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1. New York Comic Con, Star Wars Reads and Additional Fall Events

Next week is the release of STAR WARS: The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight. To celebrate, I’ll be doing events in my hometown, New York City, Boston, Austin and Miami.

Along with some familiar faces from “a galaxy far, far away”, I’ll be presenting and signing at my favorite hometown indie bookstore, The Odyssey Bookshop. Space is limited, so you’ll need to RSVP sooner than later. If you cannot make it the shop can take your order and ship a signed book to you.

From there, I’ll zoom down New York for NY Comic Con where the STAR WARS fun continues. As well, I am signing at the Dark Horse Comics booth and giving out a FREE promotional print for my upcoming book, REALMS: The Role Playing Game Art of Tony DiTerlizzi. Here’s the New York Comic Con schedule:


Autographing: Promotional Print for “REALMS: The RPG Art of Tony DiTerlizzi”
Saturday 12PM – 12:50 PM, Dark Horse Booth

This image of a classic Advanced Dungeons & Dragons kobold marks a return to my roots as an illustrator for the beloved roleplaying game. Along with collecting my artwork from Planescape, Changeling and Magic the Gathering, REALMS will also feature a series of new paintings of some of my favorite monsters and characters from the game that started it all. We’ll be giving out this 12×18″ print FREE at the Dark Horse Comics booth, so come on by!


Sunday 11AM – 11:45 AM ET, Room 1A18

Conflicts in galaxies far far away have entertained us since the dawn of science fiction, but it we owe it to Star Trek and Star Wars helped to bring science fiction to the forefront of pop culture. Tony DiTerlizzi (The Adventure of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight), Jack Campbell (The Lost Stars: Imperfect Sword), Karen Bao (Dove Arising), Tony Abbott (Copernicus Legacy: The Serpent’s Curse), Emmy Laybourne (Monument 14), Claudia Gabel and Cheryl Klam (Etherworld) discuss skiffy upbringings and these two influential classics. A formal autographing will take place immediately after the panel at Table 19 in the autographing area.


While in New York City, I’ll be participating in “Star Wars Reads Day” at Books of Wonder along with some other notable Jedi, including Tom Angleberger.

Saturday, October 11th, 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Join us for this spectacular event in a galaxy far, far away…

TOM ANGLEBERGER Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus (Origami Yoda #6)
TONY DiTERLIZZI The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight
PABLO HIDALGO for Star Wars Rebels: A New Hero
MICHAEL KOGGE for Star Wars Rebels: Rise of the Rebels
MATTHEW REINHART for Star Wars: A Pop Up Guide to the Galaxy

Later in the month, I’ll be attending several book festivals, including:

Boston Book Festival
Saturday, October 25th, 12:30 – 1:00 PM ET

First Church of Boston Auditorium
66 Marlborough St.
Boston, MA 02116

* I will be pre-signing books at 11:30 AM prior to my presentation

Texas Book Festival
Sunday, October 26th, 2:45 – 3:30 PM CT

The Capitol, Extension Room E.2.028
1100 Congress Avenue, Between 11th and 12th Streets
Austin, TX 78701

*I shall be signing at the book signing tent immediately following my presentation.

Miami Book Fair
November 21-23rd

Angela and I will both be presenting and signing at this favorite Florida fair. Look for schedule and details soon.

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2. Children’s Writing Workshop at Fairway Park a Big Success!

Today I conducted a simple writing workshop at Fairway Park in Miramar, FL. This was my fifth visit to the park’s after care program as a teaching artist. With the first group of 30 kids, ages 5-8, the children wrote 1-3 sentence stories entitled, “My Best Day Ever” and drew pictures to go along with their stories. Then they read them out loud to their peers. There were lots of spelling questions, and one impressive six-year-old boy seemed to know how to spell just about every word. Stories included themes about Disney trips, Christmas day presents, birthdays, family outings and getting good grades at school.

Kindergarten through second graders

This adorable five-year-old’s handwriting was perfect, as was his grammar and spelling for his birthday party Best Day Ever story.

 Sharing his artwork of a bus with superpowers with the group

Time to show off their hard work!

With the older group of 35 children, ages 9-13, the assignment was to write a letter to someone they know who has had a positive influence on them. First I read to the group a personal letter of thanks I wrote to my late grandfather as an example and so they were not the only ones pouring their hearts out.

I am happy to report that overwhelmingly the children wrote thank you letters to their parents and a few to teachers,- a few with impressive detail. Some were so incredibly thoughtful, I’m sure it will bring tears to the recipients’ eyes. It takes courage to stand up and read a personal letter to a large group of peers – especially at this age – and I’m proud of all who did!


Some lucky people will be receiving this kind, thoughtful letters!

A letter from a nine-year-old boy to his dad

What I learned today is that children want to be good writers. Some decided not to read their work out loud, and some others wanted me to read for them. All the children listened to the stories being read by their peers with respect. What surprised me most is that the children were excited to write by hand, although all printed and none used cursive.

The message I left with the children is, “Reading is the number one factor in determining your financial success in the future. The only way to become a good writer is to read a lot and practice writing a lot. Any worthwhile writing requires numerous revisions. No matter what career you choose down the road you’ll be a lot more successful if you are a good writer. Read what others have written and decide what you like – or don’t like – about it Then get inspired to write something amazing yourself.”

What a rewarding and fun day we all had. A big thank to Site Supervisor Randy Kaiser for inviting me back to visit today and to the dedicated teachers there who keep the children focused and learning. I look forward to another visit with Fairway kids!

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3. Time for a New School Year of Author Visits

I’m excited to start a new year of school author visits, returning to some I’ve visited before and many new schools and aftercare programs. In anticipation of this season, I’ve spent a great deal of time updating my author visit materials and presentation. I’ve got a pile of new posters I’ve hand-painted too. Check them out!

© Copyright by Debbie Glade – Cannot be copied or used without permission

© Copyright by Debbie Glade – Cannot be copied or used without permission

© Copyright by Debbie Glade – Cannot be copied or used without permission

© Copyright by Debbie Glade – Cannot be copied or used without permission

© Copyright by Debbie Glade – Cannot be copied or used without permission

© Copyright by Debbie Glade – Cannot be copied or used without permission

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COMIX! One of the real fun things about my last year in Paris was being able to share sketches, gags, and photos from the trip on uclick as a comic strip called PARIS DOODLES. In fact, it was so fun, I've decided to keep sharing drawings and ideas on uclick with a new strip called FROM THE MO WILLEMS SKETCHBOOK.   I'll be sharing drawings from my sketchbook, dining room dinner doodles,

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5. Comic Con International Recap

I’ve attended San Diego’s Comic Con International off-and-on since the 1990′s and I’ve watched it grow to become the daddy of all geek conventions. Despite the long airplane flight, long lines and 200k+ crowd, it is a fun four-day ride.


I’ve always felt that I am a bit of an odd puzzle piece as a participant in the programming for Comic Con. Compared to other massive conventions, like BookExpo, there are far fewer kid’s lit author/illustrators present–and many that do attend are either current bestsellers or their book is Soon to Become a Major Motion Picture. I suppose my books fall somewhere in this category and I am thankful for that.


As Angela and I shuffled past the decorated booths, I was reminded that Comic Con is a grab-bag cross-section of pop culture in media. Film, television, nerdy apparel, toys, games and books were all featured prominently. About the only thing that wasn’t front and center were good ol’ comic books, which seem relegated to the outer fringes of the convention floor.

But, because there was such a mix, I bumped into all sorts of creative types: like fellow artists and writers, sculptors and film-makers.


Next to me are Vicki and Allen Williams, director Kirk Thatcher, and artist Travis Lewis sits front and center.


HBO’s ubiquitous Game of Thrones series dominated the con. Here, I met the book’s author (and the winner of the Game of Thrones) George R.R. Martin at the Weta booth (there’s Weta Workshop founder, Richard Taylor, right behind us). After stalk-chatting with George for several minutes, he had some of his characters remove me from the premises:


But I was remembered by my old friend, artist Donato Giancola–who used my likeness as one of the Night’s Watch in the 2015 Game of Thrones calendar. Scratch that one off of my bucket list.


I participated on a couple of panels, including “Fairy Tale Remix” moderated by the award-winning author, Shannon Hale (who may, or may not, be part of a crime-fighting duo).


The conversation on the influence of fairy tales in modern storytelling was lively and the audience’s questions were thought-provoking. (Lytherus.com has a nice, detailed write-up on the panel).


Above are authors aplenty (from left to right): Katherine Harbour, Shannon Hale, Cornelia Funke, Marissa Meyer, Danielle Paige, Ben Tripp, T-Dog and John Peck.


Friday was “Star Wars Day” at the con (in DiTerlizziland, every day is “Star Wars Day”) and I presented the upcoming picture book The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight (featuring illustrations by the legendary Ralph McQuarrie). Along with Exec. Editor of Disney Publishing, Michael Siglain, and Lucasfilm historian and author, Jonathan Rinzler, we talked of how this book came to be and offered up inside stories of the development of the first screenplay as well as Ralph’s place in Lucasfilm history as the visual genius who presented the first glimpses into a galaxy far, far away.


I had a moment when Jonathan told me that he thought Ralph would have liked how this book turned out. That meant a lot to this ten-year old kid and I am still beaming from his comment.

The Star Wars fun continued when Ang and I reunited with film effects dungeon master, Phil Tippett, who was not only responsible for bringing to life childhood cinematic moments (like the AT-AT attack in The Empire Strikes Back or the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park) but goblins, trolls and Hogsqueal in The Spiderwick Chronicles.


After my authorial duties were completed it was time to spend some hard earned royalty money. For many nerd collectors, Comic Con has become a one-stop-shop of the weird and rarefied. In fact, there were one-of-kind props from some of my favorite films, like Marty McFly’s hoverboard from Back to the Future II. (price tag: $30k):


…or one of the puppets from Beetlejuice:


If your a 70′s kid trapped in a man’s body (like me) then you’ll love these Kenner-styled Alien figures. Sure, they’re about 30 years too late, but you know what they say…(in 1979 no one can hear you scream…for Alien action figures?)


Speaking of toys, Sideshow toys melted my brain with a new line of incredibly detailed creeptastic ghouls and demons called “Court of the Dead”. If you were a fan of McFarlane Toys or Wayne Barlowe, you’re gonna love these. Take a look:



Lastly, I nabbed a few limited edition artist’s sketchbooks. By far, this is my favorite sort of thing to hunt down and purchase at the con. Fortunately, booksellers (like Stuart Ng Books) had many to choose from like this reproduction of Claire Wendling’s sketchbook.


…and, yes, I dropped off a handful of signed The Battle for WondLa: Sketchbook III to Stuart who should have them for sale on his site very soon. I’ll share a link once they’re up. In the meantime, “Stay classy San Diego. I’ll see you next time.”

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6. Comic Con 2014 Schedule

For those attending next week’s Comic Con International in lovely San Diego, California, here is my schedule of events:



Thursday, July 24th
10:00 am -10:30 am
Booth 1119
Book signingMysterious Galaxy Book Store presents Tony DiTerlizzi. Many of my titles will be available for purchase or bring your books and cards to be signed.

12:00 pm-1:00 pm
Room 32AB
Fairy Tale Remix — Toto, I’ve a feeling these aren’t your typical fairy tales… From cyborg Cinderellas to swashbuckling pirates, fairy tales are just full of possibilities for retelling and reimagining. A fantastic line up of authors will discuss how they take very well-known stories (such as Rapunzel, The Wizard of Oz, Tam Lin) and remix them for a new audience, and how they create their very own fairy tales! Moderated by Shannon Hale (Ever After High series), this panel featuring Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles series), Katherine Harbour (Thorn Jack), John Peck (Charming Series), Cornelia Funke (Mirrorworld Series), Tony DiTerlizzi (Search for WondLa), Ben Tripp (The Accidental Highwayman), and Danielle Page (Dorothy Must Die) will give insight to the fairy tales of old, and new!

1:30 pm – 2:30 pm
Autograph Area AA09
Group Signing: Fairy Tale Remix
*I’ll have the FREE WondLa III sketchbooks on hand for the signing after the panel discussion.


Friday, July 25th
3:00 pm-4:00 pm
Room 7AB
Star Wars: The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight — Ralph McQuarrie’s art for the original Star Wars trilogy is introduced to a new generation of young readers in Star Wars: The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight. Join New York Times bestselling author Tony DiTerlizzi as he talks about the conceptualization of this project and the process, challenges, and privileges of writing to the works of a legend; along with Troy Alders (Art Director, Lucasfilm), J.W. Rinzler (Executive Editor, Lucasfilm), and Joanne Chan (Children’s Book Editor, Lucasfilm).

*We will have a promotional postcard wallet of amazing McQuarrie art that we will be giving out at the panel, so stop on by!


PS –For those not attending this year’s comic con who wish to nab one of the limited edition The Battle for WondLa sketchbooks, fear not. Stuart Ng Books (on of my favorite places to spend my royalty checks) will be selling them after the convention.

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7. Decatur Book Festival

I am happy to announce that Ang and I will both be presenting and signing at this year’s Decatur Book Festival, near Atlanta, Georgia.

In fact, I designed this year’s Bookzilla poster for the event, which I will be happy to sign!


Details for the festival are at the official site (including a list of other attending authors such as Jon Scieszka, Loren Long and Tom Angleberger).

If you can’t make this event, fear not, for I shall be adding select dates this fall as I travel to support the upcoming picture book, The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight. Stay tuned.

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8. Three Memorable Visits to United Cerebral Palsy After School Programs

I was invited to visit three separate After School Programs this week for United Cerebral Palsy of South Florida. This generous organization serves over 1,800 children and adults in South Florida with Cerebral Palsy, Down syndrome, autism, spina bifida, prematurity, hearing, intellectual disabilities and speech delays with a variety of programs such as occupational, speech and music therapy, skills courses, respite care, counseling, after care and much more.

I discovered that most authors decline invitations to visit organizations that serve those with special needs. I suppose it is because they feel their books are not geared toward that type of audience. I was happy to visit these children knowing  they would simply enjoy listening to my cartoon voices, looking at the colorful pictures and dancing to the music. Some may not understand the story I am telling, but that’s not what enrichment is all about.

All the participants enjoy my world map and were proud to use the pointer to show others where their favorite places are in the world.

We learn about the animals of the Costa Rican rainforest.

The kids cheer when I tell them the book is recorded on CD with music and sound effects, and of course they want to know all about the story.

What I realized this week while spending time with the program participants is that they teach us how to live in the moment and be truly happy from the inside out. Dancing is the best!!!

And they sure like to give great hugs!

Teacher, Mr. Albert wanted to get in on the hug action too! LOL!

Ah, learning about the magic of watercolor pencils!

The teachers and assistants who work in the UCP After School Programs are equally as inspiring as the children. Their energy, dedication and love for what they do are truly remarkable. I wish to thank Allyson Nanny for inviting me and Site Directors Pat McGee and Lakeya Hariott as well as all the other wonderful staff members.

For more information about UCP programs, be sure to visit the United Cerebral Palsy of South Florida website.

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9. What a WondLaful Tour

The Battle for WondLa tour is over, and though I am exhausted from travel, I also feel honored, blessed and inspired.


My tour began in Southern California where I visited the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles with WondLa’s audiobook reader and award-winning actress, Teri Hatcher.


From LA, I traveled east visiting bookstores in Phoenix, Kansas City, Austin, Atlanta, Chicago, Milwaukee and even in my town in Western Massachusetts. I spoke at numerous schools and connected with scores of readers. We chatted mostly about stories and some of our favorite books and characters.



In a couple of stops, authors came to support me–like Adam Gidwitz (below, center) posing with Topher Bradfield (left) after my event at Austin’s premier indie shop, BookPeople.


To be honest, travel wears me down and it is tough being away from home, my wife and daughter. But the families who took the time to come and see me speak validated why I do this and inspired me (especially when my public event fell on a school night). I don’t usually stop to ponder how many lives my books touch, so I was often overwhelmed with emotion by the turnouts at my events. I was moved by the kind words and wonderful gifts given to me after readers had waited in a long line to have their book signed.


So, for today’s “Friday Fan Art”, I thought I’d share some of the amazing drawings, and other goodies, that were given to me while on the road. Check out Aeden (above), who delivered a whole mess of artwork from Spiderwick to WondLa.



Them there was Medelyn who brought me this lovely sketch of Eva Nine at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville.



At Little Shop of Stories, near Atlanta, recent art school grad, Katie, gave me this wonderful watercolor of Eva and Rovee.



I love Austin and was blown away by the talent during my visit to BookPeople. This is a Bull Goblin, from The Spiderwick Chronicles, made from felt!


In fact, Tomoko, one of the booksellers at BookPeople created this beautiful image from the climax of A Hero for WondLa.



In Milwaukee, I was given “Christopher the Cupboard Pixie” from Janice who runs an Etsy shop called Sew Sweet Monsters. Christopher now watches over my books in the studio,



Back in Mass, Rob and his son, Ben, are both artist. They gave me drawings of their favorite characters from the WondLa books.



These little tokens of appreciation will all be cherished. It is surreal and inspiring to see others celebrate my characters through their art.




Thank you for coming out and making this tour so memorable for me. I hope to see you again, next time.


Keep dreaming, keep drawing.

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COMIX! I'm on sabbatical for the year.  While I will be making various appearances in Europe and beyond, mostly I'll be spending time at the home base in Paris, France drawing and doodling.   You can check out my experiments over at Universal U-Click for a comic-strip-doodle-thingie called PARIS DOODLES . The strip runs drawings, dining room dinner doodles, and photos on weekdays.

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COMIX! I'm on sabbatical for the year.  While I will be making various appearances in Europe and beyond, mostly I'll be spending time at the home base in Paris, France drawing and doodling.   You can check out my experiments over at Universal U-Click for a comic-strip-doodle-thingie called PARIS DOODLES . The strip runs drawings, dining room dinner doodles, and photos on weekdays.

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12. LA Times Festival of Books

Angela and I will be presenting and signing at the LA Times Festival of Books on Saturday, April 12th, at the University of Southern California.


The presentation schedule is here and we will both be signing throughout the day.  I am on a panel discussion at 1:30 p.m. titled “Young Adult Fantasy: Worlds Beyond Imagination” along with Kelley Armstrong, Rachel Hawkins and Neal Shusterman. There will be a signing afterwards. Also, you can check in at the Simon & Schuster booth for my additional signing times.

Seeya there!

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BIRDth-DAY! April 1st marks the 11th anniversary of the publication of my first book, Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! Because of the support of Librarians, Teachers, Parents, Grand-Parents, and Fans the last 11 years have been a wonderful ride filled with opportunities for me to write, draw, and meet fantastic kids and grown-ups all over the world. Thank you for this gift.

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14. The Battle for WondLa May 2014 Tour Dates

I’ve finally received my May tour dates to support the fantastic finale to the WondLa trilogy.

My presentation includes drawing and discussing how the WondLa books came to be. Attendees will receive the third limited edition WondLa sketchbook for free. And, of course, I will sign just about any book (or gaming materials) that you bring – though different stores have different signing policies, so its best to check with them beforehand.


As well, Angela and I will both be attending the LA Times Festival of Books in April at the USC campus. Though The Battle of WondLa will not be available for sale then, I will be signing all my previous titles. Hopefully I’ll see you there!

PS – I am hoping to add some additional dates for our local friends in Massachusetts, so stay tuned…

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 COMIX! I'm on sabbatical for the year.  While I will be making various appearances in Europe and beyond, mostly I'll be spending time at the home base in Paris, France drawing and doodling.   You can check out my experiments over at Universal U-Click for a comic-strip-doodle-thingie called PARIS DOODLES . The strip runs drawings, dining room dinner doodles, and photos on weekdays.

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16. It’s time for YallFest Y’all!

The schedule has been posted, the streets of Charleston cordoned off, and locals are hiding their cookie jars because the authors are coming to town!


Here’s the schedule for this weekend’s festivities, but I’ll point out a few things I’ll be involved in below (The Storyball will be particularly nuts):



CMH: THE MIDDLE GRADE STORYBALL Pseudonymous Bosch, Adam Gidwitz, Lisi Harrison, Alexander London, Lisa McMann, Barnabas Miller, Lauren Oliver, Carrie Ryan, Natalie Standiford, JE Thompson, Sean Williams (All Middle Grade Authors will be on stage!) Moderator: Matthew Cody


BALLROOM: WRITING FOR KIDS Matthew Cody, Adam Gidwitz, Lisa McMann, Carrie Ryan,, C. Alexander London Moderator: Pseudonymous Bosch


CMH: YA Smackdown SOLD OUT

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17. Starred Review for WILL IN SCARLET!

I’m currently in lovely Saratoga Springs visiting the equally lovely Northshire Bookstore, but I wanted to take a moment from the road and share this very nice review from The Bulletin. They say so many nice things I’m going all blushy.

«Cody, MatthewWill in Scarlet.Knopf, 2013[272p]
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-375-86895-5$16.99
Library ed. ISBN 978-0-375-96895-2$19.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-375-89980-5$10.99
Reviewed from galleys    R*Gr. 5-7
With his father off crusading for King Richard, thirteen-year-old Will Shackley must leave childhood mischief behind him as he takes on the responsibility of governing the Shackley estate. He makes a fine start, slaughtering two wolves during a hunt with his father’s men, but when Prince John’s thugs later attack Will’s home in an attempt to force fealty, the boy flees the battle to survive. Finding refuge among a merry band of thieves (including a drunken archer named Rob) in Sherwood Forest, Will sets out to plan his revenge but is soon confronted with the possibility that injustice is not simply the fault of one bad man. The punches packed in this historical action tale are both physical and emotional, as Will discovers that the sheltered world he grew up in is a privilege for very few and a distant dream for most. Cody’s pacing is a clever construction of frenzied but focused fight sequences balanced with quiet, subtle moments of self-reflection on Will’s part. Rich characterization does justice to each of the main players here, especially the villains: their motivations are made clear and understandable so that readers, like Will, come to realize the world is a complicated place with room for good and evil and much in between. Early scenes of wolf hunting and thrilling ambushes will likely draw even the most reluctant reader in, while the careful prose and likable hero will see them through to the satisfying conclusion.  KQG

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18. Super Energetic Author Visit at Binks Elementary

I learned something interesting as soon as I walked into Binks Forest Elementary School in Wellington, FL. The school and the area surrounding it got its name “Binks,” because it was the nickname of the man who used to own the land there. I also couldn’t help but be impressed with how helpful the staff was as soon as I opened the front door. Several smiling people helped me drag my books and props in and out, and they couldn’t be any friendlier.

Well to say the least, this was a very special author visit, as I did two presentations with 500 students in each group! Talk about an energetic crowd!!! You never know what will get kids going, and every author visit I do is different. Well, when the 2nd-5th graders learned that many trees are planted by birds because they poop out the seeds, this caused a hilarious uproar that lasted some time. Naturally it put a huge smile on my face.

With the school’s terrific technology I was able to show my animal posters on a big screen so the crowd could see them better. I was asked some terrific questions about those animals, and one 4th grader let me know he had just been to Costa Rica, where he saw a Howler monkey!

One of the highlights of this visit was telling the children that the paintbrushes I used for my illustrations belonged to my grandfather, and I’ve kept them for 30 years. They sure do love watching the magic of watercolor pencils blending with just a touch of water on a brush.

The students are always shocked when I give them statistics on how “Geography Illiterate” Americans really are. I encouraged them to ask for a wall map for the holidays or their birthday. They’re very affordable, and oh so fun to look at and learn about the world.

Media Specialist Sharon Wedgworth absolutely loves her job and it shows! Her library is big and inviting and the students are welcome to browse the shelves at various times throughout the day. She works with readers of all levels and comes up with creative ways of motivating reluctant readers.

Tell me you wouldn’t want to linger in this library for a few hours! Notice the pile of Lilly Badilly books on the table I autographed.

Binks Forest Elementary’s music teacher, Devon Heinrichs has an incredible music program and provides the children with live performances from every genre of music. His classroom is full of interesting instruments, and his students are so fortunate to benefit from his passion for music. It’s teachers like Mr. Heinrichs who can inspire a child to master a musical instrument or sing like Broadway star. And we all know how much music ability and math success go hand in hand.

Music is not the only wonderful part of the Fine Arts classes at Binks Elementary. Check out these impressive painted self-portrait tiles made by students a few years back.

There are many aspects to being a children’s book author that make it so fulfilling. Without a doubt, one of the best parts is visiting a harmonious school, where the teachers truly care, the parents are hands on, the students are curious, and the resources are abundant. Binks Forest is one of those schools, and how lucky these students are to have the privilege of attending!

Thank you Mrs. Wedgworth for inviting me to your school and putting together such a well organized event. Thank you, too, to all the teachers I met, who were so kind and welcoming.  And of course, I must express my gratitude for 1,000 beautiful, smiling, giggling children, who were eager to learn and who told me how much they enjoyed the visit.


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19. The "Buddies" Skype Author Visit

Here's yet another way I've used Skype to connect to classrooms - chatting with 1st graders and their 6th grade buddies who've read my books together.

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20. May Appearances

After a month of travel, May's schedule is a bit lighter. As I announced recently, I will be taking a year off abroad starting this summer. Consequently, these appearances will be my last ones in these locations for at least a year. If you're in the area, please drop by to say hello, and remember to check with the venue regarding signing policies, etc... MAY 25 - 26  PITTSBURGH, PA It's

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21. IRA San Antonio 2013 - Finally!

Oh yes! IRA 2013 was back in April. And I am guilty of blog neglect. While I plan to post with some textual substance soon, I did want to share photos of one of the most delightful, "working" weekends I've ever had.

With fellow authors and agency mates Liz Garton Scanlon and Kari Anne Holt.
With fellow authors and agency mates Liz Garton Scanlon and Kari Anne Holt.

Spotted on my walk to the Convention Center.

In the bagel shop across the street - A Little Free Library!

With the lovely and talented Salina Yoon at the Bloomsbury booth.

Did I mention that Salina is super-funny too?

Salina and me with the Bloomsbury team. Left to right: Caroline Abbey, Beth Eller, Linette Kim.

Signing at the Bloomsbury Booth - you can see little me in the back to the right of the ALL THROUGH MY TOWN poster.

Signing at the Bloomsbury Booth!

Signing at the Bloomsbury Booth!

In addition to the signing, I met up with many friends, did a podcast and video interview, had a wonderful dinner with the Bloomsbury team, teachers, booksellers and librarians, did a panel presentation with Salina, Michael Hall, and Kirby Larsen and signed at Anderson's Bookstore.

Everyone was so gracious, enthusiastic and kind. The world of literacy is in GREAT hands.

You'd think that packing SOOOO much into 3 days would be exhausting. But noooo - it was inspiring - inspiring me to write more books ... which is what I've been doing the last month and a half.

Happy June!

2 Comments on IRA San Antonio 2013 - Finally!, last added: 6/7/2013
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22. This is Why I Do This

Pure joy = being hugged by a group of 40 happy K-1st graders who have all made me gifts!

Yesterday I was reminded that being a children’s book author is a privilege to be treasured. I visited two After School Programs Inc. in SW Miami-Dade. As I stood before all those smiling faces who had been reading Lilly Badilly and listening to the CD for a few days before I arrived, I could feel their excitement and eagerness to learn. Kids are indeed like sponges waiting to soak in the world around them. And when they read my book and listen to the CD before I arrive, it makes the author visit all that more special.

I love it when the kids are eager to ask questions and share personal stories, and the behavior of these kids was PERFECT!

For starters, After School Programs, Inc serves thousands of children daily in Broward, Miami-Dade, Collier and Orange Counties. I instantly felt connected to the local Program Director Nikki Elliot, who hired me to do the author visits. Her energy, dedication and vision for educating the many children in the After School Programs is to be highly commended. She travels through Broward and Miami-Dade Counties from end to end every week, ensuring that the teams have what they need to thrive. She is a wealth of terrific ideas and realistic solutions. Likewise, the Site Directors, Ms. Moorley and Ms. Clark, running the programs at the two schools I attended, were wonderful too. The grant-based resources the organization provides, offers children in our communities opportunities that may not be available otherwise to learn and thrive. I love the fact that After School Programs uses their time with the children to educate them beyond the general school day, yet in a ways that are also entertaining and enriching.

The children love it when I show them the paint brushes, given to me many years ago by my late grandfather, I used for my illustrations in the book.

I’m disappointed that there’s more negative than positive information in the press about education in Miami-Dade in general. From where I stand I see dedicated, caring and patient teachers and aides in our schools, camps and after care programs, who work tirelessly to educate our children and ensure their safety. Teachers and administrators obviously cannot control the home environments of the children, but they can and do work miracles; I see it all the time. If only our residents could experience what transpires where children are being educated, they too would be more appreciative of those who care for them on  a daily basis and discover that there is a whole lot of good out there.

Highlights of the day included dancing and shaking our booties, being asked by a 2nd grader how I got so famous (I wish!!), being given stacks of hand drawn thank you notes and Costa Rica illustrations by the students and being treated to an excellent performance of one of the songs on my CD by four children. I also had an opportunity to share some ideas about how to read more and practice writing, in creative and fun ways.

I was presented with piles of thank you notes and illustrations I will cherish for years to come!

A proud student shows me her special thank you card.

Four darling students perform a song they learned by heart from the Lilly Badilly CD entitled “I’m on my Journey.”

So this is why I get out there, dressed as a millipede and do author visits whenever I can. These kids are our future, and I’d say our future is looking bright.

Many thanks go out to to Nikki Watkins for inviting me to visit the After Care Programs, to Julia Banks from West Perrine Park for recommending me to the After Care Program, to Principal Wright and Site Director, Ms. Moorley from R. R. Moton Elementary and Site Director and teacher, Ms. Clark at Beckford/Richmond Elementary. Thank you so much for  making me feel so welcome and giving me the opportunity to speak to your wonderful students!



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23. WriteOnCon Starts Today! It's FREE!

WriteOnCon begins today. If you're a kidlit writer, editors, agents, and authors are lined up to help YOU!

From the WriteOnCon website:

WriteOnCon is a FREE Online Children’s Writers Conference (rated MC-18, for Main Characters under 18 only) created by writers, for writers. Attendees don’t need to take time off work, travel, or spend a truckload of money. They can enjoy the conference from the convenience of their own homes, for free—and the schedule is designed around working hours. (Transcripts are also available of the entire conference, should anyone have to miss part of it.) And everything for the conference takes place within this website, which means everyone with basic Internet access will be able to participate in all aspects of the conference—no additional software or technology required.

During the conference, keynote addresses, agent panels, and lectures are presented as blogs, vlogs, moderated chats, webinars, podcasts, and livestreaming. There is also a critique forum, where participants can post query letters and writing samples to receive helpful feedback and comments from their peers and industry professionals. And, as if that weren’t exciting enough, there are also daily contests, giving random winners everything from books to personalized critiques from agents.

Don't miss it. Hop on over. Registration is easy. Let the inspiration begin!

Oh, and by the way, my session "Does Your Picture Book Premise Have Power?" with a chance to win a PB critique is part of today's lineup!

2 Comments on WriteOnCon Starts Today! It's FREE!, last added: 8/15/2013
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24. Back, for the Fifth Time!

Tonight I returned to Liberty Park Elementary for my 5th author visit!

Liberty Park Elementary in Palm Beach County is passionate about books, so it’s no wonder that students and parents love to flock to their beautiful library for Literacy Night. Tonight’s theme was “Reading Oasis: A Cool Place to Discover Hot New Books!” What was really cool about this event is that parent volunteers came to read books to the children in different classrooms.

Tonight I spoke to a classroom full of very curious and perfectly behaved fourth and fifth graders. It was a nice, small group so we were able to interact a lot. It never ceases to amaze me how much the children know about animals and the environment. They even knew definitions to vocabulary words that even surprised their teacher!

What seems to interest the students the most wherever I go is learning about how watercolor pencils work as I run a wet paintbrush through the colors and they see how they blend together. The beauty of speaking to this age group is that they can understand more about the process of publishing a book, and I love to share that experience with them. They were also eager to get up to the maps and play the geography game.

Where is the Gulf of Mexico and what is the name of the hurricane that devastated New Orleans?

I’ve been to so many schools in the past five years and I can tell you that Liberty Park is outstanding. This is a school with such dedicated teachers and administration. You can sense that in the way everyone works together and strives for excellence in teaching their students. The library is beautiful, much like a classy book store, and the lovely classrooms are perfect settings for learning.

I send a big thank you to Media Specialist Michaelina Oliva, who worked so hard to organize tonight’s event and invite me back to the school for the 5th time! She makes me feel so special and welcomed, and I so appreciate it! It takes a lot of planning and physical work to keep a library like that updated and also to put together a big literacy event such as this one together. Another thank you goes to fourth grade teacher, Ms. Ali was so kind and even helped me drag my big maps back to the car. I’d also like to thank Principal Joseph Schneider, who is the most friendly and hands-on principal anyone could ever ask for.

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25. A Scurrilous National Book Tour!

I’ll be traveling the country this fall talking about Will in Scarlet to any vagabonds and scallywags that will listen! Below is the schedule of where you can find me and when. Be sure to check back for updates as we get closer to the actual dates!


Friday, October 4th

Voracious Reader (Larchmont, NY)


Sunday, October 13th

New York Comic-Con


Tuesday, October 15th 

Lemuria Books (Jackson, MS)


Thursday, October 17th

The Country Bookshop (Southern Pines, NC)


Friday, October 18th

McIntyre’s Books (Chapel Hill, NC)


Saturday, October 19th

Barnes & Noble (Cary, NC)


Sunday, October 20th

Barnes & Noble (Skokie, IL)


Monday, October 21st

Anderson’s Bookshop (Downer’s Grove, IL)


Tuesday, October 22nd

The Book Stall (Winnetka, IL)


Saturday, October 26th

Books of Wonder (New York City, NY)


Friday, November 1st

The Center for Fiction (New York – not open to the public)


Sunday, November 3rd

Northshire Bookstore (Saratoga, NY)


Saturday, November 9th

YALLFest (Charleston, SC)




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