Nancy Krulik is author of the Katie Kazoo series, the most recent book being Vote for Suzanne. She has written over 100 books, three of which were New York Times bestsellers. Although Nancy has written some books for teens, she is most well-known for the Katie Kazoo series. Nancy has two children and a brown and white cocker spaniel named Pepper. Check out the Katie Kazoo website at http://www.katiekazoo.com and make sure that you're signed up for the Katie Kazoo Classroom Crew at http://www.katiekazoo.com/classroom.html.
If you are interested in having Nancy Krulik make an appearance at your school, library, or conference, please use the online request form or email the Author Appearance Coordinator at authorvisits[at]us.penguingroup.com with possible dates, your school name, location, details about the day, and your contact information.
Facebook. Myspace. Wii games. One hundred twenty-seven different channels on the television. Those of us who care really deeply about reading are definitely fighting an uphill battle when it comes to convincing kids that reading is quite possibly the most exciting and thrilling activity they can engage in. And I don't just say that as an author fighting to keep her chosen field from extinction. I say that as reader, who has had some of her most memorable experiences while reading. I know for certain that author visits encourage kids to read. I hear from young readers all the time who tell me that after I visited their schools, they went out and bought or borrowed more books in the Katie Kazoo Switcheroo series. I get their drawings in the mail, and see their Youtube dramatizations of my books. The videos are my favorites, because their very existence shows me that kids are still reading; they're just finding ways to incorporate what they've read into the technological world they live in.
Oh, and then there's always the comment I got from a third grade girl in an elementary school in Florida. She told me, "I didn't know there really was a Nancy Krulik. I thought it was just a name they put on the books."
Kind of like Carolyn Keene, I guess.
That third grader was really excited to find out there really was a person behind the name. And I'm always excited to be able to put a face on the kids who read my books. That's the magic of author visits.
Penguin: What is a typical appearance like with you?
Nancy: Typical is not exactly a word I would use to describe an appearance of mine. I guess any time you get a room of elementary school kids together, anything can happen. That's what makes visiting schools around the country so exciting for me. I learn as muchif not morfrom the kids as they do from me, particularly because participation from the kids and their teachers is something I depend on to make my appearances successful.
Each time I visit a school, I bring along my Katie Kazoo Switcheroo Players Bag. It's filled with scripts, wigs, hats, noses, funny eyeglasses, and rings, all to be used as costumes for the short play, "Katie Kazoo and How She Started to Switcheroo," that I like to put on. I choose six members of the audience to play the characters in the Katie Kazoo Switcheroo books, and I narrate the play. The students really love seeing their friends up on stage with me. Sometimes I even get the teachers up there to play the parts, and that really makes the kids happy. (Who wouldn't want to see their teacher in a bright red wig or with a dog nose on her face?)
After the play, I like to read from a Katie Kazoo book then talk about where I get ideas from and how my characters develop through the series. I always discuss the editing process, because so many teachers request that I talk about the importance of rewriting. Finally, I take questions from the audience. That's my favorite part of the day, because I am amazed at the probing questions elementary school students can come up with. (Although the question I'm asked most often is, "Can you write a book where Katie switcheroos into me? Unfortunately, I have to say no to that one. It's kind of a limited audience.)
After the presentation, I'm always happy to stick around and sign books, or anything else the students want my autograph on. I've signed everything from backpacks, to notebooks, to gym socks. No, really, gyms socks! I just held my breath and prayed that they had just been laundered.
Penguin: Do you enjoy making appearances for adult audiences? What do you do when presenting to adults?
Nancy: I come from a very long line of educators. My grandmother was a teacher, my aunt was a principal, my mother was a school social worker, my father is a professor of math education, and my husband teaches instrumental music in a New York City Public school. With that kind of lineage, you can only imagine how exciting it is for me to meet with teachers and librarians from around the country.
I have done presentations for teachers and librarians, and I always come away feeling really positively about the experience. Instead of putting on a show, I talk about my books, and what they can bring to a classroom (which I hope is a love of reading, and a whole lot of laughter.) I talk about the importance of book series in developing a love of reading. In the past, series books have really been given a bum rap, and I think it's important to talk about what kids can learn from a series of books, in terms of character development and growth. (Not to mention the fact that kids love to brag about how many books in a series they've read, and the more they read, the happier we all are!)
Penguin: What can schools and libraries do to ensure a successful appearance?
Nancy: It always helps if the students have read my books. There are currently 29 regular Katie Kazoo books and six super specials in print, so there are usually a large of number of kids who are familiar with Katie and her adventures. But the more the kids know about the characters, the more fun we can have with the performance and question portions of my school or bookstore visit.
Penguin:Do you enjoy traveling to other parts of the country for appearances?
Nancy: I love traveling. There's something so incredibly exciting about being in a new place and meeting interesting people. Manhattan's an amazing place to live, but it's really nice to leave once in a while. Traveling helps my writing tremendously, because everything I experience can be twisted, tweaked, and turned into something my characters experience along with me.
Penguin:Do you ever make appearances at more than one school in an area? Could schools and libraries from one area join together to bring you to their institution?
Nancy: Absolutely. In fact, in these days of budget cuts it's the only way many school districts can afford to have authors visit their schools. From my point of view, the more of my readers I can meet the happier I am. I love to talk to them. Actually, I love to talk in general, (being a stand-up comic was once on my endless list of things I wanted to be when I grew up) but I'm happiest when the conversation's about books and reading!
Penguin:What was your favorite/most interesting/most memorable appearance experience?
Nancy:I've had a lot of memorable moments since I started doing author appearances. I remember back when Katie Kazoo was a brand new series, I did an appearance here in Manhattan called The Great Read in the Park. I was convinced no one would be there, and I'd be on the stage with my bag of wigs and hats and scripts, reading to no one. But when I got there, there was a big crowd. Those kids stayed to the end of the presentation, got in line, and waited to have me sign their books. You would think that would be exciting enough. But the day just got better. Somewhere, around the middle of the line, was a girl and her mother. They had a stack of Katie Kazoo books for me to sign. The girl was very shy, and just kind of looked at me. Her mother explained that her daughter had always had a lot of difficulty with reading. On a whim, her mom had bought her the first Katie Kazoo book, Anyone But Me. At first she resisted reading it. But eventually she gave in because it had a funny cover and the chapters were short. And she got hooked! In fact, according to her mother, this girl had read all the books in the series, and was even trying to write her own Katie Kazoo story. You have no idea how incredibly proud that made me feel. Somehow my books had not only gotten a reluctant reader to open the pages of a book, they'd turned her into an author as well. I guess that's how teachers get to feel every day when they see their students making progress thanks to something they've said or done. But as an author I work in a vacuum, so moments like those are incredibly memorable and exciting. I like to think one day that girl will be making an author visit to a school and talking about the day she met her first real author in Bryant Park.
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