I was scanning these images this morning. I’m presenting a program at the Talbot County Free Library this afternoon based on my book More Creatures And Characters: Drawing Awesomely Wild, Wacky and Funny Animals so I’m adding The Ice-Cream Cone Coot to my Keynote slideshow. This was one of my favorite books as a kid. That alone shows what a weird kid I was. If you are not familiar with this book I’m not surprised. While other books by Arnold Lobel have become evergreens, such as Frog and Toad are Friends, this one is, sadly, long out of print.
It was published by Parents Magazine Press and many of the strange birds and their poems were originally printed in Humpty Dumpty Magazine. I remember checking this book out of the Keyport Public Library many times. Now, when I do school author visits kids sometimes ask what was my favorite book when I was young. I would tell them about this book but I didn’t have a copy. I found a fairly decent one on eBay a number of years back and I bring it along to show them. I sometimes read a few of the poems but I make sure to at least read my favorite:
“I do not trust the Jackknife Niffy.
He could swoop down and cut off your nose in a jiffy.”
I don’t know whether this book inspired me to draw strange creatures or if I was drawn to it because I already liked coming up with strange and unusual creatures and characters but I remembered it all my life. Now that I have written and illustrated books with funny animals like The Angry Little Puffin, If You Give the Puffin a Muffin and my forthcoming Untitled (yes, that’s the title of my next book, more on that in later blog posts.) I wanted to say thank you to Arnold Lobel and the strange birds that flew out of his head.