Tag Archive for Fan Mail

Fan Mail Wednesday #50

Sometimes I get packages of letters from a class or school. Dozens of letters. I thought I’d cull some lines from one such package, sent by Ellen Schumer at The Red Mill School. Usually in this “fan mail” series, I try to give complete, thoughtful, respectful answers to serious questions.

Not today.

You are so  funny. Last night I was wondering what it would be like eating on a door. I asked my mom if she could go out and buy a door, but unfortunately she said no. — Ryan.

Moms can be so heartless. You should have asked Dad.

Some of my favorite things to write about are animals that are canivores. I enjoy reading about carnivores too. I think I like carnivores because of their sharp fangs. — Troy

I’m thinking you’re not a big salad guy.

The Jigsaw Jones books that you write are hularias. I love drawing pictures too! The story about a door as a table was too funny! I could barely hold my insides in. I am thinking of being an author when I grow up. — Rachel

That’s why on school visits I always bring a mop.

You are a great writer Mr. Preller. I hope you have fun writing books. — Lucky


I loved it when you were really funny. — Nadaya.

The other times, not so much?

When you read Mighty Casey you cracked me up. When the kid went pee in the outfield that was hysterical. — Damon

Note to self: Add more scenes of public urination to books. Readers seem to love it.

When you were a kid were you picked on? — Aidan

No. But I saw it sometimes and I remember it all very clearly, the faces, the fear, and the confused feeling of standing there, hands at my sides, doing nothing, wondering what to do.

I hate carrots. I know they are healthy but I don’t like them that much. I eat carrots but not that much! — Nicole

You are going blind. Eat those carrots!!!

You are very funny because you stole your brother’s homework. Could you write more than 300 pages? — Edward

In a row?

I hope you come back really really soon. — Justin

Thank you. It’s probably best if your school brings in a different author or illustrator. Change is good. But I’ll always remember Red Mill.

I read all of your Jigsaw Jones books. I love  all of them. You are funny. I love Six Innings. I love the way you write your books. — Ashley

Woud your parents mind if I adopted you? Or rented you out for a weekend or something?


POSTSCRIPT ABOUT BAFFLING DOOR REFERENCES: On visits, I sometimes tell a brief story about the kitchen table we had when I was growing up. Yes, it was a door.

Fan Mail Wednesday #34

Can you believe we’re up to #34 already? And still, nothing from my Mom. What’s up with that? Meanwhile: Boo-ya, David’s in da house!

Hello James,

My name is David. I am 10 years old and I LOVE LOVE LOVE Jigsaw Jones books. You should write more because I would love to read them.

Sincerely, David

I replied:


Well, I LOVE LOVE LOVE getting letters like yours — thanks so much.

I have a new book that’s just about finished, called The Case of the Secret Skeleton. My part is done, but the book still needs final art, then it has to be printed, glued together, and shipped to the warehouse. I understand that it will be offered on Scholastic Book Clubs in September. And let me tell you: It is going to rock your world and shatter the very foundations of your existence! (Okay, maybe not — but it is pretty entertaining, hopefully.)

Above: Rough cover sketches by R.W. Alley (click to enlarge).

Hopefully you can wait that long without, like, exploding. Which, let’s face it, would be gross. There are now 40 different Jigsaw Jones titles, so there’s probably still a few you haven’t read.

Click on this link — right here — to learn more about the next Jigsaw Jones book!



Fan Mail Wednesday #22

Welcome to the triumphant return of Fan Mail Wednesday. I’ll do something different today, for here in my hands I hold a veritable sheaf of letters, all from awesome children from Tokeneke Elementary in Darien, Connecticut. I visited there a while back and had a great time.

When retyping letters, I’m often tempted to retype them exactly — with invented spellings and fantastical uses of punctuation. But then I feel like, no, that’s between us.

And away we go!

Cole asks:

I wanted to know how you say Mila.

Easy: My-la (not Me-la).

Shashank writes:

I wonder what your next book is going to be about?

Well, my friend, I often wonder that myself. Ack! Actually, I’m writing a story about a 5th-grader who is a class clown. His mishaps and adventures. I can’t talk about it until I get a lot more on the page. (Rule #37: Talking is the enemy of writing! That is: Don’t talk, just write.)

Annie asks:

What is your favorite book out of all the books you wrote?

Bystander, but it won’t be out until September, 2009. It’s set in a middle school and revolves around a bullying situation. I also love Six Innings, Wake Me In Spring, Along Came Spider, and a bunch (but not all) of the Jigsaw Jones books.

Kate writes:

Thank you for visiting Tokeneke School. Now I decided what to be when I grow up. I’m going to be a famous author.

Sounds like a plan. When you figure out the “famous” part, please let me know! But seriously, wow, your letter made me smile. I know you can do it if you try! You already have a head start. When I was your age, I wanted to be a pitcher for the New York Mets.


Thank you for sharing those amazing things about your life, and an author’s life. I was wondering if well maybe you put a new kid in like maybe a girl named Caitlin. Like you could write a new book called . . . A New Kid In My Class!!!

Not a bad idea. But do I have to split the money with you? As for this new kid, this Caitlin Something character . . . I’m guessing she’s fabulously, wonderfully terrific?

Caroline advises:

I think you should write some factual stories because I like factual stories and my classmates do, too.

We have that in common; I like nonfiction books, too. In the past I’ve written about Tasmanian devils, bugs, elephants, baseball cards, and professional athletes. All filled with actual factual stuff!

From Christian:

Your books are really funny. I can’t believe you got the broccoli in the milk idea from the radio. That was pretty funny what you named your turtle. I wanted to ask you how old was your turtle when he died.

Green Fingernail lived to the ripe old age of one. Sob.

The mighty Quinn writes:

What are your mom and dad’s names?

Ann and Al. The weird thing is, Al is my mom, and Ann is my dad. Okay, not really.

Lastly, from Nolan:

Thank you for visiting our school to learn about what an author does and how did you get the character of Jigsaw? and what is your birthday? and what is Jigsaw’s favorite food? and baseball is my favorite sport and I know you like baseball too and your books are really good you don’t look like a worm and my favorite series is Jigsaw Jones.

Whew, I was worried you were going to turn BLUE, Nolan! You’ve got to breathe! My birthday is 2/1/61. Jigsaw loves pizza and grape juice. And thanks about the worm comment — that was sweet. Thank you for noticing.

Okay, thanks for writing, Tokeneke!

If I did not respond to your individual letter here, please know that I enjoy reading every word of every letter. Keep reading books, any books at all!

Fan Mail Wednesday #19 (Clinton Edition)

I’m a day late and I know you’re upset.

But you’ve got to move past that, okay? Don’t let it eat at you. Trust me, I’ve read books about this. What you’ve got to do is take that anger, that hurt feeling, and let it fly, fly away like a little white bird. There, see how easy that was?

Come on, people! Give me a break here. I KNOW it’s not Wednesday. But try to think of “Fan Mail Wednesday” more as a state of mind than an actual, literal day on the calender. Work with me on this: It’s always Wednesday!

No, you can’t storm off in a huff to Matthew Cordell’s blog. Why not? Why not?! Well, for starters, his wife, author Julie Halpern, just had a baby. Matthew doesn’t have time to blog! You think he has time to blog? Forget blogging. He’s never going to blog again. He’s going to be busy for the next two . . . three . . . eighteen years.

Her name is Romy, by the way. Fortunately, she is too young to realize that her mother, Julie, has HUGE, HORRIFYING hands.

So: I recently visited Clinton Elementary School in Maplewood, New Jersey. It was a great visit to a lively, happy school. However, I did come away with one concern — I’m fairly certain the principal had four feet, a tail, and answered to the name, “Buddy.”

I love it when we can arrange to eat lunch with a small group of students. It offers me the chance to interact with kids. Well, this lunch was the best ever. We laughed all the time — one girl actually turned purple — and we talked about writing, movies, flying dreams, Alex Torres & His Latin Orchestra, the Election, brownies vs. cookies, and the times when some of us laughed so hard that soda poured out of our noses (hey, it happens).

Composed of a range of students from 1st to 5th grade, I felt like I was sitting at the United Nations, with students born in Nigeria, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Italy, the Philippines and other far-flung places. There was even a real, live “Jersey Girl!” In order to get selected for this lunch, the students had the option of writing a brief essay, explaining why they would like to have lunch with James Preller. Here’s some of my favorite lines:

I like eating with someone that is why I like to have some lunch with an author.

November 3rd is my brithday and I couldn’t think of a better present!

I never had an experience to eat lunch with the best author in the world.

I looooove his books. They are so mysterious and funny. He is the BEST author I have read books from.

I’ll even bring a notepad just in case I win and I could take notes about him. I already know that he has two cats. But I want to know the names of the cats, too.

I’m always in the mood for a good mystery! Who isn’t?!

I have never in my young life had lunch with any author really. So this might be my chance to have lunch with JAMES PRELLER!

Thank you, Clinton Elementary, wherever you are! And my special thanks to Sharon Edelberg and Liz Salituri.

Fan Mail Wednesday #17

Here’s one that just came sizzling through the wires, presumably typed by an older sister:

My brother Tommy is a huge fan of yours. He is reading
Six Innings and is enjoying it very much. My sister Kathy is reading Jigsaw Jones and is also loving it!! Thanks for your time! Please right back.

From, Mary Beth

*Live * Laugh * Love*

Here’s my reply:

Dear Mary Beth, Tommy, and Kathy,

Thanks for the note. This is exactly what I’m talking about, America! Everybody in the house should be reading my books. Even the pets! Wait, I take that back — especially the pets!

Seriously, Tommy, I’m glad you are reading Six Innings. I vividly remember when I played Little League. Once when I was ten years old, the youngest kid in the Majors, I lost a game that I pitched, 1-0. I was crushed. I remember sitting in my dad’s car after the game — hiding, really — fighting back the tears that welled in my eyes. The opposing team’s pitcher, Michael Aldridge, who was 12 years old and the best player in the league, came over and shook my hand. He told me I pitched really well. But I couldn’t even look at him. All I did was sniffle. It’s amazing that I can remember that so perfectly, 37 years later. It must have been important, you know? That’s why I wrote that book. For a lot of boys like me, those games mean, or meant, a lot.

Kathy, that’s cool you are loving my Jigsaw Jones books. As a matter of fact, I am writing a new one, The Case of the Skeleton’s Secret. Anyway, I’ve never had anyone fart in a Jigsaw Jones book. Or burp, for that matter — even after more than 250,000 words. But I’m thinking about writing a fart scene after I finish this letter. Why? I can’t possibly think of a good reason! Except I want it to sound like this . . . poof . . . the softest, quietest sound ever. It’s more about the reaction than the, um, gaseous event. So it’s important WHO farts, you know. Obviously, this requires some DEEP THINKING. So I’ll write it, but I can’t promise the scene will stay in the book. We’ll see what my editor thinks. Do you think it’s too gross? I’m afraid it might be. But like they say, “Everybody farts.” Except for my wife, who simply refuses. I’m worried that one day she’ll explode.

Mary Beth, you must be a great sister. It was nice of you to write the email for Tommy and Kathy. I like that you end your message with: *Live * Laugh * Love* But I think you forgot some other essential L-words, like: *Lollipops * Lungfish * Lilliputian * La-de-da * Leg-of-Mutton * and Ludicrous.

Just trying to be helpful.