This guy . . .
Here’s one that came from not far away, via a librarian-friend who lives in my community.
Don’t you like the envelope?
Well, it seems like we have a nice connection, since I’m friends and neighbors with your wonderful librarian, Ms. Furlong. Her daughter, a senior, is in the same school and grade as my daughter, Maggie. Meanwhile, her husband is a craft beer-loving, long-suffering Mets fan. I’m the same way about the Mets, though I’m not really a fan of fussy anything, including craft beer, haircuts, clothing, etc. Keep it simple.
What were we talking about? Oh, your letter! So happy to hear from you. You asked a few questions, so let’s see:
1) Letters like yours come to me from time to time. It always feels like a gift from the universe, like a new star appearing in the night sky. I’m grateful and humbled and, mostly, just heartened to meet another person, like me, who is enthusiastic about books. Any books.
2) I like “Chubby Hubby” by Ben & Jerry’s.
3) Two of my three children are devout vegetarians, so they’ll hate this answer: If it’s a special treat, yes, I love a good steak. I’m eating less red meat these days, but!
4) My favorite book so far is the one I’m currently finishing, Blood Mountain. It’s due to my editor, Liz, in two weeks. Should be available a year from now. It’s really pushed me to be my best –- I’ve had to learn so much just to write it accurately –- and I’m never been more absorbed in my work. In short: “Hatchet” meets “Misery,” plus there’s a dog. A brother and sister get lost in the mountain wilderness for six days. It’s exciting and suspenseful and, I hope, powerfully written.
5) Oh: I’ve included a gift. Don’t tell anybody!
I recently received a zippy little email from R.W. Alley, who is illustrating the next Jigsaw Jones book, The Case of the Hat Burglar. I think that Bob — yes, I call him Bob — is a remarkable, sensitive talent. He really captures Jigsaw’s world, the essence of everything I hope to achieve through my words. Bob lifts it all up and makes it better. He’s done all the covers to the books, and (so far) the full interiors to three titles. The first two, much beloved, are currently out of print (grumble, grumble): The Case of Hermie the Missing Hamster and The Case of the Christmas Snowman. Last year, Bob illustrated The Case from Outer Space, which is available, published by Macmillan. Very simply, I love his work. So grateful, so blessed.
The first two books in my upcoming series, “The Big Idea Gang,” won’t be out until January. But the first review just landed.
Money quote from Kirkus: “Upbeat and empowering!”
Here’s the full review, which is available online and will be, as I understand it, in the October print edition:
“A group of friends campaigns to change their school’s mascot. After a comedic mishap with the worn-out costume for Clay Elementary School’s longtime mascot—Arnold the Armadillo—friends Lizzy and Connor O’Malley (twins), Kym Park, and Deon Gibson see an opportunity to get the school a more compelling mascot: the bulldog. They propose it to their teacher (Isadora Zipsokowski, called Miss Zips), who insists they take their idea to the principal themselves. But not all of their classmates are in favor—domineering Suri Brewster opposes them, arguing against the bulldog and organizing a pro-armadillo contingent. The friends work on a new mascot idea—a dragon—and present their case to the principal, who puts their idea against the status quo, represented by Suri, to a schoolwide vote. The job of speaking for their side falls on Lizzy. In the face of her anxiety, her friends rally together to help her support her arguments. When the time comes, Suri speaks well, but Lizzy’s humor and sound logic carry the day. In a delightful twist, Suri is a story antagonist who isn’t antagonistic—she and Lizzy are mutually supportive as they face public speaking. A final segment provides tips on how to structure persuasive arguments. Publishing simultaneously is a sequel, Everybody Needs a Buddy. Lizzy, Connor, and Suri present white, while Kym is Asian and Deon is black. An upbeat and empowering series opener. (Fiction. 6-9)” — Kirkus.
Two quick ones, featuring Bystander and Jigsaw Jones.
William zinged over a quick email:
In my class, we are going to read Bystander as a group activity, and I have one question. How did you become such a good author?
Hi Mr. Preller,
My mom is letting me use her phone and write to you. I have a book report to do about my favorite character. Mine is Jigsaw. What color are his eyes? What color is his hair? What do you think is special about him?
Thank you for your help.
(My mom helped with punctuation and capitals.)