Another confession: One of my more curmudgeonly, least practical goals as a children’s writer is to never set so much as a single scene of my fiction inside a school.

I’ve got nothing against schools, the people who attend them (I was one), work at them (I’m the son, grandson, nephew, brother-in-law, son-in-law, and husband of current or former educators), or write about them (such as Laurie Halse Anderson, whose terrific Speak I hope to finish tonight).

It’s just that writing about what happens there doesn’t interest me nearly as much as what happens on the other 99.9999999999% of the earth’s surface.

Sure, lots of children — my audience — spend lots of time in school. But adults spend even more time at work, and I’m not interested in writing about the office, either.