I first learned of Matthew Cordell when he was hired to illustrate my picture book, MIGHTY CASEY. Despite Matt’s great artwork, the book never really found an audience, and I guess it sort of died on the vine, as they say. But there are two great things that came out of that book. First, my ongoing friendship with Matthew and his amazingly talented wife, Julie Halpern. Someday I hope we’re all in the same room! In my opinion, Matt is a hugely gifted illustrator, and a true artist, and an heir in his approach and dedication to Arnold Lobel, who is one of my all-time heroes. He’s also got a touch of William Steig.
Look, I’ll say it. A lot of children’s book illustration, while technically spectacular, isn’t very appealing to kids. Matt’s work, on the other hand, is loose and inviting and draws readers into the story. Like Lobel, and Steig, and James Marshall, and all the best. I really think Matt is that good, and he’s just scratching the surface.
Secondly, I’m gladdened by the consistent pleasure I experience when on odd times I pull out MIGHTY CASEY and read it aloud to large groups of students. I’m telling you, it works every time. We laugh, we have fun, and by the end these kids are right there, leaning in, eager for the play at the plate. Sales or not, those experiences tell me that Matt and I did good together — we made something, you know, put it out into the world. It’s all we can do.
Anyway, Matt created a homemade trailer for his new picture book, ANOTHER BROTHER. Now on sale on every street corner, car trunk, haberdashery — and independent bookstore, too!
Enjoy . . .
Another Brother looks like a fun book. I’m disappointed to hear Mighty Casey isn’t flying off every bookshelf across the nation. For years, I judged a bookshop by whether it carried Master and Margarita (Bulgakov). For fun, I added LB’s Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, then Steinbeck’s Ghost to my bookstore rounds. After Dickens, I added you and Greg Ruth to my checklist. And that’s how one day, I learned about Mighty Casey. It must have been the right story at the right time, as it quickly rose to repeat read, every night, for a long time in my house. It also became the boys’ birthday gift for a time, from Samantha. And parents always remarked at how that book was a favored present (everyone loves the image of ronald peeing in left field, kids and parents alike). What a bummer, that it’s considered dead, on the vine.