The Evolution of a Picture Book Cover
(And Other Goodness from Illustrator Cece Bell)

h1 October 1st, 2013 by jules

Pictured here are author/illustrator Cece Bell (winner of a 2013 Geisel Honor Award) and her husband, New York Times bestselling author Tom Angleberger. (At the very bottom of this post is an alternate image of the duo, which makes me laugh — a photo more fitting to the book that is the subject of this post today.)

In June of this year, Clarion Books released Tom’s Crankee Doodle, illustrated by Cece, a very funny cartoon take on the classic song “Yankee Doodle” — and I’m just a bit slow in blogging about it. But better late than never, right? Right.

And, since lots of professional reviewers have already praised this picture book and I’m posting months later than I intended, I’ll summarize here: Kirkus called it a “historical hoot full of goofy, eye-rolling goodness”; the Horn Book called it a clever “absurdist deconstruction of the familiar song,” adding that it’s “giddily imagined”; Booklist called it “laugh-out-loud” funny; and School Library Journal called it a “great read-aloud.” Why this traditional song, which nearly all elementary-aged students sing with glee but great confusion (it is a nonsense song after all), hasn’t been spoofed in a picture book already (at least it hasn’t been to my knowledge) is a surprise to me. But leave it to Tom and Cece. … This is sure to elicit lots of laughs from young readers.

Cece is visiting today to share rejected cover images, as well as title page illustrations; some early sketches and layouts and such; and some final art from the book, too. “All those covers,” she told me, “are all the different ones that I presented to Clarion. I don’t usually do that many mock-ups, but it was kind of tricky to set the right tone for this one.”

As made clear by the very existence of this blog, I’m a ginormous picture book fan, and so I enjoy seeing things like Rejected Covers (and, as always, things like sketches and early lay-outs). And I figure some of my readers might like to see that, too, so let’s get to it. I thank Cece for sharing the images.


 

* * * Early Cover Sketches * * *


 


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* * * Cover Ideas * * *


 


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Final cover


 

* * * Title Page Ideas * * *


 


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Final title page
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* * * Original Notes for the Book * * *


 


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* * * Early Layout for the Book * * *


 


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* * * Some Final Art * * *


 


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* * * Sometimes an Illustrator Has to Pose
as a Horse with Very Bad Teeth to Get the Artwork Just Right * * *


 



 

* * * * * * *

CRANKEE DOODLE. Copyright © 2013 by Tom Angleberger. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Cece Bell. Published by Clarion Books, Boston. All images here reproduced by permission of Cece Bell and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

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6 comments to “The Evolution of a Picture Book Cover
(And Other Goodness from Illustrator Cece Bell)”

  1. I love, love, love all this artwork. I’m a huge fan of the book. I am scurrying over to be blog to link this to my review. Thanks to all of you.


  2. Great post!
    Thanks for sharing, so fun.


  3. I guffawed aloud at these pics in my local cafe.


  4. Such simple, complex images. Way fun. (and bonus: Now I FINALLY get that song!)


  5. I thoroughly enjoyed this post! Cece and Tom are a fantastic duo!


  6. Excellent post, thank you. So fascinating to see people’s processes from start to finish.


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