Archive for Jigsaw Jones

Fan Mail Wednesday Triple Threat #324-326: Oooooh, Secret Codes!

 

I received three letters from the same classroom, each including a SASE (thank you!). Two of the letters came with secret codes. All of them were fairly similar and signed using only an initial (for privacy, I gather). I enjoyed responding to them, not all that seriously. 

But first, the codes: 

Here are my replies . . . 

 

Dear N,

Just N, hmmm? That’s mysterious.  

Let me guess: Noah, Nadine, Neo, Nico, Nancy, Nigel . . .

(Stop me when I get it right.)

Natasha, Nehemiah, Nelson, Naomi . . . 

(I’m fading here.)

Nevan, Neely, Nori, Naadir . . .

(I give up!)

As for your code: “Can you figure out this pass code to read it if you can read it.”

Did I miss anything? 

I’m glad you enjoyed Food Fight’s satisfying conclusion!

My best,

James Preller

Dear T,

That’s it, huh? Just T. 

Wait a minute, I’ve got it!

This is Mister T!

“I pity the fool!”

Thanks for the SASE: Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope.

Saves me some money!

Be well and keep reading,

James Preller

Dear A,

I wonder. A what? A banana? A pizza pie? A really good book? A reader?

I’m a B, personally: baffled, bewildered, bamboozled!

Let’s see if I can crack your code. 

(This is fun, thanks.)

“James Preller I really liked the book the case of the food fight!”

Okay: 1) That’s good news! 2) Pretty sure this makes me a genius!

Have a great summer — not a bummer!

My best,

James Preller

Fan Mail Wednesday #321: from Kaya in Istanbul

 

 

For many years now, I’ve been receiving fan mail from a school in Istanbul, Turkey. It’s always a thrill to get them, just the idea that something I wrote can make it all the way there — and then, years later, we connect through that shared book experience. Writer and reader. Words bring us together. It’s kind of beautiful when you think about it. Here’s one from Kaya . . .

Dear Mr Preller,

I am Kaya from Turkey. I am a fifth grade student at Hisar College. English my foreign language. I read your book Jigsaw Jones: The Case of the Best Pet Ever. I really enjoyed it.  It was for my English project but it was so good. I had so much fun.
I like your book because I love detective stories.  I was curious about who stole the Grand Prize. Also, I like your book because it was about animals and I have pets. I have two dogs and they like to play with shoes  like Rags. I remembered my dogs Hugo and Coco when Teddy says his dog steals shoes.
In the beginning I thought it was a human who stole the prize. I was surprised when I learned that it was an animal. I was suspicious about Solofsky like Jigsaw and Mila were. I thought that he was lying. I didn’t like this character but in the end I was so happy when he was innocent. I liked the friendship and work of Mila and Teddy. I was happy when they solved the detective case. I wished that Jigsaw and Rags would win the contest. I was disappointed when the hamster won it.

Some of the vocabulary you used was difficult for me but I learned new words. Normally I read slowly but I was curious about your story and I read it so fast.

I liked the pictures of your book. They helped me to understand your story better. In my opinion the book can be more interesting if pictures are colorful.

I want to read other books of Jigsaw Jones this summer.  They look so interesting.

Nice to meet you.
Kaya Ö

 

I replied . . .

Dear Kaya,

I must have a very good friend in Turkey, because I sure get a lot of letters from students at your school. For years and years now. It’s amazing how one teacher can make such a big difference.
You are very impressive to be able to read and write in English with such skill and charm.
I am a dog lover, too. My dog is named Echo and I am pleased to report that he no longer steals my shoes. As a puppy, he went through a phase when he ate 2 remote controls for our television. What a mess! Nowadays Echo is nearly perfect. But sadly, he’s afraid of thunder. Storms send him into a tizzy. We have to figure out a solution, because it’s getting worse.
My sweet sensitive dog.
I enjoy writing about Bobby Solofsky. He’s always trouble. Like Jigsaw says, he’s a pain in the neck . . . only lower. When writing mysteries, it’s important to have a few different suspects to keep readers guessing. Bobby is good for that. In my most recent Jigsaw Jones book, The Case of the Hat Burglar, I was able to explore Bobby a little bit more. Jigsaw even visits his house, sits in his kitchen. I think maybe he’s not such a bad kid after all.
Thanks for reading my book. You sure must be one smart cookie!
My best,
James Preller
P.S. At the risk of sounding too self-promotional, I do have other books that might work for a reader with your sophistication and ability. That is, the characters are older than Jigsaw Jones — as are you — but the stories are not much harder to read. If you like scary stories, I think you’d do well with my “Scary Tales” books.  Also, I have three books in the “Big Idea Gang” series that again are not much more difficult to read. Good luck & thank you, Kaya!
         

Joe Pignatano Passes, Joey Pignatanno Lives On: The New York Mets & Jigsaw Jones

By 1968, at 7 years old, I had became a huge fan of the New York Mets. That affliction was passed along by my mother, an old Brooklyn Dodgers fan who adopted the Mets on the day they were born in 1962. The Mets were, in a way, her 8th and final child. To this day, I credit the sports writers from that time — particularly Dick Young — for turning me into a reader. I remain grateful that ESPN wasn’t around in those days; I had to read to find out about the previous game, studying the box score, reveling in Bill Gallo’s cartoons, and working my way through the articles in the morning newspaper. We got the Daily News and The Long Island Press.

When it came time for me to write the first Jigsaw Jones book in 1997 (there are 42 in all, more than 11 million sold), I had to fill Jigsaw’s classroom with characters. So I named one Joey Pignattano, after the longtime Mets bullpen coach, Joe Pignatano. The old coach and former catcher passed recently at age 92. He served with the Mets from 1968 to 1981, working under managers Gil Hodges, Yogi Berra, Roy McMillan, Joe Frazier, and Joe Torre.

Joe Pignatano was famous for growing tomato plants in the Shea Stadium bullpen.

“In 1969 I discovered a wild tomato plant in the bullpen and nurtured it the rest of the season,” he remembered. “We got some tomatoes off it, but most important we won the whole thing. After that, I kept up the garden as long as I was with the Mets as a good luck charm.”

 

Yes, 1969 was a good year to be a Mets fan. And amazingly, I was there at Shea for Game 5 of the World Series. I watched my hero, pitcher Jerry Koosman, throw the last ball and fabulous Cleon Jones in left field cradle it for the final out. Whew. Game over, miracle secured. And to think I’d had a few tears fall earlier during that game, when we were down 3-0 to the dreaded Orioles. 

As a kid I was captivated by that name. Joe Pignatano! It was perfection. Of course, as these things go, I managed to misspell it in Jigsaw Jones. 

Rest in peace, Joe. I hope you didn’t mind my little tribute. And if I didn’t say it before: thank you.

 

Art from Jigsaw Jones: The Case from Outer Space. That’s Joey Pignattano and Danika Starling. Illustrated by R.W. Alley.

Fan Mail #319: Loren Uses SOOOOOO Many O’s!

 

Here’s a nice letter from Loren in Delaware — but wait, hold up. First I want to say that this is the time of year when I usually don’t post as regularly. I have a couple of interviews in the works, and several new books coming up, but nothing feels super urgent. I don’t post all the fan mail that I receive, just the special ones. Like Loren’s. As always, I am immensely grateful to every teacher, librarian, and adult who helps put my books in the hands of young readers. Thank you. 

 

 

Dear Loren, 

Thank you for your enthusiastic letter. 

I counted 16 o’s when you wrote that you love my books “soooooooooooooooo much.”

Why not 17? Did your hand cramp up?

The Case of Hermie the Missing Hamster was the first Jigsaw Jones book I wrote — and it’s still by far the most popular. Unfortunately, it’s out of print now (meaning: it’s hard to find, and never in bookstores). I’ve tried to bring it back, but publishing is a strange world. 

The good news, part 1: You’ve already read it!

The good news, part 2: There are still 14 other Jigsaw Jones titles available in stores and online. Either new books or newly revised and updated. So if you are looking to spend big money, Loren, hey, there’s your chance.

The good news, part 3: You can usually find them for FREE at your local public library.

The good news, part 4: A couple of years ago, I made a series of FIVE VIDEOS on Youtube where I read the entire book. You should check ‘em out! So even if readers can’t find Hermie, they can still HEAR it on Youtube. 

 

I’m glad you mentioned liking the scene in the pet store. To write that scene, I had to do some research. Can you guess? I found a pet store that sold snakes and other animals. I went to it, walked around, asked questions, and took lots of notes. In the back, I saw a cage full of monkeys. And guess what? They were all wearing diapers!

Ha, ha, ha. I had to put that in my book!

Silly monkeys.

Thanks again for your terrific letter,

James Preller

Fan Mail Wednesday #318: Jigsaw Jones & the New York Mets

 

Here we go — an exceedingly kind letter from Matthew in Connecticut! He’s so nice, he says it twice. We bond over grape juice, holidays, and the New York Mets. 

I replied . . .

 

Dear Matthew, 

You write a very fine letter, my friend. Thank you for that. I’m glad to read that you are a “big reader” of my Jigsaw Jones books. 

However, it made me a little bit sad to learn that you zipped through The Case of the Haunted Scarecrow in only one hour. Rats. It took me a lot longer than that to write it!

It’s interesting that you noticed that you shared similarities with Jigsaw. You both like the New York Mets, grape juice, and holidays. Guess what? Me, too!

While Jigsaw is not exactly me, James Preller, we do have a lot in common. We’re both the youngest in large families. My grandmother lived with us when I was growing up —- just like Jigsaw’s. And our grandmothers both had false teeth they kept in a glass at night! Yuck.

My mother was a huge Mets fan, so I followed right along. True story: When I was in 3rd grade, one day I was allowed to skip school to go see the New York Mets. The next day, I was extremely worried that my teacher, Miss Thompson, would be angry. You can’t miss school to watch a baseball game! But instead, she came to my desk with a big smile and said, “Lucky you! That must have been so exciting to see a World Series game!”

And that part is true, too, Matthew. The year was 1969 and I was there at Shea Stadium for Game 5 of the World Series —- the game when the New York Mets won it all! I still remember that game vividly. I kept score in the scorebook, which I still have (somewhere). The fans swarmed the field and dug up tufts of grass to bring home as souvenirs. 

Our seats were at the tippy top. The very last row. There was no way we were climbing all the way down into that crazy scene. When the Mets were losing 3-0, I’m pretty sure that a tear or two fell from my eyes. Those Mets —- they can still make me cry. Or at least pull the hair out of my head!

I’ve included a few baseball cards for you. Consider it a gift for being such a terrific reader. After all, we Mets fans have to stick together.

My best,

James Preller