A Quick Stop at My Childhood, Hometown Library in Wantagh

While in the area to visit a couple of local schools — Mandalay and Wantagh Elementary — I stopped off at the town library to give them a few spare titles for the collection. The director actually knew my books but didn’t realize I grew up there. We had a nice conversation.

I took a quick snap of a seating area that I remembered across all these years . . . 

. . . and that I had reimagined for a scene from Bee the Change. Illustration by the wonderful & ridiculously talented Stephen Gilpin. When I present before young readers, we often talk about where ideas come from, and valuing the core experiences of our lives. Our families and pets, our town and community. This is a small example of that, I suppose. 

Here’s the book cover, the third in my “Big Idea Gang” series. Books that are about young people who work together to make their world a better place. In this case, installing a bee-friendly garden at their school.

Stephen –


  1. Kerri Garcia says:

    This is fantastic! Wantagh Schools and the Mandalay PTA thank you so much for coming to visit our students! My own children are deeply invested in the book you signed for them, Scary Tales: One Eyed Doll. They have asked me to order more! It was a pleasure meeting with you, and I am so pleased that you were able to visit some local spots in Wantagh that take you back to your childhood!

    With Gratitude,

    • jimmy says:

      Thank you, Kerri. You were the driving force that made it happen, so I’ll be forever grateful.

      Sadly, I did not have time to climb the rocket ship of my childhood in Wantagh Park — but I did walk the boardwalk at Jones Beach, visited the library, drove past the spot where my father owned his insurance business for decades (Preller & Rice) on Wantagh Ave between Sunrise & Merrick, and even connected with some old friends at a local pub.

      Very happy about all of it.


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