If I think of children’s book illustrators working today and style—that is, their manner of expression as determined by their use of line, color, shape, texture, etc.—I think author-illustrator Steve Light has one of the most distinctive styles, a you-can-spot-it-from-outer-space kind of style. In particular, his line is terrifically distinctive, and he’s visited 7-Imp several times to share his pen-and-ink sketches and artwork — and to show off those lines at my request.
Steve’s latest book is called Swap! (Candlewick), and it will be released in early February. It’s good stuff, and if you don’t believe me, trust me when I say it’s already garnered some starred professional reviews. It’s a sweet, but never saccharine, story of friendship. A young boy (the jacket flap refers to the child as “he,” though one of my daughters thought it was a girl, and I like this about that character), with a peg for a leg, sets out to cheer up a friend, a sea captain whose ship is falling apart. Through a series of barters, starting with the trade of a button for a teacup, the child helps fix up the ship for his friend. And it’s through these barters that the adventures occur and readers meet a cast of wonderful sea-side characters — from tattooed burly men drinking tea; to a get-it-done female blacksmith, forging anchors; and just about everything else in between. Read the rest of this entry »