Tuesday, August 26th, 2014
HOT ROD HAMSTER book
is out in the world!
There's a brand new book in Hot Rod Hamster's universe and it's out today! When our editor at Scholastic Press first approached Cynthia Lord and me about continuing Hamster's adventures in a new series of books, we had to think long and hard about it.
Hot Rod Hamster was first published in 2009 to great acclaim, earning a spot on Bank Street College of Education's Best Children's Books of the Year list and collecting a nice round of awards including a Parents' Choice Award, the South Carolina Picture Book Award, Wyoming's Buckaroo Award, Mississippi's Magnolia Award and spots on award master lists in Colorado, Ohio and Iowa. Hot Rod Hamster quickly became a favorite character in the world of young readers with two additional adventures, Happy Birthday, Hamster and Hot Rod Hamster: Monster Truck Mania!
Hot Rod Hamster, Dog and those mischievous mice are very special to me, but these books are incredibly time consuming to illustrate and my schedule is rapidly filling up with fun new characters, stories and books. The folks at Scholastic suggested bringing on another illustrator that would learn to create Hot Rod Hamster and the details of his world for the interior illustrations in these new books. It wasn't easy to find the right illustrator for the job, but we did. His name is Greg Paprocki.
Cynthia Lord continues to write and I will paint the covers for each new book in this series of Hot Rod Hamster early readers. However, I'm stepping into more of an art director role for the interior work. Greg has done a fabulous job of capturing and continuing Hot Rod Hamster's world.
The first in this new series is called Hot Rod Hamster and the Wacky Whatever Race! and I think you'll find it to be a fun, exciting new addition to Hamster's fast-paced, high octane, pedal-to-the-metal universe. Fasten your seatbelts, another new Hot Rod Hamster book will be coming in January!
Thursday, May 29th, 2014
Even MORE Fun with School Visits
(and Bookstore Events)
~ Part Three ~
Hot Rod Hamster: Monster Truck Mania! was published by Scholastic Press on March 25th. This book took longer to create than any book I've made before. I spent an entire year creating the sketches and paintings. There's a lot to look at and experience in this one- we really packed in the fun. So it has been a great book to speak to groups about.
In early April, shortly after Hot Rod Hamster: Monster Truck Mania! was published, I was off to Ames, Iowa (my hometown) to speak in the schools and at the Iowa State University Bookstore.
It was a very busy Friday! I spoke to students at Sawyer Elementary school. Kirsti Minion, the media specialist there, really went out of her way to make this visit happen.
This was the display case just outside the school office at Sawyer. It was great to see all the students' designs for their own hot rods!
I spoke at Meeker Elementary later that same morning. This was Media Specialist Lisa Dolan's first week back. Thanks, Lisa, for another fun morning at your school!
And in the afternoon I spoke at Fellows. Thanks to Nancy Kever for putting together a really nice visit.
And I spoke to a nice crowd at the Iowa State University Book Store on Saturday morning. Here, the always-fabulous Amy Delashmutt, Marketing & Customer Service manager at the store is doing a nice introduction.
I traveled to Marion, Iowa (near Cedar Rapids) the next week where I was featured as part of their Stories Alive program. I spoke in seven elementary schools in two days. The first was Indian Creek Elementary where I spent time with the fabulous Sally Reck.
The students made these amazing, giant versions of my characters for their library. On the wall behind me you can see (from left) Gladys, Little Quack, Farmer and Dog from Story County and Hot Rod Hamster.
Hot Rod Hamster coming through!
I had a great time with the teachers and students at Novak Elementary.
This is at Bowman Woods Elementary. I like to engage the kids from the very beginning of my presentation.
One of the most common things I hear from people trying to take pictures at my speaking events is that I never stand still long enough to get a good photo. I get very animated when I speak, it's just part of putting on a good show.
Still the same day... speaking at Echo Hill Elementary in Marion, Iowa. The goal of these presentations is not to just get kids excited about reading and books. It's to inspire them to create- to get them excited about the possiblities in this world.
I try to bring a fresh perspective to creativity and the imagination. The imagination is such an exciting place to visit. Though kids are naturally creative, they can't always get there when they want to. Sometimes students just need a little inspiration to help them find their way.
I got a bright and early start at Wilkins Elementary the next morning.
On the move again, this time at Linn Grove Elementary.
I speak in all kinds of spaces. Really, it's wherever they can fit the students. I've given presentations in libraries, classrooms, auditoriums, rotundas, gymnasiums, and cafeterias. They have a really nice sized library at Westfield Elementary, but there were so many students they ended up sitting between bookshelves and around tables at the very back of the room. It ended up working just fine.
The art teacher at Westfield Elementary had the students draw and paint Hot Rod Hamster and Little Quack before my visit. The halls leading into the media center at Westfield were lined with them. This is such an incredible exercise for students. They learn so much about the characters and, more importantly, they learn about their own abilities and what they're capable of.
I loved all of them. Every painting is unique and I'm not exaggerating when I say this- they're absolutely brilliant!
Many thanks to Sally Reck, Cynde Duncan, Carla Clanin, Katie Merulla, Tiffany Miller, Melissa Alexander, Deb Wegmann, and all the principals, teachers and volunteers at the schools in Marion, Iowa for your hospitality and the warm welcome.
I returned to the Twin Cities just in time to do a fun book launch at Red Balloon Bookshop for Hot Rod Hamster: Monster Truck Mania! Thanks to Amy Oelkers, the fantastic folks at Red Balloon, and everybody that came that day.
In late May, I flew to Midland, Texas to speak at Emerson Elementary's Reading Rodeo. It was so much fun!
When Librarian Susan Harmon explained to one of the younger groups that I'd flown all the way from Minnesota, one asked how I'd gotten the easel (that I was using for the drawing demonstration) on the plane. I love how kids think!
Susan Harmon hosted a terrific dinner the night before our big day at the Reading Rodeo. It was great getting to know the teachers. Here, I'm posing for a quick pic with the kindergarten teachers at Emerson- Claire Rhodes, Caitlin Shults, Sarah Chesworth, (that freakishly tall fellow in the middle is me) Jody Garmon and Paige Shaw. Paige knows how to serve up one mean glass of lemonade.
Posing for a pic with the super-fun Caitlin Shults and her color-coordinated kindergarten class.
Here's Principal Lina Baiza and Emerson's terrific Librarian, Susan Harmon. Susan is so energetic and is an absolute joy to be around. She took care of every last detail of this visit. She made my job easy- all I had to do was get up and speak.
Many thanks to all my new friends at Emerson Elementary in Midland, Texas!
This has been one of the busiest speaking years I've ever had, and I've loved every minute of it. Thank you to all the teachers, media specialists, librarians and principals in Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan and Texas for the time and energy you took to bring me in to speak to your students. Your endless enthusiasm and commitment to books, reading, creativity and the imagination is making a difference in the lives of your students.
Friday, May 16th, 2014
More Fun with School Visits
in Minnesota, Michigan and more!
~ Part Two ~
As I said earlier, I've been visiting a lot of schools this spring. Luckily, I have an excellent booking agent (Jean Dayton) that helps with planning and all the details. Between deadlines and speaking engagements, I don't have a lot of extra time these days.
In late February I visited Zimmerman Elementary School. I had such a great time with Sarah Montplaisir (on the left in the picture below) and all the teachers and students there. The teachers had gotten thick, fancy black glasses like the ones I wore as a kid and wore them to my presentations. Sarah and the other teachers looked great in them!
Hey, that guy looks familiar! Teachers use so much creativity when they invite authors and illustrators in to speak. This fellow (my head on a race car driver's body) was hanging up in the media center at Zimmerman Elementary along with a "Hot Rod Reading" track. It was such a smooth transition from my head to that driver's body, it took me a minute to figure out how they dressed me in a racing uniform without me knowing about it!
I always love to receive drawings of my characters by young readers. This drawing of Hot Rod Hamster is by Alex Vassar who is in kindergarten, lives in Minnesota and is already an excellent artist. Way to go, Alex!
In March, I visited Countryside Elementary in Edina, Minnesota. You never know what the weather in Minnesota is going to do that time of year. It could be sunny and mild or we could get a foot of snow. Believe me, both have happened. We lucked out with the weather and I ended up having a great day with Laura Mestler and the students at Countryside.
The next week I flew off to Michigan. I spent four days in Hastings speaking in all the elementary schools there. I've only been to Michigan twice, the last time was in 2011 to speak to librarians at their annual Spring Institute in Lansing. Peggy Hemerling, an amazing youth services librarian, invited me back for this visit. She's such a great host and did a terrific job of coordinating the schools and my presentations there.
I started my week on St. Patrick's Day. I always make sure to wear green when I'm speaking in schools on that particular day. Students take wearing green very seriously and I don't want to get pinched!
The principals in Hastings were great- they're all so dedicated to their students. Many of them introduced me and stayed for all of my presentations. This picture is from Northeastern Elementary in Hastings, Michigan. It was taken by Principal Don Schils. Many thanks, Mr. Schils, for introducing me and hanging around to take pictures during my presentations.
Here I'm speaking about the cover of Hot Rod Hamster and some of the details that I used to bring the character and the picture to life.
I always love to answer questions from students. Their curiosities are wide and varied depending on the age of the group I'm speaking to. They generally ask about ideas, where they come from and how I create my characters. I've been doing this for years and I'm always surprised by a question or two in every group. One student in Michigan asked, "Have you ever accidentally made anything perfect?"
Teachers, librarians, and media specialists go to an enormous amount of work to bring in authors and illustrators. The very best visits are a result of the teachers taking some time, in the days and weeks before my visit, to speak with their students about my books and what authors and illustrators do. That preparation makes a huge difference. It creates excitement and curiosity and the students get so much more out of the experience when they've escaped into the worlds of my characters and want to know more about them.
Coming next, Part Three!
Friday, April 25th, 2014
Fun with School Visits
~ Part One ~
I've been visiting a LOT of schools this spring. I mostly speak in elementary schools, though there are always college classes and professional groups thrown into the mix. My presentations are tapered to the group I'm speaking to, but in elementary schools, I give high energy presentations to all grades from kindergarten through sixth grade. I speak about my job as an author and illustrator, how I use creativity to invent characters and their worlds and I even show how I make pictures. It's all told in language the students understand and enjoy.
I'm always curious about what students take away from our time together. As you can see from this student's drawing of Hot Rod Hamster (given to me after a presentation at the elementary school in Wheaton, Minnesota) Lesley wrote 'Let your imagination run free' which is something I talk about. I'm so glad you were paying close attention, Lesley!
Here, I'm answering questions at Lincoln Elementary in Elk River, Minnesota. I have a lot of fun with the students. I have no idea what we were talking about when this picture was taken, but judging by the look on my face, it's not a very serious question...
This is from Parker Elementary School, also in Elk River. Their media specialist, Shannon Vasseur, is so much fun!
It's always cool to walk into a school and see that they're excited for my visit. This display case was just inside the front doors at Deephaven, Elementary in Minnetonka, Minnesota. It had the covers of some of my books along with fun facts about my life and world as an author and illustrator.
This was my second visit to Deephaven Elementary School. Kelli Whiteside is the media specialist there and she does such an amazing job with the students. I always enjoy presenting at Deephaven!
Students often want to come up and talk after my presentations. Sometimes they have something they didn't get to ask during the question and answer period, some want to shake my hand and some just want to tell me something. Kids have GIANT imaginations, which is one of the things I love most about this job.
Here, I'm speaking at Scenic Heights Elementary about the details of the cover painting for Hot Rod Hamster. My visit to Scenic Heights had to be rescheduled twice because of unforeseen circumstances, one of which was a snow day when the school had to close. Melinda Barry, the media specialist there, did such a great job of preparing the students for my visit. She'd been reading my books and talking about what an author/illustrator does for weeks. So when I finally made it to the school, the students were very excited! After one of the presentations, a boy in kindergarten came up, gave me one of those sideways glances and said, "Are you the real Derek Anderson?"
More pics from schools are coming soon...
If you're interested in having Derek Anderson speak at your school or event,
please contact Jean Dayton at Dayton Bookings.
You can visit her website HERE.
Wednesday, April 9th, 2014
Come to a Book Party for
Hot Rod Hamster: Monster Truck Mania!
at Red Balloon this weekend!
Saturday, April 12th
Red Balloon Bookshop
(on Grand Avenue in St. Paul)
I'll be there reading, drawing and signing along with a certain speedy hamster who LOVES MONSTER TRUCKS. Stop by and say hello. See you Saturday!
Check out Red Balloon's website for directions HERE.
Monday, March 31st, 2014
I'm coming to Ames this weekend!
Saturday, April 5th
Iowa State University Bookstore
(in the Memorial Union)
I'll be there along with a certain speedy hamster who likes fast rides, especially the rides that involve MONSTER TRUCKS. I'll see you in Ames!
Tuesday, March 25th, 2014
Happy publication day!
The NEW book
Hot Rod Hamster: Monster Truck Mania!
is in stores TODAY!
Get ready for Hot Rod Hamster! He's racing out into the world in a brand new Monster Truck adventure today. It takes incredible amounts of time, energy and hard work to make a book, so it's always exciting when that book is finally published and we get to turn it over to our readers to enjoy.
Hot Rod Hamster: Monster Truck Mania! was a lot of fun to make. Here's what the critics are saying:
"...Anderson's bright-eyed, expressive acrylics extend Lord's
enthusiastic rhyming tale to perfection."
"The bright, boldly colored acrylic illustrations of funny,
silly animals perfectly match the text's high energy level..."
-School Library Journal
Monday, March 24th, 2014
Hot Rod Hamster: Monster Truck Mania!
will be in stores tomorrow!
Check out a Sneak Peek today...
My NEW picture book with Cynthia Lord, Hot Rod Hamster: Monster Truck Mania! will be doing donuts and sky wheelies in stores tomorrow! This is such a fun book- it's full of goofy characters and a lot of fun rides. But if you know anything about our furry little friend, you know that Hot Rod Hamster would never be satisfied with just a fun ride. He wants to find the BEST ride of all, and does he ever. This one is full of fast and furious FUN... oh, and there's a monster truck involved!
I'll share reviews tomorrow, but today you can catch a sneak peek on Scholastic's "Story Hour" website HERE.
Tuesday, March 11th, 2014
The NEW book and a whole lot of
FUN in schools!
Hot Rod Hamster: Monster Truck Mania! will be in stores sooner than soon. I'll give a little peek inside and let you know what the critics are saying in the next weeks.
But first things first...
1. The NEW book will be in stores on Tuesday, March 25th.
2. I will be doing presentations and signings in the Twin Cities and Iowa.
Saturday, April 5th
(in the Memorial Union)
Saturday, April 12th
Red Balloon Bookshop
(on Grand Avenue in St. Paul)
3. I've been having a great time in schools this spring.
I have a lot of fun to show, but I'm going to have to do this a little at a time. These pics are from Sun Path Elementary here in the Twin Cities. I spoke to the entire school at once- 750 kids!
After doing a fun presentation, I drew and answered the students' questions about writing and illustrating books.
They did an amazing job of prepping the students before my visit. They downloaded the Hot Rod Hamster activity sheet and had the students design and draw their own race cars for Hamster. This is a great way of engaging readers' imaginations and bringing another dimension to the experience of reading. They came up with some really fun race cars!
The media center was Hot Rod Hamster central. These guys take their author visits very seriously and the students really get into it. Here, they decorated the desk in the media center like Hot Rod Hamster's car, complete with real tires!
And that's the man responsible- Bob Lincoln, otherwise known as "The Drumming Librarian." This guy is a rock star! He brings books and reading to life for the students at Sun Path Elementary.
Bob wrote a song for Hot Rod Hamster. And, of course, there's a dance. They recorded the song and had the students sing it when I was there. You can see the video HERE.
Many thanks to Bob Lincoln for a very special day with the staff and students at Sun Path Elementary!
Friday, January 10th, 2014
Get ready for a BRAND NEW
Hot Rod Hamster book in March!
Happy 2014! A brand new Hot Rod Hamster book is on the way. Hot Rod Hamster, his friend, Dog, and those trouble-making mice are back in an all new picture book called Hot Rod Hamster: Monster Truck Mania! Written by the always fabulous Cynthia Lord (I illustrated), it will be published by Scholastic Press in March.
We've already received the first review from Kirkus. After a summary of the story, they say, "...Anderson's bright-eyed, expressive acrylics extend Lord's enthusiastic rhyming tale to perfection." Thanks, Kirkus!
I'll be showing behind-the-scenes sketches and paintings over the next weeks and months leading up to the publication in March. I will post public events here as I have them as well.
One more thing...
Happy birthday to my best buddy in the world! Louie is three today. Here's a picture of him sporting his new winter boots. We've had a lot of sub-zero temperatures here in Minneapolis this winter and that can be hard on the paws. As you can tell by this picture, he's still not quite sure what to think of them.