Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Reward - by Jason Kirschner

    So…I wrote this book.

It's a total mess. I know.
    I spent hours and days and months writing and revising in my little attic studio until I had the text exactly as I wanted it.  And then I started to draw. And draw. And draw until the illustrations were just as I envisioned them.  We sold the book (yay!) and then I began to revise and revise and — you see where this is going.  There was a LOT of time up there alone in the attic with only my cats for company and, quite frankly, they’re not the friendliest.  We didn’t get into Wilson the volleyball territory but I wasn’t that far off.  Then, one day not too long ago, the book was released into the wild.  There were social media posts and tags and tweets and someone opened the door to the attic and said “Come on out buddy.”

    And I did.  I made it out of the attic, had a shower and a shave, and moved on to promoting the book.  This largely meant book signings and school visits. I was nervous. Would I read the book well? What if I lose my place on the page. Would I keep their attention?  Do you banter with kids? Which shirt in my closet looked friendliest? Plaid seemed wrong somehow.  And what if no-one came?

    But all the hand wringing was for naught.  People did show.*  Plaid turned out to be ok. Some kids do banter and I had no reason to be nervous.  Why?  Because kids are great!! That’s why we write for them.  After months of talking only to cats, I had forgotten.  I forgot about the random comments and questions.  The utterly astonishing non-sequiturs.  Their absolute need to tell you about their pets and grandparents.  The tidal wave of sound that occurs when you ask a group of kids ages 2-9 any hypothetical question. Most of all, I forgot that I LOVE those things. 

See? Plaid was ok. @ Little City Books.
    So now I sit up there on my little stool and read my book. I ask lots of questions along the way and provide many many points of audience participation.  If you have a question, don’t save it until the end — I almost encourage the interruptions now. And except for the one kid that brought me his booger mid-book, (not making it up) I’ve not been disappointed. 

Kid-made superhero banners.
    This is the reward, people. The kids are the reward.  I did a school visit today (shout out to Slackwood School!) for 200+ kids that made banners and superhero signs for me.  They listened and laughed and cheered at my story.  Some asked me about how they can become authors too. Others asked about character creations and plot points. One kid asked what a rutabaga was.  SO MANY questions. All about my book…the one from the attic, with the cats and the volleyball.  The book I doubted myself about regularly.  They loved it. It made my heart happy.

    I can’t wait to get back to my attic and write another one.

*Full Disclosure: There was one book signing where no one except my grown cousins showed up. But we went out for burgers so it was all good.  Thick skin people. Thick skin.

And fine -- I did have a volleyball friend.  His name is Pierre and he accepts me for who I am. Happy now?

Jason Kirschner is the author and illustrator of Mr. Particular: The World's Choosiest Champion from Sterling which you can now find on shelves in bookstores everywhere. Get your own copy by clicking here and see more of Jason's work at


  1. I love this post, Jason. Truly heartfelt and honest telling of the journey from book to school visits for the first time. I too, am scared for this stage when it's my turn. But you put everything in perspective, and you are right–kids are awesome. The inner kid in all of us is what makes these books anyways. :-)

  2. Your post makes me want to be around kids more! Loved this, Jason! And I do remember all the audience participation you encouraged at the event in Montclair. Great job!