On Tuesday, May 24, the first day of BEA, Jarrett J. Krosoczka was apparently confused. The author of “Pudding,” a short story in the latest of the Guys Read series, Thriller (Walden Pond Press, Sept.), woke up and dressed himself as Michael Jackson—yes, back in his own Thriller days. Red leather (OK, pleather) suit with black stripes. Sparkly socks. And to complete the ensemble: a glittering silver glove. Krosoczka claimed there had been a mix-up, saying he thought that when Jon Scieszka was pulling together an edited volume of short-story thrillers, he meant the Michael Jackson kind. He also claimed that his wife got him the suit.
If you’d seen the outfit in person, you might doubt him on that.
Picture Krosoczka, glittering hand waving about, and you’ll get a good idea of the enthusiasm—with a dash of goofiness thrown in obviously—present on behalf of the six panelists representing Guys Read at BEA this year. Krosoczka and Scieszka were joined by fellow Thriller contributor Matt de la Peña, Eoin Colfer, Mac Barnett, and Jack Gantos, all contributors from Guys Read: Funny Business (Walden Pond Press, 2010), with Jordan Brown moderating.
All the panelists had the same basic, unsurprising message which they conveyed heartily to the audience: that this entire project was designed around getting boys reading, that each author wrote his particular story with the idea that guys would want to read this kind of story that they were writing, and that what guys really want to read includes genres of all kinds, including fantasy, realistic fiction, and historical, too. Expanding the notion of what “counts” as reading also arose during their discussion—anything from sports magazines to graphic novels. What guys want to read are all kinds of things, in other words.
Jack Gantos, in particular, stood up several times to emphasize these things in what amounted to short, heartfelt speeches. Eoin Colfer did the same, with a good dash of humor mixed in.
Given the all-guys panel, it might come as a surprise to know that Guys Read: Thriller does have some female contributors, too: Margaret Peterson Haddix’s “Thad, the Ghost, and Me” is among the stories in this anthology, as is “The Snake Mafia” by Gennifer Choldenko. Other popular authors in the volume include M.T. Anderson, Walter Dean Myers, and James Patterson.
Fans who stood in line to get an autographed copy of the galley were not only treated to several authors’ signatures, but a tiny, gloved hand cartoon from Krosoczka.