Tag Archive for Jigsaw Jones review

Fan Mail Wednesday #126 (Across Shared Solitudes)

Here’s one from Matthew . . .

Hello Mr. Preller. First of all, I love your books. I was wondering what inspired you to write your awesome books? How old were you when you began writing? I like the Jigsaw Jones series the best. My favorite is The Case of the Million Dollar Mystery. With a million dollars on the line, I was so nervous the case wouldn’t be solved in time. I love books that keep me turning the pages just to see what happens, and this was definitely one of them. Thanks for taking the time to read this and thanks for writing such great books!
I replied . . .
Thanks for your kind letter. It means a lot to me when readers take the time to reach out. It’s funny. As authors, we write in solitude, alone in a silent room (actually, I’m blasting the new Wilco CD right now). Reading is also a silent, solitary act. Yet somehow we communicate across those shared solitudes. You and me, together. Amazing.
When I was young, I used to make little comic books and sell them to the folks in my neighborhood. But in truth, I didn’t get serious about writing until college. That’s when I gradually came to love books, love reading: it fit my personality. At a certain point, I decided to try it for myself. Why not?
The curious thing is, I’m shy about certain things. I never want to embarrass myself, and that prevents me from being much of a risk-taker. For example, I never had the courage to act in a school play; I never dove off the high diving board in the town pool, worried that I might belly flop in front of so many people. Public dancing? Scary. But writing was something I could do by myself, in perfect safety. I could write and not share it with anyone. There was no one to laugh at me, poke fun at my failings.
So as writers, you and I can try new things, take new risks, without the worry of what others might think. Eventually, when you are ready (and not a moment before!), you might share your writing with a trusted friend or adult. Somehow that process worked for me, the boy who was always a little too concerned about what other people might think.
My best,

Fan Mail Wednesday #82-83

I’m running a day late again, and falling behind on everything. So let’s hop to it!

Letter #82:

I replied:


Thanks for the letter and the book report. I’m glad you connected with Six Innings. I’m a big reader of baseball books myself; I’ve actually built up a pretty good collection over the years. It means a lot to me that I now have a book to place on the same shelf alongside some of my all-time favorites.

Where I live, in upstate New York, we’ve finally broken winter’s back. I’m now coaching two baseball teams. One is regular Little League, boys 10-11, and the other is a 10-Under Travel Team. By the time All-Stars is finished in July, I expect I’ll spend about 70-80 days running practices and filling out lineups for games. I love it — and have always, always loved it, for as long as I can remember — so it was natural for me to finally get around to writing a baseball book. It’s a world and a game I know inside out and from a variety of perspectives.

Whenever I think of that book, I’m grateful to Jean Feiwel and Liz Szabla, my editors in New York City, for giving me the opportunity to write it. (By the way, Jean is going to be very angry when she sees that you misspelled her name — it’s the kind of thing that freaks her out completely; my advice, find a safe house somewhere, stay out of the city for a while, lay low.) You know, it  means everything in the world when there’s someone behind you, believing in you, setting you up to succeed. That’s my coaching philosophy in a nutshell: I try to be the guy on the side clapping my hands, saying, Come on, you can do it.

Isn’t that what everybody needs?

Oh yeah, thanks a lot for the self-addressed, return envelope. Very thoughtful and much appreciated.


* * * * *

Letter #83:

I wanted to tell you that my son (6 years old) and I have greatly enjoyed your Jigsaw Jones series.  I picked your series because they were chapter books, but mainly because they were upbeat and friendly.  I was a bit dismayed by the dark  themes that some of the other series contained and was happy to find yours.  Many thanks for all the writing you have done!

As an aside, in one of the books I read “FLY 92” and my curiosity was suddenly piqued!  I was tickled when I realized you are currently in the Capital District.  I grew up in Greenville, NY which is southwest of Delmar.

Blessings to you and your family.  We look forward to reading more of your books (not just Jigsaw!) in the future!

– Rachel

I replied:


I am always so grateful when I receive notes like yours. It means a lot that you, a parent, took the time to say those kind words. I’m touched. And yes, sure, I’m glad somebody noticed! I’ve kept Jigsaw squeaky clean because I’m writing for very young readers. It’s easy to lose track of how little these kids are. I just have a clear sense of where I will and won’t go with that series. I don’t see the need for words like “fat” or “stupid” or mean-spirited behavior, much less what we commonly hear in popular children’s movies today. In fact, I feel a strong need to avoid that language.

Quick story: Yesterday we had a hard moment with my daughter Maggie, who’s in 3rd grade, when someone called her fat (she isn’t, but that’s beside the point). At the same time, I’ve been reading Queen Bees and Wannabes, constantly reminded of the importance of language and the labels we use to hurt or limit others. There she was, crying. And it wasn’t the crying that worried me, but the self-image issues that can make being a girl so difficult in today’s world. Maggie’s mother is 6’1″ — strong and powerful and gorgeous. For Maggie there’s no hope that she’ll be the idealized petite blond in skinny jeans.

I guess we’re growing up.

In fact, I blogged about this same issue — in a totally different context — earlier this week. Words have a power over us.

Thanks for writing. When you are ready to take the next step beyond Jigsaw, you might like Along Came Spider, which is just right for 3rd grade and up. Mighty Casey is a baseball-themed picture book your son might enjoy. Sorry, didn’t want to sound like a commercial there at the end.

Greenville forever!