School Visits

Visiting Schools is a good way for me to meet my readers! And it is a good way for my readers to find out how I ‘make’ the books they are reading. My aim is to excite kids about writing, illustrating and READING!

My schedule fills up quickly. If you are interested in a visit, please try to book at least SIX months in advance. For fees, availability and more information, please contact me through my website.

My Program

I do an interactive program—asking questions as I talk. I talk about where I get my ideas, how I write and illustrate and how I first got published. My program is best suited to K-4, although I often present a more in-depth program to grades 5-6.


I use Apple Keynote (similar to Powerpoint). My slides include photos and cartoons of me, my family, my animals, my editor and of me as a young reader.

Drawing a story:

With students making suggestions, I draw the first couple of pages of a story. How will the story end? That’s up to the students to figure out back in their classrooms. I will leave my drawings with the school.

NOTE: This exercise is most valuable if teachers make some time after the presentation to work on the story!

Questions and Answers:

I welcome any questions. Students who are well acquainted with my books often have many.

Program Details

How Many Programs and How Long:

I do three programs per day. Each is 45 minutes to one hour. If necessary, I can do a fourth program for an additional fee.

Audience Size:

Large groups (150) are fine as long as the students can see and are comfortable. Grouping students of similar age is preferable.

Equipment Needed:

I will bring my own Apple laptop and can also bring my digital projector, if necessary. Please let me know if you need me to bring a projector!

You will need to supply:

  1. A microphone (needed if the groups are large)
  2. A large roll of white art paper. If I’m going to speak to large groups, they must be able to see what I am drawing! We will need to cut at least 3 sheets, 4-5 ft long for each group. Scissors to cut the paper. Drafting/Masking tape to put it up.
  3. A surface big enough to mount the paper on: – a movable blackboard, a large table on end or a smooth wall. (See the illustration above.)
  4. A few large black markers.NOTE: Fewer schools have movable blackboard/tack-boards to use as easels. As an option, I can bring a small Wacom tablet which I can hook into my computer enabling me to draw, projecting onto a screen. If I do this, I will send the school a digital file of the drawings which teachers can print out for their classrooms. We will need to talk about this ahead of time.
  5. A table or media cart for my laptop and projector.
  6. A schedule. I’d like to know the schedule, what grade levels and how many children will be in each session.

Autographing and Book Sales

Most schools I visit feel it is important that students and staff have a chance to own a book by the author they’ve just met.

Ordering Books:

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt makes my books available to schools at a substantial discount when I visit. Call my publisher at: 1- 800-225-3362

Many schools pass on part of the discount to their students and use the remainder to raise funds for their next author visit. This can be a successful and relatively painless fund-raiser that encourages READING! In most schools PTO/PTA volunteers are happy to handle this part of the author visit.

Don’t be afraid to order extra books! It’s amazing how many people suddenly want books the day I visit. Unsold books can be returned to the publisher. The invoice is paid after the author event. You pay only for the books you sell plus return shipping.

Another option is to order books through your local bookstore. Many are experienced with author visits, will deliver books to the school and will also offer a discount—less than what the publisher will offer— but they will handle shipping and returns. And it’s a chance to support your local bookstore!

I will supply a book order form which you can adapt however you wish.

On request, I will send signed bookmark templates which you can print or photocopy.

Signing Books:

I am happy to autograph books with a signature and drawing.

Each book should have a slip of paper with the name of the person to whom it is to be autographed. (FIRST NAME ONLY!)

I prefer not to autograph books while students are waiting in line. (It takes much longer and in my experience, all that waiting is hard on students and stressful for everyone.) And I’ll have time to draw a small picture in each book!

I will also provide a template for a signed and illustrated bookmark which you can run off on a copier. This will give everyone an ‘autograph’.

If you have any questions, please contact me through my website.

Preparing your students

Be sure you have enough time to prepare! Students who are well prepared get so much more out of the program.

In many schools, librarians read my books to the students. It is also helpful if the teachers, whose students are attending my program, are familiar with my books.

Need project ideas? Look at the Classroom Connections page on my website.

Each Teacher should have:

  • A copy of the Program Description and Preparing Your Students
  • My web site address – – and for teachers of younger kids: the monkey website address –
  • A list of my books


All students should be familiar with my books! I’ve found the more prepared the students are, the more they get out of my program. So, READ! READ! READ! Read AS MANY DIFFERENT titles as possible. I’m known for the monkey books, but I’ve written many other popular titles!

>> Start reading my books at least six weeks before my visit.


Discuss what an author/illustrator does. Read my books, What Do Authors Do? and What Do Illustrators Do? Discuss what questions students might want to ask. (With the youngest students, talk about what a question is.)


Teachers and students have created plays, bulletin boards with graphs, charts, illustrated stories, word games, puppets, quilts… all pertaining to my stories. Get the whole school involved! These projects generate a lot of excitement and enthusiasm about the author’s visit. Need project ideas? Look at the Classroom Connections page on my website.