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

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Book Report


On today's Book Report on SiriusXM Kids Place Live I recommended Dan Santat's newest picture book, ARE WE THERE YET?



School Lunch Hero Day and the School Nutrition Association

School Lunch Hero Day (May 6, 2016) is approaching, and what excites me the most is seeing the homemade gifts made by the students for their lunchroom heroes—I absolutely love seeing aprons and T-shirts decorated by young artists in our schools!
There were several companies that requested use of my character and the School Lunch Hero Day logo to print on aprons and T-shirts. (Some unfortunately did so without my permission...please be wary.) The only group licensed to sell School Lunch Hero Day items is the School Nutrition Association. School Nutrition Association uses a portion of the proceeds from these sales for scholarships to help school nutrition professionals receive professional development. I thought this would be the best use of my artwork. 
If you would like to purchase official School Lunch Hero Day items for your staff, please visit School Nutrition Association’s website at:
Thank you so much again for celebrating!


Weekly Sketch Roundup

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

Swim class.

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

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

The Book Report

Hey, guys— For the past four years now I've had a weekly segment on SiriusXM Kids Place Live called The Book Report with JJK. I talk about new books that we are loving in our house, share some news about kid lit, etc. It's been incredibly exciting to meet many of the listeners while out on my book tours. The thought of families across the country listening while on their morning commutes is pretty neat. But what happens if you're running late, and you miss it? What if your kid gets dropped off to school before the segment airs?
Well, you are now longer out in the cold.... The Book Report with JJK is now available on demand, starting with this week's episode. I chat up Peter Brown Studio's THE WILD ROBOT, with a little help from my daughter.






Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Studio Space

I don't always get to hear stories about what happens after an author visit. But when I do, it's incredibly gratifying. I recently started sharing images of my studio space during my presentations. I talk so much about how I make my work, I wanted to show just where I work. This image came in from a mother and was accompanied by this note, "They rushed through homework and ran up to their rooms to prepare an 'art area' like today's author had at his home."

Man, I just love this so much. I loved making books and comics after school when I was a kid.

15 Years of Books

Sometimes the right kid finds the right book, and you're lucky enough to have written that book!
Isaiah was born the year that my first book (Good Night, Monkey Boy) was published, he celebrated his fifth birthday with a Punk Farm theme and he's just about to turn fifteen! I'm so impressed to see the young man that he has grown into, and glad to see that he has the same anarchic sense of style. And he's an artist—he designed that T-shirt he's wearing!
It's astounding to see my readers grow up. Definitely an unexpected benefit of keeping at it in this book business.


Beverly Cleary

On Sunday, April 3rd, I'll be hosting a celebration of Beverly Cleary's work at Symphony Space in New York City. It's in honor of Ms. Cleary's 100th birthday and will benefit Team First Book New York City.
I'll be bringing along my childhood copy of THE MOUSE AND THE MOTORCYCLE, it has never left my bookshelf. And further proof of the power of giving a book to a child—this book was given to me by the PTA at my old elementary school.

Jeff KinneyR.J Palacio and Tony DiTerlizzi will be on hand to offer appreciations, and celebrated actors will read from Ms. Cleary's books.



Meltdown 2016

Thanks to all who came out to Meltdown 2016! Some folks traveled across town, some across state lines! Here are a few photos from the day. We'll do it again on the last Saturday of March in 2017!

For more photos click here!

What a Welcome!

I have been welcomed to schools with some insanely creative displays recently on my author visits. It's an embarrassment of riches, and I so appreciate all of the efforts—it all looked like a ton of work!