Tag Archive for The Case of the Class Clown

JIGSAW JONES, The Musical: Appearing On Long Island, Suffolk County Community College, October 5

QUICK INFO for Long Island-based fans of “Jigsaw Jones”  . . .

The Lively Arts Series at Suffolk County Community College will present Jigsaw Jones: The Case of the Class Clown in the Van Nostrand Theatre on the Michael J. Grant Campus in Brentwood on Sunday, October 5, 2013 at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.

Athena Lorenzo has been slimed and she doesn’t think it’s very funny. Someone in Ms. Gleason’s class is playing practical jokes. Theodore “Jigsaw” Jones claims to be the very first detective in the whole school. It’s up to Jigsaw and his friend Mila to investigate the sliming and track down the class clown. Brimming with music and charm, this show is perfect for students in grades 1-4.

General Admission is $8.00; senior citizens and SCCC faculty pay $7.00. SCCC students with current I.D. are entitled to one FREE ticket. For more information, please call the Van Nostrand Box Office at 631-851-6589 or visitwww.sunysuffolk.edu/spotlight.

For more background, here’s a link to an old post written after I attended the show back in 2010. I actually thought it was pretty entertaining and heartfelt. Thumbs up. Both of ’em!

Fan Mail Wednesday #99 (Friday Edition)

Wow, I am so busy I can’t believe it. I am still revising my new YA, going on school visits, brainstorming-slash-scribbling a first draft for a new MG novel (so excited about this one!), planning Skype visits, and, yes, reading and trying to answer fan mail. Very, very time-consuming.

I’ve also been slogging along with my new blog project, Fathers Read. I’ve been getting some fabulous, wonderful, incredible photos and now have a pretty impressive array. While I’m eager to get this new blog up and running, some minor technical difficulties have slowed me down. I’m shooting for early December.

In the meantime, check out this spectacular letter from a third-grader named Kate:

Dear James Preller,

I am a big fan of your Jigsaw Jones books. I even asked my friend if she wanted to be detectives in the color code at first she did not know what a color code was but then I told her what it is. My favorite Jigsaw Jones book is The Case of the Class Clown! I have probably read more than ten jigsaw jones books. Because the jigsaw jones books are so cool and when I read them it feels like I am in the book just watching it all. And because the words that you use are so clear that they paint very clear and very nice pictures in my head. I have a question where do you get all you ideas from? Did you ever want to be a detective when you were little or did someone else in your family want to? Please write back.

Your fan,


I replied:

Thanks for that beautiful note. I began to melt when you described how the words “paint very clear and very nice pictures” in your head. You have a gift for words, Kate. Keep on writing.

I think all good writers dream of achieving something like that, where the reader can see the story, like a movie playing inside your head. And we do that, I think, by writing clearly and directly and by using specific details. When we “show, don’t tell.” It’s something I work at very hard, though I don’t pretend to be some amazing, fantastic writer. I learn something new every day and try my best, always.

Hey, did you know that Class Clown is now a touring musical? With songs and everything! How crazy is that?! I don’t know where you live, but if you go here you can find out the current tour schedule.

My ideas come from a run-down, ramshackle store in Rutherford, New Jersey. Twice a year I travel by emu to . . .

No, not really.

Much of my writing springs from my life and my family experiences. I grew up the youngest of seven children, and now I have three children of my own. You know, it’s funny. I once imagined that writers had these amazing lives, full of adventure and exotic places. But I’ve learned that the real adventure is what goes on inside your head, and in the rumblings of your heart, and that we can write about the most ordinary details and somehow connect with thousands and thousands of readers.

And, okay, sure — sometimes I just MAKE THINGS UP!

I’m glad you liked the color code. What’s great about that code is that it’s so easy to invent new codes based on the same idea. Here’s a “clothes code” (just invented on the spot):

lazy frog socks your scarf email

photo pages silly underwear message black

pants made bag pizza puzzle troop

bird hat me underwater elbow mittens

super slim burp shirt happy bling!

I was never a detective like Jigsaw, though I spied on my brothers quite often and became very good at snooping around for presents during the holidays.

By the time Christmas came, I had usually discovered each of my presents — hidden in closets and under beds — and that always make the actual Christmas Day a little bit of a disappointment. I already knew what I was going to get!

My best,


P.S. Kate, you might be curious to see a video I made, where I answered a different piece of fan mail. Nice sweater, don’t you think?

Fan Mail Wednesday #12: The Thursday Edition!

Here’s a good one:

Lieber Herr Preller,
Ich würde gerne wissen wieviele Bücher Sie von Puzzle Paul geschrieben haben.Ich mache nämlich einen Vortrag über Ihnen und ihre Bücher.

Dear mister Preller,
I would like to know, how many books you have write about puzzle Paul? I am making a prestation for school about your Books.
Thanks a lot and many greets.

Viviane S from Switzerland

PS: I like your books very much

Quick background for my blog readers (and I thank you for that): Yes, as you may have gathered, quite a few Jigsaw Jones mysteries have been translated into German. In the process, he was renamed “Puzzle Paul.” My books have appeared in several different languages, including French, Spanish, and Italian. I recently learned that the translation rights for Six Innings have been sold for Korean, and I can’t wait to see that!

My response:

Many greets to you, Viviane!

It is exciting to hear from a reader in Switzerland. I traveled in your beautiful country once, back when I was a hitchhiking, tent-sleeping, bread-and-cheese-eating (read: poor) college student in the, ahem, early 1980’s. Cough, cough. Good times, good times.

In English, there are 37 different Jigsaw Jones titles. However, I think there are about 8-10 that have been translated into German. Which, frankly, amazes me. Did you realize that the original, English-language versions feature only black-and-white illustrations, while the German editions come in full color? Though the German editions translated my words, the publisher hired a new artist, Peter Nielander, to create all new artwork — and the books come in hardcover! In German, my book, The Case of the Class Clown, is called, Der Spinnentrick, and there are spiders on the cover!

If you have any specific questions you’d like for me to answer, please send them along and I’ll be happy to answer them. I’d like you to get high marks on your presentation! In the meantime, you might want to look here or here for more info.

Thanks for reading my books!


P.S.: Your note inspired me to search in my files for a thick, thick folder of long-forgotten poems I wrote decades ago. I found the one I was looking for, written while I was sitting on a rock in Montreux, age 21. Ah, to be young and full of words!