The cat's out of the bag! I'm overjoyed to finally be able to shout this announcement from the mountaintops. Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins, will publish Year of the Cat in fall 2022 (with a second picture book also in development). Illustrated by the talented Jocelyn Li Langrand, the story is a subversive take on the origin of the Chinese zodiac, as Rat convinces the other animals to join him on a quest to apologize to Cat. Many thanks to super-editor Martha Mihalick for believing in this story, and as always to my agent Emily Mitchell for making the match!
The Lost Package received a prestigious honor: Junior Library Guild named it a Gold Standard Selection! Every year, JLG reads upcoming books ahead of publication and chooses a select few to promote to libraries as the cream of the crop. It's a highly-coveted distinction, and I'm so proud the book I worked on with illustrator Jessica Lanan and editor Emily Feinberg has been recognized. Thank you JLG, and I can't wait for more readers to check out our book!
March 2, 2021 is still months away. But today, we get to take another step on the journey to the publication of The Lost Package by revealing the cover! Illustrator Jessica Lanan has brought this story to life in such beautiful ways, and I can't wait for you to see the rest of the book. In the meantime, bask in the warmth of this charming cover . . . and pre-order if you're so inclined!
Thankfully, the kidlit community has stepped up in this time of self-isolation and remote learning for children. There is no shortage of amazing book-related activities and teaching materials from authors and illustrators. To this ever-growing collection, I'm proud to add this STEM-friendly teacher's guide for Red Rover: Curiosity on Mars, which the fine folks at Macmillan's School and Library team were kind enough to design. Please feel free to download, use, and enjoy!
Tis the season for gifts. I know this, because I received quite the gift from Books of Wonder: the gift of being included in their 2019 Holiday Catalog! I'm so excited to share shelf space (both in-store and virtual) with so many incredible titles. If you're looking for gifts for book-loving kids (and kids-at-heart) in your life, please consider doing your holiday shopping here. Happy Gifting Season to all!
Doing a reading and signing for my debut book at my local Barnes and Noble? That's an author achievement I was privileged to unlock this afternoon, as family and friends came out to celebrate the release of Red Rover: Curiosity on Mars. A fitting finale to launch week, indeed. Pictures below!
That's the only way to describe last night, as we celebrated the publication of Red Rover: Curiosity on Mars with a launch event at the venerable Books of Wonder in Manhattan. Family and friends from every corner of my life braved a steady drizzle to join us, and their presence sent me soaring beyond Earth orbit. Infinite thanks to them, and to the amazing staff for hosting us.
Here are some pics from the event!
Today's the day! Red Rover: Curiosity on Mars has officially launched and is out in the world. Publication day is a whirlwind, and I'm sure i'll have more thoughts to share later. But for now, I just want to say thank you to everyone who has helped me on this two-and-a-half-year odyssey. The best part? The journey is really just beginning!
One thing most people don't realize about picture books is that the author and illustrator rarely ever meet before a book is published. In fact, most publishers maintain a strict "no direct contact whatsoever" policy for the duration of the book's creation. So when Katherine Roy and I video-called each other to record our official "unboxing" video (wherein we open up our boxes of author or illustrator copies), it was actually our first time speaking to each other! See what we said by clicking below!
"Kids, don't try this at home" is a pretty accurate summary of my writing process, if you read it not as a warning (i.e. "this writing process is dangerous!") but as the reason why I do most of my writing outside the house (i.e. "because kids are a delightful distraction!"). Allow me to explain further in my Notable 19s post!
New Jersey, this one's for you! A few days after Red Rover blasts off from Books of Wonder in Manhattan, the party continues with a second launch event on Sunday, November 3 at Barnes and Noble in Clifton, NJ. Friends and family from the Garden State, come out and help me celebrate!
Kidlit411 is an amazing resource for all children's book creators. So it was a thrill and an honor to be featured in the site's Author Spotlight! Read the interview here, and be sure to check out the huge collection of resources they have to offer!
Publication day for Red Rover is October 29. What better day to host a launch event? I'm so excited that Books of Wonder will be the venue for my very first book launch. I can't wait to celebrate with New York-area friends and family! Details at this link. I hope to see you there!
Today, I received the first copy of my debut book.
I am in awe. Speechless. Overwhelmed.
As I hold this actual, hardbound, jacketed, beautiful book in my hands, I think about all the dreaming and planning, hoping and doubting, working and writing that preceded this moment.
I think about all the people who were instrumental in bringing this book to life: agent, illustrator, editor, entire publishing team, and loving family and friends.
I think about how I get to share this book with the world in just three short months.
I think about how blessed I am.
And I think about how I want to thank each and every one of you in person.
October 29 can't come fast enough. But until then . . .
Talk about an honor! Macmillan's School and Library team released their staff picks for fave fall picture books, and Red Rover made the list! It's one thing for a publisher to like your book enough to make it; it's even sweeter when the publisher shows it some extra love. Truly grateful to be chosen for this spotlight, especially alongside other incredible books on my must-read list! Read the awesome write-up here.
On Friday, I had the privilege of attending KidLitCon 2019 in Providence, RI. It was my first time attending a writing conference of any kind, as well as my first appearance on an author panel. I'm happy to report that the whole experience was absolutely fantastic! The conference had a cozy, intimate vibe as authors, illustrators, librarians and educators packed Hotel Providence, a beautiful boutique hotel downtown. The atmosphere was warm and inviting, and it was exciting to meet so many passionate kidlit champions and makers. It was also great to meet (in real life!) many of the authors I've connected with through social media over the past two years. And I had a blast talking science and writing process and books with fellow authors Anita Sanchez, Sara Levine, Heidi Fiedler, and Jason Viola (with moderator Paula Willey!) at the STEM panel. All in all, a truly memorable experience. Thank you to conference co-organizers Charlotte Taylor and Mia Wenjen for inviting me to participate. I look forward to finding out where the next KidLitCon will be!
Tonight, I had the pleasure of joining my fellow Notable 19 authors for our first group Twitter chat. The host? Kidlit luminary Matthew Winner! The hour-long chat was frenetic and exhilarating, a non-stop outpouring of inspiration that taught me so much. I feel very thankful to be sharing this debut-year journey with such incredible talents! Check out what we all said by searching for the #Notable19s hashtag.
With great diversity comes great responsibility. Or does it? What exactly is that responsibility? And am I fulfilling it? I tackle these questions of existential author dread in a blog post for the Notable 19s. You can read my potentially coherent ramblings here!
It’s here: the official cover reveal for Red Rover! I’m overjoyed to finally be able to show off some of illustrator Katherine Roy’s gorgeous art for this book. And believe me, this cover is just the tip of the Martian iceberg of what’s inside. The first pre-order link is now live, so click here to get a copy delivered to your door on October 29. And please continue following us on the journey to Red Rover’s launch!
Book announcements are great fun. But as an author, I'm essentially limited to a palette of plain text. Illustrators, on the other hand...
To wit, I wandered over to Lost illustrator Jessica Lanan's website to admire her incredible art, and was delighted to find her announcement of our book... along with a sketch. And yeah, I'm pretty sure I just fell in love with a cardboard box.
Check out the announcement and the rest of her website here, and be sure to pre-order her upcoming book, Just Right: Searching for the Goldilocks Planet. A picture book about exoplanets? Sign me up!
So excited to announce that my second picture book, Lost, has found a home! And it's a familiar one! Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan (the same publisher as my debut, Red Rover) will send this book into the world in fall 2020. The story follows the journey of a lost package through the mail system, and is a heartfelt tip of the hat to my dad, a United States Postal Service veteran who retired a few years ago after a 30+ year career. More great news: incredible illustrator Jessica Lanan will be bringing the story to life! I'm overjoyed to work with my awesome editor Emily Feinberg again, and thanks are due (as always) to super-agent Emily Mitchell for making this happen. Official announcement below, and more details soon!
I'm proud to be a member of Notable 19, a group of super-talented, super-supportive picture book authors and author-illustrators whose debuts are slated for 2019. More information about us, our books, our appearances, and our blogworthy thoughts on all things kidlit can be found at our just-launched website! (Banner art by group member Cassandra Federman.)
Next March, I'll be attending KidLitCon 2019 in Providence, RI. This will be my first writing conference (ever!), and I am off-the-charts excited. I'm also off-the-charts nervous, because I've been invited to participate in a panel! How this newbie author managed to finagle his way onto a panel with such esteemed names as Sy Montgomery, Anita Silvey, Anita Sanchez, and Nancy Castaldo is anyone's guess. But hey, I'll take it! Here's the official announcement.
It's real, and I can finally talk about it: I'm thrilled to announce that I've sold my first children's book! It's a picture book titled Red Rover, to be published by Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan in fall 2019. Most exciting of all: it will be illustrated by the amazingly talented Katherine Roy! I'm so thrilled to work with Katherine, our awesome editor Emily Feinberg, and the whole Roaring Brook team. And of course, I'm grateful to my incredible agent Emily Mitchell for making this happen. Official announcement below, and more details soon...
Henry is the reason I'm here.
Online. Writing a post on my own author website. Basking in the warmth, wonder and wisdom of this wonderful kidlit community which I'm blessed to have recently joined. Henry was the inspiration for it all.
But he's not a child, or a favorite teacher, or a fictional character from some beloved book that shaped my childhood.
Henry was a hedgehog.
I say "was" because—spoiler alert—he died over a year ago. He lived with us for almost four years, a good old age for hedgehogs. My wife and I wanted a pet after we got married, but we didn't think we had sufficient space for a dog or cat. (Mind you, we're still in the same apartment, but now with two kids. Turns out space is what you make of it!) So we opted for a hedgehog because:
Easily one of the best decisions we ever made. Henry joined our family and stole our hearts, and I developed a penchant for showing pictures of him to everybody I knew. One day at work, a colleague approached me and suggested that Henry could star in his own picture book. She should know—she illustrates children's books on the side!
Her words got me thinking. I write for young students every day at my job, but the idea of writing children's books never once crossed my mind. And yet, the timing was right for a creative epiphany. Children's literature had recently stormed back into my life, thanks to a precocious toddler at home who loves being read to.
Toddler. Illustrator. Hedgehog. A perfect storm of inspiration.
So I decided to give it a try. That very week, I wrote my first picture book manuscript, starring Henry. The illustrator even worked up some sketches. That story never progressed further, but it reignited my passion for children's books and set me on the path to where I am now.
Everything that followed that initial spark—dozens of manuscripts; countless queries; signing with a dream agent; having my work considered by editors and publishers I adore and admire—can be traced back to our spiky friend.
So thank you, Henry. I hope to see you again someday, perhaps in the pages of a book that will inspire more than just its author.