Author Jarrett J. Krosoczka on picture books, graphic novels, and his first chapter book

Image courtesy of StudioJJK

Image courtesy of StudioJJK

On May 23, author Jarrett J. Krosoczka held a virtual launch party for his very first chapter book, Platypus Police Squad (linked to my review and giveaway). I knew that Krosoczka was known for interaction with the public, be at book signings or school visits. He visited my son’s school two years ago, which made his Lunch Lady graphic novels and his picture books like Punk Farm, even more popular on library check-out day (even still).

So I thought that I’d make an effort to check out one of the three live video chats he hosted on the day of the launch. I almost forgot, but saw the notice on Facebook once the first one was underway, so I set myself a reminder to tune in to the second. He was charming! His dog Ralph — Macchio — (pictured above) even made an appearance at the one I watched, which took place at Jarrett’s studio at his home in Northampton, Massachusetts. Like any good dog owner, he knew that Ralph was about to get loud, so he scooped him up and introduced us.

Since the video cast was in honor of the release of his very first chapter book, one of the first thing he addressed was the questions he’s gotten about the differences between writing different types of books. He said that writing picture books and graphic novels are like red apples and green apples, but writing his first chapter book was like a pineapple.

There are many similarities between graphic novels and picture books. The story is told through pictures with text, graphic novels having a bit more text. I was curious if he thought about the story first, or the characters, and he said that he always really gets to know the characters visually first.

Writing a chapter book was so different. He’s definitely an accomplished author with many picture books and graphic novels under his belt, but getting in the right groove to write a chapter book was a different animal (or fruit, as the case may be). On the videocast, he showed his editor’s notes on his first draft — many, many pages of constructive criticism to make the story stronger. I loved that he shared that. What a great reminder to any child (or adult!) that criticism doesn’t mean failure.

The live questions from the audience made each of the two sessions different. I tuned in to the evening one so that my kids could watch. My high school daughter, in particular, wanted to ask him advice that he might have to an aspiring artist/illustrator, because she thinks she might like to work in animation or illustration. He gave her great, age-appropriate advice. He said that even if her focus is on cartoons, her portfolio should include life art as well. He was rejected the first time he applied to RISD, because his portfolio was almost completely cartoon illustrations. He worked on a new portfolio which included all kinds of art and was accepted.

He definitely knows how to connect with his audience, and I love that. Leave a comment and join the conversation — has Jarrett J. Krosoczka connected with you? Or does something here make you more curious about his books or him as an author/artist?

platypus police squad
I watched the vidcast before I started the book, but wanted to run this information in conjunction with my review and giveaway of The Platypus Police Squad. I liked his style when I “met” him, and then my son and I both loved the book. Click through and read my review and then leave a comment if you’d like to enter to win your own copy.

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  1. says

    Pretty much ever since, I’ve done everything I can to get graphic novels more attention: interviews with their authors, reviews of new books and, most especially, helping to organise the annual Jonathan Cape/ Observer Graphic Short Story prize , now entering its fourth great year. This has been a great success. A former winner, Julian Hanshaw, has already published his first book, The Art of Pho; another shortlisted author has since been commissioned to write his.
    Pablo Matthews recently posted..No last blog posts to return.My Profile

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