A WORK IN PROGRESS Receives a STARRED Review from Publishers Weekly!

With A Work in Progress less than six weeks away from publication (I can hardly believe it), more reviews are rolling in, and just the other day I got a big one: a STARRED review from Publishers Weekly!

Publishers Weekly is perhaps THE go-to publication for everything BOOKS. And in case you don’t know what STARRED review means — the star is there “to denote a book of distinction or particularly high quality.” Below are a couple of my favorite portions from the review, but you can read the whole thing yourself by clicking HERE.

Using succinct and personal-feeling verse, Lerner (the Nat the Cat series) crafts an empathetic illustrated novel about one boy’s experience with body dysmorphia, disordered eating, and stigma… Lerner’s sketch-like illustrations, presented as Will’s own diary doodles, render grayscale caricatures of Will’s classmates, while his own self-portrait, depicted via stark black scribbles, slowly morphs into a monstrous version of himself that fills the page. Employing frenetic pacing and disjointed verse that conveys Will’s growing anxiety and internalized shame, Lerner cultivates a perceptive representation of recovery and self-acceptance.

Publishers Weekly review of A Work in Progress (March 20, 2023)

Thank you to Publishers Weekly for reviewing the book and for honoring it with a STAR.

And just a reminder: you can preorder A Work in Progress wherever books are sold. Click HERE to check out Simon & Schuster’s landing page about the book, where you can access links to a variety of book retailers. And click HERE to visit my local independent bookstore’s landing page for the book. If you order from the Silver Unicorn, I will sign the book, and can also personalize it if you wish.

~ Jarrett

A WORK IN PROGRESS Selected for the 2023 Global Read Aloud!

Did you hear the news?

A Work in Progress was named the middle school selection for this year’s Global Read Aloud!

To be honest, I’m still finding a bit hard to believe it’s true.

If you know anything about the Global Read Aloud, you can probably understand why that is. If you don’t know anything about the Global Read aloud, you’re probably hoping for an explanation. Well, here you go . . .

The Global Read Aloud was created back in 2010 by the remarkable Pernille Ripp. Every year, she picks a handful of books — each for a different age group. Then, over the course of six weeks in the fall, educators all over the world read that book with their students, all while simultaneously making as many global connections as possible. There are robust, highly active online communities (on a variety of social media platforms) where educators discuss ideas and share student work and — perhaps most amazingly and importantly — make plans to connect. Far-flung classrooms communicate with one another via Zoom, Skype, Twitter, Padlet, Flipgrid, or good old-fashioned letter writing, forging incredibly productive connections, all based around the shared reading and exploration of a single book. In the thirteen years since it’s been around, the Global Read Aloud has reached millions — you read that right: multiple millions — of kids.

I mean, how cool is all of that?!

The creators of the books also often get involved — and I’m already brainstorming ways I can do so — but I feel like that’s just a bonus. The heart of this project, the beautiful, wonderful, profound result, is the global community that is created. The relationships that are formed among educators who would otherwise never meet. The connections that are made among kids, and the ways in which their voices are celebrated and their perspectives are expanded.

To learn more about the Global Read Aloud — especially if you are an educator who wants to get involved! — click HERE.

Thank you (again and again) to Pernille Ripp for selecting this deeply personal, very special book of mine for inclusion in the Global Read Aloud. And to the thousands of teachers and tens of thousands of kids who will be reading my book as part of the project this fall, thank YOU. I’m eager to see what you make of and do with my book, and hope to connect with as many of you as possible.

~ Jarrett

Kirkus Reviews’ Review of A WORK IN PROGRESS

In case you missed it, Kirkus Reviews — one of the book industry’s top review publications — just printed its review of A Work in Progress. They said some pretty wonderful things.

I especially love how they mentioned that the book will help many readers feel seen, and that it will help others better see them. And, I mean, “very affecting,” “powerful,” “successful” — what more could an author ask for?!

Thank you, Kirkus! I’ve pasted their review in its entirety below.

And just a reminder: A Work in Progress hits shelves on May 2nd (less than two months from today!), but you can preorder RIGHT NOW wherever books are sold. Preorder from my local independent bookstore, the Silver Unicorn, if you want your copy (or copies) of the book signed (or signed and personalized). Click HERE to do that!


~ Jarrett

. . .

Please note: advanced review copies (or ARCs) rarely contain final artwork. This is the case for A Work in Progress. The majority of the art in the book’s ARC is outlined and unshaded. This is why, in their review, Kirkus says, “All characters appear White.” In the book’s final art, several characters have skin tones of various shades.

UPDATE: A Work in Progress Preorder Giveaway!

Have you preordered A Work In Progress yet? If so, make sure to enter the Preorder Giveaway by sending proof of your preorder to AWIPpreorder@gmail.com. And if you HAVEN’T preordered yet . . .

What are you waiting for?!

The Ask Me What I’m Reading stickers I was giving away to the book’s first batch of preorderers are now all gone. BUT, if you preorder now, you will still be entered to win a FREE virtual visit with me. Also, starting this month, the amount of money donated to the First Book for each preorder has been upped to FIVE BUCKS! In the hands of the wonderful, brilliant people at First Book, just THAT can do a tremendous amount of good.

So, if you’re planning on getting yourself a copy of A Work in Progress at some point, put in a preorder now — it’s not only the best way to support me and my work, but it will help First Book get all sorts of books into the hands of kids who need them most.

Click HERE to find a whole bunch of preorder links for the book.

And if you want your copy or copies of A Work in Progress signed (or signed and personalized) by me, make sure to preorder from my awesome local indie, the Silver Unicorn. Click HERE to do that!

And as always: THANKS!

~ Jarrett

A Work in Progress Preorder Giveaway!

I’m excited to announce the A Work in Progress Preorder Giveaway!

Here’s how it works:

If you choose to preorder my illustrated novel in verse, make sure to send proof to AWIPpreorder@gmail.com.

If you are one of the first 100 preorder-ers to do this, you’ll be sent one of my vinyl decal Ask Me What I’m Reading Stickers (see the image above to check out what that looks like!).

And even if you are NOT one of the first 100, you will still be entered to win a FREE virtual visit with me.

Even more awesome, for every single preorder, $1 will be donated to the wonderful First Book. (Don’t know about First Book? Click HERE to learn more about them and their incredible work.)

And as always, if you want your copies of A Work in Progress signed (or signed AND personalized), you can order from my local indie, the Silver Unicorn. Click HERE to do that!

Also as always: THANKS!

~ Jarrett

COVER REVEAL: A Work in Progress

If you follow me over on social media, you’ve surely already seen the cover for A Work in Progress, my illustrated novel in verse. But I have yet to share this important bit of artwork here. So, without further ado…

A Work in Progress publishes six months from today (!), on May 2nd, 2023. The book is very different from anything I’ve published so far. It’s in verse, for one thing. In order words, the story is told in poems. But not just poems. Art, too. As you might’ve been able to surmise from the cover art, the book is structured as a kid’s notebook. That’s the whole conceit. That you are opening and reading a notebook belonging to that kid drawn there on the front cover, Will Chambers. It’s his personal, private space for recording, recollecting, and reflecting, and he does this with both words and pictures.

But the book is different for me in other ways, too. The protagonist, Will, is a bit older than any of my other characters, and his story is much darker and more serious — much of it based on my own struggles with things like body image and disordered eating.

Like Will, writing and drawing are how I make sense of the world and my experiences within it. And for years, I’ve tried to use words and pictures to tell a version of this story. It started in college, when I made my first attempts to craft stories about characters much like Will Chambers. I could never make much headway with those stories, though. They just never felt right, and I always ended up setting them aside. But months later, I’d find myself coming back to them — trying to inject new life into what I’d previously abandoned, or starting from scratch with a new twist on the old idea.

This happened, again and again and again, for over a decade. It wasn’t until, one day toward the beginning of 2020, that I had a breakthrough — that I decided, during the same writing session, to frame the novel as my protagonist’s notebook, and to write it in heavily illustrated verse. Maybe that sounds a bit like a too-good-to-be-true moment straight out of the movies, but remember: it came about after more than a decade of difficulty, frustration, and dozens (if not hundreds) of false starts. And I don’t believe that lightbulb flash, that lightning strike of inspiration could’ve come about without all those years of stumbling through the dimness and fog. But it came — it finally came — and I poured out 50 or so pages of a manuscript. I sent it to my agent — feeling, at last, like what I had down on the page was right — and asked her what she thought. She wrote back as soon as she’d read it and told me that I had to finish it.

I knew that my agent was right (she almost always is). But I didn’t know that it’d take me two more years to finish the book (it’s actually still not done… I’ve got until the end of the year to finalize all of the artwork, which there is a lot of). I didn’t know that the book would pose a whole host of enormous challenges that I’d never grappled with before as a creator. And I definitely didn’t know that the story would continue to elude me — that I’d go through several accelerated versions of that cycle I’d spent the previous decade-plus going through. And that, during one such cycle, I’d get close to giving up, to calling my agent and editor and letting them know that I couldn’t figure it out, I couldn’t get this story out of me, couldn’t manage to put what I needed to put on the page and couldn’t bear to publish something that I didn’t feel to be authentic and accessible and productive and true.

But I did it. Thanks to my wife, to my agent, to my editor, to my art director, I did it. It took me fifteen years — and took all the growing and thinking and learning and failing that happened during that decade and a half — but I finally got this story out of me in a form that can now be shared with others. It’s a relief. And it’s exciting. But it’s also terrifying. The thing I keep telling myself, though — the thing I’ve been telling myself throughout this entire process — is that this book can do some good. Maybe a whole lot of good.

That belief has sustained me, and I know it will continue to sustain me as I share more about the book over the next six months. And once the book is out, I’m hoping it doesn’t need to be a belief anymore. I’m hoping that I’ll get to actually see the good that the book can do. And seeing it, being able to be a part of that good, whatever form it takes — that right there will make all the difficulty and frustration and terrifying feelings totally worth it.

~ Jarrett


Here it is! The book I alluded to yesterday morning on social media and here on my blog.

A Work in Progress is an illustrated novel in verse based on my own experiences with body image, body dysmorphia, disordered eating, and self-worth, and will be published Fall of 2022 by Simon & Schuster/Aladdin.

I’ll be sharing much more about the book and the decade-long process behind its creation in the coming months. For now, I just want to thank everyone who sent messages of care, support, and encouragement yesterday after I shared all I shared and announced the book. It all truly means the world to me. I feel like I’ve spent the past 20 years walking around with a rock in my shoe, and like I’ve just finally gotten it out.

~ Jarrett