Tuesday, May 21, 2019

May the 4th

When Pride Parade falls on May the 4th!

Jedi Academy Art!

The students at Halifax Elementary made an AWESOME Jedi Academy display!‬


#ThrowbackThursday to the LUNCH LADY Read poster created for American Library Association Finished vs. Sketch‬

Sketch v Final -Punk Farm, 2005
Random House Children's Books

Worcester Addresses Childhood Trauma

Thank you to Worcester Addresses Childhood Trauma for bringing me back to my hometown for such an inspiring day. And look at these huge prints of some of the landmarks from Worcester!

Teacher Appreciation Week

Teachers—they’ll say a few words that will forever change the trajectory of your life. During my winter break during freshman year of college, I stopped by my old high school. I ran into Ms. Gareau, and she asked me if I was thinking about reapplying to RISD. She remembered how I had been rejected and how down I had been about it. I told her that applying as a transfer student was in the back of my mind. “Well, if it’s in the back of your mind, maybe it should be in the front of your mind.” She turned and walked away, not saying another word. She didn’t need to—those words stayed with me. They gave me the push I needed to be brave enough to put in another application. And after I graduated RISD, I’ve kept them as a mantra. Ms. Gareau never did mince words and thank God she didn’t. Thank you, Charlotte. And Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to all of those who hand down their wisdom.

Southern New Hampshire University Class of 2019

Congratulations, Southern New Hampshire University Class of 2019!
What a thrill and an honor to be your commencement speaker. ‪

Dr. JJK reporting for duty. ‬

Monteserrat College of Art

What a profound honor to receive a Doctorate of Fine Arts, honoris causa, from the Montserrat College of Art! I so enjoyed the privilege of addressing the class of 2019 as they begin their journey with their professional artistic endeavors. And a total surprise to be presented this honorary degree from Associate Professor Mark Hoffmann, Chair of the Visual Communication & Design Division and Coordinator of Illustration. Of course, back in the day I just knew him as “Hoffman”— the guy who lived down the hall from me in art school. 

Happy School Lunch Hero Day 2019!

Happy School Lunch Hero Day! Here’s to all the people who keep our kids’ bellies full and offer kind smiles in the lunch (and breakfast) lines. ‬

7 million breakfasts, lunches, and even some suppers prepared in Irving ISD each school year. What a fun day hanging out with these champions!

Schulze Elementary made School Lunch Hero Day trading cards for the students! ‬

Proud to be an Author Ambassador for School Library Month. Here is my 2014 TED Talk about how this day came about and what people have done to share their appreciation for all that is being done in our school cafeterias.

Book Friends Forever & In Contrast

I filled in on the Book Friends Forever podcast! Sure, listen to hear Grace Lin and I discuss 20 years of friendship and making it in the book industry, but really listen to hear all about a potluck dinner gone horribly wrong.

From seeking out writing advice from David Sedaris to reaching deep into traumatic memories, I stopped by In Contrast to discuss crafting my graphic memoir. 

Teen Lit Con

Fantastic day at #TeenLitCon with Lamar "L.R." GilesTomi AdeyemiBecky Albertalli, and a few thousand amazing readers!

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Literary Lights

‪Should Jeff Kinney be nervous that I’ll be introducing him at the prestigious Literary Lights ceremony?‬

LA Times Book Prizes Ceremony

A fantastic evening at the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes ceremony. A total honor to be in the Young Adult Literature category with Elizabeth Acevedo, Kelly Loy Gilbert, and Emily X.R. Pan. And congratulations, Poet X!


It is always so very nice to return to RISD’s illustration department. I will always remember the hope I had walking through these doors to go to class, thinking about all of the alumni that studied here before me. I can’t wait to see what the next crop of graduates bring to this world.

Mary Jane and Judy Sue—two RISD professors who had a profound impact on the direction my work took. And four first names amongst them!

Happy Birthday, Beverly Cleary!

This April marked Beverly Cleary’s 103rd birthday. How lucky I am to have her work as a part of the fabric of the literature that I grew up with. Here’s a book report I wrote on Runaway Ralph. Printed on a dot matrix printer…

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Art Commissions on Etsy

If you’re interested in ordering a commission before I put my Etsy store back in hibernation mode, please follow this link: https://www.etsy.com/shop/studiojjkshop

I’m taking drawing commissions now ahead of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Also, I updated the shipping settings to send drawings outside of the US.

Sunday, April 07, 2019

Q&A Time

‪When the audience numbers over a thousand students, I go to them for Q&A... and make a Donahue reference that none of them get. See that little grey spec in the back? That’s me!‬

Indie Choice Book Awards

I am incredibly honored that booksellers have lifted up HEY, KIDDO as a Young Adult Book of the Year Finalist for the 2019 Indies Choice Book Awards. Booksellers across the country will now vote online and winners will be announced in May. But to be fair, I definitely already feel like a winner just to be in the running. 

Read with Malcolm Foundation

A total honor to help Malcolm Mitchell raise money for and awareness of his important work with Read with Malcolm foundation. I have been a huge admirer of Malcolm and his story since I first saw him featured on CBS Sunday morning six years ago. Also, there’s that whole Super Bowl thing too.

Public Speaking

 Photo by Pat Jarrett

I love presenting to large crowds. The energy is palpable! A huge irony, since I used to be terrified of public speaking. In many instances now, I'm running events where students get bused into a larger venue. If you're interested in putting something together, please contact Authors Unbound Agency. After years of organizing my events in-house, we just can't keep up with all of the correspondence. The team at AU has been such a blessing!

(And if you are looking to book an event that is smaller in scale, we're still putting those on the calendar too.)

Thanks, Joan

I am eternally grateful for people who support my work, and Joan Kindig has been doing so since the days of Baghead (2002). Joan first hosted me in Charlottesville at the Virginia Festival of the Book back around 2005, going so far as to host a party at her house to get me in front of area educators. So what a special treat that she was the volunteer to cart me around at this year’s Virginia Festival of the Book! Joan has grandkids now, I have kids now...so we had much to catch up on! I presented to rooms filled with 1,200 kids, something I wouldn’t have even dreamed of back in the day.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Book Report

Just about every week, I’m on SiriusXM Kids Place Live recommending books to kids and their grown-ups.
If you didn’t know, all of my past episodes are archived here.

Thank you!

I am thankful for this journey with HEY, KIDDO. And thankful for the art and stories young people share with me. So often, teachers are asking me what they can do for their kids in these situations. Listen. That’s what they need so desperately. To be heard.

 I love that technology offers me the opportunity to connect with young readers and artists via virtual school visits. Thank you for hosting me and for stopping by my studio, Clear Spring Elementary! 

The ENERGY of 1,200 third-fifth graders at Virginia Festival of the Book! 


Jedi Academy: Revenge of the Sis will be here in a few days. March 26!

Get to know Christina Starspeeder better as she takes center stage in the next Jedi Academy book! Revenge of the Sis is a collaboration between Amy Ignatow and me. I am so very excited for you to read it!

You'll also meet Jedi Master Skia-Ro in REVENGE OF THE SIS!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Jedi Academy: Revenge of the Sis

‪A “subtle” hint for my most favorite scene from JEDI: ACADEMY: REVENGE OF THE SIS, out March 26th. ‬
‪I had an absolute blast collaborating with the brilliant Amy Ignatow on this book. ‬

This will never get old—opening a box or my books for the first time.

Hey, Kiddo News

Thank you to the entire Cybils Awards commitee and participants for helping raise awareness of literature for young readers via your online community! So honored to have HEY, KIDDO amongst the list of winning titles.

‪Huge news for HEY,‬ KIDDO. My book is a finalist for a Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the Young Adult category!

Happy Birthday, LeVar Burton!

‪Happy birthday, LeVar Burton! I will never forget the opportunity I had to sing the Reading Rainbow theme song on stage with you in 2011. ‬