Well. Correction. Illustrator Sophie Blackall isn’t really going to weigh in this evening on her illustrations for Lisa Wheeler’s Spinster Goose: Twisted Rhymes for Naughty Children, a peek into the brat-bustin’ life of Mother Goose’s hard-nosed sister (Atheneum, March 2011), because she really came over to talk about her illustrations for Aldous Huxley’s The Crows of Pearblossom (Abrams, March 2011). I bet you she’s being modest about having two titles out at once and perhaps doesn’t want it to look like she’s taking over the blog today, but you see, I’m fine with her taking over the blog today. And so it is I who will throw in some spreads from Spinster Goose as well, since it makes me inordinately happy to see an illustrator such as Blackall at work on that book. That is to say I very much like her stylized, detailed, offbeat, sometimes irreverent, always emotionally resonant artwork. In fact, she was also the perfect choice for Crows, since Sophie’s not afraid to work some darkness into her work as well. As Publishers Weekly wrote, this is a picture book for kids who don’t mind a bit of that. (“Blackall…pictures a lovely gnarled tree as the prolific family’s residence, yet her unnerving watercolors of the glassy-eyed crows reinforce the story’s sinister elements,” they wrote.) With a title like Spinster Goose, you can probably already see that both books embrace their inner darkness.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, a bit about each book. And then what I’ve got here for you this evening—before I share a few spreads from Spinster Goose—is a visit with Sophie (some after-dinner coffee cups are filled) to hear all about The Crows of Pearblossom, as well as the wonderful new blog she’s doing, involving her art work and her father’s true-life adventure stories (which I previously mentioned here at 7-Imp).