Sometimes we get lucky and our schools are offered free visits by authors. Recently I became aware of an author in this manner. You know the old saying “too good to be true?” I wondered about an author who volunteered to come to San Diego and give many- not just one- free author assemblies. Of course, we have much to offer here, but still.. As part of my “real job,” I like to hear them before I give my blessing.
Well known in Michigan, Jonathan Rand was fairly unknown to me. I’d seen some of his American Chillers series, as our cataloger brought them to me for an okay to add them to the district database. After a little research, the books seemed harmless to elementary to me. A little variety from R. L. Stine is also a good idea, I thought.
So I went to see him at one of our elementary schools. 4 classes of first and second graders were invited to sit in a fairly small area in the library. To make a long story short, Jonathan Rand had their attention from the second they walked in the door. I have never seen anything like it. Halfway through the time (about 25 minutes in), an act of nature occurred. We had a hailstorm at the beach, of all places. Even the teachers began to talk while he was talking. Quickly the storm stopped. Within seconds, Jonathan had the attention again. Not once, during that time did kids squirm, ask to leave or bother each other.
For 50 minutes, Jonathan Rand held their attention. He talked about writing. He talked about reading. He talked about the importance of school. He talked about his works. He involved the kids. It was amazing. He has a series, Freddy Fernortnor, for younger students (Interest Level Grades 1-3). Full of mystery, cliffhanging chapters and adventure, Freddy and his friends will keep young readers interested. His American Chillers (IL Grades 3-6) will keep older elementary students who like horror stories, scared without overdoing it.
Final verdict: Jonathan Rand’s free presentation was well worth attending. In fact, it was well worth paying for. Blessing given.
Check him out at his website AmericanChillers.com.