Thursday, June 19, 2014

REVIEW: Sebastian and the Balloon by Philip C. Stead


Look out for this new book that I love, called Sebastian and the Balloon, by author/illustrator Philip C. Stead and published by Roaring Book Press due for release in October 2014.  Sebastian and the Balloon is an adventure book with a sense of humor, discovery and possibility. And it has it all. . . a "real" balloon pilot, a "real" bear, a roller coaster and. . . pickles(?). The vibrant illustrations created using pastels, oil paints, and pressed charcoal really support the text and add dimension and details to the story. These are some of my favorite illustrations from Philip C. Stead and I think the style is a little more refined than past works. Philip has also written and illustrated Creamed Tuna Fish and Peas on Toast, Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat, A Home for Bird, and Hello, My Name is Ruby. He also teamed up with his wife, illustrator Erin E. Stead, to create A Sick Day for Amos McGee which won the 2011 Caldecott Medal for Erin's illustrations.  And, from what I can tell, there may be a new book collaboration in the works from this husband and wife team as well as other writing endeavors for Philip.

In addition to bookmaking, Philip and Erin Stead have created a website called, Number Five Bus Presents: Conversations with Book People where they post real email conversations that they've had with different author/illustrators who they admire.  First up is author/illustrator Eric Rohmnann who is behind the books such as Oh, No!, Bone Dog, and Caldecott Honor winner Time Flies. Here is a peak at the introduction from the website:
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March 2014
From the Desk of Philip Stead (with Erin sitting close by):
Bookmaking can be a lonely endeavor. There just aren’t that many people out there that attempt it as a profession. The work is done over long stretches of time, mostly in solitude. A few of us are lucky enough to have another bookmaker living under the same roof. Even so when we see other authors and illustrators out in public there tends to follow a gleeful and immediate: “Hey, I know what you’re going through! I do this too!”. There’s a shorthand that seems to exist amongst bookmakers as there must with other practitioners of unique and specific professions—sailors, plumbers, stand-up comedians. It doesn’t take long before we feel like we know each other.
Each one of these episodes is a heightened version of what goes on when two or more bookmakers get talking. When Erin and I first conceived of this project we figured we’d send out an email to a random group of people who’s books we really love. Some people we already knew pretty well, some we didn’t really know at all. We thought maybe two or three people from the original group would agree to join the project. Once we had two or three we’d send out another email, and another until we had ten or twelve participants for the first season. As it turns out we only needed that first email. Nearly every person wrote back and agreed to join this little experiment. We were especially excited to nab two special guests, both children’s librarians. Book-talking with librarians—the guardians, champions, and critics of what we bookmakers do—can be its own unique and unpredictable experience.
Each episode here will be the transcript of a real email conversation that happened naturally and deliberately over a stretch of time. In this first season it’ll be mostly me doing the typing. Erin is present but in the background contending with a rapidly approaching art deadline. Right now she’s across the studio painting a yellow dog. She can paint and talk at the same time though so now might be a good time to give her a shout—
“Hey, what should I ask Eric?” 

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