Visit to Rye-Neck Middle School

Had a great visit yesterday to Rye-Neck Middle School where all the students read Benny. Even the 6th graders were in to the book, and I had lunch with a number of students, who shared their favorite books and talked about some of their own writing projects. Special thanks to librarian, Linda Costelloe, Linda Mazzeo, Chris Macli, and Nora Lucas. Also, a shout to Rye-Neck’s great principal, Eric Lutinski, who’s always supportive of bringing in authors.

Inspiring Visit To St. Andrews

Last Wednesday I visited St. Andrews in Barrington, RI, where all the middle schoolers read The Life and Times of Benny Alvarez. Over the years, I’ve learned that the success of my visits depends of course on the kids, but also on how well teachers prepare the students before I arrive. Gregg O’Brien and Mary Ann Murgo and their crew did an amazing job, and the response to and questions about the books were amazing. I was especially impressed with how easily the students grasped the idea of metaphor, and I’m looking forward to going back to read their object poems. It made me realize how well Benny works as a book but also as an extended lesson on poetry. After the visit, the kids went outside and played a round a miniature golf, just as Benny’s family would have. Thanks again to St. Andrews.

Great Visits to Henry Barnard and Curtis Corner Middle School in South Kingston, RI

Last week reminded me of why I like what I do. All the 4th and 5th graders at Henry Barnard School read The Life and Times of Benny Alvarez, and all the 7th graders at Curtis Corner School read The Amazing Adventures of John Smith Jr., aka Houdini. The librarians and teachers really had the students prepared. They asked great questions and, as usual, taught me things about my own books. Also, as usual, everyone wants a sequel to Houdini (giving me many suggestions), but that will have to come from a different publisher. So thanks to all, especially Holly Nagib and Brittany Dunne.

New short story in an anthology on guns and teens

In September I have a new story, “The Gunslinger,” forthcoming in Taking Aim: Power and Pain, Teens and Guns, edited by Michael Cart, with other stories from the likes of Joyce Carol Oats, Walter Dean Myers, Chris Crutcher, and Francesca Lia Block. These are very powerful stories about a problem that continues to haunt our culture, and I’m proud to be in such esteemed company. You can pre-order the book at

Great Visit to Dartmouth Middle School

dartmouthposterLast Thursday, over 300 7th graders read The Amazing Adventures of John Smith Jr., aka Houdini at Dartmouth Middle School in Dartmouth, MA. Literacy coach Karen Babbitt and so many others made the visit special. But the kids stole the show, making posters and just really responding to the book on a very high level. I’ll look forward to coming back next year. This visit reminded me of why we writers do what we do.