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

Archive for August, 2010

Artwork From the Cutting-Room Floor

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010 Posted in A Pirates Guide (Series) | 1 Comment »


Greg Ruth, illustrator of A Pirate's Guide to First Grade, recently shared a piece of art that never made it into the book. Don't you love it? The thick brushstroke of blue, the off-kilter headlong forward whoosh of the whole thing. ...

This Week’s Greatest Thing Ever: XTRANORMAL Turns Text Into Movies!

Sunday, August 29th, 2010 Posted in In the Classroom, Justin Fisher Declares War! | 1 Comment »


I just discovered xtranormal, a wildly fun, easy-to-use, possibly addictive website that allows you to create animated movies on your computer. As they put it, "You type. The 3D actors speak. It's that easy." Intrigued, I checked it out. Without putting ...

JUSTIN FISHER: Recommended for the Read-Aloud Classroom

Thursday, August 26th, 2010 Posted in Justin Fisher Declares War! | 2 Comments »


Though I published my first book in 1986, it wasn't until recently that I experienced book reviews. Despite a crazy assortment of books, plus forty titles in the Jigsaw Jones series, the books were never, to my knowledge, reviewed. That's the ...

Back to School: This Dad Is Okay with It

Thursday, August 26th, 2010 Posted in Around the Web | No Comments »


I know some folks hate to see the end of summer, but as a parent I am ready for the kids to go back to school. With both parents working full-time, figuring out activities and child care across TEN LONG ...

Booklist Online Gives PIRATE’S GUIDE a “Twins’ Thumbs Up!”

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010 Posted in A Pirates Guide (Series) | 2 Comments »


Thank you Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan, writing for Booklist Online, for the kind comments about A Pirate's Guide for First Grade. Cindy and Lynn take a collaborative, two-headed approach to book reviews, giving the traditional book review the old Siskel ...

A Simple Idea for Teachers

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010 Posted in Family | 1 Comment »


Maggie came down to my office yesterday, very excited. "Mrs. Szczech called!" Maggie enthused. "She asked if I wanted to come into school to help set up her classroom!" Mary Szczech was Maggie's third-grade teacher last year. She also taught Gavin a ...

“Super Sad True Love Story” — A Vote Against Book Trailers

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010 Posted in Around the Web, Fun Clips, Readings | 2 Comments »


It used to be the author photos on the flap jacket. That's what killed some books for me. I'd pick up a novel, feel its heft in my hand, survey the cover design, read the front flap copy, then turn to ...

An Author Thanks the Stars

Friday, August 20th, 2010 Posted in A Pirates Guide (Series) | No Comments »


I formed my diabolical master plan back in 1989. At the time, I still worked at Scholastic on the book clubs, and Is Your Mama a Llama? was a huge seller. Now no offense to the book's author, Deborah Guarino, but ...

Fan Mail Wednesday #93 (blog post #500!)

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010 Posted in Fan Mail, Justin Fisher Declares War! | 1 Comment »


There are days when I question this blog -- why I do it, if it's worth the time and energy -- and, with less frequency but much more sting, I question if what I do for a living has been ...

Stories Behind the Story: The Case of the Marshmallow Monster

Sunday, August 15th, 2010 Posted in Jigsaw Jones, the writing process | No Comments »


I turn your attention to Jigsaw Jones #11: The Case of the Marshmallow Monster (still in stock!). The idea for this one can be traced to Rockville Centre, New York, home of my third-favorite brother, Al. (Just kidding, bro.) He mentioned ...