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Buddy and the Bunnies in: Don’t Play With Your Food!

Buddy is a monster! He is hungry for bunnies.

But the Bunnies have cupcakes in the oven.

The next day it is too hot to be eaten.

Then the club votes against eating Bunnies in favor of a trip to the carnival.

Before long, Buddy starts to think these Bunnies aren’t food at all. He suspects some kind of trick.

Little Bunnies wouldn’t trick Buddy!

It’s funny, you’ll see.

This is an Amazon.com best book of the month.

If you buy it here, you can get a signed one!

RJ Julia Booksellers

Here’s a nice review over at Bookpage.

Here’s some early sketches over at Seven Impossible Things before Breakfast, a must-read blog for any kids book fan.

 

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UNOCORN

Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great

Poor goat.

Just when he’s doing okay for himself (riding his bike to school, making snacks, cool magic tricks) until Unicorn moves in! How is he supposed to compete with a magical Unicorn! So of course he wants nothing to do with him, Goat is only human, right?

Well, turns out Unicorn is a pretty nice guy and thinks Goat is pretty special too.

This book turned out to be wildly popular. I think a lot of people relate to that Goat. I sure do.

It was on a ton of end-of-year best lists. Including NPR, Kirkus Reviews, Goodreads and Bookpage.

Last but not least it was Parents Magazine’s Best Fiction Children’s book for 2013.

You can order one signed IN PEN if you order from Here: RJ Julia Booksellers

If you google it, you’ll find a bunch of terrific reviews. None will compare to the puddle-wonderfulness of this review from the lovely Betsy Bird. I am going to have this burned inside the lid of my casket so I may read it for all eternity.

The “If I write a million books a year for the next million years, I will never get a review this good.” review.

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CHEETAH

Cheetah Can’t Lose

You know that friend that is brimming with confidence? The one with no problem saying, “I’m awesome at a thing.” out loud in front of people?

That’s Cheetah.

Sure, Cheetah is the fastest animal in the whole wide world, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be cool about it.

Turns out the little cats have a talent too. The little cats are very, very clever. They use performance enhancing tricks to even the odds in the most important race of all.

The big race!

Thanks to his enormous ego, Cheetah falls for the cats tricks over and over again. They put cardboard boxes on his feet, stuff him with ice cream and pie, burden him with balloons and block his vision with a crown. When the cats finally “win” the big race the victory is not so sweet. Turns out big jerky Cheetah is still a pretty good friend.

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Dinosaur vs. Bedtime

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I love this book.

Why? Because I’m so great?

No.

Because kids love it. They love to ROAR and they love the predictable pattern Dinosaur being a dinosaur is the icing on the prehistoric cake.

Dinosaur takes on different challenges during the day like a big slide, spaghetti and the dreaded talking grown-ups. He wins each with a “ROAR!” and a booming, “DINOSAUR WINS!”

Until his biggest challenge, “BEDTIME!”

Spoiler alert, no one wins against bedtime.

This is my favorite book to read to little kids.

And the loudest.

Oh, I also get the most fan art for this one. Plus lots of photos of chewed up board books and this fantastic picture of a Dinosaur cake.

Disney made a bunch of Dinosaur videos. You can find them here.

Oh, here I am reading a bit of the book on Noggin.

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Big Plans

Big Plans is my favorite of all my books. I probably shouldn’t pick a favorite, but this is it. Sorry other books and future books.

This was written right after New Socks. I sent an early version to Lane Smith and he said, “Hey, I like this, I’d love to illustrate it if you don’t mind.”

“Don’t mind” HA!

Big Plans. illustrated by Lane Smith.

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Big Plans is a lot of fun to read if you have the delivery of a 1940′s newspaper reporter. Think what’s-her-name in the Hudsucker proxy.

Jennifer Jason Leigh! I just looked it up.

I’m going to record myself so you get the idea.

Anyway, having my second-ever book illustrated by Lane Smith was pretty great.

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The editor was the powerful and influential Alessandra Balzer. Alessandra is really important. She edits books from famous people you have totally heard of and me. Big Plans would not have happened if it weren’t for her excellent sense of humor and poor decision making. Okay, only half of that is true.

GILBERT

Gilbert Goldfish Wants a Pet

This is a good one. That’s why I love being accused of writing it. “Oh, our favorite book of yours is Gilbert! What a cute story!”

“Thanks!” I say, “I was inspired by pets from my youth or some other totally believable thing since I’m the one who wrote it.”

Yeah, well I didn’t.

It was written by the super funny Kelly DiPucchio and it’s great. That Kelly DiPucchio knows her way around a picture book.

Plus she’s funny and pretty. More on that later.

So Gilbert is a goldfish, right? He wants a pet, right? Well, he can’t have one, he’s a fish. The dog belongs to some humans, the mouse runs away and the fly gets swatted. Leaving our hero alone again.

Oh, don’t worry, Kelly sorts it all out. It’s a totally cute book that is a charming, fun read aloud.

I wish I had some interiors to show you, but my drive crashed and the art is among the missing.

Also Kelly is funny and pretty. Yeah, almost forgot.

So Kelly and I became the best kind of friends in the whole wide world. Facebook friends. Kelly would post pictures of her gorgeous kids and I would show my wife, “Look at these gorgeous kids. If they were selling pasta, garden supplies or whatever, that would be the kind of pasta, garden supplies or whatever I would use. I like whatever kind the trustworthy, all-American kids are shilling.”

Colleen agreed that I am smart.

“Whose kids are these?” she asked.

“Kelly DiPucchio. I did that Gilbert book with her.” and I show her Kelly’s picture.

“Oh, she’s pretty.” Colleen says.

I smell a trap.

“Yeah? Is ‘Kelly’ even a girls name? Hmm… I didn’t notice. I don’t see gender, I see what’s in people’s hearts. Gross blood mostly. Anyway, I’m not shallow like some people, meaning you.” I say, deftly.

Got outta that one.

Fast forward a couple months when I’m cracking up at a hilarious email exchange from my facebook bff Kelly “could be a boy, could be a girl, I hadn’t noticed” DiPucchio.

“What are you laughing at?” asks Colleen.

“Oh, I sent Kelly DiPucchio a note and she sent back a funny response.”

Which was the wrong thing to say based on our last exchange.

“Oh, so she’s pretty AND funny? I see.” says Colleen.

This is problematic. The pretty/funny combination is Bob Shea Kryptonite. Are you pretty? Good for you! Enjoy it. Are you funny? Terrific, that a great life skill. Are you pretty and funny? Is that so? What time should I be over to mow your lawn? Do you have a mower or should I just rent one? I can pick up coffee too, it’s no trouble.

Fortunately for my outdoor allergies this is the rarest combination in all of nature.

What’s not-at-all rare is my wife missing an opportunity to tease me. “Oh, so now you draw books for pretty/funny people? Oh, I get it. Why don’t you marry them you love them so much?”

“Is Kelly even a girls name I hadn’t…” I started to say. Then I just sort of tapered off into a deflating patter of mumbles and sighs.

“Ha! Too easy!” she laughed.

She’s pretty funny.

How did I get onto this? Oh yeah, Gilbert Goldfish. It’s a good one.

Shark

I’m a Shark

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This is a silly book.

Shark is awesome. You know how you know? He tells you.

He’s also afraid of spiders. So as long as no spider is involved, he’ll take on anything.

“What about a big mean bear?” asks Crab.

“Is the bear holding a creepy spider?” asks Shark.

“No.”

“Is the bear near a creepy spider?”

“No”

“Is the bear thinking about a creepy spider?”

“No”

“Reading a book about a creepy spider?”

“No”

“A big mean spiderless bear? Bring him on!”

See? it’s silly.

Sometimes when you are in the middle of making a book, you forget what the book is about. One day, deep in production, I stopped to reread it. I sent a note to my editor, “You know this is absurd, right?”

She knew. That’s why she liked it. That’s why I like her.

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My son Ryan drew the shark I based the final shark on. I was at the kitchen table drawing the dullest, most banal sharks you have ever seen. I mean if these sharks attacked you would die from the rows and rows of razor sharp teeth, but from boredom.

My point is they were boring.

Ryan walks over, picks up a pen and dashes off this super cool looking shark. Slaps the pen down and goes back to watching tv.

Little jerk.

Well I stole it from him. I don’t care, I’m paying for his college.

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Race You To Bed

RYTB_Inside_MECH.indd RYTB_Inside_MECH.indd RYTB_Inside_MECH.indd RYTB_Inside_MECH.inddWhen my son was little (and now) he never wanted to go to bed. He would stall and stall refusing to leave the playroom. So I finally said, “fine, you stay here, I’ll be the first one upstairs!” Then I took off running. Not only was it fun, but he didn’t want to lose. It was the weirdest thing though. Every night I would take a nap in a chair along the way, get a leg cramp half way up the stairs or for some reason switch to slow motion in the final two steps. My giggling son would tear by me and declare himself the winner. Once upstairs he would brush his teeth and get ready for bed. Win/Win.

In Race you to Bed, you don’t race an exhausted, desperate father trying to get his toddler to bed, but a Bunny who rips though the book crossing rivers, avoiding bees, alligators and distractions while waving to weird Uncle Ted.

When the bunny loses the race to bead he doubles down. A dramatic race to sleep!

Here’s a video for the book. It appeared on Nick Jr. and was animated by my pal Chris Papa.

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Dinosaur vs. the Library

Dinosaur is on his way to the library. He shares his playful roaring with a cow, a lonesome turtle, some baby chicks and a sad owl. He’s rambunctious.

You know where you shouldn’t share rambunctious roars?

The library!

Can Dinosaur sit still through an entire storytime with out roaring or fidgeting? Okay, lets start with not roaring.

At first I was going to make this a “dinosaur gets shushed by the librarian” book. Then I visited Julie Roach at the super-cool modern Cambridge Library. Julie is not a “shusher”. Make all the noise you want in her library, books are fun. Just don’t be a creepy adult lingering without a kid in there, because they will boot you right out! Right on, Julie.

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Dinosaur vs. The Potty

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Dinosaur is back! This time he has to ignore the urge to pee to not interrupt his playing. Sound familiar? When I was writing this early one morning my son went speeding by on the way to the bathroom. You’d think he was hosing down a patio in there.

“Hey buddy, don’t hold it in so long, okay?” I said when he was done.

“Okay Daddy.” he said.

“Now go back and wash your hands.”

“But I did!” he said, aghast at the accusation.

“Really?”

He went and washed them up.

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Oh Daddy!

This is a silly book.

The original title was, “My Dad, what an idiot!” That didn’t last long, but that’s the idea.

Boy, it sure seems like Hippo Dad can’t do anything. He puts his underwear on his head, climbs through the car window and throws his lunch in the air. Good thing his little Hippo son is there to show him how to do things the right way.

A simple, silly Dad trick.

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New_Socks

New Socks

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This was my first book ever. Thanks to my pal Lane Smith.

Oh, at the end of this post is the New Socks video.

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Okay, New Socks. New Socks is about a little yellow chick who is over the moon for his new orange socks. It’s silly fun. The socks in question are ridiculously huge. No really, you couldn’t get socks like this if you tried. It’s impossible.

So the bird loves his socks right? He tries out all kinds of things wearing his great new socks. Like being brave on the big kids slide and thinking really hard. The socks perform perfectly in both cases. They even merit a call from the president. I know, they’re pretty fantastic.

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The idea for New Socks sprung from my interest in publicly embarrassing my wife. When I would try on a new sweater or whatever I would say, “Sure, it looks good now, but how is it going to look if I’m pensive?” Then I would make a great pensive face. Or “Wait a second, what if I am wearing this terrific sweater and I fly into one of my signature rages! What if I am caught mid-rampage in a rage-inappropriate sweater. Can you imagine?” Then I’d shake my fists in a menacing way and make incoherent yelling noises. Colleen’s defeated sighs told me both the sweater and my super-realistic acting were working.

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This was a great experience for a first book. My editor was Nancy Conescu who was an assistant editor at Little Brown at the time. She’s funny and smart. She made the book way better. She’s a big shot boss editor at another publisher now. I like to think her work on New Socks had a lot (everything) to do with that. I like to think a lot of not-true things.

Recently during one of our all-afternoon phone calls where we look at celebrity gossip sites together, I said, “Hey Nancy, you’re a pretty big deal over there, right?”

“Yeah, I guess.” she said.

Then she sent me a super funny youtube video she found.

Wait? Weren’t we talking about New Socks? Oh yeah, you can’t get it anymore, it’s out of print.

Lavar Burton read it for his Reading Rainbow app. He did a fantastic job. I wish I knew it was that good when I wrote it.

Oh, here’s that video I promised you earlier. It runs on Nick Jr. from time to time. It was animated by my super-funny talented friend Jared Chapman.

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Dinosaur vs. Santa

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Oh no! Dinosaur is taking on Santa! Not really, I mean they don’t fight or anything. Dinosaur is a dinosaur and Santa is an old man. Hardly seems fair.

Dinosaur is getting ready for Christmas in a variety of “tasteful” holiday sweaters. He’s decorating the tree, trying not to eat Santa’s cookies, making crafts, the whole nine. Then Christmas eve rolls around. Can Dinosaur resist the urge to sneak downstairs? If he peeks at Santa will he forfeit all his presents? Will Santa put him on the naughty list for this 11th hour indiscretion? Is Santa a Santa of vengeance or a Santa of love?

What do you think happens? Seriously.

I was on tour in St. Louis with this book when I met the for-real Santa. He came in the room and I got all excited. Sometimes, I hate to say this, they get fake “helper” Santa’s to fill in during Santa’s busy season. Not the St. Louis Public Library, they totally got for real Santa. It was great.

Hold on I have a picture. Here we are signing books. Me and Santa.

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Plus there was an adorable little boy there named Casper. Casper was smitten with me from the get go. He kept following me around and came up and hugged my leg while I was reading to everyone. Then, when I was doing Q&A with Santa (me asking him questions) Casper came over and climbed in my lap with Dinosaur vs. Bedtime. He cracked it open and waved it at me to read.

Oh, then Casper made up this really great game. There was a cooler filled with ice and juice boxes. Casper would walk over, raise the lid and stick his hands in the cold water. Then he would come over to me to dry them off. Back and forth, back and forth. He did this like a million times. It was hilarious. He knew I was an easy mark.

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Wedgieman

Charise Harper is awesome.

She wrote one of my favorite books, When Randolph Turned Rotten. It’s hilarious.

Her cupcake book? So funny.

Wedgieman is no different. Totally silly and dry. A couple people I’ve mentioned it to dismissed it as a “potty humor” book in which they had no interest.

Not true.

Wedgieman is really Veggieman. The kids in the story think he is Wedgieman. When Wedgieman, I mean Veggieman explains this the kids say, “We like Wedgieman better.” They decide to call him that instead.

That’s that.

It’s funny.

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MWP

Me Want Pet

I do a lot of pet books. Oh, unicorns too.

This story was written by the lovely and talented Tammi Sauer. I’ve never met Tammi but all I hear is nice things. Her books are adorable.

This book is about a little caveboy looking for the perfect pet.

The saber-toothed tiger, dodo bird and mammoth all get the boot from the cave for different reasons.

I get, “We love your book Me Want Pet!” all the time. I mumble, “Yeah, I didn’t write that one I just drew the pictures.”

I don’t have the pictures though. My hard drive tanked and took MWP with it. Maybe one day hard drive paleontologists will uncover this lost book. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll learn valuable lessons from my refusal to have an adequate back up system.

Also see Gilbert Goldfish Wants a Pet.