News, Notes & Inside Info from a Children’s Book Author

Archive for December, 2009

Overheard: “Someday I’m Going to Tell My Kids About That Game!”

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009 Posted in Family | No Comments »


The boy, we'll call him Ernie, was not a gifted athlete. Lumbering, awkward, a little disengaged. He had never experienced much success in any sport, ever. But recently his BBC basketball team won a game by the score of 24-23. ...

Scared of Santa, Revisited

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009 Posted in Around the Web, Uncategorized | No Comments »


No, I don't know why good, sane, well-intentioned people do this to their children. This guy terrifies even me -- I keep thinking he should have a lit Chesterfield and a glass of bourbon in his hands, not an innocent lamb. I ...

SLJ Starred Review!

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009 Posted in Bystander | 3 Comments »


I learned last week that Bystander earned a starred review from School Library Journal. I believe it will be in their January edition, but don't hold me to it. My editor, Liz Szabla, sent me an advance copy of the ...

Yiddish with Dick and Jane

Monday, December 21st, 2009 Posted in Around the Web | No Comments »


I may be late to the party on this one, but it's a good party, and still going strong. As a matter of policy, I'm not leaving 'till we kill the keg. [youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruBOgIj--9Q] The above video is a promotional piece for the ...

Music Video Weekend: Glen Campbell, “Wichita Lineman”

Saturday, December 19th, 2009 Posted in Music | 4 Comments »


This is one of the greatest songs ever written. Seriously. Sometimes I even get a physical reaction, goosebumps, when I hear it. Written by Jimmy Webb, "Wichita Lineman" was most famously recorded by Glen Campbell in 1968, when it reached ...

James Preller Interviews . . . Deborah Kovacs, Part Deux

Thursday, December 17th, 2009 Posted in Interviews & Appreciations | No Comments »


If you missed Part One of the thrilling Deborah Kovacs interview, what are you doing here? Catch up by clicking here, then come on back. Hum-de-dum, de-dum-dum. Everybody else can watch this 40-second video while we wait: [youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idpCUocQkGw&channel=sesamestreet] So, tell me, DJ, what makes ...

Fan Mail Wednesday #71

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009 Posted in Bystander, Fan Mail | No Comments »


I'm gong to interrupt my interview with Deborah Kovacs -- click here for Part One -- because "Fan Mail Wednesday" is upon us. Come back tomorrow for Part Two of the interview. This one isn't exactly fan mail -- it's more ...

James Preller Interviews . . . Deborah Kovacs, Part One

Sunday, December 13th, 2009 Posted in Interviews & Appreciations, the writing process | No Comments »


Back during the Archaean eon, the earth received a heavy bombardment of meteorites. That's about when Deborah Kovacs and I first met to discuss co-authoring a book for Scholastic Professional Books, eventually titled: Meet the Authors and Illustrators. Wait, no, ...

Pretty Lights on the Tree, I’m Watching Them Shine

Friday, December 11th, 2009 Posted in Music, the writing process | 5 Comments »


Sometimes you can hear a song a hundred times and on a random afternoon it will hit you in a new way. Whap, right upside the head. As a huge Bob Dylan fan, that happens to me frequently, where I'll ...

A Favorite Line from Charlotte Zolotow

Thursday, December 10th, 2009 Posted in Interviews & Appreciations, Readings | No Comments »


I busted out the scanner to give you all a gander at a favorite page from a collection titled Snippets, by Charlotte Zolotow, illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Published in 1993, Snippets is exactly that -- forty-one brief passages gathered from Zolotow's ...