Welcome!

6 Mar

Hi everybody! And welcome!

  • Want to know more about the Sock Monkey Series? Click here.
  • How about some other books? Try here.
  • Are there any new Cece Bell books coming out soon? Yes! And you can check them out here.
  • Need to feel better about your housecleaning skills by comparing them with mine? Check this out.

You can also check out the links on the right for more good times! Thanks so much for dropping by.

Sock Monkey as the Nutcracker: bits and pieces from the Vault of the Unpublished Stuff

24 Dec

So…I’ve been waiting to hear from the lovely folks at Candlewick Press about what might happen to the Sock Monkey books that we did together, starting an entire decade ago. The books are no longer in print, so if you’re not familiar with them, that’s ok. The books are called SOCK MONKEY GOES TO HOLLYWOOD, SOCK MONKEY BOOGIE WOOGIE, and SOCK MONKEY RIDES AGAIN, and there are two possibilities: I’ll either get the rights back to them, or Candlewick will decide to republish them. I wait with baited breath about the decision Candlewick will make!

Meanwhile, several years ago I tried out a Sock Monkey Christmas book, which Candlewick felt wasn’t quite up to snuff, and while I might not have thought so then, upon re-reading it, I’d have to agree. But there are some parts I like, and so I’ll share a little bit here with you, without giving the whole thing away. Because you never know. Maybe I’ll rework it and get it right!

Here are a few pages:

SMXMasA

Sock Monkey finds his friends doing various holiday things, and asks them for some help and advice with his dancing. Here’s how Froggie (who apparently is Jewish and therefore celebrating Hannukah) helps him out:

SMXMasE

Sock Monkey gets help from Miss Bunn and Blue Pig, too. But look what happens when he asks Sock Buddy for some help with his costume:

SMXMasB

SMXMasC

Of course, after this, Sock Monkey is furious, and treats Sock Buddy like garbage. Which is not the way one should treat one’s friends, should one?

SMXMasD

What happens next? Well, hopefully someday you will find out!

Sock Monkey and I wish you a wonderful holiday season with your family and friends!

Happy holidays! Sock Monkey’s 2013 holiday card featured here!

23 Dec

Hey kids! Here it is: Sock Monkey’s 2013 card for the holidays!

Look! S.M. gives gifts to the bathing monkeys featured in SOCK MONKEY GOES TO HOLLYWOOD. I am right fond of the bathing monkeys.

Look! S.M. gives gifts to the bathing monkeys featured in SOCK MONKEY GOES TO HOLLYWOOD. I am right fond of the bathing monkeys.

This year’s was not so elaborate. I like to make ‘em elaborate. But the reason it wasn’t very elaborate is that I was trying to meet a deadline for a book that I’m very excited about: a graphic novel/memoir about my early experiences with hearing loss called EL DEAFO. It’s supposed to come out in 2014. I’ll hopefully be able to reveal a few things about it in the coming months. But I can say that it has easily been the most difficult project I’ve ever worked on. And it’s the one I’m most worried about releasing to the world. Ai yi yi.

Check back for an extra holiday treat soon! In the meantime, here’s hoping you are all well and happy.

Crankee Doodle named one of People’s 100 Most Beautiful People

3 Aug

Well, not really. But close!

CRANKEE DOODLE is on page 67 of this week’s People magazine! Holy smokes. We are listed under the heading Best New Kids’ Books, along with THE DARK, by Lemony Snicket and illustrated by my current favorite illustrator, Jon Klassen; OL’ MAMA SQUIRREL, by David Ezra Stein; JOURNEY, by Aaron Becker; RUMP, by Liesl Shurtliff; DOLL BONES by Holly Black; and ELEANOR & PARK, by Rainbow Rowell. Some really fine company.

So, Crankee and Pony heard the news, and assumed that they would get a cover like this:

people

 

But it wasn’t to be. Crankee was quite jealous to see the lovely Duchess Kate holding her new baby on the cover instead; everyone in the aisle (where we were buying a copy of the magazine) heard him shout, “WE WON THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION FOR THIS?” Pony, on the other hand, exclaimed “I absolutely adore babies!” and promptly purchased a powder blue satin riding saddle for England’s future king.

There you have it. The actual page looks like this:

peoplemag

As Tom pointed out, brought to you by DulcoEase stool softener. A good reminder to stay humble, if ever I saw one.

All in all, a very nice surprise!

 

 

 

 

Birth of a Crankee cover

11 Jul

I’m gonna pause from practicing “Yankee Doodle” on my tenor saxophone (really and truly) to write this post. (Believe it or not, I can still play. Still play poorly, that is.)

I recently posted about the creation of Crankee, and got lots of positive responses. So, I thought I’d share with you all the different covers that I came up with before selecting this beauty:

000b2.crankeecover copy

Here are some original sketches:

CrankeeCoverRuff

 

CrankeeCoverRuff2

And here are different color comps (colored digitally):

COVERE

COVERD

 

COVERB

 

COVERA

 

COVERG

 

COVERF

 

 

COVERH

That’s a lot of covers! It was hard to choose.

Hope you are having a wonderful summer thus far! Be sure to come and see us at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC on the 20th, and Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, NC on the 21st. That is, if you live in NC!

 

 

 

Birth of a Crankee

5 Jul

Amazing writer and friend Kirby Larson (Hattie Big Sky, The Friendship Doll) features us on her blog today. Tom talks about how we basically wrote Crankee Doodle in the car, and here are the notes (and rough layout) to prove it:

CrankeeOriginalNotes1

CrankeeOriginalNotes2

"Handy with the ladies?" Ruh-roh!

“Handy with the ladies?” Ruh-roh!

Figuring out the layout is my favorite part of the whole process.

Figuring out the layout is my favorite part of the whole process.

Be sure to check out Kirby’s books. They are magnificent. Especially The Friendship Doll. It’s my personal favorite of all her great books.

Happy 4th of July from Crankee, Pony, Tom, and me!

4 Jul

CrankeePost

A review from Kirkus!

A review from the Horn Book!

A review from Publishers Weekly!

Here are links to the bookstores in North Carolina where we’ll be:

Quail Ridge Books

Flyleaf Books

Have a great holiday!

Happy Book Birthday to Crankee Doodle!

4 Jun

CRANKEE DOODLE, a picture book about a moody Yankee Doodle and his pony (by Mr. Tom Angleberger and myself) is now available for the entire nation to see! And in case you were wondering if we were “writing what we know,” look no farther than this picture:

CB&Tom

Luv is a many-splendored thing…

A lovely summary of the book and its current reviews can be found here, at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Books for Young Readers website.
I also had a delightful time at BEA. I met Patricia Polacco(!), who was astonishing in her kindness and loveliness. 
And I also got to hang out with the amazing John Rocco, whose book Super Hair-O and the Barber of Doom is a real treat.

Rocco doesn’t know it, but we are actually wearing enormous guinea pigs on our heads!

Saw many stars and many friends! All of them awesome!
And at the end of BEA, here’s how I felt:
 wimpy

Happy Mother’s Day!

11 May

I made my mama a card for Mother’s Day. The card doesn’t really say so, but she is an amazing, witty, kind, generous, and strong person, the kind of person who can handle just about anything you throw at her. I admire the heck out of her. And thankfully, she has a wicked sense of humor, to boot. I hope she likes this when I give it to her tomorrow! And, for all you mamas out there, thank you for all you do.

mothersday

Sock Monkey furious about Rabbit & Robot’s good fortune

30 Jan

OK. Most of you know my good news, which is, wonder of wonders, Rabbit & Robot received a Geisel Honor on Monday. Holy cow. I am stunned but grateful. Very grateful — especially to all of you who have been so supportive through the years, and to the committee who considered it a contender in the first place. Definitely take the time to check out all the folks whose hard work was rewarded by the ALA Youth Media Awards – I am a big fan of a lot of them!

Tom was there to hear the announcement. I knew the night before, but didn’t tell him. It was worth keeping it a secret! You can hear a distinct yell (or at least I think I can) when you watch the webcast! That yell made me very happy.

But someone was NOT happy. And that someone is your friend and mine, Sock Monkey. He’s here today to point out something very important, that often gets overlooked: Sock Monkey Boogie Woogie received the International Disco Ball Hall of Fame and Fortune and Dance Award. And he’s got the picture to prove it:

S.M.: A bad loser, or a good winner? You make the call.

S.M.: A bad loser, or a good winner? You make the call.

Sock Monkey thinks the nice flowers that came for — ahem — someone else (and thank you Madge and Candlewick Press, very much) — actually came for him. And I’m letting him think that, because a moody monkey makes for a very difficult housemate. Here is the kitchen version of S.M. with his flowers:

Fleurs from Madge and her family...

Fleurs from Madge and her family…

...and fleurs from Candlewick Press. Featuring Thing from the Addams Family!

…and fleurs from Candlewick Press. Featuring Thing from the Addams Family!

Anyway, thanks to EVERYONE everywhere who has made this such an exciting time for all of us. Just, wowza wow wow, is all that can really  be said.

geisel

 

 

The post I meant to post Monday, before everything changed! It’s a cat painting!

30 Jan

Before I got some startling good news, I was finishing up a little piece of artwork, and I was getting ready to share it with you. But I got sidetracked…so I’m sharing it with you now!

I’m participating in this cool fundraiser for the Roanoke Valley SPCA. It’s called “Best in Show,” and here’s what it is, according to RVSPCA website:

Artists and pet lovers are invited to create artwork in any medium for the 8th Annual Best in Show.  Images can be of pets or any animal friends.  Artwork need not be only a painting, photograph, or collage.  Sculpture as well as designer dog and cat houses, pet beds or prototypes of your designs are also welcome!  All artwork must be for sale with at least 50% of the sale priced being donated by the artist to the RVSPCA.

The RVSPCA Calendar Committee members select the “Best in Show,” which will be featured as the cover of the 2014 RVSPCA Pet Calendar.  Winners in other categories will be selected by guest judge, Karen-Sam Norgard.

“Best in Show” opening reception is sponsored by HomeTown Bank.
Artwork will be exhibited at the Taubman Museum of Art on Friday, February 22, 2013.  Unsold artwork will be featured in a virtual art show/sale on the RVSPCA website and Facebook page.  Unsold artwork will remain for sale online until the end of March.

Fun city, in other words, and for a good cause. Here’s a sneak peek at my entry:

It's called "Snacktime." And guess who's allergic to cats? But I sure love to paint them.

It’s called “Snacktime.” And guess who’s allergic to cats? But I sure love to paint them.

Also worth noting is the faux wood on all four sides of the canvas…

I love fake wood. How's about you?

I love fake wood. How’s about you?

Come on by to the Taubman Museum of Art in my favorite city, Roanoke, VA, on Friday, February 22, 2013. You can buy it! Plus, you’ll see lots and lots of cool entries! And definitely check out the RVSPCA website if you’re interested in submitting your own artwork.

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