It's true. Even though I drew this picture:
... I harbor no long-term ill-will against school. (Well, not at any of the teachers and librarians, certainly. Any ill will stems purely from my fellow classmates.) In fact, I love, love, love to do school visits. Why? Because kids are the best audience in the entire world.
Picture this: There you are, speaking in front of a conference room full of grown-ups. Your presentation is running a little short. You glance at the wall clock, click through to your final PowerPoint slide, and humbly ask, "Any questions?"
Silence. Some polite shrugs and head shakes. You thank them and leave, and suddenly your host has to come up with 10 minutes of material to pad things out.
Now, picture this: You're speaking to a gymnasium full of elementary school kids. You zoomed through your presentation too fast. You still have 25 minutes to kill. (Okay, you were really fast.) You ask the kids, "Any questions?"
Forty-five minutes later, with all sorts of bells ringing, the faculty members are desperately trying to get the kids to stop asking questions so that they can all get back to Math class. Trust me—kids never run out of questions.
What's more, even after I've finished telling them all of the secrets of how Jenni and I originally came up with Babymouse and how we sketch and write and revise and create a whole book out of thin air, I can drag the kids up in front of the room and get them to think up crazy things for me to draw—say, Babymouse as a mermaid. Or a soccer player. Or a lawyer. Or a light bulb. (Yes, those are all actual past requests from students.) And then, just when my stamina is fading, I can call volunteers up by pairs and have them compete head-to-head in a Babymouse draw-off! Who draws a better Babymouse? Boys? Girls? You'll just have to wait and see.
So, if you would like me to come to your school (or library, or bookstore), just send me an e-mail, and we'll talk more. I live in Portland, Ore., so Pacific Northwest school visits are pretty easy. But I do travel quite a bit, and no area of the country is out of the question. (Guam and some of the Territories might prove problematic.) Canada's swell, too.
Conferences and Larger Events
Are you hosting a reading or library conference or some other large event? I am a member of the Random House Speakers Bureau. To arrange an event, please contact
Agent Director, Random House Speakers Bureau
I hope to see you soon!