Good morning, fellow imps. I’m highlighting a bit of artwork today from award-winning author-illustrator Cece Bell’s newest picture book, I Yam a Donkey!, published by Clarion Books in June.
There are several things I like about this book (whose story starts on the title page itself)—its humor, its memorable two main characters, its irreverence—but my favorite thing is that it is inherently subversive, if you consider the existence of prescriptive linguistics, which is concerned about the rules governing what people should or shouldn’t say (rather, how they say it). Descriptive linguistics is concerned with how language is used, instead of telling people how to use language properly.
Prescriptive linguists would shake their fist at this entertaining story, complete with a tongue-in-cheek moral, and that is part of its beauty. Or, as the Publishers Weekly review notes, “pedants who can’t adapt will be left in the dust.” And that’s because it’s all about a donkey who has a particular way of talking, though the stubborn and opinionated grammarian yam he meets keeps telling him he’s talking incorrectly. Or, as the vegetables watching it all go down (well, most of it) put it, it’s a “big fight about grammar.” The ending is delicious in more ways than one, but I’ll let you discover that for yourself.
I was just about to tell you all about Cece’s art for the book, rendered in china marker and acrylics, but you can see for yourself below.
p.s. Here’s my 2008 breakfast interview with Cece. (Was it really seven years ago?)
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