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On author visits to schools, I tell children that I was the youngest of nine kids. (Three brothers, one sister, and four cousins who came to live with us when their mother died.)  Because my parents were so busy, my older siblings spent a lot of time looking after me. In a sense, you could say that I was raised by children. I think that’s why I feel comfortable around young people and write stories that children (hopefully) find funny. 

I was lucky the other day when I met with three second-graders at the Princeton Junior School to talk about the first book, Addy McBean, Numbers Queen, in a new chapter-book series I’m writing for the Aladdin/Quix imprint at Simon & Schuster. (The session was filmed and you can watch the video below.) Since Book # 1 won’t be ready until July 2024, I shared copies of a few of Stacy Curtis’s illustrations and told the children a little bit about the story. They saw things in the artwork that I hadn’t even noticed—and they had lots of interesting things to say when I asked them questions. But guess what happened next? At the moment Gabrielle, the videographer, shut off her camera, we experienced a huge BUMP. It felt as if the school had been picked up by a giant and then dropped on the ground—kind of like a huge hiccup. I wondered what had happened. The kids’ eyes grew as large as two zeroes.  “Earthquake!” they yelled and bolted out to the playground. They knew exactly where to go and what to do, whereas Gabrielle and I didn’t have a clue. We finally dashed through the front door to the parking lot—and only found out later that the kids had been right. Indeed, we had experienced a rare New Jersey earthquake. Maybe someday I can work this incident into a children’s book.  The whole experience was pretty exciting!

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