Category Archives: Making Books

The Fright Brothers Arrive!


Yesterday, the UPS man arrived with the first copy of Benjamin Franklinstein Meets The Fright Brothers, hot off the presses. (Larry doesn’t even have his copy yet.) I’m very excited about this one!

It picks up where the first book left off, but I think we were really able to take it in some interesting new directions. Look for it in stores in just a couple weeks.

Even Monsters are Brazilian

monsters-brazil-jacket.jpg Here’s something cool that arrived in my inbox this week: the layout for the new Brazilian edition of Even Monsters Need Haircuts, which is just about to go to press. (Click to see the full image.) I know our world keeps getting smaller, but this sort of thing never fails to blow me away.

Hey Brazilian elementary schools – anyone interested in an author visit?

The Lion’s Share in Asia

The Lion’s Share has sold foreign rights to several Asian countries, and this week I received a package in the mail containing my author’s copies from Japan, Korea, and China. My mind was seriously blown.

Just by looking at the covers, can you tell which one is which? (Answer below)




The covers, in order from top to bottom, are China, Japan, and Korea.

How well did you do?

SLMS 2010

This past weekend Larry and I spoke at the NY State SLMS Conference for school library media specialists. We ate a delicious lunch, then spoke for a little while about writing Benjamin Franklinstein Lives! and screened our new video.


Wow, what nice people those librarians are. Turns out I even had some food on my jacket and no one said a thing.

Also, we’ve launched a new website for the book. If you get a chance, check it out…

The Great Jules Feiffer

PhantomTollbooth.jpgBig Think has a terrific video interview with the legendary Jules Feiffer, author, political cartoonist, and children’s book illustrator.

In the children’s book world, Feiffer is probably best known for his work on Norton Juster’s classic The Phantom Tollbooth. Earlier in my career I got a job illustrating a version of Tollbooth for a textbook series, and working in Feiffer’s shadow was an impossible mission. Not only didn’t I have his talent, but I also didn’t know his secret of drawing with a pointed stick he got from the butcher. (Not that it would have helped.)

In his eighties now, Feiffer is still going strong, and it sounds like he and Juster have a new book out this fall. I’ll be the first in line to pick it up.

Tedd Arnold at the Arnot Art Museum

Last week, while on the road, I had the chance to drop by and visit my friends Tedd and Carol Arnold. Tedd, of course, is the author of about a zillion books including the Green Wilma and award-winning Fly Guy series.


Tedd has a new exhibit of his work at the Arnot Art Museum in Elmira, NY, and he graciously gave me a sneak peak of the show last week. It’s phenomenal. If you find yourself anywhere in the neighborhood of New York’s Southern Tier in the next month or so, do yourself a favor and check it out. It’s a master class in illustration.

(As a bonus, the Arnot is also running a great show on fairy tale illustration upstairs. Two for one!)

Inventor’s Letterheads

Picture 1.pngWorking on the Benjamin Franklinstein books with Larry over the past year or so, inventors have been on my mind a lot. That’s why it was so interesting to come across these samples of letterhead from two of history’s greatest, Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla. The two were not great friends, and it’s interesting to see how their personalities came across in the way they chose to correspond with the public. (I know which one I’d rather receive a letter from.)

The Deckle Edge

201003061200.jpgA deckle edge is when the pages of a book are cut in a ragged way so that they seem to be trimmed by hand. Turns out the tradition of creating those edges is pretty interesting:

The deckle edge dates back to a time when you used to need a knife to read a book. Those rough edges simulate the look of pages that have been sliced open by the reader. The printing happened on large sheets of paper which were then folded into rectangles the size of the finished pages and bound. The reader then sliced open the folds.

There’s a great article on this tradition at:

In the Recording Studio

One of the fun things about this author job is that sometimes I get to try out other jobs. Today, I went to the recording studio to record some audio for the upcoming Lion’s Share DVD.


The studio had pictures of Janis Joplin, Frank Zappa, and Duke Ellington on the walls. Technically, these musicians never actually recorded there, but the idea is that they could have, if they had been in town and the studio had been around when they were alive. So there were lots of good vibes in the room.


The engineer, Jason, was really cool and patient with all my stupid questions. For some reason, though, he didn’t ask me for a photo for the wall, even though there was a big empty spot right next to Jimi Hendrix. I’m sure it was just an oversight. I’ll send him one.

How to Letter Comics

comic-type.jpgLet’s say you’re writing a comic, and you want to indicate that your character is out of breath and speaking French from the other side of a closed door. How do you do it?

Nate Piekos knows. Although most of us never give it a second thought, comics have an elaborate, established visual language for speech balloons and their contents. Nate understands this language, and he’s put together a terrific guide to all the variations. It’s a great read, even if you have no interest in ever making a comic for yourself. I guarantee you’ll be surprised at how many of the conventions you already recognize and understand fluently.