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Viewing Blog: the JJK blog, Most Recent at Top
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Blog of author/illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka. Author of Punk Farm.
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1. Platypus Police Squad in Southern Illinois

Police officers in Southern Illinois are visiting schools to read to the students. This makes me incredibly happy.

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2. Valley Ranch Library

Thank you, Marianne Crandall Follis, for hosting a fantastic event at the Valley Ranch Library last night! Check out the photo booth they made! 

I've also had a great few days visiting schools in Grapevine-Colleyville ISD. 

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3. Time-Lapse Signing!

Librarian Chris Salerno made a time-lapse video of me signing 154 books at his school. (And yes, I drew in every single book. Always do.)

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4. Charlestown Elementary

I love that the lunch ladies of Charlestown Elementary introduced me at my school visit today. I love seeing these sorts of connections being made. And I love that this pair stepped out of their comfort zone to get in front of their students in a very different capacity.

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5. Jeanne Birdsall

Thank you Seth Kaye Photography for this great photo of Jeanne Birdsall and me. 
And for those of you out there who have read Jeanne's The Penderwicks books, did you ever catch the references that she made to my family and me? We love our Auntie Jeannie!

Illustrator's Show 2015 — with Jeanne Birdsall and Jarrett Joseph at R. Michelson Galleries.

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6. Children's Book Art Exhibition

Without looking at the caption, how many authors and illustrators can you spot?
The annual children's book art exhibition at R. Michelson Galleries runs through January 15th.

With pals Grace LinJeanne Birdsall and Lisa Yee at last weekends reception at the R. Michelson Galleries.

What's not to love about Norton Juster? Sure, he's a genius, he has a heart of gold.... The man turns up to an art exhibit wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with his book cover. And the book in question is certified classic. Microphone dropped, good sir. Microphone dropped.... 

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7. It's Tough to Lose your Balloon Project

At a recent school visit, I saw this beautiful project based on It's Tough to Lose Your Balloon. Kids would write a problem on one side of the balloon and a solution on the other side. I saw this sobering entry...a profound reminder of what is being done in our school cafeterias.

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8. Battle Creek

I don't mean to name drop, but I was in Battle Creek, MI and met one of the local celebrities... Thank you for hosting me, School Nutrition Association of Michigan! And thank you to the Book Bug for bringing all the books!

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9. Halloween!

It you saw these monsters on Halloween night, you were trick-or-treating at our house....

I hope that everyone had a safe and happy Halloween!

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10. Halloween—I am tickled and humbled by the use of my characters!


Two Lunch Ladies, Cow from Punk Farm and Ollie the Purple Elephant were spotted in Maine! 

Every year, I am showered with so many wonderful images of people using my characters in their Halloween celebrations. I am just tickled and honored by all of these photos that I have seen! (And if you dressed up as or decorated a pumpkin with one of my characters, I'd love to see any photos that you'd be willing to share!)

A photo posted by mwinne2 (@mwinne2) on

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11. Post Halloween

Halloween is over, it's Daylight Saving Time, and I'm all...

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12. Someday Cafe

There's something about revisiting a space that was a part of a pivotal time in your life—even when that space is now a completely different space. In the fall of 1999, I found myself in Somerville, MA after graduating RISD. I would walk to Davis Square and spend time sketching in The Someday Cafe. What a great name, right? The Someday Cafe. It was apt, as I spent time sketching on the cafe's old, used couches while I dreamt of the future I wanted for myself. I sipped hot chocolate (I didn't drink coffee) as I filled sketchbooks with early incarnations of Monkey Boy, Baghead and Punk Farm. It was also at this cafe where my friend Grace Lin gave me a key piece of advice. While Grace and I lived on the same street, we met on a Yahoo Groups for RISD Illustration alum. Grace's first book, The Ugly Vegetables, had just published. She encouraged me to send my promotional postcards to editors, not just the art directors that were on my mailing list. I took her advice and that next Monday sent a mailing to editors. That Thursday I received an email from an editor at Random House, and that next week I traveled down to New York City to show my work in person. And it was that meeting that led to my first book contract. 
My someday became my actual day. And serendipitously, Grace and I know live in the same neighborhood once again. I drink coffee now, but wasn't able to get one at my old haunt—it's now Mr. Crepe. And while delicious, it just doesn't hold the same mystique as The Someday Cafe...

From pages of a sketchbook circa fall 1999....Someday Cafe's interior.

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13. Pumpkins!

We found some killer pumpkins today.

5 O'clock shadow

Well, this guy is in a rotten mood...

Pumpkins by my talented daughter. I love her so!

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14. Reading is Reading

When I'm lucky enough to speak before a group of educators, I talk about how I grew up making monthly trips to the comic book shop alongside reading every book in the Anne of Green Gables series. Then I share this slide, and point out that there is no reason why these books can't coexist in a child's reading life. As happened tonight, several teachers confessed that they had been counting some books as "not real reading", but they would be switching up how they approached books in their classrooms. It takes a lot for an adult to do that, and I have so much respect for these teachers! ‪#‎ReadingisReadingisReading‬

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15. Unbridled Joy

As an artist, you spend a lifetime working on your craft, and then you become a parent. And with everything you've learned in your years, you look at your kids' art and it's more inspiring than anything. The simplicity, the inhibition, the pure unbridled joy. That's what I aspire to.

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16. Pug Puppy Problems

Now, you may be looking at this photo and find yourself asking, "Why is David Levithan leaving Jarrett Krosoczka's house while sporting a Smurfs backpack?" Honest question.
David, celebrated YA author, higher-up at Scholastic, is an old and dear friend of ours. We first met while book touring Philadelphia in 2003. We are lucky to steal any time we can with him, even luckier when his book tour sends him to our town, as it did this past Sunday. We had a great visit. Gina laid out an incredible spread for us to dine on, we talked books, shared tales of book festivals past... But inevitably, it was time for David to leave—he had a book signing to get to. He grabbed his backpack off of our couch. As he prepared to leave, Gina and I looked at the couch. Ugh! Frankie (our pug puppy) peed! Right there on the couch. Then, the world stopped. We looked at each other with the realization—David's backpack! We rushed to his backpack, which was now placed on the kitchen chair. Soaked. Absolutely soaked.
Luckily, David had a good sense of humor about it. Luckily, I had just been given a Smurfs backpack by a school I had visited. (Thank you, Webb!) So while we laundered David's belongings, he left our house with his book-tour gear in a brand-new backpack. It sorta felt like our son's first day of school.

Frankie wrote a heartfelt apology letter. And tomorrow is his "special surgery" that will stop the little guy from trying to be alpha to household objects...

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17. Platypus Police Squad at the Library of Congress

A special thank you to United States Capitol Police Officers Webb and White who read aloud a passage from Platypus Police Squad to students at the Young Readers Center at the Library of Congress. Thanks to Everybody Wins DC, every kid in attendance received a free copy of Last Panda Standing! It was a great event!

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18. The Library of Congress again!

At the National Book Festival, every author is assigned to a volunteer to escort them from event to event. This past September I was lucky enough to have Leslie Long get me to where I was supposed to be. She was incredibly kind and gracious—and helpful! As we talked, I learned that she worked at the Library of Congress as a book conservator. She spent her days mending books that were in dire need of care in order to be preserved. When I mentioned that I would return to D.C. in October for a reading at the Young Readers Center at the Library of Congress, she told me that she would love to show me where she worked. And she lit up when I mentioned my daughter would be with me. Leslie kept to her word and met us at my event on Wednesday. She guided Zoe and I through the underground tunnels between buildings, and we arrived at a door with a big red stop sign on it. This was not a place for tourists. What we saw was like a Santa's Workshop of book repair. "The gang," as Leslie called them, each had their own work bench—and stacks of books that needed attention. Leslie very patiently explained the process of fixing up the books so that they could maintain their historical integrity. Some books were made with hand-made paper in the days before mass production, like the book from 1799 she was currently repairing.
How lucky we were to see the process up close. And how lucky we all are that these artists dedicate their lives to keeping our literature and history in tact for future generations. While we were there, a stack of children's books came in. Included in the pile was a book by Ludwig Bemelmans that had a copyright date of 1940. "Zoe remember that girl you were playing with at the Princeton Book Festival? She is this man's great-granddaughter." Serendipitous.

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19. Platypus Police Squad Movie!

Variety just broke the news on the Platypus Police Squad movie!
That's right, MOVIE! I'm pinching myself!
I am BEYOND thrilled to be working with Walden Media, the studio behind the Narnia films and the upcoming adaptation of Roald Dahl's The B.F.G., to bring these monotreme detectives to the silver screen. And with the talented Jon Saunders and Ross Evans penning the script and Saunders directing, Zengo and O'Malley are in very capable hands! 

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20. Fall and Winter Events

Fall and Winter Schedule!

There are a few events left before the calendar year comes to a close. Hope to see you soon!

October 17
12 PM
Northampton, MA
Montessori School of Northampton Book Fair

October 28
6:30 PM
Medford, MA
Medford Public Library

November 8
4:00 PM
Northampton, MA
R. Michelson Galleries Annual Illustration Show

November 17
7:00 PM
Irving, TX
Vally Ranch Library

November 21
3:00 PM
Leominster, MA
Leominster Public Library

December 13
New York, NY
First Book NYC Fundraiser at Symphony Space

And looking ahead to the beginning of 2016...

January 26
Comic Squad: Lunch! hits bookshelves!

January 30
Plainsville, MA
An Unlikely Story Bookstore

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21. Halloween Costumes

One of the biggest treats for me every year is seeing people dressing up as my characters for Halloween. (And you know how serious we take our costumes here in the Kroso house...) If you are dressing up, I would love to see the pictures!
I've archived a bunch of photos of costumes from Halloweens past here: https://www.pinterest.com/…/character-costumes-story-pumpk…/

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22. Comics

If you had stopped me as a teenager and asked if I was an avid reader, I would have shrugged my shoulders and said, "Nah, not really." Sure, I read the required texts for school, but for pleasure? Pfft! Yet here I am unpacking huge storage bins filled to the brim with the comic books that I collected as a teen. At least once a month, I would find a way to Fabulous Fiction Book Store on Main St in Worcester. It was filled from wall to wall with comics. More often than not, my grandfather Joe would give me a ride. But when I couldn't get a lift, I would walk—and it was a mile and a half each way! Imagine walking three miles for reading material, but you don't really think you're much of a reader...
I saved each comic in plastic sleeves with special archival backing with expectations that these would all be worth a ton of money someday. And in a way I was right—these comics are priceless. They put me on the path to where I am today, and I look at them as a symbol of my grandfather's unconditional love. He'd patiently sit in his car smoking his Camels while I perused the aisles looking for the latest issues. Most adults didn't think much of comics as reading in those days, but Joe...he knew something good was happening.

The magic of social media. Within 30 minutes of posting this, my pal Chris Eliopoulos (illustrator of the Ordinary People Change the World picture books) pointed out that he likely lettered many of the comics in my bin. And it turns out he did! It didn't take me long to find his name.

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23. Pumpkins

A behind-the-scenes pic of the pumpkin photo shoot for FamilyFun magazine's October issue!

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24. Monsters!

Look for my Monster Triptych in the Monster Arts Project exhibit. Opens in Eastworks in Easthampton, MA on Saturday from 5-8 PM.

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25. School Book Fair

Gina organizes the book fair at our daughters' school. Moved by #WeNeedDiverseBooks, she wanted the school's book fair to become a vehicle to bring local awareness to the movement, as well as a space where our community could find windows and mirrors within every book. We curated a list of books with the help of the resources at weneeddiversebooks.org and from the teachers' input. The Odyssey Bookshop, a great local indie, handled sales. We are lucky enough to live in a community where we were able to invite authors Lisa Yee, Heidi Stemple and Rich Michelson in to read and sign books. This is something that anybody can do regardless of their proximity to authors. You don't even need a husband who can design a fancy logo. (In fact, I am giving that logo to WNDB for some exciting things.) There was so much good that came from this. We were able to connect our kids to some great books. And at our dinner table at home, we were able to talk about what diversity means and why it's so important.

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