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

Archive for March, 2012

Photo: A Couple of Guys I Met

Friday, March 30th, 2012 Posted in Along Came Spider | No Comments »


A wonderful, dedicated teacher took time off from her afternoon to bring these two students to my signing at Pooh's Corner, a bookstore in Grand Rapids, Michigan. All those got was my signature and a few friendly words. But I got this ...

50 Words You Can’t Say On Standardized Tests

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012 Posted in Around the Web | 4 Comments »


It sounds like a George Carlin riff, but no one with any sense is laughing. That is, so long as we all agree to disqualify the rueful laugh, the mournful chuckle, or the stomach's sad-and-knowing rumble. You know, the laugh that ...

GUEST BLOGGER: Lewis Buzbee Interviews James Preller About His Upcoming YA Novel, “Before You Go”

Monday, March 26th, 2012 Posted in Before You Go, Interviews & Appreciations, the writing process | 3 Comments »


Greetings, I'm Lewis Buzbee, guest-blogger for the day. Guest blogger: Lewis Buzbee. It's true, I've hi-jacked James Preller's blog to bring you a very cool conversation with Mr. Preller (he makes me call him that) about his newest book, Before You Go ...

Fan Mail Wednesday #143-146: Some Recent Letters from Teachers about BYSTANDER

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012 Posted in Bystander, Fan Mail, School Visits, bullying | 1 Comment »


I've been getting a lot of mail from teachers who are using Bystander in their classrooms. From early on, that was my hope for this book -- a talking book, a valuable conversation starter in the hands of a good ...

“My Life’s Sentences” by Jhumpa Lahiri (on the art and craft of writing — and reading!)

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012 Posted in Before You Go, Readings, the writing process | No Comments »


I have to share this brilliant piece from The New York Times Sunday Review, March 18, 2012, written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Jhumpa Lahiri. I powerfully identified with it. In it, she expresses her love of sentences. Everything about this ...

Photo from a Michigan Classroom

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012 Posted in Along Came Spider, School Visits | 1 Comment »


I love looking at these faces. This class, along with every other 4th-grade classroom in Grand Rapids, Michigan, received free copies of my book, Along Came Spider, as part of their "One City, One Book" program. Then they entered a contest ...

Slice of Life Writing Challenge: My Hot Tub Story

Sunday, March 18th, 2012 Posted in Greatest Hits, the writing process | 3 Comments »


Preamble: This entry was inspired by Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres at the great Two Writing Teachers blog, where they issue an annual slice-of-life writing challenge. Essentially, to write every day through the month of March. I did not participate formally, ...

Poetry Friday: Frank O’Hara, “Why I Am Not a Painter”

Friday, March 16th, 2012 Posted in Readings, the writing process | 1 Comment »


Conversational and accessible, Frank O'Hara's poems read as if he jotted them down on a scrap of paper during lunch break, or told you them as you walked down the hall. Don't let the surface casualness fool you, the man ...

Fan Mail Wednesday #142: Penguins & Other Pleasures

Thursday, March 15th, 2012 Posted in Fan Mail, Jigsaw Jones, Uncategorized | No Comments »


Come on, people. Number 142, give it up! Here's a lovely one, from Jessica in California . . .   I replied, of course: Dear Jessica: Thank you for your typed letter, complete with smiley icons. It’s nice to hear from my biggest fan. I’m ...

Watch This . . . JP on TV (A Star Is Born)

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012 Posted in Along Came Spider, Around the Web, Fun Clips | 3 Comments »


On Monday, I appeared on a local morning televison show in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Click here to see me in all my telegenic glory. I'm posting this, just barely, from the antiquated computer in my hotel in downtown Grand Rapids, birthplace of Amway ...