Oakland Book Festival 2017

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Don't miss the Oakland Book Festival this Sunday, May 21st, 2017, from 11am–6pm! ILLUSTORIA will be there with plenty of magazines--including the just-out issue 4: The Grow Issue -- and lotsa swag including temp tattoos, stickers, coloring pages, and pins. We'll be at booth 22 in the kids' activity area, where you and your creative little ones can color, craft, make zines and create your own custom bookmarks with us. Meet Joanne and Mark, the publisher and co-founders of Illustoria and craft and chat kids' lit with our team. We would love to meet you!

Check out the impressive list of authors at this not-to-be-missed annual event for literary lovers in the heart of downtown Oakland:

There are events and talks galore so check out all the happenings here. 

What: Oakland Book Festival

When: Sunday, May 21st, 2017

Time: 11am–6pm

Where: Oakland City Hall, Downtown Oakland

See you there!  

Join us at Children's Fairyland: Turn the Page! Festival

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Come join us at our absolute fave storybook theme park for Children's Fairyland's Turn the Page! festival on Saturday, May 6th. Meet over 25 local authors and illustrators and come say hello to Illustoria's publisher Joanne Chan from 12:20–1:30 pm as she shares a behind-the-scenes look at the making of an arts & literary magazine for kids.

WHAT: Turn the Page! Children's Book Festival

WHEN: Saturday, May 6, 2017
             10am–4pm / ILLUSTORIA meet-and-greet @ 12:20–1:30pm

WHERE: Children's Fairyland
               699 Bellevue Avenue
               Oakland, CA 94610

Here's the full list of Turn the Page! authors and artists:

Who doesn't love a trip down nostalgia lane with their kiddos? Magic Keys, Happy Dragon, Willie the Whale, Alice in Wonderland, The Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe, Anansi rides, puppet shows, plays, farm animals, and more...all in lovely downtown Oakland by the lake.

Photos: Fairyland & the Fairyland Archives 

Photos: Fairyland & the Fairyland Archives 

Children's Fairyland is among the top Oakland spots for families with kids--right alongside the Oakland Museum, the Oakland Public Library, the Oakland Zoo, and Lake Merritt. So come by with your creative kids and join us for a lovely Saturday on May 6th. Hope to see you and your family there! 

Creator Crush: Cece Bell!


When the book EL DEAFO begins, Cece is 4. When it ends, she is about 10 or 11. Cece used these photos to help "age" the bunny version of herself as the book progresses. Photos and art © Cece Bell. 


I first heard the adorable name "Cece Bell" spoken of while working as an editor at Lucasfilm. At the time, I was co-editing Tom Angleberger’s Origami Yoda series. I’ll never forget Tom visiting our offices and gifting me an origami R2-D2 that he folded himself. There were many perks of working at Lucasfilm, and receiving an origami Star Wars character by Tom in all his stookiness was most definitely, geekishly one of them. But I had no idea that I would soon meet Tom’s wife, Cece Bell, and be blown away by her own amazing work as a children’s book author and illustrator. I met Cece only briefly at a BEA in New York a couple years ago, where she was signing galleys of her book El Deafo. The booth was crowded with Cece fans and the galleys were quickly disappearing, but I was fortunate to snatch one up.


Illustration © 2014 by Cece Bell; Design by Caitlin Keegan and Chad W. Beckerman. Published by Amulet Books, an imprint of Abrams.


When I returned home to California, I couldn't wait to get El Deafo into the hands of my eight-year-old daughter. As I predicted, she gulped down the book in one sitting—meaning she did come up for air several times to point out some particularly hilarious excerpt from the book. (“Mom—look down your shirt and spell ‘attic’!”) The rest of the time she stayed quietly and contemplatively behind closed doors, unwilling to pull her eyes from the page—just as her mom did (sometimes teary-eyed with sadness sometimes teary-eyed with laughter) on that plane ride back to Oakland. When months later she and I discovered El Deafo in all its full-color, award-winning glory at the bookstore, we were overjoyed by its brilliance. It didn't occur to us that we had been missing anything at all in the uncolored proof.

When Cece's character can't hear anything, the speech balloons are empty. Art  ©   Cece Bell.

When Cece's character can't hear anything, the speech balloons are empty. Art © Cece Bell.

El Deafo is a phenomenal graphic novel memoir based on Cece’s childhood experiences with hearing loss and hearing aids. It also chronicles her quest to find true friendship. The graphic novel format is a perfect medium for Cece's story, where pictures and words (in some cases, the lack of words) powerfully demonstrate what her character is experiencing. 

The elaborate Phonic Ear hearing aid and microphone set-up had Cece feeling like a superhero with superpowers! But most of the time she just felt like a confused kid. Was she deaf? And what did that mean? Art  ©   Cece Bell.

The elaborate Phonic Ear hearing aid and microphone set-up had Cece feeling like a superhero with superpowers! But most of the time she just felt like a confused kid. Was she deaf? And what did that mean? Art © Cece Bell.

Read Cece’s firsthand account on the making of El Deafo in our premiere issue and learn about her creative process as an artist and writer.  In the meantime, here's an extended version of our Q&A with Cece.

Where did you grow up? Where do you live now?

I grew up in a little city called Salem, in the southwestern part of Virginia. Now I live in an old church just a half-an-hour away, but more in the mountains (and therefore, in the boonies!).

What were you like as a kid?

I was driven to do well and pushed myself hard. I wanted people to think of me as “that smart girl in our class” instead of as “that deaf girl in our class.” I loved making people laugh, especially my older siblings. My sense of humor veered toward the absurdist...and the naughty!

 What were some of your favorite childhood books?

Our Animal Friends of Maple Hill Farm by the Provensens

The Meanest Squirrel I Ever Met by Gene Zion and Margaret Bloy Graham

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

Ed Emberley’s drawing books

Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad series

Judy Blume's books

Beverly Cleary's books

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink

When did you know you wanted to be an artist and writer?

 I started to figure the art stuff out in college. I had always loved drawing, but never really saw a career in it until I saw other kids making a go of it. As to the writing, no one would hire me to illustrate their children’s books, so I realized I had to write my own books and make my own path.

Who or what inspires you? 

My husband, author/illustrator Tom Angleberger, is a huge source of inspiration. He's so encouraging...and he's so good, which triggers my competitive reflexes to be better and to make more stuff.

When do you feel your most creative?

In the morning, when the house is quiet and nothing has happened yet.

Do you have a favorite type of pen, or brush, or paper for drawing with?

I like lots of media and have to admit that I love drawing on my Wacom Cintiq. I love to draw LINES so simple pen-and-ink is a favorite. Gouache! Watercolors! But no oil paints, ick. If I could make a book with illustrations made of felt and colored thread, I'd do it. Love that stuff.

What advice would you share with young aspiring artists?

 If you aren't enjoying it, don't do it!

Thank you, Cece, for your words of wisdom and for sharing El Deafo with us!