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.
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.
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.
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!
. . .
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.
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)
(4) send the email to DrawTheAuthorContest@gmail.com
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
My publisher calls the books in my Hunger Heroes series “graphic novel chapter books.” As I start to share more about the first book in the series, Missed Meal Mayhem (out 10/26), I thought it’d be useful to explain this terminology.
The stories told in the Hunger Heroes books are the size/scope of many early chapter books – comparable, for instance, to the books in my Geeger the Robot series. Missed Meal Mayhem contains 8 chapters (well, actually 8 and one half…).
While the stories are told almost entirely in comic format, you will find occasional blocks of text in the books. These are never longer than one whole page, and often contain both narration and dialogue (this is done on purpose!).
Our hope, of course, is that these books are enjoyed by all readers. But the book was also designed and formatted to hopefully serve as a “bridge” for a variety of readers…
For those kids who aren’t as comfortable reading blocks of text, we hope the careful integration of them into this graphic novel helps build their confidence and stamina, maybe opening them up to stories that rely more heavily on text.
For those kids who are just learning the language of comics, or who find the abundance of verbal AND visual information/stimulation in graphic novels overwhelming, we hope the bits of text offer moments to pause and catch their breath.
We also hope that these occasional juxtapositions of text and comic shine a light on the unique abilities and benefits of both verbal and visual storytelling, and also make plain how their different vocabularies appear on the page.
I hope, too, that the combination reminds all young creators that they don’t have to pick one or the other form – that they can express the stories they have inside them using words, pictures, comics, or a combination of that and more.
Once again: the first book in the Hunger Heroes series, Missed Meal Mayhem, is out October 26th, but is available for preorder NOW wherever books are sold! And thanks to all who preorder – it really is a great help to creators!
My second activity book, Give This Book a Cover, is officially here!
Thanks to everyone who has used and shared my activities — it’s in large part thanks to YOU that these activity books (which I’ve been wanting to make for years and years!) are a reality. Now, I hope they help turn tons of kids into more confident, capable creative forces!
And just a reminder: if you want signed copies of Give This Book a Cover, or ANY of my books, you can always order from my local independent bookstore, Porter Square Books. Click HERE to check out all my books at their site!
At 10 o’clock yesterday morning, I learned that Geeger the Robot Goes to School had been included on this year’s Sunshine State Young Readers Award Jr. list. What does that mean? It means that kindergarteners, first-graders, and second-graders all across the state of Florida will be reading Geeger the Robot Goes to School this coming year, along with the 14 other book that were named to the SSYRA Jr. list. Then, in April, all those kids — tens of thousands! — will vote to decide which book is their favorite. The book with the most votes gets the award.
Two years ago,another one of my books — EngiNerds — was on the SSYRA list (not the Jr. list, but the one for third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders). I was honored, of course, and excited — but I had no idea what to expect. I had no idea just how creative, energetic, and enthusiastic Florida librarians, educators, and KIDS are — and especially when it comes to BOOKS. Because of EngiNerds‘s inclusion on the list, I met hundreds of educators and librarians and connected with thousands of kids that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise met and connected with. Getting a book on an SSYRA list is kind of like getting invited to a year-long party — and everyone at the party is a big ol’l BOOK NERD.
Here are the other books keeping Geeger company on the the SSYRA Jr. list.
I’ve read — and loved! — about half of these other books, and being on the list along with them makes the honor all the more awesome. I plan to read the rest over the course of the year (or, you know, maybe just over the course of this weekend…). But anyway, I can’t recommend them enough. And I can’t recommend enough that you check out the SSYRA lists for Grades 3-5 and Grades 6-8. The committees put together some truly exceptional lists. (You can find those lists, plus past ones, and learn more about SSYRA in general by clicking HERE. More info about SSYRA Jr. can be found HERE.)
Thank you to the SSYRA Jr. committee for including Geeger the Robot Goes to School on this year’s list, and thank you to the Florida Association for Media in Education (FAME) for all the work they do to create such a robust and joyful culture of reading in their state and its schools. Let the party begin!
Today is the last Saturday in April, and that means today is Independent Bookstore Day — a day where the book world comes together to celebrate and support independent bookstores and all the ways in which they contribute to their communities and the book industry as a whole. To help celebrate the day, and to send a bunch of support toward a bunch of different indies, I’m doing a giveaway:
That’s right — if you purchase or preorder ANY of my books from ANY indie this weekend, you can be entered to win one of three $100 gift certificates to the independent bookstore of your choice. All you have to do is send proof of purchase and/or preorder to JarrettLernerBooks@gmail.com. And I say “and/or” because if you get multiple books of mine, you will be entered into the giveaway multiple times.
Don’t have a local indie? Consider ordering from mine, Porter Square Books. Bonus: if you get any of my books from Porter, I’ll go sign them! Click HERE to check out my page at Porter Square Books.
If you decide to enter this giveaway, let me say THANK YOU for the support — not just of me, but also of independent bookstores. Independent bookstores enrich their communities in countless ways, and are a vital part of the book world. Without them, we’d all be worse off. If you value them, make sure you show them, however you are able and whenever you are able — not just today, but as much as possible throughout the year.
Yesterday, I finally got the go-ahead to share the cover of the first graphic novel in my Hunger Heroes series! In case you missed it on social media, here you go:
If you’ve been following me for a while, then you’ve been hearing about this book for YEARS. It all started as a doodle dashed-off on some hotel stationary between sessions at a conference, and has gone through an enormous amount of development since then. I’m incredibly pleased with and proud of how it all turned out, and am excited to share more about the Heroes and their first adventure with you all in the lead-up to the book’s release this September!
Today’s the release day for the second book in my Geeger the Robot series of early chapter books! I hope this somewhat silly take on the serious subject of self-doubt brings readers joy, delight, confidence, comfort, and hope.
Thanks to everyone who has supported this series so far. The books are a total blast to create, and I’m very proud of how they’re turning out. I’m excited to share more about the next books in the Geeger the Robot series soon!
In case you missed the announcement on social media, I’ve launched a brand-new online project!
Every Friday morning, I’ll post a creative activity or challenge on my social media platforms: Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Responses to the activity or challenge can be submitted as replies to the post itself. (They must be, in fact — I will not read or consider responses submitted by other means.) I will read and consider the properly submitted responses as they come in, and will continue to do so for each activity or challenge until I’ve posted the following week’s activity or challenge. And once I’ve done that, I’ll select and announce the previous week’s winner (or winners, if I decide that more than one response is win-worthy!). The winner will receive a signed copy of my first activity book, Give This Book a Title.
Also, please note: there are no age limits or requirements for entry. Kids can enter. Grown-ups can enter. Parents can enter on behalf of their kids. Educators can enter on behalf of their students. And, yeah, I suppose even kids and students can enter on behalf of their parents and educators!
The first activity or challenge will be posted this morning, in less than an hour’s time! So keep an eye out, or come find me on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook to participate. I hope this project proves fun, and that it helps reveal the creativity within every one of us and encourages people to more often share that creativity with the world.