So much to see, so much to ♥

The American Library Association’s annual convention came and left Anaheim last week. It was a great opportunity to get a preview of  upcoming children’s book treasures.

. . . . . . . . . .

Spotted at the Macmillan/Roaring Brook booth:

Jacket of FROM A GOOD MOUNTAINAny book by James Rumford is an event! His early Peace Corps experiences imprinted a lasting curiosity about different cultures, and international themes.

From the Good Mountain: How Gutenberg Changed the World Concise text is written as a series of intriguing riddles, with corresponding illustrations rendered in the style of an illuminated manuscript. Example:

What was made of rags and bones, soot and seeds? What took a mountain to make?

For the answer, Rumford lures us to the fifteenth century, when books were made by hand, and a man named Johannes Gutenberg invented a way to print books with movable type.

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See more about his creation process behind the making of From The Good Mountain here.


At my recent UCSD Extension illustration class, we marveled at the variety of style Rumford applied to each of his books.

While experimenting with different media, he remains consistent and focused, in terms of technique, within the framework of each book’s own theme.

Jacket from "Silent Music", by James Rumsford

In Silent Music, Ali is a schoolboy with a yen to play soccer and listen to loud music. Sound familiar? No surprises there.

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from "Silent Music" by James Rumsford

Now consider that Ali is a contemporary Iraqi boy who lives in Baghdad, and has everyday acquaintance with most aspects of the war, and occupation.

from "Silent Music" by James Rumsford

Like his hero, the famed calligrapher Yakut, who wrote through the destruction of Baghdad in 1258 (“he shut out the horror and wrote glistening letters of rhythm and grace”), Ali turns to calligraphy, creating inked brush-strokes during the bombing of Baghdad in 2003. It’s Ali’s salvation.

from "Silent Music" by James Rumsford

“Writing a long sentence is like watching a soccer player in slow motion as he kicks the ball across the field, as I leave a trail of dots and loops behind me,” says narrator Ali.

from "Silent Music" by James Rumsford

In an eloquent ending, he discovers that while the word “war” flows easily, the pen “…stubbornly resists me when I make the difficult waves and slanted staff of saalam peace.

Rumford shows us how iconic Arabic calligraphy is, from rhythm of Ali’s life, the flow of his movements, his everyday environment, to his family’s garments, in loving detail.


In Tiger and Turtle, Rumford bathes his backgrounds with vibrant color and Persian textures (an abstract effect that almost smells exotic), setting the stage for his two characters, rendered simply with calligraphic brush strokes.

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And what are Rumford’s thoughts about future of the printed book?

Check out the author bio on the back flap of From the Good Mountain (coming 9/18/2012 from Roaring Brook Press/a Neal Porter book):

Back flap author bio, FROM THE GOOD MOUNTAIN

Check out Jama Rattigan’s interview with James Rumford here.
Jama also reviews Silent Music here.

An early preliminary jacket sketch for “Silent Music”


I’ll post more images of what grabbed my attention on the ALA Exhibit Floor over the next several days. Stay tuned…

A chance encounter between the photogenic Olivia and a lucky group of San Diego SCBWI members, on the ALA exhibit floor in Anaheim.

9 responses to “So much to see, so much to ♥

  1. Pingback: Delicious Illustrations: A Chat with Jessie Hartland | got story countdown

  2. Pingback: The Galapagos, coming in September! | got story countdown

  3. Thanks for visiting, Rebecca!

  4. I love this, Joy! Reminds me of my visit to the stinky paper factory in Pasadena (Texas). They use old blue jeans to make some papers.

  5. Pingback: On Eyes, Portfolios and Postcards | got story countdown

  6. Yes! The whole show was great. So glad I got to see them!

  7. @ Charles: Did you witness this:

  8. Hi Charles! I’ll bet we walked by each other more than once — distracted by too many book jackets and costumed characters! Sorry I missed spotting you!

  9. Oh wow, I didn’t realize you were there too! I was all over the expo with my family. We probably passed each other like ships in the night!

    Did you catch the Rock Bottom Remainders show?

    Great post, as always! I plan to explore papermaking with my kids this summer.

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