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Penguin Young Readers

Lauren Tarshis

Lauren Tarshis lives in Connecticut with her husband and four children. She is the editor of Scholastic's Storyworks magazine. Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree was her first book and received numerous awards and honors, including the Golden Kite Award Honor. Her most recent book, Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell in Love centers the seventh-grade dance, crushes, and even a secret admirer!

Since the publication of Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree in 2007, Lauren Tarshis has visited more than 75 schools and libraries around the country. Many schools and district have adopted Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree as part of bullying programs and social curricula, and her most popular presentation is relevant to those topics. She also conducts teacher workshops and writing workshops for smaller groups. Please visit Lauren's website at www.laurentarshis.com to learn more about her.

If you are interested in having Lauren Tarshis 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.

 

Author Appearance Q&A with Lauren Tarshis:

Penguin: What is a typical appearance like with you? What do you do differently with audiences of varying sizes, ages, and interests?

Lauren Tarshis: I have visited so many different types of schools in so many different areas that I feel completely comfortable from the moment I walk in. The core of my appearance is the story of how I overcame serious reading difficulties in school, and then much later spent 10 years trying to figure out how to write a novel for kids. The themes—overcoming difficulties and low self esteem, dealing with failures and setbacks—really resonate with kids of all ages, and adults too. I developed the presentation with the intention of doing it a few times and then developing another that was more directly connection with the Emma-Jean books. But I received such positive reviews and word of mouth recommendations that I have simply improved upon that first story. Most of the schools that I've presented at invite me back the next year, and all of them have requested that same presentation. It works beautifully in basically all settings, from third grade up through adulthood (I've even done it for my grandmother's friends, all women over 90. One was 103 years old and had the most interesting follow-up questions!)

Penguin: What makes your author appearances unique?

Lauren Tarshis: I think my message is unique. Like many authors, I always dreamed about becoming a writer. But what's unique about me is that I was 100 percent certain that I would never succeed. I KNEW that I would never be a writer. I tell students that if you had asked me in fourth grade whether I was more likely to become a successful children's book author or a colonist on Mars, I swear I would have said Mars. I had so many learning issues. I was shy and self conscious and the only prize I ever won was a third place trophy at Jill Zinman's third grade bowling party. I think it's important for kids to hear from people who didn't always know what they wanted to do, who were not talented or brilliant in any way as children, but who worked really, really, really hard to achieve their goals.

Penguin: Do you enjoy making appearances for adult audiences? What do you do when presenting to adults?

Lauren Tarshis: I love presenting to adults and developed several different presentations—two for teachers and one for parents. One of the teacher presentations deals with the themes of bullying and social aggression that I explore in the Emma-Jean books. The other, dealing with reluctant and disengaged readers, is rooted in my other life as the editor of Storyworks, a very successful language arts magazine for upper-elementary school aged children, which is published by Scholastic.

Penguin: What can schools and libraries do to ensure a successful appearance?

Lauren Tarshis: I pride myself on requiring little or no preparation or planning—I'm good to go right out of the box. I have never had an experience at a school that was not successful. But there is no question that it's much better if kids have read my books before I arrive because they feel a connection from the outset. They understand what I'm doing there and where I'm coming from and they're excited to ask questions.

Penguin: Do you enjoy traveling to other parts of the country for appearances?

Lauren Tarshis: My family and I dream of traveling the country in a little vegetable-oil powered motorhome making stops along the way so I can do my presentation at schools and libraries and rest stops across America. Some of my author friends are on the road most of the time. I can't do that at this point because (luckily) my family really likes me to be at home. But I do enjoy the occasional out of town trip. It often works well if schools and libraries in far-flung location join together so that I can reach a large number of students in one trip.

Penguin: What do you hope your audience will come away with from your presentation?

Lauren Tarshis: I hope they come away inspired. When I do my bullying presentation, my goal is for kids and adults to come away with new perspectives on bullying and tools for coping with a range of social issues.

Penguin: What was your favorite appearance experience?

Lauren Tarshis: So many wonderful moments! The fabulous students! The amazing teachers! The delicious cookies! When my first book came out, I had no idea that I would be traveling around connecting with kids. And now I feel like I've got this extended family around the country, people who I've connected to through something I created. And so I think I will remember and cherish all of those moments, even the time I got locked in the faculty bathroom and had to be busted out by the assistant principal.

 

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