What’s a school author visit via Skype like? I just experienced two successful ones so I thought I’d share my experience in the hopes that you will be able to get authors to your kids’ school too! Skype is really very easy and kids are surprisingly unperturbed when there are minor technical issues which can pop up.
I’d first like to preface Jarrett’s Skype presentation by saying that he is a total rock star. Have you seen his TEDTalk which has garnered over 650k views? His talk moved me to tears.
Your next question might be, “Is he always this amazing? This present? This inspiring?”
And my answer would be, “Oh yes! Always! And funny to boot!”
I first met Jarrett on an online Random House book chat. It’s a little like a Twitter party where participants type in short questions and he responds in kind.
Here’s an example:
In jest I told Jarrett via the LiveChat that I might email him to get more names of funny children’s book authors with difficult to spell and pronounce names.
And he shot back, “… if you need the list of difficult names, we have quarterly meetings throughout the year. :)”
I just thought he was so fast on his feet, witty and downright hilarious. It’s no wonder that his books are funny!
I then met him IRL (in real life) when he did a book signing for his first Platypus Police Squad mystery chapter book series at Peter H. Reynolds‘ bookstore, Blue Bunny Bookstore in Dedham. Again, he was charming and delighted the kids who were there.
His young daughter was there as well and she’s wonderfully confident, advising me on how I should get my books inscribed to my son’s teacher. “Ms. Donahue or Emily or Emily Donahue?” I asked her? “Emily!” she replied firmly. Jarrett said apoligetically, “She goes to Montessori. She calls her teachers by their first name.” (And Ms. Donahue was delighted by the inscription of “Emily” as advised by a smart young preschooler!
Jarrett Krosoczka’s Skype Author School Visit
I was lucky to participate in a Skype author visit at an elementary school in my school district. We were previewing his visit to see LIVE how kids respond to a Skype author visit versus an in person visit. Our school district has traditionally brought in authors face-to-face and there was concern about technology not being as effective.
The Skype visit was hosted by Reederama, an amazing school librarian who posted on it as well. The Skype visit with Jarrett started with two videos that he only provides if you book his Skype visit. (They are so great that one of the parents who viewed it with me asked if her school could rent the videos separately from the Skype visit.)
The videos cover how he wrote the Punk Farm and Lunch Lady series. They are wonderful and I would highly recommend that the kids view these videos IN ADVANCE of the Skype author actual visit just to make the presentation shorter for them. These second graders sat patiently for 1 1/2 hours but I think 45 minutes on the floor would be more comfortable for them.
Here are some images from those two slide presentations:
Jarrett shared his early comics he wrote as a child.
This is a comic he did in high school.
Part of Jarrett’s Skype author visit is the very popular Q and A with students. As you can imagine, Reederama prepared her students well. They were familiar with different genres of Jarrett’s books. His books were also on display in the library. Students also wrote questions in advance.
I’ve noticed that author visits ALWAYS go well if the kids are familiar with the author’s books. And writing questions in advance gets them very excited about meeting the author. It makes them realize that they get to talk to an actual author about something they care about.
With an overhead camera, the kids can see Jarrett and he can view them back so it feels like he is in the room. A darkened room also helps make him come sharply into focus.
I took some video of his Skype visit to give you a feel for his live presentation.
Jarrett Draws the Lunch Lady
Jarrett always include a drawing demonstration in any of his author visits and the kids are riveted by how quickly the character emerges. He also explains how he draws for a book (versus a demonstration).
I noticed that the kids really picked up on the details of the “blue pencil” that doesn’t replicate on a photocopier. The mechanics of how to make a book really seems to fascinate kids and I learned a lot as well!
Jarrett’s New Releases and learning about Trim Size
It’s fun just to hear Jarrett off the cuff! He’s really engaging! He talks about his new releases this year which include a new picture book, Peanut Butter and Jellyfish, a new Lunch Lady release and a new chapter book in his Platypus Police Squad. But as he talked about Peanut Butter and Jellyfish, he segued about his dilemma in figuring out trim size which is the size of the book.
A Tour of Jarrett’s Studio
A Skype visit is not complete without a tour of the author’s studio and Jarrett’s tour did not disappoint. The kids seemed to enjoy meeting Jarrett’s dog as well!
I hope this gave you a feel for a school author visit via Skype and it will inspire you to book children’s book authors for your school or children’s book club. It’s a very affordable option and you can often even get Skype author visits for free (I’ve won a few when authors do a book launch!).
3 Winner GIVEAWAY for Signed Copy of Peanut Butter and Jellyfish!
To win a personally signed copy of Peanut Butter and Jellyfish, please enter the Rafflecopter below. Jarrett will even draw in Peanut Butter and Jellyfish when he signs your book!!!
What authors have you seen via Skype or would like to see? Please share!
p.s. These are the books Jarrett talked about:
After a long day of work, Farmer Joe goes home to bed.
But meanwhile, back at the barn . . .
Cow sets up her drums.
Pig plugs in his amp.
Goat tunes his bass.
Chicken sets up her keyboards.
And Sheep checks the microphone.
They are Punk Farm and tonight they’re ready to ROCK!
With adorable farm animals – and a surprise tribute to Old MacDonald – this rollicking tale is sure to have kids cheering–and singing–along.
Peanut Butter and Jellyfish
Peanut Butter and Jellyfish are the best of friends. They swim up. They swim down. They swim all around. Except near Crabby, who never has anything nice to say to them. “You two swim like humans” is the least of his insults.
Then one day Crabby is caught in a lobster trap and needs their help! Should they help him? It’s Peanut Butter and Jellyfish to the rescue! Crabby might be afraid of heights . . . but will he be brave enough to apologize?
Lunch Lady and the Schoolwide Scuffle
Lunch Lady and Betty have been unceremoniously cut from the school budget, and the timing couldn’t be worse—the villains from all nine of her previous adventures are worming their way back into Thompson Brook with a masterfully devious plan. Will the Breakfast Bunch still be able to count on Lunch Lady’s superhero gadgets and abilities to save the school, or are they on their own? Don’t miss Lunch Lady’s swashbuckling finale!
Platypus Police Squad: The Ostrich Conspiracy
Jarrett J. Krosoczka is back with The Ostrich Conspiracy, the second installment in a fast-paced, action-packed, and hilarious middle-grade series featuring two platypus detectives, perfect for fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Big Nate, and Lunch Lady.
The opening of the Kalamazoo City Dome—the world’s largest indoor amusement complex—has everyone in the city buzzing, especially because it’s going to be the shooting site for Chase Mercy’s new blockbuster film. But that’s when things start to go haywire. Who would want to sabotage the Dome, and why? Detectives Rick Zengo and Corey O’Malley are on the case!
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.