Author Audrey Vernick

How is the last Friday of May treating you? Well! Great to hear it! I always look forward to Friday because I know an author, an illustrator, or an educator will finish my sentences. This week's special guest is Audrey Vernick. We chatted about Edgar's Second Word, Casey Snowden, school libraries, and reading. I wrote the words in red, and she wrote the words in black. Thank you, Audrey! 

Edgar’s Second Word tells the story of big sister Hazel who has waited forever for her baby brother and then another forever for him to start talking. She can’t wait to read him books and answer his whispered questions. But Edgar, mighty Edgar, has other ideas.

Priscilla Burris’ illustrations make me stammer about pitch-perfect cuteness. I always say that the day the artwork arrives always feels like someone somewhere was thinking, “What is the very best gift we can give Audrey Vernick? I know! Let’s illustrate words she wrote! Let’s bring her story to life.” Priscilla Burris’ illustrations do that to perfection.

Twelve-year-old Casey Snowden lives at what he considers the best place on earth, his father’s umpire school, Behind the Plate (BTP). He loves baseball but what he loves most of all is writing about it, and he can’t wait to write for the middle school newspaper. Casey may have stumbled into the story of the year if that umpire school student is, as he suspects, a former major leaguer disgraced in a very public steroid scandal. Casey also finds himself in charge of BTP’s annual You Suck, Ump Day, when just about everyone in town shows up to heckle the umpire students--real-world practice for working as an umpire in a ballpark. There’s also a best friend with an unhealthy obsession with reality TV; a 10-year old girl he’d very much like to avoid who keeps stumbling into his path; and a mother who left years ago, whose return is not at all a welcome one. 

School libraries give me the chills every time I walk into one for a school visit. I see my people there, the readers and re-readers, and the lingering child hoping she can check out an extra book this week. 

Picture books are where connections happen. Whether it’s the youngest children on the laps of parents (or older siblings, in the case of Edgar and Hazel), or kids in a classroom with an engaged teacher, or reluctant readers finally finding subject matter that ignites excitement. 

Reading is oddly close to religion for me. It’s part of my everyday life, helps me understand the challenges others face and examine the ones in my own life. And I love nothing so much as losing myself in the between-the-covers life of an irresistible character.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me why is rereading books important? I have a not-yet-proven-by-science theory that people who reread often as children are more likely to become writers. I believe that in the act of rereading, some magical process happens in the back of your brain, some subconscious understanding of how stories are structured. I would never want to lose the joy I take in reading—and I suspect that becoming an analytical reader would do just that. I consider myself lucky that I reread a lot when I was young—Ursula Nordstrom’s The Secret Language, Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy, Paul Zindel’s The Pigman, Syd Hoff’s Irving and Me, countless treasures from Scholastic Book Clubs, too.

I am giving away one copy of Edgar's Second Word

Rules for the Giveaway 

1. It will run from 5/30 to 11:59 p.m. on 6/1. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. Please pay it forward. 

Borrow Edgar's Second Word from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 


  1. I love your blog. It never fails to satisfy.

  2. Wow, Audrey, you've got books of all shapes and sizes poppin' out all over the place! :D These trailers are terrific and love the baseball goin' on (Jeter's last year *sigh*--hard to believe). I'm in for the giveaway 'cause Edgar and Hazel are just too darn cute :) Hope to see you at the conference next month! :) Thanks for the terrific interview, John :D

  3. A great interview, I particularly like Audrey's point about making connections. I think picture books are such a valuable resource for children of all ages.

  4. "But Edgar, mighty Edgar, has other ideas."
    This roars of hilarity to come. Can't wait to read it!

  5. Audrey's words about rereading ring so true. That magic is vital. The readers at the Brooklyn New School are already huge fans -- would love to add this to their collection!


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