Gee Whiz, Giant News!

15 Dec
A still from the new show!

You guys! THIS is the reason I haven’t had any new books out in a really long time!

For the past three years, and mostly from the comfort of my own home, I have been writing, producing and even narrating a three-episode animated adaptation of my book, El Deafo, for Apple TV+! And now it’s almost here! Check out this cool trailer:

My co-writer and co-producer is my very good friend, the one and only Will McRobb! Yeah, that Will McRobb — the one who co-created one of my all-time favorite shows, The Adventures of Pete & Pete! (Check it out. It’s one of the funniest and weirdest shows ever created.) Will showed me the ropes and then let me be in the driver’s seat, always lending his talents and expertise and support along the way. Will and I are so excited to share this production with you.

I signed on to do this show because it felt like an opportunity to present, on the powerful medium of streaming, a deaf person who uses a hearing aid to help them hear (like me). When I was a kid watching TV and movies as a kid (and sometimes even as an adult), the few deaf people portrayed (the ones wearing hearing aids, at least) were often objects of ridicule, the butt of the joke. Sometimes, even the hearing aid itself got mocked. This show felt like my chance to share, as authentically as I can, a deaf character who is also a real person, with all of the same ups and downs, hopes and dreams — and goofy crushes — as everyone else.

There’s so much to tell you guys! And where to start? Well, it’s directed by Gilly Fogg of Lighthouse Studios in Ireland. Gilly guided the animators to stay true to the look of the book, while encouraging them to give all the characters these incredibly nuanced performances. Gilly also did all the voice directing (of me, too), and what a treat it was to watch her in action! She’s such a bright talent, and a wonderful friend, too. I actually made a lot of new friends at Lighthouse, and the entire team (I think I counted 133 names in the credits!) is to be commended.

The kid version of me is played by Lexi Finnigan, a new young actress who is also deaf (she uses cochlear implants to help her hear). This was Lexi’s first experience acting, and she really aced it. She sounds authentic because she is authentic (and still a kid); in fact, all the kids in the show (and there are a lot of ‘em) are voiced by actual kids. Yay!

Pamela Adlon (you might know her from Better Things, but to me she will always be Dolores from Grease 2) plays my mom… Jane Lynch (from everything) plays my teacher, Mrs. Sinklemann… and Clancy Brown (Rawhide from Buckaroo Banzai for fellow old-timers) is gym teacher Mr. Potts.

Katie Crutchfield (more famously known as Waxahatchee) wrote the beautiful theme song as well as two other fun songs for the show…and Michael Andrews (who composed the music for Freaks and Geeks, my favorite TV show ever), scored the episodes, giving everything a gorgeous seventies feel that will warm even the coldest heart.

And oh yeah, the sound design: Just like the book uses speech balloons to illustrate what I hear and don’t hear, you’ll hear the sounds of the show almost entirely from my point of view. Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van Der Ryn of E2 Sound (they did A Quiet Place, y’all!) worked tirelessly to grok what we were trying to do, and then did a fantastic job making it happen.

None of this would have happened without the amazing support of the team at Apple TV+, particularly that of Tara Sorensen, head of children’s programming at Apple, who never stopped believing in this project, and who really, really listened to all that I had to say. And there are so many, many people (you won’t believe the machine that is streaming TV) who have been working long hours to make the show (and me) look really good. I’m truly grateful for their time and talents.

For the folks who lovelovelove the book: yes, the show is different in a lot of ways, but Will and I worked tirelessly to make sure that the heart of it is all there. And I think you’ll love how wild the El Deafo fantasies get! I hope you’ll see it not just as a companion piece to the book, but as something to genuinely enjoy on its own terms.

This is my own unique story, and it’s important to me to repeat what I say in the Author’s Note at the end of the book: I am an expert on no one’s deafness but my own. But we are all experts on what it’s like to feel different from everyone else, and to be lonely — and so my biggest hope for this show is that it will be good company to anyone who needs a friend.

I hope you’ll check it out! Premiering Friday, January 7th!

Another deep dive into Chapter 20 of El Deafo!

23 Nov

Folks, it’s the penultimate video of this series!

Can you believe that I’m on the next-to-the-last chapter in this series? (That’s what penultimate means — “the next to the last.” It took me years to learn this. Doesn’t that extra syllable make penultimate sound like it’s even better than ultimate?) Anyway, it’s taken me much longer than I thought it would to make all these videos. I kept getting distracted by various bits and bobs, and was not always able to provide video content every Monday, as I had hoped to do. But here’s chapter 20…and hopefully, next week you’ll see the FINAL VIDEO of the FINAL CHAPTER! WOWZA!

What I can’t believe is that we are still in this pandemic. I started this series back in March at the pandemic’s start, thinking for sure it would all be over by April or May. Nope. We’re still in it, and if anything, it’s not looking too pretty. BUT there are some promising vaccines on the horizon, and I’m hoping everyone will have access to those before too long.

Meanwhile, I hope you are all staying healthy. Are you looking forward to eating something yummy on Thanksgiving day? I am! I’m making a big ol’ meal, complete with sauerkraut and onion pie. Yum. Really!

And now back to this chapter: It’s about how Mike and I carried out Mike’s lovely plan of using the Phonic Ear hearing aid and microphone to fool our teacher, Mrs. Sinklemann. You’ll find out what’s true and what’s fudged (but only slightly), and you’ll also hear a little bit about what I was like later, in high school (because I talk a little bit about my first car). Why am I talking about my first car? Watch the video to find out!

And oh! There’s more footage of me running my mouth while the patient Mike Miller tries to get a word in edge-wise. Painful for me to watch. (And doubly painful for me to caption — conversations are impossible to get right, so hopefully I got most of it for those of you who rely on captions, as I do.) I think I’ve said this before, but I would be a terrible, terrible host on a late-night TV show. I’d never give the guests a chance. So rude. I think my New Year’s resolution is going to be to hush up and let others say what they want to say. No interruptions!

And finally, you’ll see that the Not-a-Zit™ remains firmly on my forehead. What IS that thing?

Since it’s almost Thanksgiving, I’m reminded of how very thankful I am to each and every one of you. You guys are awesome.

Here’s a link to the video:

Have a wonderful holiday, and please stay safe! XOXO!

More El Deafo deep divin’!

16 Nov

An Inside Look at Chapter 19 is now up on YouTube!

I’m not sure if anyone has been sitting on the edge of their seats whilst waiting for the next installments of these videos, but if you have, my sincere apologies for taking so long to post a new one.

Like most of you, I’ve been so distracted lately: Coronavirus, election, excellent TV, upcoming holidays, stress eating.

Nonetheless, I’ve managed to complete another deep dive. This one explores chapter 19 of the book, in which Mike Miller experiments with the Phonic Ear and microphone, trying to figure out just how far its range might go.

Turns out, the microphone went a looooong way back then: a distance of three blocks from our houses on Broad Street — a whopping half a mile! I was able to hear and understand Mike (as he spoke to me while wearing the microphone) until he got to Brooks-Byrd Pharmacy…which, believe it or not, is still standing…and the lovely young people who work there are still making those delicious citrus-ade drinks that the place is famous for. Well, famous for that — and for prescription drugs! It is relatively unchanged since my family moved to Salem in 1976, and it’s still run by a Brooks — the son of one of the original owners. It’s a pretty storied place, and I hope it remains standing forever.

Anyhoo, it’s an exciting chapter, as it marks the first time that Martha starts really talking to me again after what seemed like forever and ever…and I also find out exactly why Martha hadn’t been talking to me for so long.

If you watch the video, you’ll find out whether or not the overheard conversation between Martha and Mike really happened…and what else? You’ll also get a glimpse of a red mark on my forehead. Is it a bug bite, or something much worse? A ZIT!?!?! You’ll also see a little bit more of my conversation with the always polite and patient Mike Miller, who was probably exhausted from my non-stop chatter…

Here’s the video:

Thanks, as always, for tuning in and for being awesome. While you wait for the final two chapter installments to appear on YouTube (sooner rather than later, I hope!) check out the new superpowered edition of El Deafo, with its shiny updated cover and lots of groovy extras at the end.

Stay safe everyone! XOXOXOXO!!!!

Happy book birthday…or maybe it’s more like: Happy book re-birth day!

13 Oct

El Deafo: The Superpowered Edition is here!

I’m excited to announce that TODAY is the official release day for the re-release of El Deafo, now with extra goodies included at the end! It’s the same book that some of you know and some of you might even like or even love…with photos of family and friends from long ago, as well as cool information about how the book was made. Plus some sweet fan mail, too!

Here’s a video where I tell you all about it!

And yep, I still have three more “deep dive” videos to make for the final three chapters of El Deafo. I promise I’ll post those soon. Just gotta get my act together first, ha ha ha ha ha.

Many thanks to Abrams Books and Susan Van Metre for making this edition of El Deafo possible (as well as the original El Deafo), and especially to my readers for your many years of kindness and support!

Stay well everybody!!! XOXOXO!

It’s up! A virtual exhibit from the Carle Museum!

30 Sep

Now & Then: Contemporary Illustrators and their Childhood Art

I was honored to be part of this wonderful exhibit at the Carle a while ago, which was curated by amazing author/illustrators Grace Lin and Jarrett Krosoczka. And now, the museum has made it virtual so that all can enjoy it. So much talent in this exhibit, and it’s wonderful to see what that talent looked like when it was just starting to bud. (My own favorite is Barbara Lehman‘s “Giant Fried Egg Machine,” drawn when she was 12. Holy moly, it’s amazing! I am a HUGE fan of her work. Just, wow. EVERYONE in this exhibit is SO GOOD.)

My own contribution was a drawing made when I was recovering from meningitis in the hospital in 1975. It ties in quite nicely with El Deafo, as you’ll see if you check out this fab exhibit!

Woohoo! A deep dive of El Deafo’s Chapter 18 is UP…

28 Sep

…and my next guest needs no introduction!

Gosh, it’s been forever since I posted my last Inside Look video. Lots going on — mostly, my parents are in the process of selling my childhood home (they’ve been there for 44 years!) and they’ll be moving out before too long. It’s the same house that’s in El Deafo, and what a privilege it was to grow up in a big old house like that. So while it’s been great to be able to help them, I’ve gotten a little behind on my El Deafo videos. Alas!

However, this particular video is worth the wait, because GUESS WHAT? I did a Zoom interview with the one and only MIKE MILLER!!! My childhood crush!!! I mean, how many people get to interview their first crush!?!? Not many, that’s how many.

We had a great time catching up. Mike told me all about his life now, including cool stuff about his career and his family; we also talked about how I found him in the early days of working on the book, and the ways in which our memories line up (and don’t line up). Sometimes the interview is awkward because I KEEP INTERRUPTING the poor man. He was very nice about it but I think I would be a terrible talk show host, good grief. I’m ashamed of my manners. I guess I was that excited to see him again. You’ll see! (And yeah, this interview was definitely cleared my lovely husband, Tom Angleberger!)

Our stroll down Memory Lane took us not just past Chapter 18, but also past Chapter 16 and the Curly Pencil Incident. You will hopefully be as riveted as I was, hearing his take on this moment and various other moments featured in El Deafo.

Here’s what Mike looked like during those El Deafo years:

And here’s what he looked like right before he moved away:

Want to know what he looks like now? You’ll have to check out the video to see! Spoiler alert: he grew up to be a very handsome (and kind) man.

I hope you’ll enjoy it! I still can’t believe it, myself. So much fun. But grab some popcorn and a drink — it’s a little longer than usual!

A deep dive into TWO chapters of El Deafo is up!

31 Aug

Today’s video is an in-depth look at chapters 16 and 17. I lumped ’em together, partly because chapter 17 is so short, but also because chapter 17 is a direct continuation of what happens in chapter 16.

Chapter 16 is one of my very favorite chapters in the book. It’s the “Curly Pencil Incident,” and the way it plays out in the book is very, very close to how I remember it playing out in real life. It’s funny how an event that surrounded something so small and truly inconsequential — like that curly pencil — can be a traumatic and life-changing event in a young life. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, a curly pencil is really nothing. But you never forget those big feelings, nor the people that trigger those big feelings. And you never forget those kids — like my friend, Mike Miller — who are kind enough, and brave enough, to stand up for you. What a great kid he was!

Chapter 17 is a bit of foreshadowing, laying out the pieces for what’s to come later in the book. If you’ve read the book, you know what “Quiet Math” is, and you also know how scared I was of getting my name written up in Mrs. Sinklemann’s apple. Just thinking about it today makes my stomach hurt a little bit. I hate to be in trouble with anyone!

So, kids: keep your name out of the apple (another way of saying, behave!) — and I hope you’ll enjoy this video!

A deep dive into Chapter 15 of El Deafo is up!

24 Aug

Ah yes, one of the (many) moments of reckoning of my young life: the breakage of the Phonic Ear’s microphone by my former gym teacher, “Mr. Potts.” (His real name is pretty close.)

As most of you know, there are a lot of good — and even great — teachers. But there are also a few clunkers, too. Mr. Potts was a clunker! For all you teachers out there reading this — especially P.E. teachers — a little bit of kindness goes a long way. Also, I hope that paddles with holes drilled in them have been banned, because those things are just plain wrong.

So yes, in this video, I talk about Mr. Potts “accidentally” breaking my microphone (I use the quotation marks because he didn’t show much remorse afterwards).

You’ll find out more about what it was like to go four to six weeks at school without my microphone (sheer agony!), and you’ll also learn how my mom stepped up to make the wait a little less long. She’s amazing.

And finally, I talk about the dreaded flexed-arm hang, which is one of several events that kids back then (and maybe even now) had to do in their attempts to acquire the coveted Presidential Physical Fitness Award patch.

I only got this patch once in my entire school career, as I am not widely known for my athletic prowess. You’ll find out from reading the book and from watching the video that I did get this award — but not without the stars lining up in such a way to make it possible. Question: is it cheating if you don’t tell your gym teacher that he recorded the results of an event incorrectly, and in your favor?

I hope that after you watch this video, you’ll find yourself a pull-up bar and try to beat my personal best: 64 seconds!!!

Thanks so much for watching. Here’s the video!

Episode 2 of the In-Betweeners is up!

17 Aug

That’s right! A new conversation between amazing author/illustrator Jessixa Bagley and myself is up on YouTube! And we talked for a solid hour, so I’ve made this a 2-parter. Watch Part One now, Part Two later, and then call it a day!

In this episode, called “Invisibility,” we talk about situations that make us feel invisible — a feeling that many share, I am sure. It’s particularly pronounced if you feel like you live between two worlds, and don’t really fit in either.

Apologies in advance: I say a bad word — the dreaded H-E-Double Hockey Sticks — so if you watch this with your kid(s), tell them that I’m sorry and explain that the emotion of the moment got the better of me. Sometimes those words slip through! Also explain to them that I tried hard to edit it out in YouTube studio, but I guess I’m more of a Luddite than I like to admit.

It’s so much fun to talk to Jessixa. As serious as these conversations can be, we sure enjoy making each other laugh. That’s been the best part — finding out that even though we look different and have had different life experiences, we have so much in common, too. Humor is a great uniter.

Here are the videos. Enjoy!

Thanks so much for watching. I’m hoping to get my deep dive into chapter 15 of El Deafo up soon!

Now up: A deep dive into Chapter 14 of El Deafo!

10 Aug

Chapter 14 is the shortest chapter in El Deafo — only 5 pages! Or is it 6? It’s all about the moment I got my glasses. In the video, you’ll see a picture of me with my first pair…and a picture of me with my round pair — the pair that inspired the one and only Mike Miller to tell me that I looked like John Lennon. Fun — but short!

So, because this chapter is so short, I decided that now would be the perfect moment to talk to El Deafo’s colorist, the amazing David Lasky.

David Lasky is a comics genius (you can check out his work here), and the fact that he agreed to color my book still surprises me to this day. His color choices, and the shadows he drew (all by hand, on paper!) added so much extra depth to this book.

David’s own work, especially his graphic novel with Frank M. Young, The Carter Family: Don’t Forget This Song, is astonishing! Check it out if you can. (His work is also available for sale on Etsy; I myself own this sticker, which now cutely resides on my laptop!)

As you’ll find out, David and I have known each other for 30 years! We go way back, and I’m glad we do.

Here’s the moment when David told me that he USED A MOUSE to color El Deafo. Talk about old school!

And here’s the video. Enjoy!!!

A new deep dive is up: Chapter 13 of El Deafo!

27 Jul

Get yourself a cherry-flavored Hostess Fruit Pie (but only if it feels safe to go out shopping)…and get yourself a box of tissues, too. I get all weepy near the end of this episode, I really do.

For Chapter 13, I discuss who exactly Mrs. Sinklemann (my fifth grade teacher in the book) is based on…and my eyes going all funny on me…and being wrongly accused of cheating…and the relativity of time…and the ingredients in the most delicious processed snack of all time. I also discuss what it’s like to have a mom who is an amazing advocate and friend. It’s a valentine to this amazing woman — the one and only Barbara Broome Bell — in all her glory!

Here it is for your enjoyment. I sure hope you dig it!

And now for something a little different!

20 Jul

We pre-empt our normal schedule of “The Inside Story of El Deafo” to bring you…the In-Betweeners! Here’s an image from our animated introduction:

What is The In-Betweeners? It’s a new (and hopefully monthly) visual podcast starring two new friends: the amazing author/illustrator Jessixa Bagley and myself, Cece Bell.

Jessixa and I recently discovered that we have something in common: we both live our lives “in between” two worlds: for Jessixa, those worlds are the Black and white ones; for Cece, the deaf and hearing ones.

There are a lot of big things and big conversations happening in the world right now, and one of the best things we can be doing is to be asking each other questions — even if we’re afraid to ask them, or even if they’re hard to ask. So this podcast sets out to do exactly that, as Jessixa and Cece ask — and try to answer — questions about each others’ experiences. The answers might surprise you — especially in the ways they overlap.

Please know that our thoughts and opinions are only our own, and based on our own experiences, and no one else’s. We aren’t trying to speak for any entire group, and you might find yourselves agreeing — or disagreeing — with our answers. And that’s OK.

For El Deafo fans, do not despair! The deep dive into El Deafo (we’re now on chapter 13) will resume next Monday, most likely! I do hope you’ll check out Jessixa here in this video (and on her website). I think you’ll love her just as much as I do. (And just like the El Deafo videos, the In-Betweeners is captioned for those who need it.)

Without further ado, here is…The In-Betweeners!

A deep dive into chapter 12 of El Deafo: The Eye Incident with Martha!

13 Jul

Join me — and the amazing Martha! — as we talk about the moment when I hurt my eye while we were playing tag.

You’ll see just how subjective memory can be. Here I thought this was one of the most accurate chapters in the book…but the details in Martha’s version are quite different. However, the overwhelming sadness that occurred in the aftermath of this accident? Those were felt deeply by both of us. It is SO cool — an honor, really — to hear Martha’s side of things!

I do a LOT of giggling in this video, but it’s nervous laughter more than anything. (Plus, Martha is a TERRIFIC storyteller and a hilarious human being.) Hearing Martha tell her side of the story was kinda stressful!

Many thanks to Tom Angleberger for helping me subtitle this conversation. Martha and I talk over each other so often that it’s really hard to figure out what we’re saying half the time! But Tom himself thought this footage was fascinating, which is high praise from the man himself.

Also: this is the only chapter so far that I’ve read out loud word-for-word…and for no good reason, I do a pretty mean imitation of a lizard, if I say so myself.

Here’s a link to the video. Enjoy! And please be good to each other.

A new deep dive into the world of El Deafo: Chapter 11! Supercrush! Mike Miller!

22 Jun

But first, a disclaimer: my REAL supercrush is the amazing Tom Angleberger. Lots of kids ask me if I grew up to marry Mike Miller. Nope, I didn’t. I met Tom Angleberger in college and we fell in love, in luv, in lurve, got married…and the rest is history. In case you don’t know, Tom is a fantastic author and illustrator (check out his website here), and probably one of the funniest people I know.

But way back when I was a kid, Mike Miller moved to my street and it was a very big deal. This installment of my chapter-by-chapter series talks about what it was like when he arrived. There’s also more footage of Martha talking not just about Mike’s arrival, but about the fun stuff we did when we were kids, and how it seems like kids today don’t have quite as much freedom as we did then. (I think we grew up to be a lot more over-protective with our own kids than our parents were. Perhaps we saw and experienced a lot of things within those freedoms that might have freaked us out a little!)

I also talk a bit about the Partridge Family, and all the teen heartthrobs of my day…how’s about that David Cassidy and Leif Garrett???

Here’s the video…I hope you’ll enjoy it!

On another subject, this is around the time of year that members of the American Library Association honors authors and illustrators with Newbery, Caldecott, Geisel, Printz awards (Youth Media Awards). I was lucky enough to get a Geisel honor for my early reader Chick and Brain: Smell My Foot, which still blows my mind.

Many many thanks to all the folks on the Geisel Committee for even considering a book with the lines: My foot smells good. My foot smells great!

HUGE congrats to ALL the winners, especially Caldecott winner Kadir Nelson, for his book with Kwame Alexander, The Undefeated

and Newbery winner Jerry Craft, for his graphic novel New Kid — the first graphic novel ever to win the medal!

These books are beyond amazing and very much deserve such high accolades. Well done!

A deep dive into…a little something different, and a lot more important…

8 Jun

I’m posting my usual Monday morning video, but it’s not about Chapter 11 of El Deafo. It’s about Black Lives Matter, and the protests, and injustices to Black citizens of this country. It’s also about deafness, and how deafness — and any other disability, for that matter — can compound the already fraught communications between Black people and figures of authority.

I know it’s not the stuff that you’re accustomed to from me, and that it’s not fun to watch and listen to, but all of us — myself included — can no longer look away or be silent. I also acknowledge that this blog post, and my video, are far from perfect, and I make a lot of communication errors of my own. But it’s a start.

There are many ways to help. Tom and I have donated to several organizations on this very helpful list, courtesy of New York magazine.

And there are many ways to enhance empathy, like reading amazing books by some of my favorite authors, including Jackie Woodson, Jerry Craft, Christopher Paul Curtis, Kwame Alexander, Rita Williams Garcia, Angie Thomas, Lamar Giles, and many, many others.

Here’s the video. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thank you for reading and watching and listening. XOXOXO — Cece B.

The deep dive into Chapter 10 of El Deafo is the BEST…

1 Jun

because the REAL Martha Claytor is in it!

Yep, I met up with the REAL LIVE MARTHA CLAYTOR on Zoom last week, and recorded our conversation so that you could see what she’s like!

We had so much fun talking through some of the details in the book…sometimes our memories matched, but sometimes they didn’t. Martha gives us a few clarifications about stuff that’s in the book, and she offers many fresh insights on the power of our friendship specifically, as well as the power of friendships in general.

Martha is as wonderful and funny now as she was all those years ago. I think that you will love her as much as I do.

HUGE KUDOS to the amazing Tom Angleberger, who spent several hours trying to translate what often sounds like a secret language known only to Martha and myself. Let’s call that language Ce-Mart. Or Claybell!

Here’s the video:

Please stay safe, stay well, and please, please, please…remember that EMPATHY is the only way forward. Yours in friendship!

El Deafo Chapter 9 Deep Dive is UP!

25 May

I hope you are all having a restful long weekend.

The deep dive into Chapter 9 of El Deafo is up. Easily the hardest chapter to write. I’m still kinda ashamed of my bad attitude about sign language when I was a kid…and very ashamed of kicking my sweet mama in the shin! But maybe this video will give some deeper understanding into how I was feeling when I was young.

My attitude about sign language is 100% different now. But I STILL have not learned sign language…no real excuse except time and age and life and everything else. And oh yeah, and I’ve never been a natural at learning new languages. But Tom and I might need to learn some now because lip-reading in a masked world is not looking too pretty. I’ll need an interpreter and I don’t want Tom to have to take off the mask to talk to me!

Here’s hoping I haven’t offended anyone with this particular chapter, or with this video about this chapter. Like I said, a real tough one to write.

I hope you’ll enjoy the video! Here it is…and XOXOXOX to you all.

It’s Monday at 10:00 in the morning! That means a deep dive into Chapter 8 of El Deafo is UP! @abramskids

18 May

It’s the chapter that’s all about that wretched sleepover at Ginny’s house! So many ups and downs! So much awkwardness! And…yuck! Make-up! Which I am still avoiding after all these years!

Find out more about the movie “Somewhere in Time” and how so many girls from my generation loved the music featured in it. Find out why I have so many fillings in my head! And see a picture of me as the Grim Reaper!

And please note, I did use a couple of the composer John Barry’s music excerpts from the internet that don’t belong to me…I’m hopeful that because they are such short snippets, I will be OK…and if you’re reading this and YOU are the one that posted or owns those snippets, please forgive me! It’s educational, I promise!

Anyway, here’s the link. I hope you’ll enjoy it!

An inside look at Chapter 7 of El Deafo airs today at 10:00 AM EST!

11 May

TV, TV, and more TV!!!

I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy during these really trying times. If you’re like me, then you are watching quite a bit of TV to help you get through it, and to numb your worries from time to time — in half-hour installments, at least.

Anyway, I love TV and this chapter of El Deafo is all about that love. TV brought me great comfort as a kid, and it certainly is doing the same thing now.

Find out why in this installment, which is chock full of references to the best (and worst?) of popular culture. Plus, I dust off the old tenor saxophone to bring you stunning renditions (ha ha) of the theme songs of some of the shows referred to in the book. Here’s a little musical compilation “advertisement,” not unlike those of my youth:

Also in this episode, you’ll learn a little bit about closed captioning and my first decoder box from Sears and just how much captioning matters to deaf viewers like me.

And finally, you’ll learn the TRUTH about the name “El Deafo”!

Here’s the video, coming today at 10:00 AM EST:

Thanks for tuning in!

An Inside Look at Chapter 6 of El Deafo is UP!

4 May

PLUS: Everyone’s #1 question gets answered: why are all the characters bunny rabbits???

I’m back with a new video! This time, it’s a deep dive into chapter 6 of El Deafo.

In this video, I talk about my friendship with “Ginny,” who is really a composite of two different people: 85% one person and 15% another. I talk a bit about the things I loved (and still love) as a kid: Richard Scarry books and the Beatles and the Muppets and armpit farts and Narnia (the first book in the series, at least).

I also talk about what it feels like when someone talks to you LOUD. AND. SLOOOOOW…and how it’s actually harder to read someone’s lips when they do this (even though the people who do so are very well-meaning, a fact that took forever for me to acknowledge).

Plus, a few pictures of the inside of my childhood home…what it’s like when you catch your mom smoking cigarettes…and me singing a Monty Python song!

It’s a fun one…and I’m already hard at work on the video for Chapter 7, which is all about one of my favorite things ever: TELEVISION!!!

Here’s the link for Chapter 6:

Thanks for tuning in. And May the 4th be with you! XOXOXO!

The inside look at chapter 5 of El Deafo is up!

20 Apr

Check out my latest YouTube video — a deep dive into Chapter 5 of El Deafo!

Learn a little bit more about the character Laura! See (and hear, sorry) me sing Girl Scout campfire songs! Reminisce (or find out for the first time) about Hayley Mills playing identical twins in The Parent Trap!


Here’s the link:

As always, thanks so much for watching. Stay safe!

Coming tomorrow: An inside look at Chapter 3 of El Deafo!

5 Apr

I hope all of you are staying healthy and staying home.

I’m finding out that making these little videos, while somewhat time-consuming, does keep my brain occupied so that I’m not thinking about the news every single second of the day (and night). It doesn’t do any good to think about it ALL the time. But we do need to think about it and stay informed so that we are always reminded that our own actions really, really matter.

Anyway, I hope you’ll tune in to my YouTube channel to check out the latest deep dive into El Deafo: chapter 3.

You’ll find out: more about Emma (and what she’s up to now); why I didn’t learn sign language in kindergarten; and lots more about lip-reading in general. Plus, you’ll get to endure snippets of my own funny sounds and imitations of different kinds of laughter!

The video airs tomorrow (Monday, April 5th) at 10:00 AM EST! Here’s the link!

Thanks so much for tuning in and please stay well. XOXOXO!

The inside story of Chapter 2 of El Deafo is airing soon!

30 Mar

True story: YouTube helps you create subtitles for your videos, which is awesome. You can upload your video, and then a little while later, like magic, it’s subtitled. However, you have to read through YouTube’s subtitles carefully and edit them, because YouTube doesn’t always understand what you are saying. For example, YouTube interpreted “El Deafo” as “Odessa.” So guess what happened? YouTube interpreted “vowel sounds” as “bowel sounds,” so that according to the subtitles, I say “All I can hear are bowel sounds.” HA HA HA HA HA HA! Apparently, the YouTube subtitling feature is a lip-reader like me!

Anyway, here’s the link to the latest installment of my deep dive into the world of El Deafo, airing soon at 10:00 AM EST today, Monday, March 30th. Thanks for watching, and please stay safe.

A deep dive into Chapter 2 of El Deafo!

29 Mar

Hey everyone! I hope you are staying well, staying safe, and staying sane.

Tomorrow, just before 10:00 AM EST, I’ll be posting a YouTube link here and on Twitter to the latest installation of the Inside Story of El Deafo. I hope you’ll check it out!

This week, we’re doing a deep dive into Chapter 2. You’ll find out a bit more about the audiologists who inspired the audiologist in the book, why I’ve been claustrophobic almost my whole life, and how kids in the 1970’s got lollipops practically everywhere they went.

You’ll also find out what and who inspired me to tell my story. (Plus, shout-outs to friends and heroes Madelyn Rosenberg, Raina Telgemeier, Scott McCloud, and Susan Van Metre.

And BIG bonus: if you don’t already know this tidbit, you’ll find out who I’m married to in real life! Spoiler alert: it’s not Mike Miller.

I hope you’ll enjoy this latest installment. Thanks so much for tuning in!

XOXOXOXOXO to one and all.

The inside story of Chapter One of El Deafo!

23 Mar

Hi there! I’m excited to present the first installment of a chapter-by-chapter deep dive into the world of El Deafo!

I’m making and editing and subtitling videos and posting them on YouTube. The first one will be visible starting at 10:00 AM today, Monday, March 23rd. Once the videos are up, they’re up for a long time, so you can watch them any time that suits you.

I’ll try to publish each new installment every Monday at 10:00 AM EST from here on out. I hope you’ll enjoy them!

Meanwhile, here’s Chapter One…followed by a few extra tidbits that I forgot to tell you about the first time around. Thanks so much for watching! Stay safe!

The inside story of El Deafo!

22 Mar

Starting this Monday (March 23rd) at 10:00 AM EST, I’ll be airing the first installment of a chapter-by-chapter deep dive into the world of El Deafo. These installments will be pre-recorded, so you can watch the first one anytime after 10:00 AM EST on Monday the 23rd.

Seventies references! The inside scoop! Some, if not all, of your questions answered! Stick with me long enough, and you may finally find out why the characters are bunnies…and what happened between me and Mike Miller…and just why did Martha vomit so much?

The first chapter will be presented this Monday, and then subsequent chapters each Monday after that. I hope you’ll check it out! It’s mostly gonna be info-tainment rather than educational, really…and you will actually be actually amazed at just how many times I actually say the word “actually.”

And finally, I learned how to make and edit subtitles on YouTube, which is something I should have learned how to do a long time ago. My apologies for all the non-captioned stuff I put out there previously…I think I neglected to do it because a) I’m a dummy, and b) I knew what I was saying (since I was the one recording the video), so wouldn’t everyone else? DUH. Me not subtitling my videos?!? Of all the nerve! So I’m working through a backlog of old videos and captioning them now. Might take a while, but I’ll get through ’em!

Here’s a sneak peek of the upcoming Inside Story of El Deafo!

Tune in on Monday if you like…and stay safe.

Mrs. Huffman talks about the origin of the book Bee-Wigged!

20 Mar

I’m so impressed with all the educators right now who are working hard to reach and teach their students.

One of my very favorite educators is pre-school/kindergarten teacher Mrs. Huffman, who also happens to be one of my very best friends.

I hope you’ll enjoy listening to her talk about how the book Bee-Wigged came to be!

Please stay well!

Drawing El Deafo with the letter U

17 Mar

I hope everyone is staying healthy and sane. I’m thinking about everyone trying to navigate this new world…and it brings me a little comfort to know that so many of us are trying to keep the scary stuff at bay.

I’ve made a new little video for you. It’s like the other drawing videos I posted previously: the letter U (especially upside down) is a great starting point for all kinds of drawings.

Here’s the latest. Even my character El Deafo starts with an upside down U! I hope you’ll use the letter U in your own cool ways. Stay well, my friends.

The silver lining…

13 Mar

Cancelling my small book tour means more time to make drawing videos for you! I noticed recently how much the letter U factors into my drawing style. (I’m too lazy to draw necks, ha ha.) Do y’all know about the amazing Ed Emberley? He’s an extraordinary illustrator who created books with step-by-step instructions on how to draw. His books were my favorites and I checked them out from my elementary school library every weekend for many years. He taught me how to draw!

I made a video showing my LOVE for the letter U (and for my pets and for YOU):

And here’s another video showing how the letter U is the basis for my characters Chick and Brain…and even for the EGG! (Or is it an EYEBALL??????)

I hope you enjoy these. If you’re home from school right now, why not make some drawings using the letter U…and check out some of Ed Emberley’s amazing drawing instructions. SO MUCH FUN.

I’ll be posting some new U videos soon. Stay well, everyone!!!

Chick and Brain are no longer going on a trip. :(

10 Mar

Today’s the day: Chick and Brain’s new book is out.

BUT I’m sorry to say that I’ll no longer be traveling to promote EGG OR EYEBALL and SMELL MY FOOT in Maryland, DC, and Charlottesville, VA.

I’m really sad about this. It’s a combination of event cancellations due to coronavirus… and the fact that my dog destroyed my left hearing aid over the weekend. I won’t be able to get the situation resolved until right before I was supposed to go on the road. For those of you who wear hearing aids, you know what a bear it is to adjust to brand new aids. It makes your brain (and even Brain, when he thinks about it) sooooo tired. I’m really going to miss meeting so many cool folks like you.

I know a lot of you aren’t venturing far from home, but if you get a chance to show the Takoma Park Library and Politics and Prose some love, please do. (That’s where I was supposed to go.)

Also, if you were planning to attend the Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville, VA, it is officially canceled. You can read their statement here. Ugh. PLEASE stay well and healthy. I’m thinking about ALL of you and hoping for the best.

4 Mar

CHICK AND BRAIN: SMELL MY FOOT got a Geisel Honor in late January! I am pleased as punch and very grateful to all the librarians of the American Library Association, especially those on this year’s Geisel Committee. Many thanks to them, and to all the folks who take the time to read my books!