One Breathtaking Quest Before Breakfast:
A Visit with Author-Illustrator Aaron Becker

h1 September 2nd, 2014    by jules


(Click to enlarge)

Pictured here is Aaron Becker’s sketch of the rhino that is embossed on the cover of Quest (Candlewick, August 2014), the second picture book in what Aaron calls the Journey trilogy. The trilogy began with last year’s Journey, which was awarded a Caldecott Honor.

I’ve told this story before, but my own journey with Journey began back in 2012 when Aaron left a comment here at 7-Imp, I clicked on his hyperlinked name, and I visited his website. I believe I muttered “whoa” a lot here at my desk at 7-Imp Central. (It was, most likely, more like “whoa, DUDE,” but that makes me sound way less professional, doesn’t it?) I asked him if he’d like to visit the blog, which resulted in this post a year before Journey came out (oh, and then this fun breakfast interview in 2013). Then, when it finally was released, I ended up blurbing it, which is something I don’t do on a regular basis, but I loved the book. When the book got a Caldecott Honor, I cheered loudly down here in Tennessee. And now … well, to see Quest finally on shelves is a bit thrilling if you’re a Journey fan.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #395: Featuring Bruce Eric Kaplan

h1 August 31st, 2014    by jules

Okay, you all. I just gotta write about another Bruce Eric Kaplan picture book, because whenever he writes and illustrates a new one, I’m reminded how wonderfully weird and refreshing they are. I see a lot of picture books on a regular basis, you see, and some of them start to blur together in my vision, but when one of his shows up, I know I’m likely in for a laugh.

Let me back up first. Kaplan is a cartoonist, whose work regularly appears in the The New Yorker, and since he’s known for his darker humor, his picture books have a touch of that as well (which means, of course, I’m going to be drawn to them). Dark humor in picture books is an easy thing to get wrong, though, yet Kaplan hasn’t made a misstep yet. At least, not in my book anyway. His debut picture book was 2010′s Monsters Eat Whiny Children, featured here at 7-Imp, and this was followed last year by Cousin Irv from Mars, which I wrote about here at Kirkus (and followed up here with art).

The new one, Meaniehead, came out in June (Simon & Schuster) and features more of his dark, hyperbolic humor and wry (and wise) observations on childhood. Henry and Eve are siblings who are experiencing an ugly new phase (as you can see above), involving lots of arguing. One day, an argument over an action figure (“There’s nothing sillier than fighting about what belongs to whom, but no kids and even fewer adults know that”) leads to a broken lamp, a wrecked bedroom, and the destruction of the house, the neighborhood, the local toy store, the library, the pizza place, the beauty parlor, the park, and all the town’s buildings, really. After a snack break, the intensive arguing continues until … well, I can’t give it all away, but some Texas football teams get involved …

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What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Michael Emberley

h1 August 29th, 2014    by jules


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


 
This morning over at Kirkus, I’m doing something entirely different. I’m chatting with author Kekla Magoon about her upcoming YA novel, How It Went Down. Why is someone who always writes about picture books and illustration doing that? Because the events in Ferguson have weighed heavy on my mind, as they have for many. More about this great novel and my chat with Kekla are here.

Last week I wrote about Barbara Bottner’s Miss Brooks’ Story Nook (where tales are told and ogres are welcome!), published by Random House in August and illustrated by Michael Emberley. That link is here.

Today, I’m following up with some sketches from Emberley and art from the book. Michael tells me he typically does hundreds of sketches for each book. These below are just some. You can click on nearly every sketch below to see it larger and in more detail.

Michael has even more about the book, including more sketches, at this page of his site.

Until Sunday …

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Early Sketches and Outtakes and Art and Such
from Peter Brown (Who is Not Really a Monster)

h1 August 28th, 2014    by jules



 
That’s right. Despite photographic evidence from last week, Peter Brown is not actually a monster.

Since I chatted (here) last week with Peter about his newest book, My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I am Not.), published by Little, Brown, I’m following up today with some images he sent — some final art from the book but also early sketches, an outtake, etc. The early sketch above cracks. me. up.

Enjoy …

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Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Mike Curato

h1 August 26th, 2014    by jules



 
Debut author-illustrator Mike Curato is visiting for breakfast this morning to share lots of art and talk about his new book, Little Elliot, Big City (which I think actually comes out today — I swear I don’t plan these things, but I just get lucky with my timing sometimes). Clearly, based on the sketch of Elliot above, we must have cupcakes for breakfast. Actually, Mike agrees, when I ask him what he’d like on his plate. “If I could choose whatever I wanted without consequence,” he told me, “I’m sure I’d start off my morning with a cupcake. (Aren’t muffins just really boring cupcakes anyway?)” He went on to say that he usually starts his day with something a bit healthier, but I’m all for this cupcake plan (healthy schmealthy), so let’s just DO IT.

Little Elliot tells the story of a tiny (cupcake-loving) elephant, who heads intrepidly into the big city and eventually makes a new friend. Booklist praises Mike’s “almost cinematic artwork,” and the Kirkus review notes “the meticulous beauty” of the illustrations. Mike’s here today to show us some of that, as well as some other illustrations. I’ll get the cupcakes and coffee out, and I thank him for visiting.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #394: Featuring Julie Morstad

h1 August 24th, 2014    by jules


“When Julia was very little, she had a splendid meal of sole meunière. And that was that. Julia fell in love with French food. She loved to eat French food.
And she especially loved to cook it.”

(Click to enlarge)


 
I think this is the first time I’ve featured the illustrations of Julie Morstad here at 7-Imp (oh wait, I have some of her art here from back in 2012). I always like to see her artwork, and her latest illustrated picture book is Kyo Maclear’s Julia, Child, released by Tundra Books in July.

The book is pure fiction. As Maclear writes in an opening note:

While the story contains no true knowledge of (the real) Julia Child and should be taken with a grain of salt and perhaps even a generous pat of butter, we hope that you will find something here to savor.

It tells the story of Julia and her friend Simca. Simca would be French cookbook and author Simone Beck, who once worked and wrote with Child (Mastering the Art of French Cooking).

This book imagines a childhood friendship and two girls who work to bring cheer and imagination into the lives of the adults around them with their cooking. Noting that “too many grown-ups … did not know how to have a marvelous time,” they set out to create recipes for them. It works for the poor, tired, harried adults — until they begin to argue. The girls then decide to make smaller portions for the grown-ups, “just enough to feed the sensible children from whom these senseless grown-ups grew.” The cookbook they create here? Mastering the Art of Childhood.

Morstad used gouache, ink, and Photoshop to create the illustrations. Oh! And don’t miss Jama Rattigan’s July chat with author Kyo Maclear here at her site, Jama’s Alphabet Soup.

Here’s a bit more art. Enjoy.

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What I’m Doing at Kirkus and BookPage This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Gary Kelley

h1 August 22nd, 2014    by jules


“Dismissed by much of white America as ‘darkies playing soldiers,’ porters, butlers, hotel doormen, elevator operators—2,000 strong—volunteered for the cause.”


 
Today over at Kirkus, I’m shining the spotlight on Barbara Bottner’s Miss Brooks’ Story Nook (where tales are told and ogres are welcome!), illustrated by Michael Emberley. That link is here.

Also, yesterday at BookPage my interview with author-illustrator Cece Bell went up, as well as my review of El Deafo, her graphic novel. That is all linked here. And remember: I featured art from El Deafo back in June. That’s here.

* * *

Last week, I wrote here about J. Patrick Lewis’ Harlem Hellfighters (Creative Editions, August 2014), illustrated by Gary Kelley. And guess what? I saw yesterday that it up and won an Original Art Award from the Society of Illustrators. See here for more information and the other winners.

I have some art from this book today. Enjoy.

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Peter Brown is a Monster Before Breakfast …

h1 August 21st, 2014    by jules

Well, not really, even if he’s illustrated himself as one here.

First up, sorry for my silence this week, but the blog has been undergoing some much-needed maintenance. As my husband put it, there are something like 28,000 images in one folder where my site is hosted, and “I can’t believe that your site hasn’t already had a fit and gone boom.” (Notice his wording, and that’s because I always have to request that he explain this tech stuff as if I’m two years old.)

Okay. Where was I? … Yes, today I’m chatting with author-illustrator Peter Brown over at Kirkus. And that’s because I think his brand-new picture book, My Teacher is a Monster! (No, I Am Not.), is very funny. (Given the book’s title, you can see now why he has illustrated himself in such a manner.)

So, we chat—the link is here—and then next week at 7-Imp I’ll follow up with some sketches and art and even deleted scenes from Peter.

Until tomorrow …

* * * * * * *

Illustration of Peter Brown copyright © 2014 and used by his permission.

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #393: Featuring Christopher Weyant

h1 August 17th, 2014    by jules



 
Over at BookPage, I’ve written a review of Anna Kang’s You Are (Not) Small (Two Lions, August 2014), illustrated by her husband, Christopher Weyant. So, I’m sending you over there today to read about it, but I’ve got a bit art here at 7-Imp today to go with it.

The review is here.

Enjoy the art … Read the rest of this entry »

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week,
Featuring Leo & Diane Dillon and Liniers

h1 August 15th, 2014    by jules



 
Today over at Kirkus, I write about a new collaboration from J. Patrick Lewis and Gary Kelley, Harlem Hellfighters.

That is here.

* * *

Last week, I chatted (here) with Diane Dillon, and I also wrote (here) about Liniers’ What There Is Before There Is Anything There (Groundwood, September 2014).

Today I have art from that book (pictured right), as well as the last book Diane and Leo Dillon did together (pictured above), If Kids Ran the World (Blue Sky Press/Scholastic, August 2014).

Enjoy … Read the rest of this entry »