Tuesday, December 19, 2006

tree '06

For the first time, we broke tradition and decorated a tree that was actually...Christmas themed. Every year my sister Maura, brother Rich and cousin Mike come into Boston to decorate an unorthodox Christmas tree (see pics from trees past, here). But this year, everyone had a nutty schedule, Rich and Mike were on their way to Boston, got lost and ended up not coming because they had work at 6 the next morning. Which left tree duties to Maura, Gina and me. This year our tree was Christmas themed and almost traditional, if it weren't for the fact that the tree acted as the mountain top from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

I hope everyone out there has a happy holiday season! I'm not sure if I'll get to post anything before 2007 gets here, so if I don't - see you in the new year!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

English twin

Last summer at the SCBWI conference, some guy was running around the jade party pretending to be me. Now I've seen a photo of this guy and I have to say - we really don't look anything alike. My friend Andy and I however, do look remarkably similar. So much so, that my own mother had to do a double take when looking through photos. Andy recently made a trip over from his hometown of Bristol, England with our friend Steve.

Maybe I should get my publisher to hire him out to book tour next year?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

serious Baghead fans

This picture was sent in by some very serious Baghead fans!


Check out this cool pumpkin carved by a reader in Texas!

The "Get This Book" Series

Cowboy Ned and Andy by David Ezra Stein is a beautifully illustrated and charming book. I first saw this book last summer and then soon after met David himself at the
big SCBWI conference. Cowboy Ned and Andy is a story about the friendship between a cowboy and his horse and the cowboy's impending birthday. The expressions, gestures and movement found throughout the book are stellar. I love the colors and the painting technique that David has here and in the rest of his work. Do check out this book and while you're at it, his website - www.davidezra.com. He has some forthcoming titles that I am sure will not disappoint!

back in business (for now)

Hey there neglected blog readers! Well, I am back. It has been quite an eventful few weeks. Aside from having a great Thanksgiving, I was buried under paintings and the intenseness of a book deadline. But guess what? I finished what will be my 9th book!!!! Yes, I spent some more time on the farm (sort of) and ……Punk Farm on Tour will be hitting bookstores and libraries everywhere in the fall of ’07! I am really proud of this book. I labored over the paintings and this book is filled to the brim with Punk Farm madness.

I can’t wait until you all get to see it.

Remember when I said that I would post pictures of my Slug tour? Well I finally have – and they can be found here – http://www.flickr.com/photos/studiojjk/sets/72157594417146026/

More soon!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Add the JJK Blog to your LiveJournal.

I just figured out how one could add the JJK Blog to their LiveJournal feed.

Just visit http://syndicated.livejournal.com/jjk_synd/ and click 'add'.

Who knew it would be that simple?!

Cartel and Ok Go

Surprisingly enough, I haven't talked about music too much on this blog. At any rate - I'm a music geek. I'm lucky enough to have a job in which I can listen to music all day long. (Though as of late, I've been listening to a lot of NPR podcasts...) Anyhow, in the past few days I've had the chance to see some great shows here in Boston. And while I need to get these paintings finished, concert-going very much inspires my current project. The lighting, the theatrics, the noise - I thrive on it.

The first show I saw was Cartel. Now, I'm a huge fan of punk covers of songs (surprising, right?). This past summer, I got my hands on a CD called Punk Goes the 90's. Lots of inspired covers from the decade that was my coming-of-age. One of the tracks that rose above the rest was a take on Oasis' Wonderwall. Cartel's version was one of the few versions that, in my opinion, was far better than the original. I looked them up, bought their CD and couldn't stop listening to their debut album Chroma. Now Cartel was the opening, opening act for another band, but I went to see them and it was worth it. They put on a stellar show.

And last night was OK Go. If you don't know about Ok Go's genius, choreographed youtube video phenomenon, then please - see below! I first saw OK Go when they were the opening, opening act for Coldplay 4 years ago. I wasn't into Coldplay, but OK Go's debut album had been on constant repeat in the studio. That show was awesome, tons of energy and the lead singer even had a broken leg. And what I was most impressed by - after the show, each band member was out front, each with a notebook and pen, waiting for the hordes of concert goers to exit, and ready to collect emails for their email list. They could easily be described as the hardest working band in rockdom. Last night, they put on an explosive, jump-in-the-air-with-guitars kind of show. And now that they are the headliners, they have an artful video display behind the band and have cameras located on microphones, keyboards, drums, etc to project up on the screen. After harnessing the power of youtube and receiving gabillions of hits on their videos and appearing on countless talk shows, playing show after show - this band deserves every ounce of success they have achieved and more.

Over and out for now - back to painting!

Nothing, NOTHING is funnier than choreography....

The 'Get This Book' Series

I know, it's been a while, but the 'Get This Book Series' is back from hiatus. Ugly Fish, written by Kara LaReau and illustrated by Scott Magoon, is brilliant. The pacing, the writing and the illustrations are all top notch. You should totally get this book.

I found it in at the Union Sq B&N in New York City this past fall. Being that I was traveling, I didn't want to buy the book then and there because the book would get all messed up in my travels. So I took out my phone and emailed myself the website of the illustrator. Of course for me, I am always attracted to the illustrations first. But when I read the book, I was equally amused and entertained by this clever story. Scott Magoon, the illustrator, is a talented guy and from what I see on his website he has some great books coming out on the horizon. Be on the look-out! And - he's also a fellow Massachusetts-ite. I think there's something in the water up here...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Foster Gallery - reception 11/30

I'm in an upcoming exhibit! And I don't know for sure yet - but I should be at the opening reception. I can't make any commitments yet, because I need to finish the paintings that I'm currently working on for my next book.

One thing I can guarantee - paintings from Punk Farm will be there, along with work from these amazing artists - Ann P. Smith, Peter Reynolds, Paul Olson, Fred Lynch, Grace Lin, and Kelly Murphy.

Illustration Strange Turns of the Mind's Road
November 27, 2006 - January 5th, 2007
Foster Gallery
10 Campus Drive Dedham, MA

Opening reception - November 30th, 2006

Back That Thang Up

No, I'm not talking about the seminal track from rapper Juvenile, I'm talking about your computer files. Back them up!!! I'm sure as heck glad that I do and did - before my computer died. Yes, my trusty laptop's hard drive is fried and all of my info is gone! But everything (all my music, all my photos, all my website files) are sitting safely in my external hard drive!


Oh - and I'm also glad that when I bought my laptop, I also bought Apple Care. As hard as I am trying right now, I can't think of any rapper who has a song about Apple Care....

Monday, November 13, 2006

the SLUG tour is OVAH!

It's a journey that began in the fall of '97 and continued on in November of '05 as I handed in the final art for Slug. And over the past year, I have documented in real time the journey that one takes from handing in the artwork and waiting for the book's release to then celebrating and touring. But the time has come and gone now - my final event for the My Buddy, Slug book tour has happened and my tour is over. And the last event was fantastic - which I knew it would be, because it was at Curious City's Lunch Box Series in Portland, Maine! Their events are out of this world, if you ever get the invitation, jump at the chance - it's worth the trip. You may remember the guy in the Sheep costume playing guitar last year during the Punk Farm Book Tour. Well, this year, they billed it as "Slug Fest" and Kirsten and Kelly were in Slug colors, there was Slug music playing and kids got to make their own slugs, their own slug homes and they also got to make and play with their own slug slime. Slug was there himself and kids could climb into the giant Slug costume and get their pictures taken. It really was the perfect way to end my tour.
I read My Buddy, Slug one last time (for this tour), for a total of (drum roll please).....

70 readings! 70 readings in 2 months!
And now the cycle starts all over again. Well, soon enough at least. I need to get painting!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Who knew Monkey Boy was from Jersey?

I love signing books that are slightly tattered and have clearly been read and loved. Matthew not only looks like Monkey Boy, but he's been holding on to this book since he was 3!

Baghead drawing

Look for Tommy's books in stores everywhere in a few years...

phenomenon of kids shouting book titles

My school presentation/slide show is on DVD. And to get kids excited about my visit, the title menu of the DVD flashes my book covers as they are getting settled into their seats. And an odd phenomenon has been happening...kids start shouting the titles. It gets me every time...

give this kid his own talk show!

KID: Remember your book Punk Farm?

JJK: Uh..yes.

KID: Do...do you remember that part where he goes, "OLD MACDONALD!"

JJK: Yes.

KID: Oh. Well that was my favorite part.

Northampton, Jersey and one more to go....SLUG FEST!

Northampton, MA was great! It was a HUGE signing with a gazillion authors at the Smith Campus School. Jane Yolen, Heidi Stemple, Grace Lin, Anna Alter, Patricia MacLachlan, Mordicai Gerstein, Scott Fischer...the list goes on and on! And on!

It was then down to New Jersey for Liberty Corner's Wizards of Words program. It was unreal! I think I may have autographed 300 books that day and that was just one school! I had the chance to meet some great teachers and some great students, one who was the spitting image of Monkey Boy. I mean, if Monkey Boy was older, he'd look just like this kid!

And of course, I have pictures of all of these events, but I have too many illustrations that need to be painted to spend time on flickr right now. I'm in the home stretch. I'm beyond the part of painting where I get frustrated and nothing is coming out the way that I want and have slipped into zen mode. The final few weeks of painting is actually the most enjoyable, though it can be stressful at times. I am loving the way these paintings are coming out and I think that it is going to be a killer book!

I have.....ONE LAST BOOK EVENT FOR SLUG!!!!!!!! It's this Saturday - 11/11 @ 11 AM at the Space Gallery in Portland, ME. The Lunch Box Series is becoming SLUG FEST!

This is what is going down at Slug Fest (according to the good people at the Lunch Box Series):
At SLUG FEST kids can--

-BE the slug

-SLIME like a slug

-CREATE their own buddy slug

-Lay about on the floor feeling SLUGGISH -And take home their very own SLUG iron on

I've been looking forward to this one all year! See you there!
Until then - I'll be painting!

Friday, November 03, 2006

ETC's Author of the Month

Check out Embracing the Child's website to read a nifty interview they conducted with me.

And while you are on their site, read up on all of the cool things that ETC is doing to give books to much needed young readers! After you are done reading up on this amazing program, check out the archive of authors interviews on their site.

Thanks ETC!

Worcester's Pulse Magazine...

published a very nice article on my work.

Check it out here.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Texas was great! There are a million stories to tell, but I only have time for a few. First off, I won't tell you about a lunch with Cypress Fairbanks librarians where the waiter thought that one of the librarians was my mother. Because that would probably embarrass Leslie way too much. But I will tell you that I had another great year with all of the librarians down in the Cy-Fair district in Houston. They are true rock stars. This district knows how to do author visits right! They've been doing it for so long and they are so good at hosting. This marked my 4th year down to their district and it really is like a reunion with old friends. A HUGE thank you goes to Heather Jankowski who organizes my visit year after year and who ensures that each visit is a big success through her impeccable organizational skills and energy! Another big thank you goes to the Texas Book Festival for having me. It was a blast. There were a few really cool things that they did, which I didn't realize going in. 1) They bring picture book authors in a day early and send them into underprivileged schools. They then GIVE 100 books out to the kids who hear the authors read and speak! That is amazing! Aces all around! 2) They have a local kid introduce the picture book authors at he festival. There was Mitchell, who had read every single book of mine, dressed in shirt and tie with shiny shoes, ready to read a page long introduction that he had written himself! Amazing! And a complete honor! I had the chance to see a great panel on YA literature and saw some old friends and new friends read their work and discuss their books. Not for Required Reading was nothing short of entertaining. I'm home now and painting. I'm under a tight deadline! I have but 3 more book events for SLUG and then it will all be over! I'm in the final stretch here....

Monday, October 23, 2006

kid quote

In discussing how it took Slug 9 years to get published, a kid in the back of the room exclaims, "Well, it has so many words! No wonder!"

Sunday, October 22, 2006

kid quote

I'm about to take off for Texas, but I just remembered this story.

Back up in Vermont, during the Q&A session, this kid raises his hand....

KID: Do you know that show 'Blues Clues'?
ME: Yes, I do.
KID: Well, were you like the host of that show or something?
ME: Uhhh....no. No, that wasn't me.
KID: Oh, I wasn't sure. They always have new hosts and I thought that you looked like that guy....

NY Times!

WHOA! Check it out!






Channel 3 News Worcester

This is my interview from Channel 3 Worcester. I went to high school with the reporter/newscaster. Pretty random, huh? And my mom was right - I look tired in this interview! It was a last minute interview and I was running around trying to get things done before SLUG came out. But it's pretty good just the same. Here it is -

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

sensory overload / surreality

A very quick overview of what was the most surreal, amazing weekend…

Friday evening, I stopped by the Horn Book/Boston Globe Book Awards ceremony before heading down to Providence. There, I got to connect with James and Lesa Ransome and also had the chance to meet (very briefly) Kate Dicamillo. I also had the pleasure of meeting Jack Gantos. Now, this was a long time in the making, as we’ve almost met a bunch of times. But we did, sort of, meet years ago. And I had the chance to recount this story to him:

When I was in third grade, Jack visited my school. He talked about Rotten Ralph and after his talk, we returned to our classrooms and drew our own Ralphs. Jack visited my classroom, walked by my desk and said, “Nice cat!” I still remember that, to this day! And whenever I visit a school, it’s in the back of my mind. It’s not every day that you get to recount a story like that to the person that it is about, but I have always been of the mindset to give credit where credit is due and to let people know what kind of impact they had on your life.

Saturday was the big day - The Rhode Island Festival of Children’s Book Authors! I had been waiting for this for months. Jon Scieszka would be there, among many others. And what I was most looking forward to was being part of an event with Chris Van Allsburg. I had met Chris a few times in the past, but once as a nervous RISD student approaching him after a lecture and once as a fan standing in line for an hour to get a book signed… But never as a fellow published author. You see, when I was a senior in high school, my art teacher brought in The Garden of Abdul Gasazi for me to look at. After seeing this book, my eyes were opened to the possibilities that picture books had. And there I was…signing books…right next to him! It was unreal. I’m still pinching myself! He is an incredible person and I feel very fortunate to have had the experience.

And after a full weekend of sensory overload meeting and hanging out with so many incredible authors and illustrators, on Monday I got the news that someone would be visiting Boston that night on their book tour….Lemony Snicket! And well, he didn’t show, but Daniel Handler was there. He presented to a very full house. You know a book reading/signing is a big deal when you turn up to a high school auditorium and the police are directing traffic! The “show” was amazing- a reading, audience interaction, audience participation, music, humor, improv…. I was too tired to wait in the autographing line, though. So now I am here, painting away on my new book. I am both charged with inspiration and stunned by over stimulation….

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

VT, KC and soon RI

OK, a few quick updates on the tour. I have too many paintings waiting to be painted to write too much, but... The drive up to Vermont was worth the trip alone. I bet that in a week or so the colors are going to be even more intense. The Brattleboro Lit Festival was good. My time slot had a slow start, but soon enough people came around and I had a full house. I read next to this beautiful valley / hill of trees thing. It's hard to explain, I'll post pictures later. I just got back from Kansas City, where I presented to different schools bussed into Hallmark's Kaleidescope program. That place is amazing and if you ever get to Kansas City and you have a kid - you need to go! Kids make crafts in a space that is beyond your imagination! (I'll post pictures for this later, too!)

And now I am painting, painting, painting before I head down to the Rhode Island festival of Children's Books and Authors . There will a ton of cool authors and illustrators there.

Here's the full list:

Louise Borden
Andrew Clements
Etienne Delessert
George Harrar
Brian Lies
Lisa & Tucker Johnson
Jarrett Krosoczka
Jon Scieszka
Mark Stamaty
Chris Van Allsburg

And the Slug count goes on..... That's a lot of readings for 1 month!

Friday, October 06, 2006

like a boomerang

So now you have it - the full cycle of a book. While I have a few more events coming up for the Slug book tour, I have now come to the epilogue in the story of My Buddy, Slug's creation.

Today, FedEx dropped off a package with the original paintings from Slug, back from Random House.

And I am now knee deep in paintings for my next book!

Whenever you get the paintings back, it's been about a year since you have seen them in person. And it really is like seeing them for the first time. The light catches the texture in a certain way. They are a little bit smaller then I remember them being. I guess that's because I've been looking at a GIANT sized version of the illustrations of late and they probably also look smaller because they have big white borders and crop marks. For now I will frame some for my upcoming exhibitions and place the rest in storage for art shows yet to come!

Seth Green reads Punk Farm!

Back in June, my friend Jamie was attending a fundraiser for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation out in LA. Celebrities were reading books to kids and Seth Green walked up on stage with a copy of Punk Farm! She couldn't believe it! That was her friend's book! Well... my book!

Here are some pics that she just sent me!

Kentucky, Cincinnati and Akron!

See what happens when you don't update every day? You forget details.

Anyhow - I had a great event with the good people at Blue Marble in Kentucky and visited with a great group of students in Cincinnati on Tuesday.

I also got to meet up with Derek Anderson and Jenni Holm, who were both on tour and we all ended up staying at the same hotel!

Interesting fact#1: Jenni and I have been friends now for about a year or so and have never met in person!

Interesting fact#2: Derek and I have hung out three times now, but never in the same city twice and never in our own home towns!

I had a great drive across the state of Ohio. It was a great drive; there were a lot of farms.

I had one last event in Akron, OH at the public library. It was set up by my good friend Abby Bays. When she got her job in their marketing department, she wrote right away and I'm so glad it worked out. We had a blast. She was nervous to take me out in public, due to her fear of the Highlights Magazine gossip column paparazzi.

And now I am finally home!!! For now.

I have a great weekend ahead at the Brattleboro Literary Festival. The leaves have been turning colors while I've been away and I'm excited to see what the colors might look like a little bit north of here.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

exhibit @ foster gallery at the end of november

Just a heads up - I will be exhibiting original paintings from my books at the Foster Gallery in Dedham, MA at the end of November through the beginning of January. Other artists in the show include Grace Lin, Kelly Murphy, Peter Reynolds, Fred Lynch, Paul Olson and Ann Smith.

Thank you, Michigan!!!

I just found out that Punk Farm is up for a state award in Michigan, too!

It's an honor just to be nominated! I know that sounds like a cliche, but it's true - it's a complete honor to be listed amongst so many esteemed books!

Check out the announcement for the Mitten Award here! A big thanks to the Michigan Library Association!

Worcesta' radio

My interview with Mark Lynch on Inquiry has been archived on their site - http://www.wicn.org/programs/archive/in091006p2.m3u

We talk about My Buddy, Slug; Lunch Lady; Hollywood; and I announce the top secret picture book that I've been alluding to on this blog....

Saturday, September 30, 2006

random funny kid quote

After (purposefully) messing up a drawing in front of 150 kids and announcing my embarrassment, a kid in the first row says,

"You don't need to be embarrassed. We understand. It happens."

random funny kid quote

"Slug's just like my brother. He won't shut up!"

-A kid at a New York City reading.

Thank you, Wisconsin!!!

No, really! Thank you, Wisconsin!

Punk Farm is up for a book award in Wisconsin - and the best kind, too - the kind voted on by students!

Check out the WEMA Golden Archer list for '06-'07!

Wrapping up Chicago - off to Cincinnati!

Chicago was awesome!!!!

I had great morning events all day on Thursday and then I had a stellar turn out on Thursday night! It was billed as a bedtime story hour and a bunch of kids came out to hear a reading - in their pajamas! Plus, there was a local education masters program that turned up as well. I also got to see another old camp friend - Mark. Another bit of trivia for you loyal readers - Mark is the guy who started his own record label - 3rd World Industries. We compared and contrasted the book industry to the music industry and it is surprising how similar they can be.

We had a lot of fun turning up to the book signing and sitting in the audience. I acted as though I was an impatient fan and yelled up to Ann Marie (who was running the event), "Hey, when is the author coming?! This is ridiculous! I've been waiting months for this book!" "Oh you mean, this one - My Buddy, Slug?" she asked. "Yeah, that one -it's really good!" The banter went on. You should have been there.

I got to meet Momma and Sister Sherman. My agent's family has been reading my books at their school. And for their students, they made Slug into a parable for the Yom Kippur holiday, teaching about forgiveness and the new year. Very cool.

Another early morning on Friday to a great event way out, an hour north west of Chicago - then a quick trip back to the airport where I caught a flight to Dayton, OH.

And then today - two great events with both Books & Co stores in Dayton.

Now - I have some time to just chill out.

Because next week - I'll be at it again!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Autographed copies of SLUG

If you don't live anywhere near my book tour stops, and you were looking to get a signed book - I signed a bunch of stock for Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops' online store.

Here's the link - http://www.schwartzbooks.com/cgi-bin/item/A375833420

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Milwaukee, then Chicago....

It was an early, early flight from Pittsburgh to Milwaukee! I was incredibly excited to have 14 hours in Wisconsin. I had the chance to read to some very enthusiastic crowds in Milwaukee schools in the morning. And when I read Punk Farm and got to yell "Thank you, Wisconsin!!!" - well, it was awesome. And the teachers especially appreciated it. Now when I explained that hidden within the pages was compost bags that were from my friend Fr. Dom's compost product - Fr. Dom's Duck Doo, a teacher in the front cheered - because her garden had grown so well using that compost. Ha! It's just funny because Dom and I have known each other for 10 years from the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp and as his business grew and my books were getting published, we would always needle the other for getting too famous to call. If anyone knows Fr. Dom - you know that he can be a smart alleck. So he didn't believe me when I told him that teachers were singing his compost's praises.

And Fr. Dom and I did get to spend the afternoon catching up. We walked around downtown Milwaukee and he showed me around, pointed out interesting facts about buildings and we walked around Milwaukee's new art museum building - which is amazing. I would say it would be worth the trip alone! After catching up with my old friend, I headed to my evening book signing. There, I got to meet the very talented and fellow central Massachusetts kid Jeff Newman. Turns out we grew up a few towns away, were just one year apart in high school and knew a few of the same people from high school art classes!

Then it was off to a late night drive to Chicago. You can imagine at this point that I am BEAT! And I left Wisconsin without seeing a single cow!

With a few hours of sleep behind me, I woke up to conquer the suburbs of Chi-town! And did I ever feel like a rock star in the morning school visits! They had made banners and bagheads and put together a bulletin board of "What they learned from Slug". The responses were priceless and I think that once this tour is over, I will be posting one here every few weeks or so! And how lucky was I that my tour would take me to western Chicago suburbia where my friend Galen goes to school?! For those loyal readers, you may remember that Galen was my friend from when we had that crazy monster puppet this past summer. Well, the puppet made the trip just to see his old buddy Galen. (The irony of the whole thing is that my media escort for the day was driving around Kevin Clash and Elmo the week before.) Galen got to see my school presentation, which was so cool because he knew half the art in the slide show. In fact, Galen was one of those campers who I read Slug to back in the late 90's when he was a camper at the Hole in the Wall Gang. And Galen (who always wore a yellow hat at camp) is a background character in one of my books. Galen showed me around Wheaton, which has a beautiful campus and a nice little downtown area. But then it was off to the next event -

Which was -OK. Not the biggest event, but not the smallest (that record is still at 1 kid for me - which I'm sure will someday be broken by 0). But that is the nature of the beast. You learn not to take it personally.

And now I am finally rested and off to conquer another suburban area of Chi-town!
I have so many great pictures that illustrate all of these stories, but I have had NO time to upload them! So you'll have to see a bunch at once. Maybe I'll upload some this weekend, we'll see.

Monday, September 25, 2006

ありがとう、東京 Thank you, Tokyo!!!!!

(Punk Farm)

I'm psyched to announce that Soensha, a Japanese publisher, will be publishing Punk Farm in Japan!

If the free translation sites are correct "Thank you Wisconsin" will sound something like "Domo Wisconsin!"

I don't have a pub date yet, but it should be within the next year and a half or so!


I had the best day in Pittsburgh. The day started early at a great local school and then I got to see old friends from Camp Sunshine who I haven't seen in 4 years. Diana came with her sons Mishan and Nathaniel. They showed me all around town and I have to say - Pittsburgh is a cool city. It was so great to reconnect with these old friends that I've known since '96! In fact, when I first wrote Slug, I brought it up to camp to read to the kids. So I read Slug to Mishan and Nathaniel 9 years ago when they were 4 and 7 and I read Slug to them today when they were 13 and 16! It was awesome. Except this time around, they were taller than me!

That really is the coolest, most unexpected part of my career. I'm able to reconnect with so many great, old friends. It's a rare thing to be able to do and I love it! It's very appropriate that my Slug tour would take me through Pittsburgh. I had a great reading and signing in the evening at Joseph-Beth books. It's hard to tell how evening book signings will go sometimes, especially in a city where I've never had an event before. And just before the event - I thought it might just be me and my friends. But a good amount of people came out! I was very pleasantly surprised. And speaking of surprises - as I was reading, my friends Paul Raj and Amber turned up. I didn't even know that they lived in Pittsburgh, let alone a few blocks from the store!

Well, I should probably get some sleep, as I need to leave the hotel at 4 AM tomorrow to catch my flight to Milwaukee! Yikes, I know! But I am so excited - tomorrow I will read Punk Farm and say "Thank you, Wisconsin" and mean it!

Chicago Tribune

The Chicago Tribune has given Slug some props.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

NYC was great, mid-west - here I come!

So my events in New York City were great! The Time Out NY Kids event at Books of Wonder was awesome and the events at the Children's Museum of Manhattan were good, too!

A lot of great friends came out to the big Time Out NY Kids event. I'll be sure to post some pictures soon!

I'm in Pittsburgh now and I'm ready to get in front of some great audiences tomorrow and all week! It's a busy, busy few weeks and I'm ready for it!!!


Oh - and I'm also carting the big Slug book around in a giant portolio that I painted up in orange Slug drawings. So if you see me running to catch a plane, I'll be that guy with the giant portfolio with orange Slug drawings on it....

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Hey, New York City!

Come on out to Books of Wonder on Friday at 5:30 to help me and Time Out New York Kids celebrate My Buddy, Slug as their inaugural book club pick! They're giving out some free stuff and I, of course, will have free Punk Farm stickers.

Also, I will be talking and showing some slides of my childhood work at the Children's Museum of Manhattan on Saturday at 3 & 4.

Monday, September 18, 2006

week one, done!

So Slug's first week in this world as a published book character has come and gone! And what a week it was. It started at my old college and ended at my old high school, with a visit to my old elementary school in-between! Visiting each school really made me realize how far I've come. And I've always been adamant to never forget where I came from, which should be true for everyone, no matter what their trade. I wrote earlier on the first few days of Slug, but since then.... I had a great time at the Boston Globe Book Festival reading on the Target stage. I got to see my good friend Peter Brown and see him read his book. If you ever get a chance to see him read - don't pass it up! I really came to a deeper appreciation for his books. Backstage I had the chance to meet Todd Parr and Rhea Pearlman. Meeting Todd was cool, because when Slug was a class project back at RISD, my teacher from that particular class was Megan Tingley, an editor at Little Brown, who at the time was publishing a brand new book by a first time author/illustrator - Todd Parr. It's crazy how Slug really has become about full circles.

Speaking of full circles, I was inducted into my old high school's hall of fame. I was introduced by my old art teacher at Holy Name, Mr. Shilale. He nixed the formal introduction to tell two stories. The first was about my application to RISD. When you apply to RISD, you need to draw three pencil drawings for your application. Well, Mr. Shilale thought he had sprayed the drawings with fixative, which seals the drawings and prevents smudging. 15 minutes later the drawings were still damp. And sticky. He had sprayed the drawings with spray adhesive!!! He feared he had forever ruined my career. The second story involved a mural that I painted in the high school. I painted our mascot (The Napoleon - I know weird mascot) on the wall across from what was then the room where the newspaper group met. Well, I had failed to take into account where the light switch would be. I'll give you one guess as to where it was... Let's just say that the mural is still up now and the students still get a kick out of flipping the lights off an on. Anyhow, I did get to give a little speech and I thanked Mr. Shilale for being a great educator. On a daily basis, I still use many of the basic elements that I learned in his classroom.

I also got to thank Mrs. Robin Casey. She wasn't a teacher of mine, but did serve as a moderator for both the newspaper and the class officers, for which I was a member of both. She's the one who let me paint that mural in the first place and also the one who offered me the job as the cartoonist for the school newspaper. My role as school cartoonist had a profound affect on my life. Not only did I get a charge out of sharing my stories and cartoons with my peers by having them published, but the job kept me from transferring out of the high school. And even bigger - the high school eventually sent me to Camp Sunshine, which would later bring me to the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. Robin also helped me through some pretty traumatic times in my teenage years. It's a rare opportunity to get to publicly thank people who had a big impact on your life and I was grateful for it.

And now I am home painting. It's the calm before the storm - for both my book tour and my impending book deadline!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Dear Boston,

Come out to the Boston Globe Book Festival tomorrow and check me out on the Target stage! 1PM in Copley Sq - represent!

And there is a chance, though slim, that Fox25 News may be coming to cover my reading. So get your beauty rest and come on out!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A great start!

Talk about a great start to the SLUG tour. I had a great few days in Worcester schools and got to see some old friends as teachers! The day My Buddy, Slug was released, I walked to my old elementary school. It was so surreal. It was the walk that I did for 9 years from grades K-8. On that walk, I walk by a public pool and there is this concrete wall that used to seem so enormous to me. It's amazing how small it really is. It also struck me that I would be speaking at my old elementary school when the night before I spoke to my old college. (And this weekend I''ll be stopping by my old high school to be inducted into their 'hall of fame'.) Craziness. I loved visiting my old elementary school. It isn't the same building, though. That was torn down in 1991. But the new building does have a plaque right in the front with an image of what the old Gates Lane looked like.

Spent the day with my grandparents and then the big night was upon me. The B&N event was a HUGE success! My family was there, so many old and dear friends and a lot of new readers as well. It's crazy to think back to when I first wrote the book and carted is around to read to family, back then I would have never thought that someday there would be this book signing - where my godson Ryan would stand at 6'3", my little brother would roll up on a motorcycle and my mother would come running in without a second to lose as I began to read the book. My grandparents sat proudly in the first row, surrounded by family members. Old high school teachers and friends were there, along with childhood friends' mothers. I even had an old camper who I hadn't seen in years turn up! I was truly honored by everyone's presence. It's always great to see so many familiar faces come out to support me and my latest work. And people came from far away this time around! The award for the furthest trip comes from the Engel family who traveled all the way from upstate NY, just to be there for the day that Slug was released! I began reading at 6:10 or so, started signing shortly after that and the line went until 8:30!

I couldn't have asked for a better way to start the book tour or to celebrate Slug's release.

It has truly been a dream come true.

Then today, on the 2nd day of Slug, I tune into NPR and here a familiar voice. It's me! They aired the segment and the timing couldn't be any better! And I - couldn't be any more thankful! Listen to it here - http://www.here-now.org/shows/2006/09/20060913_17.asp

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


It's officially here!!!!!


is in book stores!!!

Today was a busy day! The two schools were a good test drive for the giant SLUG book. I'll be really strong by the end of this book tour! If you get out to an event, I think you will get a kick out of watching me try to manage a 2 foot by 3 foot book. My RISD talk went really well. Too many funny highlights for a tired illustrator to post right now. But I wanted to introduce "The SLUG count". Every time I read
My Buddy, Slug, I will put another stamp on this board. Kind of like old fashioned bomber planes that you would see in cartoons.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

so. so. close....

So not even 2 full days until Slug's release date..... I am getting ready for a busy two days. I am speaking at a few Worcester elementary schools in the morning and then heading down to Providence at night to be the RISD Orientation Keynote Speaker. Then Tuesday is the BIG DAY! I'll be speaking at Gates Lane, my old elementary school and then signing at B&N Lincoln Sq that night!

Here we go!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

the GIANT sized SLUG book

The very awesome people at Random House publicity have created a very cool version of My Buddy, Slug! It's a GIANT oversized version of the book that I am bringing on tour with me. It is about 2 feet tall and when opened, 3 feet wide!!!

So come out to an event and you will see me reading one giant book! OR - keep an eye out for me at the airport trying to lug this thing past security!!! That will be a sight!

Media Madness

If you live in central Mass and watched channel 3 last night, you may have caught my interview there. If you missed it, it may be posted here eventually, but not for a while. However, you could try to catch some of the following local media -

Sunday 9/10 @ 11:30 AM - NBC Boston
Sunday 9/10 @ 9:30 PM WICN 90.5 FM (and webcast at wicn.org) - This is Inquiry, hosted by good friend Mark Lynch. This is my 6th appearance on this show!

And I'm not sure when - but I will also be on NPR's Here and Now, check in at www.here-now.org

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

in ONE week

In ONE week, My Buddy, Slug will officially be released! And if you live in or around the Worcester, MA area - come help me celebrate at Barnes & Noble Lincoln Sq. It's a new venue for my Worcester signings and I've never had a signing on the day of publication - so come on by if you can!

9/12 - B&N Lincoln Sq Worcester @ 6PM

Also, if you are in Boston - come by Copley SQ on 9/16 @ 1PM and I'll be reading on the Target stage and signing shortly after.

The Get This Book Series

Jeff Newman is a new author/illustrator on the scene and his first book with Little Brown has just been published. It's called Hippo! No, Rhino and I highly suggest that you get it. It's hysterical. Jeff is sparse on words and let's the majority of his story be artfully told by his pictures. The illustrations are rich and are very much an homage to funky illustrations from the late 60's and early 70's. Jeff is a fellow central-Massachusetts-ian, but he is now a Midwesterner. If all works out, I should be meeting the talented Mr. Newman while on my fall book tour. Take my advice - get this book!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

acceptance speech

The 'Hot Men of Children's Literature' is an ongoing series on the Fuse#8 blog, a blog about children's lit by Betsy, a librarian in the New York City public library system. It's kind of like TRL or Tiger Beat, but for librarians, editors and authors. I was so honored to have recently been chosen. The following is my acceptance speech.

(walks up to podium. takes trophy in hand.)
Wow. (wipes brow) What an honor. (applause subsides) I'd like to thank everyone who texted, emailed, and phoned in their votes. But I'd really like to thank Mo Willems most of all. Mo, thank you for believing in me and knowing that I, too, could one day be a Hot Man of Children's Literature. It is through Mo's pursuance that I am lucky enough to be included on such a fine, fine list. While Mo has been oh so humble as to want to remain anonymous in his "nomination", I can only hope to live up to his expectations by submitting a monthly photo of myself to the Fuse blog, so that I can maintain my status.

(holds up statue) Mo, this is for you, buddy!

(music kicks in. escorted off stage by models.)

Friday, August 25, 2006

the SLUG book tour 2006

Ladies and gentlemen.....boys and girls......attention one and all......

The schedule for my 2006 fall book tour for My Buddy, Slug is now posted online at...


As you can see, it is going ot be a very busy fall!

If you're able to get to a public event, I will have a stack of free Punk Farm stickers with me (while supplies last)!
there is the old school sticker

and the new one-

Time Out New York Kids!

Well, it is 18 days until My Buddy, Slug is released and it has already received a very big honor! I'm very excited to announce that Time Out New York Kids has chosen Slug as it's inaugural pick for it's new book club! The Time Out New York Kids' Book Club will be highlighting a new book every issue.

To celebrate their new book club and Slug, they will be hosting a party/reading/signing at Books of Wonder in NYC! So come on over on Friday, September 22 at 5:30 PM! Please RSVP to events@timeoutny.com - you will get a goody bag and a free 1 year subscription to TONY Kids! Awesome!

Thank you, Time Out New York Kids!


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

page by page

ATTN: SCBWI'ers - I've uploaded the Page by Page video to YouTube.com

Due to popular demand - here ya go! Feel free to pass the word on!

The Get This Book Series

So I am starting a new series on my blog. I want to give shout outs to friends who have new books out and I want to suggest books that I just think are neat. The innagural book for the JJK "Get this Book" Series
is....(drum roll please)....

Chowder by Peter Brown . Peter let me take a look at the proofs for this book a few months back and I have to say - it's great. Great story and amazing illustrations. If you didn't see Peter's first book - Flight of the Dodo - check it out. Pete will be around in this biz for a long time!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

the JJK imposter

So apparently, there is a JJK imposter out there. People kept mentioning seeing or talking with me at the SCBWI Jade Ball - when in fact - I wasn't in attendance! But there was a guy who kind of looked like me and people kept coming up to him and complimenting him on my speech and movie...and he kindly accepted - as me. He also posed for photographs!

Well, well, well Mr. Fake JJK....I would be upset if that wasn't something that I would probably do myself! Are there any JJK imposter stories out there?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Friday, August 11, 2006

photos anyone?

Hey does anyone out there have photos from the keynote that I gave at SCBWI? If so - could you please mail them to "props at studiojjk dot com"? It would be much appreciated! Thanks!!! - JJK

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

home from the LA SCBWI conference

So after a fun filled 4 or so days of the SCBWI, I am home! And trying to catch up on stuff here. It's a fairly busy week - I have an interview tomorrow at "Here and Now" on Boston's NPR station and the day after at 7 NBC's "Urban Update". I'll post airdates for both soon! And I'll also post some photos from the SCBWI soon as well!

There were so many highlights of the conference for me, but one of the biggest for me was to hear Jane Yolen speak. I've never actually heard her give a formal speech - and if you ever get the chance - by all means get there to hear it! She is wise, humorous and graceful behind the podium - which is no surprise!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

SCBWI, yo....

So I had my big fancy keynote speech this morning. It went really well. It was a pretty big audience in a really big room and believe it or not - I do get nervous just before I speak. I got to show Page by Page - and if there was ever an audience for that movie - this was it. It was great to hear people laughing and identifying with it. And the biggest props came from Caroline B. Cooney, (who has written over 80 books!) who told me that it reminded her of the joy that is found when seeing your work published.

Overall, a great time so far! Getting to hang out with my agent extraordinaire Rebecca Sherman,
my great friends from Random House - Beverly and Nancy, and other good pals Alvina Ling, Pat Mora, Jane Yolen, Mo Willems, Lisa Wheeler, Erin Eitter Kono, and Hope Vestragaard. I've also got to meet some really cool new people like Jacqueline Woodson, Jesse Joshua Watson, Nina Laden, Justina Chen Headley and the incomparable Tommy dePaola, among others.

A few more days - then it's back to Boston and back to painting for my new book! I have about 4 paintings done so far...

Thursday, August 03, 2006

LA Autograph Party on Monday

On Monday there is an Autograph Party -- 3:00pm--5:00pm -- at the Hyatt on Ave of the Stars to conclude the SCBWI conference. Lots of authors should be there signing. I'll be there with pens in hand!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Hey everyone-

I'm in LA gearing up for the big SCBWI conference. If you're going, check out the schedule - www.scbwi.org and come check out one of my talks. I'm giving a keynote speech on Saturday morning called "From Sketch Book to Published Book: An Author-Illustrator's Creative Process" (8:30am-9:30am) and then a workshop later that day called "How To Make it Once You've Made It: Promoting Your Published Book" (3:15pm-4:15pm). On Monday I'll be giving one more workshop called "STAND OUT: What Makes A Great Website and a Well-Designed Promotional Postcard" (10:45am-11:45am). I guess I like fancy titles....

And if you are at a kareoke place watch out - because my friends Carter, Jaime and I ripped it up last night... choreography and old skool rapping were involved....

Friday, July 28, 2006

*so excited*

Yesterday, I received a large envelope in the mail from Random House. I could feel that the envelope was sturdy...

That meant only one thing...

Before even tearing open the envelope, I knew what it was... a hardcover copy of My Buddy, Slug!!!!

For the first time, I could hold my book and flip through the pages. For the first time, I could see all of my ideas and hopes for the book realized.

And now all of the creative work for the book is DONE!

But then - there's the book tour! The My Buddy, Slug book tour starts on September 12, 2006 (46 days from now)!!! There will be a kick off event in my hometown of Worcester, MA on the day that the book is released!!! So if you live in or around the Worcester area, I hope to see you at the Barnes and Noble on Lincoln St in the early evening. The exact time for that - as well as info on the other 14 or so cities that I will be visiting this fall will soon be listed both here and at www.studiojjk.com/events.html

Woo Hoo!!!