Saturday, January 26, 2013

Fun in Kansas

Greetings from Olathe, Kansas, where I am experiencing the single nicest thing that has ever happened to me as a children's book author. The school district here has launched a new district-wide program called F.R.E.D. - Families Read Every Day. As part of this program, a team of teachers, principals, and parents selected one book to be read by all of the 14,000 students in the district's 34 elementary schools, and the book they chose was - drum roll - my Mason Dixon: Pet Disasters.  And so I've been invited to Kansas to do a few days of school visits and library presentations and generally to savor every second of my fifteen minutes - actually, two weeks, all told - of fame.

The district purchased close to 15,000 copies of the book, provided to them at cost by the fabulous Kansas City indie bookstore Reading Reptile. The children read a chapter each evening at home with their families. See the picture of one family happily reading, above.

The F.R.E.D. team prepared a booklet of activities to accompany the reading, so as I walked down the hallways of each school I've seen kids' drawings of the Halloween costumes they would have made for Mason's hamster as well as sponge paintings of Mason's goldfish and crazily decorated socks to contrast with the plain brown socks Mason prefers. Posters of the mayor, the school superintendent, teachers, families, and pets reading the book delight me everywhere I go.

This afternoon I'll speak to a group at the public library, where I've been told that Fig Newtons, Mason's favorite cookie, will be served. I just signed dozens of hardcover books of the other two titles in the series, Mason Dixon: Fourth Grade Disasters and Mason Dixon: Basketball Disasters, to be awarded as grand prizes for the ongoing trivia contest (with winners from each school).

After this heady week, I really think I should never again complain about anything, ever.