Category Archives: Author Visits

Visit to Washington State

Just before Christmas I had the chance to travel out to the tri-cities area in the southern part to Washington state to visit a bunch of schools. The landscape was not at all what I imagine when I think of Washington.
Washington stateEveryone was so warm and welcoming, I really felt at home the whole time I was there. I visited fourteen schools and saw about ten thousand kids. (My apologies if I don’t remember all your names.) Check out some of these crazy aliens they made:
Bulletin board
And just in case I run into some writer’s block down the road, the students at Marcus Whitman Elementary made me this amazing book of inspirational starting points, including story ideas about yetis, flying pigs, and kung foo cats. I’ll never run out of ideas again!Marcus Whitman inspiration book

Real Alien Snacks at J D George Elementary

A really fun visit to J.D. George Elementary today, where I was blown away by the amazing preparations. These kids were ready for the visit! Just a few of the terrific projects below…

Alien dessertMrs. Collins’ dessert is better than the illustration!

Science fairA real live Ben Franklinstein “Are Dogs From Mars?” science fair entry

Alien snack standA life-sized alien snack stand made by the 6th graders

Giant Backbeard Puzzle

Over the last two weeks I’ve had some terrific visits to Coxsackie Elementary, Penn Yan Elementary, Ginther Elementary and Rensselaer Park. Each one was special in its own way, and I wish I had time to give a full report. My thanks to everyone at those schools who worked so hard to make the visits a success. Here are just two highlights:

At Penn Yan Elementary they built a giant Backbeard puzzle, then added pieces to it every day, gradually revealing the secret of who was coming to visit.

Penn Yan puzzle

And at Rensselaer Park Elementary students each created bookmarks. All the bookmarks were then assembled into a giant bookmark collage. (Click the picture below to get the full effect.)

Rensselaer Park bookmarks

At each school I discovered incredible projects and amazing artwork. What a welcome!

Lake Avenue

Monday I visited Lake Avenue Elementary in Saratoga, NY. It was a great visit, and one of the highlights for me was the fact that they still had their old card catalog. Even better, a bunch of my older books were still in it!

Finding my card in the drawer is an experience I haven’t had in a long time…Card catalog at Lake Avenue

Card catalog at Lake Avenue

Lunch From Another Planet at Miller Hill Sand Lake

This Friday I visited Miller Hill Sand Lake Elementary in Averill Park, NY and enjoyed managed to choke down one of the most disgusting lunches I’ve ever eaten. The fifth grade had a contest to design food that aliens might enjoy, and some of them went so far as to actually cook their creations.

There were black egg-like things, dripping eyeballs, green brain matter, and stuff no one could quite identify. I sampled (nearly) everything, and forty-eight hours later my stomach hasn’t sprouted any strange, alien creatures. I take that as a good sign.

Thanks to everyone at MHSL for the fun vista and the delicious disgusting lunch. I hope we can do it again sometime!

Miller Hill Sand Lake Miller Hill Sand Lake

Yuks and Yucks at A. W. Becker Elementary

AW Becker puddingJust finished a really fun day/evening visit to A.W. Becker Elementary in Selkirk, NY, where the kids and teachers went all out. The big theme of the day was the magnum opus the boy cooks in Even Aliens Need Snacks, a dish he calls “galactic pudding.”

When I drew the picture for the book, I never imagined anyone would ever try to recreate it for an author brunch, but that’s exactly the challenge that Ms. Westerfeld from the school cafeteria took on. You can see the original and her interpretation below.

Even Aliens Need Snacks

AW Beacker brunch

In addition, there were alien/monster cupcakes and galactic pudding (with grape eyeballs) for everyone who ordered a school lunch that day. All this was inspired by some terrific artwork by the kids. My thanks to Ms. Mulligan, Ms. Westervelt, Ms. Defeo, and  the PTA for all their work pulling it all together!

Calvin U Smith Elementary

At Calvin U. Smith Elementary the kids made 256 paintings of cakes (mimicking the elephant in The Lion’s Share) and hung them up all around the library. I’ve never seen anything like it.


Later, we had an evening program at the library and a bunch of teachers put on a Lion’s Share play. They dressed up in costumes and used the cake paintings to help tell the story. It was a great night, and between 200 – 300 parents and kids showed up for the event. What a night!