Tag Archive for Jigsaw Jones

Summer Hours, School Visits, Free Books

I blinked and July appeared. No, that is not my new secret power. My blinking didn’t cause the calendar to turn. I was more trying to make a point about . . .

Nevermind.

Let’s try this: Whoa, July already!

Over the years, I’ve learned that readership slows during the summer months. In response, I don’t put up as much new content. Think of me as a turtle overwintering in the mud — but it’s summer, and it’s a blog, and there’s really no connection whatsoever.

I mean to say, it’ll be quiet around here, but not silent.

SCHOOL VISITS

Yes, please! Send your queries to me at jamespreller@aol.com. School visits are an important aspect of what I do, the role I play on this planet, and they mean the world to me.

For more information, click on the “School Visits” toward the top of your screen. Or just write to me to get the ball rolling. It’s friendly and personal and you will be dealing directly with me. I’m not a huge consortium of anything. Just Jimmy, trying to earn a living. Happy to speak on the phone.

BOOKS

I have two books coming out this summer. In fact, just got my complimentary author’s supply in the mail, a big box of The Big Idea Gang: Bee the Change.

I like this series a lot, and I’ve been grateful for the positive reviews.

To me, these are political books that came directly out of our current reality. These are simple stories about empowerment, about young people making a difference in our world. And by featuring persuasive writing as a subtext, the books help provide some of the tools that are necessary for changing minds, for becoming powerful instruments of positive change. Hopefully they will be inspiring to a new generation of budding activists. Check them out.

Or, hey: If you are a classroom teacher or school librarian interested in sharing these books with your students, drop me a line at jamespreller@aol.com. Make the subject heading: FREE BOOK. I’ll sign it and send it out to you while supplies last. 

On August 6th, we’ll see the publication of an all-new Jigsaw Jones title, The Case of the Hat Burglar. I’m so happy with this book. I had written 40 books about Jigsaw and Mila, and then there was a long fallow period when I was off writing other things (Six Innings, Bystander, The Courage Test, Better Off Undead, etc). I didn’t think I’d ever get the chance to visit those characters again. But things changed, opportunity knocked, and I was able to write a new Jigsaw Jones book after about ten years away. Thing is, I believe I’m a better writer today than I was 22 years ago when I wrote the first book in the series.

Thank you, faithful readers, so grateful you stopped by. Have a great summer — and please think of me for school visits. It’s one of my favorite things in the world to do.

 

Jigsaw Jones: And Then There Were 14

Good news! Coming August 6, 2019, we’ll see five more Jigsaw Jones books available for young readers.

The Case of the Hat Burglar is all-new, illustrated by R.W. Alley. I’m extremely happy with this one, a mystery centered around items that have gone missing from a school’s Lost and Found.

Who took them? And why? The answers to those questions will test the friendship between Jigsaw and Mila.

 

 

In addition, we’ve revised and updated four previously-published titles that have been (sadly!) out of print. 

Pictures like this one, for example (heh-heh), had to go:

 

 

Anyway, take a gander — here are the dazzling new covers and the slightly larger format. You can pre-order the books now. And, really, you should. What else are you going to do? Published by Macmillan. Collect all 14.

Don’t make me beg, people!

 

                    

 

Fan Mail Wednesday #287: Writing Advice from Turkey

Here’s one all the way from Turkey . . .

Dear Mr. Preller,
I am a 5th grade student in Turkey and I read “The Case of the Best Pet Ever” as my project homework. I think that your book was very entertaining for kids like me who like mystery books. Jigsaw and Mila worked hard to find evidences and questioned suspects to solve the mystery of the stolen prize. I liked the book because it has a surprise ending, I wasn’t expecting Rags to win the medal. Jigsaw thought that Rags was a hopeless and useless dog but when Rags found the prize Jigsaw understood that everyone has their own talents. Rags may not be a very talented dog to win a pet competition but he is talented in finding treasures. I also liked the friendship and teamwork between Mila and Jigsaw. There were a lot of nice sayings like “Try to be the person your dog thinks you are.” My favorite simile was “I was as frustrated as a dentist in a candy store”. If I were you I would write more about the things they do to solve the mystery to keep the curiosity level higher. I will definitely read more of your books and thank you for your time.
Best Regards,
Derin ______
I replied . . .
Dear Derin,
You wrote an excellent letter, filled with good observations and sharp understanding. Thanks for that. 
It’s funny, I get a fair amount of letters from Turkey. My guess is that there’s one teacher there — somewhere! — who has a bin of my books. I’m grateful to that mysterious superfan.

Featuring illustrations throughout by R.W. Alley!

I always have bittersweet feelings about this particular book. I’ve written many, as you know; the newest title, The Case of the Hat Burglar (Macmillan, August 2019) will be the 42nd in the series. So, yeah, that’s crazy. Some books are more successful than others. Or in kinder terms, each has different strengths and weaknesses. Some are funnier; some have sturdier mysteries, better detective work; some have more heart, emotion; and so on.

This particular title came at a time when my oldest son, Nicholas (now 25), had been diagnosed with cancer. Just a little boy, dangerously sick. It was a hard time for our family. I did my best to work through those times, but on Best Pet Ever I had some help from a co-writer. I did my best, I’m responsible for every word, but I might have been floating in outer space when it was all happening. Anyway, today Nick is healthy and strong and living in the Big Apple, i.e., New York City. 
Thanks for your letter. I do hear your advice about the detective work. I’ll keep trying!
All good things,
James Preller

Jigsaw Jones: The Grocery List Clue

I came across a meme the other day that made me smile, because it reminded of a clue I employed in Jigsaw Jones: The Case from Outer Space.

In my book, published last year, I wrote the clue slightly differently. Here’s the scene, when Mila discovers the note tucked into a book in a Little Free Library:

A few minutes later, Mila said, “Bingo!” She had found another piece of paper. It was the same size as the other clue.

Mila held it out for us to see.

Danika read the message aloud. “‘LET TOM PICK ON MAY.’ That’s weird. What does it mean?”

I looked at Mila. “It might be a secret code.”

“Perhaps,” Mila said. “Maybe it means exactly what it says. Some guy named Tom is picking on May.”

We didn’t know anyone by either name.

“I’m hungry,” Joey complained.

“Not now, Joey. We’re hunting for clues.”

And so on and so forth. I like how Joey, who is always thinking about food, on every page in every book, accidentally almost leads our detectives in the right direction. I’m hungry. But Jigsaw snaps back, “Not not, Joey.” This is no time to be thinking about food.

Or is it?

Alert readers might instantly recognize this as a grocery list, something you’d bring to the deli when ordering a sandwich for a friend. The trick for a mystery writer is to quickly distract attention, the magician’s misdirection. My characters instantly travel down the wrong train of thought. Hopefully young readers will take that ride with Jigsaw and Mila — or, hey, maybe it’s perfectly okay if the reader is a step ahead of our favorite gumshoes, rewarded by careful reading and critical thinking.

Another favorite moment comes when Jigsaw, zeroing in on his primary suspect, confronts Ms. Gleason. I love the way illustrator R.W. Alley (you can call him Bob) depicts Jigsaw in the drawing, leaning forward in absolute seriousness, while Ms. Gleason leans back, a little stunned by his intensity.

Mila, Joey, Danika and I stayed after class to have a little talk with our teacher. 

“Tell me, Ms. Gleason,” I said. “What do you think about . . . MAYONNAISE?”

“Excuse me?”

“Some people like eating it,” I said. “What about you?”

“I, um . . .” She blinked a few times. “It’s fine. I like it.”

“Aha!” I said. I made a note in my detective journal: LIKES MAYO.

“How about pickles? Do they tickle your fancy?” I asked.

“Jigsaw, what’s this all about?” she asked. 

FIVE MORE JIGSAW JONES BOOKS WILL BE AVAILABLE FROM MACMILLAN — REVISED AND UPDATED — THIS SUMMER. THAT INCLUDES THE ALL-NEW TITLE: The Case of the Hat Burglar

Jigsaw Jones & Winter

Just an image from the next Jigsaw Jones book, The Case of the Hat Burglar. Living in upstate New York, here in December, the weather described in this book did not require a great feat of imagination. My job is to make things up . . . most of the time.

 

Illustration by R.W. Alley.