Cece Bell: 2019 National Book Festival

Cece Bell: 2019 National Book Festival


>>Nicole Chung: How’s
everyone doing today? Yeah? Okay, so our next
guest is an amazing author and illustrator, CeCe Bell. She is known for books like
Elle Defoe, and I am Donkey, and today we’re in for
an extra special treat, she’s going to read and talk
about her newest book Chick and Brain, Smell
My Foot which comes out on this Tuesday, right? So, this is, we’re getting
a special sneak preview. So, if you, everyone can go
ahead just get your hands ready for CeCe Bell. [ Applause ]>>CeCe Bell: Hey, everybody. Can you hear me okay? Good, good. Okay hopefully my
slide show will work. Yay okay so I am CeCe Bell, I’ve
been a writer and an illustrator for almost 20 years now. And before I go any further and
went to thank you all so much for coming out to
check out what I’ve got up my sleeve, currently. But most of you or some of you
may have heard of this book, El Deafo which is
[applause], thank you. So sweet, so sweet;
which actually came out a whopping five years ago. A long time feels
like forever to me. And, so this book is my
autobiographical graphic novel. And it’s basically the
story about growing up with hearing loss, and using
hearing aids to help me hear, and also being the only deaf
kid and my whole school. And I used a special
magical hearing aid and I could hear my
teacher anywhere she was in the school building. And and so this was sort
of my superhero story. But we’re not actually going
to talk about this very much, however there will
be time at the end I for any questions you
might have about this book, or anything else you
might want to ask. But this book, El Deafo was the
first time I had ever made a book in the comics format. And comics are awesome,
and I actually fell in love with comics while
working on El Deafo, they’re so much fun to do. And so, the books that
I’m about to present to you now is also
in the comics format. And where El Deafo
was all about hearing, this book is all about smelling. It’s about smelling
I like to smell, and it is not however
about elephants. So, not about elephants, it’s
a totally different thing. This book is called Smell my
Foot, and I love that title so much I’m going to say it one
more time for you Smell my Foot. What a book. And the stars of this book are
Chick, little Chick, and Brain. And the cover of the
book looks like this, Chick and Brain, Smell My Foot. So, a lot of people
think I’m really weird and that’s probably true. And they also wonder where
do my ideas come from? Well the truth of the matter is
most of the time I have no idea where my ideas come from. But this book is a
little bit different. The inspiration for this book
is actually a series of books that I read when I was a
kid, back in the 1970s, known as the Dick
and Jane books. Raise your hand if
you have ever heard of the Dick and Jane books. Oh, so many of you, many adults. Well, these are the books that actually helped
me learn how to read. And the stars of this book or
especially a whole big series of books, the stars of
these books are Dick and his younger sister
Jane, and their dog Spot. And Dick and Jane have a very, just matter-of-fact
repetitive way of talking. For example, oh, oh, oh,
and believe it or not, Oh was the first word
I remember reading. I remember sitting there in my
first-grade class in a circle with all the other kids,
and all of a sudden that O and that H got closer and closer
to making sense until, oh! I was reading a word. And Oh, was the first word
I read, oh, oh, oh; so, it almost sounds like hohoho. But, oh. So, I was
thinking about all this, I needed to write a new book
and I was thinking about Dick and Jane, and the word Oh, and I
started to think what’s missing from Dick and Jane is
that they’re not very fun. Dick and Jane books
would be so much better if they had been presented
in comics form, like this. And comics were books that
I was reading in the 1970s, but they were not
really allowed at school. And, but how much better
school would have been for me if we were reading the Dick
and Jane book in comics form. These books would be even better if they had been presented
in a more silly way. What if Jane said, hello
dick, smell my foot. And how much better that
would have been even better, if that had been in comics form. Wow, that would have Rocked. So, here with my attempt to
create a book like Dick and Jane that help kids read, that was
far sillier and are goofier. So, I needed to come up
with a couple of characters, kind of like my own
version of Dick and Jane. But I wanted my characters
to be a lot sillier. So, I thought well maybe
in honor of Dick and Jane, I will make my characters
rhyme with them. So, dick became Chick;
and Janes became Brain, and spot became spot. Because I was too tired
of coming up with rhymes, that was too much for me. So, spot remained spot. So, this book is all about a
book it is also about a foot. It is also about the
smelling of that foot. And then there is another
level to this book, because Chick is all about
manners, good manners. Chick insists that everybody at all times no matter what
the situation that we all have to say please, and thank
you, and you’re welcome. So, now we come to the
part of the presentation where I am hoping for 100%
audience participation. Not just the kids, but
all the adults here too. So, here’s what’s
going to happen; I am going to say please, do
like I’m doing, and I want you to remove one of your
shoes, just one, okay? Take off your shoe, go ahead. Taking off my shoe, take
it off, 100% participation. Has anybody taking
off your shoe? Yeah. Raise your hand, oh good! Wonderful, okay. So, I’m going to say thank
you for taking off your shoe, and then I want you guys to say.>>Audience: You’re welcome!>>CeCe Bell: Wonderful, okay. So, now please do what I,
like me, and I don’t know if I can sit down, but
I’m going to sit down. Sit down, and I want
you to smell your foot. Oh, yeah. Yeah. You smelling it? Is everybody smelling
their foot? Okay, I am going
to say thank you, thank you for smelling
your foot, and I want you guys to say.>>Audience: You’re welcome!>>CeCe Bell: Wonderful. Okay, now raise your hand if
you did indeed smell your foot. Yeah, okay. Now raise your hand if
your foot smelled bad. Okay. Raise your hand if
your foot smelled good. Oh yeah, you know it. Raise your hand if your
foot smelled great. Yes! Okay. So, I want two of the kids
who believe, deeply believe, 100% believe, that their
foot smells great too raise your hand. I’m going to pick
two of those kids to help do a dramatic
recreation of a scene from Chick and Brain, Smell My Foot. So, I want this little
girl there. Yes, lovely. And I want this fellow in
the adidas shirt, come on up. Okay, whoo! So, your foot smells great? You don’t know does
your foot smell great? Yeah. Okay. So, what’s going to happen
is you guys are going to be Chick and Brain. So, I want you, you’re
Chick, okay? And you can be Brain, okay? Got that on there? Okay, pull it down a little
bit for me, pull it down, so, there we go, beautiful. So, now we’ve got
Chick and Brain, I want you to get
closer together, okay? And so, all you have to
do is stand there, yeah, but at some point, you are
going to smell Brains foot, and Brain is going to going
to smell Chicks’ foot. So, you need to remove
your shoe. Oh my gosh, okay
get that shoe, okay. So, are we ready for the
dramatic recreation of Chick and Brain, Smell My Foot? Okay, so what’s going to happen
is I’m going to read the story and you can follow
it along, okay? You’ll get to see it, and
I’ll just let you know when it is time to
do the smelling. Are you ready? Okay, here we go, here we go. So, Oh, a little bit
from a smell my foot. Brain says, smell my
foot, smell it now. Hold on. No, I will
not smell your foot. But my foot smells good,
my foot smells great. Maybe your foot smells good,
maybe your foot smells great; but I will not smell your
foot until you say please, like this please, smell my foot. And Brain says, oh okay, the
Brain smell Chick’s foot. Go ahead. No, no
get down in there. [Laughter]. Alright, alright, so Brain says
whew that is something else. Now, you can smell my foot. And Chick says No, no,
no, you must say please. Say please, and then I
will smell your foot. And Brain says oh,
please smell my foot. All right, get down
there, way down there. Wonderful. Wow, your foot smells good,
your foot smells great. Yeah, I know, you’re welcome. Oh, wonderful, thank
you, all right. You may take your shoe back
don’t forget your shoe. Thank you so much
you guys, all right. So, that concludes just a little
fraction of the story Chick and Brain, Smell My Foot. Smell my foot. So, believe it or not that
was just the very first part of this book. That was just chapter
one, so if you want more of this silly business,
then rest assured, there is a chapter two. And there is a chapter three. And there is a chapter four
in the book, smell my foot. Believe it or not. So, I’m very short,
this is short. Thank you, for smelling your
feet, and you guys can say.>>Audience: You’re welcome!>>CeCe Bell: You’re
welcome, absolutely. And there was one thing
that I will say is that there will be a second
Chick and Brain book coming out much later, and that
one will be called Chick and Brain, egg or eyeball? Is it an egg, or
is it an eyeball? You will have to wait and see. So, does anybody have any
questions about anything? And hopefully, all right. So, let’s see I think
we’ve got it set up here. Okay, I’m probably going to
need a little bit of help. But we’ll see what happens. So, remember ladies and
gentlemen that I’m a lip reader, and so if I have
a little trouble, don’t worry we’ll figure it out. So, yeah question?>>Audience member:
What’s your favorite part about writing books?>>CeCe Bell: Hold on a second. I can’t see. Could you repeat the question? The volunteer, would you
mind repeating the question? What is my favorite book? What is my favorite
book, that I’ve written or my favorite book ever? What’s your favorite
part about writing books? That I’ve written was
that my favorite book of my own is the book
called Bee-Wigged that came out a long time ago. But my favorite book in
the world is probably, or at least one of them,
is the secret garden. Do you know the secret garden? No, oh what a book;
you’ll love it. It’s from a long time ago
but it’s a great book. So, thank you, thank you. All right, next question. All right oh wait, okay. Could I ask, wait,
before you ask questions, could I ask the volunteers
both of you after the question is asked, would you mind taking
the microphone if you can and repeating that
question if I need help?>>Staff member: And
also, there are captions.>>CeCe Bell: Okay, I would
do, why don’t you stay here.>>Staff member:
I will stay here.>>CeCe Bell: Don’t leave me. Thank you, okay, perfect. Okay.>>Audience member: How
long does it take you to write your books?>>Staff Member: How
long to write your books?>>CeCe Bell: Okay, are
you talking about El Deafo? Okay. El Deafo took a long time. It took about five years. That’s why you haven’t really
seen El Deafo part two. But this book, that I just
presented, was a little bit, took a little less time because
it’s shorter and sillier, but that’s a great
question thank you. Okay, back and forth, all right.>>Audience Member: What’s
your most popular book?>>Staff Member: What book
is most popular of yours.>>CeCe Bell: Oh,
El Deafo, by far. Oh yeah. I mean it’s just,
there’s so many books I’ve done that nobody’s ever read because
this one just sort of took off. But, I’m very proud of
it though, thank you.>>Audience Member: When
you were writing El Deafo, why did you choose to draw
your characters as bunnies?>>CeCe Bell: Okay
I got that one. Okay the bunny rabbits
are because it’s a book about hearing, and it’s a book
about not being able to hear, and so we use our ears to hear, and so I was trying
to exaggerate that. And by making the characters
rabbits, with giant ears, I was bringing a lot of
focus to the ears themselves. And also if you read
the book you’ll see that the little ear
pieces that I use for my hearing aid back
then, they go all the way up into my bunny rabbit ears,
in real life they just went to my regular ears, but I
felt like I was very visible, like they were way up here
and everybody might be staring at me even though
they probably weren’t. So, great question,
great question. Okay.>>Audience Member:
So, why would you want to illustrate and write books?>>Staff Member: Why do you want
to illustrate and write books?>>CeCe Bell: Okay
that’s a good question. I wanted to, I’ve always liked
to draw, and I’ve drawn forever. And I actually like, for a
long time liked drawing better than reading, just because. And so, I wanted to be an
illustrator of children’s books, but nobody would hire me. So, then I found out
that if I did both things that I would be more likely
to get into children’s books. So, I started writing as
a way to have a reason to draw the pictures
to go with the words. So, that’s how that
happened, yeah. Good question.>>Audience Member: The
characters in your books, were they all actual, like
the names of the characters, were they all the actual
ones, like the characters?>>Staff Member: Are the
character names the real names of people? Are they just like?>>CeCe Bell: Okay, some of them
are, and some of them aren’t. And a good way to
figure out who’s who, or what names are real, it if
I’m nice to them in the book. If I portray them kindly. Then those are their real names. That’s all you need to know. [Laughter]. Okay.>>Audience Member: If you had,
if you had two books on earth and one was a chapter book,
and the other was a comic book, which would you choose?>>Staff Member: If you could
only have two books on earth, one is a chapter book and
one is a picture book, which two books would
you want to have?>>CeCe Bell: Okay. If for the chapter book,
it would probably be one of the Arnold Lebel
books, one of the frog and toad books, probably. And for the picture book it
would be a book called our animal friends at Maple
Hill Farm, by Alice and Martin Provision that came
out and I think 1973, 1974; that’s my favorite book
in the whole world, favorite picture book
in the whole world. That’s a great question,
yeah, I love that.>>Audience Member what do you
think is your least favorite part of becoming deaf.>>Staff Member: What is
your least favorite part of becoming deaf?>>CeCe Bell: What is
my least favorite part? I’ll tell you what my favorite
part is, my favorite part is that when there are
obnoxious sounds, like children crying,
no, I’m just kidding. [Laughter]. You know, leaf blowers, I hate
leaf blowers, then all I have to do is take my hearing aids
out and I’m on top of the world. The hardest part is
feeling left out in a group, because it’s very hard to follow
a conversation in a group. And so, I may not get the joke,
or I may not understand anything about what the conversation
is because I sort of, it takes a lot of Brainpower
to pay attention and lip read, and so I sort of lose the,
I lose the conversation. And so, sometimes
that feels left out. And that was true when I was
a kid and it’s still true now, but most of it isn’t
too bad, you know; it’s not that bad
you get used to it. Okay,>>Audience Member: What’s your
favorite part of writing books?>>Staff Member: What’s your
favorite part of writing books?>>CeCe Bell: My favorite part of writing a book is probably
smelling my feet, first. I enjoy the foot
smelling process. And then I actually really
like coming up with the idea, and trying to figure out
the very, very beginning when you try to figure
out all the puzzle pieces, and how they’re going
to fit together. Yeah.>>Audience Member: Do
you have a sign name name?>>Staff Member: Do
you have a sign name? A name for, like, signing?>>Audience Member: Yeah. A sign name.>>Staff Member: Do you have
like a sign language name?>>CeCe Bell: Oh! I don’t, you know
I should, I should. But I don’t. Because I’m not the best
deaf person in the world, I never learned how to sign. Because I was just surrounded by hearing people no
matter where I went. And so, I need a
sign language name and it would probably be
something you know, I’m CeCe, so maybe it’s just a double C,
you know, something like that. That’s a great question, yeah. Love that. Two minutes, okay.>>Audience Member: Some
of the scenes in El Deafo, are some of them based
off of like real events?>>Staff Member: Are scenes in
El Deafo based on real events?>>CeCe Bell: Definitely,
definitely. It’s all about my
growing up years, and it’s not always literally
true, because I had to, I’m trying to tell a good
story, and so I sort of, all the little episodes that
happen in the book are true, but I rearranged them in
some ways to make a better, to make it entertaining. Because if I just presented it
exactly the way it happened, you’d be crying from all the
boredom, you would be ah, this is the worst
book I’ve ever read. So, trying to make it epic. And so, I rearranged
things a little bit, yeah. Yeah.>>Audience Member: What
was your inspiration for Chick and Brain?>>Staff Member: What was your
inspiration for Chick and Brain?>>CeCe Bell: My inspiration
was the Dick and Jane books, and just I really, I had
never written a book before that was really trying to
help kids learn how to read. Most of the time when I
write books, I’m just trying to make myself laugh, and hope that other people think
the books are as funny as I think they are, you know? It’s all about making
people laugh. But this time I really
wanted to focus on teaching kids how to read. And so, the Dick and Jane books
for what taught me to read so I thought it would be fun to
try to create that kind of book, but far far sillier than that. Yeah, okay. Are we good? Okay, I think we are done. Thank you so much
for coming out today, and for smelling your feet. I hope they smell good. Okay, thank you. I’ll be signing at 1:30.

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