Monday, March 27, 2006

Guys Read @ PLA

I landed from Virginia and before I could unpack, I was off to the Public Library Association conference in Boston. I had a great signing at the Random House booth on Thursday and then I got to take a break from all the madness of running around and had a big lunch with Tony and Angela DiTerlizzi and Holly Black. It was good to kick back with good friends and talk books. I saw Alvina for all of a few minutes (sorry we didn't get to hang out more!). That night, Penguin Putnam sponsored a dinner for Jon Scieszka and myself. We had a great bunch of librarians and book people to dine with. Jon and I decided we were going to start a new award - the best children's book of the year awarded to an author and illustrator whose last name ended in "zka". There would be two categories - one for writing and one for illustrating.... So keep your eyes open for it and vote often!

You would think I would have retired for the evening then, but one of my favorite bands, Mates of State, was playing in Cambridge. And over the past 3 years, I have missed their show every time!!! So I jumped on the T and met up with my sister and our friend Skot for an amazing show. I wanted to buy a CD and a T-shirt, so I walked up to the merch booth and as I was looking up at the various T's, the kid behind the counter said "Excuse me... do you write children's books?"
I looked down."Yes," I said.
"Did you work at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp?"
"Yeeesss..." I responded.
"You used to be my counselor!"
And I did! Wow. It was Mark Jorbain. Wow! I hadn't seen him in 5 years. And now he is 22 and has started his own record label, Third World Industries and he is managing the opening act of the show that I saw.

I got to bed a little passed 2 AM and then woke up early the next day for the Guys Read panel discussion at PLA. I met up with Jon and Tim Basil Ering and we walked over to the conference together. Now spending any time with Tim Basil is like a whirlwind, because he just gives you so much energy. We turned up at the conference hall and Tim and I suddenly realized that we were talking to a much larger group than we thought we would be - there were at least 6oo people or so. Maybe I should have planned better - I thought it was going to be more casual! We were soon joined by the Erik P. Kraft (who has quickly rose to being one of the funniest people I know) and Tony D. Jon discussed the Guys Read mission and statistics on how low reading scores are for boys. Why don't guys read?

We were each introduced and spoke of reading, writing and drawing as young kids. It was amazing to see how many of the same themes came up in all of our lives - comic books got us into things, reading didn't always come easily....... We had a great signing afterwards and signing like that in a group was more fun than I would have ever imagined. We talked about maybe forming a band and touring together.

Then some wacky guy in the booth across from us started throwing around chocolate covered nut clusters. Don't ask me why - but I'm glad he did - I was hungry!

Here is a picture from the talk. Tim took more with his camera, so when I get my hands on more pics, I'll post them.

If that wasn't enough, then dozens of friends came into Boston for the weekend to celebrate Kevin Rice's (AKA Edie from "Page by Page") birthday. So many good friends came in from as far away as the UK, California and Louisiana. So many surprises and more good friends that I haven't seen in years in some cases and months in other cases......

I think I may be having over stimulation withdrawal.....

back from Virgina

I had a great week and a half in Virginia! A big thank you to my friend Liz in Fairfax for setting up schools in her area and to Joan for coordinating the schools in Charlottesville (and that one crazy stop in-between - and I'm talking about the schools, not the speeding ticket!) And of course a big thanks to every school that had me!

I got to see a lot of old and good friends along the way. Some who I haven't seen in years - like Jamie Smith who is engaged now! - and old friends that I get to see often, but not enough as I really should - like John McNeil - who is at the start of his career in med school!

Happy 5th Birthday, Isaiah!

By far one of the coolest things that has happened to me over the years is when I catch wind of a birthday cake that has one of my characters on it. The first time that it ever happened to me was shortly after Good Night, Monkey Boy was released. At the time, it jolted me into realizing that my work was out there and that kids were vibing with what I was doing. I placed the photo on the wall in front of my drafting table to remind me of that fact if I was ever having a bad day. A birthday cake is a big deal - the photos will be in their family albums forever.

With Punk Farm, I've been told of three Punk Farm themed birthday parties this year! And with the latest - I've been jolted just as I was 4 years ago when I received that picture of the Monkey Boy cake. My friends in Texas have a son, Isaiah, who just turned 5. He loves Punk Farm and can recite every word without even looking at the book! His parents put together quite the party and I am honored that Isaiah's 5th birthday involved Punk Farm!

They sent me this great invitation and some great pictures -

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

kid quote - maybe not in a book...but on a blog.....

KID: Someday, could you write a story about our school?
ME: Well…all of my experiences add up…and my experiences end up in my books somehow…
KID: My name is Paul.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

kid quote - funny kid responses

Ok, so one of the main reasons why I started this blog was to be able to record the random things that kids come up with when I'm on the road promoting. Here's a sampling of recent remarks:

ME: Who can tell me what happens when you graduate college?

Various answers:
-You start your career.
-You go to grad school.
-You go to med school. (These 1st graders are planners!)
-You have summer vacation.
-You get to wear a funny hat.
-You get your driver's licence.
-You're FREE!!!!

KID #1: Are you married yet?
ME: No
Group moans.
KID #2, turns around and says : Guys, he's only in his twenties! Come on, people!

As kids are shuffling out -
KID: Do you like the Red Sox?
ME: Yeah!
KID (Makes a face of disgust): Well I like the Yankees. Thanks for Damon!
He turns and leaves.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


F&G stands for "folded and gathered", which means that it looks like the book, but none of the pages are bound together. The colors are just about right, some things may be moved around slightly, but it's the closest you get to seeing the book before you see the actual book.

The F&G's for My Buddy, Slug came in this past week and they look great! Another step closer to seeing this book in print!!!!

How I Met Your Extra

Wow – life has been busy. I was in Colorado for an amazing vacation with my brother and some great friends (see pictures) and then I had a school visit in Denver. Great day. At one point, I was trying to explain that I had just finished a book and was going to ask the kids when the book would come out (being that I told them earlier that it takes a year for a book to be released once the art is done). And in true publishing mindset fashion – I said, “I finished the art for this book in fall of 2006, so when will it come out?”. A kid in the first row raised his hand and said, “Fall 2006 hasn’t happened yet!”

Oh yeah. He was right. It hadn’t.

I then flew to LA for a few days to see some friends and I also had a meeting with my agent out there. It was a crazy few days.

I got to see my friend Bryan Konietzko’s studio at Nickelodeon where he creates his show Avatar: The Last Airbender. Definitely inspirational and cool to see where all the magic happens.

I also got into a car accident. Here’s a bit advice – when you rent a car, make sure you take out the full rental insurance policy. I’m sure glad I did – because when you’re in LA and you get into an accident, odds are the cars involved are nice. As in a Jaguar and two Mercedes nice……

Everyone involved was safe, but it was sure a bit of a shake up.

I also got to be on TV. Not because of the accident, but because my friend Carter co-created How I Met Your Mother, which is a sitcom on CBS. I had the great opportunity to attend a taping of the season finale and then Carter asked if I would like to be an extra. So look for me in the bar scenes of the season finale! My first professional acting gig involved the cast of How I met Your Mother and me. Yes, my 1st scene involved 1 extra and I was that one extra. When you see me sitting at the next booth over and it may look like I’m talking to someone, but there was no one there….that was ACTING!

After LA, I returned to LA, where I met up with my friend Chris Milmoe (Boyfriend from “Page by Page”) and his family and I hit the mountain for 2 more days. Then reality was back and I returned home, worked on some projects, had a local book signing (it was very successful, the BN was able to bus in 140 kids) and then I took off to Virginia Beach for the Virginia State Reading Association Conference. Came home. Went to Worcester Art Museum for Art All State training, saw my mom, had dinner with my brother and sister and now I am packing to go back to Virginia for an 8 day book tour. Baghead is nominated for a Virginia state award so a bunch of schools are having me down.

When I get home, it’s straight to the Public Librarians Association conference in Boston, then up to NH for a school visit, then down to RI to drop off artwork.

So yeah – I’m keeping busy. And I’m also looking for a new hat. A new hat comes along every once in a great while. And in my travels, I’ve managed to lose my two favorite hats - my favorite winter hat and my favorite baseball cap. My brother and I wandered around the mall looking, but to no avail. I’ll be sure to keep this pressing issue at the forefront of my blog.