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!

Plus: PIT LATRINES!

Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dA6pxnFZPww

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! https://youtu.be/05tZe7KpqYM

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!