Category Archives: Uncategorized
If you’re a fan of the Tapper Twins books, did you know Claudia and Reese both have Instagram accounts? They use them to post pics of various things they get up to in New York City — mostly things that AREN’T in the books, so they’re worth checking out while you bide your time before The Tapper Twins Go Viral comes out.
SPEAKING OF WHICH: there are a ton of references in …Go Viral to videos that Claudia posts on line…and after the book comes out on April 4th, 2017, a bunch of those videos are going to wind up on Claudia’s Instagram page. So you’ll probably want to check those out starting in early April. In the meantime —
When you do, keep an eye out for other Tapper Twins characters in the comment sections. Xander, James Mantolini, Sophie, Carmen, the Fembots, and others all might pop up from time to time.
And now, a 42-second trailer about a presidential election between a thoughtful, policy-minded female and a guy without a shred of experience who’s constantly spouting off the first thing that comes to his mind:
The really great thing? You can laugh at this one without experiencing a gnawing sense of existential dread for the future of American democracy.
To get your copy of The Tapper Twins Run for President (before or after the September 6th release date), click a link below. Thanks!
Both of them!
Against each other!
On September 6th, Claudia and Reese face off with the leadership of Culvert Prep’s sixth grade on the line.
And as they tend to do in Tapper Twins books, things get a little crazy.
I don’t want to spoil anything… But here’s a campaign poster from class troublemaker James Mantolini:
Want to learn more? Check out a preview of the opening chapters at the back of any hardcover or ebook copy of THE TAPPER TWINS TEAR UP NEW YORK!
And if you’d like to see more sneak previews of art and photos from the book, post a comment by scrolling down and/or clicking the “LEAVE A COMMENT” button at the end of this post!
Want to make sure you get your copy the day it appears in stores? Reserve a copy at your local bookstore or click over to one of these fine online purveyors of quality children’s literature and preorder: Powell’s! McNally-Jackson! Indiebound! Barnes and Noble! Books-a-Million! Ibooks! Amazon!
And seriously, leave a comment below. If I get enough comments, my publisher might let me post more stuff.
Okay, this is pretty much the coolest thing ever: the first of three animated videos starring the Tapper twins.
In this one, Claudia and Reese explain just what’s so weird about growing up in New York City:
Many, many thanks to Adrian Palacios and the good people at Little Brown who made this so awesome.
THE TAPPER TWINS GO TO WAR (WITH EACH OTHER) is in stores now! Which is nice.
And I’m going on a short book tour! Which will also be nice…but only if people show up to the events. Sooooooo here’s the list:
Sunday, April 19 — 12:00 pm — LA Times Festival of Books — Los Angeles, CA (USC campus) — YA Stage (panel discussion w/Mac Barnett, Jory John, Mo O’Hara, and Leila Howland)
It’ll be fun! The events are free, I tell a lot of jokes, and I swear I won’t make you feel guilty if you don’t buy a book. Although if you’re going to go to all the trouble of coming out, I mean…y’know…
Hope to see you next week!
Okay, it wasn’t technically a party. It was a “launch event.”
But it was fun! Here are some pictures:
Many, many thanks to the great folks at Books of Wonder on West 18th Street. And they have a TON of autographed copies of THE TAPPER TWINS GO TO WAR! If you want one, stop by the store or click here to order online.
So my New Year’s resolution to post more content that’s not just regurgitated, totally blatant book marketing doesn’t seem to be going all that well.
But who cares? Here’s a book trailer!
You no longer have to take my word for it that The Tapper Twins Go To War (With Each Other) is good — this very enthusiastic review in Publishers Weekly confirms it!
If you’re too lazy to click the link, here’s the money quote:
The clear winners are readers of this uproarious series opener, which is packed with both laugh-out-loud moments and heart.
And while we’re on the subject of reviews…here’s a sampling of feedback from ACTUAL PARENTS of kids who’ve read advance copies of The Tapper Twins Go To War:
Nice, right? And they’re all 100% real! No, really. All the Little Brown publicity department did was dress them up in a nice font.
Want to read the opening chapters or pre-order the book? Head over to TapperTwins.com.
I could probably embed the preview and save you a click if I weren’t totally incompetent.
Here, let me try:
Did that work? Ohmygosh, I think that actually worked.
Wow! WordPress really IS idiot-proof.
(Even if it didn’t work, your sneak preview of The Tapper Twins Go To War (With Each Other) is just a click away. Enjoy!)
Considering a copy of Deadweather and Sunrise or New Lands as a holiday gift?
You should! Seriously. These books are AMAZING, and I’m not just saying that because I get royalties.
And if you are…why not make that gift EXTRA-SUPER-SPECIAL by having it signed and personalized to your friend/loved one/person-you-got-stuck-with-in-the-Secret-Santa-drawing?
Because for a limited time only, I will autograph and personalize as many books as you want FOR FREE!
Well, not exactly. That would be kind of a hassle (although if you’re dead set on it, and/or live within a five-block radius of my apartment, email me and maybe we can work something out).
But what I WILL do for free is send you a personalized, autographed Chronicles of Egg book plate that you can affix to the inside of your copy!
It’ll be almost exactly like my having signed the book itself, and it’ll look something like this:
Also, for those of you unclear on the concept of “book plate,” it’s basically a fancy sticker. You can peel off the back and stick it pretty much anywhere you want. Most people choose the interior title page, but it’ll stick to anything, so if you’d rather put it on a notebook, refrigerator, the back of an unsuspecting victim, etc…have at it. I’m not going to judge you.
And again: THIS IS FREE, and I’ll send as many book plates as you have books to stick them in. Just send a mailing address and the first name of the recipient to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll hook you up.
Do it by 4pm on December 18th, and I guarantee delivery in time for Christmas!
Any later than that, and I will guarantee delivery by Martin Luther King Day. (For which the Chronicles of Egg books would also make a fine, if somewhat inexplicable, gift.)
(Reposted with thanks to the wonderful people at the The Nerdy Book Club, where I originally guest-posted this.)
Hello, Nerds! I’m Geoff Rodkey, author of the comedy-adventure-coming-of-age series The Chronicles of Egg and a big fan of the Book Club. When I got the chance to contribute a post, I was thrilled–and immediately spent the next several days meticulously crafting a 2,000-word essay about how Bridge to Terabithia scarred me for life.
I was convinced I’d written something truly special–poignant, heartfelt, existentially profound–until I showed it to my wife, who helpfully pointed out that it was actually turgid, boring, and painfully self-indulgent.
So I added my 2,000-word Bridge to Terabithia reminiscence to the unfortunately long list of Things That Seemed Like A Good Idea Until I Ran Them By My Wife and decided to take a different tack.
This is still a reminiscence, it’s still about books that meant a lot to me as a kid, and even though nobody dies in an emotionally devastating fashion in any of them, it’s still a little poignant–because in a sense, these books are dead themselves.
In other words, they’re out of print. They survive in libraries (I hope), and you can still fish them out of the Internet’s vast ocean of used book stores, but other than that, they’ve passed on. If you can track them down, though, I’d strongly recommend checking them out. They’re worth the effort.
Well, some of them are. Read on and you’ll see what I mean:
THE PUSHCART WAR, by Jean Merrill
I still can’t believe this is out of print. It’s a made-up history of a war on the streets of New York City between a triumvirate of more-or-less-evil trucking companies and an eccentric band of pushcart peddlers who organize themselves to fight back (with pea shooters) when the truckers start trying to run them out of business. It’s got an offbeat, singular, very funny tone, and the plot works on multiple levels–as a comedy, an underdog story, an object lesson in standing up to bullies, and a parable about the vulnerability of conventional military forces to guerrilla tactics.
That last one might be a stretch. But not by much. And The Pushcart War holds up incredibly well, for readers of any age–I sat down with a copy a while back and had as much fun with it as I did when I was ten.
THE MOUSE THAT ROARED, by Leonard Wibberly
This isn’t technically a kid’s book, but I read it when I was a kid, and my twelve-year-old loved it, so I’m counting it. It’s the story of a tiny, Andorra-like European country that decides, for reasons too complicated to get into, to invade the United States…using a small platoon of longbowmen, even though it’s the Atomic Age. And, for reasons that are also too complicated to get into, they win.
If this sounds even vaguely intriguing, hunt this book down. It’s a gem. The Mouse That Roared was also the basis for a Peter Sellers movie that I’ve never seen, because honestly, I don’t know how it could top the book.
One of several sequels to The Cricket in Times Square, this is the story of how Harry Cat and Tucker Mouse adopt a stray puppy, then have to find a home for it when the puppy grows into a sheepdog and no longer fits in the drainpipe where they live. I read it to my 7-year-old last year, and we both had a fine time with it. I’m not sure why it’s out of print when, say, Tucker’s Countryside (another Cricket sequel that, if you ask me, is no better or worse than this one) is still kicking around.
Incidentally, I liked the Cricket series so much as a kid that I wrote fan fiction about it. Rereading it as an adult (the book, not my fan fiction), I started to wonder what the deal was with Tucker and Harry’s relationship. Two confirmed bachelors, one of them highly fastidious, sharing a one-bedroom in the Theater District? Maybe you see where I’m going with this.
THE MCGURK MYSTERIES
If there was any justice in the world, the McGurk Mysteries would be as big as Encyclopedia Brown. The books, of which there were at least a dozen in print at one point, were about a detective agency of 10-year-olds who solved funny, age-appropriate mysteries around their neighborhood. In Ocean’s Eleven fashion, all the kids had a specialty: McGurk was the charismatic, Clooney-esque leader; Willie Sandowsky had a massive schnoz and a correspondingly exquisite sense of smell; Wanda Grieg was the muscle; Brains Bellingham was (big surprise) the brains; and Joey Rockaway didn’t bring all that much to the table other than being the narrator, but he–or, rather, author E.W. Hildick–was very, very good at it.
My youngest son would love these books if I could just convince him that the 30-year-old copies I bought on the Internet are okay to pick up even though the paper’s disintegrating and they smell like an elderly person’s closet.
IRVING AND ME
This was late New Yorker cartoonist and Danny and the Dinosaur creator Syd Hoff’s only novel for older kids (I think), and I kind of get why it’s out of print. Which is not to say it wasn’t a pleasure to reread. The story of Artie, a 13-year-old Jewish kid from Brooklyn who moves to Florida and semi-reluctantly befriends big-eared, slightly odd Irving, still holds up reasonably well–Artie’s narration is breezy, likable, and contains a pleasant whiff of Borscht Belt; his problems are entirely relatable; and the ending’s even a little touching.
But it’s very much of its time, by which I mean the 13-year-olds in it occasionally smoke cigarettes, look at dirty magazines, obsess over girls, and generally act in ways that, while true to the lived experience of 13-year-olds both in 1967 and today, tend to get contemporary kid-lit gatekeepers a little bent out of shape.
Speaking of bent of out shape, the last stop on my preteen literary nostalgia tour is…
THE SERGEANT: BLOODY BASTOGNE
Let me be very, very clear: THIS IS NOT A CHILDREN’S BOOK, AND I HAD NO BUSINESS READING IT WHEN I WAS ELEVEN.
But hoo-boy! The Sergeant: Bloody Bastogne was one of a series of pulp novels for adults written under the name Gordon Davis, which must have been a pseudonym, because…hoo-boy! I stumbled on this one at a shopping mall bookstore in Rockford, Illinois when I happened to have $2.25 plus tax in my pocket, and I decided to buy it because at age eleven, I was insatiably interested in World War II.
Whether due to incompetence, apathy, or a loophole in the local blue laws, the checkout clerk sold it to me. And oh, man! Did I get a thrill out of reading this book. Sergeant CJ Mahoney was a US Army Ranger who was expert at two things: slaughtering Nazis in ridiculously graphic ways, and engaging in even more ridiculously graphic behavior with the Belgian farm girls who conveniently wandered into the narrative whenever there was a lull in the combat.
This was like the literary equivalent of playing Grand Theft Auto. You know how some people believe that it doesn’t matter what a kid reads, as long as he’s reading? They’re wrong. But I will say this: The Sergeant: Bloody Bastogne unquestionably opened my eyes to the almost limitless potential of books to expose a reader to new worlds.
Got a favorite book that’s out-of-print? Drop a line in the comments–I’d love to hear about it.
I was only lucky enough to know Don for the last five years of his life, but over that period, he was a source of decades’ worth of both camaraderie and wise counsel, both about screenwriting and life in general. He was like the older brother I never had, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that knowing him made me a better person (if only slightly, because I am hard to teach).
Mostly, he led by example. Don was one of the most good-natured people I’ve ever known — but it wasn’t the cloying, marshmallow-edged type of good-naturedness that makes you suspect the person exhibiting it has either never read a newspaper or is in a state of active denial about reality.
Don’s good-naturedness was deeper and more fully lived than that — the sort that knows perfectly well just how unfair and stupid life can be, but has decided the best way to get through it isn’t to weep at the injustice, or rail against it, or stew in your own bitterness (personally, I’m good at all three, while excelling at the third), but to laugh at it.
Don’s ability to do this held true whether the source was Hollywood development executives or something actually serious, like cancer. When Don got sick a few years ago, he didn’t whine, or moan, or get depressed and withdraw from the world. Instead, he started a blog and made fun of it.
Let’s Radiate Don began as a series of comic updates about his treatment and, over time, turned into something deeper and more poignant. Since he died last fall, his wonderful wife and kids have continued to update it, making the site into a kind of living memorial and serving as a powerful reminder that even stories that don’t end well can be a source of comfort and inspiration.
If you check it out, I’d recommend reading backwards by first going to the bottom of the page and clicking “older posts” repeatedly, until it loads all of the archives dating back to July 17, 2010, where the initial obituary notice for Don’s lost taste buds appears. Or at least go as far back as “All Clear…and yet a little Fuzzy” on November 19, 2010, which is a real keeper.
Don wrote more than his share of successful films, including Rio, Happy Feet, and Big Momma’s House. The Oscar telecast is tomorrow night, and in spite of his long and impressive career, when it comes time to roll the tribute to prominent members of the film industry who’ve passed away this past year, it’s likely Don will be overlooked by the Academy one last time.
Now, my instinct — which, unfortunately, Don wasn’t around long enough to fully beat out of me — would be to treat this as an opportunity for some bitter screed about Hollywood’s lack of respect for screenwriters in general, and comedy writers in particular.
But that wasn’t Don’s way, and it’s not his family’s way, either — and thank goodness for that, because it led his son Andrew to create the following tribute to Don’s films. Even if you didn’t know Don, it’s a fun way to spend two minutes.
And if you DID know him, you may have the same reaction I did, which is to wonder how on earth you could get a lump in your throat watching clips of Martin Lawrence in drag.
Rest in peace, buddy.
So, this is exciting: Deadweather and Sunrise was just shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize in the U.K.
I am, as you can imagine, honored, flattered, and beyond certain that when it comes time to pick an actual winner, I’m going to get curb-stomped in the 5-to-12-year-old category. Probably by R.J. Palacio and Wonder, because everybody loves that book, and it’s hard to see how its deeply humane message of empathy and kindness could lose out to a story in which even the good kids aren’t above bashing each other in the head with cannonballs.
(Although I do think there’s a great deal of incisive social commentary buried in the pages of Deadweather and Sunrise, not to mention some rather piquant observations on the human condition as it pertains to 13-year-olds, so if you’re a Waterstones voter and you happen to be reading this, please don’t let my opinion prejudice you. Also: does Wonder REALLY need more publicity? I think not.)
But the absolutely coolest part of this news was the headline that England’s fourth-largest newspaper (yes, I googled that) chose to announce the shortlist:
It would seem a curious editorial choice to elevate to headline status a minor, two-decade-old credit from just one of eighteen different writers on the shortlist.
Unless, of course, your sense of humor is keen enough–so keen, in fact, as to be positively British–that you not only notice the absurd juxtaposition of Beavis and Butt-head and a putative literary honor, but are willing to make that minor absurdity the main point of your story.
I think this might go a long way toward explaining why the British liked Deadweather and Sunrise enough to put it on the shortlist to begin with.
It wasn’t what you’d expect.
It was NOT, for example, Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey.
Although my experience with that ride may have been soured by the 60-minute wait, which we had to endure despite sprinting to the ride the moment the park opened, and which felt at least three times that long, because I spent it alternately listening to my 10-year-old denounce — bitterly and at great length — our decision to skip the single-rider line (“we could have ridden it TWICE by now!”); my 12-year-old’s increasingly urgent pleas to abandon the line so he could pee (Me: “why didn’t you say something when we ran by that restroom in Seuss Landing?” Him: “I tried! You were running too fast!”); and my wife’s extended, Hamlet-worthy monologue on the subject of whether she might throw up her breakfast buffet from the Hilton (“I’m not used to eating eggs at this hour… Look at that warning sign: ‘This vehicle will suddenly accelerate, stop, turn, climb, and drop?’ Seriously, I’m really worried about this… Should I just wait for you in ‘child swap’?”).
Nor was it the Spiderman ride, which we went on immediately after the Harry Potter ride, and which, quite honestly, seemed like EXACTLY THE SAME RIDE, only with Dr. Octopus sneering at us instead of Draco Malfoy.
And it wasn’t the Hulk coaster. It would have been, but I spent the whole ride terrified that my wallet was falling out of my shorts.
It wasn’t the Rock-It coaster, either. In theory, I did appreciate the ability to choose my own personal soundtrack to enhance my roller coaster experience. But in practice, it was enormously distracting: I spent the first half of the ride mystified as to why I’d never heard of half the bands in the “hard rock” category, and the second half mentally disputing the placement of the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” in the hip-hop section (yes, THEY are hip-hop; IT, however, is not).
Dr. Doom’s Fear Fall was automatically disqualified for requiring me to wait 25 minutes to sit on a ride that lasted less than ten seconds. (“WHOOO! Wait–that’s it?” “Yes. Get off.”)
The Twister ride was just godawful — a fifteen-minute forced viewing of Bill Paxton talking about the “awesome, primal force” of tornados while sporting a haircut that must have already looked ridiculous back when the footage was shot in 1995, followed by somebody spritzing water on my head while dangling a giant plastic cow on a rope halfway across the room.
The Simpsons ride almost made the cut, but I just can’t bring myself to vote for a ride that force-pumps the smell of diapers into my face.
No. In the end, none of those rides delivered the kind of shocking, scream-out-loud-in-terror thrills of THE ABSOLUTELY BEST RIDE AT UNIVERSAL ORLANDO:
The auto flush toilet in the restroom across from the Classic Monsters Cafe.
Because it was scary, and violent, and I never saw it coming.
I was just sitting there (literally), minding my own business (figuratively), when a roaring noise like the space shuttle launch filled my ears, and the formerly placid water just inches below my most tender anatomical parts was suddenly transformed into a savagely churning maelstrom of gallons — literally, GALLONS — of water, fire-hosing through the bowl with an inhuman fury that even Bill Paxton’s liberal use of adjectival superlatives would have failed to adequately describe.
And it did not stop. Oh, no. It did not. It kept going, and going, and going…long past the point at which — had this been, say, Dr. Doom’s Fear Fall — my shoulder harness would have magically unbuckled itself and a pimply twenty-year-old in a polyester shirt would have given me a transparently insincere thumbs up and ordered me to exit to my left.
I do not exaggerate when I say that my screams could be heard as far away as Revenge of the Mummy.
But as thrilling as it was, when it finally ended — EVEN THOUGH the wait time was less than five minutes — I did not get back in line to ride it again.
Once was enough.