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 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

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

What IS a “Graphic Novel Chapter Book”?

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!

~ Jarrett

HUNGER HEROES: MISSED MEAL MAYHEM Cover Reveal!

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!

~ Jarrett

GEEGER THE ROBOT 3 + 4 and HUNGER HEROES 2!!!

I’ve been sharing some very exciting news on social media this past week, and figured I’d put it here, too, in case you missed it. The news is: MORE BOOKS! My Geeger the Robot chapter book series has been extended to FOUR books (and will then be packaged into a nifty box set!), and my Hunger Heroes graphic novel has been given a SEQUEL!

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The first book in the Geeger series hits shelves this August, with the second and third publishing in 2021, and the fourth coming out in 2022. I will be sharing publication date information about the two Hunger Heroes books soon.

A big shout out goes to my amazing agent, Myrsini Stephanides, who never bats an eye at my zany ideas. In fact, after laughing at me for a bit, she takes them all VERY seriously, and helps me get them ready to share with publishers. And another big shout out goes to the incredible team at Simon & Schuster/Aladdin, especially my editor, Karen Nagel, who pushes and challenges me in ways that help make my books about 100 times better than they would be otherwise. The second Hunger Heroes book will be my NINTH book, all of them published by Simon & Schuster/Aladdin, and thinking about that makes my head spin and my heart explode.

And one final big shout out goes to YOU — yes, YOU! If you are reading this post, you’ve almost undoubtedly supported me and my work in some way or another, and for that I am beyond grateful. So THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for helping me continue to do work that I love.

~ Jarrett

HUNGER HEROES: The Beginnings

Last night, I finally shared the news that my graphic novel, HUNGER HEROES, will be out in the Fall of 2020. Today I want to share this:

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This is the germ of the idea that would become HUNGER HEROES, scribbled and doodled on a piece of stationary from the Rodeway Inn in Hesston, Kansas (a hotel, I want to add, with one of the friendliest staffs I’ve ever met, plus a popcorn machine and a constantly restocked tray of hot, fresh, homemade cookies in the lobby).

This was last year, in 2018, and I was in Kansas for nErDCampKS. I often get my wildest, craziest, best ideas when I’m out of my creative routines and comfort zone. Add the energy and inspiration of nErDCamp to the mix, and it’s no surprise that I was getting some new story ideas. I’m just glad I had a pen and paper on me — though it’s rare that I don’t — and also that I took seven or eight seconds to get this idea down.

I try to do this anytime an idea comes to me. Nine times out of ten — or maybe even ninety-nine times out of a hundred — the idea doesn’t have the legs it needs to turn into a full-fledged story. But that’s just the way the creative process works: you log ninety-nine misses before you hit your target, you have to do something the wrong way ninety-nine times before you figure out how to do it right (or at least less wrong).

All of which is to say something that I’ve said plenty of times before: every now and then, make sure to intentionally shake up your routine. Get out of your comfort zone — and don’t forget to take a pen and paper along with you!

~ Jarrett

HUNGER HEROES!!!

I’m SO excited to finally share that my very first graphic novel — HUNGER HEROES — hits shelves just a little over a year from now, in the Fall of 2020! I’ve been sitting on this news for quite a while (and it’s possible I might have accidentally let it slip here and there among friends…), so it’s also a huge relief to be able to talk openly about the book. And it’s going to huge FUN to share more about it with all of you.

For now, just a brief introduction:

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The Hunger Heroes are: Mr. Toots (a bean), Chip Ninja (a tortilla chip), Tammy (a tomato), and Leonard (a block of partially shredded cheese)! I look forward to you all learning more about them soon. Keep an eye out on my social media feeds for more art and information about the book!

~ Jarrett