Wednesday, December 04, 2019


Writing (and illustrating) can be an isolating business. I am so very thankful for this group of fellow writer friends and thankful that our calendars finally aligned to find us all around and not totally feeling the pressure of deadlines! 

Nobody is happier that my latest book deadline is finished than this little guy.

High School Time Warp!

I was asked to sign this young artist’s welcome sign but I thought it would make more sense if I drew Teen Jarrett hanging in the back with him and his crew because clearly we would all have been friends if a time warp brought us all in high school at the same time. 

A Ghastly Scene

Leave your pumpkins out long enough, they will continue to tell a story...

Favorite PBS Show

Super Grover - always and forever. What was your favorite PBS KIDS show and character?

2009 v 2019

2009 v 2019. It doesn’t feel like a decade is ending, but everyone is waxing nostalgic and posting photos. Here I am launching Lunch Lady at San Diego ComicCon and then taking home Book of the Year for Hey, Kiddo at New York ComicCon. Not pictured: the 1,000 or so venues I hit along the way to get my work out there. This decade brought me many highs and many lows, and I am thankful for all of the life experiences.

AudioFile Earphones Award (and More!)

With music, sound effects, and affecting performances, listeners feel like they are at the dinner table with him and his hard-drinking, foul-mouthed grandparents in Worcester, Massachusetts.”  AudioFile Magazine

I brought cast members from the Hey, Kiddo audiobook on to the radio to offer insight on how we adapted my graphic memoir for audio.

Sharing some behind-the-scenes stories of the Hey, Kiddo audiobook at Scholastic Studios.

The Origin Project

A few weeks back, I had the honor of presenting to theaters packed with students in the Appalachian region of Virginia. I was there with author Adriana Trigiani, whose The Origin Project brings authors in to her home region to inspire creative writing. Adriana is Gina’s MOST favorite author. I mean, Adri’s books have been in Gina’s hands as much as Dav Pilkey’s books have been in our kids’ hands. So not only a thrill to have Gina with us, but G and I were left so inspired by the community, the students, and everything The Origin Project does. Aside from the annual events, each student in the program received an empty journal to write in and their collective writings will later be published in a book.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Happy Birthday, Sesame Street!

‪Big Bird, Ernie, Bert, and me in 1979. Happy 50th, Sesame Street!

Art with X

‪Home sick from daycare, but X is drawing away while I wrap up an art deadline for my next book. ‬

‪Collaborating on Halloween art. ‬

"Now & Then" Exhibit Opening Soon!

‪“From refrigerator doors to museum walls—Now & Then celebrates a child's potential.”‬
‪Grace Lin and I can’t wait to unveil what we’ve put together at The Eric Carle Museum!‬ And hope to see you on December 14th for the opening events.

Thank you, Chappaqua!

Some photos from last week’s visit to Chappaqua schools. Thank you for sharing these on Twitter, ‪@7BLibrary ‬and ‪@biblioteqie!

AASL 2019 Keynotes

So proud to have been one of these keynotes. Only wish I could have been in the audience for Ellen Oh and Dr. Brown as well. Read More about the Conference Keynotes at AASL this year.

If you are a school librarian who wasn’t able to make it to the AASL conference, here are some of the messages that I wanted to convey, as filtered through tweets from audience members. Thank you ALL for what you do for our readers.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Star Wars Music

Plugging away on the art or a Jedi Academy deadline and as I often do in these times, I listen to the John Williams score of the Star Wars movies. It gets me amped. And then...I notice that the playbar is a lightsaber. Well done, Spotify. WELL. DONE!

Translating Graphic Memoir to Audio

‪So how does one adapt a graphic memoir for audio? This is how Scholastic and I did it...‬

SO psyched that teens across Iowa will be reading Hey, Kiddo as a part of the All Iowa Reads! Just astounding to think about. ‬

AASL 2019

I am preparing my slides for my keynote address to the American Association of School Librarians conference in a few weeks and waxing nostalgic on my visits to the Cypress-Fairbanks ISD days of 2003 and 2004. And you better believe I am including a photo of AASL National Conference Committee Chair, Heather Jankowski, on her first-ever author visit!

And to give you a scope of how long ago this was, I presented using legit slides in a slide carousel, and the initial invitation came via telephone.

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloweeeeeeen! Blink and you’ll miss it...

‪The voice actor who read as Middle School Jarrett in the Hey, Kiddo audiobook went trick-or-treating as Dwight Schrute from The Office. ‬
‪But everyone seemed to think he was dressed as Middle School Jarrett from Hey, Kiddo... ‬

EXT: Downtown Halloween celebration. Steady stream of rain and drizzle.
RANDOM PERSON: What are all those gadgets for?
ME: Catching ghosts!
RANDO: herd goats?
ME: *considers explaining*...Uh...yeah. Yes, I’m a goat herder.

Here are a bunch of the pumpkins that I painted for Halloween 2019!

‪Shout out to all of the teachers on the morning after Halloween...‬

More Hey, Kiddo Audiobook Samples!

Did you know that you can get audiobooks from your public library directly to your device?! If your local library doesn't have the Hey, Kiddo audiobook, consider putting in an ask to your librarians.
While I use the Libby app with my local library, I'm wondering what other apps your public library might use in your neck of the woods...

Here is another clip from the upcoming Hey, Kiddo audiobook. In this scene, young Pat is played by Pat’s kid, opposite my kid playing young me. And Pat’s mom is played by...PAT’S MOM!
How amazing to have these connections, and what a beautifully surreal way to relive life in my childhood neighborhood.

How utterly amazing for me to have my teachers and mentors from high school come on into the recording booth to play themselves in this production...

Having a parent who is dealing with addictions can be unpredictable, heartbreaking, and deflating. This scene depicts one of the many times I thought my mother was back on her feet...‬


I had such a wonderful day with all of my new friends in Fayetteville, Arkansas! When I’m speaking to a giant group of a thousand students, I take questions starting in the very back of the room—“Phil Donahueing” it.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Hey, Kiddo audiobook sample!

I got to tell my story with words and pictures—now I get to tell my story with sound and time. Here’s a sample of what my graphic memoir sounds like as an audiobook. Hey, Kiddo is available to preorder, wherever audiobooks are sold. The entire audiobook publishes on October 29th from Scholastic Audiobooks.

ICYMI: I was on WICN’s Inquiry, talking about what went into adapting my graphic memoir as an audiobook:‬

Mark Lynch has listened to the audiobook of HEY, KIDDO. He shares his thoughts, and I get into how we adapted a piece of graphic literature for audio. ‬
‪Also, the potential stage adaptation and the TV offer that I walked away from. ‬

Las Vegas Book Fest

‪What a great time at the Las Vegas Book Fest Thank you to Nevada Humanities, all the sponsors, and volunteers who made this book party happen. And OF COURSE—thank you to the readers! ‬

Now and Then Exhibit

‪December 14th! We will celebrate the opening of NOW AND THEN: Contemporary Illustrators and their Childhood Art at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art with this incredible crew!‬

NAIBA Carla Cohen Free Speech Award

‪So honored to receive the NAIBA Carla Cohen Free Speech Award—which is why I was so frustrated by the nor’easter that kept me away from the ceremony. I was about 90 minutes into my drive and couldn’t see out my window, so my editor David told me to go home—and I shared my appreciation via speaker phone. ‬
Again, so sorry I couldn’t be there in person —but odds are I will be in your bookstores real soon for a school or library visit. I am so very thankful for what you all do, indie booksellers!

Friday, October 18, 2019

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Hey, Kiddo Anniversary

Photo by Susan Polos

October 9th marked one year with Hey, Kiddo; and I have so many thoughts. It’s been a wild and at times exhausting year, but what has made all of this so very worth it—talking to the readers, young and old, who share their stories with me. Sometimes they are teens who share harrowing and heartbreaking tales. When they don’t use words, they just give a knowing nod—and I know. Sometimes, grandparents or other caregivers share worries for their children’s futures. They have all made me feel so less alone.

We all have our special intelligences, and I encourage these readers to embrace the innate gifts they were given—even if they have yet to identify what those talents are. And to those caretakers, you are making a difference that will live well beyond your time on this good earth. To all of the educators who have supported my graphic memoir, I thank you for letting this book serve as a beacon to these readers. You give them agency to understand that they aren’t alone and the shortcomings of our parents don’t dictate our futures. And to the parent who stood up at a back-to-school night and deemed Hey, Kiddo inappropriate for 8th graders, thereby getting the book removed from readers’ hands...well, I know what my grandmother would say to you. And if you actually read the book, you would too. And if you took a moment to look around, you’d also see that what you deem as inappropriate is a reality that too many kids live with. In fact, I looked up the statistics in your state—within the top 5 for opioid-related deaths in our country.
Well, Year One with Hey, Kiddo is behind me. Here’s to Year Two and beyond because I am so far from done. There is work to do.

Recording Hey, Kiddo pt. 6

One last session for the HEY, KIDDO audiobook. Recorded a few pick-ups, a piece about the audiobook, and end credits. All is getting sent out into the universe for an October 29th publication date to all places where audiobooks live. ‬
(Look closely and you’ll see the songs that are getting licensed for this production!)‬

We have an audiobook cover!‬
And so wild to see Jeanne Birdsalls's name on it. Did you know that she was the one to encourage that TEDx producer (her daughter) to call me to sub. Jeanne reassured her that I would be no means be insulted to be a last-minute replacement. 

Paul Gagne of Scholastic is the engine behind this audiobook adaptation of Hey, Kiddo. What an absolute joy to work alongside this guy, co-producing and co-directing. This photo was taken last summer, shortly before he battled Russian spies in Stranger Things Season 3.