Artell, Mike 1948-
Artell, Mike 1948-
Born December 9, 1948, in New Orleans, LA; son of Joseph P. (a manager for the Louisiana Department of Revenue) and Anna L. (a homemaker) Artell; married Susan Pope (a teacher), June 3, 1972; children: Stephanie, Joanna. Education: Southeastern Louisiana University, B.S., 1971. Religion: Roman Catholic.
Writer, storyteller, cartoonist, and musician. Ford Motor Credit, Metairie, LA, automobile collection/repossession agent, 1971-73; salesman for various companies, 1973-76; Panatec, Orange, CA, sales and marketing manager, 1976-79; Tano, New Orleans, LA, sales and marketing manager, 1979-82; Digicourse, New Orleans, sales and marketing manager, 1983-85; Teknowledge, Dallas, TX, sales manager, 1985-87; WWL-TV, New Orleans, cartooning show host, 1989-91. School and conference speaker, beginning 1988. Member of board of directors, Panatec, 1976-79, St. Tammany Art Association, 1988-89, and Synergistic Controls, 1991. Military service: U.S. Marine Corps, 1970-76; became sergeant E-5.
Pick of the List selections, American Bookseller, 1992, for The Wackiest Nature Riddles on Earth, and 1994, for ‘Twas the Night before Christmas; Best Book designation, Working Mother, for Who Said Moo?; Top 100 Districts’ Choice Award, Curriculum Administrator, 1996, for Weather Whys; recognition for Exemplary Service in the Promotion of Literacy, International Reading Association (Northshore, LA, chapter); Best Science Book for Children designation, Science Books and Film, 1998, for Starry Skies.
The Wackiest Ecology Riddles on Earth, Sterling (New York, NY), 1992.
(With Beverly Armstrong) Fun with Expressions, Learning Works (Santa Barbara, CA), 1992.
(Self-illustrated) Big Long Animal Song, Scott, Foresman (Glenview, IL), 1992.
The Wackiest Nature Riddles on Earth, Sterling (New York, NY), 1992.
(Self-illustrated) Who Said Moo?, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1994.
How to Create Picture Books, Monday Morning Books (Palo Alto, CA), 1994.
(Illustrator) Clement Clarke Moore, 'Twas the Night before Christmas, Aladdin Books (New York, NY), 1994.
Hidden Pictures, Dover (Mineola, NY), 1994.
(With Pam Schiller) The Earth and Me: A Kid's Guide to Ecology, GoodYear Books (Glenview, IL), 1994.
Weather Whys: Questions, Facts, and Riddles about Weather, GoodYear Books (Glenview, IL), 1995, second edition, 2005.
Maze Fun, Dover (Mineola, NY), 1995.
(With Pam Schiller) Rainy Day Recess, Fearon Teacher Aids, 1996.
(With Pam Schiller) Parties Kids Love: Great New Party Ideas for Birthdays, Holidays, or Just Fun, GoodYear Books (Glenview, IL), 1996.
Legs: A Who's-under-the-Flap Book, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1996.
Classroom Cartooning for the Artistically Challenged, GoodYear Books (Glenview, IL), 1996.
Write Fast, Write Funny, Good Apple, 1996.
Writing Start-ups, Monday Morning Books (Palo Alto, CA), 1996.
Starry Skies: Questions, Facts, and Riddles about the Universe, GoodYear Books (Glenview, IL), 1997.
(With Joseph Rosenbloom; and illustrator with Dennis Kendrick) The Little Giant Book of Tongue Twisters, Sterling (New York, NY), 1999.
Awesome Alphabets, GoodYear Books (Glenview, IL), 1999.
Backyard Bloodsuckers, GoodYear Books (Glenview, IL), 2000.
Cartooning for Kids, Sterling (New York, NY), 2001.
Petite Rouge: A Cajun Red Riding Hood, illustrated by Jim Harris, Dial (New York, NY), 2001.
My Pet, Dominie Press (Carlsbad, CA), 2001.
I See Some Squares, Dominie Press (Carlsbad, CA), 2001.
Where Are the Triangles?, Dominie Press (Carlsbad, CA), 2001.
I See Circles, Dominie Press (Carlsbad, CA), 2001.
When I Say …, Dominie Press (Carlsbad, CA), 2003.
Oodles of Doodles, Sterling (New York, NY), 2003.
(With Joseph Rosenbloom) Zany Tongue Twisters, illustrated by Steve Harpster, Sterling (New York, NY), 2003.
2,001 Knock-knocks and Tongue Twisters, Main Street (New York, NY), 2004.
Reaching the Reluctant Writer: Fast, Funny, Informational Writing Ideas, Maupin House (Gainesville, FL), 2005.
Giggle Fit: Zany Tongue Twisters, Sterling (New York, NY), 2005.
Three Little Cajun Pigs, illustrated by Jim Harris, Dial (New York, NY), 2006.
Ten-second Tongue Twisters, illustrated by Buck Jones, Sterling (New York, NY), 2006.
Funny Cartooning for Kids, Sterling (New York, NY), 2006.
Laugh Your Head Off: Great Jokes and Giggles, illustrated by Rob Collinet, Sterling (New York, NY), 2006.
Big Long Animal Song has also been translated into Spanish.
Creator of videotapes, including Basic Cartooning with Mike Artell, Cartooning from A to Z, Cartooning Tips and Tricks, and Oodles of Doodles. Audiotapes include Petite Rouge Riding Hood.
A children's author and illustrator, as well as a storyteller and musician, Mike Artell has written a wide variety of books, from how-to's for young cartoonists such as Classroom Cartooning for the Artistically Challenged and Funny Cartooning for Kids to Starry Skies: Questions, Facts, and Riddles about the Universe, his informational guide to the universe. More lighthearted fare is also served up by Artell in collections such as Giggle Fit: Zany Tongue Twisters and in his Cajun-style picture-book versions of popular stories such as Little Red Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs. Describing Artell's Funny Cartooning for Kids as appealing to both young artists "and their older siblings," School Library Journal contributor Mary Elam added that the "volume is not a mere tracing book, but rather a step-by-step technique for thinking of cartooning as humor instead of mere illustration."
In Petite Rouge: A Cajun Red Riding Hood a young duck prepares to visit her ailing Grand-mere and bring a meal of gumbo and a Cajun sausage called boudin. Petite Rouge is warned to stay away from the swamp, out of the reach of the alligators; meanwhile, a gator named Claude frightens Grand-mere and forces the elderly duck to hide in a closet. When Petite Rouge arrives at her grandmother's house, the red-hooded duck and her cat, TeJean, sense that something is wrong. They devise a plan to chase away the alligator posing as Grand-mere by using spicy-hot boudin. Thinking the fiery mouthful is Petite Rouge herself, Claude decides to find tamer fare. Calling the story "a treat from start to finish," School Library Journal critic Judith Constantinides described Petite Rouge as "a wonderful, sly, and humorous story told in rhyme." In Booklist Hazel Rochman predicted that "even older children will enjoy the mayhem and the parody," while a Publishers Weekly reviewer dubbed Artell's Cajun tale "a sassy, spicy outing."
Also inspired by Artell's native Louisiana, Three Little Cajun Pigs finds Trosclair, Thibodeaux, and Ulysse forced to make it on their own after their mother sends the piggy trio out into the world to find their fortunes. Wiley old Claude the alligator is still on the prowl since his adventures with Petite Rouge, however, and he discovers the three brothers building their new houses while scouting out his next meal. As the story plays out in classic storybook form, each of the three pigs attempts to avoid Claude in his own fashion, but only Ulysse successfully chases the gator away. "A hilarious version of the familiar tale," according to School Library Journal reviewer Judith Constantinides, Three Little Cajun Pigs effectively pairs Artell's "quirky humor" with illustrator's Jim Harris's "playful and detailed watercolor and pencil" art, according to a Kirkus Reviews writer.
Artell once told SATA: "I started out as a class clown. I knew I could make people laugh and that's what got me into writing funny things. At the age of twenty-seven, I sold some jokes I had written to a magazine, and it occurred to me that I could probably get more money per joke if I could draw cartoons to go with them. So I went to the library and got a bunch of drawing books and started practicing drawing. The first drawings I did were terrible, but the jokes were pretty good, so the magazine bought nine of the ten cartoons I sent.
"Over the next few years, I did more magazine cartooning and eventually started working with greeting card companies. One of the greeting card companies that bought my cartoons had a children's book division. The art director from that division saw my cartoons and asked me if I'd like to illustrate a children's book for them. Naturally, I said, ‘yes.’ I illustrated the book, then asked them if they'd look at some book ideas I had. They liked what they saw and asked me to write and illustrate six books for them.
"I think my approach to writing and illustrating books is a little different than most authors/illustrators. First, I write for several different age groups. Some of my books are for two-year-olds, some are for eight-to ten-year-olds, and others are resource books for teachers. Second, I don't see myself primarily as a storyteller. Nor am I a serious illustrator. I am motivated by humor and fun. In that way, I am basically the same class clown I was as a child. The words and pictures I create serve as a medium for the humor and for the information I'm trying to share with my readers. I think I'm at my best when I'm making my readers laugh and when I'm helping them realize how much talent they also have.
"Too often, well-meaning adults think of story books as the only real books. They fail to realize that many children (and adults) love humor, nonfiction, and how-to books. If you don't agree, ask any librarian what kind of books kids check out most often. Many times it's how-to-draw books. If a child is interested in reading these kinds of books, please encourage him/her to do so. You never know, one day they may make their living writing and illustrating those kinds of books.
"One final note … I love visiting schools and I love getting letters from kids. I try to answer all the letters I get with a drawing and a note. If you do write me, please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope for a reply."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, July, 2001, Hazel Rochman, review of Petite Rouge: A Cajun Red Riding Hood, p. 2012.
Book Report, March, 1993, p. 34.
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2006, review of Three Little Cajun Pigs, p. 899.
Publishers Weekly, December 13, 1993, p. 71; May 27, 1996, review of Legs: A Who's-under-the-Flap Book, p. 78; May 7, 2001, review of Petite Rouge, p. 246.
School Library Journal, June, 2001, Judith Constantinides, review of Petite Rouge, p. 100; January, 2002, Cathie Reed, review of Cartooning for Kids, p. 142; December, 2006, Judith Constantinides, review of Three Little Cajun Pigs, p. 119; April, 2007, Mary Elam, review of Funny Cartooning for Kids, p. 154.
Science Books and Films, April, 1998, David P. Butts, review of Starry Skies: Questions, Facts, and Riddles about the Universe, p. 79.
Mike Artell Home Page,http://www.mikeartell.com (October 27, 2007).