Wednesday, June 22, 2016

15 Years!

My first book was published fifteen years ago. Something that has been happening to me now on the road—I meet high school graduates who tell me they read my book when they were kids. Trippy. 
On the day of publication, back in 2001, I walked into a bookstore to find my book in the wild. I walked up to a bookseller and said, "I'm looking for a book that was just published. I don't know the author's name, but the book is called Good Night, Monkey Boy." The bookstore employee typed the title into the computer and then grimaced. "What's the matter?" I asked worriedly. The clerk responded, "The author has a really weird last name." I smiled as they butchered my last name and then followed them to the bookshelf where my book was. My friend Erich Birkby was with me, we had the day off from working at the The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. We were both astonished—there was my book! On the shelf! In a bookstore. 
I paid for the book with a credit card and walked away undetected. It's a tradition that I had with every on-sale date...until Punk Farm was published. Once they started saying, "Hey, Jarrett!" my jig was up...


Summer Reading Prompts

All summer long on The Book Report with JJK on SiriusXM Kids Place Live, Absolutely Mindy and I are throwing out summer reading prompts for the young listeners. When your kiddo has completed each mission, they can color in and decorate a badge. Hopefully, they will be well-decorated by the end of the summer!



Here are the archives for the first two challenges:
...See More

Weekly Sketch Roundup

Every day I post a sketch to social media, this is my favorite this week!




Summer reading (and sketching) on a Saturday morning.

To see more visit http://www.studiojjk.com/dailysketch.html

Drawings for my Daughters

Another school year is coming to a close, another year of drawing on my daughters' lunch napkins. I archive the doodles on a Tumblr so the girls can look back at them some day. 


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp

Twenty years ago I started a summer job that left an indelible mark on my life. In the summer of 1996, I traveled to Ashford, CT, to work as a cabin counselor at The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. I have no doubt that I wouldn't be the person I am today or be doing what I'm doing today without my experience at this magical place.
It's difficult to put into words just what this camp is and does. Yes, it's that camp that Paul Newman founded. Yes, it is for children with critical illnesses, but no, it's not a sad place. It's the most joyous, life-affirming piece of land on this Earth. I'm lucky to have spent several summers there.
I cannot even begin to wrap my head around the fact that it's been two decades since I was introduced to this place. I'm lucky to still be in touch with several of the friends I made that summer. I'm luckier still to have created memories with some friends who are no longer with us. 
I kept copious photojournals during my time at Hole in the Wall. I wrote down stories about every camper I had the honor of taking care of. I'll be pouring over these recorded memories in the coming days. In this photo, I'm pictured with my co-counselor Joe. We were a solid team that summer in cabin Purple 10. Three months of ushering new sets of campers to P10. 
I've put nods to The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in several of my books. In Good Night, Monkey Boy—look for the cowboy hat on the floor. In Baghead and My Buddy, Slug—look for the sports jerseys that call out cabins like Yellow 5 and Red 8. And this summer in Star Wars: Jedi Academy: A New Class—look for the droid named P-10.


Congratulations David Levithan!

Lucky to call this man a dear friend, lucky to have this author's books in this world. 
Congratulations to David Levithan on a citation that marks a lifetime achievement in YA literature. 
Read about the cover boy here: 

Weekly Sketch Roundup

Every day I post a sketch to social media, this is my favorite this week!



pug sketch

To see more visit http://www.studiojjk.com/dailysketch.html

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Storyfest

What a wonderful day in Columbia, SC with Lauren Castillo and hundreds upon hundreds of readers! We were in town for South Carolina State Library's Storyfest, their big summer reading kick-off. Every single kid received a free copy of one of Lauren's books and one of my books. How amazing is that?!


Sarah's Pet Services



Know what I love most about Sarah's Pet Services, LLC? When they take your dogs on hikes, they email you photos. Love getting to see my pugs when I'm away. 
If you live in the Pioneer Valley and you have dog, you should totally hire them. Tell them Frank sent you...

Book Etiquette

When you know the values you instill in your child are setting in...

Weekly Sketch Roundup

Every day I post a sketch to social media, this is my favorite this week!


The Greatest.

To see more visit http://www.studiojjk.com/dailysketch.html

Librarians


Susan Polos is an incredibly passionate and gifted school librarian. I visited her school last week, and the electricity in the air was palpable. The students' enthusiasm for books had been imparted by Ms. Polos—that's pretty much her job description. She told me that she had always wanted to host me, which humbled me. She told me this could also be her last school visit because of budget cuts, which infuriated me. 
The evening after I visited, librarian positions were eliminated in her district. Ms. Polos will retain a job, but it will be unrecognizable—one librarian for five elementary schools. Sure, it's better than no librarian—but these kids deserve better. They deserve a librarian at their school, for their school. The entire community deserves that too. 
Librarians shouldn't have to live their lives in fear of their positions getting cut every year. Nobody wins in that atmosphere. 
In this instance, there weren't enough votes to get the school budget approved—it lost by a slim margin. We all need to make our voices louder and get them heard. 
If your kid goes to a school with a dedicated librarian, maybe write a letter now to let your school's administration know how integral they are. Maybe CC the superintendent while you're at it...and the school committee...and city officials.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Toast

I used soft bread in my new toaster and LOOK—Star Wars toast! 
Beware of toast on the dark side...


Ice Cream

My kids had a great holiday weekend, hope you did too!


An Open Letter

The librarian positions at the Bedford Central School District may get cut due to budget cuts. I wrote an open letter to the superintendent.


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Building Relationships and Readers

Every Friday for the last several months, members of the Los Angeles Police Department have been visiting library branches for a special program called Read Along. It was an honor and a privilege to join them this past Friday.
Officer Oseguera addressed the crowd before we got rolling. He gave an impassioned speech about his childhood and how police officers helped him in a time of need. He also spoke about the important role that the public library played in his upbringing. Through Read Along, officers are working on developing positive relationships with the youngest citizens in their neighborhoods while instilling a love of reading and literacy. It's awe-inspiring. They worked closely with the librarians to craft this endeavor, even putting themselves through the read-aloud training the library offers volunteers. (They knew a lame reading would tank the program.)
When I learned about the statistics of the area surrounding the library we were in, I was flabbergasted. About a 50% high school dropout rate and roughly 150 homicides per year. Makes you realize that public libraries aren't just a resource but a REFUGE for these kids. 
I traveled to LA just for the day because I wanted to see what they were doing first hand, and it left an indelible mark on me. Walden Pond Press brought two-hundred copies of Platypus Police Squad: Never Say Narwhal to gift to the young readers in attendance. The smiles on their faces as they were handed books will carry me for years to come.
Along with my publisher, Walden Pond Press, I've been encouraging libraries and police departments to work together though reading-aloud initiatives. The LAPD created their program contingently to our efforts, but I am so glad that we were able to link up. I've seen officers and librarians working together in various towns across the country, and I hope that you would consider building a similar setup in your public or school library. But where to start? Look for the link that I'll post in the comments section to help get you started. We created a brochure that offers tips and a reader's theater from Platypus Police Squad: The Frog Who Croaked.



School Visits



Ever consider hosting an author visit with a thousand kids in the audience? It's a ton of fun and a little easier than you might think.
A few weeks back, I visited with the students of New Richmond, VA. Laura Ulrich and her diligent colleagues brought in every student from every district school to the high school auditorium throughout the day. I saw three groups of one-thousand students in grades K-5! So one day, three-thousand students! I gave everyone a high five or a handshake as they walked out. Some kids even demanded a hug.
I absolutely LOVE these opportunities. There is so much energy in a room like that. And give me a microphone and a screen to project sketches on, and you'll hear a pin drop.
Check out this great article about how it all went down:

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Book Con

Dav Pilkey has started up a side business, and you'll be glad to know that he only shines shoes with clean underpants. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Free Webcasts

I will be live in my studio on Tuesday, May 17th, to celebrate the publication of the final Platypus Police Squad book! These webcasts are a ton of fun and they are completely FREE!
I'll read from NEVER SAY NARWHAL, give a tour of my art studio and draw live! I'll also take questions from classrooms across the country.
Hope to see you there!


Modern Myths

You never know who you'll run into at ‪#‎FreeComicBookDay‬....if you Mo what I mean...
Thank you for the loot, Modern Myths, Inc. Love stopping by your shop!


BookCon

BookCon is NEXT Saturday in Chicago! I'm ecstatic to take the Downtown Stage with Dav PilkeyLucy Knisley and Gene Luen Yang! It'll be a lively time, and The A.V. Club's Oliver Sava will moderate.
And get there early to see Ann M. Martin and Raina Telgemeier's Comicstalk up The Babysitters Club with David Levithan!
I cannot wait. See you there?


School Lunch Hero Day

Thank you for celebrating School Lunch Hero Day 2016! 
Here is just a sampling of the awesomeness that I saw being shared over social media. Kids decorated aprons and showered their lunch heroes with gifts and flowers, and I love that many meals were served TO the lunch staff. Look for the massage chairs...one school brought in a masseuse! 
We'll do it again on May 5, 2017! (School Lunch Hero Day is always the first Friday in May.)
Never underestimate the power of sharing an idea. Some years ago, I mentioned the concept for School Lunch Hero Day in passing to Rachael Walker while on a trip to DC. She connected me to the School Nutrition Association, and now this joy, gratitude and love that is being spread in school cafeterias is beyond my wildest dreams.
I hope that your heart is as full as mine.
Thank you to Mista Cookie Jar & The Chocolate Chips for the use of his song "Gratitude" in this video.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Childhood Favorites

I gave a presentation to the New Richmond, WI community last night. I love that they had my childhood favorites on sale! Thank you, Valley Bookseller!



Famous Women that I Like!

Homework was to write about a famous woman. My kid brainstormed this list. She couldn't choose one, so she's writing a book called Famous Women that I Like! ‪#‎prouddad‬


Scholastic RV

Look for the Scholastic RV this summer! Honored to have my art on this massive bookmobile. Find it on the ‪#‎SummerReading‬ road trip!


School Lunch Hero Day


Friday is School Lunch Hero Day! You don't need elaborate plans, just a simple thank-you card to spread some joy & gratitude. 
Get some inspiration and find downloads at: http://www.schoollunchheroday.com


Children's Book Week

Happy Children's Book Week! Grace Lin, Lisa Yee, "Dan Santat" and I kicked it off with lunch.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Texas Library Association

I had such an amazing time at the Texas Library Association! Here is a collection of posts from social media recapping the festivities!



A note to everyone we saw down in Houston for the Texas Library Association
Our thoughts are also with those affected by the flood zones. Wishing everyone a speedy recovery to normalcy.



had a blast at the #AlwaysOpen panel on connecting with readers via digital tools! Here I am with Ame Dyckman, Don Tate, Tom Angleberger and librarian superstar Heather Jankowski!



One of the best times at #txla16 actually happened at the airport. Zoe and I walked up to a stranger and said, "Hey LeUyen Pham!" And she said, "Hey, Jarrett!" (We've never met in person.) "Zoe, this is the illustrator of Princess in Black." So LeYuen joined us for lunch at the food court, and we all drew together. And who walks in but Gene Luen Yang! But he didn't notice us, so we made it like we were paparazzi and yelled, "LOOK! LOOK! IT'S THE NATIONAL AMBASSSADOR OF YOUNG PEOPLE'S LITERATURE! HERE IN THE FOOD COURT!" So Gene joined us, and we sat and talked and talked until I realized Zoe and I needed to run to catch our flight. And once we boarded, we said hello to Jeff Kinney and his family.



We were raised in different parts of the country, but man, our back stories have so much in common. While Raul the Third would walk a mile through the Texas deserts to get ahold of comic books, I'd trudge through the snow to do so in Massachusetts (X-Men blue and gold teams). Ben Hatke devoured the comic strips in his local newspaper and drew constantly. We joke about how awesome it would have been to have gone to the same high school, but now we get to hang out at book festivals and conferences. Three kids who grew up to be dads and professional cartoonists.

If your students feel like islands, tell them that they will find their tribe!




Grateful to have met the genius who wrote Lowriders in Space. And Cathy Camper is a librarian to boot!


Jeff Kinney: Dav, let's get a photo together. Hey, Jarrett, can you take our picture?
Scene cuts to: selfie. 


But Jeff was just needling me, because that's what we do. Lunch Lady, Wimpy Kid and Captain Underpants somehow all color-coordinated their outfits...
So much fun to run into these guys at the same time at #TxLA16!




Stick around this book business long enough, you see some awesome things.
Back in the summer of 2006, I traveled to Los Angeles to speak at the annual Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators conference. There I met, albeit briefly, an author/illustrator with big dreams. His work landed on my radar again later when I, embarrassingly, was Googling blogs to see if my name popped up. Don Tate wrote a blog post all about imagining an editor calling to say he was the next [insert illustrator name here]. I was shocked to see my name on his list. I was, in my mind, still trying to figure out how to make it in this business. So I have watched as Don Tate worked at it and worked at it over this past decade. He's released books, he's visited schools. 
And you know what? There are now surely up-and-coming illustrators out there who post about wanting to be the next Don Tate. Don just brought home his second, SECOND Ezra Jack Keats Award. He won an honor a few years back for a book he wrote, IT’ JES’ HAPPENED: WHEN BILL TRAYLOR STARTED TO DRAW, and he now has won the gold for a book he wrote and illustrated called POET: THE REMARKABLE STORY OF GEORGE MOSES HORTON. 
It was an honor to have him on a panel I moderated at #TxLA16 last week. When I was asked to assemble a team who could chat about connecting with readers via digital tools, I immediately thought of Don.
So what I am saying is this: authors and illustrators who have big dreams—if you work hard enough, if you keep at it, it'll never be a question of IF, but a question of WHEN! Don Tate is an inspiration, and I love his work!





In 2003, I travelled down to the Cy-Fair school district in Houston, TX to visit schools. It was the first time that I stepped on an airplane for school visits. There, I met some wonderful librarians who would host me again and again over the years—that support was crucial to my getting this writing/illustrating career on its feet. I was in my mid-twenties, and they all took care of me like proud aunties. I was lucky enough to run into some of those original librarians at #TxLA16 this past week. And what?! Retirement?! How is that even possible? Ruth Weisman is retiring this year and Jackie Hopkins retired a few years back?!
I hope that they can put their feet up and relish in the lives they changed in their years amongst the bookshelves!




I know that I am preaching to the choir here, but Tom Angleberger is just one of the nicest, kindest humans you'll ever meet. We had breakfast with him at #TxLA16 before our sessions started, and he taught my kiddo (and me) how to make an origami Yoda. The fact that he thought to bring some green origami paper to entertain my daughter while she was surrounded by so much grown-upness... so thoughtful!

Thank you again to all of the librarians who waited in line for autographed copies of Jedi Academy: A New Class!



Weekly Sketch Roundup

Every day I post a sketch to social media, this is my favorite this week!



Interesting head gear by my kid this morning. I suppose if I wrote the book today it would be called Tote Baghead....

To see more visit http://www.studiojjk.com/dailysketch.html

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Star Wars: Jedi Academy: A New Class

ARCs for my new book arrived...I'm ecstatic to finally be able to tell you—I've been spending some time in a galaxy far, far away....



Star Wars: Jedi Academy: A New Class will hit bookshelves on July 26th! I feel lucky that Scholastic managed to fit "Krosoczka" on the lightsaber on the book's spine! Can't wait to see the final book!


Texas Library Association

I'm moderating a panel at ‪#‎txla16‬ on Wednesday with Tom Angleberger, Ame Dyckman & Don Tate. I imagine it will look something like this.

See you in Houston...I hope!


Never Say Narwhal

A surprise arrived in the mail! My first glimpse at final copies of NEVER SAY NARWHAL! Very bittersweet. This will be the final adventure for the Platypus Police Squad. I always envisioned this as a four-book series, and I'm delighted to bring a conclusion to the greater story arc for these monotrome detectives.
Look for the green spine on May 17!


John Bemelmans Marciano

In the studio
Attempting to draw two straight lines. 
I couldn't help but feel
I was in the presence of the author/illustrator of Madeline...


...and several other great books. Like these chapter books that John Bemelmans Marciaco just made with Sophie Blackall. Have you seen them? The series is called The Witches of Benevento, and man—the books are gorgeous!


School Lunch Hero Day

The lunch staff at Parmenter Elementary were feted with flowers, aprons and a basket filled with thank-you cards from every single student. School Lunch Hero Day is on May 6th, I hope that you'll celebrate!


Weekly Sketch Roundup

Every day I post a sketch to social media, this is my favorite this week!


My kiddo posed so that I could draw her. A few seconds later.... "DADDY, STOP DRAWING ME!"

To see more visit http://www.studiojjk.com/dailysketch.html