Archive for Happenings

Join Us for the Summer Reading Spectacular: Featuring 11 Children’s and Teen Authors, Completely Live, in Colonie, NY

This is a warning, folks. On June 30th at 7:00 PM a rugged band of children’s and YA authors will be gathering at the Barnes & Noble bookstore at Colonie Center in Colonie, NY.

That’s right, it’s time for the Summer Reading Kickoff Bookfair Spectacular . . . celebrating (wait for it) the Dolly Parton Imagination Library! Because when it comes to Dolly, the first two things anyone thinks of are reading and, erm, I forget the second thing.

So, hey, let’s put the focus on reading this summer. Bring your young readers to pick up their free Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Journal to earn a FREE BOOK and the chance to WIN A NOOK COLOR. Authors will be standing by — sitting, hopefully, on cushy chairs, under a tasteful arrangement of palm fronds — happy to autograph books. Any books.

Check out this list of authors I think will be there . . .

Julia DeVillers * Aimee Ferris * Rose Kent * Jackie Morse Kessler

Sarah Darer Littman * Eric Luper * James Preller * Jennifer Roy

Neva Ren Suma * Shari Maurer * Kristen Darbyshire

Honestly, this is an awesome gathering of new voices, talented people. And, um, me, dragging along hoary old Jigsaw Jones, first published 13 years ago and still in second grade. I don’t know many real YA authors — they scare me a little — what? no fuzzy ducks? at all? — and yet I’ll be joining their ranks soon, come Spring 2012, when we crush the world with Before You Go, my first book that includes the word “beer.” Anyway, please join us at Barnes & Noble. Should be a real good time together.

The event kicks off the annual national Summer Reading Program which rewards children, grades K-6, who read any eight books, record them in their free Summer Reading Journal, and bring the completed Journal to any Barnes & Noble store until September 6, 2011 for a FREE BOOK. The evening program is sponsored by the Junior League of Albany, with a portion of sales benefiting the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. Why Dolly Parton? Don’t ask; I just work here.

Details: Thursday, June 30, 7:00 PM –> who knows! Where: Colonie Centre, Albany, NY. 518-438-1728.

Click here for driving directions.

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Come to The Eric Carle Museum, Saturday, June 4: Guest Artists, Demonstrations, Panel Discussions, Wild Fun

Exciting events are happening this Saturday at the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst, MA, featuring presentations by Tomie dePaola, Diane deGroat,  John Gurney, Astrid Sheckels, and more.

Let’s hear our friend Greg Ruth, illustrator of A Pirate’s Guide to First Grade, tell it. This is quoted from Greg’s recent email:

This coming Saturday, June 4 I will be participating in the Children’s Book Festival at the Eric Carle Museum down in yon Amherst, MA. Come on by and join me and other most excellent children’s book artists such as Roc Goudreau, Linda Graves, John Steven Gurney, Bob Marstall, Astrid Sheckles, David White, Diane DeGroat, Ruth Sanderson and Tomie DePaola as we all hold demostrations, panel discussions and engage in a great bit of fun.

I’ll be featuring process work for A Pirate’s Guide to First Grade all day and participating in a panel discussion on the craft of kid’s lit at 2:30pm, and will have books and a limited selection of sketches from the book on hand super cheap to take home. If you’re in the area or able to migrate, please do stop on by and say hello!

Now double-quick, check out this magical little piece of process:
Now gape, agog, at this calendar of events:

10:15 – 10:30 am
Meet the Very Hungry Caterpillar (Great Hall)

10:15 – 10:45 am
Meet the Artist – David White (Art Studio)

10:15 – 10:45 am
Film: Master Class with Tomie dePaola (Auditorium)

10:30 – 10:50 am
Special Storytime with Museum Staff

11:15 am – 12:00 pm
Presentation by Tomie dePaola (Auditorium) followed by a book signing

11:45 – 12:00 pm
Meet the Very Hungry Caterpillar (Great Hall)

12:00 – 12:30 pm
Meet the Artist – Diane deGroat (Reading Library)

12:30 – 1:15 pm
Performance by José Gonzales and Banda Criolla (Auditorium)

12:45 – 1:15 pm
Meet the Artist – John Steven Gurney (Reading Library)

1:15 – 1:45 pm
Meet the Artist – Astrid Sheckels (Art Studio)

1:45 – 2:15 pm
Meet the Artist – Bob Marstall (Reading Library)

1:45 – 2:15 pm
Film: Picture Writer (Auditorium)

2:15 – 2:30 pm
Meet The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Great Hall)

2:30 – 3:30 pm
Panel Discussion with Linda Graves, Greg Ruth, and Ruth Sanderson; Moderated by Susannah Richards (Auditorium)

3:00 – 3:20 pm
Special Storytime with Museum Staff (Reading Library)

4:00 – 4:30 pm Film (Auditorium)

Ongoing throughout the day:

  • Art Show and Sale
  • Book signings
  • Artist demonstrations
  • Studio and Gallery Activities
  • Face Painting
  • Book Making
  • Food Court with Local Burger and Flayvors Ice Cream – cash only
I WILL TRY TO BE THERE! ANYBODY ELSE DRIVING OUT THAT WAY?

90 Second Newbery Video Contest

True story: I was telling a teacher friend about the video contest the other day, urging him to check it out, and thought to myself: “Hmmm, blog fodder!”

Because once you have a blog, the world quickly divides into two parts: blog-worthy or not so much.

Here, give this 90 seconds and we’ll talk:

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Fun idea, right? Simply compress the full story of a Newbery Medal or Honor Book into a video that runs no more than 90 seconds.

I can see how a good teacher, with a lively classroom, could make hay out of something like this. Get creative, allow students to actively contribute in different ways, read and learn how to analyze (not to mention summarize) a classic book, and so much more.

The contest will culminate in a Film Festival at the New York Public Library. The whole shebang has been spearheaded by author Jamie Kennedy and Betsy Bird of Fuse #8 Fame. Nice going, guys.

Click here for rules and full details.

Here’s a list of Newbery Medal and Honor Books, 1922-2011. Because it’s all about convenience here at Jamespreller.com.

FATHERS READ: An Update & Some Outtakes

About seven weeks ago I announced plans for my new blog, FATHERS READ. Some of you may have even answered my request for photos. I’m thrilled with what I’ve got — it’s a start — but I will need more. I suppose the second push can’t really begin until I have the site up and running and I have something tangible to show for our collective efforts.

Right now, after various delays, I’m thisclose to going “live.” I’ve struggled with a minor design issue (and less than speedy service) on the permanent header art. It’s frustrating, because I’m excited to share what I’ve got, which includes some killer photos and terrific contributions from authors and illustrators, too, including Lewis Buzbee, Jordan Sonnenblick, Matthew Cordell, Eric Velasquez, Don Tate, Peter Lerangis, and more.

Anyway, I thought I’d share some outtakes from a recent photo session I did with my talented friend, Paul Barrett.

We were trying to come up with an image that would work in the header, and fooled around with a lot of different looks. This site won’t be about “me,” so I hope to find a shot that’s more iconic and less specifically “james preller,” if that makes sense. Nevertheless, Paul took a ton of great shots and here’s a few more, below.

(If you have a favorite, let me know. But it’s impossible to tell without seeing the overall design in place. In the end, the header photo will be just a minor supporting element.)

Here’s the current language about photo submissions:

FATHERS READ depends upon the active participation of its readers. I hope to store and feature dozens, hundreds, and possibly thousands of photographs of men reading.

Send your photos to jamespreller@aol.com with your name and the name of those pictured, under the subject heading of “FATHERS READ.”

Photos cannot be guaranteed publication. If you do not see your photo on the site, please come back at a later date. It might take a while to roll them out. Now for a little legal mumbo-jumbo: When you submit a photo, you grant FATHERS READ a non-exclusive, royatly-free license to use the work to be used, copied, sublicensed, adapted, transmitted, distributed, published, displayed or otherwise under my sole discretion. At this point, I have no intention of using your photos for anything other than to post them here on the internet, with or without your name, as you so desire. If for any reason you wish to have a photo removed, just contact me and I will do it.

Thank you for your support.

Jigsaw Jones, The Musical: Both Thumbs, Way Up

I want to share a few photos and give my belated reaction to seeing the musical, Jigsaw Jones: The Case of the Class Clown. From left to right in the above photo: Benjamin K. Glaser (Jigsaw Jones), Jill Kurzner (Helen/Athena), Johnny Deem (Ralphie), Claire Duncan (Mila), James Preller, and my two special guests, Elizabeth and Maggie (in fake nose). The stage manager, Trey Johnson, snapped the photo.

First of all, I’m not built for this kind of thing. And lately I’ve come to see myself in this way: I was one of those kids who hated the idea of embarrassing himself in public, caused by a sorry combination of fear, shyness, and overall uptightness. My answer, of course, was to NOT do things — especially if they involved trying anything new. Don’t go off the high dive in the town pool, don’t try out for a school play, don’t dance in public, and on and on. That is partly why, I tell kids, I became a writer. There are no witnesses. You work alone. And you only share what you choose to share (you try to edit out the belly flops and pratfalls).

So I went to this show, put on by ArtsPower, was a degree of dread. What if I hated it? What if no one shows up? It was out of my hands.

I arrived early at the Egg performing arts center in Albany . . .

. . . bringing along a small but crucial sampling of the target audience, my daughter Maggie and her friend Elizabeth. I had arranged to meet the cast before the show, catch a sound check, and settle into our seats.

I immediately liked the cast of four young thespians. They were enthusiastic and energetic, and acted genuinely pleased to meet me. Wait. Come to think of it, they were actors. Highly skilled actors. Maybe they weren’t pleased to meet me after all!

I sat through the show . . . and loved it. From the adaptation, to the stage set, to the songs, to the performances, it was extremely well done. Special appreciation goes to Greg Gunning, who adapted the book and penned the lyrics. Greg and I spoke on the phone, he listened patiently to my comments and (very few) suggestions. Richard DeRosa wrote the music, which was lively and upbeat (I want the soundtrack!). I watched in that theater feeling just so thankful, and happy, and proud of what I’d done, and what they had done to make my little six-thousand word story come to life in a totally different way. There it was up on stage — breathing. Greg streamlined and improved upon the story, expertly trimming down the cast of characters while bringing the book’s main themes into sharper focus, and each actor gave an appealing, fresh-faced, thoroughly professional performance.

For me, it was a quietly stirring, emotional experience. I can’t really explain it except to say that I felt it: Wow, I put this story out into the world; it came from me. And I thought, You know, this is actually good work. It has heart and wit and kindness . . . and I can hum to it!

I recommend this show without reservation.

(Yipes! What is happening with my hair in this photo? Do I really walk around like that?)

I should add that it’s an absolute honor to have my book selected for theatrical interpretation by the folks at ArtsPower. Out of all the books available, they picked mine, the twelth in a series of forty titles. Amazing. Thank you very much, Gary Blackman, executive producer.

If anyone is interested in booking a show, please know that it will be touring through 2011. Here’s the info you need to get started.