I love the (as I’ve once described it) funky, free-form, Chagall-esque, kaleidoscopic mixed-media illustrations of Australian author and illustrator Chris McKimmie. His art is probably not for everyone, but it’s definitely for me.
Back in 2008, I covered another of McKimmie’s titles. If you want to read that here, you might get a good sense of what his art is like. (Let me tell you that about 99.9999998% of the time when I’m blogging, writing, etc., I am beating myself up over my words—not sufficient enough, I think to myself, to describe what I’m thinking or feeling, and self-deprecation is my good friend—but, dang, I like that little 2008 review I wrote, as I re-read it now. I think it nails that book, if I may say so myself. I guess maybe occasionally I make sense.)
This new title from McKimmie, Two Peas in a Pod (from Allen & Unwin in Australia, and I’m not clear on the publication date, though I think it was published in May over the pond) tells us the story of two good friends, Marvin, a.k.a. “Marvellous,” and Violet, who have “lived together in Raven Street since dinosaur time. Almost.”
One day, however, Violet moves away (“We are going to the moon,” she tells Marvellous), and suddenly she is gone. “What could I do? What about me?” Marvellous asks in one spread, both funny and heart-breaking (but I won’t give the illustration away). And then we see this:
Poor Marvellous, huh?
Things turn around for our bummed-out protagonist, though, when his mom (wait, make that “mum” — this is Australia, after all) announces to him that she’s purchased a Koala Airlines ticket and that they’re going to visit Violet. And a grand time is had: They head straight to the beach; the next day, they go to the wildflowers and check out the shapes in the clouds; and…
The sun was setting into the ocean.”
When you get right down to it, this is a story that, to be sure, is told in book after book in this world (make that The Enduring Power of True Friends), but I say that McKimmie’s tale stands out — his striking, raw, and colorful llustrations, dancing with energy and sometimes chaos (when necessary) and fanciful to an extreme. And, as noted in the 2008 review of Maisie Moo, I like McKimmie’s writing style, authentically capturing a child’s way of thinking (“It was just about the end of winter and I had almost put Violet in with the forgets, when one morning Mum woke me up”).
It’s another tale worth checking out, especially fellow picture book nerds who like to see what other countries are producing.
TWO PEAS IN A POD. Copyright © 2010 by Chris McKimmie. Images reproduced by permission of the publisher, Allen & Unwin, Australia.
As a reminder, 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you.
1). Very thoughtful gifts from very thoughtful long-distance friends, including some coffee, some chocolates, some good reading material, and tarot cards (or more like a spoof of a tarot card deck) as only Edward Gorey could make them.
My people are so good to me, gifting me with such treats.
2). My favorite find from our Disney World trip was in “Japan” at Epcot and cost a grand total of $5.70: Two postcards all decked out with the Alice art of Japanese designer Shinzi Katoh (pictured here on this cup and plate, which I now covet). One says: “Alice in a funny world. The white rabbit tempted Alice to open the door and continue into the funny world. There are many good-natured friends. Gradually, she forgot about reality. Can she return home safely?”
3). You know when you see a friend and you talk and talk and feel like you could keep talking forever and the time passes so swiftly and you don’t even notice? Yeah. That. I got to have coffee with Sara Lewis Holmes last week, who was here for the Southern Festival of Books. The only reason I don’t have a pic of us is because three hours of catching up seemed like only about one, and then suddenly we realized the time and she had to run off. It was a lovely visit with her.
At the Festival, I also got to see Kerry Madden again and finally meet Shadra Strickland (pictured here), who has visited the blog several times.
4). The inaugural Nashville Kidlit Drink Night went well, and I got to meet the nicest folks. I also got some neat news that night regarding the book Betsy, Peter, and I are writing, but I won’t discuss that yet, so as not to jinx it.
5). The Nashville Kidlit Drink Night conversation at the table at which I was seated most of the night naturally turned to this, and this smart lady next to me (soon to be a published picture book author and who also teaches art) said that she sees a picture book as, amongst other things, a “limited edition print that everyone can afford.” BRILLIANT, yes? I wanted to hug her. Two of us squealed and grabbed pen and paper to quote her.
6). It was also mind-blowing to find out 7-Imp was included on a local children’s-lit professor’s mid-term exam. Hubba whoa, people. HUBBA WHOA.
7). My baby turned five years old this week.
BONUS and related to kick #5: It’s been heartening to hear the many conversations swirling around that New York Times article, trying to tell us the picture book is dead. I would also like to point out the following things, which celebrate picture books and illustration, so take that, sensationalistic journalism:
- The Brooklyn Public Library has a new exhibition, “Drawn in Brooklyn,” which showcases the work of some 30 local (to Brooklyn) children’s book illustrators, many of whom have been featured here at 7-Imp before. Check this out. Or this, which says, “There are more children’s book illustrators living in Brooklyn than anywhere else in the world.”
- Check out this photo from the opening of “Drawn in Brooklyn.” These illustrators hardly look to me as if the picture book is dying.
- Here is author/illustrator Sergio Ruzzier’s post about his contribution to the Brooklyn exhibit.
- My wonderful friend sent me a copy of this, which includes an article about how major exhibits of children’s picture book art reveals “a trend and a softening of long-held views about collecting illustration” and which includes a quote from Zora Charles, who says children’s books are the “basis of our culture.” Damn skippy, I say.
Okay, I’m done now. Carry on. What are YOUR kicks this week?