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

Monday, December 11, 2017

Santa's Train Display

I played the part of Train Conductor at Santa’s Train Display at Look Park over the weekend. A father and son approached me at the train display. The father told me that he had heard that the author of the Lunch Lady books would be at the event. In my old-timey conductor voice, I confirmed that yes, Jarrett was here. The father asked where. I told him, “Oh, he keeps comin’ in and out ‘round this area.” The father was disappointed. He had thought maybe Jarrett would be set up with a table or something. I told them that I was good friends with Jarrett and I’d be happy to pass along any messages. The dad looked at me and told me about how his son really loved the Lunch Lady books—they really hooked him onto reading. I smiled and told him that was a wonderful story. Then the dad looked at me and said, “Wait. Are you? Are you Jarrett?” I thought the dad was just playing along, but he wasn’t. And then we all had a good laugh.

Here are some more scenes from Santa’s Train Display at Look Park! Open from 4-8 every day until Dec. 23, with limited hours on Dec. 24. I’ll be back this season in the capacity as dad, but I’ll be back as conductor for another night next year!

Night at the Nutcracker!

Such a fun time donning the Mother Ginger wig and being a part of the Pioneer Valley Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker!

 Here's the real reason why I love playing Mother Ginger in the Pioneer Valley Ballet's Nutcracker...I get to hang out with my daughters backstage as they prep for their big moments on stage. It's such a thrill to be back there, watching all of the chaos and energy that it takes to put on such a big production.
On my walk over to the theater, I stopped by the local art supply shop and bought a fresh sketchbook and a new brush pen. Here are some of the sketches that I made from both backstage in the green room and from the wings of the stage: