Thursday, October 25, 2007


Traveling from school to school here in the CyFair school district of Houston I was thrilled to steal a relaxing minute in the cozy reading tub at the Matzke Elementary Library.

The same wonderful room also had a faux front porch complete with comfy chairs and plenty of books casually scattered within a small hand's easy reach.

Because back home I spend way too much time sitting at my desk talking to the monkeys - these last two weeks have been such a fun, eye-opening journey where I've gotten a chance to be inside wonderful school libraries, meet terrific - inspiring librarians and the kids - WOW - such amazing, bright, creative attentive kids.

I've been starting my workshops by illustrating what my brain was like as a kid - and then I use POND SCUM to help me swirl through creative blasts of writing tips using my cartoon-doodles and lots of kid-interactivity!

So here I am - watching Game Two of the Red Sox World series, feeling already wistful that after 18 schools and 36 presentations - I am left with tomorrow, the last day of my wonderful trip (just 4 presentations to go).

Tonight it's baseball and the satisfaction of having reached countless kids and being able to laugh every day while letting creativity run loopy with doodles, reading, and lots of my own Pond Scum. (speaking of which - I have never signed so many books!)

It just doesn't get much better than this!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


When I arrived in Houston on Sunday - Paula Morgan knew exactly how to make sure she picked up the right person at the airport. (I can only imagine what the other travelers at baggage claim were thinking!) Paula is the librarian at Sampson Elementary School and the woman who coordinated my 10 day/20 school Pond Scum blitz.

Starting Monday (bright and early) I immediately learned that the CyFair Independent School District is a unique fantastic system of schools with librarians filled with joy and excitement, which makes an author-type feel like a million bucks. I also learned that not only was I being hosted by amazing educators - but I was mingling with Librarian Royalty because these CyFairians are none other than the BOOK DIVAS of TLA and ALA synchronized book cart fame! (I know many of you have had the pleasure of seeing them in book cart action)

I am sure the video below does not do them justice - but I have seen the official Book Divas Calendar in one or two offices - and maybe I can get one as a parting gift of my author visit! Check them out - then imagine these fantastic folks are my hosts!!!

I visit 2 schools a day and do 2 presentations at each. After 4 full days I can tell you that these kids are fantastic (mostly 4th and 5th) and so full of energy and eagerness. I'm trying some new ideas and it's all been going very well (so far) and I'm having a great time integrating my cartooning and Pond Scum in a fun, interactive talk about writing and creativity.

I've got lots more to talk about - but I have to gear up for the Red Sox's last hurrah (oh, how I've been here before).

I'll post more over the weekend and report on the great food I've been eating, some more about the Horned Toad Tales list and my dinner with my Rhinestone Reader pen-pal (tomorrow night).

Saturday, October 13, 2007


Monday begins my two week voyage through the Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District.

4 presentations/ 2 schools a day for 10 days! I am incredibly psyched and already fielding great emails from the kids I'm about to meet!

Tomorrow I get picked up at the Houston airport by the amazing Paula Morgan (from Sampson Elementary), who has informed me I'll be signing books late into the night in my hotel room to get ready for Day 1 of the "Pond Scum Texas Tour". (sadly it's an off-day for the Red Sox/Indians so I imagine I'll have to settle for the National League playoffs.)

A note on AUTHORS AND SELF-PROMOTION. The topic is always a hot button and the discussions go on and on. But I thought I'd share how this trip came about.

Last spring I discovered (in other words - Googled) that Pond Scum was one of 12 books to be selected for the Horned Toad Tales List. Google pointed me to the Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District outside of Houston and by digging around (ie. reading the press release) I found the name of one of the media specialists involved and called her to just say, "Thanks!"

In the course of the conversation that made both of our days - Paula asked if I do school visits. I said, yes. She asked if I thought I might do a "few" schools in her district. I said, yes. And the next day I was booked for my 20 school book tour.

All this is to say - I always thank the teachers, media specialists, librarians who suggest Pond Scum to students - and I have been booked numerous times simply for saying "thank you". It's not the reason I reach out - it's just a natural reaction.

So reach out and say "Thanks". It's a nice thing - and sometimes results in your eating real Texas Barbecue for lunch on Monday.