Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Jedi Academy Translations

May the force be with you.
Thank you, Ă‰ditions Scholastic!

School Lunch Hero Day

That thing where School Lunch Hero Day is just a few days away and you are behind on your planning BUT there are greeting cards available to print. 

Download in English and in Spanish here:

Visiting Los Angeles

Kros-Oscah. We just received a private tour of the Jim Henson Creature Shop and we are absolutely floating!

The irony of coming across this on a Monday. I should get lasagna for dinner...

After a whirlwind trip to Los Angeles, I have returned to Boston on a red-eye flight to find Lunch Lady greeting me at the airport. 

Reading Together

I wrote Punk Farm when I was 25 and single. Here I am reading it, at 40, to my three kids on a Sunday morning because my son is constantly requesting it. These giggles are the most satisfying of any reading I’ve ever given of this book, and there have been thousands of readings at this point...

Porgs and pugs.

Happy Birthday, Beverly Cleary!

Happy 102nd birthday, Beverly Cleary! I celebrate Ms. Cleary’s work in every school visit I make—I share images of the books that I read as a kid that helped inform the author and illustrator that I am today. I am so thankful for Ralph S. Mouse and his motorcycle. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Thank You Paintings

To thank my author/illustrator pals for presenting at Meltdown, I made them paintings on little mini canvases.

Texas Library Association Disaster Relief Fund

I have made many wonderful trips down to Texas, visiting school libraries to speak about my books. In fact, those Texan librarians helped kickstart my career by inviting me for school visits well before there was social media and the only info they had on me was a picture book called BAGHEAD. I’m eternally grateful for their support and I am thrilled to support the TLA Disaster Relief Fund with this original art. This program rebuilds school libraries when Mother Nature devastates communities.

If you are currently at the Texas Library Association’s annual conference, raffle tickets are available at the Disaster Relief table by the TLA Store. If you’re not at TLA, call a librarian friend who is there!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Read all about it! Meltdown #10!

I am incredibly proud of this crazy thing called MELTDOWN that Gina and I run every year with Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child and WRSI - 93.9 The River -- and this is the TENTH year that we're staging this musical-literary-madcap event for families.
Perhaps we will see you on Saturday? The event is free for all -- great bands and great authors lined up all day long!
Read all about it:

Meltdown 2018: Author Interviews!

Monte Belmonte, radio guy, has yet again interviewed our wonderful roster of Meltdown authors ahead of the big event on March 31! Please give a listen on your way over.

Also, you may purchase author books at the event OR online:

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Rest in Peace, Betty

Rest in Peace, Betty.

While I have spoken extensively about my chance encounter with Jeanne, my old lunch lady, that inspired me to write the Lunch Lady series, you might not know that the real-life lunch lady sidekick also inspired the comic book sidekick in my books. After brainstorming the story of what would become Lunch Lady for a few years, I realized that my spatula-wielding heroin needed help in both the kitchen and the crime lab. I immediately thought of Betty, the right-hand woman of Jeanne in the Gates Lane School cafeteria. After reading her obituary, you will be astounded to learn that she was VOLUNTEERING that entire time. And she once performed at Carnegie Hall!

May the memories she gave this world continue to bring smiles to her family's faces!

Advocating for the Arts

Advocating for arts education since 1990...

I recently found this letter from Massachusetts Senator John P. Houston in reply to a concerned twelve-year-old citizen (me) who was none too pleased to see the arts getting pushed out of public schools.


Congratulations to Jane Yolen on the publication of her 365th book! I shared Jane’s sage writing advice with the listeners of SiriusXM Kids Place Live.


Celebrating Lunch Ladies!

Display seen on a school visit to LVI Elementary—actual lunch ladies as undercover crime fighters. Not pictured: all of the students’ thank-you notes on display in the cafeteria that brought tears of joy to these faces! 

Gretchen was presented with a “thank you salad.” She had no idea she and her colleagues were asked to stop by the library to be showered with thank you cards and gifts from the students. School Lunch Hero Day is on May 4th this year, but I love when it’s celebrated at my school visits too!


Just found an old notebook filled with some of my early writing...

My grandfather empowered me to archive my childhood artwork. Every year, he’d give me a storage bin and encourage me to decide what to keep and what to toss. Because of that, I have a treasure trove of artwork that I made throughout my upbringing. I’m using some of it in HEY, KIDDO. 

Fans of my earliest books will recognize this drawing. But this isn’t from the picture book BAGHEAD, this is a still life drawn during my sophomore year of high school. Whenever my art teacher, Mr. Shilale, assigned a still-life drawing I’d try to tell a story with the setup. One day, he gave us a homework assignment to draw a paper bag using limited drawing tools. 

#ThrowbackThursday to wearing an airbrushed Batman shirt in front of Michael Keaton’s Batmobile in 1993. (And I airbrushed the shirt.)

Disney Cruise: Star Wars Day at Sea

I have delivered my author talk in libraries, gymnasiums, theaters, cafetoriums, and just about every imaginable space in between at schools all across the country. I never, ever imagined that I’d be asked to deliver my author talk on a cruise ship while sailing around the Caribbean. A gazillion thank-yous to everyone at the Disney Fantasy for having my family and me on board that week! 

Have you read to your droid today?
Traded some books to a few Jawas for pieces of scrap metal. Seemed like a good deal. 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Hot Dog Man!

I had the pleasure of meeting this young cartoonist at a school visit yesterday. During the Q&A session, Malaki held up his book—Hot Dog Man—from the back of the room. After the presentation, he came up to show me the book. I was impressed, he worked hard on it! I told him he’d better come back to his school to give an author presentation after he got published. 

Later, his teacher asked if I would sign it. This always gives me pause—signing on a kid’s artwork. It’s their art, not mine. And as much as I loved having Jack Gantos visit my school when I was a kid, I wouldn’t have been too happy if he had written in the book I wrote. In this moment, I had an epiphany, I turned Malaki’s book over and wrote a blurb for it.

And the most powerful part of all this? This was the school’s first-ever school visit. The reading coach received a grant and wanted to do something to fire up the students, so she stuck her neck out and gave this new thing a try. I’m honored that I was that invite!

Awesome Letter!

And sometimes you get a letter from a kid that just stops you right in your tracks...

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Studio Visitors!

Every other year, Gary Schmidt loads up a bus with his students from Calvin College and they depart Grand Rapids, MI, for the Northeast to tour literary spots. I was so happy to have this great group over to the studio last night. I gave them a tour, shared current projects and my process and answered their thoughtful questions.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Massachusetts: Where Imagination Comes to Life!

Casually walking through Boston’s Logan Airport like…

What a wild honor to have Lunch Lady featured as one of the book characters that will welcome children to Massachusetts when they land at the airport. “Massachusetts: Where Imagination Comes to Life” is a new exhibit in the Kidsport section of Terminal C. Characters created by authors who are from Massachusetts or later made the Bay State their home help celebrate the richness of children’s literature in this state.

Thank you to Hudson News, MassPort and all involved to make such a fun display possible. I hope that you enjoy a visit when you are traveling with your young readers!

Anna Alter posing with Grace Lin's artwork. When the three of us all started our book careers, we were all living in Boston and would meet to swap stories and advice. Grace couldn't attend because she is currently visiting schools in Hong Kong. (I wonder if she is flying into Boston on her return trip...)

Lauren Baker, our wonderful First Lady of Massachusetts, was on hand to read to the schoolchildren. 

When asked for biographical information for the exhibit at Logan Airport, I made sure my hometown was represented. 

A great afternoon with Susie Rich, Anna Alter and Jeff Kinney at Logan Airport!

Norma Bridwell, widow of Norman Bridwell, spoke of her husband’s early career & how his original idea to call this huge dog Tiny didn’t sound catchy. She had a suggestion—Clifford. She shared a story of when Norman was a boy, he was bucked from a horse. He imagined that a giant dog would never do that...

Honored to share wall space with Jeff Kinney.

 Jeff Kinney takes a moment to tie his shoes while at the airport.

When visiting the exhibit at Logan Airport, I stopped by the new kids’ bookstore in Terminal C to sign books. They had a collection of books of characters featured in the mural. I brought this one home to my kids. 

Ralph was happy to learn this was a book about a cat and not a pug because he didn’t appreciate the implications of the title...

At the new Hudson News kids' bookshop with some of my Northampton, Massachusetts neighbors—Grace Lin and Mo Willems.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Star Wars Day Cruise

Something that I'm really looking forward to in 2018—I'll be presenting Jedi Academy on a Disney Cruise! If you are planning on being on the Star Wars Day at Sea Disney Cruise embarking on February 24th, I'll see you there. I'm guessing that giving my school visit talk in the Disney Theater while sailing around the Caribbean will be unlike anything I have ever experienced...

A New Year!

We enjoyed the final moments of 2017 with these sweet treats sent in from McGinn Elementary in New Jersey. Thank you to all of the schools that have hosted me, everyone for supporting my stories, art, and books, and thank you to all of YOU for following me here on this social media machine. See you in 2018! Let's make it a good one.

NYE, 1979.


It was a wonderful and peaceful time for my family at Christmastime here in western Massachusetts. Whatever you celebrate, I hope that you have found solace in some quiet moments this season.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Stay on target.

Stay on target.

Graphic Novels Interview!

If you’re a school librarian, my guess is that you’ve come across an adult who has told their kids or students to not check out graphic novels because they’re not “real” books.
I filmed this interview with you in mind.

Beverly Cleary Books!

Dear Third-grade Self,
Hey! You know those books that you’re always checking out from the school library? The mouse with the motorcycle, that precocious girl named Ramona, etc.? Yeah, the Beverly Cleary books! Well, someday you’ll grow up to be a published author, and then Ms. Cleary’s very first books will get reissued with their original illustrations. And YOU’LL be asked to write one of the forewords, along with an esteemed group of some fantastic contemporary writers and illustrators.
So keep reading! And writing. And drawing...
Your Grown-up Self