Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bookie Woogie on Lunchy Lady

Check out these über cool drawings from Gracie, Isaac and Lily.

Now, check out their über cool review of Lunch Lady on their blog, Bookie Woogie, that they run with the help of their dad, the talented Aaron Zenz.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Workin', workin', workin' day and night

Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines! That has been the running theme throughout the studio as of late. I've been hard at work at LL#4 (Lunch Lady and the Summer Camp Shakedown). Which means waking up extra early and staying up extra late to make it happen. You could say I am in the "Eye of the Tiger" mode right now.

Here's a shot taken somewhere on the later side of the PM.

This can also act as your super-exclusive sneak preview of LL4—out May 11, 2010. OK, back to the drawing board . . .

Monday, August 24, 2009

Indie Next List

I am honored that Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute is on the Autumn '09 Indie Next List.

What is the Indie Next List? This is from the American Booksellers Association:
The Indie Next List, drawn from bookseller-recommended favorite handsells, epitomizes the heart and soul of passionate bookselling. Independent booksellers are and have always been discoverers of the next big thing, the next great read, the next bestseller, and the next undiscovered gem.

Haven't ordered your copy of LL#1 yet? Well, then hop on over to and support your local bookshop. And thank you to all the indies for putting LL#1 on your list!

Also among the honorees on the fall '09 list are the powerful works of friends Grace Lin (Where the Mountain Meets the Moon), David Levithan (Love is the Higher Law), Peter McCarty (Jeremy Draws a Monster) and Libba Bray (Going Bovine). I am proud to be among thee!

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Four months from today, Lunch Lady and the Author Visit Vendetta will be on book shelves. It will be the 3rd Lunch Lady book, my 12th book overall and my 32nd birthday—all on December 22nd. Lots of 3's and 2's . . . pretty cool, huh?

Sketchbook Saturday

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Guess who came to dinner?

G and I had the honor of hosting Tomie dePaola and his crew for dinner last weekend. G grew up with repeat readings of Strega Nona. She even had that original copy in her apartment in Boston when we first met. (The book made every move from college on.) She's an Italian girl who likes to cook and loves to see people enjoy her food. Imagine how she felt when her hero not only stopped by, but loved her meal!

Check out Tomie's blog for his perspective.

And check out the article about Tomie's work and Carle exhibit in The Amherst Bulletin.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

It was a good Bee

Last Sunday, I was a judge at Macy's Spelling Bee, a part of their "Book a Brighter Future" campaign in support of Reading is Fundamental. What is it like to judge a Spelling Bee? Can you spell the word "intense"? There was the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. (The agony came with a ding from an official Spelling Bee bell. Yes, it was an officially sanctioned Spelling Bee bell!)

Towards the end, you could cut the tension with a knife. These kids were tenacious. "Tenacious. T-E-N-A-C-I-O-U-S. Tenacious."

Here I am hoping the contestant spells the word
correctly, so that I don't have to ring the bell.

Some of the brave contestants awaiting their turn on the stage.

With Alishia Frey from RIF.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

scenes from the Worcester Public Library event

All of my events in Worcester, MA are among the most memorable for me. It's where I grew up, so I have lots of family members and old friends in attendance. It's like a homecoming of sorts. Well this year's event was especially stellar—it was standing room only and the books sold out before the program even began. Among the many attendees were Jeanne and Betty, my old lunch ladies from Gates Lane School. I last saw them in 2001 when a chance encounter with Jeanne led met to think about the secret lives of lunch ladies and before that in 1991, when I graduated. Now, my school was K-8, so I had these lunch ladies for 9 years! Many people who I went to grade school with always comment how the classrooms in my books resemble the classrooms from Gates Lane. Some images are just burned into my visual subconscious. Looks like Jeanne and Betty may have had the same effect on how I draw lunch ladies!

My former lunch ladies were thrilled by all of the hoopla of the event and I honored them with original art and books for all of their years of service in the lunch room. (30 for Jeanne, 40 for Betty!) They told me their years at Gates Lane were the best years of their lives.

AND . . . they even signed books themselves. They each had lines of fans seeking autographs.

If you live in the Worcester area, I will be returning to sign pre-ordered books at the Barnes and Noble in Milbury, I am sure they would be happy to add you to the list of names taken from the Worcester event.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp

For six summers I was a full-summer staff member at The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. I stayed on and volunteered for weeks here and there over the next four summers. They were among some of the best summers of my life. I hadn't been back in four years, but this summer I changed that. I can't volunteer for a whole week now, but there are other ways that I can give of my time.

Random House Children's Books very generously donated 130 books to the camp. Each kid arrived to camp with a copy of Lunch Lady on their bunks. I returned to my old second home last week and signed copies for each kid and taught a cartooning lesson in Arts and Crafts. It was amazing. Many of the staff members were former campers of mine.

A big thank you to Random House Children's Books for helping make this day happen!

To learn more about the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, where kids dealing with life-threatening illnesses attend camp free of charge, please visit their website at or visit to learn about the many camps in the Association of Hole in the Wall Camps. There may be a camp near you and there may be ways that you too can contribute to this great cause!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

RIF & Macy's Book a Brighter Future

I am proud to support the good work of Reading is Fundamental. This Sunday at 12PM, I will be participating as a "celebrity judge" at Macy's Fourth Annual Spelling Bee at Macy's flagship store in Herald Sq at 151 West 34th St in New York City. This charity event is in support of RIF's partnership with Macy's in the Book a Brighter Future program.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Did you catch me on Sirius XM?

Last Friday at 5PM I was on live with Mindy of The Absolutely Mindy Show on Sirius XM's Kids Place Live. Not sure if it is archived anywhere, but maybe you caught it while driving about town!

Marty's aunt

The day that the Worcester Telegram and Gazette ran an article about the Lunch Lady books, my phone rang and it was my old friend Marty. Without missing a beat he said, "You wrote a book about my aunt?!" WHA? Turns out, my old lunch lady is Marty's grandfather's sister-in-law. Who knew?! Now I've known Marty since I was 15 and I went to many a Sunday dinner at his grandparents' house. Imagine if I had ran into my old lunch lady all those years ago? I would have never been hit by the shock of her having grandkids when I ran into her in 2001 and I would have never written these Lunch Lady books.

Timing is everything!

scenes from the Odyssey Bookshop event

Jeanne Birdsall brought her camera and snapped away at my reading & signing at the Odyssey Bookshop in Hadley , MA. Here are a few of her pics from a few Saturdays ago.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Wenham Museum comic show still up

There is still time to catch the comic book exhibit at the Wenham Museum. They have a great exhibit with old memorabilia from classic comics and original art from some of today's artists, including myself. You can view pages of original art from Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute through September 13.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

LL shout-outs!

Jack from Houghton, MI picked up his copy of LL#1 at Book World. His mom Boni also wrote in to say that her reluctant reader son read it on the way home from the bookstore! Awesome!!!

Jay Asher took a break form reading his mega-successful 13 Reasons Why to read a passage from LL#1 while on book tour at Barnes and Noble in Manchester, NH. (Looks like I'll be reading the words of Hannah Baker on my next book tour stop.)

Bob Boyle picked up his copies at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasedena, CA. Wow! Wow! Wubzy, indeed!

My peeps at The Odyssey Bookshop in S. Hadley, MA are rocking a floor display!

Yukari from Hawthorne, CA pre-ordered her copies from Amazon!

In Nassau County, NY, Lunch Lady has excellent company on Kelly Light's coffee table!

(Pics for shout-outs can be emailed to props at studio jjk dot com, or posted on facebook.)

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The Worcester Telegram & Gazette

My hometown paper published a great write up today on all things Lunch Lady. They even tracked down my old grade school lunch lady, Jeanne, to get a quote! She is the lunch lady who I had the chance encounter with back in 2001, which spun me into thinking about the secret lives of lunch ladies. Turns out there will be a reunion tomorrow night—Jeanne plans on attending my reading and signing at the Worcester Public Library.

Check out the article here.


Monday, August 03, 2009

Get to know Emily Halpern and Sarah Haskins

Emily Halpern and Sarah Haskins are two very funny, very talented screenwriters. So much so, that Variety has deemed them among the 10 Screenwriters to Watch. Check out their profile in the industry trade here.

Emily and Sarah are penning the Lunch Lady screenplay. Mizz Lady Lunch is in very, very good hands.