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Cecil, Randy 1968–

Cecil, Randy 1968–

Personal

Born 1968. Education: Rhode Island School of Design, degree.

Addresses

Home and office—Houston, TX. E-mail—[email protected]

Career

Children's author and illustrator.

Awards, Honors

Christopher Award, 2003, for The Ugly Princess and the Wise Fool by Margaret Gray; Wanda Gag Book Award, for My Father the Dog by Elizabeth Bluemle; American Library Association Notable Book designation, for One Is a Snail, Ten Is a Crab by April Pulley Sayre.

Writings

SELF-ILLUSTRATED

One Dark and Dreadful Night, Holt (New York, NY), 2004.

Gator, Candlewick (Cambridge, MA), 2007.

Duck, Candlewick (Cambridge, MA), 2008.

ILLUSTRATOR

Emilie Poulsson, Baby's Breakfast, Holt (New York, NY), 1996.

Dian Curtis Regan, Dear Dr. Sillybear, Holt (New York, NY), 1997.

Susan Lowell, Little Red Cowboy Hat, Holt (New York, NY), 1997.

Victoria Stenmark, The Singing Chick, Holt (New York, NY), 1999.

Eric A. Kimmel, The Runaway Tortilla, Winslow Press (Delray Beach, FL), 2000.

Larry Weinberg, The Forgetful Bears, Golden Books (New York, NY), 2000.

Susan Lowell, Dusty Locks and the Three Bears, Holt (New York, NY), 2001.

Margaret Gray, The Ugly Princess and the Wise Fool, Holt (New York, NY), 2002.

Sarah Wilson, Big Day on the River, Holt (New York, NY), 2003.

April Pulley Sayre, One Is a Snail, Ten Is a Crab: A Counting by Feet Book, Candlewick (Cambridge, MA), 2003.

David Elliott, And Here's to You!, Candlewick (Cambridge, MA), 2004.

Margaret Gray, The Lovesick Salesman, Holt (New York, NY), 2004.

David Martin, We've All Got Bellybuttons!, Candlewick (Cambridge, MA), 2005.

Elizabeth Bluemle, My Father the Dog, Candlewick (Cambridge, MA), 2006.

Phyllis Root, Looking for a Moose, Candlewick (Cambridge, MA), 2006.

Sidelights

Author and illustrator Randy Cecil has always been fascinated by picture books. In fact, he submitted his first work for publication when he was seven or eight years old: a book of mazes he had created with his brother. Although his first submission generated his first rejection letter, Cecil continued to pursue his interest, with the goal of becoming a picture-book artist. In 1996 his efforts were rewarded when his illustrations appeared alongside Emilie Poulsson's text in Baby's Breakfast. Since then, Cecil has not only provided illustrations for a number of authors, but has written and illustrated two books of his own.

Many books featuring Cecil's art treat readers to modern twists on traditional fairy tales. Susan Lowell's Little Red Cowboy Hat retells the story of Little Red Riding Hood in an Old West setting, and Cecil "contributes flat, angular gouache illustrations of desert scenes," according to a contributor to Publishers Weekly. Ilene Cooper, reviewing the same title for Booklist, wrote that the illustrations "have a cartoon edge that is full of humor." Of Dusty Locks and the Three Bears, another fairy tale by Lowell that is reset in the Old West, Booklist critic Hazel Rochman wrote that "Cecil's bright acrylic gouache pictures extend the rhythm of the words with a rugged western landscape."

The misadventures of a curious chick are brought to life by Cecil in The Singing Chick, a story by Victoria Stenmark in which "colorful, comical, and carefree illustrations" "suit the story and have solid child appeal," according to Booklist reviewer Shelley Townsend-Hudson. In Margaret Gray's Christopher Award-winning The Ugly Princess and the Wise Fool, "Cecil's illustrations convey the ridiculous state of affairs" in a land far, far away, according to Sharon Grover in School Library Journal. Diane Foote, writing for Booklist, said of the same title that "Cecil's cartoony artwork fits the fun to a T."

[Image not available for copyright reasons]

Cecil has also illustrated counting books, concept books, and other original tales. For April Pulley Sayre's One Is a Snail, Ten Is a Crab: A Counting by Feet Book the illustrator "covers every inch of the spreads with scratchy-textured, tropically-hued oils," according to a Publishers Weekly contributor. Louise L. Sherman noted in School Library Journal that "Cecil's googly-eyed snails, sports-minded crabs, and other animals add a touch of humor." In David Martin's concept book We've All Got Bellybuttons! Cecil provides "happily goofy oil illustrations [that] are perfectly matched" by Martin's text, according to School Library Journal reviewer Marge Loch-Wouters.

And Here's to You! was marketed to young children as well as to teens due to author David Elliott's optimistic message. "Cecil's full-bleed illustrations reflect all [the author's] … unfettered exuberance," wrote a Kirkus Reviews writer, and Andrea Tarr noted in School Library Journal that his "effervescent, entertaining cartoons, done in oils, perfectly complement the narrative." Cecil also illustrated Elizabeth Bluemle's original tales My Father the Dog, about which a Publishers Weekly critic wrote, "the art comically captures the similarities between man and pet." Observant readers of Looking for a Moose, a collaboration between Cecil and well-known writer Phyllis Root, "will notice the stray antler and muzzle that appear throughout the illustrations," noted a Kirkus Reviews contributor.

The first book Cecil wrote and illustrated independently, One Dark and Dreadful Night, borrows from fairy tales and melodrama to poke fun at gothic tales featuring "unfortunate events," according to a Kirkus Reviews contributor. In the story, Maestro Von Haughty, director of the Wayward Orphans Theatre, plans to stage three short plays full of terror and misfortune. Featuring questionable casting choices that find Lilly Riley-Hood playing a fairy princess and Jack's giant cast as a huge bunny who rescues Hansel and Gretel, the show does not come off with the fear factor Von Haughty had hoped for. Cecil "signals the ensuing mayhem with his lively, joke-packed illustrations," observed a Publishers Weekly contributor. The Kirkus Reviews critic dubbed One Dark and Dreadful Night "a hysterical addition to any fractured-fairytale collection."

A carved wooden alligator goes exploring and strays away from his home on an amusement park carousel in Cecil's self-illustrated Gator. When Gator arrives at a nearby zoo, children begin to follow him home, and the carousel miraculously begins to work again once he returns. "Cecil creates a fine sense of place in a series of well-composed oil paintings featuring stylized characters," wrote Carolyn Phelan in Booklist, and a Kirkus Reviews contributor predicted that the author/illustrator's "mini-adventure will leave readers warmed." A companion volume, Duck, focuses on a painted wooden duck living on the same amusement park carousel, as it dreams of the promise life as a live duck could bring.

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, April 15, 1997, Ilene Cooper, review of Little Red Cowboy Hat, p. 1436; March 15, 1999, Shelley

[Image not available for copyright reasons]

Townsend-Hudson, review of The Singing Chick, p. 1336; July, 2001, Hazel Rochman, review of Dusty Locks and the Three Bears, p. 2014; November 15, 2002, Diane Foote, review of The Ugly Princess and the Wise Fool, p. 597; June 1, 2003, Gillian Engberg, review of Big Day on the River, p. 1788; January 1, 2005, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Lovesick Salesman, p. 858; May 15, 2006, Randall Enos, review of My Father the Dog, p. 48; October 1, 2006, Connie Fletcher, review of Looking for a Moose, p. 60.

Horn Book, May, 1999, review of The Singing Chick, p. 323.

Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2003, review of One Is a Snail, Ten Is a Crab: A Counting by Feet Book, p. 683; March 15, 2004, review of And Here's to You!, p. 268; July 15, 2004, review of One Dark and Dreadful Night, p. 682; October 15, 2004, review of The Lovesick Salesman, p. 1006; January 1, 2005, review of We've All Got Bellybuttons!, p. 54; April 1, 2006, review of My Father the Dog, p. 342; July 15, 2006, review of Looking for a Moose, p. 729; January 15, 2007, review of Gator, p. 71.

Publishers Weekly, March 3, 1997, review of Little Red Cowboy Hat, p. 75; May 21, 2001, review of Dusty Locks and the Three Bears, p. 107; October 28, 2002, review of The Ugly Princess and the Wise Fool, p. 71; April 28, 2003, review of One Is a Snail, Ten Is a Crab, p. 69; August 9, 2004, review of One Dark and Dreadful Night, p. 250; May 8, 2006, review of My Father the Dog, p. 64; September 18, 2006, review of Looking for a Moose, p. 53; March 5, 2007, review of Gator, p. 60.

School Library Journal, October, 2000, Ruth Semrau, review of The Runaway Tortilla, p. 148; July, 2001, Adele Greenlee, review of Dusty Locks and the Three Bears, p. 96; October, 2002, Sharon Grover, review of The Ugly Princess and the Wise Fool, p. 111; April, 2003, Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, review of Big Day on the River, p. 144; July, 2003, Louise L. Sherman, review of One Is a Snail, Ten Is a Crab, p. 117; May, 2004, Andrea Tarr, review of And Here's to You!, p. 109; December, 2004, Teri Markson, review of The Lovesick Salesman, p. 146; February, 2005, Marge Loch-Wouters, review of We've All Got Bellybuttons!, p. 107; July, 2006, Piper L. Nyman, review of My Father the Dog, p. 68; October, 2006, Kara Schaff Dean, review of Looking for a Moose, p. 124; March, 2007, Catherine Callegari, review of Gator, p. 156.

ONLINE

Randy Cecil Home Page,http://www.randycecil.com (December 12, 2007).

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