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Meanwhile...
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About the Author

Jules Feiffer has won a number of prizes for his cartoons, plays, and screenplays, including the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning. His books for children include The Man in the Ceiling, A Barrel of Laughs, A Vale of Tears, I Lost My Bear, Bark, George, and Meanwhile... He lives in New York City. In His Own Words..."I have been writing and drawing comic strips all illy life, first as a six-year-old, when I'd try to draw like my heroes: Alex Raymond, who did Flash Gordon, E. C. Segar, who did Popeye, Milton Caniff, who did Terry and the Pirates. The newspaper strip back in the I 1940s was a glorious thing to behold. Sunday pages were full-sized and Colored broadsheets that created a universe that could swallow a boy whole. "I was desperate to be a cartoonist. One of my heroes was Will Eisner, who did a weekly comic book supplement to the Sunday comics. One day I walked into his office and showed him my samples. He said they were lousy, but lie hired me anyway. And I began my apprenticeship. "Later I was drafted Out of Eisner's office into tile Korean War. Militarism, regimentation, and mindless authority combined to squeeze the boy cartoonist Out Of me and bring out the rebel. There was no format at the time to fit [he work I raged and screamed to do, so I had to invent one. Cartoon satire that commented on the Lin military the Bomb, the Cold War, the hypocrisy of grownLIPS, the mating habits of urban Young men and women, these were my subjects. After four years of trying to break into print and getting nowhere, the Village Voice, the first alternative newspaper, offered to publish me. Only one catch: They couldn't Pay me. What (lid I care "My weekly satirical strip, Sick Sick Sick, later renamed Feiffer started appearing in late 1956. Two years later, Sick Sick Sick came out in book form and became a bestseller. The following years saw a string of cartoon collections, syndication, stage and screen adaptations of the cartoon. One, Munro, won an Academy Award. "This was heady stuff, taking me miles beyond my boyhood dreams. The only thing that got in the way of my enjoying it was the real world. The Cuban missile crisis, the assassination of President Kennedy, the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights revolution. The country was coining unglued and my weekly cartoons didn't seem to be an adequate way of handling it. So I started writing plays: Little Murders, The White House Murder Case, Carnal Knowledge, Grownups. All the themes of my comic strips expanded theatrically and later, cinematically to give me the time and space I needed to explain the times to myself and to my audience. "I grew older. I had a family, and late in life, a very young family. I started thinking, as old guys will, about what I wanted these children to read, to learn. I read them E.B. White and Beverly Cleary and Roald Dahl, and, one day, I thought, I ley, I can do this." "Writing for young readers connects me profess sionally to) a part of myself that I didn't know how to let out until I was sixty: that kid who lived a life of innocence, mixed with confusion and consternation, disappointment and dopey humor. And who drew comic strips and needed friends--and found them--in cartoons and children's books that told him what the grown-ups in his life had left out. That's what reading (lid for me when I was a kid. Now, I try to return the favor."

Reviews

K-Gr 3‘This nonsensical story gives new meaning to the phrase "absorbed in a book." When Raymond's mom calls him, he ignores her, engrossed in his comic book. As she becomes more insistent, the boy notices a boxed word in the middle of the page: MEANWHILE.... If comic books can use a word to change scenes, why can't he? Raymond writes the word on the wall and is instantly transported to a pirate ship where he is forced to walk the plank. Escaping by writing the magic word with a quill provided by the maiden he rescues, he appears in the old West, where he escapes from a posse and a ferocious mountain lion; and outer space, where he survives an attack by an evil, two-headed Martian. He begins switching back and forth among the three desperate situations, always finding it more difficult to escape. Finally, he is hurtling through space straight into his own roof. Readers will laugh at his inventive solution, not to mention his change of heart toward his still-irate mother. Repeated phrases add humor to the story and invite participation. The revolving plots lend energy and a kid-appealing pace and keep the art exciting. Each scene takes on a completely new palette, giving children the sense of being immersed in new environments along with Raymond. Bold boxes and dialogue balloons give the story the look of a comic book. Frantic action and the clever theme make this a great read-aloud.‘Lisa S. Murphy, formerly at Dauphin County Library System, Harrisburg, PA

The hero of this brisk adventure takes his cue from a cartoonist who signals a scene change by using the word "Meanwhile..." and decides to use it himself to escape to alternate realities. At first, Raymond writes "Meanwhile..." on his bedroom wall to escape his yelling mother. Instantly, "Raymond was on a pirate ship on the high seas. Unbelievable! He had Meanwhiled...!" When the pirates capture him, Raymond scrawls the magic word on the gangplank and transfers to the Wild West. Pursued by a posse and cornered by a cougar ("Hey! I'm a good guy! This isn't even my mask!"), he makes a third leap, this time to a spacecraft under Martian attack. Like any comic-book character, he eventually must return to and resolve each crisis. Cartoonist Feiffer (The Man in the Ceiling) handles the tale with dexterity, heightening the pace until Raymond desperately shouts, "The End!" Anxiety builds and humor abounds in rectangular comic panels, with horizontal pictures shifting to vertical as Raymond reaches the end of the pirate ship's plank or rides deep in a canyon, mountain lion poised above him. Young fans will hope the closing picture of Raymond (disposing of his once-prized comic books) doesn't signal the end to his adrenaline-packed foray into fiction. All ages. (Sept.)

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