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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.

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.

School Library Journal features El Deafo and its connection to deaf readers

31 Jan

Thanks, School Library Journal, for this really lovely piece about El Deafo and the way it has connected with deaf readers. Huzzah!

The article is possibly a reminder that sharing our personal stories helps spread understanding and empathy. And sharing all the funny stuff in this world is good, too. Gotta have the funny.

Here’s a sampling:

Though the book was beyond Sarah’s reading level, she assiduously “read” it and invented stories to go with the pictures. “She would point to the pictures and say, ‘Just like me!’ The surprise on her face spoke volumes,” says DeBrodt. The speech bubbles in El Deafo are often blank or contain garbled words to convey the protagonist’s hearing experience, which kids like Sarah also connect with.


When Bell came to speak at Sarah’s school and chatted with her while autographing a book, “it may have been Sarah’s first encounter, up close and personal, with a deaf person who conversed with her,” says DeBrodt. Sarah still tells DeBrodt how she “reads” the book before bed or while in the car. “I know she is not literally reading the words,” DeBrodt says. “She is comforted and edified by the kinship she feels with the character.”

Many thanks to Sarah Bayliss for all her hard work putting this altogether. All together? I am turning into Donkey…she took the time to interview a lot of folks, not just me. Sarah and I had a wonderful time talking on Skype, that’s for sure. Yay, Sarah Bayliss!


29 Jan

If you’d like to read something political, click here. If you’d rather see a picture of a glittery manatee, click here. Maybe you’d like to check out both! Either way, remember that kindness really is the greatest virtue, especially in times like these. 

Happy Book Birthday to the third Inspector Flytrap book!

10 Jan

Today’s the day to celebrate the one-and-only Inspector Flytrap and his lovely goat assistant, Nina. Their third book together, The Goat Who Chewed Too Much, is out today!


It actually got a star from Booklist! You can read the review here.

Continue reading

Robot’s home is in Better Homes and Gardens!

13 Sep


I thought the magazine was better designed than this! Good grief!

I had loads of fun “decorating” Robot’s house, and kinda wish I lived there. Here are some of the pictures from the BH&G photo shoot!

robothouse04robothouse02robothouse03robothouse05Pick up your issue on newsstands today! Or check out the book, whichever is easiest!



13 Sep


Today’s the day to meet Rabbit and Robot’s new friend: RIBBIT!

ribbit(I’m thrilled to say that these three friends have earned a Junior Library Guild pin, too. That’s always a good sign, I think.)


Anyway, this is the second book in the Rabbit & Robot series. And it represents one of those nifty writing experiences that I’ve had now and then, in which I discover that I had been writing from my own life, but only after I actually finish working on the book.

A little back story: After El Deafo came out, überlibrarian Betsy Bird pointed out that the first book in the series (Rabbit & Robot: The Sleepover) seemed autobiographical to her. (She was right in some ways—I had initially modeled Rabbit on someone else, but while working on the book realized that the high-strung, anxious Rabbit is pretty darn close to me.) Betsy used her crazy-good comp-lit skills and suggested that my personal connection to the book went even further. She pointed out that while Rabbit might represent me (I’m a rabbit in El Deafo, after all), perhaps the problem-solving Robot might represent the Phonic Ear, my clunky hearing aid from elementary school. I think Betsy was right! Robot drives Rabbit crazy but ultimately helps him out; my Phonic Ear drove me crazy, but ultimately helped me out. A lot.)

So back to the new book, Rabbit and Robot and Ribbit. I was definitely more aware of modeling Rabbit after myself while writing this one. But I wasn’t thinking that hard about it. In this story, Rabbit invites himself over to Robot’s house, and is very upset to find that Robot is entertaining a new friend—a frog named Ribbit. I was only thinking about being funny when I decided that all Ribbit would say throughout the book is “ribbit.”




(Guess who doesn’t have a degree in Photography…)

Only later did I realize that even this is kind of autobiographical. You see, Robot can understand Rabbit, because he has the technology to translate every “ribbit” Ribbit says into English. Rabbit doesn’t have that technology. When Ribbit says “ribbit,” all Rabbit can hear is “ribbit.” Robot shares his translations of what Ribbit says with Rabbit (much like my hearing aids try to translate the sounds I hear into speech), but often those translations come too late for Rabbit. The frustration that Rabbit experiences from being jealous is compounded by his not being able to understand the communication between Robot and Ribbit. This book is acutely close to what my experiences of being in a group are like. Lip reading is hard work, and I often can’t keep up with more than one person at a time—and so I quickly lose the thread of many conversations, miss the joke, fake the laugh. Basically, it sounds like everyone in my life is saying “RIBBIT”! And just like Rabbit, I get jealous of the connections that people make that I sometimes am unable to make.


I like retroactively discovering that some of my books are autobiographical. Maybe I am writing what I know, and writing from experience—even when it might not seem like that’s what I’m doing at all.

I hope you’ll check out the book. Maybe you’ll think about the many interesting ways we try to communicate in this world in our efforts to connect—and why it’s so important that we do connect.


Look for this poster in Robot’s bedroom. Robot likes the Beatles! Just like me!