THE HUNGER HEROES: MISSED MEAL MAYHEM Lands on the Sunshine State Young Readers Award Jr. List!

In case you missed my shouting and celebrating about it on social media, I thought I’d share it here: The Hunger Heroes: Missed Meal Mayhem recently landed on the Sunshine State Young Readers Award Jr. list — and in some absolutely incredible company!

The Sunshine State Young Readers Award (SSYRA) program is run by the Florida Association for Media in Education (FAME). Every year, committees made up of Florida’s most passionate, hard-working school librarians and media specialists read hundreds of kids’ books and put together three lists: one for Grades 6-8, one for Grades 3-5, and one for all lower grades (that’s where the “Jr.” of SSYRA Jr. comes in). These lists are used across the state, in every county and pretty much every single school, to organize the following school year’s reading. Every school is going to do things a little differently, bringing their own creativity to how the books are explored and used, but when one of your books makes the list, you can be sure that you’re in store for several months of being flooded with tweets and emails about the incredible things librarians and kids are doing with your work.

I can say all this with such confidence because — it still feels a little surreal to say this — this is my THIRD time on the SSYRA lists. My first book, EngiNerds, was on the Grades 3-5 list a few years back, and just last year, the first book in my Geeger the Robot early chapter book series, Geeger the Robot Goes to School, was on the SSYRA Jr. list. Thanks to being on the list, I have made over a dozen trips to Florida in recent years, and have been lucky enough to meet and work with thousands and thousands of young Florida readers. I’m beyond thrilled that, with the first graphic novel chapter book in my Hunger Heroes series being on the list, I’ll get to meet and work with even more.

And I’ve said it before, and I’ll surely say it tons more in the future: but there is something special about the Florida literacy community, and about the librarians and media specialists that are the heart of it. They make a BIG DEAL about books, and not only because they’re book-lovers themselves, but because they understand what making a BIG DEAL about books can do for the kids they serve — that that’s a big part of helping turn them into book-lovers as well. Another thing: baked into the SSYRA program, evidenced every day all over the state in the way that schools and librarians are using the books on the lists, is the idea that books are, and can most powerfully be used, as launchpads. (If you’ve ever heard me present, you’ve definitely heard me say this before.) That books aren’t just there to be read — but to also serve as springboards, as sources of inspiration and motivation, as tools to propel their readers back into their worlds and lives with something they didn’t have before. Teaching kids this, showing them how this works and how it can be done — this is, I believe, one of the best ways to turn them into book-lovers and lifelong readers, and is one of the best things we can do in our work to prepare them for their futures. It’s also one of the core principles and guiding missions of my work.

All of which is to say: I’m overjoyed and honored, and so looking forward to another year working with Florida librarians, media specialists, educators, administrators, booksellers, parents, and — most importantly, as always — KIDS. Thank you, thank you, thank you to the SSYRA Jr. committee. Now, let’s get to work.

~ Jarrett

Learn more about the SSYRA program and FAME here.

THE HUNGER HEROES: MISSED MEAL MAYHEM Nominated for an OTTER Award!

You might’ve already seen this on my social media feeds, but just in case you haven’t, I’m thrilled to share here that…

The Hunger Heroes: Missed Meal Mayhem was nominated for a Washington State OTTER Award!

Here’s the official announcement:

While EVERY award nomination is a huge honor, this one is especially meaningful because of the specifics of the award and how the nominee list is formed.

First of all, the OTTER Award focuses on books in a unique and, I believe, important and often under-appreciated space, one where young readers often get “lost.” This is what’s commonly called the “transitional” space — the area between picture books and beginning readers and longer, more complex chapter books. While this is beginning to change now, for too long there just haven’t been enough high quality, high interest books in this transitional space. And it’s in this space that kids are often asked to — and usually want to — begin reading independently. That “loss” I mentioned comes about because the leap from picture books and beginning readers to longer, more complex chapter books is a big one. Lots of kids — if not MOST kids — would be far better served by some sort of “bridge,” or at least a handful of “stepping stones” along the way to more easily traverse that gap. THIS is where the “transitional” books come in. It’s a space I love dearly, a space I am passionate about, and maybe because of all that, it’s also a space I find a lot of my work naturally fitting in.

The other amazing thing about the OTTER Award? It’s based, in large part, on kid approval. Here it is, verbatim, from the Washington Library Association’s website:

By focusing this award list on books kids like, not books adults think kids should like, more children across the state will be reading and talking about literature. Nominees will be vetted by child readers so that all titles have a kid stamp of approval.

I mean, COME ON. Is there anything better? For years, every chance I get, I’ve been saying that we need to make kids a part of the decision-making processes behind the creation and curation of their books, and I’ve done all that I can to make that happen. After all, these books that we’re making and sharing and working so hard to get into their hands are FOR them. Any endeavor that doesn’t, at the very least, take them into consideration is inherently flawed. But the fact that the Washington librarians who created and serve on the committee for the OTTER Award include kids to this extent shows just how awesome they are. They really, truly GET it.

And it’s why, as I said before, this honor is an especially meaningful one. Not only has this group of librarians singled out my book as an exemplary one, it’s also been given that official “kid stamp of approval.” So, thank you to the committee members for considering and honoring my book in this way, and THANK YOU to the kids who considered it, too, and gave it their stamp of approval, pushing it over the finish line and getting it this nomination.

Check out the other OTTER Award nominees below — all of which are EXCELLENT — and visit the Washington Library Association’s OTTER Award page HERE.

~ Jarrett

Get to Know… Isabel Roxas!

. . .

A note from Jarrett:

What an honor to have Isabel — and some of her wonderful artwork! — here on my blog. Another honor: Isabel has asked me to reveal the cover of her next book, The Last Dodo, the second book in her The Adventures of Team Pom series of graphic novels. If you have yet to check out the first graphic novel in the series, Squid Happens, hurry up and get yourself a copy! It is a super quirky, wholly unique, downright delightful and exciting story with page after page of Isabel’s extraordinary artwork. And so, now, without further ado, here it is — the cover of Isabel Roxas’s The Adventures of Team Pom: The Last Dodo!

The Last Dodo hits shelves on October 4th, but you can — and should! — preorder it now wherever books are sold.

The Hunger Heroes and the Maryland Blue Crab Young Reader Award!

A few days ago, I learned that my graphic novel chapter book, The Hunger Heroes: Missed Meal Mayhem, had been given a Maryland Blue Crab Young Reader Award Honor. Like similar awards across the country, the committee behind this one is made up of a group of thoughtful, talented, and passionate librarians — which makes this honor all the more remarkable and exciting for me. These are professionals who know what kinds of books kids — the kids of our world, TODAY — both want and need.

Missed Meal Mayhem was singled out for its excellence as a “transitional” book, meaning it’s uniquely equipped to help grow young readers, boosting their confidence and increasing their abilities as they eagerly turn the pages. These readers are precisely who I had in mind when I created this series of books. The Hunger Heroes series’ unique format — which carefully includes occasional blocks of text within a larger, more traditional graphic novel — was designed to reach these readers and do exactly what these Maryland librarians have said the book has done and is doing with their readers. As a book-maker, there’s not much better than getting this sort of affirmation. The only thing better, in fact, is hearing directly from kids about how much they enjoy your work, and learning that what you hoped your work would do for them has done that and then some.

Click HERE to learn more about the Maryland Blue Crab Young Reader Award and the books on their lists, both past and present.

Click HERE to learn more about The Hunger Heroes series and the creation of The Hunger Heroes: Missed Meal Mayhem in particular.

And once more: THANK YOU to the Maryland librarians for considering my book and giving it this awesome honor!

~ Jarrett

2 Books on 2/22/22!

Today, February 22nd 2022 (2/22/22!), I have TWO books out. I know, I know — insert mind-blown emoji here. But anyway, the two books are: the paperback edition of The EngiNerds Strike Back (the third Middle Grade novel in my EngiNerds series, originally released in hardcover on February 2nd, 2021) and the paperback edition of Geeger the Robot: Party Pal (the fourth early chapter book in my Geeger the Robot series, originally released in hardcover on February 1st, 2022).

While the hardcover versions of these books have been available for one year and three weeks, respectively, these paperback releases are well worth celebrating. Why? Because paperbacks are cheaper! MUCH cheaper! This means the books will now end up in the hands of even more kids — which, of course, is the goal.

Look for the paperback versions of The EngiNerds Strike Back and Geeger the Robot: Party Pal at your local independent bookstore or the online retailer of your choice. As always, if you order copies of the books from my local indie, Porter Square Books, I’ll sign and, if you wish, personalize the books before the fine folks at Porter send them your way. (Click HERE to head to my page at PSB.) Also as always — and as goes not only for my books, but for any other creators’ traditionally published books — if you can’t find the books on the shelf, ask your bookseller! That’s what they’re there for. They can easily, and happily, get the books in, and by having them do so, you are supporting creators in a big way.

Thanks!

~ Jarrett

Draw the Author Contest: Part 2!

If you’ve read any of my Geeger the Robot early chapter books, you’ve probably noticed something interesting about my author portraits at the back of the books (or, if you’ve got the hardcover versions, on the back flap of the jacket): none of them were drawn by me! All of them were drawn by kids — by the winners, specifically, of my Draw the Author Contest. (You can learn more about the contest, and see the winners’ drawings, here and here.)

When I held that contest, I only knew there were going to be four Geeger books. But not long after the first book came out, I learned that my publisher was extending the series to at least six books. Do you see what I’m getting at? I need some more author portraits! And I’d love for them to be done by kids, so that two more kids out there in the world can go from being illustrators (because if they’re drawing, they’re already that) to published illustrators.

And so, without further ado, I hereby announce and open submissions for . . .

See below for the official announcement, instructions, reference photos, and all the legal stuff I’m required to include. Happy drawing!

~ Jarrett

. . .

CALLING ALL YOUNG ARTISTS BETWEEN THE AGES OF 5 AND 12! If you would like to enter this Draw the Author contest for a chance to have your artwork appear in Jarrett Lerner’s upcoming Geeger the Robot books, first talk to your parent or legal guardian to make sure you have their approval, then take a look at the reference pictures of me, make your portrait, and follow the submission directions below!

Please note: Submissions will be open until midnight (Eastern Standard Time) on April 30th, 2022.

RERERENCE PHOTOS:

SUBMISSION DIRECTIONS:

First, please read the Official Information and Rules below. Then, once you have completed your portrait, follow these steps:

(1) copy and paste the Submission Form (below, in bold) into a blank email

(2) fill out ALL of the requested information

(3) attach your portrait of Jarrett Lerner to the email (if possible, please save the image as a .jpg or .pdf file)

and

(4) send the email to DrawTheAuthorContest@gmail.com

SUBMISSION FORM

Name of Artist:

Age of Artist:

School Grade of Artist:

Location of Artist (State, or Town/City and State):

Name of Artist’s Parent or Legal Guardian:

Email address of Artist’s Parent or Legal Guardian:

Additional Comments (optional):

By submitting this information and artwork, we, the above-named Artist and the above-named Artist’s parent or legal guardian, acknowledge that we have read and understand this Contest’s Official Rules.

(IMPORTANT: Please make sure to include the acknowledgement statement above in your submission!)

OFFICIAL RULES AND INFORMATION:

CONTEST

Jarrett Lerner (the “Author”) needs new author portraits for his upcoming Geeger the Robot books (published by Simon & Schuster/Aladdin). Rather than create the portraits himself, Jarrett would like to give young artists the opportunity to have their artwork (and name) published in the books. Please read all of the information below to find out more about the contest.

THE PRIZE

One (1) winner will have their portrait of the author published in Geeger the Robot Book 5 and one (1) winner will have their portrait of the author published in Geeger the Robot Book 6.

HOW THE WINNER WILL BE CHOSEN (CRITERIA)

All entries will be judged by Jarrett Lerner (the “Author”) according to the following criteria:

40% — likeness to author
35% — originality
25% — artistic merit

HOW TO ENTER THE CONTEST

To enter the Contest, follow these steps: (1) copy and paste the Submission Form that is shared above the Official Information and Rules into a blank email, (2) fill out ALL of the requested information, (3) attach your portrait of Jarrett Lerner to the email, and (4) send the email to DrawTheAuthorContest@gmail.com. Art can be done with any materials the artist wishes/prefers to use (pencil, pen, marker, crayon, paint, collage, digital methods, etc.). Art can be any size, but please note that the Contest Winner’s portrait will need to be scaled down to fit into the book.

IMPORTANT: Please read these rules (the “Official Rules”) before entering this contest (the “Contest”). Participation in the Contest constitutes entrant’s full and unconditional agreement and acceptance of these Official Rules and the decisions of the contest sponsor (the “Author”), which are final and binding. Winning the prize is contingent upon being compliant with these Official Rules and fulfilling all other requirements set forth herein. NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT OF ANY KIND IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN THIS CONTEST.

OFFICIAL RULES

The Contest is open to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia who are between the ages of five (5) and twelve (12) at the time of entry and who have approval of their parent or legal guardian. The Contest is subject to federal, state, and local laws and regulations. Participation in the Contest constitutes entrant’s full and unconditional agreement and acceptance of these Official Rules and the decisions of the Author, which are final and binding. Winning the prize is contingent upon being compliant with these Official Rules and fulfilling all other requirements set forth herein.

The Contest begins on Friday, February 4, 2020 at 7:30 am Eastern Standard Time and ends on Saturday, April 30 at 11:59 pm Eastern Standard Time (the “Contest Period”). Submissions that are made before or after the Contest Period will be disqualified. Only those submissions made by the proper method and completed in full will be eligible for consideration for the duration of the Contest Period. Author will not be responsible for and will not consider incomplete or incorrect submissions. Author is not responsible for submissions that are sent to but not received by Author for any reason.

The Contest Winner and their Parent or Legal Guardian will be notified by email using the email address provided to Author when they initially entered the contest. If the Contest Winner and their Parent or Legal Guardian do not respond to the notification within five (5) business days, another winner will be chosen. Failure to respond within the time frame listed above shall mean that the provisional winner forfeits the prize.

Only one submission per artist will be considered for contest entry.

By making a submission to Author, you represent and warrant that the submission is the sole and exclusive work of the named Artist. By making a submission to Author, you also represent and warrant that the submission does not infringe on any copyright, trademark, property rights, rights of privacy or publicity of any person, or any other right of any third party and that you have the full and unrestricted right to transfer the artwork to Author free and clear of any claims or encumbrances. You also acknowledge and agree that Author shall have no obligation to post, display, or otherwise make publicly available any artwork that you submit.

Contest Winner and their Parent or Legal Guardian may not request substitutions of prize winnings.

Neither Author nor their officers, directors, employees, agents, successors, or assigns shall be liable for any warranty, costs, damage, injury, or any other claims incurred as a result of any submission. Author is not liable for any loss arising out of or in connection with any submission. Entrants assume all liability for and risk of any injury or damage caused, or claimed to be caused, by participation in Contest or use or redemption of prize.

If the specified prize becomes unavailable for any reason, Author in their sole and absolute discretion may substitute a prize.

Contest is null and void in any jurisdiction where it is prohibited by law.

Author reserves the right in their sole and absolute discretion to terminate Contest at any time without prior notice.

Author reserves the right in their sole and absolute discretion to alter Contest rules at any time.

By entering this Contest, you conclusively are deemed to have agreed to be bound by these contest rules and terms and conditions. This is an irrevocable condition of entry.

Contest Winner will be chosen by Author on the merits of their entry, in Author’s sole and absolute discretion (see CRITERIA above for more information).

No purchase or payment of any consideration is necessary to enter the Contest.

Author reserves the right to condition the award of prize upon the execution by the Contest Winner and their Parent or Legal Guardian of a publicity release.

Author reserves the right to require the Contest Winner and their Parent or Legal Guardian to execute an affidavit of eligibility as a sworn document and provide other proof of eligibility as a condition of receipt of the prize or award.

GEEGER THE ROBOT: PARTY PAL pub day!

Today, the first day of the month of February in the year 2022, my next book — my TENTH book — is officially out in the world. And it seems appropriate that I’ve reached this milestone with this book in particular. It’s Geeger the Robot: Party Pal, after all. It’s a book about CELEBRATION.

But it’s not just me who needs to be celebrated today. We also need to celebrate Ariah Lowell, one of the winners of my Draw the Author contest, whose brilliant portrait of me appears in Geeger the Robot: Party Pal. Today, Ariah is officially a published illustrator! (Click here and/or here to learn more about the contest — and keep your eyes peeled for an exciting, related announcement coming in the next day or two!)

If you preordered the hardcover version of Geeger the Robot: Party Pal, you should be getting your copy today. Starting today, you’ll also be able to find the hardcover version of the book wherever books are sold. The paperback version, however, is slightly late to the party. Three weeks late, to be exact — which, in the publishing world, really is only a slight delay. If you preordered a copy of Party Pal, you can expect it on February 22nd. And starting that day, you’ll also be able to find the paperback version wherever books are sold. See below to learn a bit more about this fourth book in the Geeger the Robot series. And to learn more about the other books in the series, head to the Geeger the Robot page of this website (or click here).

Thank you to everyone who has supported this series of mine — and who has supported me and my work in general. You have helped get me here, to my tenth published book, and I am enormously grateful. Now, here’s the next ten!

~ Jarrett

. . .

In this fourth book in the Geeger the Robot series, we find Geeger on his way to a birthday party. And not just any birthday party. It’s a birthday party for his best friend, Tillie! But Geeger has never been to a birthday party before. And he’s a bit confused about why all the other guests have brought these boxes with them, each one wrapped in shiny, fancily designed paper. What are they? Was Geeger supposed to bring one, too? When Geeger realizes he’s made a mistake, his excitement about the party sours. Can he figure out what to give Tillie before she realizes he showed up empty-handed? Find out in Geeger the Robot: Party Pal, available wherever books are sold!

THE HUNGER HEROES: SNACK CABINET SABOTAGE Cover Reveal!

It’s been a busy week for a certain group of superheroic ingredients…

I’m talking about the Hunger Heroes, of course!

Not only did their first book, Missed Meal Mayhem, come out, but I also revealed the cover of their second adventure, Snack Cabinet Sabotage. In case you missed it, here it is!

Snack Cabinet Sabotage will soar onto shelves next summer — on August 23rd, 2022, to be specific — but is available for preorder now wherever books are sold.

Thanks to everyone who has celebrated the (long-awaited, I know…) launch of this new series of mine. It’s been amazing to see reviews coming in, and to start receiving fan art of Mr. Toots, Chip Ninja, Tammy, and Leonard from kids. I’m so glad these characters and stories that have been cooped up in my imagination for so long are now out there in the world, filling the imaginations of my readers.

~ Jarrett

THE HUNGER HEROES: MISSED MEAL MAYHEM is here!!!

Today’s the day!

At long last, The Hunger Heroes: Missed Meal Mayhem, the first book in my new graphic novel chapter book series, is OUT! If you preordered the book and have yet to get your copies, they should be arriving soon. And you can now found the book everywhere and anywhere books are sold! (And as always, if you don’t see it on the shelf at your local independent bookstore or library, ask a bookseller or librarian to get a copy for you!)

I can’t wait for kids to FINALLY get to meet Mr. Toots, Chip Ninja, Tammy, and Leonard. I hope they enjoy the crew’s first adventure, and that they’re left wanting more! And if that’s the case, they won’t have to wait too long. I just wrapped up work on the second book in the The Hunger Heroes series. That book, The Hunger Heroes: Snack Cabinet Sabotage, will be released on August 23rd, 2022 — but I’ll actually be revealing the cover for it soon!

And just in case you haven’t checked it out yet, make sure to head over to the page here at my website that is dedicated to all things The Hunger Heroes. (Click HERE to get there now, or find it in the Menu bar up top!) There you can find lots more information about the Hunger Heroes, their books, and a bunch of behind-the-scenes stuff about the creation of their world and Missed Meal Mayhem, their first adventure. I hope the insights and information shared there are interesting and encouraging for all the kids out there who love making characters and comics of their own.

A huge THANK YOU to everyone who has already supported this book/series of mine. I’m grateful — and glad that it’s finally out in the world!

~ Jarrett

Get to Know… Katherine Battersby!

My name is… Katherine Battersby. If you put my first and last name over the top of each other you’ll notice that four of the letters are exactly the same. Which can make signing books tricky as sometimes I forget which name I’m writing and end up signing ‘Kathersby’. It’s extremely embarrassing to misspell your own name.

I am a… mischief maker, a wanderer, a carefully planned adventurer, a lover of travel and tea and stories in all their forms. I am also an author and illustrator. I’ve always loved books and honestly I feel like the luckiest person in the world that I now get to make them for a living.

As a kid, I was… small. Yes, I was physically small, but I also felt small. I recall vividly what it was like to feel small in a big world. Writing and drawing has always been my way of trying to make sense of this. Even as an adult, I still feel small sometimes – all of my books explore this experience in some way or another. Cranky Chicken, for all her crankiness, ultimately feels a bit lost and alone. Luckily she has a cheerful worm to help balance things out (I would recommend everyone find a cheerful worm).

Writing is… joy. Not always — sometimes it’s just hard work. But it’s the joy that keeps me coming back. Creating something from nothing makes me feel a bit like a magician and when you get it just right it really is magic. Writing has always been my little sanctuary — a place to hide out when the world gets too much.

Drawing is… harder than writing. For me, anyway! As an illustrator I wear a lot of different hats. Some days I’m a costume designer, creating entire wardrobes for my characters to wear. Some days I’m a counsellor, figuring out what all my characters are feeling (and why). Some days I’m a set designer, creating furniture and rugs and living spaces. I even have to be an architect, designing homes and cities and entire worlds. I don’t always feel clever enough to do what I do, but I love to learn and this job is all about learning.

Reading is… escape. I love visiting other worlds and getting to experience lives and characters and events that I never could have otherwise. But when I say escape, I don’t mean an escape from the big things that happen in life. When I read I want to be moved. I want to be challenged. I tend to seek out books that ask something of me.

Books are… a mirror. Anyone can pick up the right book and feel seen and heard and understood. Or at least they should be able to. This is why it’s so important to have diverse books from diverse creators. Every child (and person) deserves the chance to see themselves in a book.

Did you know… that chickens are terrifying? It’s true. They have sharp beaks and beady little eyes and they’re unpredictable. I was chased by many chickens in my childhood. This is where the idea for Cranky Chicken came from. Although as I was making the book I realised I can relate to the cranky worldview more than I care to admit…

You can find me… anywhere there’s water. I grew up overlooking the ocean and have always been drawn to the sound of running water. I don’t live near the ocean anymore but I seek out the river everyday. If you can’t find me there, try here:

Website: https://katherinebattersby.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KatherineBattersbyAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KathBatt

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/katherinebattersby/