Archive by Author

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!