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WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? Book Tour (Part 2, Illinois): Carol Stream, Science and Arts Academy, Avoca West and Anderson’s Bookshop

Part 1 (Larry The Driver) – Part 2 (IL: Carol Stream, Science & Arts Academy, Avoca West, Anderson’s Bookshop) – Part 3 (IL: Peterson Elementary, River Woods, Media Escorts) – Part 4 (NC: Irving Park, New Garden Friends, Scuppernong) – Part 5 (NJ: Lincoln Elementary, Hillside Elementary, Books Bytes & Beyond) – Part 6 (NJ: Allentown Library, Monmouth Library) – Part 7 (NJ: Learning Community Charter School, WORD Bookstore, board gaming) – Part 8 (Wrap up + takeaways)

At Carol Stream Elementary (Carol Stream, IL)

Because of my work schedule and the fact that I don’t drive, I tend to do more virtual school visits than in-person. Also, I’m relatively new to the industry compared to some others; I’ve been TRYING to get into the industry for far longer :-), with my first book illustration project (I’M BORED, written by Michael Ian Black) coming out only a few years ago.

With Deanna (artist who created the book-themed decorations) and Gabriela at Carol Stream Elementary

This was the FIRST TIME I had ever visited schools where so many were already familiar with my work. More than once, I arrived at a school to find that some students were already avid fans of I’M BORED or NAKED! 

Many of the schools did advance prep by reading some of my books, researching online and going through some of the bonus material in my Teacher’s Guides (thank you, Marcie Colleen!) and on my book pages. The first- and second-graders at Carol Stream showed me the squirrel masks they had printed out from my Where Are My Books? Bonus page:

Carol Stream Elementary invited students and families to prepare for the visit by exploring their Padlet and for students to submit their questions ahead of time.

Students at the schools I visited also tended to be familiar with my face because of the posters and handouts they had seen in advance of my visit, so when I arrived at a school, I often saw them whispering to each other, “That’s the author!”

How cool is that? And this isn’t just about author-illustrator ego (though I do admit that bit was nice) but more about young readers who love reading so much that they treat the creators of books with such excitement. Kudos to the librarians, teachers and booksellers who do so much to encourage young readers, and the parents who encourage lifelong reading habits at home. 

Marcia and Darlene at Science and Arts Academy (Des Plaines, IL)

It was wonderful having a media escort with me the first two days; I learned a great deal from watching Genene Murphy in action, listening to the questions she asked, asking her advice. More on media escorts and Genene in Part 3.

Thanks also to Anderson’s Bookshop (Downer’s Grove location) for working with the schools in IL to help organize my visits and book pre-orders. I saw one of the order forms up at Science and Arts Academy, and it included info about me as well as my new book:

Speaking of Science and Arts Academy (Des Plaines, IL), I was so impressed by the creative student work on display everywhere, especially the art. Check out these cardboard portraits, for example. WOW:

Next stop on the first full day of my book tour was Avoca West Elementary. I was especially excited to visit Avoca because their Kindergarten and 1st Grade students had chosen I’M BORED as their ITC March Madness Champion a couple of years ago:

I was also delighted to finally meet Avoca West students Lindsay and Laila, who did this great reading of NAKED! last year:

And yay, I also finally got to meet K-5 media specialist Susan Geidner:

So enjoyed chatting with her students! As I signed pre-ordered books in the library, I admired the decorations as well as cozy reading nooks, like this one:

I had dinner with my friend, children’s book author Patricia Murphy. I first met Patricia back in 2009 at the SCBWI Los Angeles Conference. I didn’t know many people and this was also before my first children’s book contract, but I clearly remember how welcoming and friendly Patricia was to me back then. Patricia has many, MANY books out in the world, but one of her newest projects is Mama, LOOK!, a picture book she’s doing with Caldecott Medalist David Diaz (and one of my early illustration mentors). Publication is scheduled for spring 2017.

Thanks to Patricia for her advice about throat care (I nearly lost my voice at one of the schools where the microphone wasn’t working properly) and for coming out to my book event at Anderson’s Downer’s Grove:

Patricia ended up being the ONLY person who showed up for the evening event. I admit to being embarrassed (AUGH! I wasn’t a big enough a draw to attract people to the store!!), but it ended up being a nice evening anyway: as I signed stock, we had tea and chatted with Genene Murphy (my media escort) and Kathleen March, Children’s Book Manager at Anderson’s Downer’s Grove (pictured on the left below). Wonderful conversation, much of which focused on what we were all reading/enjoying.

I mentioned Karen Krossing’s PUNCH LIKE A GIRL, among others.

Before I left, Kathleen invited me to choose any book in the store to take with me. I asked her what middle grade she had loved reading lately, and she recommended this book:

Looking forward to reading this!

HUGE THANKS to Patricia for coming out to my Anderson’s event and for her encouragement. She had asked me to sign her copy of the book ahead of time to avoid the line-up, and she ended up being “the line-up.” She even stuck around the whole evening to keep me company. *snif*

The world could use more people like Patricia Murphy. 

 And thus endeth my first full day of the book tour.

I was pretty beat by the time Genene dropped me off at the hotel that evening, but rewarded myself with a luxurious soak in the hotel tub:

I messaged the photo above to Jeff but I was so tired that I accidentally messaged Genene instead!! I only realized it the second after I sent it, of course. Happily, Genene has a sense of humor. 😀 

Continued in Part 3