Category Archives: Backbeard

Backbeard Sets Sail for New York City!

New York Music Festival

For the past several years I’ve had the honor of collaborating with some very talented people to turn my Backbeard books into a musical. Today I’m proud to announce some big news: Our little show, Backbeard, has been chosen as a Grand Jury Selection of the New York Musical Festival, one of only eleven selected from a pool of 220 nation-wide. We’re taking it to New York for a week of performances this summer. Big city here we come!

To learn more about Backbeard: The Musical, click here.


Backbeard sings!

Backbeard the Musical

Backbeard the Musical

Yesterday, the new Backbeard musical opened and I’m floating on air. Seeing my books come to life on stage is an experience I won’t forget. My thanks to everyone involved for a truly amazing show. It runs through June 12, and you can find more information here:


Backbeard: The Musical, first run-through

For the past two years I’ve had the honor of collaborating with some very talented people to turn my Backbeard books into a musical. Last night, we had our first, rough run-through of the show to hear how everything fits together. These were all volunteers (the show has not been cast yet) and some of the songs are only a few days old. I am constantly amazed how quickly these talented actors can learn their parts, songs and harmonies. The show is really coming together and can’t wait to see how it turns out when it opens in June. Mark your calendars!

For more info, visit:

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!

Backbeard at the Opalka Gallery

Backbeard Event

Last night we had the “official” launch of Backbeard and the Birthday Suit in the Opalka Gallery at the Sage College of Albany. As I told everyone during the presentation, it was exactly the kind of capstone an author dreams about during the long months toiling away at a book. Over a hundred people showed up, and there were some fun surprises, even for me. For example, I had no idea this crew was going to be there…


They are, from left to right, Elizabeth Wunderlich, Joely Johnson, and Ola Mork. (Joely is the Director of Media Relations at Sage and I’m grateful to her for her work helping to pull this event together.) The pirate costumes totally blew me away. Having these three there really set the mood for the evening.

Signing books

I gave a short presentation, and we gave away some cool pirate booty, including some books and a few giant archival prints of images from Backbeard. The evening flew by, and for me, the best part was catching up with so many people I haven’t seen for a while. I saw family, old friends, teachers and even fellow authors. (Can you find Karen Beil and Dan Mahoney in the picture above?) I can’t remember when I’ve had so much fun, and my thanks go out to everyone who came out to the Opalka last night. Shiver me timbers, indeed.


Backbeard F&Gs

Backbeard and the Birthday Suit

One of the most exciting parts of making a book is seeing the “folded and gathered” pages, or F&Gs. Last week, Walker sent the first test prints of Backbeard for me to check, and for the first time I got a good sense of what the book will feel like when it’s finally printed. The cover is there, the endpapers, the copyright page–everything is pretty much how it will look at the end of the road. (F&Gs are also used to market the book, and they’re sent to reviewers in advance of the actual printing.)

I’m really happy with the way it came out. The designer at Walker, Nicole Gastonguay, did a great job with the layout and type. A few minor edits, and then it goes to press. We’re in the home stretch!

Final Prints for Backbeard

Today I began the final round of checking the illustrations for Backbeard before sending them off. I printed every single picture from the book and tacked them up on my drafting table so I could see them side by side and spot mistakes.


In the process I ran through an entire color ink cartridge and entirely too much paper. It seems like no matter how carefully I check a picture, there’s always another mistake that I don’t notice until too late. If it weren’t for the ink cartridge finally running dry, I would have been there for days.