Wednesday, January 29, 2014

archived webcast!

For those that had no school today because of weather, I archived one of today's webcasts on my YouTube page for you:

Personalized, autographed copies of LL10

To celebrate the release of Lunch Lady and the Schoolwide Scuffle, I will be signing and personalizing copies of the book ordered through my local bookshop. Visit Broadside Bookshop online and plug in your personalizations under the customer comments section when you order. I'll stop by the store at the end of the week and then the book(s) will get shipped to you!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Tour Schedule Winter / Spring 2014

I have some exciting events lined up to support of Lunch Lady and the Schoolwide Scuffle. I'll be hitting some cities that I haven't toured in since 2005's Punk Farm and I'll also be getting to some exciting festivals and conferences! It's always a good idea to double check with the venue ahead of the event. And definitely check back, because dates may be added. I hope to see you at one of the events listed below! (But not all the events, that would be a little stalkerish. I mean awkward, right?) 

January 28, 4 pm- Shelburne, VT- Flying Pig Bookstore

January 29, 10 am, 12 pm & 2 pm EST- Everywhere in the world- Tune in to the free virtual webcasts!

January 29, 5 pm EST - Everywhere in the world! Tune in to The Absolutely Mindy Show on SiriusXM's Kids Place Live and call in to ask me questions live on the air! 1-866-328-2345

February 5, 7pm- Seattle, WA- Seattle Public Library

February 7, 3:30pm- Alameda, CA- Alameda Free Library

March 10, 8 am- Hyannis, MA- (MSLA) Massachusetts SchoolLibrary Association

March 16, 11:30 am-Tucson, AZ- Tucson Festival of Books

March 17, Phoenix, AZ (More info to come)

March 25, 11:40 am, WI Dells, WI- WEMTA (Wisconsin Educational Media and Technology

March 29, Northampton, MA- MELTDOWN!

April 8, Peanut Butter and Jellyfish publishes!

April 8, Portland, ME (More info to come)

April 13, Los Angeles, CA- LA Times Festival of Books

April 26, Amherst, MA- Eric Carle Museum of Picture Books

May 3, Celebrate School Lunch Hero Day!

May 6, Platypus Police Squad: The Ostrich Conspiracy publishes!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Young readers can call in to Kids Place Live to ask me questions live on the air THIS Wednesday!

Wednesday, January 29th, will be an exciting day. Aside from running live webcasts from my studio throughout the day, I'll also be live on the satellite radio and taking calls. Starting at 5 pm, I'll be live on The Absolutely Mindy Show, and if your young reader is a Lunch Lady fan, they could call in to chat with me live on air!

Here's the number:

Talk to you then! 

Ten Random Facts About the Lunch Lady Series

Cover sketch for Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute!

With the impending release of Lunch Lady and the Schoolwide Scuffle, I offer you ten little known facts about the Lunch Lady series!

Lunch Lady's apron was almost grey! I finished shading and coloring the entirety of Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute and wasn't happy with how drab it looked. It had looked fine in the few samples I had made, but repeated over and over again, it just didn't work. I went back and edited each page to make her apron yellow.

2. ROOM 208B
My first big gig as a cartoonist was with my high school newspaper. We met outside of classroom 208B. I was also commissioned to paint a mural on the newspaper's bulletin board across the hall from 208B. My mural remains in the halls of Holy Name C. C. H. S. to this day!

By now, many know that the Lunch Lady series was inspired by my real, live lunch ladies from childhood. But did you know that the character of Milmoe was based on a friend? I met Chris Milmoe in the summer of 2001 when we both worked at The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. Chris always went by "Milmoe," and is anything but a bully. He is a loud and gregarious fellow, though. Always the athlete, Milmoe went on to teach at boarding schools and coached many a varsity team. (Milmoe's sidekick, McKenna, was also named for another camp friend, Brian McKenna.)

My favorite summers with Milmoe were in cabin Green 15, where incidentally the idea for Punk Farm came to me.

An old photo from camp from the early 00's. That is Milmoe, Hilary (who is the namesake for a counselor in LL & the Summer Camp Shakedown) and John McNeil (in order to needle my friend, I gave Orson the last name of 'McNeil'!)

Coach Birkby is also named after an old camp pal, Erich Birkby. We met back in 1996 and were housemates in Boston for seven years. One summer session at camp, we ran the Sports & Rec department. So we dressed as old gym teachers and barked "hustle" to everyone playing kickball.

I did my research and talked to actual lunch ladies when writing the first book. As I visited schools, I would introduce myself to the cafeteria staff. Once they learned I was writing a book about a superhero lunch lady, I got a VIP pass to their kitchens, and was allowed to photograph their equipment.      

Hector was originally named Victor, but I felt that name sounded too much like "victorious," which didn't fit with the underdog status I wanted to give the Breakfast Bunch kids. (Incidentally, Victor was another friend from camp, but alas, his name didn't make it into the books. Sorry, Victor!)

By the time the Lunch Lady books were picked up and I was working on writing the first book, I had proposed to my girlfriend, Gina. Amongst the early notes for Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute, you can spot Gina practicing her signature for her new name.  

In the 2nd Lunch Lady book, Lunch Lady and the League of Librarians, I hid our pug one one of the book covers. Also in the Book Fair scene, Gina drew a flower on one of the book covers—without telling me! I spotted them after the book was published! Can you see it?

Gina was expecting our first child as I was finishing up the art for Lunch Lady and the League of Librarians. Every day, I contemplated pulling an all-nighter to get the art done,but I just knew that if I did, she would go into labor. One night, I did just that--plugging away on all of the art until four in the morning. Shortly after I went to bed, Gina went into labor. She let me sleep for a few hours before waking me and informing me it was time to get to the hospital!

Steve DePino is an old friend from art school, and now a hot-shot photographer. He's taken my author photos in the past and even photographed my wedding. When writing Lunch Lady and the Picture Day Peril, I named the evil school photographer Stefan DePino. But then I realized I had too many male villains in the series and there was a gender switch. So Stefan DePino became Stafani DePino!

I first had the idea for the Lunch Lady series in the fall of 2001. It's amazing what has happened to my life in the past twelve and a half years. The Lunch Lady series will be the last new book idea that both of my grandparents knew about. (They thought it was hysterical.) The first book was dedicated to my fiancĂ©, the tenth book is dedicated to our two daughters. Here I am on the day that the first book was published. Gina always gifts me with a little something to commemorate a book's publication. 

Thank you to all of my readers!!!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Flying Pig Bookstore in VT this Tuesday!

I am terribly excited to drive up to Vermont on Tuesday, January 28th, to celebrate the release of Lunch Lady and the Schoolwide Scuffle! I will be signing books at the Flying Pig Bookstore in Shelburne!

The actual event will happen at Shelburne Town Hall, 5420 Shelburne Road, which is an easy two minute walk from the bookstore.

I hope to see you there, Vermonters! Is it true that all visitors to Vermont get complimentary maple syrup and free samples of every Ben & Jerry's flavor? Or is that just a rumor?

Beaming from my studio to your classroom - this Wednesday!

To celebrate the release of Lunch Lady and the Schoolwide Scuffle, I'll be live from my studio on Wednesday, January 29th at 10 am, 12 pm and 2 pm! This is a free event for all! Just log onto for all of the information that you will need to participate!

As with all of my webcasts, signed and personalized books are available for pre-order via Broadside Bookshop. Click here to order. Please input names for inscription in the order under the "Order Comments" field.

See you on the Interwebs! Ralph will be ready for you!

Monday, January 06, 2014

Y'all—I'll see you in Texas this weekend!

Visiting Texas schools in 2003.

I am kicking off my 2014 in he Lone Star State this weekend with two exciting events!

On Friday, January 10th, I will be at the Midland Public Library in Midland, TX at 4 pm. I'll be talking about how I came up with many of my characters, reading, and signing books as well!

Then, on Saturday, January 11th, I will be in Abilene, TX to speak at the National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature at 10 am. This is a part of that great exhibit they mounted on kids' comics called "Bam! It's a Picture Book: The Art Behind Graphic Novels." I can't wait to see the exhibit myself!

I'll see you there!

And if I haven't mentioned it yet on the ol' blog, I have been incredibly honored to have had Platypus Police Squad: The Frog Who Croaked make it to the Bluebonnet Award nominee. It's an especially big thrill, as I've been visiting schools down in Texas for some time. (Check out the caption on that photo above!)

My spring tour information is getting all squared away. There will be more dates added, but in the meantime, be sure to check out the calendar on my homepage at If you live in California, Washington, Vermont, Arizona or Wisconsin it will be of special interest to you...