The Third Man behind the Terrible Two


The Terrible Two was a 2015 NY Times bestseller. The Terrible Two Get Worse, just released this month, has already gained that honor. The series is a runaway hit with middle grade readers.  According to Variety, the Terrible Two have a movie deal!  Boffo!  I met co-authors Mac Barnett and Jory John at the ALA librarians convention in San Francisco. They are very funny guys both in print and in person.


Jory John worked at 826 Valencia, San Francisco’s legendary street-front writing project. Mac Barnett is the author of a string of hit kid’s books including Sam and Dave Dig a Hole.

Original Terrible Two Cover Sketches © by Kevin Cornell

I told Jory and Mac that their Terrible Two illustrator, Kevin Cornell, was once my student at Kutztown University. Mac whipped out his phone and shot a selfie to send to Kevin. Kevin and Mac collaborated together on the children’s picture book, Moustache!mustache_book_image.jpg

I asked why Kevin wasn’t with them. “Good Question!” said one of them. (I’m sorry, I get Jory and Mac mixed up.) Jory, I think it was, said Kevin’s illustrations were one of the biggest reasons for the book’s blockbuster success.

Terrible Two concept sketches © Kevin Cornell

Above are a few of the many sketches Kevin drew of the two merry pranksters, Miles and Niles, and their nemesis Principal Barkin. Kevin’s sketches have a Ralph Steadman feel and great verve. Booklist, like other reviewers, noted the role of the illustrations in the Terrible Two series: “fast-paced reading that highlights the meaning of friendship, and animated, amusing cartoon illustrations enhance and extend the story.”


I’ve got good news for fans of Miles and Niles. There are 2 more Terrible Two books in the works. Kevin Cornell also finds time for his own projects. In fact, he told me he prefers to be at his drawing board rather than on a book tour. Go To Sleep Monster, written and illustrated by Kevin Cornell, will be published by Harper Collins in April.

illustration for Go to Sleep Monster! © Kevin Cornell

To see more of Kevin Cornell’s inventive artwork visit his website:  To see, or buy,  all of his books visit his Amazon page. I will leave you with a photo grab from his Facebook page, a lesson in consistency to all illustrators, myself included, a snapshot of his sketchbooks. 12376183_10155760182498647_4139928117513362644_n.jpg “My 14 year collection of immature humor and drawings of inanimate monkeys.” -Kevin Cornell.


3 thoughts on “The Third Man behind the Terrible Two

  1. So flattered by this! Thanks! Though I have to point out that I don’t think book tours are silly – just really tough with all the travel and public speaking, so it’s not for me. Wouldn’t want to insult folks who do book tours – especially you, Professor McCloskey 😉

  2. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Kevin’s work for many years! I can’t even remember how I discovered his work, maybe from A List Apart? But wasn’t surprised to find out that he too, went to KU. Glad to see you’ve put the spotlight on him, well deserved!

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