Since I began sharing more and more of my activity sheets a couple weeks ago, I’ve gotten hundreds of notes from kids and parents all over the world — from every continent, actually, except Antarctica (I guess penguins aren’t into making comics…). Most of these notes are to share finished activities and completed comics, all of which have been consistently blowing me away and making me very, very excited about all the books and graphic novels these kids are going to create someday, and that I’ll get to read!
Some of the notes also contained special requests — such as the one from the girl who said she desperately needed more cat comics to finish (I made another batch of them as quickly as I could!). Many of the notes included questions, too. Several of these questions were about the hand-lettering I do throughout the activity sheets. Kids wanted to know how I did it, and how they can learn to do it, too.
To satisfy these curious minds — and to hopefully get a whole bunch of kids hand-lettering like crazy! — I drew up a couple sheets of tips and techniques.
To download printable, sharable versions of these sheets, click HERE and HERE. I hope they are useful!
In the past couple weeks, the world has been turned upside down. The coronavirus pandemic has ground pretty much all our lives to a halt. As of this morning, a third of the population of the United States was told to stay in their homes and only leave in the case of an emergency, and the same is true for countries and communities all over the world. The schooling of hundreds of millions of children was put on hold, and is now being conducted virtually or being done by parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, siblings, or neighbors.
Thinking about those kids — especially those who may not have access to the sorts of resources that their schools, teachers, and librarians would usually provide them with — I ramped up production of my free activity sheets. I’ve been posting a brand new batch of them every morning for the past week or so, and plan to continue doing so for as long as I can. You can find all those sheets be clicking the ACTIVITIES tab up in the menu bar, or by clicking here.
And now, starting Monday, I will be doing something else — something to help out any kids who want or need access to more reading materials. I will be releasing one of my unpublished novels, Knights of the Kids’ Table. I plan to post a few chapters every Monday and Thursday morning, and then archive the posts on a new page at this site (you’ll be able to find a link to that page up in the menu bar as soon as it’s ready). It’ll probably take a couple months to get the end of the book.
If you’ve read EngiNerds or Revenge of the EngiNerds, you might recognize the drawing to the left. It’s my “author photo” — a self-portrait I did several years ago. I’d been planning to do a new drawing of myself for the author photo of my new Geeger the Robot series, but before I even got around to sit down and do it, I got an idea… Why not have a kid do the drawing? Why not hold a little contest and give one young artist the chance to have their work and name published in a “real” book?
Kids are always giving and sending me their drawings and comics, and I love being able to give them feedback, praise, support, and encouragement — it’s one of the coolest parts of being a creator of books for kids. As a kid, I would’ve LOVED to be able to share my drawings and comics with my favorite creators. And to have had an opportunity to maybe even get my work in one of their books?! The mere possibility would’ve blown my mind. I’m hoping that this contest, in addition to giving one kid an exciting prize, will fire up all the other kids who enter, and, further, help show them that their creative lives are valued by the creators who are making books for them.
And so, I am hereby 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 book, Geeger the Robot Goes To School, 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!
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 a new author portrait for his upcoming book, Geeger the Robot Goes to School (publishing August 25, 2020, from Simon & Schuster/Aladdin Quix). Rather than create the portrait himself, Jarrett would like to give one young artist the opportunity to have their artwork (and name) published in the book. 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 Goes to School.
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 Tuesday, February 25, 2020 at 7:00 am Eastern Standard Time and ends on Tuesday, March 17 at 7:00 am 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.
Today is World Read Aloud Day, a day in which we are encouraged to celebrate the benefits and joys of reading aloud to one another. I spent the day reading with kids all over the country (thanks to the magic of Google Hangouts and Skype!). This morning, before things got underway, I created this comic about just SOME of the benefits of reading aloud to kids.
You can neither be too young nor too old to benefit from (and enjoy!) being read to. It has been shown that infants just days old can benefit from being read to, and surely you know plenty of adults who enjoy (or are maybe even OBSESSED with) audiobooks. And those doing the reading aloud benefit too. For instance, it has been shown that kids can gain reading confidence and improve their skills even by reading to their dogs and cats! (Go on social media and search the hashtags #ReadToYourDogman and #ReadToYourCatkid, launched by the wonderful Dav Pilkey, to learn some more about this and see some heartwarming photos.)
How are you celebrating World Read Aloud Day? I hope it’s by reading and/or being read to!
Last week, a third-grade teacher in a Spanish immersion school asked me if I’d ever consider making a Spanish language version of my Kids Need Books of all Kinds art. I thought it was a fantastic idea, and as soon as she assured me I had the right translation (!), I whipped it up.
(And, by the way, you can now download a free, print-ready copy of that art here.)
Not long after I put the new art up on social media, people started asking whether they’d be a new, Spanish edition sale of T-shirts, too. I said that if there was sufficient interest, I’d work with Custom Ink to set up a new, Spanish edition fundraiser (Custom Ink requires a certain number of sales before shirts can print, so I needed to make sure). Well, the interest was more than sufficient. And so, here you go!
The #KidsNeedBooks of all Kinds Spanish Edition T-shirt is now available! You can order it here. Thank you, thank you — a billion times over — to all who have shared and supported these efforts of mine. Together, we have raised over $23,000 to help eradicate book deserts and help get books into the hands of kids who need them most.
Once again, Kristen Picone, Kristin Crouch, and I spent a chunk of our summer poring over spreadsheets and playing matchmaker for hundreds of educators, librarians, authors, and illustrators for the second installment of the #KidsNeedMentors program. It was A LOT of work, and we’re not even quite done yet. But I think it’s safe to say I speak for Kristen and Kristin when I say that this is some of the most rewarding work we do. Getting to see the outcome of these partnerships — all the amazing, creative work they do together to benefit the kids — is tremendously satisfying, uplifting, and inspiring. If you want to see some of that stuff for yourself, I suggest you head over to Twitter or Instagram and search the #KidsNeedMentors hashtag. If you scroll back in time, you can see some of the awesomeness that occurred during last school year.
I’ll be sharing more about the program and the wonderful participants throughout the year, but now, at the outset, I’d like to highlight a couple of cool things:
— Last year, our creator list was mostly filled with authors from the United States. This year, we’ve got a whole bunch of illustrators, author-illustrators, comic book-markers, and graphic novelists. We also have lots of creators from Canada, and others who are in Australia, the Netherlands, Germany, South Korea, Austria, the Philippines, and the UK. We’ve also got educators and librarians in Zambia and Cambodia!
— My pairing for this year is Ms. Tilden’s 4th grade class at Brown School in Natick, Massachusetts. Now, the town of Natick is right next to Wayland — and that’s where I grew up. It’s where I made my very first comic books and wrote my very first short stories. It’s where I fell in love with books and reading. Meaning that, when I go to visit Ms. Tilden’s students, we’ll all be just a handful of miles from where, when I was their age, I was first beginning to dream of doing what I’m doing now. Pretty cool.
If you want to learn more about the #KidsNeedMentors program, click here for a blog post I did about it at the start of last year, and click here for an interview I did about it over on the From the Mixed Up Files of Middle Grade Authors blog. Also, once again, you can always search the hashtag!
You asked for it, so here it is: another chance to get a #KidsNeedBooks of All Kinds shirt. And look — new colors!
The original fundraiser only lasted two weeks, and many people either missed the deadline or couldn’t make a purchase during that time. Many people also expressed an interest in having some other color options. So, I worked with CustomInk to (a) re-launch a second, longer fundraiser and (b) add some new color options to the mix! As you can see below (and also on the fundraising page itself), there is now a black with white ink option, a military green option, a light pink with dark pink ink option, and an orange with white ink option.
The landing page for the fundraiser is the same as last time — you can click here to access it. One thing, however, that is a little bit different about this fundraiser: instead of all the funds going directly to First Book, a portion will go to them and a portion will be reserved for book donations to other school in need that do not qualify for First Book.
Once again, a big, huge, gigantic THANK YOU to everyone who has supported and/or shared the last fundraiser, and a big, huge, gigantic THANK YOU in advance to everyone who supports and/or shares this one. I am excited to learn more from First Book about exactly where the funds raised last round are going, and am excited to put whatever is raised this round toward getting more books into the hands of kids.
Oh! And if you already have a shirt (lots of people got theirs today!), don’t forget to post a #ShowMeYourShirt pic to enter to win some signed books and custom artwork!
If you purchased one of my #KidsNeedBooks of All Kinds T-shirts, then you might’ve received an email from CustomInk earlier this morning letting you know that your shirt has shipped and is on its way to you (if you did not receive the email, you should within a couple days)! Hopefully you’re excited, because I’m excited, and FirstBook is excited too. They are so excited, in fact, they want to see you in your shirt! They asked me to help launch a #ShowMeYourShirt campaign.
Please note that the handle mentioned above is FirstBook’s Twitter handle. Their Instagram handle is @FirstBookOrg.
Taking part is as simple as putting on your shirt, snapping a pic, and posting it! Just make sure to tag me and FirstBook, and to use the #ShowMeYourShirt hashtag somewhere in your tweet or Instagram post. But wait, there’s more — one lucky #ShowMeYourShirt poster will win some signed books and custom artwork by me!
Thank you all again for your celebration of my art and your support of FirstBook. And if you didn’t get a chance to purchase a T-shirt and want one, I’ll have news in the coming days about how you can get one!
Before I visit a school, I always ask educators and administrators if there is anything in particular that they want me to share or discuss during my time with their students. Pretty much 100% of the time, they ask me to talk about revision — the importance of it and the reality of it, even for so-called “professional” authors and illustrators. Because, as a kid, I was under the impression that authors and illustrators always got it “right” on the first try, I already spent a lot of time during my presentations talking about revision. But during one visit a year or so ago, I had this thought — that I am just oneperson telling these kids about how writers should really be called “revisers,” because that’s mostly what we do, and about how every illustration you see in a book is the product of hours and hours and hours of work, of countless attempts. What if, after spending the day with me, the kids thought, “Well, that’s just how it is for that guy. But every other author and illustrator must get it right on the first try.”
How could I make sure this wasn’t the case? I got my pals to help me out! I asked kid lit authors to describe their first drafts for me using just one word. The responses were wonderful — and, of course, not a single creator said “perfect” or “polished” or “awesome” or “complete” or anything even remotely close to that. Frankly, the majority of respondents used the word “poop” (or some variation of it…). To share this information with kids, I made a quick drawing in my sketchbook, illustrating the words to make them more fun. This morning, I made a digital version of that drawing, so that educators could download a clean copy and use it as they wish.
Seeing this graphic, kids are always blown away — and, once they get over the fact that they are looking at the word “POOP” on a big screen, they feel encouraged and inspired to get back to their notebooks and sketchbooks and make some creative mistakes. Thank you to all the creators who responded to my original tweet all those months ago! To download a free copy of the graphic (and a number of others), head over to my Art page.