Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A surprise visit thanks to a little postcard and the good the Internet can bring

A few weeks ago, I kept getting sent a photo of this postcard. Twitter, Facebook, email...people kept sending it to me. In a kid's handwriting it read, "I wish my teacher knew I want to read more Lunch Lady books because I only read one..." It was a part of a growing viral hashtag, ‪#‎IWishMyTeacherKnew‬, supporting the needs of students. My wife, Gina, looked at me and said, "You need to send them some books!"
Reading up on the endeavor, I couldn't shake that its founder, Kyle Schwartz, looked familiar. Somebody sent me a Denver Post article, which linked to her Twitter. That's how I knew her—her classroom and I had exchanged tweets. And when we learned that Ms. Schwartz taught in Denver and that I'd be in Denver in a few weeks, Gina said, "You need to get to her school!"
This morning I jumped on an earlier flight and visited this wonderful school. I met with Principal Jodie Carrigan and her fantastic staff and of course, her incredible students. Ms. Schwartz started a national movement with this simple gesture—asking students to anonymously write their stories and hopes on postcards. Many of them were just gut-wrenching, but sadly not unfamiliar. And what impressed me most about Ms. Schwartz is that as her idea went viral, many tweeted at her saying, "I wish there were more teachers like you," and she would immediately reply that there were countless teachers like her—in every classroom across America. 
I had the honor of meeting that young man who wrote his hopes on that postcard. He was a little stunned that his voice had the power to be heard so loudly. He asked me to never forget him. And I never will. 
Thank you to all of the teachers out there for listening and advocating for the students they serve!

Friday, April 17, 2015

World Hemophilia Day

Today is World Hemophilia Day. 

For many summers I had the privilege of taking care of young hemophiliacs at The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. Many of my pals outside of camp had these crazy misconceptions of the blood disorder. To put it simply, hemophiliacs have low levels of Factor VIII or Factor IX, the proteins needed to clot blood. As my friend and former camper, Conor, recently said in a post, "'s a crappy disease that can leave you with a giant pile of complications if not managed appropriately."

Who's Conor? Conor is the kid who was the initial inspiration for Monkey Boy. Back in the fall of 1999 I was working at camp and started calling Conor "Monkey Boy" and he started acting the part...for the duration of our camp session! This photo was taken in 2001, shortly before Good Night, Monkey Boy was published. 

What is Conor up to now? He's studying to be a doctor! Seriously, what an inspiration. I'm in touch with many of Conor's peers, and they all grew up to do such amazing things. 

The CDC has posted a great summary of what hemophilia is all about here:

A million thank-yous

A million thank-yous to everyone who helped my TED Talk on School Lunch Hero Day reach this milestone. I hope that even more people celebrate their cafeteria staff because of this message being shared so widely. SLHD 2015 is on May 1st!

Why Wisconsin?

One of the questions I get asked most frequently is, "Why Wisconsin?" As in, why does Sheep yell, "Thank you, Wisconsin!" at the end of Punk Farm? "Are you from Wisconsin?"

Well the answer is here. This is my old and dear friend, Fr. Dom from Kenosha. We met at the The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in 1996. I was a summer counselor and Fr. Dom was a volunteer that would come help out throughout the summer. For ten summers I was lucky enough to work with Dom on several occasions. He's a true inspiration! A survivor of cancer himself, he later dedicated himself to helping children with critical illnesses via the Hole in the Wall Gang. He also created Fr. Dom's Duck Doo, a fertilizer made from duck poop—Dom has a wicked sense of humor—with all proceeds going to charity. (You can spot these yellow bags in Punk Farm's barn.) While you can no longer buy bags of Fr. Dom's Duck Doo, you can buy (if you're 21+) bottles of Fr. Dom's Holy Spirits, a line of wines that are named after saints—again, all proceeds going to charity. 

Fr. Dom and I laugh non-stop, often trading gentle barbs. And that is why I set Punk Farm in Wisconsin. 

We caught up over dinner last night. I said, "Fr. Dom, why did you choose the Rainforest Cafe?!" Without missing a beat he said, "Well, I thought you'd feel more comfortable here. What, with Monkey Boy and all..."

Monday, April 13, 2015

PPS 3 Book Tour info

Happy Spring!

Platypus Police Squad: Last Panda Standing will be here soon! The official publication date won't be until May 5th, but my newest title will be available at the Chicago-area and Denver events. If you can't make it to an event, but still would like to have a book signed, my local bookshop is offering a 20% discount on online orders of any Platypus title. (Just click here to order and input "PANDA20" in the customer comment field.)

April 14
Naperville, IL
Anderson's Two Door East 

April 16
Chicago, IL
April 25
Newburyport, MA
Newburyport Book Festival 

April 29
6:30 pm
Pueblo, CO
Pueblo Public Library

April 30
4:30 pm
Denver, CO
Sam Gary Library 

MAY 5 

May 5
10 am, 12 pm & 2 pm ET
Tune in for free!

May 8
South Hadley, MA

May 12
Michigan dates coming!

May 19
Bowling Green, OH
Wood County District Public Library

June 1
Scottsdale, AZ
10:30am / Appaloosa Library
2pm / Arabian Library
4:30pm / Civic Center Library

June 2
Scottsdale, AZ
10:30am / Mustang Library 

And if you really like to plan ahead...

September 5
Washington, D.C.
The National Book Festival

Friday, April 10, 2015

Discount on signed Platypus books for my virtual book talk on May 5th

The Odyssey Bookshop is offering 20% off of all Platypus Police Squad books via their website. All books will come signed and doodled in, also personalized if that is what you want! Use discount code Panda20 at

And I hope that you will attend the free virtual visits on Monday, May 5th at!

Monday, April 06, 2015

Finished copy of PPS3!

Look what arrived in the studio today! Final copies of Platypus Police Squad: Last Panda Standing! It'll hit bookshelves on May 5th. Holding a finished, printed book is such a gratifying feeling!

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Congratulations, Dan Santat!

This is such HUGE news! I hope I get to make a cameo when I visit you in your studio!