Tag Archive for best series ages 6-9

Fan Mail Wednesday #196: In Which Adam Calls Me “Ms. Preller” & Other Indignities



Here we go, folks: “Fan Mail Wednesday!” This letter begins with an inadvertent salutation — and a cool statement of purpose.

Adam:Fan Mail

I replied:

Adam, dude.

Or should I call you Shirley?

What do you mean addressing this to “Dear Ms. Preller”?

That’s Mr. Preller to you!


Ha-ha. I thought that was a funny mistake in your letter. At least, I hope it was a mistake. I don’t have anything against girls — I like girls, I do! — it’s just that, well, I’m a boy. Or an ex-boy. Now I’m an old geezer with gray whiskers growing out of his chinny-chin-chin. But in my head, I’m eight years old.

I loved the first line of your letter. “I am going to ask you some stuff.” You got right to the point. No messing around with chit-chat.

Mila Yeh, Jigsaw Jones, and Ralph Jordan talk on the bus. Illustration by Jamie Smith.

Mila Yeh, Jigsaw Jones, and Ralph Jordan talk on the bus. Illustration by Jamie Smith.

I actually did enjoy writing this book, thanks for asking. It was a fun mystery, because it combined “slightly spooky” with “very silly.”  As for when it was written, all you have to do is look at THE PAGE THAT NO ONE ON THE PLANET EVER READS.

Which page is that? It’s called the copyright page. In this case, it’s directly opposite the “Contents” page. It has the author’s dedication, followed by a bunch of legal mumbo-jumbo in tiny type, including the book’s ISBN. Below that, you’ll find this:

Text copyright, © 2004 by James Preller.

There it is, the answer to your question. I wrote that book ten years ago. Time flies!

Here our detectives solve the mystery -- it was good old Mr. Copabianco, the school janitor, all along.

Here our detectives solve the mystery — it was good old Mr. Copabianco, the school janitor, all along. He’s into the arts.

The tree house office is actually in Jigsaw’s backyard. In the summer, he works out there, because he loves it. He must like the nebulous heights. In the winter, he moves his office into the basement, next to the washing machine. Mila is Jigsaw’s partner. I think of her as the brains of the operation, while Jigsaw is the one with the unstoppable spirit. He never gives up. Together, they make a great team.

Oh yes, I’m glad you mentioned the illustrations in this book. They were done by a terrific guy who lives in England named Jamie Smith. We’ve never met, but we have exchanged a few emails over the years. I love his work — and I even have a few of his original pieces hanging in my office, nicely framed.

Take care. I hope you don’t mind a little good-natured kidding!

Your friend,

“Ms” James Preller




Fan Mail Wednesday #94

Dear Mr. Preller,

I’m sorry to trouble you with this, but how come I can’t find boxed sets of Jigsaw Jones? They seem to be unavailable — has Scholastic stopped making them?

My son and I are fans of your series and I am recommending it to all of our neighbors as the best-written series for kids in this age group I have found. (Since I’m an editor of grown-up books, they even think I know what I’m talking about.)

Please ask your agent to get after Scholastic to make those sets available. I’d love to get the complete set for my son. Would love some small sets too, at a reasonable price — say a set of four for $14.95 — to give as birthday presents.

There’s a marketing idea — Jigsaw Jones birthday parties, complete with sleuthing activities and a webpage where guests could sign up to give a book each. That would be a gift to parents, too, who would like to cut down on all the crap their kids get for birthdays.

Are any of your books under various pen names written for adults? Please let me know if ever you write something you’d want W.W. Norton to consider . . .

All best wishes,


I replied:

Dear A_______:

Thank you for your kind letter.

Sadly, the folks at Scholastic do not share your enthusiasm for the Jigsaw Jones series. It believe they’ve stopped making the boxed sets completely, and I’m sure they haven’t promoted the series in trade for several years. Little fish in a big pond, I guess. The marketing decision seems to be to allow the series to die on the vine. Even today, I still can’t think about it without feeling disheartened, discouraged, disappointed.

All the dis- words.

Photo taken from the touring Jigsaw Jones Musical, produced by ArtsPower.

I do suggest that you contact Scholastic Book Clubs at a toll-free number, 1-800-724-6527. They are often receptive to customer requests, and will try to do everything possible to be helpful. Some of those boxed sets must be lying around somewhere.

I have not yet attempted a book for adults. Perhaps one day.

I very much appreciate your kind words. And I agree: the books are well-written! Perhaps I needed to include more farts.

Cheers, and thanks again,