7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #441: Featuring Cece Bell

h1 July 19th, 2015 by jules

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?)



(Click to enlarge)


(Click second image to see spread in its entirety)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


I YAM A DONKEY! Copyright © 2015 by Cece Bell. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston.

* * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) I spoke this past week in Knoxville about the best children’s books of the year (well, the best books from last Fall and this Spring) at an event I participate in yearly, and it was (as always) good fun. I always enjoy hearing my colleagues speak as well.

2) My daughters went with me, and we made a little trip out of it.

3) They don’t often get to see me work, so I hope they enjoyed hearing me talk about picture books (though they mostly sat in the back and read).

4) I got to catch up with friends, while in Knoxville and Maryville.

5) The new issue of the Horn Book.

6) Story time.

7) It’s good to be home.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

14 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #441: Featuring Cece Bell”

  1. This book is great on so many levels as you have so splendidly noted.
    If I could teleaport myself, it would be to your event or one of your Saturday story times at your local indie. Glad your girls could go with you, Jules.

    My kicks:
    1. Rain, although only a little, was wonderful.
    2. Clouds like cotton candy pasted on an ebony sky
    3. The Big Dipper
    4. Central air
    5. Picture books
    6. Watching Xena sit under the sprinkler and not even care
    7. Xena

    Have a super week everyone.

  2. This book looks great. I love Cece’s books. I was excited to see she won an Eisner award last week.
    Jules – I’m glad you brought the girls. It’s goo for kids to see what their folks do.
    Margie – Sounds like you’ve got a comfy set up there. We don’t have AC but we mostly don’t need it.
    1. I went to a great children’s book event at the Queens Museum. It makes me so happy to see the kids and author and illustrators interacting over picture books.
    2. I’m going to have my bird drawings up in a local museum next Spring.
    3. Swimming
    4. Ice Cream
    5. My sister and her family have moved back to Massachusetts.
    6. Bonus baseball games
    7. Not working a day job in the summer.
    Have a great week all

  3. Cece gave me quite the laugh this morning. A must for the library.
    Jules, wish I could have been at your talk. How cool for your girls though to be there.
    Margie, the Big Dipper, I spied it just above the balcony of our new place.
    Mo8ra, congrats on the museum show.
    My kicks:
    1. Condo closing and keys.
    2. Cooler weather during the week for moving.
    3. Painting.
    4. Swimming.
    5. Sunsets on the balcony.
    6. Quiet.
    7. Unpacking a radio for music. No Internet til Wed.
    Have a great week.

  4. Good morning, Imps!

    I wonder how many kids and families are now running around, screaming, “I YAM A DONKEY!” 🙂 Sounds like / looks like fun.

    Jules: Glad that your daughters got to travel with you and applaud your work!

    Margie: Hello to Xena, the sprinkler, and the drizzle.

    Moira: Congratulations on the future exhibition! That’s wonderful! Hope your sister’s family had a smooth move.

    Jone: Sounds peaceful.

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Indulging in new TV shows
    2) Books
    3) Contact
    4) Connect
    5) Updates
    6) Continuing
    7) Okay

  5. Hello Imps! What a fun book 🙂

    Jules- I would have loved to have attended your presentation. What fun and how great that the girls cakes with you!

    Margie- Cotton candy clouds. How perfect.

    Moira- I may have to borrow ice cream for my kicks. We sure have been eating a lot of it these days!

    Jone- Cooler weather sounds so great. We are the middle of a super hot day!

    Little Willow- New TV shows? Do share! There really are some great programs out there these days.

    Ok.. Kicks.

    1. Swimming pools.
    2. A camp that my oldest loved this week. Finally.
    3. The Kind Worth Killing. A summer page turner!
    4. Corn on the cob.
    5. Coffee ice cream.
    6. Which reminds me of ice coffee.
    7. Instagram.

    Here’s to a wonderful week!

  6. I love this book! Silly and funny and perfect.

    Jules – how fun that your girls got to see you in action! Hooray for short trips and catching up with friends.

    Margie – Summer rain is so nice. Picturing Xena laying under the sprinkler cracks me up – Daisy would run and hide.

    Moira – I don’t think you can get more summery than swimming, ice cream and baseball games! Hooray for family moving closer.

    Jone – congrats on the closing. Sunsets on the balcony sounds lovely.

    LW – sounds like a week full of connections – what new tv shows?

    Stacey – Corn on the cob, swimming and coffee ice cream? your kicks are super summery too.

    My kicks this week:
    1) Having Kacey Musgraves’ album Pageant Material on repeat lately.
    2) Read The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier and really enjoyed it.
    3) Took a rock climbing class with a friend last week and it was very fun, plus a great workout – will definitely do it again.
    4) A lovely brunch in the hills, on a balcony, with an old friend and several new ones.
    5) My friend Susan is visiting from New York and speaking this Thursday at Mother Foucault’s bookstore here in Portland: https://www.facebook.com/events/1443961459255944/
    6) I scored a goal in our soccer game today! My teammate gave me the perfect pass and thankfully I didn’t muff it.
    7) Looking forward to seeing the Portland Thorns play the Seattle reign this Wednesday! Our World Cup players Alex Morgan and Tobin Heath will be back for the game. Yay for women’s soccer!

    Have a lovely week all!

  7. Rachel: GOOOOOOOAAAAL! Congratulations! New shows I watched: The Fall and Bloodline. I preferred the latter to the former. Currently airing shows I enjoy: Rectify and Orphan Black.

  8. Stacey: See above! Accidentally deleted your name after I typed it in that response! 🙂

  9. Teleportation would be nice, Margie, and we could hang out!

    Moira: Ooh, I love your first two kicks, in particular!

    Jone, continued good luck on that move!

    Little Willow, speaking of TV shows, do you like/watch Doctor Who? My daughters are now slightly obsessed with it. p.s. I LOVE THE FALL! Also, Tatiana finally got an Emmy nomination (speaking of Orphan Black). Yay!

    Stacey, good to hear your oldest daughter enjoyed her camp. … I need to take the girls swimming this week, since SUMMER IS NEARLY OVER (as in, school starts soon)! ACK!

    Rachel, congrats on the score! I love love love The Night Gardener. My favorite children’s novel of last year.

    Have a good week, all!

  10. Jules,

    Prescriptive linguists might shake their fist at this entertaining story–but, having been an elementary teacher for many years, I can see how much fun it would be to use this book to start a discussion about grammar and language with a classroom of young children.

    I am sure that your daughters enjoyed their trip with you.


    Jone: I hope the move went well. We moved two years ago. It took a long to transport all my children’s book from my old home to my new place!



    1) Yesterday, My husband and I celebrated our 46th wedding anniversary…with my daughter, son-in-law, and two granddaughters. We decided to stay home with “the kids” and enjoy eating outside on the back deck together.

    2) I have decided to quit writing for legal/political blogs and to concentrate on writing poetry for children again.

    3) On Friday, I had a lovely leisurely visit with a good friend who teaches elementary school and is a published poet. He gave me some great advice about a couple of poetry manuscripts that I have been working on.

    4) I think I’m going to start posting at Wild Rose Reader again–probably not as frequently as I once did. I have missed my friends in the kidlitosphere.

    5) I think I told you already how much I loved the artwork that Catia Chien did for my book “Things to Do.” You can see three of the illustrations that she created for my poetry collection at the following link:


  11. Hi Elaine! Happy anniversary, and kick #2 makes me very happy! Also, your 4th kick. Such wonderful news!

  12. Jules: Yes, I like Doctor Who. The Tenth Doctor is my favorite! Who’s the favorite Doctor in your household? YES to Tatiana’s work getting recognized! 🙂 🙂 I think Maria (Mrs. S) and Jordan (Felix) don’t get enough recognition either. I’m really hoping Felix has an awesome storyline next season. As for The Fall, I felt like was interesting at first, but as the seasons progressed, it dragged on for me; I would have had some resolution by now.

  13. What I like about The Fall is that, despite all the women getting stuffed into trunks, it’s one of the most feminist shows I’ve seen because of Gillian’s character. But, yes, some things about the show do drag a bit, especially the second season. She is a FASCINATING character, though.

    Yay to Felix!

    As for your Doctor question, we’ve only started with the 9th doctor, Christopher Eccleston, and my youngest INSISTS he’s the best, but we’ve only just met our second Doctor, number ten. And I’m with you: I like him an awful, awful lot.

  14. Jules: What I enjoy most about David Tennant is his ability to play comedy and drama equally well, and my favorite Tenth Doctor episodes are those that allow him to play both of those strengths – sometimes he has to turn on a DIME, and he never misses a beat. I’ve seen him in various productions, and he’s consistently & wonderfully engrossing.

    When you’re about a season into Tenth Doctor’s era, look up the Red Nose Day special sketch featuring David Tennant as Catherine Tate aka Lauren Cooper’s teacher. Lauren Cooper is one of Catherine Tate’s famous characters from her sketch show. The sketch will be hilarious whether or not you’re familiar with her show. Catherine appeared on Doctor Who later, a while after this sketch, so it’s good to watch it before you get to know her as Donna. 🙂

    Agreed that The Fall offers some layered characters and very glad that they employed just as many actresses as actors.

    If you have yet to see some of Tatiana’s other TV and film work, do. Always solid, always convincing.

Leave a Comment

Should you have trouble posting, please contact sevenimp_blaine@blaine.org. Thanks.