Tuesday, October 30, 2012

HELLO! HELLO! is out Today! 26 Reasons Why You Will Want to Buy a Copy

Ladies and gentlemen, the moment I've all been waiting for... my newest and so-ready-for-it picture book, hello! hello!, is officially out today from my good friends at Disney-Hyperion Books! I am terribly, awfully, insanely excited for this book and for all that it shows and stands for.

What's it about? A family is completely shut in and taken with their electronic "gadgets." Cell phones, laptop computers, gaming devices, etc. The daughter in this family has finally had enough and seeks less of the electronic and more of the human variety of interaction. But she finds it hard to get her Mom, Dad, and little brother to also break free. So... she turns her attention to the outdoors. And the outdoors turns her attention to the imagination. And away we go!

(Please copy and share the above flier!)

And here is a little promo video I made, a "book trailer" if you will, with music by the multi-incredibly-talented Mr. Philip C. Stead.

Now that hello! hello! is finally out and in the world, all that is left to do is for people (you) to buy a copy. Ever happy to help, I am providing a list of 26 reasons why you should own a copy of hello! hello! for yourself and/or gift one to someone you love.

You will most definitely need a copy of hello! hello! if you...

1. ...are a person.
2. ...are a person who likes books.
3. ...are a person who likes stories.
4. ...are a person who likes art.
5. ...are a person who likes pen and ink drawings with watercolor.
6. ...are a person who likes books that are illustrated in pen and ink with watercolor.
7. ...have a kid(s) or not.
8. ...have a neice(s), or a nephew(s), or a wife, or a husband, or a grandkid(s), or a great-grankid(s), or a great-great-grandkid(s) or not.
9. ...have a cell phone.
10. ...have a laptop.
11. ...have a tablet computer.
12. ...have a Facebook profile, and/or a Twitter profile, and/or use email and/or text.
13. ...have ever had anyone tell you while you were on your cell phone/and or laptop and/or tablet, "get off your smartphone and/or laptop and/or tablet, and stop Facebooking and/or Tweeting and/or emailing and/or texting and start talking to me."
14. ...like book design.
15. ...like hand-lettering.
16. ...like a very purposeful use of "white space."
17. ...like a book with a cold opening (with story before the title page) and a coda aka "stinger," or "tag," or "credit cookie" (an ending after the ending).
18. ...like a book with fine paper and printing.
19. ...appreciate when a book is printed in 5 colors instead of the usual 4.
20. ...like hidden art underneath a book's outer dust jacket.
21. ...like red-headed people.
22. ...like adults in eyeglasses.
23. ...like brightly-colored skies and fields of wildflowers.
24. ...like horses.
25. ...like buffalo, and/or deer, and/or giraffes, and/or ostriches, and/or fishes, and/or gorillas, and/or chickens, and/or lions, and/or frogs, and/or skunks, and/or antelopes, and/or butterflies, and/or octopi, and/or wiener dogs.
26. ...like, um, me.

As you can very well see, this book is incredibly special to me. Please, please, I beg you, please seek it out and buy a copy for yourself and/or for someone you love. Then please share it with and read it with someone you love. Please, please let this book into your life. Please, please and thank you, thank you.

Previous blog posts about hello! hello!:

How I used the gutter of the book to assist in the storytelling of hello!hello!
How/why I hand-lettered the near-entirety of hello! hello!
Origin story (the idea behind the idea of hello! hello!)
How I drew hello! hello! (I used a sharpened piece of bamboo)
The official hello! hello! book trailer with music by Philip C. Stead!

hello! hello!

Friday, October 19, 2012

HELLO! HELLO! Get Your Mind in the Gutter

One of the most obvious physical obstacles one must deal with as a book illustrator, designer, book maker is the ever present, generally annoying gutter. To those not in the know, you might be asking, "what is this gutter you speak of?"

The gutter is what we call the crease or gap or fold or valley at the center of every spread of every open book that will ever exist (with exception of the "e-book," but an e-book, my friends, does not a picture book make).

It is a cardinal rule that you must not get art or text too close to the gutter or, God forbid, in the gutter because it looks weird. It looks like a mistake. Like amateur hour. To bookies like myself, getting all up in the gutter, it can be all fingernails on a chalkboard.

However... for hello! hello!, I have, in a way, taken this "mind the gutter" maxim and hung it out the window. Not tossed it out the window all together, but put it out there to dry only to serve a point. Allow me to explain? (Prepare to, possibly, get your fingernails on the chalkboard.)

When an open book is viewed it can either be viewed as single pages at a time or viewed as one large-reading spread--when an image runs across both pages, defying the inherent separating and tyrannical rule of the gutter.

It is a deep-cutting line and impossible to fully overcome.

In hello! hello! I decided to grab this gutter by the gut and use it as part of my story. It will be ever-so-subtle, but the intent is very much, well, intentional.

Backing up, just a tiny bit... the central theme of this book concerns technology and ever-present techno devices (cell phones, portable game devices, laptop computers, table computers, etc.) and how these devices have or can become a wedge between a need-to-be communicating parent and child.

What better wedge is there, in a book, than its own gutter?

In the beginning of the story, our hero, Lydia is looking to connect with a person instead of a thing. She reaches out to her parents and her brother one at at time. In return she receives little to no response. The gutter cuts these exchanges right in half:

Eventually, she goes outside and gives nature a chance. Still not quite letting go completely, things are connecting, but the gutter still serves to separate:

Eventually still, Lydia begins to let go more and more, giving in to play and imagination. And she encounters a horse drinking at a stream. The gutter still separates, but even less so, as both forces are now reaching toward each other:

And finally Lydia breaks free completely and gives into play, imagination, nature, life, and the spell of the gutter is shattered and galloped straight through:

With even more page turns, the words, "hello," (which have, by this point become integrated into the art) and the animals/friends of a building stampede completely disavow the binding spell of the book's gutter and run straight through the gutter or in and out, or bound into and even stick a head and neck right in to have a look:

Most times a gutter is an awkward thing to this illustrator. And it is never going to go away. So let's have a little fun, shall we?

Maybe what I've done is jarring. Maybe it's like fingernails on a chalkboard. But sometimes, when you want a call to arms, putting nails on the board is the best way to grab some eyes and ears.

My previous blog posts about hello! hello!:

How I hand-lettered the near entirety of hello! hello!
Origin story (the idea behind the idea of hello! hello!)
How I drew hello! hello! (I used a sharpened piece of bamboo)
The official hello! hello! book trailer with music by Philip C. Stead!

hello! hello! is available Tuesday October 30, wherever books are sold.

hello! hello!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sheboygan Children's Book Festival October 12-14!

This weekend, I will be doing my thing at the 3rd Annual Sheboygan Children's Book Festival in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Drawing, reading, book-talking, and book-signing! In fact, my upcoming picture book, hello! hello!, will be available for purchase at the Festival before the actual release date of October 23rd! A slew of other authors and illustrators will be there including (not limited to) my lovely wifey, Julie Halpern, Liz Garton Scanlon, Dan Yaccarino, and Edward Hemingway. If you are a Wisconsinite or even anywhere nearby, I hope you will come out and enjoy and celebrate the love of children's books. I've not been to Sheboygan yet, but from what I hear it is a very nice town to visit and the festival is incredibly well-organized and attended. I hope to see you there!

Here is the link to their website for author info, schedules, and other details:


My schedule:

Sunday, October 14

10:30 am
John Michael Kohler Arts Center
ages 5+
Matthew Cordell demonstrates his illustration techniques and children and adults will have time to make art with him in the ARTery.

11:30 am
Book sales and autographing
John Michael Kohler Arts Center
Room: JMKAC Book Signing Area | Ages: All

1:30 pm
Turn Off Your Gadgets, Turn On Your Imagination!
Bookworm Gardens
Outdoors in the Gardens
ages 3+
Every so often, in our modern non-stop lives, it is important to switch off our phones, computers, and televisions to connect with each other just as a family. Join author/illustrator, Matthew Cordell, as he reads from his newest book, hello! hello! and afterwards conducts a drawing demonstration for you and your children.

2:30 pm
Book sales and autographing
Bookworm Gardens
BWG Book Signing Area 
All ages

Friday, October 5, 2012

New stuff at matthewcordell.com!

With the Facebook, and the Twitter, and the blog, and the Instagram, and the tumblr, and the YouTube, and the... it is often easy to forget to update the tried and true website. The artist's portfolio and stationary web presence. Sometimes, with all of these other, newer, online broadcasting tools, it seems almost archaic to dust off and keep up the old website. But I think it's good–very good–to have a place where everything is not constantly scrolling down in a news feed. Where there isn't a continuous blast of news and self-promo shouting in all directions. Just a nice, quiet, clean place to put up the artwork and reviews and book covers and life story (bio) and contact information. Ahhhhh.

Ladies and gents, the updated http://www.matthewcordell.com. New art, reviews, info added for 7 of my most recent books, all from 2012. Please have a look!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Out now is my newest book, IF YOU WERE A CHOCOLATE MUSTACHE. A spectacular collection of poems by our brilliant Children's Poet Laureate, J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by yours truly.

portrait of J. Patrick Lewis from jacket back flap

self-portrait from jacket back flap

Here's what folks are saying about it...

"...poetry (and silliness) seekers will find much to feast upon. Cordell’s scribbly illustrations bring the master (Silverstein, who receives a tribute poem here) to mind and are the goofy icing on this goofy cake." -Kirkus

"Lewis is not only one of the most prolific, comic poets; he’s also one of the funniest and most inventive. The collection will serve as a strong resource for creative-writing prompts. A great big feast of poems." -School Library Journal

"In offbeat poems that include haikus, limericks, riddles, and wordplay of every kind, current children’s poet laureate Lewis offers quirky contemplations, silly vignettes, and improbable events...Cordell’s pen and ink cartoons have an improvisational energy that complements Lewis’s off-kilter verse." -Publishers Weekly

And here are some of my personal favorite spreads, poems, drawings from this weighty collection. Click images to zoom in.

IF YOU WERE A CHOCOLATE MUSTACHE  is available now wherever books are sold.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Explode v. 6

Today marks the release of book 6 of the 2012 Matthew Cordell Children's Book Explosion!!! IF YOU WERE A CHOCOLATE MUSTACHE is out October 1 from Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press. A hefty collection of wonderfully inventive poems by the one, the onely, our esteemed Children's Poet Laureate, J. Patrick Lewis! (illustrated by, um, yours truly)

There will be sample images/spreads and nice review clippings in days to come.