Tag Archive for Peter Lerangis

Stay Home, Please. Don’t Celebrate Children’s Book Day at “Sunnyside” in Tarrytown, NY, 9/25

Just stay home. Please.

Find something else to do.

Each year I do this event, which features more than 60 amazing children’s book authors and illustrators, and it’s always such a disappointment. For starters, check out some of the people who’ll be there, and you’ll understand why I’m so bummed:

Tony Abbott, Nora Raleigh Baskin, Nick Bruel, Bryan Collier, Katie Davis, Bruce Degen, Jean Craighead George, Charise Mericle Harper, Susan Jeffers, Peter Lerangis, Gail Carson Levine, Carolyn MacCullough, Rafe Martin, Wendy Mass, Matthew McElligott, Helen Perelman, Wendell Minor, Gloria Pinkney, Lizzy Rockwell, Todd Strasser, Mark Teague, Jean Van Leeuwen, Eric Velasquez, Sarah Weeks, Ed Young, and more.

Why so down-in-the-dumps you ask? Because I never get to talk to any of them. I never get a chance to meet the new (to me!) people, like Will Moses (Mary and Her Little Lamb), Lena Roy (Edges), Daniel Kirk (Library Mouse), Peter Brown (You Will Be My Friend!) . . .

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. . . and Jerry Davis (Little Chicken’s Big Day). Who are these people? Might they become my new best pals? Um, not likely! Because they are sitting at tables forty feet away, surrounded by happy children, shopping grandparents, and strong-armed educators, hauling bags of books like Sherpa guides.

Best I can do is throw rocks at ’em.

And, oh, hey, look over there, it’s Jean Craighead George. She’s only a freakin’ legend. I can’t throw rocks at Jean Craighead George. She’ll throw them back — and her arm is a bazooka.

Oh,  wait.  Here’s old friends like Mark Teague and Helen Perelman and Peter Lerangis. Can I talk to any of them? Can we hang out? Maybe shoot the breeze? Commiserate?

Nooooooo. I’m too busy signing books, meeting young readers, gabbing with families, prostrating myself before the cheerful & smiling hordes.

Writing is a solitary business, folks. And it’s frustrating for me to sit there at gorgeous Sunnyside . . .

. . . just feet away from my peerless peers, and never have a free minute to chat with them.

So my dream is for just one year, nobody comes. No book sales, no signings, no musicians, no storytellers, no-bah-dee. Just us authors, finally (finally!) enjoying a few moments when we can hang out and complain about the crappy jobs our publishers do with publicity and marketing. It’s how we bond. We bitch and moan about Kindles.

So this coming Sunday, clean the garage, watch football, wax the car. But if you insist on coming . . . click here for full details.

As always, blue skies are personally guaranteed. It never rains on my parade.

Let Kids Read Comic Books . . . D’uh!

Instead of “Let Kids Read Comic Books,” I almost titled this entry, “Don’t Be an Idiot.” Because I can’t believe this needs to be discussed anymore.

Over at Imagination Soup, they ran a good piece with a solid message: “8 Reasons to Let Your Kids Read Comics.” Check it out, there’s a lot of worthwhile links attached to the article.

Here’s their list of “8 reasons” in brief.

1. Comics are fun to read.

2. Comics contain the same story elements and literary devices as narrative stories.

3. Comics provide built-in context clues.

4. Reading a comic is a different process of reading using a lot of inference.

5. Readers need variety in their reading diet.

6. We’re a visual culture and the visual sequence makes sense to kids.

7. Reading comics may lead to drawing and writing comics.

8. The selection of graphic novels is bigger, better, and reaches a wider age-range than before.

Yeah, feh, okay. I get that. We have to establish that comics are credible resources, that they’re valid in the classroom, so there’s a perceived need to throw in a lot of pedagogical goobledygook. But I don’t care. Because one thing I know is that many (many!) professional authors began their childhood love of reading with comic books. And that those authors are frequently men (AKA, ex-boys).

They read what they wanted to. They read what they liked. They read, period.

This dismissive notion of “boys reading junk” must be addressed. As well-meaning adults, we need to become sensitized to our bias against certain types of reading. We have to become aware of the messages we send to boy readers, the disapproving way we view their personal choices. Some of these boys pick up a comic book to read — TO READ! — and the message they get is, “That choice is stupid and you’re a dummy.”

We must trust in the process.

When I was working on my belly-up blog, Fathers Read, I received written contributions from several children’s book authors, including Matthew Cordell, Lewis Buzbee, Michael Northrop, Eric Velasquez, and Jordan Sonnenblick. One recurring strain in their reflections on their lives as young readers was the love and appreciation they felt toward comic books and, I should add, books that in general would not be considered literary. Yet somehow, despite reading what they liked, these boys became avid readers and skilled writers. Hmmm, go figure.

Here’s an excerpt from one such author/illustrator, my pal Matthew Cordell:

Five Things About Me as a Young Reader

1. Picture books I most remember liking were Dr. Seuss and Richard Scarry. And, sad to say, crappy series books like Berenstain bears. Hoo-boy.

2. I remember liking superhero comics very early on. Maybe even before I could actually read. It lasted til around middle school then tapered off. Quite significant here, being comics that made me want to be an artist.

3. I also was obsessed with Archie comics. They were easy to get because the Archie digests were at the grocery store checkout. These I liked for the gags and the weird 50’s vibe. Not so much for the cool factor. But I loved hanging out with these funny, upbeat, wholesome characters.

4. I loved Beverly Cleary books. The Ramona stuff, but especially the Henry books. I remember liking that it wasn’t over in just one book. Like you could still hang out in that world with these characters for the follow-up and so on. I guess like I did with my pals back in Riverdale.

5. There was this book, The Fledgling by Jane Langton, that was burned into my memory for years. I didn’t finish this book (it was required reading in 5th grade, which never really worked for me as a reader… I even fudged a book report on the thing). But I actually liked it and had always regretted never finishing it. Years went on and I eventually forgot the title and wanted more and more to go back and finish it. Last year, I finally sleuthed it out and remembered the name and re-read it. It was very surreal.

Matthew Cordell is a Chicago-based illustrator (and sometimes author, too!) of many terrific books, including: Justin Case (Rachel Vail), Toby and the Snowflakes (Julie Halpern) . . .

Mighty Casey (James Preller), Trouble Gum . . .

.———-

Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie (Julie Sternberg), and more.

Men Reading: What You May Have Missed

In addition to the relentless snowbooking, I’ve been putting in time over at my new blog, FATHERS READ, which is dedicated to 1) fun photos of men reading; and 2) the importance of positive role models for boy readers.

Note: I want to pause for a moment to emphasize that these gender issues often devolve into an “us” versus “them” scenario, the boys against the girls, with advocates for each side lined up in opposition. This is unfortunate and counter-productive. What we want is readers, boys and girls. Yes, I wrote: the importance of positive role models on BOY readers. Because that’s my focus here, the statistical fact that boys do not read as much as girls. But on a larger scale, the fathers read movementha! — benefits boys and girls. I’m not pitting one against the other.

Please check it out, spread the word, send in photos. Things are eerily quiet over there, it’s the proverbial tree falling in the forest.  It’s a new blog and generally these things either take time or die on the vine. Right now, it’s too soon to tell.

Over the past two weeks:

* Author Lois Lowry tugged at my heart;

* Author Lewis Buzbee stopped by to contribute, “Five Things About Me as a Young Reader.”

* Peter Lerangis, author of many outstanding books, got fierce about reading.

* I’ve linked to useful, provocative articles on tips for boy-friendly educational approaches, the culture of low expectations, research that suggests how video games might actually boost brainpower, super dad seminars, 14 literacy strategies for boys, and more.

* Identified some pretty excellent father-based blogs.

* And for as long as supplies last . . . photos. Really great photos.

Please do what you can to amplify this important message.

Promote the site on your blog . . .

Send in a photo . . .

Honor a man who played a role in your development as a reader . . .

Don’t make me beg, people.

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.

Celebrate Children’s Book Day @ Washington Irving’s “Sunnyside” in Tarrytown, NY: 9/19

You should know that children’s book impresarios Susan Brandes and Beth Vetare-Civitello have put together another spectacular lineup of authors and illustrators for this year’s (13th annual?) Children’s Book Festival.

With more than 50 authors/illustrators on hand, the list is too excruciatingly long to include everyone. So I’ll only name my favorites:

JAMES PRELLER!

Well, it looks like we’ve run out of time. Sunnyside is a gorgeous location, with historic buildings nestled in beside the mighty Hudson . . .

What’s that? Hold on. I just got a text . . .

Tony Abbott: WTF??!!

Anyway, as I was saying . . .

Eric Velasquez: Punk!

Charise Mericle Harper: When I see you there, I will throw a CUPCAKE in your face!

Jean Craighead George: Die, die, die!

Rebecca Stead: How would you like to have a Newbery Medal shoved up your . . .

Whoa, whoa, people, CALM DOWN! Obviously, some of these “artists” — and I’m using the term loosely — have ego issues. Touchy, touchy. Seriously, I don’t even know these people. And I don’t want to know them! But, okay, here’s a few other names before I get into any more trouble (but believe me, I’m pretty confident I can handle Jean Craighead George in a tussle, if it’s a fair fight and she doesn’t carry a crude knife fashioned out of tree bark and a plastic spork; and as far as Ms. Stead’s “offer,” that may be as close as I’ll ever get):

Nora Raleigh Baskin * Judy Blundell * Katie Davis * Jules Feiffer * Susan Jeffers * Peter Lerangis * Gail Carson Levine * Wendy Mass * Wendell Minor * Jerry Pinkney * Peter Sis * Hudson Talbott * Ed Young * James Howe * Michael Rex * Nick Bruel * Bruce Degan * Diane Goode * and many, many more, including JAMES FREAKING PRELLER!

I’m also glad to see that my friend, Matthew McElligott, will be attending this year. His new book, Even Monsters Need Haircuts, looks pretty great.

Maybe I’ll offer him a ride . . . if he pays for gas.

And tolls.

Show time: 12:00 – 4:30.

Oh, yeah, one more thing. I’ll do something that these other children’s authors and illustrators are afraid to do. That’s right: I am personally guaranteeing a beautiful day. Blue skies, warm sun, good times. Trust me on this, people.  It’s my personal promise to you.

This year, I mean it.

So come on out and bring lots of money bring the kids!

Click here for full details, directions, etc.