What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week (the Halloween Edition), Featuring Gerald Kelley, Harriet Muncaster,
Greg Pizzoli, and Laura Vaccaro Seeger

h1 October 24th, 2014    by jules

– From Carol Brendler’s Not Very Scary,
illustrated by Greg Pizzoli


“I don’t know where my mom goes. She’s always my mom, but I think that sometimes she just needs a break from being a witch.”
– From Harriet Muncaster’s
I Am a Witch’s Cat
(Click to see spread in its entirety)


– From Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s
Dog and Bear: Tricks and Treats


– From J. Patrick Lewis’
M is for Monster: A Fantastic Creatures Alphabet,
illustrated by Gerald Kelley

We’re celebrating Halloween today, 7-Imp style, with lots of artwork.

Last week here at Kirkus, I did a round-up of some good, new Halloween titles. Today, I’ve got some art from each one. All the art, all the info, and all the covers are below. Greg Pizzoli even sent some early dummy images for his illustrations for Carol Brendler’s Not Very Scary.

Today over at Kirkus, I write about two of my very favorite brand-new early chapter books for children (and both are illustrated). That link is here.

Enjoy the art …

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Drawing Blind with Philip C. Stead

h1 October 22nd, 2014    by jules

“SEBASTIAN sat high on his roof—something he was never supposed to do.
‘There is nothing to see on my street,’ he thought. ‘Nothing to see at all.’”

(Click to enlarge)

Author-illustrator Phil Stead is visiting today to chat with me about his newest picture book, Sebastian and the Balloon, released by Neal Porter Books/Roaring Brook earlier this month.

This is the story of a young boy who sets out on an adventure with “all the things he would ever need” and charts a course for the skies — in a balloon he’s built from his grandmother’s afghans. Along the way, he meets a bear (a real one), who joins him in the balloon, yet it’s popped at the beak of a “very tall bird.” Turns out, though, they’ve landed on the house of three elderly sisters, who mend the balloon and help the boy, the bear, and the bird shoo away some pigeons on the other side of the mountain near where they live. The pigeons have gathered on the “most perfect roller coaster,” which together the crew fixes up for an exhilarating ride.

Phil chats with me below about how he made his art, letting nature take its course on your illustrations (and embracing humor error), and leafless trees needing company too. (P.S.: You can see a few other spreads from the book in this June 2014 7-Imp post.) Read the rest of this entry »

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Stephanie Graegin

h1 October 21st, 2014    by jules

Pictured above is the title page illustration from Nancy Van Laan’s Forget Me Not, released by Schwartz & Wade Books in August. This is the poignant and lovingly-rendered story of a young girl whose grandmother is experiencing significant memory loss. It slowly builds in the story — to the point where she is placed in an assisted living center, while her granddaughter watches with concern. The illustrations were rendered by my visitor today, Stephanie Graegin, pictured below.

As you’ll read below, this is Stephanie’s fourth picture book. (Three were released last year.) She’s also illustrated middle grade novels and is working on her own picture book. Graegin’s warm palettes capture the small moments of life, and I wanted to have her over for a cyber-breakfast to discuss her work and see even more art. Normally, she tells me, she’d have a bowl of cereal. But today we are going to splurge by taking a walk to pick up a bacon and egg dub pie from the Dub Pie Shop across the street, along with a coffee.

I thank her for visiting.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #402: Featuring David Mackintosh

h1 October 19th, 2014    by jules

(Click to enlarge)

Happy Sunday, all …

Right here over at BookPage, I reviewed Lucky from British designer and illustrator David Mackintosh, released by Abrams this month. Below, I’ve got some art from it, ’cause you know we just GOTTA take a peek inside the pages.

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What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Jon Klassen

h1 October 17th, 2014    by jules

“So they kept digging.”
(Click to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)


“‘I have a new idea,’ said Dave. ‘Let’s split up.’ ‘Really?’ said Sam.
‘Just for a little while,’ said Dave. ‘It will help our chances.’”

(Click to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)

This morning over at Kirkus, I’ve got some good reads for Halloween — mostly picture books but a couple of books for older readers, too.

That link is here.

* * *

Since I wrote last week (here) about Mac Barnett’s Sam and Dave Dig a Hole (Candlewick, October 2014), illustrated by Jon Klassen, I’ve got two spreads, pictured above.

See that second illustration? I highly recommend you head over here to Cynthia Leitich Smith’s blog to read Mac and Jon’s conversation about the emotional landscape (so to speak) of that spread. It’s a good, good read in many directions.

Click here to see the book’s cover: Read the rest of this entry »

The Coretta Scott King Awards Book Fair

h1 October 16th, 2014    by jules

Ever heard of the Coretta Scott King Awards Book Fair? I hadn’t either till I took my children to one of these fairs in Nashville a few months back.

Today at Kirkus, I talk to the Fair’s organizer, Collette Hopkins. She’s pictured above (second from the left) at this year’s Fair with Angelica Washington, author Sharon Draper, storyteller Mama Koku, and illustrator R. Gregory Christie. Collette talks about what the Fair is and how interested teachers and librarians can bring it to their city.

That link is here.

* * * * * * *

Image used with permission of Collette Hopkins.

The Art of Raúl Colón

h1 October 14th, 2014    by jules

“When Leontyne performed at the Metropolitan Opera House in 1955, she blew open the door that Marian left ajar. Six years later, Leontyne landed
her first lead role with the Met. …”

(Click to enlarge spread)

Since I’ve got a review of Raúl Colón’s Draw! (Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster, September 2014) over at BookPage, I thought I’d follow up with some illustrations from the book today. The review is here, and the art is below.

But, while we’re on the subject of Colón, I’ve also got some illustrations from two other books he has illustrated this year — Juan Felipe Herrera’s Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes, which was published in August by Dial, and Carole Boston Weatherford’s Leontyne Price: Voice of a Century, coming this December from Knopf. (Pictured above is an illustration from Weatherford’s book.)

Enjoy the art …

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #401: Featuring Richard Byrne

h1 October 12th, 2014    by jules

(Click to enlarge)

Today’s post will be brief, because it’s the weekend of the Southern Festival of Books here in middle Tennessee. My co-author was in town from New York City to present with me about our book (which was yesterday and went well). But it’s been an unusually busy work week, and this weekend itself is hoppin’. I’m, quite simply, worn out, so I’m going to tell you briefly about this entertaining book by Richard Byrne. And then I’m going to relax with a cup of hot cocoa.

Know your picture book terminology? Know what a gutter is? The gutter is the place between two pages where the binding meets. Awards committees (think: Caldecott) care an awful lot about gutters and whether or not an illustrator can effectively work around them. You don’t want, for instance, to let the gutter swallow an illustration whole.

Well, cue Byrne’s book. This UK illustrator’s newest picture book, This Book Just Ate My Dog! (Henry Holt, September 2014), embraces the gutter, to put it mildly. In this story, a young girl named Bella takes her dog for a walk “across the page,” only to discover that he is suddenly gone. He’s walked straight into the gutter, you see; the dog’s leash just disappears into the center of the book, leaving Bella with a look of shock on her face. When Bella sees her friend Ben, she declares, “THIS BOOK JUST ATE MY DOG!” When Ben investigates … you guessed it: He disappears into the gutter too. So do the fire truck, police car, and more: “Things were getting ridiculous,” Byrne writes.

My, what a vicious book! Read the rest of this entry »

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Oliver Jeffers

h1 October 10th, 2014    by jules

This morning’s Kirkus column is all about Mac Barnett’s Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, illustrated by Jon Klassen.

That link is here.

* * *

I wrote last week (here) about Oliver Jeffers’ Once Upon an Alphabet (Philomel, October 2014).

Today, I follow up with a bit of art from it.



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Because I Like Seeing Zelinsky’s Sketches, Too …

h1 October 9th, 2014    by jules

(Click to enlarge)

Last week at Kirkus, I chatted here with author Kelly Bingham and author-illustrator Paul O. Zelinsky about Circle, Square, Moose (Greenwillow, September 2014), the sequel to 2012′s Z Is for Moose.

Today, I follow up with some early sketches from the book from Zelinsky. He notes that he has no recollection of the pig holding the bow and arrow, who was never going to be in the book. I love this usurper MYSTERY PIG so much that I’m opening the post with that sketch.

Zelinsky also shares a bit of final art from the book.

P.S. You can read here about Moose’s Australian adventure.

Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry »