touch with their bodies.

The racing is a good balance for me. You can think out there. Mostly it’s training on back roads, wandering around, wind in your ears, a Zen thing, shutting down your “busy mind.” But racing itself is different. Aggressive, intense, clawing up hills, screaming down, diving into a sharp bend with people at each elbow. The pain, the exhaustion, the fear. Moving at high speed is an entirely different way of seeing the world than being in a chair.

 


Michael: “This is the kind of thing I do for books, as well as cards and letters. These self-portraits were done really fast one after the other on the holiday card envelopes of friends, family, etc. (I used to draw the recipient, but that gets you into a lot of trouble. Easier to pan yourself.) This shows how different each take can be. I do this for book characters as well, until I see the one I like. If this were a book,
I have two favorites here. The rest are trash.”


 

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

Dan: How does the way artists are perceived in society inform your decision to become an artist? Or: Why are you really doing this? No, I mean, really?

I grew up in a household with a professional artist. That’s my perspective. I saw the great Oz from the back first. Great artists seem to come from both great resistance and great encouragement. But it’s something you learn and earn, not get by faith or are born with. I think there’s too much mystery, awe, and romance surrounding artists and writers that they haven’t earned and, frankly, isn’t good for them. It does us no favors. It sets us apart, instead of bringing us together. Creatives all too often either marginalized or put on a pedestal by society.

Here in Ireland, the attitude is pretty balanced: You’re given a comfortable chair, but no pedestal. That’s good. Pedestals are to knock people off of.

My pet peeve on the topic of the “artist’s life” is people who are writing or drawing so they can just “be the thing,” wrap themselves in the label Artist or Writer. Being an artist is just a name, a part of creating art, not the other way round. The goal is the work, not the label.

There are people who hold onto this thing they imagine an artist to be — some adolescent fantasy born from years of too much dreamy misinformation, like wanting to be a princess as a little child. To be famous—a celebrity—with the added thrill of being photographed, signing a hardbound book with your name on it. Jaysus feck. That’s the pinnacle of an adolescent dream, imagining being asked for their autograph.

Okay, I’d like to see art and writing and creative expression in general as something more acceptable and more readily available to a broader segment of the population. It’s a means of self-exploration and consolation — and generally enhances your life.

But that’s not professional art. There’s a difference. Professional art is work. You need to train for it, learn it, and hopefully get paid for it. It’s not something you do “if you only had the time.”

You wouldn’t expect anyone who likes to spin around in circles and likes how they look in a tutu to join the Bolshoi Ballet.

I think people should be asked more often why are they honestly doing it.

Pictured below: Thumbnails and early sketches from Barbara Bottner’s An Annoying ABC (Knopf, 2011).

 



Jacket thumbnails


 


Final sketch for book jacket


 


(Click to enlarge)


 








Above: Sketches
(Click each to enlarge)



 



Color sketches


 



 

* * * The Pivot Questionnaire * * *

Jules: What is your favorite word?

Michael: “Balance.”

Jules: What is your least favorite word?

Michael: “Hate.”

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

Michael: Kindness.

Jules: What turns you off?

Michael: Bullies.

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

Dan: “Me bollocks!”

Jules: What sound or noise do you love?

Michael: An Irish accent.

Jules: What sound or noise do you hate?

Michael: Loud, mechanical things at 7 a.m.

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

Michael: Theatre.

Jules: What profession would you not like to do?

Michael: Foreclosure.

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

Dan: “Forgive yourself.”

 

Reminder: Below is a complete, single-scrolling image of all the sketches for Barbara Bottner’s Miss Brooks’ Story Nook, published last year.

 



 

All images are used by permission of Michael Emberley.

AN ANNOYING ABC. Copyright © 2011 by Barbara Bottner. Illustration © 2011 Michael Emberley. Published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York. Images reproduced by permission of Michael Emberley.

FORGET-ME-NOTS: POEMS TO LEARN BY HEART. Copyright 2012 by Mary Ann Hoberman. Illustrations copyright 2012 by Michael Emberley. Spreads reproduced with permission of the publisher, Megan Tingley Books/Little, Brown and Co., New York.

MISS BROOKS LOVES BOOKS! (AND I DON’T) Text copyright © 2010 by Barbara Bottner. Illustrations copyright © 2010 by Michael Emberley. Spread reproduced by permission of the publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY.

MISS BROOKS’ STORY NOOK (WHERE TALES ARE TOLD AND OGRES ARE WELCOME!). Text copyright © 2014 by Barbara Bottner. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Michael Emberley. Published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY. Images reproduced by permission of Michael Emberley.

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

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2. Picture Book Monday with a review of Beach House

When I was a child, at the beginning of May, I would start looking forward to our first beach vacation of the year. We used to camp on a beach for two weeks or so in July, and those sun-filled days brought me some of the best memories of my childhood, which I still cherish today. Today's picture book perfectly captures the anticipation that a family of children experience when they set off for their summer beach vacation, and the joys that they share when they get there.


Beach HouseBeach House
Deanna Caswell
Illustrated by Amy June Bates
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Chronicle Books, 2015, 978-1-4521-2408-7
They have been waiting for a whole year, and now, at last, summer is here and they are going to the beach house. The van is loaded down with beach gear, suitcases, bikes, golf clubs, a surf board and who knows what else, and when the family arrives at the house, all that stuff has to be unloaded and put away. The ocean is calling as the children make beds and empty suitcases, as they look out of the window at the sand and the waves.
   Then, at last, everyone heads for the beach. Carrying bags, pulling wagons, scampering and running, the two adults, three children, and the little dog begin their vacation. Games of Marco Polo are played, boogie boards are tried out, and castles with moats are built and washed away. As the sun sets they gather around a fire pit to roast hotdogs and toast faces. As the moon rises they wash off the sand and salt and fall into bed with “Rosy noses” knowing that outside the ocean and beach await them for another day of adventure.
   With wonderfully lush watercolor illustrations and a magical rhyming text, this picture book perfectly captures the simple pleasures of a summer beach vacation. The excitement that the family members feel is almost palpable, and readers will probably start wishing, as the narrative unfolds and blooms, that they too could splash in waves, build castles, and soak up salty air and warm sun.

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3. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #439: Featuring Akiko Miyakoshi


It just so happens that my very favorite medium in picture book illustration is charcoal. I get all googly-eyed when I see it done well. But that’s not the only reason I love this book from author-illustrator Akiko Miyakoshi, The Tea Party in the Woods, coming in August from Kids Can Press and originally published in Japan back in 2010. The visuals here are pure magic and filled with intriguing details, and the story is one of mystery and friendship.

A young girl, named Kikko, awakes to a “winter wonderland.” She heads out to deliver a pie to her Grandma, the one that her father, who has already set out for Grandma’s house, left behind. This is all slightly reminiscent of the classic tale “Little Red Riding Hood” in that the girl’s destination involves her grandmother, and her skirt and winter hat are bright reds (much like Red’s cape) in a sea of white snow and dark charcoals. But that’s where the similarities end: There’s no menacing wolf here.

Instead, she is fairly sure after heading out that she spots her father ahead, and in an effort to catch up to him, she falls in snow drifts and the pie box is crushed. She follows her father anyway to “a strange house. Has it always been here? Kikko wondered.”

 


“Kikko followed her father all the way to a strange house. Has it always been here? Kikko wondered. She couldn’t remember having seen it before.
She watched as her father went inside.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 

Her father enters the house, and when she peeks in the window, she is surprised to see, not her father, but a great big bear. A kind lamb asks Kikko, still outside, if she is there for the tea party. She goes inside with the lamb, and here is where the magic and mystery amp up. There is a fabulous spread where all the creatures at this party—forest creatures of every stripe—turn to stare at her. But Miyakoshi places readers right with Kikko, so it’s the reader who gets a stare-down too. It’s a wonderful, rather spine-tingling moment.

 


“‘Are you here for the tea party?’ asked a kind voice. Kikko turned to see a little lamb standing nearby. ‘This way,’ said the lamb,
gently taking Kikko’s hand and leading her inside.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 

Despite their stares, they welcome her. And the feasting begins, Kikko’s yellow hair the only spot of color in this sea of charcoals. (Later, we see a bit more color when we pan out to see the group as a whole.) I love to see happy feasts in picture books, one reason I’m a John Burningham fan. The book closes with a lovely surprise from the tea party members, one that benefits both Kikko and her grandmother. (It’s hinted at in the illustration opening this post.)

Was it all a dream or did she really feast with forest creatures? It doesn’t really matter. The adventure was worth it, either way.

 


“The woods were filled with joyful sounds as everyone paraded to Grandma’s house, singing and laughing and playing music as they went. ‘This way!’ the animals called. Kikko held the pie box tightly and walked on.”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 

Here’s the splendid cover one more time, a little bit bigger:

 



 

THE TEA PARTY IN THE WOODS. Copyright © 2010 by Akiko Miyakoshi. English translation © 2015 by Kids Can Press. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Kids Can Press, Toronto.

* * *

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) Did I mention I love to see charcoal illustrations like this?

2) Being thanked by name by Dan Santat in his Caldecott acceptance speech last weekend. It was tremendously thoughtful of him to thank bloggers.

3) Lots of great new music to explore.

4) Alabama Shakes’ new CD really is extraordinary.

5) Brian Selznick’s drawings.

6) Sparklers.

7) Pie.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

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4. Seuss on Saturday #27

The Foot Book. Dr. Seuss. 1968. Random House. 36 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence:
Left foot
Left foot
Right foot
Right
Feet in the morning
Feet at night
Left foot
Left foot
Left foot
Right
Premise/plot: Does The Foot Book have an actual plot? Probably not. It's a rhyming celebration of all sorts of feet, I suppose.

My thoughts: Probably not my favorite Seuss title. Not that I actively dislike it, mind you. It's just not going to make my top thirty.

Have you read The Foot Book? Did you like it? love it? hate it? I'd love to know what you thought of it!

 If you'd like to join me in reading or rereading Dr. Seuss (chronologically) I'd love to have you join me! The next book I'll be reviewing is I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today and Other Stories.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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5. Gingerbread for Liberty (2015)

Gingerbread for Liberty: How A German Baker Helped Win the American Revolution. Mara Rockliff. Illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Everyone in Philadelphia knew the gingerbread baker. His honest face...his booming laugh...And, of course, his gingerbread--the best in all the thirteen colonies. His big, floury hands turned out castles and queens, horses and cows and hens--each detail drawn in sweet, buttery icing with the greatest skill and care. And yet, despite his care, there always seemed to be some broken pieces for the hungry children who followed their noses to the spicy-smelling shop. "No empty bellies here!" the baker bellowed. "Not in my America!"

Premise/plot: Gingerbread for Liberty is the untold, near-forgotten story of Christopher Ludwick, a German-born American who loved and served his country during the American Revolution in the best way he knew how: by baking.

My thoughts: I loved, loved, loved, LOVED this one. I loved the end papers which feature a recipe for "Simple Gingerbread." I loved the illustrations. Never has a book's illustrations gone so perfectly-perfectly well with the text. The illustration style is very gingerbread-y. It works more than you think it might. At least in my opinion! I loved the author's note. I did. I loved learning a few more facts about Christopher Ludwick. It left me wanting to know even more. Which I think is a good thing. The book highlights his generosity and compassion as well as his baking talents.

But most of all, I loved the text itself, the writing style. The narrative voice in this one is super-strong. And I love the refrain: Not in MY America!  

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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6. Out and About (2015)

Out and About: A First Book of Poems. Shirley Hughes. 1988/2015. Candlewick Press. 56 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I really enjoyed reading Shirley Hughes Out and About: A First Book of Poems. These poems reminded me that I do like poetry, good children's poetry, about subjects that are easy to relate to. These poems celebrating living life in all four seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. These poems celebrate spending time outdoors. Best of all, these poems are kid-friendly.

For example, "Mudlarks"

I like mud.
The slippy, sloppy, squelchy kind,
The slap-it-into-pies kind.
Stir it up in puddles,
Slither and slide.
I do like mud.
and "Water"
I like water.
The shallow, splashy, paddly kind,
The hold-on-tight-it's-deep-kind.
Shlosh it out of buckets,
Spray it all around.
I do like water.
I like this poetry collection because it's joyful. These poems capture joyous moments. Well, for the most part! I suppose the poem about being stuck in bed SICK isn't capturing joy, it's capturing frustration. But still. These poems are easy to relate to. 


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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7. A Walk in Paris by Salvatore Rubbino

If, like me, you and your family are enjoying a stay-cation yet again this summer, you might enjoy a little armchair traveling, which is what A Walk in Paris by Salvatore Rubbino is perfect for. Of course,  A Walk in Paris is also a superb book to read to any little listeners who just might be visiting the City of Lights themselves. If your travels take you elsewhere, Rubbino is also

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8. Picture of Grace, by Josh Armstrong | Dedicated Review

Picture of Grace, by Josh Armstrong, is certainly moving and will be well received by families who are suffering or have suffered from loss.

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9. How To Catch A Mouse (2015)

How To Catch a Mouse. Philippa Leathers. 2015. Candlewick. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: This is Clemmie. Clemmie is a brave, fearsome mouse catcher. She is excellent at stalking and chasing. She is patient and alert. She knows everything about how to catch a mouse. In fact, Clemmie is such a fearsome mouse catcher that she has never even seen a mouse. All the mice are afraid of me, thinks Clemmie. 

Premise/plot: Clemmie is confident that she knows everything about how to catch a mouse. But does she know as much as she thinks she does? Could a mouse be right in plain sight and Clemmie not know about it? Perhaps! Hint: The illustrations are EVERYTHING to the story.

My thoughts: I loved the story. I did. I thought it was wonderful. I loved how the illustrations tell so much of the story. The illustrations communicate a lot to the reader. In addition, the illustrations are just so precious and adorable. I loved Clemmie as a character as well. And I loved the "new trick" that she learned towards the end of the book.

Definitely recommended to cat lovers!

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations 5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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10. Funny Face, Sunny Face (2015)

Funny Face, Sunny Face. Sally Symes. Illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw. 2015. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

 First sentence:
Bunny face, sunny face, wake up...
with a funny face!
Bear hair, fair hair,
hardly any there hair.

Premise/plot: A day full of rhymes: morning to evening. This one is all about the rhyme. Also the rhythm, I suppose. But essentially it's a feel-good-to-read-aloud rhyming book for young children. Probably toddlers and preschoolers more than older ones.

My thoughts: This one is a cute book. I liked the rhymes for the most part. There weren't any that didn't work for me. And there were a handful that I just LOVED, LOVED, LOVED. For example:
Sticky lips, licky lips
love-you
kiss-me-quickly lips.
and
new teeth,
chew teeth,
only one or
two teeth.
I didn't just love the text of , however. I loved many things about this one. It started charming me from the start. I really LOVE the endpapers of this one. It's a beautiful design. And the illustrations are precious as well.

This one would pair well with the sadly out-of-print Grump which I reviewed earlier this week.

Text: 4.5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4.5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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11. Best Selling Picture Books | July 2015

This month, our best selling picture book from our affiliate store is the gorgeously illustrated Gaston, written by Kelly DiPucchio and pictures by Christian Robinson.

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12. Review: The Magic Formula by Ibrahima Ndiaye and Capucine Mazille

Dear Baobab, written by Cheryl Foggo, illustrated by Qin Leng (Second Story Press, 2011)

The Magic Formula
written by Ibrahima Ndiaye, illustrated by Capucine Mazille, translated by Rebecca Page
(Bakame Editions (Rwanda), 2011)


The Magic Formula is a … Continue reading ...

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13. Beach Fun! Beach theme picture books and printables

Beach Fun! Beach theme picture books and printables | Storytime Standouts

Beach Picture Book Fun from StorytimeStandouts.com

Whether planning a day at the beach or just back from some fun in the sun, these beach-theme picture books will be a wonderful addition to your summertime fun. Suitable for toddlers, preschool age children, kindergarten and older, these stories address important themes like fear of the water and getting outside one’s comfort zone. Whenever possible, it is very valuable to have children read books that match their experiences. These stories are perfect for introducing new concepts and extending learning. Have fun!









All You Need for a Beach written by Alice Shertle and illustrated by Barbara LavalleeAll You Need for a Beach written by Alice Shertle and illustrated by Barbara Lavallee
Picture book about a day at the beach published by Harcourt, Inc.

A companion book to All You Need for a Snowman, this is an exuberant celebration of a group of children, playing together in sand and water. Bright, cheerful colours and a happy theme of exploration and cooperation highlight this picture book for toddlers and preschool-age children. Illustrations depict a racially diverse group of children.

All You Need for a Beach at Amazon.com

All You Need for a Beach at Amazon.ca



At the Beach by Anne and Harlow RockwellAt the Beach by Anne and Harlow Rockwell
Toddler book about a day at the beach published by Aladdin

Best suited to very young children, At the Beach is a lovely introduction to the joys of spending a day picnicking, playing in the sand, looking for treasures and swimming. Simple, clear text matches the colorful illustrations and creates an opportunity for learning new vocabulary.

The main characters are a Caucasian girl and her mother however the illustrations depict diverse skin tones among those playing at the shoreline.

At the Beach at Amazon.com

At the Beach at Amazon.ca

Curious George Goes to the BeachCurious George Goes to the Beach based on the original character created by Margaret and H.A. Rey, illustrated in the style of H.A. Rey by Vipah Interactive
Picture book about a day at the beach published by HMH Books for Young Readers

Fans of Curious George will not be disappointed with this fun story about a day at the beach. George and his friend Betsy enjoy playing at the sandy beach, making friends and feeding the sea gulls. Betsy’s reluctance to go into the water could be an opportunity to talk about fear of new experiences.

Betsy, her grandmother and the man with the yellow hat Caucasian however the illustrations depict diverse skin tones among those at the beach.

Curious George Goes to the Beach at Amazon.com

Curious George Goes to the Beach at Amazon.ca

Duck and Goose Go to the Beach written and illustrated by Tad HillsDuck and Goose Go to the Beach written and illustrated by Tad Hills
Picture book about friends who visit the beach published by Schwartz & Wade Books

Duck is keen for adventure while Goose would much rather stay in familiar surroundings so it is only not surprising that Goose is not keen to go for a hike. The two friends leave their familiar meadow and eventually arrive at the beach. It is loud and wet and very, very sandy. Vibrant illustrations are a highlight of this engaging story about two friends leaving their comfort zone, enjoying a day out together and then returning to the comfort of home. Duck and Goose Go to the Beach is highly recommended for preschool- age children.

Duck & Goose Go to the Beach at Amazon.com

Duck & Goose Go to the Beach at Amazon.ca

Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach by Melanie WattScaredy Squirrel at the Beach written and illustrated by Melanie Watt
Beach theme picture book published by Kids Can Press

Scaredy Orville Squirrel whose initials are S.O.S. is an immensely popular character in an equally popular series of picture books.

In Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach Scaredy the worrywart is very careful to avoid any sort of real or imagined danger. Rather than encounter pirates, jellyfish, seagulls and sea monsters, he decides to create his very own private backyard beach paradise. After carefully constructing his safe haven, Scaredy realizes that, although his beach “look” is great – his backyard just doesn’t sound like the real thing. The only solution is “Operation Seashell” – a carefully planned and executed mission in search of a seashell that will provide crystal clear ocean sound. Featuring detailed descriptions of Scaredy’s beachware and plans for his mission, Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach will be enjoyed best independently or in a small group or one-on-one read-aloud setting. Best-suited to children five and up.

Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach at Amazon.com

Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach at Amazon.ca

Stella Star of the Sea written and illustrated by Marie-Louise GayStella Star of the Sea written and illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
Picture book about a summer day at the seashore published by Groundwood Books

In this endearing series of picture books, we meet confident and worldly Stella and her much less self-assured younger brother Sam. When the two children visit the seaside on a shimmery summer day, Sam is filled with questions that suggest not only curiosity but also a bit of fear,

Do you think there are sharks in the sea?” asked Sam.
“Have you ever seen one?”
“Just a little one,” said Stella, “with an eyepatch.
Are you coming, Sam?”
“Not just this minute,” said Sam.



Gorgeous illustrations together with text that beautifully depicts the two siblings will have young children longing to visit the seashore and discover all the wonders of a leisurely summer day filled with digging in the sand, fishing, beach combing and, eventually, a swim.

Winner of the 2000 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award

Stella, Star of the Sea at Amazon.com

Stella, Star of the Sea at Amazon.ca

Tip Tap Went the Crab written and illustrated by Tim HopgoodTip Tap Went the Crab written and illustrated by Tim Hopgood
Counting book about sea creatures

Tip Tap Went the Crab features bright and colorful illustrations along with repetitious text that includes alliteration and onomatopoeia. When a crab decides to leave her small rock pool to explore the ocean she encounters one seagull, two sea lions and three starfish.

A great choice for toddlers and preschoolers, Tip Tap Went the Crab provides a great reminder that books for this age group can (and should) include rich language and fun, detailed and appealing illustrations. It is well-suited for a classroom or library read-aloud session.

Nominated for the Kate Greenaway Medal 2010

Tip Tap Went the Crab at Amazon.com

Tip Tap Went The Crab at Amazon.ca

Beach Theme Picture Dictionary and Sight Words

Free Beach Theme Printables for Preschool and Kindergarten

Note: There is a file embedded within this post, please visit this post to download the file.

Storytime Standouts - Raising Children Who Love to Read


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14. Loads of Headbutting Before Breakfast


“This is my rock.”
(Click to enlarge slightly)


 

British author and illustrator David Lucas has a new book out, This Is My Rock (Flying Eye, May 2015), and I’ve got some art from it today. I always like to check out Lucas’ books, and this one has a poignant back story to its dedication.

This is a story of power and ultimately, friendship, as a domineering goat atop a mountain claims it for himself but in the end discovers his own loneliness. It invites, as the Kirkus review notes, “a broader consideration of the ins and outs of ownership than the usual toy-oriented run of ‘sharing’ titles.” Lucas’ geometric designs and angular speech bubbles give the book a distinctive look. Keep your eye on the sky here to note his shooting stars and zooming clouds and rising suns (note the one on the first spread, featured above). These are visually pleasing spreads, ones evoking the Southwest in color palette and border design (though it’s never specifically noted where the story takes place).

Here’s some more art from the book. Enjoy!


“Not your rock.”
(Click to enlarge slightly)


 


“This my rock. Not your rock.”
(Click to enlarge slightly)


 


“This my rock. Not your rock.”
(Click to enlarge slightly)


 

* * * * * * *

THIS IS MY ROCK. Copyright © 2015 by David Lucas. Published by Flying Eye Books, London. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher.

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15. Interview: Illustrator Proiti Roy

MWD Interview - Proiti Roy

Indian artist Proiti Roy has illustrated many picture books for children, as well as text books, book covers and magazine articles. Before ‘settling down to become an illustrator’, Proiti worked as a graphic designer in advertising and manufacturing, … Continue reading ...

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16. Grump (2001)

Grump. Janet Wong. Illustrated by John Wallace. 2001. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages. [Book I Bought]

Look how tired this Mommy is
Tired and frumpy
Grouchy chumpy
Oh, what a grump!


Look at Baby
Smart, good Baby
Happy Baby
Making gravy
Applesauce and ketchup gravy
Not too lumpy
Not too bumpy
Squish squish
DUMP!

Grump is one of my favorite, favorite, favorite books. I almost don't even need to make the qualification of favorite picture book. It's a book that begs to be read aloud again and again and again. The rhythm of it is almost magical--at least to me! I love the use of language, I do. I love the way it sounds, the way it feels on my tongue. It's real life. It's poetry. It just works.

The story of this one is simple. It's been a LONG, LONG, LONG day for this Mom and her Baby. And even if the Baby doesn't think he needs a nap, he needs a nap. But will this baby go down for a nap? Not without an all-too-familiar-struggle!

Baby's going to take a nap now
Baby's going to take a nap now
Baby's going to take a nap now
Take a nap now
Little lump.

She puts him in his crib and...

And oh of course that baby cries
Cries and whimpers
Cries and whimpers
Cries and whimpers
Play with me!
So Mommy sits 
And reads to Baby
Reads so pretty
Reads so softly
Reads and reads and reads until--

Can you guess what happened to the oh-so-tired, oh-so-grumpy Mommy?

This one is such a GREAT book. I loved how true-to-life it was. Not only for the baby, not only for the mommy--but it captures the ups and downs of the whole relationship.

This one has been a favorite going on ten years. Today I was looking to review some board books, hoping to find something great to share with you, when I thought again of Grump. Why isn't Grump still in print? Why hasn't it been reprinted? Why??? It's just a WONDERFUL book. And it would be a great board book!!! The combination of this story with that format would be just perfect!!!!

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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17. Picture Book Monday with a review of Ninja Bunny

Sometimes, when we take on a new cause, hobby, or interest, we have to make compromises to accommodate this new pursuit in our lives. If you want to play the piano, for example, you cannot have long finger nails. If you want to be a long distance runner, you have to work hard to keep keep your body lean and strong. In today's picture book you will meet a young bunny who wants to be a ninja. He has to work incredibly hard to attain his goal, and he makes rather significant changes in his life to do so.

Ninja BunnyNinja Bunny
Picture Book
Jennifer Gray Olson
For ages 5 to 7
Random House, 2015, 978-0-385-75493-4
Many of us have dreams of being something different, something heroic even. One young bunny is just such a dreamer, but he is not willing to just dream, he wants to really become “A Super Awesome Ninja.” He dons the clothing that is suitable for his new role in life, reads a book about how to become a ninja, and then he does his best to follow the ten rules of ninjadom.
   Rule one says that “A super awesome ninja must always work alone,” and so the ninja bunny distances himself from his bunny friends. The second rule states that he must be “super sneaky.” Of course, there are times when being sneaky is not easy. For example, if you are being sneaky while you steal some carrots in the dark of night, you should not step on a rake that is lying on the ground and clock yourself in the face.
   Rule two is not the only rule that can at times be problematical. Being very strong, creating ninja weapons, being able to climb things, maintaining perfect balance, being able to fly and being able to escape are all skills that have to be acquired. Over time. With care. As you learn to acquire these skills you might have setbacks.
    Diligently the young ninja bunny works hard to learn the rules of his craft, only to discover that there is one rule that he cannot live by.
    In this delightfully funny picture book we watch (sometimes wincing) as a young bunny does his best to become a ninja, and we see that the path to ninjahood is not an easy one. What we come to appreciate most of all is that even great ninjas cannot always follow every rule in the book. Sometimes rules need to be bent so that ninjas can have something that is even more precious than ninja skills.


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18. Guest Post by Maria Gianferrari, Author of Penny & Jelly The School Show

To follow on from my review of Penny & Jelly: The School Show last Friday, I am very happy to have the author, Maria Gianferrari on the blog today to share about the inspiration for her debut picture book and offer … Continue reading

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19. The Bus is For Us (2015)

The Bus Is For Us. Michael Rosen. Illustrated by Gillian Tyler. 2015. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: I really like to ride my bike. I like going far in our car. When it starts to rain, I like the train. But the best is the bus. The bus is for us. 

Premise/plot: The Bus is For Us is a rhyming picture book about transportation. Most of the book focuses on actual types of transportation, however, by the end, things get slightly more imaginative. The book has a chorus of sorts, everything always comes back to the fact that THE BUS IS FOR US.

My thoughts: I'm not sure why this one didn't work better for me. It just didn't. Perhaps it was because for me it didn't feel like a proper story, just rhyming phrases strung loosely together.

Text: 2.5 out of 5
Illustrations: 3.5 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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20. Grandma in Blue with Red Hat (2015)

Grandma in Blue with Red Hat. Scott Menchin. Illustrated by Harry Bliss. 2015. Abrams. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Saturday is the best day. Because that's the day I go to art class at the museum. I have been coming here forever.

Premise/plot: The narrator of Grandma in Blue with Red Hat comes to an important realization about art and about his Grandma. He listens to his classmates describe art, what makes art, well, ART. He realizes that his Grandma has all the attributes of a GREAT museum-worthy piece of art. Should he donate his Grandma to the museum?! Or can he honor both his love of art and his love of his Grandma in his own special way?

My thoughts: I liked this one very much! I thought it was very sweet. It gets big and little details just right. I love his relationship with his grandma. I appreciate the focus on art. I also noticed that the narrator has two pet cats, and, that he LOVES to draw them!

Note: Not every teacher *appreciates* illustrated underwear. This one does have a LARGE pair of underwear on display at a museum...in the boy's imagination!

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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21. Hippu (2015)

Hippu. Oili Tanninen. 2015. Tate Publishing (Abrams) 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Hippu looks out of the window and sees a dog.

Premise/plot: Hippu is a small, square picture book originally published in Finland in 1967. Hippu, a mouse, meets Heppu, a dog, and they become good friends. The book is about what the two do together. The text is very matter-of-fact. For example, "Hippu sleeps. Heppu sleeps. Good night."

My thoughts: Hippu is a strange little book, in a way, certainly different from what is currently being published. But just because it's strange doesn't mean it lacks charm. The illustrations are simple, yet bold and striking. (The only colors in the book are red, white, and black.)

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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22. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week,Featuring Sergio Ruzzier and Paul Schmid


Preliminary art from My Dog Is the Best


 


Preliminary art from Whose Shoe?


 

Today over at Kirkus, I write about Daniel Miyares’ newest picture book, Float. That link will be here soon.

Last week, I wrote (here) about Eve Bunting’s Whose Shoe? (Clarion, June 2015), illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier, and Laurie Ann Thompson’s My Dog Is the Best (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, June 2015), illustrated by Paul Schmid. Today, I follow up with some early and final art from each book, thanks to Sergio and Paul.


 

From Eve Bunting’s
Whose Shoe?,
illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier:


 


Early character work


 


Early dummy sketch
(Click to enlarge)


 


Spider sketch


 



“There’s one thing I find hard to take
when I’m standing in my lake:
I hate that mud between my toes.
(I’m rather fussy, I suppose.) …”

– Early rough and final art
(Click final art to enlarge)


 



“Hello! I’ve found a lonesome shoe.
Someone lost it. Was it you?”

– Early rough and final art
(Click each to enlarge)


 



“Who says that shoes are just for feet?
I’m glad my search is now complete.
The stars are shining overhead. …
I’m happy in my king-size bed!”


 




 

From Laurie Ann Thompson’s
My Dog Is the Best,
illustrated by Paul Schmid:


 


Early dog


 


Dog poses


 


Early design
(Click to enlarge)


 


Final art: Title page spread (without text)
(Click to enlarge)


 


Final art (without text): “My dog is the best. He is strong and brave.
He helps the firemen.”

(Click to enlarge)


 


Final art (without text): “My dog is the best. He makes me smile.”
(Click to enlarge)


 



 

* * * * * * *

MY DOG IS THE BEST. Copyright © 2015 by Laurie Ann Thompson. Illustrations © 2015 by Paul Schmid. Published by Farrar Straus Giroux, New York. Preliminary and final art reproduced by permission of Paul Schmid.

WHOSE SHOE? Copyright © 2015 by Eve Bunting. Illustrations © 2015 by Sergio Ruzzier. Published by Clarion Books, Boston. Preliminary and final art reproduced by permission of Sergio Ruzzier.

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23. Seuss on Saturday #26

I Had Trouble In Getting to Solla Sollew. Dr. Seuss. 1965. Random House. 59 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence:
I was real happy and carefree and young
And I lived in a place called the Valley of Vung
And nothing, not anything every went wrong
Until...well, one day I was walking along
And I guess I got careless. I guess I got gawking
At daisies and not looking where I was walking...
And that's how it started.

Premise/plot: The narrator tries and tries to avoid having trouble in his life. That is one reason why he is trying to get to Solla Sollew in the first place. He's heard that in the City of Solla Sollew 'they never have troubles, at least very few.' But can he ever get there? He faces one challenge after another in his attempts to get there... If he gets there, will he truly find a trouble-free existence awaits him?

My thoughts: I don't remember ever having read I Had Trouble In Getting to Solla Sollew before. I liked it, I did. It was oh-so-easy to relate to the narrator. And the narrator makes some good observations. For example, "And I learned there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind." The illustration of our poor narrator trying to look out for trouble in back and in front is something. Did I like the ending? Yes and no. I agree that you do have to face the troubles that come your way, but, the narrator's solution is that all you need to face those troubles is a big bat. (I think it works in his situation especially.)

This one might pair well with Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst which was first published in 1972.   

Have you read I Had Trouble In Getting to Solla Sollew. Did you like it? love it? hate it? I'd love to know what you thought of it.

 If you'd like to join me in reading or rereading Dr. Seuss (chronologically) I'd love to have you join me! The next book I'll be reviewing is The Foot Book.
 
© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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24. The Fabulous Flying Machines of Alberto Santos-Dumont

If I didn't know that The Fabulous Flying Machines of Alberto Santos-Dumont, wonderfully written by Victoria Griffith with gorgeous pictures by Eva Montanari, was a work of non-fiction, I would have thought I was reading a fascinating story about two very creative, inventive friends set in turn of the century Paris. That would be a great book. Even better than that? Finding out that these

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25. Peppa's Chalk ABCs

Peppa's Chalk ABCs. Scholastic. 16 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Premise/plot: Peppa's Chalk ABCs is an activity book for young children who are ready or nearly ready to learn to write their letters. This is a practice book. There is space to practice each letter of the alphabet. Two letters per page. (Four letters per spread.) The illustrations feature characters from the Peppa Pig show. For example, "D is for Dinosaur" shows George playing with his dinosaur. Also, this is for learning lowercase letters.

My thoughts: Cute novelty book. It isn't really a book with a story.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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