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Blog of author/illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka. Author of Punk Farm.
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1. The 5th annual auction for the Joe and Shirl Art Scholarships is now live! BID!



Please help me connect kids to an education in the arts by bidding!



Art was a transformative force in my life. It was a life-line during a time that I needed it most. When life at home was hectic, my sketchbook acted as a portal to any world, any reality of my making. I happened to make art my vocation, but not every kid does, and that's OK. Regardless of where one decides to take their talents, a strong education in the arts is integral to their development-as individuals and as learners. Having access to quality arts education not only helped me through difficult times, it also helped me become a creative problem solver. The jobs that our children will someday hold haven't even been invented yet, and that is just one of many reasons why we must provide our youth with adequate access to the arts.
When public funding eliminated the arts education in public schools in the 1980's, I was lucky enough to get sent to classes at the Worcester Art Museum. I was lucky because my grandparents, who raised me, could afford the tuition. At the Worcester Art Museum my world was opened up to classes in life drawing, cartooning and animation, amongst many others. And I gained camaraderie with peers who shared a similar passion for creativity-I was not alone!

I realize that some kids in my hometown may have a unique familial setup as I did, but whose caretakers may not have the resources to afford that tuition. I'm proud to continue to connect those kids with an arts education at the Worcester Art Museum with the 5th annual auction in support of the Joseph and Shirley Krosoczka Memorial Youth Scholarships at the Worcester Art Museum.
Here are the items up for bid in the 2014 auction, which will run until the evening of Sunday, December 7. You won't find items like this anywhere else. Every year I strive to offer something that is unique, and I never repeat items in consecutive years. So please, bid early and bid often--and thank you for helping me support art education!

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2. Photos from last weekend's events in NYC—Chris Van Allsburg & E.B. White

Last weekend was just a stellar one! I'm still wrapping my mind around it.

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of interviewing Chris Van Allsburg at the 92nd St Y. When the invite came in, I was already scheduled to be in California on that Friday to speak at the California School Nutrition Association's Conference. There was no way I was going to miss the opportunity to moderate a conversation with one of my literary heroes—and at such an iconic location, too! I flew a red-eye and made it to NYC on time. After only five hours of sleep on the plane, I managed to lead and nagging conversation on Mr. Van Allsburg's life and work. Here is a photo taken by the very talented Mike Curato:



The conversation was recorded and it will be published on the 92nd St Y podcast. More info as soon as I have it! (Spoiler alert: it got a little emotional at the end for everyone.)


On Sunday, I was at another iconic NYC venue—Symphony Space on Broadway. I hosted a fundraiser for First Book—Manhattan. It's an organization that is near and dear to my heart. Celebrated actors read the works of E.B. White, and it was...terrific! Not only did I host, but I also read the part of Wilbur. Was it intimidating to read alongside such giant talents? Well, when I first met everyone, it was during rehearsal. Imagine the shell shock of seeing Jane Curtin, David Hyde Pierce, Michael Potts, Naomi Watts and Live Schrieber walk onto stage with you? But they quickly put me at ease. David Hyde Pierce hit me on the shoulder, chuckled and said, "That was great!" after I read my first line. By the time the performance came along, all in trepidation had vanished, and I had a blast. The audio was recorded, and hopefully you will get to hear the inspired performances!





Check out more photos on Symphony Space's Facebook page here!

Here are a few of my favorite moments form the show:


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3. I will handsell you books on the Saturday after Thabksgiving

Gina and I are ecstatic to help Odyssey Bookshop on Small Business Saturday! Come in for our book recommendations for holiday gift-giving. I'll be happy to sign any book that has my name on the spine. If you don't live nearby, you can even order autographed books online by following this link:  http://www.odysseybks.com/jarrett-krosoczka


Check out our fellow honorary booksellers!


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4. Essentials 2014 holiday window—from start to finish!

See below to learn how this window display came together!







More after the jump! Click on...


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A photo posted by Jarrett Krosoczka (@studiojjk) on



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5. Boston-area event this Sunday!


An Interactive Afternoon with Jarrett Krosoczka & Jef Czekaj

Wondermore (formerly The Foundation for Children's Books)

Sunday, November 23, 2014 from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM (EST)

Newtonville, MA


Join us at this special afternoon with authors Jarrett Krosoczka and Jef Czekaj.  Participate in two interactive workshops and have a chance to meet the authors and get your books signed.  Limited space available.

Each child needs their own ticket and accompanying adults are free.  There is a max of 3 children per multi-child ticket. This event is best suited for children in grades 2-6.

Please bring paper, pencils and your imagination!

Authors are donating their time to lead this event and all proceeds directly benefit Wondermore.  


An Interactive Afternoon with Jarrett Krosoczka & Jef...



https://www.eventbrite.com/e/an-interactive-afternoon-with-jarrett-krosoczka-jef-czekaj-tickets-14093151997

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6. Graphic-novel exhibit in Omaha, NE!



Attention Omahanians! "BAM! It's a Picture Book", the traveling graphic-novel exhibit featuring original Lunch Lady artwork and pieces by Raina Telgemeier, Lincoln Peirce, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Matthew Holm and Mark Crilley, has now opened at the Joslyn Art Museum. It will run through March 29, 2015.

I hope that you will be able to visit the exhibit!

More info here!

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7. First Book-Manhattan's E.B. White celebration is coming up!

I'll be reading the part of Wilbur at the E.B. White celebration at Symphony Space. Which cast members do you think will be reading for the other barnyard animals? Get your tickets for this First Book Manhattan fund-raiser and find out next Sunday!  I'm honored to be returning as host to this terrific event! 





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8. The big annual children's book art exhibit at R. Michelson Galleries opens this Sunday!




The big annual children's book art exhibit at  R. Michelson Galleries opens this Sunday! Mo Willems, Tony DiTerlizzi, Jane Dyer, Jerry Pinkney, Marc Brown & many more artists, plus all of the neighborhood authors like Jane Yolen, Heidi Stemple, Jeanne Birdsall and Norton Juster. See you there! 4-6 in Northampton, MA!

I'll be exhibiting work from Platypus Police Squad at this year's show!


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9. Halloween!

I received an embarrassment of riches this Halloween. And none of them will give me cavities! It's such an honor to have a place in the imaginations of young readers and their grown-ups. Here's a round-up of some of the awesomeness sent my way this Halloween.

Did you dress up as one of my characters?  I'd love to see photos if you are willing to share them, and if I'd love to post them to this blog if you are willing. Please email props@studiojjk.com. Thanks so much!
 



At the top of the list is this trick-or-treater that came to my house! He didn't dress up as one of my characters, but as one of my BOOKS! Yes, the actual book! Cover, spine, title page, back cover, bar code and all! (He got extra candy and autographed books...) Check it out! So incredibly creative!

Here's another special one. This is librarian Mary Lasley from Texas. If you watched the Symposium on the Reluctant Reader, you would have heard me referencing this amazing line that she gave in defense of graphic novels and comics. Do you remember the analogy of comics and the playground? That was her. Brilliant!


As you know, pumpkins are a HUGE deal in the Krosoczka house. Look at these fantastic creations that were sent in:

Detective Rick Zengo of the Platypus Police Squad! Sent in by
Purefoy Elementary in Frisco, Tx!


Punk Farm! Created by Fisher Elementary in CT!
Shannon in Texas made this great Peanut Butter and Jellyfish pumpkin!

Not to be outdone, a lot of school librarians dressed up as Lunch Lady—even some school administrators! And I LOVE that the librarians are holding Lunch Lady and the League of Librarians in their photos. Check out this Lunch Lady love sent over via Twitter. (And how cute is that Babymouse?!
 















 




Ralph and I also enjoyed our annual Halloween office party...




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10. From the Library of Congress: Symposium on the Reluctant Reader



If you have a reluctant reader at home or in your classroom, I hope that you will spend some time watching this video from the Library of Congress.

Here's the official description:

The Young Readers Center produced a symposium on reluctant readers, children who struggle with reading skills that can impede their ability to learn and their interest in books. The panel, moderated by Center for the Book director John Cole included pediatrician Trude Haecker, psychologist Claire Agard and author/illustrators Stephan Pastis and Jarrett J. Krosoczka. 

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11. Krosoczka family pumpkins

Every Halloween I post dozens of photos of our pumpkins. This year, this is all I will post. Why? Because this year our pumpkins are being professionally photographed for the October 2015 issue of FamilyFun! I'll be writing a feature article on how we paint and decorate our pumpkins. I'm proud to share some Krosoczka family traditions with this most excellent magazine!



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12. Graphic novelist Pictionary in NYC on Thursday evening!




Hey New Yorkers—I'll be at McNally Jackson on Thursday at 7 PM playing Pictionary with Raina Telgemeier, Kazu Kibuishi, Sara Varon & Frank Cammuso!

http://mcnallyjackson.com/event/pictionary-graphic-novelists-jarrett-j-krosoczka-raina-telgemeier-sara-varon-frank-cammuso

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13. A conversation with Chris Van Allsburg at the 92nd St Y on Nov 15



Save the date!

On November 15th, I will be moderating a conversation with Chris Van Allsburg at the 92nd St Y in New York City! As many of you know, it was his book, The Garden of Abdul Gasazi, that landed in my hands when I was seventeen that made me want to get into children's books in the first place. I am thrilled beyond measure!  

You can pick up tickets here:


I am excited to check out his newest book, The Misadventures of Sweetie Pie.

 

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14. A celebration of E.B. White, a fundraiser for First Book—Manhattan



I'm heading back to Broadway! I hope that you'll join me in supporting First Book—Manhattan as celebrated actors read from the works of E.B. White!

Last year's event was magical, and this year will prove to be no different.

Tickets are available at: http://www.symphonyspace.org/event/8497/Family-Literature/thalia-kids-book-club-terrific-tails-a-celebration-of-eb-white

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15. Lunch Lady exhibit in Worcester, MA!



"All Hail the Lunch Lady," an exhibit of original works from the Lunch Lady books opens at the Worcester Historical Museum this Friday!  A book signing is happening on October 28th from 3-5 PM. 

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16. Graphic Novels and Quiet Book Bans

*

I have visited countless schools over the years, creating memories that will last with me, and hopefully with the students, for a lifetime. But one story that keeps coming back to the forefront of my mind is a visit that never happened—because I wasn't welcomed.

I was planning a visit to the Midwest, and the hosting school librarian was hoping to share travel costs with a colleague at a neighboring school. That librarian excitedly ran to her principal's office with a copy of Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute in hand. As the story was relayed to me, the principal took one look at the book and said, "I spent my childhood with my face in the pages of comic books...when I should have been reading real books. So I am not going to have that man come to our school and promote comics."

I was heartbroken.

There are so many aspects of that sentiment that are just off. Glaringly, that the principal was failing to see that by her reading comics, she found a love of reading, and that love of reading led her to great things. (Unless, of course, her goal was to become superintendent and all of that time with Archie and Jughead had held her back...) But what makes me most sad is that her student body would never connect with my story of perseverance.

It is the American Library Association's Banned Books Week, and what alarms me most is not the bans that make headlines, but the quiet book bans. As a creator of graphic novels, I hear so many stories of graphic novels being banned from a classroom because they're not considered "real books" or "real reading." When I hear that, my mind goes to the disservice adults are creating for their young readers. One story that I heard recently was of a fourth-grade teacher who banned comics from her classroom because kids were only reading them for entertainment. But isn't that what free reading is all about? Entertainment? Shouldn't we all be instilling a love of reading? I, for one, don't know where I'd be if it were not for the pages of a comic. It isn't just that I wouldn't be telling stories visually today, but I wouldn't be reading much of anything. Comics taught me that reading could be an escape, and a wonderfully joyous act.

Last week I travelled to our nation's capital to speak to a group of elementary-aged students at the Library of Congress. It was such an honor to have been welcomed to that hallowed space for a second time to talk about visual literacy. It says a lot that one of our nation's preeminent educational institution hosts graphic novelists in their programming. But meanwhile, back at home, my wife Gina was with our daughter at a local library. There, she met a mother who wanted her child to stop reading graphic novels because they were reading too many of them, and it's all that they checked out from the library. Gina gently explained to the mother that there were so many different kinds of comics, and that they offered a wide variety of stories. (Not every comic contains a fart joke...)

And this is how we will overcome these quiet bans—with gentle conversations. Reading is the key to a lifetime of success, and for so many young readers comics are just what they need to develop a love of reading.

I don't vilify that principal, or that fourth grade teacher, or that mother. In their hearts, they were/are doing what they believe to be best for the kids that they serve. I just think that their point-of-view is slightly misplaced. Perhaps you know somebody in your young reader's life that could benefit from a better understanding of how comics can help young readers.


Here are some great resources:


Using Comics and Graphic Novels in the Classroom 
National Council of Teachers of English
http://www.ncte.org/magazine/archives/122031


Understanding, Using and Defending GNs
The Cooperative Children's Book Center, University of Wisconsin
http://ccbc.education.wisc.edu/books/graphicnovels.asp#resource


Resources for Teaching Graphic Novels in the Classroom
School Library Journal
http://www.slj.com/2014/09/books-media/graphic-novels/resources-for-teaching-graphic-novels-in-the-classroom/#_


Raising a Reader
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
http://cbldf.org/resources/raising-a-reader/



*Check out great Freadom items on the ABFFE website here.



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17. Massachusetts library events in September! I'll see you in Western and Eastern Mass!

Hey, Massachusetts friends! I'll be at two public libraries next week. 

This Tuesday at 3 PM I'll be at Newton Free Library to talk about comics and creativity. Book sales via Wellesley Books! 
http://posters.newtonfreelibrary.net/Meet%20the%20Author%20JK.jpg

And on Thursday of next week, find me at Hubbard Library in Ludlow, MA at 6 PM! 
http://t.co/hsGgVp8uh1

See ya along the Mass Pike! 

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18. A great morning at the Library of Congress!



Bravo to the staff of the Young Readers Center at the Library of Congress! They bring DC-area students to that magnificent space & connect them with authors!

I had such a wonderful time. And with all events at the LOC, it was recorded and  will eventually be on their YouTube page. I'll give a shout when that happens!


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19. A painting of your pug!

 I like all dogs, but I'm really only interested in painting your pug. I've opened an Etsy shop called "Pugs by JJK" for the summer.  https://www.etsy.com/shop/pugsbyjjk


  

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20. My latest TED Talk! "Why Lunch Ladies are Heroes"




I am delighted to announce that the talk that I gave at TED@NYC has been curated to the main page of TED.com! I'm pinching myself to have made it to the main page of TED again. Please take a moment to watch, and learn about how School Lunch Hero Day was formed and the heroes that it celebrates!

Happy Back-to-School Season!

All of my very best,
Jarrett

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21. Kids' Comics Exhibit in Las Vegas

“BAM! It’s a Picture Book: The Art Behind Graphic Novels,” is an exhibit curated by the NICCL that  features original art from graphic novels for young readers. It's traveling the country and is currently in Las Vegas! Look for art by Matthew Holm, Lincoln Peirce, Mark Crilley, Raina Telgemeier and me! The show will be up through Nov. 25 in the Historic Fifth Street School Mayor’s Gallery, 401 S. Fourth St. 
For more information, visit artslasvegas.org.




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22. Lunch Lady lecture at the Library of Congress on Sept 17!

Hey, D.C.-area friends—on Wednesday, September 17 at 10:30 AM, I will be at the Young Readers Center at the Library of Congress. It will be a field trip for a local school, but the presentation is also open to the public. Book signing to follow at 11:30 AM.



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23. United Through Reading



What an honor it was to help United Through Reading with their mission today. United Through Reading videotapes service men and women reading books to their children, and that DVD is then delivered to the child at home. United Through Reading has 200 stations worldwide—on ships deployed, in forward operating locations in places like Afghanistan. at military hospitals... I recorded PSAs about how important it is to read to your child—it creates such an important bond between parent and child. I'm lucky enough to read to my kids every night, and United Through Reading helps bridge the gap of separation for those who serve in our military.   Learn more at unitedthroughreading.org

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24. A visit to NEA headquarters!



I had the great pleasure of visiting the headquarters of the National Education Association today in DC. I recorded PSAs for Read Across America and Education Support Professionals. I also had the honor of meeting the new president, Lily Ekelson García. There are a number of things I love about her. Among them:
1) She got her start in the school cafeteria. 
2) She opposes standardized testing. 
3) In her office, she displays photos of every single classroom that she ever taught. 

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25. A shout out to Rachael Walker, champion of literacy initiatives everywhere!

A shout out to Rachael Walker—a hero to literacy programs and general awesomeness. Rachael helped found Read Across America (and continues to consult with the program), she gave me key advice when School Lunch Hero Day was starting up and she works with publishers on creating educational materials for their books. If you're not using her Reading Rockets videos in your libraries and classrooms, you're really missing out. Rachael isn't one to want attention, but I am happy to give her plaudits, because she so deserves them. If you're ever looking for someone to consult on a reading initiative, create downloadable activities for an author website or a generous person in your life, look no further! 

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