Friday, May 8, 2015

Author-illustrator Jennifer K. Mann

I'm celebrating Children's Book Week with author-illustrator Jennifer K. Mann. We chatted about Mrs. Benson, Ginger, Candlewick Press, picture books, reading, and her dog. I wrote the words in purple, and she wrote the words in black. Thank you, Jennifer! 


I will Never Get a Star on Mrs. Benson’s Blackboard hits shelves on June 9, 2015.


I wrote and illustrated I Will Never Get a Star on Mrs. Benson’s Blackboard because I had a rough second grade year. My teacher, Mrs. Priest, caused her students to have stomachaches by threatening to dump out their messy desks. She also pointed out the errors on their math sheets in front of the whole class. I won’t say which of these things actually happened to me. The memory of that teacher and that year stuck with me, and it felt like a story that some kids (and maybe some adults) could relate to. Despite that bad year, I became pretty good at math and went on to become an architect, and now I am an artist with a messy desk.


Ginger and Lyla are the main characters in my picture book called Two Speckled Eggs. Ginger is forced to invite nerdy, weird Lyla to her birthday party with all of the other girls in her class. When the other girls have spoiled all the fun, it is Lyla who saves the day with quiet kindness and just the right gift.


Illustration Credit: Jennifer K. Mann


Candlewick Press is a magical publishing house employing kind, passionate, talented people who are dedicated to making beautiful, funny, exciting, important books for children. It is also where my first three books as author and illustrator have been published. (Actually, one is still in the process of being published—Sam and Jump, Spring 2016!)


Click here to view Jennifer's website. 
Jen’s Red Wagon is the Radio Flyer wagon with high wooden sides that I used to haul my kids around town when they were little. We got to know a lot of kind and wonderful people because of that wagon. Even now, people whom I think I am meeting for the first time will say they recognize me from the days when I pulled my kids around town in the red wagon. Jen’s Red Wagon is also the name of my website/blog and it is my twitter handle. 


Illustration Credit: Jennifer K. Mann


Reading is a way for us to discover things about ourselves that we don’t already know.


Picture books are irresistible! Who can resist feasting their eyes on the wondrous art and words of wisdom found in picture books? There is no more accessible portal into the human imagination.




Mr. Schu, you should have asked me whose real names appear on Mrs. Benson’s blackboard! The names of my two children, the two children of my very dear friend, and my dog, all appear on Mrs. Benson’s blackboard—because  they all deserve stars! Well, maybe not my dog Lottie, but she got one anyway.












Borrow Jennifer's books from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

3 comments:

  1. Jennifer, I wish you continued success and I'm so sorry you had a rough 2nd grade year. I taught 4th grade for 35 years and pray no one says that about the year they spent with me. I love that you said, Candlewick publishes important books for children. What could be better than that!

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  2. What a wonderful interview, Jennifer! I love your work! Congratulations and much continued success.

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  3. Everything about this post made me smile. Love this quote " Reading is a way for us to discover things about ourselves that we don’t already know." Thanks, Jennifer!

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