Happy 2023! If the past year was a good one for you, here’s hoping you have another in store. If you found 2022 to be more of a struggle, I’m rooting for a long-overdue change in your fortunes.
For my author visits in the year ahead, I’ve decided to try something new: a look back.
Ever since I first had more than a couple of picture books to my credit, my school presentations have emphasized my more recent titles. For my early elementary audiences, Shark vs. Train made way for Mighty Truck, 88 Instruments, Book or Bell? and — most recently — Fire Truck vs. Dragon.
The same sort of thing went on with my nonfiction-focused presentations to upper elementary students, with the still-pretty-new forever eased aside by the even-newer. In just the past five years, that’s taken me from Dazzle Ships to What Do You Do with a Voice Like That? to How to Make a Book (About My Dog) to Moving Forward.
The thing is… I miss presenting my older titles (I was really good at performing them!), and I suspect that the educators who host me might miss them a little, too.
So for a limited time — and for a new generation of students — I’m again offering presentations of my two best-known books: Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions (included on 21 state reading lists) and, yes, Shark vs. Train (a New York Times bestseller).
And it’s not just the readings that I’m bringing back, since much of the value of sharing these two books comes from what I talk about next. Shark vs. Train offers an inside look at how revision works and why it’s important, and Whoosh! provides great opportunities for STEM-focused discussions of prototyping and perseverance.
I’m thinking I might go even further back. I always tell kids how to “Write What You Know,” and for me there’s no better example than the book I made when I was seven.
The Ozzie Bros. Meet the Monsters was inspired by my love of Star Wars, the Muppets, and old monster movies — it was me writing what I knew.
I often mention that first story in passing during Q&A when students ask me when I first realized that I enjoyed writing.
But rarely do I provide an actual glimpse of it — or, considering that I used “Let’s get out of here!” three times in two pages, acknowledge that it perhaps could have used a bit of revision…
Showing a bit of how I got started may be just the thing to inspire a roomful of new writers, don’t you think?
Clicking here is the simple first step in bringing the Ozzie Brothers, Shark vs. Train, Whoosh! and me to a school near you. And if you’re in Texas, there’s a state grant available to help make it happen.
Hope to see you soon!