Archive for Jigsaw Jones

Fan Mail Wednesday #185: Abigail from Casselberry Drew This!

 

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This terrific drawing was included at the bottom of a letter that arrived with a whole batch of similar letters, all sent by a caring teacher from Casselberry, Florida.

I finally grabbed a few spare minutes to sign their book plates, write a genuine response, and pop it back into the mail (in the fabulous SASE that was included).

There were a lot of drawings in the package, and for some reason I loved Abigail’s best of all. Maybe because it was sort of small and tidy. Who can explain it? The heart loves what it loves.

As always, I know how lucky I am. And I feel grateful. Thanks, Abigail. Thanks, Ms. Wilson!

 

Fan Mail Wednesday #184: Highlights & Thank You’s & Student Art

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Often after a school visit I’ll receive a large package of thank you letters. Usually I’ll respond with one “thank-you-for-the-thank-you letters” letter, but not always. Especially this time of year, or when I get overwhelmed with work and letters, time slips away and schools closes.

I realize how lucky I am, how fortunate, and I hope that readers understand how much I appreciate all of this great stuff that comes my way. Feeling blessed.

Anyway, I wanted to share a few highlights from a wonderful package sent from Minisink Valley. At the risk of sounding my own horn, here’s the (classy, handwritten) note from Trinke O’Connor that I found on top of the pile:

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This one from Sierra really caught my eye . . .

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Here, take a closer look at that joyous self portrait . . .

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She’s a writer, just like me. And while I realize that she was drawing a pair of glasses, they made her look like a superhero. And in case you missed this detail, Sierra had a suggestion . . .

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I loved this one from Kelsi for the energetic artwork . . . Jigsaw Jones and Mila Yeh!

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And I have to say, this simple mistake by a very kind lad named Kevin made me smile . . .

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“You are my biggest fan.”

Yes I am, Kevin. Yes, I am!

Here’s one from Skylar, who appears to be hooked on my “Scary Tales” books . . .

 

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And another “Scary Tales” fan in Elizabeth . . .

 

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Here’s a sweet illustration from Alyse, who likes Jigsaw Jones and Scary Tales. Note the smart thing she did, copying the style of the “Scary Tales” covers by drawing in black-and-white and then adding just a splash of color. Smart and perceptive, Alyse! To answer your question, yes, I just finished writing Scary Tales #6: Swamp Monster! Guess what? It’s in a swamp! And there’s a monster!

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Check out this killer, blown-up detail of the one-eyed doll . . .

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I don’t think it’s practical for me to share every letter — and I do feel badly by highlighting only a few — but the internet only has so much space. I’ll wrap this up with a cool illustration from Holden . . .

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Fan Mail Wednesday #183: Tough to Tackle

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How does a letter get selected for the blog? No idea! It’s pretty random, but it never hurts your chances when you include original artwork. I love that stuff. Here’s a letter from Ethan in Michigan, including an Ethan original . . .



Fan Mail June 14

 

 

I replied:

Dear Ethan:

Thank you for your terrific letter.

I’m so glad that you liked Jigsaw Jones #16: The Case of the Sneaker Sneak. That first chapter, with the football scene, grew directly out of my own childhood memories from Wantagh, my home town on Long Island.

We used to play tackle football all the time. A bunch of neighborhood boys would head over to Beech Street School on our bicycles and play for hours. The hardest boy to tackle was a slightly older, tougher kid named Michael Leninger. I remember him clearly –- and I remember the pride I felt when I took him down all by myself. It was painful, but worth it. I gave those feelings to Jigsaw, more or less, when he tried to tackle Bigs Maloney.

For my blog readers, here’s how the book opens:

Scan 6Eddie Becker grabbed my football jersey. “Okay, Jigsaw. This is it. Tie score,” he urged. “If they score a touchdown now, we lose the game. You know what’s coming, don’t you?”

“Yeah,” I grimaced. “Bigs Maloney, right up the middle.”

Joey Pignattano squeezed his eyes shut. Joey didn’t want any part of tackling Big Maloney. I didn’t blame him. We’d been trying to bring down Bigs all afternoon. It was like trying to tackle a refrigerator. 

Thanks, too, for noticing the opening to Jigsaw Jones #4: The Case of the Spooky Sleepover. That was the first time I ever wrote about Ralphie Jordan. He was “a world-champion smiler. Nobody had a bigger smile or used it more often. Only today, Ralphie wasn’t smiling.”

Have a happy, fun-filled, book-filled summer. And thanks for the awesome artwork! 

My best,

James Preller

Fan Mail Wednesday #182: A Jigsaw Jones Fan from Canada

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A tough time of year for fan mail, since I’m trying to respond before the school year ends. Oh well, I can only do my best. Here’s one that came from Canada — and included original art.

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Fan 182

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I replied:

Dear Shane:

Thank you for your kind letter. I’m glad that you enjoyed the first book in the “Jigsaw Jones” series. I wrote 40 of them. (Crazy, I know.) But don’t worry, you don’t have to read them in order. Or any of them, for that matter.

When I searched "marshmallow monster" on my computer, I found this. Yipes! It has nothing to do with my book. I don't think I'll ever eat a marshmallow again.

When I searched “marshmallow monster” on my computer, I found this. Yipes! It has nothing to do with my book. I don’t think I’ll ever eat a marshmallow again.

The books are getting hard to find these days –- they like to hide in dark places, like hamsters -– but it sounds to me like your teacher has several in your classroom. Be sure to thank her for me.

Also, libraries are great places, don’t you think? I recommend that you go to the library often this summer. All those beautiful books and fabulous air conditioning!

I love that you included an illustration with your letter. What a nice bonus!

Have a terrific, fun-filled, book-filled summer.

My best,

James Preller

 

P.S. If you like scary stories, you might want to check out my “Scary Tales” series. There are four books out so far. You might want to wait a year or two, it depends on how you feel about spooky things. Maybe you should only read them during the day?

Fan Mail Wednesday #179: Asking “What If?” Questions

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Uh-huh, yes, you are correct. It is that time again, where I share with you a letter from a fan, along with my answer.

Past visitors might notice that I changed the furniture around, bought new drapes. This blog got its start back in 2008 and it was time for a new look. Some tweaks may still be in order.

Here’s a letter from Natalie, who was kind enough to include art work, which always makes my day.

Fan mail, natalie & art

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I replied:

 

Dear Natalie:

Thanks for your letter and, most especially, your brilliant artwork. I recognized the scene immediately, from when Jigsaw, Ralphie, and Mila pull a prank on Ralphie’s brother, Justin.

“I can make this bucket of water stick like magic to the ceiling. Want to see?”

It’s cool that you make ghost traps, too. Have you ever caught one? That would be pretty awesome. Or terrifying, I’m not sure.

The simple question — “What if?” — is so important for a writer. What if a girl named Natalie set a ghost trap . . . and it worked? Imagine that. What happens next?

Since you like “spooky and action stories,” you might want to check out my new series, SCARY TALES, which should be just perfect for readers who are ready to move beyond Jigsaw Jones. The stories are not hard to read, but I should warn you that there are some thrills and chills and creepy parts. Not everybody likes that stuff, while other people –- such as my daughter, Maggie –- can’t get enough. The creepier, the better! Maggie helped inspire the main character in SCARY TALES #2: I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM.

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Each book is different, new characters, new settings, but each one promises to make your heart beat faster. Boom, boom, boom. Don’t they look great?

The fourth book in the “Scary Tales” Series, NIGHTMARELAND, is due to come out in June, 2104. The fifth book, THE ONE-EYED DOLL, comes out in October, in time for Halloween.

Be well, and keep reading!

Your friend,

James Preller

 

FAN MAIL WEDNESDAY #172: Leal Writes from Istanbul!

Dear James Preller,

My name is Leal. I’m 10 years old and I go to ______ School in Istanbul in Turkey.

This year for our semester project, I read one of your books. It was “The Case of the Disappearing Dinosaur.” I enjoyed the book a lot and the ending was full of surprises. My favourite characters are Mila, Jigsaw and their close friends. I didn’t like Bobby because he is dishonest and sly. I’m planning to read “The Case of Hermie the Missing Hamster” and “The Case of the Christmas Snowman” too.

Thank you for writing these lovely and heartwarming books.

Have a nice week,

Leal

I replied:

Leal,

Thanks for writing. I’m so glad that you found my book, JIGSAW JONES #17: THE CASE OF THE DISAPPEARING . . .

Hey, wait a minute.

Did you say . . . Istanbul?

In Turkey?

Are you sure you didn’t mean, Istanbul, Pennsylvania?

That’s so cool.

I get a lot of letters from New Jersey — and Jersey is fine, truly — but Istanbul!

Wow.

I love my Jigsaw Jones books. I try to fill each mystery with little twists and turns, so I’m glad that you found the story was full of surprises.

When I wrote it, way back in 2002, my son Nick was getting into magic tricks. That’s where I got the idea for the story, I guess — a magic trick that goes wrong.

Leafing through the book, I noticed a moment when Jigsaw actually uses a pay phone. Yikes! I guess the world has changed.

I am currently writing a new series for readers your age. Readers, that is, who like scary stories. It’s called “Scary Tales.” Each book is a new story, with completely new characters and settings. Three books are out so far: HOME SWEET HORROR; I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM; and (my favorite), GOOD NIGHT ZOMBIE. The next one will be called NIGHTMARELAND — a boy gets sucked into a video game and his sister, who doesn’t even like video games, is the only one who can help him escape. Together, they have to beat the game.

Thanks for your kind letter.

I hope you have a good week, too!

JP

Fan Mail #169: Dressing Up Like James Preller!

You may have noticed that I haven’t done much here in the way of fan mail recently. It’s a combination of getting less of it during the summer and, alas, finding my own answers a little perfunctory.

But this one made me laugh, so I thought you’d enjoy it. Some poor kid out there is dressing up and pretending to be James Preller! The horror, the horror.

Too funny.

COMINGS & GOINGS: The Rochester Children’s Book Festival, November 16th

I’ve always heard great things about the Rochester Children’s Book Festival, but never got invited. I tried to weasel an invitation a few years back (clever Cynthia DeFelice reference), but that went nowhere. Finally, at last, I wore ‘em down. Good thing, too, because I’m hoping to promote my SCARY TALES series as well as, you know, meet some kindred, book-loving spirits. So if you are near the area — a teacher, a librarian, or merely a stalker — please stop by and say hello.

Some of the many authors & illustrators who’ll be there: MJ & Herm Auch, Julie Berry, Michael Buckley, Peter Catalanotto, Bruce Coville, Cynthia DeFelice, Jeff Mack, Daniel Mahoney, Matt McElligott, Linda Sue Park, Matt Phelan, Robin Pulver, Jane Yolen, Paul O. Zelinsky, and more.

Holy crap! What a list of luminaries! My knees are sweating already. I better pack a clean shirt.

I’m looking forward to it, with thanks to my publisher, the kind folks at Macmillan, for putting me up with a family of Armenian immigrants at a nearby trailer park for the weekend. I just hope they remember to roll out the red carpet. Remember, I’ll only eat the blue M & M’s.

Happily, the event places me in close proximity to my oldest son, Nick, who attends Geneseo College. And by “attends” I mean, I certainly hope so!

Over Halloween, he and some friends decided to go as “Dads.” I functioned in an advisory capacity, the content of which he politely ignored. My big idea was to get a Darth Vader helmet and cape, then pull on one of those t-shirts that reads: “WORLD’S GREATEST DAD!”

Because, you know, irony!

Anyway, check it out. Nick is the one in shorts, pulled up white socks, bad mustache, and “Lucky Dad” hat. Hysterical, right?

Lastly, hey, if you happen to be in Elmira, NY, on November 6th, or Richmond, VA, on November 13, you can catch a lively, fast-paced musical based on my book, Jigsaw Jones #12: The Case of the Class Clown.

I did get to see it a few years ago, with a knot of dread in my stomach, and came away relieved and impressed. Everyone involved did a great job and, to be honest, the story is sweet, too.

Here’s the info on Richmond, VA (where, coincidentally, I’ll be visiting middle schools in early December, mostly giving my patented “Bystander/Anti-Bullying/Author ” presentation. Anyway, the info I promised:

Families, elementary schools and preschools are encouraged to make reservations soon for performances of a children’s show.

A 55-minute performance of “Jigsaw Jones and the Case of the Class Clown” will be performed at 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Nov. 13 at Civic Hall Performing Arts Center in Richmond.

The show is based on a children’s mystery series written by James Preller. Theodore “Jigsaw” Jones and his friend, Mila, are investigating who’s playing practical jokes. It includes music and humor.

“Jigsaw Jones” is presented by Arts Power, a professional theater company touring the nation.

Admission is $2 per student because a grant from the Stamm Koechlein Family Foundation is helping offset the cost for Civic Hall’s Proudly Presenting Series educational programming.

Teachers and chaperones are admitted free.

For Elmira, click here or call: 607-733-5639 x248 (and tell ‘em Jimmy sent ya!)

JIGSAW JONES, The Musical: Appearing On Long Island, Suffolk County Community College, October 5

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QUICK INFO for Long Island-based fans of “Jigsaw Jones”  . . .

The Lively Arts Series at Suffolk County Community College will present Jigsaw Jones: The Case of the Class Clown in the Van Nostrand Theatre on the Michael J. Grant Campus in Brentwood on Sunday, October 5, 2013 at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.

Athena Lorenzo has been slimed and she doesn’t think it’s very funny. Someone in Ms. Gleason’s class is playing practical jokes. Theodore “Jigsaw” Jones claims to be the very first detective in the whole school. It’s up to Jigsaw and his friend Mila to investigate the sliming and track down the class clown. Brimming with music and charm, this show is perfect for students in grades 1-4.

General Admission is $8.00; senior citizens and SCCC faculty pay $7.00. SCCC students with current I.D. are entitled to one FREE ticket. For more information, please call the Van Nostrand Box Office at 631-851-6589 or visitwww.sunysuffolk.edu/spotlight.

For more background, here’s a link to an old post written after I attended the show back in 2010. I actually thought it was pretty entertaining and heartfelt. Thumbs up. Both of ‘em!

Fan Mail #168: Questions, Questions, Questions

Again, I’m beginning a blog entry with an apology. I haven’t been keeping up with it lately, after five years of consistent effort. I have a few excuses, but really, who cares?

I am not giving up this blog, but I will likely de-emphasize it in my life. It will be here, I will continue to share a sampling of fan mail, and whatever else might come.

Thanks for stopping by, and please come again.

Here’s one from California!

Apologies for the scan . . .

(Gosh, I’ve got to stop apologizing and START LIVING!)

I replied, in part:

Dear Jullianna:

I’m glad you enjoyed my book, The Case of the Great Sled Race. In that story, I paid tribute to another book, Stone Fox, by John Reynolds Gardiner. It’s terrific and you should read it. Just like Jigsaw Jones did in his class.

Though, I should warn you, it might make you cry a little tiny bit.

But hey, I like to cry. I do! It means I’m feeling something, my heart swells, I’m alive. Okay, laughter is best – but crying is good, too. Seriously!

I searched and searched for the envelope you included in the letter, but I couldn’t find it. I either lost it (probably) or you forgot to include it (maybe). No worries. I did a little investigating because I had to find your zip code, and out of curiosity I jumped on Google Maps and started looking at houses on your actual block. Crazy, isn’t it?

Seems like you live in a nice part of the world. Well played, Julianna!

You asked so many questions in your letter. You can find the answers to most of them by going to my site at jamespreller.com and digging around a bit. I hope that doesn’t seem too lazy of me, but I created the site for readers exactly like you -– and to spare myself, admittedly, from having to answer the same questions over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over again.

My best,

James Preller