Holy cow, here’s one from Texas:
Dear Mr. Preller,
We discovered your Jigsaw Jones series at the beginning of summer as part of a Scholastic mystery books collection. At first we were reading 2-3 chapters a day, but it didn’t take long for us to be reading a book a day. My boys, Jonathan (6) and Andrew (5), drop everything they are doing and sit still for the entire time it takes to read one of your books. There aren’t a lot of mystery books for this age group, so we were delighted to find you! I also appreciate finding books that are about boys specifically, although Mila seems like a really great best friend. Thanks to you I have spent some quality time with two little guys who rarely stop moving!
Jonathan has this to say:
I like your Jigsaw books a lot. My favorite character is Jigsaw. I wonder how you know the secret codes. I wonder if you make them up or if you were a spy or something.
“He needs to keep on writing Jigsaw Jones cause it’s a nice book. I like to read it. My favorite part is when Jigsaw Jones finds out the case.
Under advisement, I decided not to mess with Texas, so I replied:
Dear Jonathan and Andrew:
Thanks for writing to me, you guys, and thanks especially to MOM for typing the email. I’m so glad to hear when young readers like my books, because I really do believe that reading is important. If you want to get smart, crack open a book!
Jonathan, I usually get ideas for secret codes by reading books about, um, secret codes. I have a bunch of them on my bookshelf. Sometimes I’ll make up my own codes. I was never a detective when I was a kid, but as the youngest of seven children — four brothers and two sisters — I did do a lot of spying on them, especially when my brother, Billy, had a girlfriend over! Good old Janice Snellbaker! I think I loved her! I even had a “spy scope” that let me see around corners. It may have been the greatest thing ever.
Andrew, I have good news and you are the first person I’m going to tell: I’m writing a new “Jigsaw Jones” book right now. I mean, I should be writing it . . . except I’m writing to you, instead. I got a phone call the other day from a young, talented editor at Scholastic — the company that makes the books — and he asked if I wanted to write a new Jigsaw Jones mystery. I asked, “When?” He answered, “Now!” So I looked into my empty wallet and cried, “Let’s do it!”
Thanks so much for writing all the way from The Lone Star State! I visited the Alamo once, and as a boy your age I thought Jim Bowie was the coolest cowboy ever. He sure did own a big, big knife, sometimes called “The Arkansas Toothpick.”