Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast » Blog Archive » 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #776: Featuring Jamie Hogan

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Happy New Year, dear Imps! Today, I’m pleased to welcome author-illustrator Jamie Hogan, who shares some process images and final art from her wondrous 2021 book, Skywatcher (Tilbury House, October).

Skywatcher tells the story of boy who lives in a “worn brick building” in the city and loves to read his Skywatcher comics, which are about a woman who travels the universe. The city lights, however, outshine the stars in the bustling city where this boy lives, and he wonders: “How could Skywatcher find her way through the universe without the stars?” The boy’s mother surprises him with a camping trip far from the city, and the two of them wake in the middle of the night to a beautiful surprise.

Hogan’s lyrical text (“They gazed upward a long time, hushed by a loon’s wavering call across the water”) is a delight, but the book’s palette steals the show. As you can see in the three spreads below, a wide array of blues dominates these textured, velvety spreads — and a midnight purplish-blue shimmers from the pages, juxtaposed in spots by flashes of light. The story — which is followed by an author’s note, tips on being a skywatcher, and a list of dark-sky preserves — captures the kind of outdoor adventure that children don’t soon forget: “Tamen carried his memories with him,” we read on one of the final spreads, as mother and child head back to their home in the city. (Incidentally, this would be wonderful paired with Marsha Diane Arnold’s Lights Out, illustrated by Susan Reagan.)

Here’s Jamie to tell us a bit more about the book. I thank her for sharing. (Be extra-sure to click on the link to her blog that she provides below, as it’s filled with even more images from this book.)

* * *

Jamie: I began developing the story in 2018, and it was titled Dark Matters for the first year of submitting. There’s some backstory in this blog post.

 

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From my first round of submissions, I had the interest of an editor, and this kept me pushing it further. But it took two more rounds to find the publisher that gave me a contract. They wanted more changes as well. So I made 12 dummies in all, but the redrawing and rethinking were not wasted.

Here are some early sketches, including a drawing of Tamen riding the Star Bear, but that evolved in the final book into Tamen riding the Ursa Major constellation in the sky. Early versions of the manuscript were also in the first person.

 

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Here are some final spreads from the book. …

 

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“One night after dinner Tamen dragged his mother to the park to find the stars.
Towering lights glared above the fences. ‘Where are the stars?’ he asked again.
‘The city outshines them,’ his mother said.”

(Click spread to enlarge)

 

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“‘Where are Cassiopeia and Perseus?’ Tamen asked. ‘The moon’s brightness hides them,’ his mother said. ‘More stars will appear when the moon sets.’ They climbed into the tent and read Mom’s favorite book about a Star Bear who guards the night.
Tamen fell asleep to the sound of his mother’s voice.”

(Click spread to enlarge)

 

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“He crawled from the tent and spied a little owl in the low branches of a tall pine.
It screeched again, and Tamen jumped. Something brushed his ear. A luna moth fluttered over his head. That’s when he saw it. ‘Mom, look! The Milky Way!’”

(Click spread to enlarge)

 

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(Click cover to enlarge)

 

SKYWATCHER. Text and illustrations © 2021 by Jamie Hogan. Published by Tilbury House Publishers, Thomaston, Maine. All images reproduced by permission of Jamie Hogan.

* * * Jules’s Kicks * * *

Note for any new readers: 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. New kickers are always welcome.

1) The blues in this book.

2) Ringing in the new year …

3) … with my family and on Sandwich Night.

4) Looking back to a healthy 2021 during a year when it was a challenge to stay healthy.

5) Dodging tornadoes two different times this holiday season.

6) Dodging Omicron.

7) A visit with friends and LOTS of snacks.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

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