Archive for September 30, 2011

Appreciation: The Ending of “The Bad News Bears.”

To be clear up front, we are talking the 1976 original with Tatum O’Neil, Walter Matthau, etc.

By the way, a shout out to the names of these characters: Amanda Whurlitzer, Coach Morris Buttermaker, Ogilvie, Engelberg, Jimmy Feldman, Rudi Stein, Tanner Boyle, Ahmad Abdul Rahim, Kelly Leak and Timmy Lupus. The names seem perfect to me now, especially when heard through the muttering lips of Coach Buttermaker, “Listen, Lupus, you didn’t come into this life just to sit around on a dugout bench, did ya? Now get your ass out there and do the best you can.”

I’ve watched it several times, most recently about seven years ago. Great movie, though the language might startle you with its profanity and ethnic slurs. Pretty harsh by today’s politically-correct standards. The through-line of the movie moves inexorably toward the big, championship game. We’ve seen the Bears come together, struggle and lose, then learn to win, and now the stage is set for the film’s dramatic conclusion: The Big Game. We’ve seen this setup countless times before.

The first time I watched the movie, the game’s ending surprised me. It came down to a close play at home plate, the scrappy Bears about to tie it with two outs in the last inning . . . the baserunner slides, the catcher applies the tag, the dust rises . . . “Out!” the umpire calls.

Game over. The Bears lose.

What? Really?

For years I’ve marveled at (and appreciated) that decision by screenwriter Bill Lancaster and director Michael Ritchie. They didn’t allow the Bears to win the big game. Nope, they lost it. Because, when you think about it, winning was never actually the point to this story, not in a satire about Little League competition. But still, the Bears lost; it was shocking. Partly because you almost never see that in books and movies, for all sorts of reasons.

I might be more sensitized to endings than ever before, since I’ve been frequently queried about the ending to Bystander. I recently came across some of my early notes on the book that made it clear how I fully understood that my original ending lacked drama, it just didn’t hit it out of the park. I sensed that some readers might want more, particularly when considering their heightened feelings about fairness, justice. So I cooked up an alternative, a more satisfying ending, more complicated and conflict-oriented, and arrived at something pretty cool where the bad guy got it in the end. Not too shabby, way better from a purely dramatic point of view, but it didn’t satisfy me — because it didn’t ring true. Not to life as I knew it. So I reinstated my original ending, the one where life goes on without trumpets or tidy bows, unicorns or rainbows. The kid gets through it, basically. Survives. It gets better.

I don’t know what made me think of The Bad News Bears last night, but I remembered what happened in the scene immediately after the game. It was trophy time, that dreaded, heartless cheer, “Two, four, six, eight! Who do we appreciate?” The hated Yankees received a ludicrously-oversized trophy. And as consolation prize, the Bears were handed a dinky second-place trophy — and also, it should be recognized, offered grudging respect by the (still condescending) opposition.

It’s at this point, the movie’s true ending, when Tanner Boyle barks these immortal words:

“Hey, Yankees. You can take your apology,

and this trophy, and shove it straight up your ass!”

That was the film’s true ending, of course. It was never about the game. It was about winning respect, and self-respect. About being a team. In the end, Lancaster and Ritchie gave the Bears the much greater victory. There they were, hopping around like idiots, spritzing non-alcoholic beer on each other, happy and . . . triumphant. They lost the game, sure, so what, but ended the film on the perfect note. Pretty terrific, if you ask me.

See for yourself . . .

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Raymond Carver: Quote of the Day

In this age of desperate self-promotion, of tweets and status updates and high-cost book trailers, of authors being told, over and over again, about the importance of having a web presence, and — God help me, I’ve heard this — “the value of leveraging the media for maximum impact” — I am comforted by this quote, from one of the masters.

“Writers will be judged by what they write.”Raymond Carver.

Taken from a terrific interview from the Paris Review, conducted by my most respected pal, Lewis Buzbee, with Mona Simpson.

Fan Mail Wednesday #126 (Across Shared Solitudes)

Here’s one from Matthew . . .

Hello Mr. Preller. First of all, I love your books. I was wondering what inspired you to write your awesome books? How old were you when you began writing? I like the Jigsaw Jones series the best. My favorite is The Case of the Million Dollar Mystery. With a million dollars on the line, I was so nervous the case wouldn’t be solved in time. I love books that keep me turning the pages just to see what happens, and this was definitely one of them. Thanks for taking the time to read this and thanks for writing such great books!
Matthew
I replied . . .
Mathew,
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Thanks for your kind letter. It means a lot to me when readers take the time to reach out. It’s funny. As authors, we write in solitude, alone in a silent room (actually, I’m blasting the new Wilco CD right now). Reading is also a silent, solitary act. Yet somehow we communicate across those shared solitudes. You and me, together. Amazing.
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When I was young, I used to make little comic books and sell them to the folks in my neighborhood. But in truth, I didn’t get serious about writing until college. That’s when I gradually came to love books, love reading: it fit my personality. At a certain point, I decided to try it for myself. Why not?
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The curious thing is, I’m shy about certain things. I never want to embarrass myself, and that prevents me from being much of a risk-taker. For example, I never had the courage to act in a school play; I never dove off the high diving board in the town pool, worried that I might belly flop in front of so many people. Public dancing? Scary. But writing was something I could do by myself, in perfect safety. I could write and not share it with anyone. There was no one to laugh at me, poke fun at my failings.
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So as writers, you and I can try new things, take new risks, without the worry of what others might think. Eventually, when you are ready (and not a moment before!), you might share your writing with a trusted friend or adult. Somehow that process worked for me, the boy who was always a little too concerned about what other people might think.
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My best,
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JP

“One Book, One School” — One Amazed & Grateful Author

Found this via Google Alerts today . . .

Every student at Passage Middle School is reading “Bystanders,” a novel about bullying by James Preller, during the school’s “One Book, One School” initiative. The school spent about $5,360 to purchase 1,100 copies of the book, said librarian Patrice Lambusta.

The school’s 980 students began reading it Sept. 19 and will continue through late October. Lambusta, who kick-started the initiative, said teachers and students spend 20 minutes each morning reading one day and participating in anti-bullying activities the next.

Activities include learning about cyber-bullying, taking quizzes about bullying, and discussions on being a bystander when a peer is bullied.

The Newport News program is a play on the national “One School, One Book” program that is reserved mostly for elementary schools, Lambusta said.

I am honored, and grateful. Thank you for believing in my book, Patrice Lambusta. Now if we can get every school in America to do this, I’ll give up this lonely career to pursue my lifelong dream of becoming a catwalk model.

Um, there’s lots on this blog about the book, just click on “Bystander” on the handy-dandy right sidebar under “CATEGORIES.” Or click here for a free sample of chapters 1 & 2.

Now if I can only learn how to walk a straight line . . .

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Confession: I Finally Got Around to Reading “A Wrinkle In Time”

“. . . one thing I’ve learned is that you don’t have to understand things for them to be.”

– Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle In Time.

When I was a kid, growing up in the 60′s, I didn’t read many children’s books. P.D. Eastman, of course, whom I liked better than Suess, some of the Little Golden Books, and later, the Hardy Boys. Frank and Joe, I think their names were. I have no memory of either of my parents reading to me, ever. It may have happened, must have happened, but I can’t recall it. I was the youngest of seven, born in 1961, and bed time wasn’t the hour-long ritual it’s become for so many kids today, with reading and talking and snuggling and sharing, etc. When I was a kid, it was more like, “Good night. And don’t forget to brush your teeth.”

The words that formed my reading habit came from the sports pages of The New York Daily News and The Long Island Press. I still maintain that my writing style, such as it is, was probably more influenced by Dick Young than anybody else: I faithfully read his column for many (formative) years. I also remember, as I reached my middle grade period, talking to my older brothers and sisters about books. They were readers, all of them, and loved Bradbury and Vonnegut and Brautigan and Robbins, so I picked up those books. I have a vivid recollection of writing a book report in 7th grade on any book I wanted. I chose Anthem by Ayn Rand, probably because it was a slenderest paperback on the family bookshelf.

I also read sports biographies, being an ex-boy, and still hold a special fondness for Go Up for Glory Bill Russell. It hit me like a thunderbolt, and for a time I was determined to grow into a very tall black man who’d willingly pass up a shot in order to set a fierce pick and then gladly roll into the paint, looking for the put-back.

Anyway, I basically missed the entire canon of children’s literature. I didn’t read Where the Wild Things Are until I worked at Scholastic as a junior copywriter in 1985, hauling in $12,500 a year, thank you very much. These days I still try to fill in the holes, though I’ll admit it: I love adult literature. After all, I’m an adult. Those are the books that lit my fuse. I am not giving up my grown-up books.

Now, about A Wrinkle In Time. I liked it. Some parts — the first few chapters, especially — I really, really admired. Other parts — after the tessering, and into the full-blown fantasy — I didn’t care for as much. It reminded me of the original Star Trek series (my brothers loved Star Trek and we watched it religiously). In sum: Dated, kind of corny, a little obvious, but entertaining and fast-paced and intelligent and provocative, too. There’s a quality to the book, a beating heart that you seldom find in most books, and after a while the beating of your own heart seems to match it, thump for thump, and book and reader are one. It must have been ground-breaking at the time, I  suppose, especially for the targeted audience. Today it reads a little like cliche, perhaps because it’s been so idolized and mimicked over the decades.

The problem: I’m not twelve anymore. And that’s what I wished for while I was reading the book. I wished I could have read it as a kid, experienced it with youthful eyes and heart. I’d bet the concept of “IT” might have blown me away, as opposed to now, when it feels too familiar and hackneyed. Very B-movie. So my appreciation comes from a distance; even that word, “appreciation,” feels cold and analytical and, I’m afraid, exactly right. I understand that it is widely considered one of the all-time greats of children’s literature, but I did not love the book on a visceral level; it didn’t speak to me. Not across so many years and these wrinkles in time on my face. I feel bad about that, like somehow I’ve let down the home team. But there it is, I said it.

I was born in 1961; L’Engle’s book was published in 1962. We should have grown up together, thump for thump, beat for beat. But, alas, we didn’t. And I think that was the main difficulty.

A few random lines I liked . . .

* But it was still not possible to think about her father without the danger of tears.

* “Why must everything happen to me?” she demanded of a large teddy bear.

* Mrs. Whatsit tugged at her second boot. “I said,” she grunted, shoving her foot down in, “that there is” — shove — “such a thing” — shove — “as a tesseract.” [Note: I read that sentence over and over, marveling at the punctuation.]

* “Maybe I don’t like being different,” Meg said, “but I don’t want to be like everybody else, either.”

Bullying: When It’s Emotionally Too Painful to See Oneself as Powerless or Abusive

Just passing along a link to an excellent op-ed piece in the 9/22 edition of The New York Times, written by Danah Boyd and Alice Marwick, titled “Bullying as Real Drama.”

By all means go to the link and read the whole thing. Here’s a hunk of it, including what I think is the key insight: that it is very difficult, even painful, for children to identify themselves as either bully or victim, abusive or powerless.

Many teenagers who are bullied can’t emotionally afford to identify as victims, and young people who bully others rarely see themselves as perpetrators. For a teenager to recognize herself or himself in the adult language of bullying carries social and psychological costs. It requires acknowledging oneself as either powerless or abusive.

In our research over a number of years, we have interviewed and observed teenagers across the United States. Given the public interest in cyberbullying, we asked young people about it, only to be continually rebuffed. Teenagers repeatedly told us that bullying was something that happened only in elementary or middle school. “There’s no bullying at this school” was a regular refrain.

This didn’t mesh with our observations, so we struggled to understand the disconnect. While teenagers denounced bullying, they — especially girls — would describe a host of interpersonal conflicts playing out in their lives as “drama.”

At first, we thought drama was simply an umbrella term, referring to varying forms of bullying, joking around, minor skirmishes between friends, breakups and makeups, and gossip. We thought teenagers viewed bullying as a form of drama. But we realized the two are quite distinct. Drama was not a show for us, but rather a protective mechanism for them.

Teenagers say drama when they want to diminish the importance of something. Repeatedly, teenagers would refer to something as “just stupid drama,” “something girls do,” or “so high school.” We learned that drama can be fun and entertaining; it can be serious or totally ridiculous; it can be a way to get attention or feel validated. But mostly we learned that young people use the term drama because it is empowering.

Fan Mail Wednesday #125 (further thoughts on bullying)

As part of a late summer assignment, I received a terrific letter from Zander in Brooklyn, including his answer to the question, “What will happen to the characters in Bystander after the story?

Here’s an excerpt from that letter . . .

Thanks so much for answering my questions. I really loved your book! I did a little writing about what I thought might happen to some of the characters in the future. I was wondering if you have ever thought about this? Do you think Griffin will continue to be a bully? What about the other characters? I also have to ask the obvious question — were you a bully or where you bullied in school? If not, why did you want to write this book? I’m really looking forward to your answers.

Zander

What I think will happen to the characters after the story:

I think Griffin will still be the bully, but he will be a lone bully with no clique by his side. About twenty pages before the book ended, Griffin’s gang separated from him; they were fed up with Griffin and his ways and felt bad for the people they hurt and picked on. Griffin may form a new clique, but I think the same thing will happen that happened to the original click, they will get fed up with Griffin’s ways. Eventually, Griffin will probably find out that this whole bully thing isn’t working out for him and turn over a new leaf, but I’m not so sure about that either; it’s not exactly Griffin’s way. The other problem is the relationship between Griffin and Griffin’s father. If the way Griffin’s father acts changes, Griffin will change with him. You see, Griffin mimics his father’s actions, and if those actions change, I have a good feeling that a new Griffin will be born. If they would go into therapy, this could be achieved. But since that didn’t happen in the story, it’s unlikely that it will happen now. Thus having Griffin stay the same.

I also think that Mary and Eric will still hang out a lot, they might be considered boyfriend and girlfriend, but I’m not sure. I also think that Griffin’s original clique will turn into Eric’s clique, or Griffin’s original clique will accept Eric as a member; either way, Mary will no longer be Eric’s only friend. Before I finished the story, I thought to myself that it would not be a “…and they all lived happily ever after” ending, and I was right. If the story continued on, I still think this would be true, but it would be a cheerier ending than it is now.

Part of my reply . . .

Hey Zander,

Thanks for reading my book. I like the angle you took on it, thinking about what might happen to the characters after the story is finished and the final pages read.

No, I was not a “bully” in school. But to be honest, that’s a big label and not something I like to stick on anybody. It’s not often accurate to tag people with easy labels. I believe there are bully behaviors, there are times when some of us might act in unkind ways, but that’s rarely ever the sum of the whole person. A so-called bully might also be a loyal friend, a good teammate, a loving pet owner, an adventurer, a son, a comic, a student, an athlete, and, yes, even victim. Research shows there’s often a duality. Someone engaged in bullying might be a victim of it in another part of his life (Griffin), while a target of bullying will frequently turn around to bully someone else (David). It’s a common dynamic. The bully part is just one aspect of character, something he sometimes does, not the whole person. And in that way, I think we all have a bit of a bully, and victim, inside us. Walt Whitman wrote, “I am large; I contain multitudes.”

I’m not saying that bullying isn’t real. That there isn’t genuine hurt and, sometimes, devastating loss. We’ve all heard those tragic stories and I don’t diminish that pain for a second. But I think with that label we tend to turn every “bully” into a monster, and I suspect it’s subtler than that. Often the bully — or more accurately, the person engaged in bully behavior — is misguided, unknowing, doesn’t empathize fully, doesn’t really understand the effects of his behavior. I’m not ready to throw all bullies into the dungeon and throw away the key. I think most of us are good, decent people capable of making mistakes, poor decisions.

My primary reason for writing Bystander is that I wanted to tell a good story. I write realistic fiction, and I try very hard to be true to that word, “realistic.” I want my characters and situations to feel authentic, relatable. I want readers to identify with the story, to maybe see themselves, or someone they might know. Robert McKee, in his book Story, makes a strong case for the importance of “story” in our lives. We are surrounded by stories, and seem to hunger for them: movies, television, talk on park benches, at dinner tables, around fires, on stages and in books. McKee calls stories our “equipment for living,” and makes the bold claim: “A culture cannot evolve without honest, powerful storytelling.”

Wow. What do you think of that, Zander? Story is the fiction writer’s craft, a finer tool than a how-to book, or a nonfiction guide to a problem. Story doesn’t provide answers so much as it, hopefully, clarifies some of the questions. Not facts, but truths. And always the most important question is this: How to walk this earth? What kind of person are you going to be?

Well-told stories, as Harper Lee so beautifully demonstrated in To Kill A Mockingbird, allow us to walk in someone else’s shoes. If you haven’t seen the movie, I urge you to check it out. There’s a beautiful scene at the end of the book (and movie), when Scout walks Boo Radley home, climbs up the steps to his porch, and for a moment turns and looks at the world from his perspective.

That’s story.

It’s also called empathy, understanding, compassion. McKee’s “equipment for living.”

I first landed on the theme of bullying through conversations with my editor. I did research, read books, talked to experts, visited middle schools, and I gradually began to formulate the character of Griffin Connelly. The story grew out of that, until I became convinced that the focus had to be on the bystander, the silent observer.

From the beginning, I felt that Griffin was a boy on the wrong path. Obviously there are issues at home with his father. The mother is gone somewhere, his sisters have moved away, too. We know that Griffin has been stealing, and we know that the police suspect his involvement. Unless there’s some kind of dramatic change, I don’t see things ending well for Griffin Connelly.

I thought your analysis of the characters was insightful. I agreed with all of it. No, I did not write a happily-ever-after ending. But I’ve never been a guy who needs those kinds of endings in movies or books. I bristle when everything is all tied up in a tidy bow at the end.

To me, that’s not life. That’s not realistic. Real life is messier than that, and not so simple, and I wanted my book to reflect that.

Thank you for your thoughtful response to my book.

JP

Stay Home, Please. Don’t Celebrate Children’s Book Day at “Sunnyside” in Tarrytown, NY, 9/25

Just stay home. Please.

Find something else to do.

Each year I do this event, which features more than 60 amazing children’s book authors and illustrators, and it’s always such a disappointment. For starters, check out some of the people who’ll be there, and you’ll understand why I’m so bummed:

Tony Abbott, Nora Raleigh Baskin, Nick Bruel, Bryan Collier, Katie Davis, Bruce Degen, Jean Craighead George, Charise Mericle Harper, Susan Jeffers, Peter Lerangis, Gail Carson Levine, Carolyn MacCullough, Rafe Martin, Wendy Mass, Matthew McElligott, Helen Perelman, Wendell Minor, Gloria Pinkney, Lizzy Rockwell, Todd Strasser, Mark Teague, Jean Van Leeuwen, Eric Velasquez, Sarah Weeks, Ed Young, and more.

Why so down-in-the-dumps you ask? Because I never get to talk to any of them. I never get a chance to meet the new (to me!) people, like Will Moses (Mary and Her Little Lamb), Lena Roy (Edges), Daniel Kirk (Library Mouse), Peter Brown (You Will Be My Friend!) . . .

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. . . and Jerry Davis (Little Chicken’s Big Day). Who are these people? Might they become my new best pals? Um, not likely! Because they are sitting at tables forty feet away, surrounded by happy children, shopping grandparents, and strong-armed educators, hauling bags of books like Sherpa guides.

Best I can do is throw rocks at ‘em.

And, oh, hey, look over there, it’s Jean Craighead George. She’s only a freakin’ legend. I can’t throw rocks at Jean Craighead George. She’ll throw them back — and her arm is a bazooka.

Oh,  wait.  Here’s old friends like Mark Teague and Helen Perelman and Peter Lerangis. Can I talk to any of them? Can we hang out? Maybe shoot the breeze? Commiserate?

Nooooooo. I’m too busy signing books, meeting young readers, gabbing with families, prostrating myself before the cheerful & smiling hordes.

Writing is a solitary business, folks. And it’s frustrating for me to sit there at gorgeous Sunnyside . . .

. . . just feet away from my peerless peers, and never have a free minute to chat with them.

So my dream is for just one year, nobody comes. No book sales, no signings, no musicians, no storytellers, no-bah-dee. Just us authors, finally (finally!) enjoying a few moments when we can hang out and complain about the crappy jobs our publishers do with publicity and marketing. It’s how we bond. We bitch and moan about Kindles.

So this coming Sunday, clean the garage, watch football, wax the car. But if you insist on coming . . . click here for full details.

As always, blue skies are personally guaranteed. It never rains on my parade.

Fan Mail Wednesday #124 (School Visits 101, Travel Required)

This isn’t the sort of letter I normally share, but boy is it ever relevant to my life lately. This is the time of year when I field many inquiries about my availability for school visits.

For educators who’d like help on that, I’ve posted on the topic many times before . . .

* Quickie overview of a standard visit.

* An author’s perspective, featuring my mantra: Authors don’t do school visits; schools do author visits.

* One Book, One School: Some reflections.

The easiest thing would be to click here on the archive for “school visits” and you’ll find links to all sorts of visits, reflections, complaints, experiences. Read them all and you’ll never want to see me again. It would be like the aversion therapy in “Clockwork Orange.”

Here’s my second oldest brother, Billy with cigarette, on an early 70′s Christmas morning when he received the soundtrack to “A Clockwork Orange.” I remember being a little kid — Billy was ten years older, this was likely 1971, so I was 10 — and listening to him tell me all about that movie in jaw-dropping detail. That’s my sister Barbara, left. (Don’t you just love old family photographs?)

Anyway, just in the next two months, I’m looking at trips to MA, CT, NC, SC, and FLA. And I’m in discussion with educators in MI, NJ, CO, OH. It’s a change from my pre-hardcover life, when most of my visits were local. These far-flung visits require a lot more organization from the schools, because I can’t possibly visit a school for one day in, say, Kentucky. I’d spend more time traveling than working, and that’s a crazy commute.

Here’s a letter that is very kind and somewhat typical.


Hi James -

We’re wondering if you’d be available to visit MI in March 2011.  We’ve tentatively chosen Along Came Spider as our One Book, One City for Kids title, but we’d really like to have the author visit us after the kids have finished reading it.  I think our kids would really enjoy meeting you!

We purchase a paperback copy of our OBOC for Kids title for every 4th grader in the city, hoping that that will help get the word out about how much fun reading can be.  The students start reading in January and then usually have the author visit for a couple days in March, visiting 4 schools.  We’re flexible about the dates, and have run the program from March to May instead, but would really like the January – March reading months as our first pick, with you coming here two days in March. Those dates have typically been a Monday/Tuesday.  We’ve had good luck with school visits then.

We’re curious about your availability, and of course, we need to ask the questions about fees and travel accommodations before we make final decisions.

Thanks, and we look forward to hearing from you soon!

Sarah

I replied:

Sarah,

Great to hear from you.
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I’ve got to figure out some kind of proactive approach to this recurring “problem” (in quotes!) in my professional life. Because it’s killing me.

So, long story short: Yes, thrilled, I absolutely WANT to visit Grand Rapids. I’d love to do it. The time-frame is still open for me.

However, I live near Albany, NY, so there are travel hurdles to overcome. I haven’t looked into the reservations, but I assume it would not be direct, making the travel pretty time-consuming. A lost day. My basic policy — and believe me, I’m still trying to figure this out — is that I need 3-5 days worth of visits to make the travel worthwhile.

I have to add, I’ve been fielding many requests for Bystander lately, so your interest in Along Came Spider both surprised and delighted me. I love that book, but recognize that it’s fairly quiet and, frankly, hasn’t been a huge seller (though it earned some very nice attention). Have you seen the companion book, Justin Fisher Declares War? Same school, different teacher, but some overlap with students (Trey and Spider make cameos).
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I’m sorry, I really am, because I understand that good people tried their best, but I get depressed every time I look at these covers. What do they communicate about the books? The ex-boy in me thinks, Yuck. Does saying so make me a bad person?

I’ve been meaning to blog about a visit I enjoyed last year, when a school district in PA coordinated their efforts for a full 5-day visit. It was such a rewarding experience, because the librarians knew each other, used parental volunteers, and we even got to go out for a nice dinner and drinks one night. I really think that’s the model on how to do it, when hoping to attract authors who must travel. It requires more planning, but I think the payoff is huge.

Anyway, um, I’d love to hear that you think some other area schools might like to hop on the bandwagon. As you may know, I have titles for grades PreK-8, and am still most popular for my Jigsaw Jones series, so hopefully I might be appealing to other elementary schools.

Please stay in touch. And thank you — thank you, really — for giving this your time and effort.

My best,

JP

In Case You Missed It: “Webcam 101 for Seniors”

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This is one of those amazing viral clips that everybody on the planet absolutely has to see. I assume that some of you saw it already. For those that haven’t, you can thank me later.

Basically: An elderly couple tries to figure out how this crazy thingamawhoosie works, and in the process accidentally record themselves. They make goofy faces, joke around, burp, suck like the dickens on hard candy, and somehow show us exactly what enduring love looks like. These two sweeties, together.

Really, it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen. I get a little weepy watching it. The two of them together makes you want to be old and in love. It makes you want to goof around and sing and casually compliment someone you love. It makes you want your marriage to last — for this, for moments exactly like this. Thank you, internet!

Hat tip to Eliot Glazer of The Best Week Ever (see blogroll, right). This is a guy, Glazer, who is more than just your typical snark on the web (not that there’s anything wrong with snark, exactly, except that it tends to wear on you after a while). Glazer’s got real heart, soul, character . . . as evidenced by his must-see site, My Parents Were Awesome.

Share it with someone today.

UPDATE: Here’s some background info from the Huffington Post’s David Lohr:

A couple from northwestern Oregon who are Internet newbies have found themselves the unwitting subjects of an instant viral video, thanks to a little help from a grandkid.

Bruce Huffman, 86, and his wife, Esther, 79, of the Hillside Retirement Community in McMinnville, recently purchased their first laptop computer –- an aqua colored beauty with a built-in webcam.

Late last month, the couple sat down together and tried to figure out how to make a video with the webcam, something a granddaughter had painstakingly attempted to teach Esther a few days beforehand.

“I was trying to figure out how to do the videos and didn’t know the thing was actually running,” Esther told The Huffington Post. “All the while, Bruce was kind of amusing himself because he was bored. He was being quite an actor.”

The nearly three minute video captures Bruce making funny faces, singing, burping and at one point, during a moment of levity, he got a little flirtatious with his wife. “See how pretty your hair is?” he said. “Just drop your dress a little bit and see your boobies.”

Click here for the genuine article.