For Teachers

  “You were such a hit and the kids did not stop talking about you all the way to the last day of school. Thank you so much for taking the time to come! You may never truly know the extent of your influence.” - Mrs. Boultinghouse, 5th grade teacher, Kokomo, IN

•   “The kids were thrilled with the chance to meet you and enjoyed how interactive your presentation was. Your messages and advice reinforced perfectly what the 4th graders have been learning all year: reading helps you become a better writer and the writing process is something that requires practice (and editing!). We are so appreciative!” - Parent liaison, John Stanford Elementary, Seattle, WA

  “Many of the students who listened to you wrote thank you cards, and drew all kinds of pictures. They were not instructed to do so, but did because they were truly inspired by you.” – Ms.O., Librarian, El Paso, TX

  “Thanks so much for presenting to our 6th grade gifted students. You generated such a buzz that students told their parents about the interesting things they learned in the presentation – a rare feat for middle school students!” - Ms. H., 6th Grade Teacher, Albuquerque, NM

   “I just received a text from Tessa’s mom saying that you and Battle of the Books are what turned Tessa into a reader.” - Ms. Josephine., Elementary School Librarian, Corrales, NM



 Here are some of the things I like to share with students:

•  Writers Don’t Just Write Books. I talk about the many things I’ve written in my career – novels, picture books, kids’ computer games, animated television shows, corporate videos, commercials, and picture books, kids’ computer games, television shows, corporate video, commercials, and picture books; and we talk about how many other jobs exist in the world for writers. (Plus it’s illuminating to consider that there are things that haven’t even been invented. Who knew there’d be an interactive computer industry when I was a kid? Not me!)

We’re All Storytellers. I get kids thinking about how we’re all storytellers and writers, underscoring that everyone has a story to tell. We talk about the importance of stories because they connect us and help define us as human beings. We also discuss some of the things that drive a good story.

• Where Do Ideas Come From? I share some of the tricks that I use when I write – all things they can use when they write their own stories.

• Writing, Writing & Rewriting. I discuss the writing process and the importance of revisions and editing.

• Be Brave! Stretch Yourself! I encourage kids to embrace a growth mindset, to stretch themselves, to think of their brains as muscles, and to try to banish that inner voice that says, “I can’t do that.”

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I’m also happy to visit your classroom virtually via Skype. I can offer your students signed books before and after our Skype visit, through my local independent bookseller who can ship the books to your school.

Interested in an on-site or virtual visit? Drop me a line! 

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Reading “Hello There, We’ve Been Waiting for You!” in your classroom or library?  Here are some things you might want to discuss:


1. Don’t judge a book by its cover.

• What or who did Madison judge before she learned the truth?

• What are some things you may have judged before learning more about a situation or a person? Did learning more help you change your opinion?

• Are there some things or people you might look at differently after reading this book?


2. Little white lies.

 • Madison feels uncomfortable when people lie and she considers herself a terrible liar. How do you feel about telling lies?

• How do you feel when you hear other people telling lies?

• Have you ever told a lie? (Don’t worry – everybody has at some point!) How did it make you feel?

• Is there ever a good time to tell a lie?

• What’s the difference between a “little white lie” and a regular lie?


3. Sometimes Madison has a hard time saying what’s on her mind because she doesn’t want to hurt someone’s feelings

 Do you think it’s better to tell the truth even though it might hurt someone else’s feelings?

• Why is it important to tell people what you need, and what happens when you don’t?

• What are some ways that you can tell people what you need without hurting their feelings?


4. With the death of her mother, Madison has a lot to cope with, but she still manages to find happiness in her life without the person she loves most.

 What are some of the things Madison does to help her to deal with the loss of her mother?

• Everybody experiences hard things in life, even if it’s not the loss of a parent. What are some hard things you’ve experienced and how have you managed to deal with them?


5. People are characters in a story, but places can be like characters too. Madison lived with her mom on Bainbridge Island in the Northwest, and then she moves to the New Mexican desert to live with her grandmother.

• What would the “character” of an island in the Northwest be, compared to a desert town in southern New Mexico?

• How do the two geographical places reflect Madison’s life and her experiences when she is – or was – living there?

• What are some of the ways you’d describe the place where you live to make your own city or town come to life as a character?


6. Truth or Consequences is a real town in New Mexico!

 How does the name of the town fit into the story?

• Can you think of the names of any towns – real or imagined – that would be a good place to set a story and reflect its theme?


7. Can you think of other books you’ve read that dealt with some of these same issues of telling the truth, learning to speak up, or judging a book by its cover?

 How are they similar or different?


8. If you had a MegaPix 6000…

 Would you want to zap inside of it?  How would you use it? Where would you go?