A Chapter 16 (and 7-Imp) Visit with David Wiesner

h1 September 17th, 2020    by jules

Early sketch of Cathy


— A final illustration from Robobaby
(Click image to see spread in its entirety)

Over at Chapter 16, I have a Q&A with author-illustrator David Wiesner. He and I chatted via phone recently about his career; his newest picture book, Robobaby; and more. That Q&A is here.

But also! Here at 7-Imp, David gives us a deep dive into the making of Robobaby. That is below, should you be interested in that after reading the Chapter 16 piece.

I thank him for sharing.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Old Woman

h1 September 15th, 2020    by jules

“The old woman stopped to watch a crow fly past. The dog looked up, too.
What would it feel like to fly? she thought. She imagined wings spread,
gliding on wind currents. She teetered a bit just thinking about it.
To have a bird’s-eye view, now that would be something.”

(Click spread to enlarge)

Joanne Schwartz’s The Old Woman (Groundwood), illustrated by Nahid Kazemi and coming to shelves at the end of this month, is the remarkably gentle and quiet story of just what the title tells you—an old woman. She lives alone with her “scruffy old dog,” and she takes walks with him, marveling at the natural world around her. She’s not on the verge of death, and she doesn’t lose her dog (to the woods by her home or to death). If you were to summarize this, you’d say that it’s about a woman near the end of her life who appreciates her life. That’s about it, plot-wise, but so much more is going on. And I can hear people now saying that children won’t want to read such a story. But I think there are child readers out there for whom this thoughtful story will surely resonate.

Read the rest of this entry »

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #708: Featuring Ben Hatke

h1 September 13th, 2020    by jules

Julia’s back!

Remember Ben Hatke’s introduction to Julia in 2014’s Julia’s House for Lost Creatures? (I wrote about it here, and Ben shared some art and preliminary artwork here.) She will return later this month in Julia’s House Moves On (First Second), and her fans will be delighted.

Read the rest of this entry »

My BookPage Q&A with Denene Millner

h1 September 10th, 2020    by jules


Over at BookPage, I had the pleasure of talking with publisher, author, and journalist Denene Millner about her work. Earlier this year, she moved her imprint, Denene Millner Books, to Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.

Denene talks about the challenges of launching an imprint during a pandemic and a “modern-day civil rights movement”; about wanting books about Black joy over Black struggle; how she finds talent; what’s on her publishing wish list; and more.

Click the above image to head to BookPage to read the Q&A.

Evan Turk’s A Thousand Glass Flowers

h1 September 8th, 2020    by jules

Preliminary painting
(Click to enlarge)


Final spread: “In stunned silence she watched as her father
continued to perform his miracles.”

(Click to enlarge spread and see text in its entirety)

I’ve a review over at the Horn Book of Evan Turk’s A Thousand Glass Flowers: Marietta Barovier and the Invention of the Rosetta Bead (Atheneum, August 2020), the story of the fifteenth-century Venetian glass artist. That review is here, and below are some final spreads from this beautiful book.

Evan also shares some preliminary images below, including sketches from his travels to research the book. You can click here to read about the making of this book. (It’s a link to the book’s backmatter.)

I thank Evan for sharing. I could stare at his sketches all day.

Read the rest of this entry »

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #707: Featuring Rachelle Baker

h1 September 6th, 2020    by jules

“Some words, when they CONNECT with the right people, become almost like potions or spells. These words become magical. That’s the way it was with Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm and verbs. She understood, almost intuitively, how and why verbs are not just words about being, but doing. Verbs are words that move the world forward.”

Let’s take a look today at a new picture book about politician Shirley Chisholm, who made history in 1968 by becoming the first black woman elected to the United States Congress. This biography—Shirley Chisholm Is a Verb! (Dial, July 2020), illustrated by Rachelle Baker—comes from author Veronica Chambers, who writes in a closing “personal note” that, as a child growing up in Brooklyn, she remembers seeing posters (“SHIRLEY CHISHOLM FOR CONGRESS”) in her neighborhood. She writes that “because of Shirley Chisholm, I thought, ‘I could be a congresswoman.’ After all, I passed a picture of a woman who looked a lot like me, who had that job.”

Read the rest of this entry »

My Chapter 16 Q&A with Renée Watson

h1 September 3rd, 2020    by jules


I had the pleasure once again of interviewing author Renée Watson. We chat over at Tennessee’s Chapter 16. Renée will speak at the 2020 Southern Festival of Books (a Nashville event that will be virtual this year). She will be in conversation with Meg Medina on October 8; see the full festival schedule here.

She and I discuss Ways to Make Sunshine, illustrated by artist Nina Mata; the future of the I, Too Arts Collective; Portland; her hopes for children’s book publishing today; and more.

That interview is here.

Some Slow-Down-Why-Don’t-You Before Breakfast

h1 September 1st, 2020    by jules

“Old dog and small girl walk side by side.”

Oh, the beautiful places Martha Brockenbrough goes in her newest picture book. This Old Dog (September 2020), illustrated by Gabriel Alborozo, is one of the first releases from Arthur Levine’s new independent publishing house, Levine Querido. And it’s a story about not letting life pass you by.

Read the rest of this entry »

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #706: Featuring Sydney Smith

h1 August 30th, 2020    by jules


I’ve a review over at BookPage of one of the most splendid picture books you will see this year. I Talk Like a River (Neal Porter Books/Holiday House, September 2020), written by Jordan Scott and illustrated by Sydney Smith, is nothing less than a masterpiece.

My review is here, so you can read my thoughts over there if you are so inclined.

As always, I have some spreads from the book to show you here at 7-Imp today, but illustrator Sydney Smith also shares some preliminary images (for which I thank him). If you read 7-Imp, you’ll know from previous Smith visits that you’re in for a treat. Pictured above is an early painting from Sydney, followed by the final art (the opening to the book’s dramatic double gatefold spread).


Read the rest of this entry »

Flamer: A Conversation with Mike Curato

h1 August 27th, 2020    by jules

It’s a pleasure to welcome author-illustrator Mike Curato once again to 7-Imp. Today, we discuss Flamer (Godwin Books/Henry Holt, September 2020), his new graphic novel for teens. Flamer is fictional but based on some of Curato’s own personal experiences.

The book tells the story of 14-year-old Aiden, who is away at summer camp (awash in toxic masculinity) and trying to figure out a lot of things about himself, including the fact that he has a crush on a boy. He dreads the return to school (he’s about to transition from a Catholic school to a public high school) and is accustomed to being bullied — for his size and weight, for being effeminate, for not playing sports, and for his Filipino heritage. It’s a powerful and poignant coming-of-age story and a departure for Curato, who until now has made picture books.

I thank him for visiting today to discuss the book and share some art.

Read the rest of this entry »