Welcome to the home for Penguin Young Readers Group's author and illustrator appearances. We want to help you to bring someone great to your school or library, and everything here should help you do so easily.
Look below for an information sheet on planning visits, our author/illustrator listing, our author/illustrator request form, and more information you'll need once your visit is scheduled. Don't forget to check out our featured author of the month and visit our Author Appearance Feature Archives to find the perfect author for your conference, school, or library.
If you are interested in having an author or illustrator visit, this information sheet gives a basic overview of what you need to know and how to make it happen! Take a moment to look at an example of a sample author appearance schedule.
Take a look at our online listing and choose out a few authors and illustrators you might be interested in hosting. Once you have a few authors in mind, please fill out the online request form.
Once the event is scheduled and you have a finalized and signed contract, you'll need to get ready for your author appearance! You'll need to organize transportation, have equipment ready for the presentation, provide a schedule to the author/illustrator, and prepare the payment. You should also have books available to sellwe encourage you to go through a local bookseller, an institutional wholesaler (if you use one), or order directly from Penguin.
Robert Paul Weston has lived in Canada, Japan and the United Kingdom. Before turning to writing, he had a variety of unusual jobs, working as a trampolinist; a web designer; a production coordinator for film and television; a language teacher; the editor of a small-press literary magazine; and a dub-script writer for imported Japanese cartoons.
His debut novel-in-verse, Zorgamazoo, won the 2010 Silver Birch Award and was shortlisted for the E.B. White Read Aloud Award, the California Young Reader Medal, and the Pacific Northwest Young Readers Choice Award. His new novel for teens, Dust City is the story of Henry, who is trying to find the truth behind the gritty underworld of fairy tales, replete with the dangers of Fairy Dust, a dangerous mob of Water Nixies, and their crime boss leader, Skinner.
Currently, Robert lives in Toronto, where he lectures in creative writing at the University of Toronto. Visit Robert's website at www.zorgamazoo.com to learn more about him and his books!
If you are interested in having Robert make an appearance at your school, library, or conference, please use the online request form or send an email to authorvisits[at]us.penguingroup.com with possible dates, your school name, location, details about the day, and your contact information.
What can a school, library, or conference expect when you are making an appearance?
You can expect a lively, imaginative, humorous, professional, interactive presentation about words, stories, poetry and all things bookish! (I'm sure I could squeeze in a few more gushy adjectives, but no, that would be too much.)
Could you describe what your presentations entail?
Certainly. (Teachers and librarians like to know what they're getting, don't they?) Here are descriptions of my two main presentations, based respectively on my first two novels, Zorgamazoo and Dust City:
"Zorgamazoo: Rhythm & Rhyme"
Audience: grades 2-6. Time: 60 minutes.
Description: You'd have to be mad to write a rhyming novel...so perhaps I am. In this presentation, I recount my early love of rhyme; introduce the technical aspects of the poetry used in Zorgamazoo; discuss the fulfillment and frustration of telling a story in verse; and reveal my inspirations. I also take students through the creative and collaborative process of producing an illustrated novel, concluding with an exciting reading from the book, complete with silly voices and heaps of villainous drama!
"Fairy Dust and the True Tales of Grimm"
Audience: grades 7-12. Time: 60 minutes.
Description: If you think it was a loving kiss that turned the Frog Prince back into a human being, you're absolutely wrong! In this presentation, I introduce students to the rather grisly history of medieval European folklore and lead them through the (very) dark forest of Grimm. I go on to show how a deeper understanding of the Grimm tales inspired me to write Dust City, a story about what the modern world might look like if Europe in the middle ages had truly been full of goblins and talking wolves.
I'm also able to lead writing workshops for both youth and adults, drawing on my experience as a creative writing lecturer at the University of Toronto.
Do you enjoy making appearances for adult audiences? What do you do when presenting to adults?
When I'm addressing older audiencesusually at festivals or conferences—I often deliver speeches or seminars on a theme, appear as part of a panel discussion, or lead writing workshops. In the past, I've addressed adults on motivational techniques, crafting stories for youth, and finding the inspiration to write.
Do you enjoy traveling to other parts of the country for appearances?
I do! It's not uncommon for my appearances to take me far from home, and since I live in Toronto, Canada, anywhere in the United States means at least a short jaunt for me. Recently, I did a number of presentations in Colorado and New York—and all of them were wonderful!
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?
Of course! That's quite common, in fact. All it takes is a little coordination between the hosts.
Are you able to share any feedback from your recent presentations?
Indeed, but I ought to let some of the folks I've worked with do the talking:
"Two months after his visit, I continue to have students approach me and talk about their favorite part of Zorgamazoo. I think of one student in particular who says that he hates books but wants to read all of Robert Weston's other books because 'it was the only good book he's ever read.'"
Michael Cox, Pueblo City-County Library (Pueblo, Colorado)
"Perhaps the best proof of Rob's qualities as a presenter comes from the reaction of one of our most behaviorally challenged students. I was worried about this particular student's response to the presentation. However, this student was totally engaged. He wanted to answer many of Rob's questions and at the end, in all seriousness, asked Rob: 'Are you the reincarnation of Dr. Seuss?' I can think of no higher praise for a presenter than that they are able to mesmerize even the most challenging students."
Becky Jenkins, Garden Avenue Public School (Toronto, Ontario)
"[Rob] delighted the staff and the students alike with a reading from his book. The children were completely enthralled by the different voices he used for his characters and we succeeded in selling a record number of books. The staff members were quite impressed not only with his presentation but also his friendly, easy going nature."
Dolcie Lobo, St. Timothy's Catholic School (North York, Ontario)
Finally, what would you say schools and libraries can do to ensure a successful appearance?
I'd say it's all to do with preparation. The best school and library presentations occur when the host organization has the proper equipment ready to go, and if possible has familiarized students with the visiting author's work. Oh, and having a bottle of water on hand is always a plus. Talking to students is thirsty work!
Click here to see previous featured authors.
Do you have questions about an author visit or comments about this page? Please contact the author appearance coordinator.