Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Platypus Police Squad in Southern Illinois

Police officers in Southern Illinois are visiting schools to read to the students. This makes me incredibly happy.

Valley Ranch Library

Thank you, Marianne Crandall Follis, for hosting a fantastic event at the Valley Ranch Library last night! Check out the photo booth they made! 

I've also had a great few days visiting schools in Grapevine-Colleyville ISD. 

Time-Lapse Signing!

Librarian Chris Salerno made a time-lapse video of me signing 154 books at his school. (And yes, I drew in every single book. Always do.)

Charlestown Elementary

I love that the lunch ladies of Charlestown Elementary introduced me at my school visit today. I love seeing these sorts of connections being made. And I love that this pair stepped out of their comfort zone to get in front of their students in a very different capacity.

Jeanne Birdsall

Thank you Seth Kaye Photography for this great photo of Jeanne Birdsall and me. 
And for those of you out there who have read Jeanne's The Penderwicks books, did you ever catch the references that she made to my family and me? We love our Auntie Jeannie!

Illustrator's Show 2015 — with Jeanne Birdsall and Jarrett Joseph at R. Michelson Galleries.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Children's Book Art Exhibition

How many authors and illustrators can you spot? (Find the answers here.)
The annual children's book art exhibition at R. Michelson Galleries runs through January 15th.

With pals Grace LinJeanne Birdsall and Lisa Yee at last weekends reception at the R. Michelson Galleries.

What's not to love about Norton Juster? Sure, he's a genius, he has a heart of gold.... The man turns up to an art exhibit wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with his book cover. And the book in question is certified classic. Microphone dropped, good sir. Microphone dropped.... 

It's Tough to Lose your Balloon Project

At a recent school visit, I saw this beautiful project based on It's Tough to Lose Your Balloon. Kids would write a problem on one side of the balloon and a solution on the other side. I saw this sobering entry...a profound reminder of what is being done in our school cafeterias.

Battle Creek

I don't mean to name drop, but I was in Battle Creek, MI and met one of the local celebrities... Thank you for hosting me, School Nutrition Association of Michigan! And thank you to the Book Bug for bringing all the books!

Wednesday, November 04, 2015


It you saw these monsters on Halloween night, you were trick-or-treating at our house....

I hope that everyone had a safe and happy Halloween!

Halloween—I am tickled and humbled by the use of my characters!


Two Lunch Ladies, Cow from Punk Farm and Ollie the Purple Elephant were spotted in Maine! 

Every year, I am showered with so many wonderful images of people using my characters in their Halloween celebrations. I am just tickled and honored by all of these photos that I have seen! (And if you dressed up as or decorated a pumpkin with one of my characters, I'd love to see any photos that you'd be willing to share!)

A photo posted by mwinne2 (@mwinne2) on

Post Halloween

Halloween is over, it's Daylight Saving Time, and I'm all...

Someday Cafe

There's something about revisiting a space that was a part of a pivotal time in your life—even when that space is now a completely different space. In the fall of 1999, I found myself in Somerville, MA after graduating RISD. I would walk to Davis Square and spend time sketching in The Someday Cafe. What a great name, right? The Someday Cafe. It was apt, as I spent time sketching on the cafe's old, used couches while I dreamt of the future I wanted for myself. I sipped hot chocolate (I didn't drink coffee) as I filled sketchbooks with early incarnations of Monkey Boy, Baghead and Punk Farm. It was also at this cafe where my friend Grace Lin gave me a key piece of advice. While Grace and I lived on the same street, we met on a Yahoo Groups for RISD Illustration alum. Grace's first book, The Ugly Vegetables, had just published. She encouraged me to send my promotional postcards to editors, not just the art directors that were on my mailing list. I took her advice and that next Monday sent a mailing to editors. That Thursday I received an email from an editor at Random House, and that next week I traveled down to New York City to show my work in person. And it was that meeting that led to my first book contract. 
My someday became my actual day. And serendipitously, Grace and I know live in the same neighborhood once again. I drink coffee now, but wasn't able to get one at my old haunt—it's now Mr. Crepe. And while delicious, it just doesn't hold the same mystique as The Someday Cafe...

From pages of a sketchbook circa fall 1999....Someday Cafe's interior.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


We found some killer pumpkins today.

5 O'clock shadow

Well, this guy is in a rotten mood...

Pumpkins by my talented daughter. I love her so!

Painting Pumpkins

'Tis the season.... #Krosofamilypumpkins

Posted by Jarrett J. Krosoczka on Sunday, October 25, 2015

Reading is Reading

When I'm lucky enough to speak before a group of educators, I talk about how I grew up making monthly trips to the comic book shop alongside reading every book in the Anne of Green Gables series. Then I share this slide, and point out that there is no reason why these books can't coexist in a child's reading life. As happened tonight, several teachers confessed that they had been counting some books as "not real reading", but they would be switching up how they approached books in their classrooms. It takes a lot for an adult to do that, and I have so much respect for these teachers! ‪#‎ReadingisReadingisReading‬

Unbridled Joy

As an artist, you spend a lifetime working on your craft, and then you become a parent. And with everything you've learned in your years, you look at your kids' art and it's more inspiring than anything. The simplicity, the inhibition, the pure unbridled joy. That's what I aspire to.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Pug Puppy Problems

Now, you may be looking at this photo and find yourself asking, "Why is David Levithan leaving Jarrett Krosoczka's house while sporting a Smurfs backpack?" Honest question.
David, celebrated YA author, higher-up at Scholastic, is an old and dear friend of ours. We first met while book touring Philadelphia in 2003. We are lucky to steal any time we can with him, even luckier when his book tour sends him to our town, as it did this past Sunday. We had a great visit. Gina laid out an incredible spread for us to dine on, we talked books, shared tales of book festivals past... But inevitably, it was time for David to leave—he had a book signing to get to. He grabbed his backpack off of our couch. As he prepared to leave, Gina and I looked at the couch. Ugh! Frankie (our pug puppy) peed! Right there on the couch. Then, the world stopped. We looked at each other with the realization—David's backpack! We rushed to his backpack, which was now placed on the kitchen chair. Soaked. Absolutely soaked.
Luckily, David had a good sense of humor about it. Luckily, I had just been given a Smurfs backpack by a school I had visited. (Thank you, Webb!) So while we laundered David's belongings, he left our house with his book-tour gear in a brand-new backpack. It sorta felt like our son's first day of school.

Frankie wrote a heartfelt apology letter. And tomorrow is his "special surgery" that will stop the little guy from trying to be alpha to household objects...

Platypus Police Squad at the Library of Congress

A special thank you to United States Capitol Police Officers Webb and White who read aloud a passage from Platypus Police Squad to students at the Young Readers Center at the Library of Congress. Thanks to Everybody Wins DC, every kid in attendance received a free copy of Last Panda Standing! It was a great event!

The Library of Congress again!

At the National Book Festival, every author is assigned to a volunteer to escort them from event to event. This past September I was lucky enough to have Leslie Long get me to where I was supposed to be. She was incredibly kind and gracious—and helpful! As we talked, I learned that she worked at the Library of Congress as a book conservator. She spent her days mending books that were in dire need of care in order to be preserved. When I mentioned that I would return to D.C. in October for a reading at the Young Readers Center at the Library of Congress, she told me that she would love to show me where she worked. And she lit up when I mentioned my daughter would be with me. Leslie kept to her word and met us at my event on Wednesday. She guided Zoe and I through the underground tunnels between buildings, and we arrived at a door with a big red stop sign on it. This was not a place for tourists. What we saw was like a Santa's Workshop of book repair. "The gang," as Leslie called them, each had their own work bench—and stacks of books that needed attention. Leslie very patiently explained the process of fixing up the books so that they could maintain their historical integrity. Some books were made with hand-made paper in the days before mass production, like the book from 1799 she was currently repairing.
How lucky we were to see the process up close. And how lucky we all are that these artists dedicate their lives to keeping our literature and history in tact for future generations. While we were there, a stack of children's books came in. Included in the pile was a book by Ludwig Bemelmans that had a copyright date of 1940. "Zoe remember that girl you were playing with at the Princeton Book Festival? She is this man's great-granddaughter." Serendipitous.

School Book Fair

Gina organizes the book fair at our daughters' school. Moved by #WeNeedDiverseBooks, she wanted the school's book fair to become a vehicle to bring local awareness to the movement, as well as a space where our community could find windows and mirrors within every book. We curated a list of books with the help of the resources at and from the teachers' input. The Odyssey Bookshop, a great local indie, handled sales. We are lucky enough to live in a community where we were able to invite authors Lisa Yee, Heidi Stemple and Rich Michelson in to read and sign books. This is something that anybody can do regardless of their proximity to authors. You don't even need a husband who can design a fancy logo. (In fact, I am giving that logo to WNDB for some exciting things.) There was so much good that came from this. We were able to connect our kids to some great books. And at our dinner table at home, we were able to talk about what diversity means and why it's so important.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Halloween Costumes

One of the biggest treats for me every year is seeing people dressing up as my characters for Halloween. (And you know how serious we take our costumes here in the Kroso house...) If you are dressing up, I would love to see the pictures!
I've archived a bunch of photos of costumes from Halloweens past here:…/character-costumes-story-pumpk…/


If you had stopped me as a teenager and asked if I was an avid reader, I would have shrugged my shoulders and said, "Nah, not really." Sure, I read the required texts for school, but for pleasure? Pfft! Yet here I am unpacking huge storage bins filled to the brim with the comic books that I collected as a teen. At least once a month, I would find a way to Fabulous Fiction Book Store on Main St in Worcester. It was filled from wall to wall with comics. More often than not, my grandfather Joe would give me a ride. But when I couldn't get a lift, I would walk—and it was a mile and a half each way! Imagine walking three miles for reading material, but you don't really think you're much of a reader...
I saved each comic in plastic sleeves with special archival backing with expectations that these would all be worth a ton of money someday. And in a way I was right—these comics are priceless. They put me on the path to where I am today, and I look at them as a symbol of my grandfather's unconditional love. He'd patiently sit in his car smoking his Camels while I perused the aisles looking for the latest issues. Most adults didn't think much of comics as reading in those days, but Joe...he knew something good was happening.

The magic of social media. Within 30 minutes of posting this, my pal Chris Eliopoulos (illustrator of the Ordinary People Change the World picture books) pointed out that he likely lettered many of the comics in my bin. And it turns out he did! It didn't take me long to find his name.


A behind-the-scenes pic of the pumpkin photo shoot for FamilyFun magazine's October issue!


Look for my Monster Triptych in the Monster Arts Project exhibit. In view at Eastworks in Easthampton, MA through the end of October. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Fall and Winter Events

Fall and Winter Schedule!

There are a few events left before the calendar year comes to a close. Hope to see you soon!

October 14
10 AM
Washington, D.C.
Young Readers Center at the Library of Congress

October 17
12 PM
Northampton, MA
Montessori School of Northampton Book Fair

October 28
6:30 PM
Medford, MA
Medford Public Library

November 8
4:00 PM
Northampton, MA
R. Michelson Galleries Annual Illustration Show

November 17
7:00 PM
Irving, TX
Vally Ranch Library

November 21
3:00 PM
Leominster, MA
Leominster Public Library

And looking ahead to the beginning of 2016...

January 26
Comic Squad: Lunch! hits bookshelves!

January 30
Plainsville, MA
An Unlikely Story Bookstore

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Platypus Police Squad Movie!

Variety just broke the news on the Platypus Police Squad movie!
That's right, MOVIE! I'm pinching myself!
I am BEYOND thrilled to be working with Walden Media, the studio behind the Narnia films and the upcoming adaptation of Roald Dahl's The B.F.G., to bring these monotreme detectives to the silver screen. And with the talented Jon Saunders and Ross Evans penning the script and Saunders directing, Zengo and O'Malley are in very capable hands! 

We Need Diverse Books

Gina organizes the book fair at our daughters' school. Moved by the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement, she curated a list of books & we'll plaster town with this art!

The Hole in the Wall Gang and The Sister's Wish

Earlier this week, I had the chance to reconnect with my old friend Amy, who I know from The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. Amy is incredible, and not just because she got her entire family to dress as my characters and planned the school visit as head of the PTO. I know Amy because her younger brother, Craig, was one of my campers back in the day. Craig was just an incredible kid. When Paul Newman founded the camp, he stated that he wanted to create a space to "let kids kick back, relax and raise a little hell." Craig personified that mantra in the most beautiful way possible. He had a quick wit and a warrior's heart. Craig began his battle with cancer at age four and lived with it until he passed in his early twenties. 
Grief can weigh us down, and then there are people like Amy who use grief for a greater good. She, along with her sister, Beth, founded The Sister's Wish. The mission of this non-profit is so admirable—grant wishes for young adults aged 18-30 who are living with terminal and chronic illnesses. They do this on their own and throughout Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. 
I know Craig would be so proud of his sisters. It was magical to see his mischievous spirit living on in his nephew and nieces.

Learn more about The Sister's Wish via their Facebook page or on their website here:

Platypus Police Squad

In 1997 I gave this fourteen-year-old kid advice about RISD and art school, and now he's set to direct and cowrite a movie based on my book series for a major Hollywood studio. 
As many of you may know, I spent many years working at The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp starting in my late teens. One of my nearest and dearest friends that I worked with there was Ali Baghai. When camp wasn't in session, I often found myself at his house, just outside of Boston. The Baghai house was just one of those households where everyone collected. Ali's mother, Jane, just reveled in having her sons and all of their friends under one roof at the same time. She was a remarkable woman who always made you feel so loved—Wendy to our Lost Boys. It was at one of these get-togethers that I met this red-headed kid named Jon Saunders. Jon was Ali's younger-brother Jeff's friend. Jon and Jeff were (and are) both artists, and in-between games of Goldeneye on N64, I'd share my experiences at Rhode Island School of Design. I was a sophomore at the time.
(Another friend that I made at the Baghai house in those days was Chris Zengo, who grew up to be a Massachusetts State Trooper, and the namesake for a certain platypus detective.)
Jon would later attend RISD, along with Jeff, and during their time there, I was a frequent guest lecturer for my former professors. We'd catch up whenever I was in Providence. I even won an alumni award the year that Jon graduated in 2005. So I got to see him grab his diploma from the stage. 
Jon moved to L.A. after graduation, and I found myself there often. Punk Farm had just been picked up for development and I was hitting the streets, meeting with just about every development executive in town that would make time for me. I crashed on Jon's couch in those days and shared folders filled with samples of this Lunch Lady project I had brewing. 
Jon moved forward with some amazing animation projects over the ensuing years, and I kept plugging along with my books. We kept in touch, but as it goes when you start having kids—I got insanely busy. I named the corrupt mayor in Platypus Police Squad after Jon to thank him for those weeks of couch surfing. 
Jon called me up last winter. His career was picking up steam, and was I doing anything with Platypus Police Squad? I was, in fact, readying something. We put our heads together, along with his brilliant writing partner, Ross Evans. Walden Media was quickly on board, and we now have a movie in development! Jon and Ross really get what I have been doing in the Platypus Police Squad books, and I could not have found a better pair to shepherd this project along from page to screen. 
Jane Baghai is no longer with us, but I can only begin to imagine how tickled she'd be by all of this. If she was here, I know she'd instantly produce a photograph of a gang of kids sitting on her couch playing Nintendo in 1997. I miss Jane terribly, she was a very special woman—and I will forever be grateful to her for opening her doors to me. 
The photo on the left is of Jane and Ali Baghai and I at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in 1997. On the right, that's Jon Saunders, Ross Evans and I on our first creative meeting for the film adaptation of Platypus Police Squad back in February.

Check out the animation that Jon Saunders directed for Nike. It currently has more than 88 million views!! 

Congratulations Lisa Yee!

I'm so excited for my pal Lisa Yee! She is a superhero herself, but she has been given the keys to all of the female superheroes of the DC universe! Check out her news!

The Super Hero Girls are in high school, as if that's not stress and confusion unto itself! Here's more info on what else is going on with this . . .…/dc-mattel-unveil-super-h…

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Great Visit

Last week I was lucky enough to meet this young author. I couldn't help but notice during my presentation that he was clutching a copy of Platypus Police Squad. And he was inquisitive, just beyond insightful. What was the motivation of this character? What about this plot point? And what kind of percentage does your agent take? 20%? (He agreed that the industry standard of 15% seemed more reasonable.)
And on top of all that? He dressed like Detective Zengo. 
I look forward to working for this young man someday...


When playing host to your kid's sleepover, it's always a good idea to have pumpkins and paints on hand for those early-morning wake-ups. ‪#‎KrosoFamilyPumpkins

The guy on the right has not had his daily pumpkin latte....

Newtonville Books

Newtonville Books in Newton, MA has the raddest counter of any bookstore I've ever seen! At their old location they sold used books—so these volumes are a part of the store's history! 
Newtonville Books now also has a large collection of signed Lunch Lady and Platypus Police Squad books!

Tough Choices

From a coffee shop here in Northampton. Where would your tip money go?
This would be a cruel popularity game for living authors. But then again, Seuss and Silverstein never had to cope with online reviews...

I tipped in the Seuss jar because I have fond memories of my grandfather reading Sneetches to me at bedtime. But I do visit this coffee shop often and will throw in for Shel next time. I remember A Light in the Attic sitting on my 5th grade teacher's desk. Now the jars may very well be pumpkins vs squash or monkeys vs hippos next time I visit....this is a CLEVER way to elicit tip money!