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Birth of a Crankee

5 Jul

Amazing writer and friend Kirby Larson (Hattie Big Sky, The Friendship Doll) features us on her blog today. Tom talks about how we basically wrote Crankee Doodle in the car, and here are the notes (and rough layout) to prove it:



"Handy with the ladies?" Ruh-roh!

“Handy with the ladies?” Ruh-roh!

Figuring out the layout is my favorite part of the whole process.

Figuring out the layout is my favorite part of the whole process.

Be sure to check out Kirby’s books. They are magnificent. Especially The Friendship Doll. It’s my personal favorite of all her great books.

Heavens. 2 great reviews in one day.

14 Nov

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.

And this:

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.

And Rabbit & Robot got another great review at 100 Scope Notes, too! This is another great website, run by super elementary school librarian Travis Jonker. Here’s what Mr. Jonker has to say:

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.”

Another lovely review from Read, Write, Reflect!

28 Oct

Here’s another lovely review from Katherine Sokolowski of the gorgeous blog Read, Write, Reflect. Thank you, Katherine!

A good review from The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

25 Sep

Here’s a good review from October’s issue of The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books:

The large font, simple, short sentence structure, and numerous attractive illustrations make this accessible for readers who are beyond Willems’ Elephant and Piggie series but not quite ready for lengthier chapter books. There’s plenty of humor, both in the text and the crisp and simply composed digital illustrations (Rabbit’s buck-toothed, big-nosed face is amusing in its own right, and he looks even funnier with a remote stuck in his ear). Rabbit’s initial list-making, Robot’s “data review,” and the gradually unscrolling message in which multiple words can be found also provide useful instructional opportunities for talking about prediction, summarization, and decoding.

And here’s a not-so-nice-review:


A balanced day

6 Aug

Today I read the Kirkus review of Rabbit and Robot. No star, like from Publishers Weekly. And—gasp—a wee bit critical. But pretty good nonetheless. Here it is:

Make way for another endearing, odd-couple pair of friends in beginning-reader land.

Rabbit takes a cue from forebear Toad and makes a list to plan his time with, not Frog, but Robot. According to his list, their sleepover includes plans to make pizza, watch television, play Go Fish and go to bed. Unlike Lobel’s heroes in Frog and Toad Together, these friends do not lose their list, but tension ensues when Robot tries to add additional items (games of Old Maid and Crazy Eights) to the list. Even when they follow through on making pizza, Robot wishes for unorthodox toppings (nuts, bolts and screws) and ends up finding them by dismantling Rabbit’s furniture. Rabbit is then reasonably worried about where they will eat their meal, but Robot has the good idea to spread a blanket on the floor and have a picnic. Similar scenarios ensue in subsequent chapters, with ample humor to augment the storytelling. The vocabulary, however, includes a few too many reaches for brand-new readers, and while the digital typeface used in parts of the text may evoke Robot’s voice, it may prove distracting to not-yet-fluent readers.

A good choice for those ready to launch into more advanced texts. (Early reader. 6-8)

Oh, no! Is Kirkus right? Will this book be too difficult for some readers? Will this book—double gasp—let them down? But before I could even get around to worryin’ and cryin’, this came in the mail:

Awesome fan art by Awesome Fan Ryan!

Yeah! At least Awesome Fan Ryan digs Itty Bitty! And hopefully, some kids will dig Rabbit and Robot, too. Thanks for making me feel good, Ryan, and for reminding me of the best part about making books for kids.

A star, a star!

10 Jul

Guess what Sock Monkey got in the mail yesterday?

That’s right! My new book, RABBIT & ROBOT!  Sock Monkey said it was “pretty good, but not as good as three certain books featuring me, me, and me, and, boy, have you seen Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen’s EXTRA YARN? Swoon!” So I said, “Humph!”

Fortunately, Publishers Weekly liked it a lot better than S.M., and even gave it a STAR. Hooray! You can read the review here. Huzzah!

Itty bitty fan reads Itty Bitty

23 Feb

What could be cuter than Itty Bitty? A super-cool, super-tiny kid reading it!

See it to believe it in this video.

Great news for Itty Bitty!

18 Nov

I just found out that my new book, Itty Bitty, is on the ALA Booklist Editor’s Choice list for 2009! (You may recall that they gave Itty Bitty a starred review a while back…)

Here are the other Candlewick books that will be on the list! That’s a big Yeehaw for Candlewick!

  • The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
  • Higher! Higher! by Leslie Patricelli
  • It’s a Secret! by John Burningham
  • The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo
  • Punkzilla by Adam Rapp
  • The Storm in the Barn by Matt Phelan
  • Yummy by Lucy Cousins

New Sock Monkey Goes to Hollywood Review…

14 Oct

The Wise Owl book blog recently reviewed Sock Monkey Goes to Hollywood…

Cece Bell’s narrative is modern, clever and hilarious — especially when the characters chime in.

A star from Booklist! And other good reviews…

20 Jul

The review doesn’t seem to be online yet, but Itty Bitty should be getting a starred review from ALA Booklist in the next issue. It’s a swell review, with a really sweet interpretation of the book.


Itty Bitty is on this summer reading list.

And you can click here to see some AWESOME Jerry Bee drawings by kindergartners along with a real nice review.

Bee-Wigged gets a good review on this British site. (I’m not sure if they wrote the review or not. But a good review is a good review…)