7 Imp’s 7 Kicks
(Or, It’s Just Us Chickens Around Here)

By Jules

One of David Ezra Stein’s fairly recent color studies for Interrupting Chicken

Really, really observant readers may remember that, back in February of this year, I mentioned today’s featured book, Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein (which, as you can see here was a big ‘ol hit at BEA). I got a very early copy of it forever ago (one of the unbound, rubber-bandy, advanced kinds), and I immediately fell in love with it. I’m so happy it’s finally been released and I can share some art from it today. (Actually, I’m not entirely clear on the release date; it may be August. Don’t hate me for this.)

This book is very funny; it’ll charm your pants right off (go grab a belt, for crying out loud), and the art is stupendous. That David Ezra Stein always keeps us on our toes, yes? What with his changing styles, always engaging palette, and well-crafted stories, I still say he makes the picture book scene an exciting place lately. And this story has an added extra surprise: It has even more stories embedded in it, since the book is about a little red chicken being read to at night by his father. The chicken has a great deal of difficulty not interrupting the tales. (There are three tales-within-this-tale, and my favorite moment is when Chicken jumps up during Chicken Little to interrupt the tale, “Out jumped a little red chicken, and she said, ‘Don’t panic! It was just an acorn!’”).

‘All right,’ said Papa. ‘I’ll read one of your favorites. And of course you are not going to interrupt the story tonight, are you?’ ‘Oh no, Papa! I’ll be good.’”
(Click to enlarge.)

Yeah, Chicken just can’t help himself… Don’t you just love the art here? And the stories-within-the-story, not featured here, are of an entirely different style, rendered in a very exaggerated sort of cartoon manner in what I guess you’d call sepia tones, the latter making it all the more colorful and jarring and hysterical when Chicken leaps into the tale to yell things like, “Don’t go in! She’s a witch!” (In the early sketches below, which David sent, you can see a bit of those tales-within-the-tale style, though they’re not in color.)

In the end, the tables get turned, but I won’t give it away.

“‘Then,’ said Papa, yawning, ‘why don’t you tell me a story?’ ‘Me tell a story?’ said the little red chicken. ‘Okay, Papa! Here we go! Um . . .’” (Click to enlarge.)

Below are what David calls “some ancient sketches (ca. 2004).” He adds, “the book went through numerous revisions to reach the form you see today. Like, maybe thirty re-writes. So, this is skipping a lot of stages. In the beginning, {Chicken} had a human dad. Then, she had her own apartment and took books out of the library. Then, she became more of a kid with a chicken dad of her own.”

INTERRUPTING CHICKEN. Copyright © 2010 by David Ezra Stein. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

* * *

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. New folks are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1). David Ezra Stein! Always! His books are a perma-kick for me. And he’ll always have special honors here at 7-Imp, what with that quiche he baked back in ‘08 when he visited.

2). A night off this week, which also involved…

3). Flourless chocolate cake with raspberry sauce, blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries and Dale Chihuly’s art at twilight at Nashville’s botanical gardens. Aw, man. I listed the chocolate first, didn’t I?

(That’s Sunset Boat, pictured here. Click to see it a bit closer.)

4). I will eternally be kickful for places like this, which a friend and I took advantage of this week, in which your children can make a mess you don’t have to clean up.

5). Sending some gifts out to friends this week. I love to send gifts. Also, I took some of my very indulgent macaroni and cheese (WHICH INVOLVES GOUDA, PEOPLE)—and brownies, of course—to a friend who had a baby, and I got to hold said puddin’ head baby. Also, she gave her baby the same name as my youngest daughter’s, which is sort of a not-oft-used name. Now, we know another Ada.

6). Catching up with a long-distance friend on the phone.

7). My first Southern Festival of Books committee meeting with fellow children’s-lit lovers.

Note: I thought some of you might be interested in this Etsy shop. Matt Hinrichs, the artist/designer/illustrator behind this, contacted me this week, and he says:

LitKids is a project where I print original drawings of classic literature characters atop pages from their own books, so each print is completely unique. I think it’s pretty nifty and hopefully it will catch on. Right now I have Anne of Green Gables, Jo from Little Women, Huckleberry Finn, and Jim Hawkins from Treasure Island, with more to come.

Pretty neat, huh?

David Ezra Stein’s Interrupting Chicken is available at www.amazon.com

Founder/Publisher/Editor: David McGee
Contributing Editors: Billy Altman, Laura Fissinger, Christopher Hill, Derk Richardson
Logo Design: John Mendelsohn (www.johnmendelsohn.com)
Website Design: Kieran McGee (www.kieranmcgee.com)
Staff Photographers: Audrey Harrod (Louisville, KY; www.flickr.com/audreyharrod), Alicia Zappier (New York)
E-mail: thebluegrassspecial@gmail.com
Mailing Address: David McGee, 201 W. 85 St.—5B, New York, NY 10024