Welcome to my Blog Joe. It is great to have you here. Please tell us a bit about yourself and your new book.
I decided to write for children because over the span of a thirty-three year teaching career, I saw the tremendous impact that Shel Silverstein had on my students. They loved his poetry and illustrations. They would beg to hear his poems. As a teacher, I loved it when our four walls filled up with laughter. It bonded students and teacher together on the great enterprise of becoming all you could be, while enjoying the journey with some laughs along the way. If students discover that their teacher likes to laugh, the teacher becomes more likable, and rapport is easier to establish. With the help of the late Shel Silverstein’s poetry books, I read some of his poetry on the first day.
When I realized how popular and powerful Shel’s poetry was, I started writing poetry for children about school and home. I wrote poems about topics that I hadn’t seen explored by other poets such as what would I do if I were a kid in charge of the school? What if the pencil sharpener could complain about how kids treat it? What if there really was a money tree? What if your brother ate like a Hoover vacuum? What if your pet was a p-e-s-t? What if there was a money tree growing in the backyard? What if your dad thought he was king of the castle, but mom actually ruled? My students enjoyed my silly poems touched with truth, and they encouraged me to put them in a book for all kids to read.
But who would illustrate them as well as Shel? Fortunately for me I didn’t have to look the world over. She was already in my school—the art teacher Lori Aman! I had noticed for years how funny her drawings were on the school newsletters that went home. Lori was fantastic at cartooning. So I asked if she would be interested in illustrating my poetry. We soon discovered that in terms of kids, teaching, and values we were on the same magical wavelength. We were both definitely kid advocates. We wanted the best experiences for kids, including laughs, giggles, and insights when they read poetry. Lori illustrated three books of poetry. Her illustrations are kinder and gentler than Shel’s, but filled with the same kind of fun and craziness.
Nonetheless, for years, I daydreamed about writing a serious book about the many things that I learned from being a tween, teen, young adult, teacher, parent, and grandparent. I wondered how to include famous inspirational quotes and what stories I should tell. My first format idea was a simple flip book with 101 SECRETS FOR KIDS! My writing friend, Ivy W. Hofmann said, “Joe, you really need to put yourself in the book. Tell some of your favorite stories.” And I did.
Debra Ross, publisher of KidsOutAndAbout.com, says that “Joe’s secrets are strategies that anyone can learn, and his stories help you see that others have been there before. Follow some of these guidelines and, I promise, your life will improve in small or large ways. You want to know, RIGHT NOW, how to be a better friend, how to learn what you need to learn to be successful at school and in your career someday, how to avoid bullies, how to be happier? Read this book, find what is useful to you, and practice it!”
Thank you Irene Roth for hosting this book tour.
Thanks so much for visiting with me and telling my readers and followers all about yourself. Your background is very interesting, and I was honored to have you here today. All the best of luck in your future writing projects.
Donna McDine will be hosting Tuesday’s tour at www.donna-mcdine.blogspot.com. Please visit tomorrow to find out more about Joe.