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.
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:
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:
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.
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:
Also worth noting is the faux wood on all four sides of the canvas…
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.
For your viewing pleasure, I have compiled twelve Sock Monkey holiday cards that I’ve created over the years. This year’s card just went out today…and I’ll post it here on December 25th! We’ll go from most recent all the way to 2001. Remember 2001? That seems like ages ago.
2010: A homage to Peter Max. This card was originally gonna say “Merry Christmax” in that classic Peter Max signature font. BUT I woke up at 2 a.m. AFTER the cards had been printed out, realizing that maybe Peter Max is Jewish. Guess what? He is! Christmax? OMG. Luckily, Tom figured out that we could just cut that portion off the bottom, and that is what I did. So today, you’ll see what got cut off on the back after these cards got trimmed. Anyway, here it is, front and back both:
Here’s 2010′s card, a little nod to Andy Williams and his song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” I really, really love those Andy Williams Christmas specials, and was very sad when Andy died this year. Anyway, the inside of this card said, sure enough, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” And if you’re like my mama, who is sick and tired of yard work in the summer, it is indeed a good time.
2009′s card imagines what might have happened if Sock Monkey (famous actor) showed up to audition for the greatest Christmas special of all — the Peanuts one. Check it out! Here’s the front when the card is folded up:
…and here’s the inside:
Here’s the inside, with space to write a note:
And here’s that ornament. Extra credit for those of you who might still have one of these on your tree!
2007′s card was a near disaster. Each card came with a squished penny featuring Sock Monkey. I had found a site on-line that could make customized squished pennies. The pennies were awesome, except they almost didn’t come in time. My sweet mama and I stayed up late putting the cards together, and then she raced me to a post office that was open late for the holidays, and most people got them in time. I vowed that night to never rely on another person for part of the card ever again!
2006′s card had a German theme. And even better, these cards came with Sock Monkey gift tags that you could cut out and put on your gifts. I just found a few of these the other day, and I can’t wait to use ‘em!
2005′s card is a personal favorite. My parents have a bunch of those old Firestone-sponsored Christmas albums, and my siblings and I listened to a lot of them when we were kids. (Best one of the lot wasn’t Firestone-sponsored, but man, was it good — the Bert Kaempfert one. Just so danged right-on.) Anyway, this one was square, like an album cover, and inside there was a little record (we wrote notes on the other side of this). Cutting circles takes forever. Note to self: do not do that again!
Here’s the back of the “album”:
And here’s the “record” that was inside the album. I think I taped or glued together the front and back of the card and then slipped the record between them.
2004′s card was all about Shrinky-Dinks! I found actual Shrinky-Dink paper on-line and absolutely went to town.I was able to send this paper through the xerox machine, and so each person got one of four Sock Monkey designs to color and bake.
2003′s card is another personal favorite. We found a 70′s era Sears catalog in an antique store and bought it. (Tom and I are kids of the seventies, so we couldn’t resist. It was like a time capsule to our childhoods.) I soon realized that it had a lot of potential for a Christmas card — remember the Sears wish books? Hilarity ensued.
2002′s card is inspired by old sheet music. Who knew that Johnny Marks teamed up with Sock Monkey to create another holiday opus, S.M., the Red-Reared Monkey? These were printed on off-white (ivory?) card stock to make them look even more like the old weathered sheet music that has been sitting in your piano bench for decades.
The words to this (superior) song are:
You know King Kong and J. Fred and Grape Ape and Cheetah / Bubbles and Koko and Magilla Gorilla / But do you recall / the most famous monkey of all? / S.M., the red-reared monkey / had a very crimson rear / and if you ever saw it / you would even say “That’s weird!” / All of the other monkeys / used to laugh and make him blush / they never let poor S.M. / feel O.K. about his tush! / Then one foggy Christmas eve / Santa came to say / “S.M. with your rear so rouge / won’t you guide my sleigh so huge?” / Then how the monkeys loved him / and they shouted from the trees / “S.M., the red-reared monkey / you’ll go down in history!”
2002′s card was a hand-made hodgepodge. First, I stenciled on the light blue trees with acrylic paint. Then I ran the paper through the xerox machine to get the words (from that other great Christmas song, I’m Dreaming of a White Christtmas) and Sock Monkey’s outlines on there. Next, I made a little stamp for S.M.’s mouth, and 2 more little stamps for the boots, and stamped those on each card. Next, I painted a swath of white snow on the ground. Then I used a toothbrush to splatter some snow on top of the whole thing. And finally, I trimmed ‘em. Time-consuming but purty.
And finally, 2001′s card: simple but heartfelt. This one was made with a linoleum print. It’s another of my favorites. You can’t go wrong with Dickens!
I hope you enjoyed all these cards! One thing I’ve realized is that the more elaborate cards were made during the years that I was not so busy either with work or parenting. So this year’s card is not so elaborate, but that means I had plenty to do, which is usually a great thing! Check back on the 25th to see it! Happy holidays!
Wow! Tom won a contest held by wunderkind author/illustrator Adam Rex, and Adam sent us this drawing:
It’s Yoda! And–eek–Adam also included Robot from my book Rabbit & Robot. Amazing, eh? Make sure you check out all of Adam’s cool books. He is astonishingly good.
It’s not every morning you discover people tweeting about 2 great reviews about your work. Best. Morning. Ever. Even though my stomach is killing me and I am slogging through the hardest book of my life (excepting that job from long ago of having to clean up after pediatric post-op dentistry. Seriously). And how am I supposed to punctuate that last sentence, the one with the parenthetical hoopla? Grammarians, come to my rescue!
Anyway, check out these reviews! One is at the School Library Journal’s website, from the amazing super librarian Betsy Bird, aka SOMEONE THAT FORBES WROTE ABOUT. Good Lord. This review knocked my socks off. Just, wow. You might have to wait a bit for the site to load up, so I’ve taken out some choice bits here:
Here you have that rarest of rare beasts, the early early chapter book. Harder than Frog and Toad, easier than Magic Tree House, it’s a transitional title that’s the perfect thing to get kids out of their reading ruts and into the wide and wonderful world of chapters. Lots of books attempt to do that sort of thing, but it takes a delicate hand like Cece Bell’s to also pepper the book with memorable, hilarious characters and a simultaneously familiar and unique plotline.
When working in her usual picture book vein, Ms. Bell’s books are straightforward in their plots and visuals. Here in Rabbit & Robot she uses her lines to convey the characters’ moods with great verve. Rabbit is as easy to smile as he is prone to overwrought hysterics. Robot, in comparison, is simultaneously laid back and energetic.
Readers who enjoy some silliness will find much to like in this pair of friends. Expect laughs when Robot takes apart the kitchen table to complete his pizza, and when the TV remote goes missing in Rabbit’s ear. There are moments of honest friendship as well, as the friends compromise and help each other out.
The illustrations were created digitally – you coulda fooled me. It seems like the theme of my life these days is not being able to tell when computers were used to create artwork. The palette is soft and the line work is bold, making for eye-catching results.
Thanks, Betsy and Travis!
As Robot would say, “I have reviewed today’s data, and the result is, today is a good day.”
It’s not every day that I am mentioned in the same post as my friend and amazing author/illustrator Matthew Cordell, whose beautiful new book, hello! hello!, has just now been released to the masses. But, today is that lucky day! Check out this post from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, and you can read more about Matt, and more about the Top Secret Super-duper Rabbit & Robot Never-Before-Seen Conglomerate of Glory! (Actually just a rejected chapter from Rabbit & Robot.)
On another note, I hope everyone is recovering quickly from Sandy and her aftermath. I was very fortunate to be one of those on the East Coast who was spared most of her fury.
Be good, everybody!
Here’s another lovely review from Katherine Sokolowski of the gorgeous blog Read, Write, Reflect. Thank you, Katherine!
Well, folks, I can’t deny it. I have seen the World’s Cutest Children, and here they are:
You might recognize their names from an earlier post. Drew is the winner of the Cowboy Jackrabbit Contest, and his younger siblings participated, too. They got a copy of Rabbit & Robot, a Sock Monkey t-shirt, buttons and bookmarks! You can see their amazing entries here.
I have to admit, it warmed my heart to receive this picture from their mom, and to see that they have the FULL collection of my books, including all the Sock Monkey books, which are hard to come by these days. Thanks, kids!