What I’m Up to at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week,
Featuring Cece Bell

h1 November 1st, 2012 by jules

Today at the Kirkus Book Blog Network, I chat with author/illustrator Matthew Cordell about his brand-new picture book, hello! hello! That link is here, and if you like this book as much as I do, come back next week for even more from Matt, including art, early studies, and jacket sketches.

Tomorrow morning, I’ll have a column about Mary Logue’s Sleep Like a Tiger, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski. That link will be here.

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Last week, I wrote here about Cece Bell’s new chapter book, Rabbit and Robot. Today, I’ve got a bit more art, and she’s visiting to share things like pages from discarded chapters and other early drawings — or what she calls the “Top Secret Super-duper Rabbit & Robot Never-Before-Seen Conglomerate of Glory! That is to say, Rejected Stuff.” I thank Cece for stopping by.

Cece: I am a lot more like Rabbit than I am like Robot. … “Wound tight,” is how my mother would describe me. But guess who I got that from? Thanks, MOM.

This book was my attempt to be a smidgen like Arnold Lobel, who is arguably still the greatest chapter book writer and illustrator of all time. He brought some really interesting psychological things into his work that really make you want to linger over his books longer. Even the illustrations, though a combination of hand-drawn stuff and computer stuff, were sort of created with Lobel in mind. There’s one author/illustrator that I really, really wish I could have met.

[Here are my] early drawings of Rabbit and Robot when I was trying to figure them out:

These other pages are part of a rejected chapter, in which Rabbit and Robot decide to pretend to be characters from Rabbit’s favorite TV show, Cowboy Jackrabbit. This is totally based on my childhood, as my best friend Martha Claytor and I would pretend that we were Laura and Mary Ingalls, and we’d re-enact scenes—not from the books, mind you, as we were not that literary—but from the TV show starring Melissa Gilbert. On Melissa, buck-teeth were cute. On me? Not so much.

Many, many, many bowls of homemade Prairie Dirt Soup later, I am still alive to tell you that I was kinda fond of the final spread in this rejected chapter, so it was a real case of “murder your darlings” when my editor suggested we get rid of it. But now I can share it with all your readers!

And it probably was the right choice in the end.

* * *


Thanks again to Cece. And now for a bit of final art:


“‘My Built-in Food-o-Meter approves of this pizza,’ said Robot. ‘Yes, this picnic is pretty fun,’ said Rabbit. ‘I’ll cross “Make Pizza” off the list,
even though you put weird things on yours.’
‘Thank you, Rabbit,’ said Robot.”

(Click to enlarge and see text)

* * * * * * *

RABBIT AND ROBOT. Copyright © 2012 by Cece Bell. Final illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA. All other images reproduced with permission of Cece Bell.

5 comments to “What I’m Up to at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week,
Featuring Cece Bell”

  1. Great post, Jules and Cece. When you enjoy a book like Rabbit & Robot The Sleepover, it’s so much fun to get the inside scoop on the process. Thanks to you both.

  2. […] has just now been released to the masses. But, today is that lucky day! Check out this post from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, and you can read more about Matt, and more about the Top Secret Super-duper Rabbit & […]

  3. Ha! Such a funny missing chapter. I love the part about robot’s missing name being on his bottom as ‘Patent Pending.”

  4. Beautiful, beautiful, wonderful, amazing blog. How do I “follow”…?

  5. Rabbit & Robot look adorable! What a fun pair. Thanks for sharing, Cece (and Jules!)

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