Cece Bell news… Beewigged

Cece got her first copy of Bee-Wigged and it’s just glorious. Even Crazy Ceramic Bear likes it!
As you may know, this will be her first hand-painted full-length picture book. (Sock Monkey is done on Freehand.) The artwork is just amazing. And the story is pure Cece. Go ahead and order it (release date is in Nov.) because it is super-duper!
What else is Cece doing? Experimenting with a new painting technique for a book she’s just written and pencilled. Preparing for the Tomato Festival. And all sorts of other stuff.
Sock Monkey fans, don’t go away mad! No news yet on the next Sock Monkey book, but … here’s the world’s coolest T-shirt…

Old-School Narnia Readers UNITE!

Hip comic bookster and pal Dave Lasky has started a Facebook group to celebrate Roger Hane, the illustrator of  those classic Narnia covers….


Snooping in Cece Bell land

Last night I was over at Cece’s studio and spied one of her works in progress.

It was just written out, there was another sheet with some thumbnails on it.

But the thing is — It rocked! i mean it really boomed and bashed through the story. It’s exciting and funny and has a perfect ending.

Cece said it was about the 17th rewrite of the story and it’s something she’s been talking about for ages and ages. I’d seen a version of it once before, but it was nothing compared to this.

From this stage it’s going to betwo or three years before it ever comes out .. but when it does – look out!

Meanwhile, we should see Bee-Wigged, a dog book and HOPEFULLY another Sock Monkey title!

Sock Monkey’s door and other fine home decor

For door day, here’s Cece Bell’s house — totally Sock Monkeyed up from the front door to the yard to the kitchen cabinets to the bathroom wall where a big buttom mosaic hangs.
And this isn’t just any sock monkey, it’s Sock Monkey star of the Candlewick book and a resident of this very same house.

If Arnold Lobel was a Rock’Em Sock’Em Robot….

…. he could take all comers, Vol. 2.
To prove my point yet again, I need only a book cover:
If you’ve read this fine book, that’s enough for you to nod in agreement. Yes, Lobel is the rockemist, sockemist of them all.
If you have not read this book and if you have not read this book aloud to children, you and they are missing out.
Again, Lobel gives us wonderful drawings to illustrate a subversive story. The moral here isn’t that you should be neat and clean and submissive to authority, but rather that authority should keep it’s fat nose out of your business.
This is no tissue-paper homily about “everybody’s different,” but rather a frustrated oink: “Leave other people alone, for pete’s sake!”
Like the Grasshopper stories, Small Pig is nuanced social commentary that also makes a fine story. I loved it as a kid. I love it now.

If David Weisner and Terry Gilliam made a commercial…

The other day after reading a bunch of Weisner books at the library I thought about trying to come up with a BIG Weisner Style Idea — like a Cloud Control Station in the Sky, for example.
Since Weisner has so many flying things, I thought of going underground. But that’s as far as I got.
Then I saw this incredible commercial on TV which beat me to it. It’s about a man with enormous legs.
 It is the best thing I’ve seen on American TV in a long, long time.
Had it been a children’s book instead of a commercial — with the art director’s drawings as illustrations — I would probably be arguing for it to win the Caldecott. It is that good.

Berenstains get wacky!

Well, I’m going to make one last effort to convince you to read The Berenstain’s autobiography.
My recent posts on Stan & Jan have been getting less traffic than the dirt road in front of the Bear family’s tree house, but I’ll soldier on.
One reason that the Berenstains don’t get the proper respect, I think, is that some folks may think that Stan & Jan lacked the creative spark. After all they turned out 200-300 books about the same bear family.
Well, take a look at this:
This was their initial drawing for Inside Outside Upside Down.
Don’t try to tell me that’s not kung-fu because it is kung-fu.
But, Dr. Seuss said no. That’s right. Dr. Suess, Mr. WackyTobacckyGetMeTheFlit, told them to convert the book to a bear book.
They did and they did it masterfully, but less wackily, and the result sold 3 million copies.
So maybe Dr. Suess knew what he was talking about saleswise,  but it seems unfair that today he is revered as The God of Wacky and The Berenstains are considered “safe.”
The New Yorker had a fascinating piece recently about Raymond Carver and his editor who hacked and sliced and changed titles like a madman. Well, the Seuss/Berenstain relationship seems to have had a similar thing going.

Folks, I tell you, you’ve got to read this book. You’ve got to read about the crazy alchemy between Seuss and the Berenstains and see how it effects your own work.