Category Archives: Front page

Items that belong on the front page

Over the years I’ve signed tens of thousands of copies of my books for other people. This week I got an amazing surprise in the mail. After my visit at French Road Elementary this spring, every student in the school got together and signed my books for me. They filled the endpapers, front and back, and the title pages. There were so many names it took three books! I’m absolutely speechless. What a fantastic gift.

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.


Eagle Elementary School

On rare occasions I have been known to show up at the wrong school for an author visit. That’s why I was especially flattered and relieved to find this sign waiting for me when I arrived at Eagle Elementary last week. What a warm welcome to a wonderful day!

Eagle Elementary School sign

Birdville, Texas

During my recent visit to the schools of Birdville, TX, one of the nicest surprises was all the different classroom doors decorated based on the books I’ve written. Each one was a masterpiece. Here’s a small sample:


And at West Birdville Elementary I was surprised with the most amazing box of cookies, each one hand-decorated and painted with characters from my books by Christy Knapp Alexander. They were literally too beautiful to eat. (Of course, I ate them. And they were delicious.)

BCCB Reviews The Weather Disaster

Mad Scientist Academy: The Weather DisasterThe Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books has just reviewed The Weather Disaster and it might be my favorite one yet. Here’s a sample:

It’s pretty much impossible to discuss the Academy without referencing the venerable Magic School Bus and, fortunately, the MSA does not suffer by comparison. The graphic novel format, with tidy frames and several well-placed splash pages, is an excellent vehicle for organizing the lesson, and the orderliness of the visual presentation makes it easy to go back and review material. The send-ups on stock monsters are cleverly played, adding humor without sacrificing content. A page of climate and weather notes extends the information, and endpapers diagrams of the Sky Suit and CHAOS walk the line between science fact and fun.

No need for MSA kids to take a field trip: what could be more interesting than school?

More here…


Interview with paleontologist Carl Mehling

Matt and Dr. MehlingOne of the best things about working on the Mad Scientist Academy books is that I get to meet real scientists as part of my research. When I was writing The Dinosaur Disaster, I got to work with a real-life dinosaur expert, Carl Mehling, a paleontologist and Senior Scientific Assistant at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Carl generously agreed to sit down with me to talk about what a paleontologist actually does. He’s a fascinating guy, and he has one of the coolest jobs I know. Check out the whole interview 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:


School Library Journal reviews the Weather Disaster

Mad Scientist Academy: The Weather Disaster

Mad Scientist Academy: The Weather Disaster

Great review from School Library Journal!

Dr. Cosmic and his Mad Scientist Academy students are back for a second outing that is truly out there. The green-faced, wild-haired Dr. Cosmic has invented a wearable weather balloon and a CHAOS (Cooling/Heating Airflow Operating System) machine and is unnervingly optimistic about their success. As will no doubt be the pattern throughout the series, the students must absorb a crash course in this curriculum so that they can save both the professor and the day. Even adults reading the book aloud at school or at home will learn a few things. The colorful comic strip format is varied and dramatic. Not all readers will linger over the occasional info-packed box (“The Water Cycle,” “Types of Precipitation,” etc.), but the facts are made optimally interesting through dramatic and funny illustrations. Drama, humor, color, and format are indeed the main elements that make this and the previous volume so enticing—along with the occasional “KABOOM!” and “KA-BAM!” VERDICT Science fans and comics enthusiasts will dive right into this, but don’t deprive other readers; there’s enough fun here for anyone.

A Long Journey

Thanks to everyone who turned out for my talk at the Guilderland Library on Saturday. I often have people bring books that they’ve previously purchased for me to sign at an event. This was the first time that someone brought along a book they bought… IN CHINA. So cool to think of the journey it took to get here!


Kirkus Reviews The Weather Disaster

msa2-jacket-green-mockupThe first review for The Weather Disaster is in!


Having survived disastrous dinosaurs in the first series installment, students at the Mad Scientist Academy now attempt to comprehend the mystery of weather. Six students make up the class assembled outside the laboratory: an amphibious creature, a werewolf, a robot, a vampire, a giant insect, and a monster resembling Frankenstein’s. Dr. Cosmic, whose flaming red hair recalls another cartoon scientist beloved by children, is ensconced in a wearable weather balloon, ready to test its efficacy. His colleague, meteorologist Nimbus, works the controls. As the sphere spins into the atmosphere, readers follow his progress and study charts to learn how clouds form and what causes wind, rain, and snow. Sequential panels move the plot forward and present information, while double-page spreads portray climactic moments, such as when the students try to apply what they have learned to correct the flood in the greenhouse and the snowstorm in the pool house by creating a tornado with the CHAOS machine. (The rear endpapers spell it out: Cooling/Heating Airflow Operating System.) Characters use their particular attributes to solve problems and help one another. Adults will appreciate the knowledge imparted in this STEM-friendly series as well as the encouragement to question, measure, and experiment; children will be attracted to the appealing caricatures and the cyclone wreaking havoc on the cover. With outlandish situations rendering scientific concepts memorable, McElligott has concocted a winning formula for learning as entertainment.

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: