Visiting young readers at schools and libraries is a significant part of many children’s book authors’ and illustrators’ jobs. School visits are also a big piece of publishers’ publicity campaigns for picture book and middle grade authors. But school closures forced by the pandemic suddenly halted this long-standing practice. As educators and families try to navigate uncertain times this academic year, a new era of virtual school visits is coming into clearer focus. We took a look at how some authors and illustrators are leading the way forward and explored some of the issues involved.

Author Kate Messner knows all too well how author visits came to a “screeching halt” last March as schools closed their doors with the arrival of the Covid-19 crisis. She had been on tour for her middle grade novel Chirp, which was published in February by Bloomsbury, and saw her slate of spring visits canceled or switched to a virtual format. Soon, like many of her fellow authors, she was forced to reimagine what visits would look like well beyond spring 2020.

“When it became apparent that the pandemic was not going to magically disappear over the summer, authors and illustrators were scrambling to figure out how to make school visits work online,” Messner says. “Many hadn’t done a lot of virtual visits, or they’d only offered basic Skype q&a sessions, so the idea of bringing an entire full-day school visit to a virtual setting felt overwhelming.”

Messner recalls seeing lots of social media posts asking things like, “How do all those different platforms work? How could you still interact with kids? And what are teachers even looking for now in a virtual visit?” In an effort to “help out with all those questions,” she says, she created the Reinventing Author Visits workshop in August.

“I surveyed more than a thousand teachers and librarians who expressed an interest in virtual author visits, to ask about their needs, their budgets, and their teaching situations,” Messner says. “The workshop was based on their responses and on my own experiences as a virtual presenter and workshop leader.”

Messner’s professional résumé put her in good stead to lead such an effort. Prior to writing full-time, she spent seven years as a television news reporter— “so I’m used to talking to cameras as if they’re people,” she jokes—and she taught middle school English for 15 years and still has strong connections to the educator community. She’s logged plenty of virtual visit trial and error as well. “I’ve been doing Skype visits for more than a decade, so I’ve had a lot of time to figure out what works and what doesn’t,” she says. And she has offered individual coaching and consulting services to fellow authors along the way.

Messner’s in-depth Reinventing Author Visits workshop costs $99 and features four 75-minute sessions that offer information and examples covering everything from program formats, tech platforms, making curriculum connections, and such logistics as staging, scheduling, and contracts. Fellow author Julie Hedlund, founder of the 12 x 12 Picture Book Writing Challenge, hosts the workshop, which incorporates some elements from the duo’s May 2020 Author Visit Makeover webinar.

“We’d originally set Reinventing Author Visits up to be an August workshop, with the video replay available through October,” Messner says. “But I keep getting virtual visit questions in my inbox, so we recently reopened registration, and now the workshop is available through next April.”

Messner offers her take on the elements of an effective virtual school visit. “Young kids can’t just stare at someone talking on a screen for 30–45 minutes straight,” she says. “High energy is essential, and it’s great to engage kids by breaking up the visit into smaller chunks of time that include visuals and interactive elements.” She cites an example from her virtual visit program that focuses on her History Smashers series. “I share my research with kids and also challenge them to some history-myth-busting quizzes, using the poll/survey feature that’s offered in Zoom and other virtual meeting platforms. They love learning hidden truths about history and then quizzing their families at the dinner table later on.”

In her experience, Messner says, “writing workshops work really well in a virtual setting, too, whether kids are in a classroom or learning from home.” And, as most authors will attest, q&a time is a consistent hit. In the virtual setting, she notes, “it’s great to engage with readers for q&as, either on camera or via the chat function.”

When Messner coaches school-visit presenters, she says that she shares a variation on the old bridal saying, “Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.” For virtual school visits, she adds, “we want to offer something to see, e.g., visuals; something to do, including interactive elements; something fun, such as humor, puppets, and games; and something true, e.g., curriculum tie-ins.”

Refining digital skills

Author-illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka similarly faced the disruptions of the pandemic by reconfiguring his professional routine and fine-tuning a new approach to school visits. “It’s been a constant pivot,” he says of the reset process. “It’s wild to have to sort of reinvent and adapt everything for the virtual space.”

Typically, Krosoczka notes, “I visit anywhere between 60 and 80 schools a year—sometimes two or three schools in a day, or a couple of schools with a bookstore or public library event in the evening. Like so many authors, it’s my bread and butter; it’s a big part of how I support myself in between book advances and royalty statements.”

Like Messner, Krosoczka was able to rely on some solid career experience to get him started on a new tack. He had already used various visual technologies for his in-person events and had been doing virtual visits via Skype for a decade. Additionally, he was familiar with producing radio programming and had coproduced and codirected the full-cast audiobook recording of his YA graphic memoir Hey, Kiddo last year. And, as luck would have it, he revealed that his January 2020 New Year’s resolution had been to do more webcasting.

“I’ve done webcasting off and on over the years,” Krosoczka says, “but I thought that I should do something on a regular basis. Part of my way of achieving that goal was to set up a specific space that was just for filming. I have a storage room in the basement and I set up a little desk in the corner and a camera. I was playing around with Facebook Live once a week and YouTube Live once a month.”

Following an event in Pittsburgh on March 12, Krosoczka realized, “During those first two weeks in March, I was everywhere from New York to Ohio and Alabama. It was growing increasingly clear that I should not be on the road.” On his flight home, he noticed that people were posting on his Facebook feed about what their homeschool regimen was going to be. “One friend posted ‘art, 2 p.m.’ and I started to think that I should do some sort of daily drawing show.” The result was Draw Every Day with JJK. “I developed it over the weekend and by the following Monday, I went live at 2 p.m.”

Krosoczka says that in his view, “there was so much chaos and trauma and stress happening in the spring that no institutions were really looking to book an author visit.” As it became clear that fall would not be back to normal, he and his wife put their heads together to formulate a plan.

“I tried my hand at Zoom,” Krosoczka says, noting that his trial-and-error strategy was akin to the one he pursued when he first started visiting schools in 2001. “I visited some schools for free just to get a feel for it—what’s going to work, what’s not going to work. Likewise, I did some Zoom visits to my kids’ school and a few other schools, and I quickly learned that Zoom webinar worked best for what I do.” He explains that the platform allows him to be fully in charge of what everyone is seeing on the screen.

“It really takes away any other variables of things going awry,” Krosoczka adds. “I’d give my presentation via screenshare, just like I would in person, then I would draw. I have an overhead camera, which is really a selfie stick duct-taped to a clothes rack, so I can have overhead shots. Then during q&a time I can promote the student to be a panelist, and if they want to be face-to-face, they can turn on their video, or they can just use their audio, or submit a question anonymously via the q&a portal.” This format served him well during the few spring visits that he did.

The summer found Krosoczka experimenting with the idea of daily online camps or drawing classes, utilizing the Zoom webinar feature that allows users to charge an admission fee for registration. “Initially I tried a group of 50 students, and that ended up being a little overwhelming,” he says. “Right now, I do about 25 students per class.” Over the summer he led four or five sessions of a class that met every day at a certain time for a week. “That worked well enough for me to say, ‘Let me see if I could do a weekly after-school class.’ I’m doing weekly comics classes now every Monday, and it’s going incredibly well.”

For this most recent iteration of classes, Krosoczka uses Google Classroom, which allows students to upload their work and to chat about it, on or off camera. In early 2021, he is expanding his instruction catalog to offer classes for adults, something he’s had many requests for. And carrying over from the summer camp idea, schools can book a multiday creative camp at any point.

Krosoczka continues to create episodes for Draw Every Day w JJK and this fall added a new series to the mix, Origin Stories w JJK, which is aimed at teens and adults. For Origin Stories, which he describes as a visual podcast, he interviews graphic novelist friends like Raina Telgemeier and Gene Luen Yang about what their childhood was like and how they got started.

Now, with a new school year underway in various guises across the country, Krosoczka says, “I’m about to pivot again from what I’ve learned with these author visits.” Much of his new insight has revolved around what a pandemic-era school day looks like. “I’m finding that their time is so finite even when they’re virtual,” he says. When a school is holding in-person classes, he observes, “those students have to leave on the dot because the teacher needs to scrub down the classroom. Or if they’re at home, they have to get on another Zoom. It just seems like there’s way less flexibility.” As a result, he’s changing things up.

“I think what’s of most value is that live interaction,” Krosoczka says. “So, now I’m prerecording my lectures for the school, in order for them to use during asynchronous learning times. When a school books me, they’ll gain access to these various videos—about how I got published, or how I wrote the Lunch Lady series, for example. It will feel more like a Netflix or MasterClass experience.” That way, when he’s on a Zoom visit with students, “it can be more off the cuff—it really is going to be more like visiting an author in their studio space and that’s what’s going to be of the most value to everyone involved,” he says.

“You can show them things that you’d otherwise never be able to,” Krosoczka adds, pointing out some of the advantages of his evolving game plan. “If I’m going to visit a school, I’m not going to bring the book that I wrote in third grade, because I don’t want that book to get lost or damaged. But when students are virtually in my studio, I can hold the book in my hands, I can turn the pages. They will see how small and how messy some of my early drafts are in a way that probably makes it feel more real than if it was just me and a slide behind me.”

Summing up the bigger picture, Krosoczka says, “It’s a show. If you want to capture the attention of these students, it needs to be entertaining. If you’re just another talking head for 30 minutes, that’s going to be so unengaging.”

Krosoczka also found a way to share his best practices with educators and other book creators who are looking to forge a new path forward. He offered two webinars in August, a professional development session for educators titled “Engaging Students Virtually” and another program for authors titled “What Is an Author Visit Now Anyhow? Connecting to Readers Virtually.” More professional development for educators is on the way in 2021. He will offer five sessions, one per month from January through May on Facebook Live, “completely free to educators,” he says.

A dynamic duo

Author Jon Scieszka and illustrator Steven Weinberg have been earning raves for the virtual school visits they’ve been doing for their newest book, AstroNuts Mission Two: The Water Planet. The pair is decked out in NASA outfits and appears to beam in from “deep space,” often moving “weightlessly” in front of an Orion Nebula tapestry background onscreen. They’ve crafted this virtual performance by tweaking what they had already been doing at in-person visits.

“Everyone was scrambling at first,” Weinberg says of adapting to the digital space. “We were lucky that we had a whole year of touring together, so we had our song and dance down. Once we started, it took us a few visits to realize, ‘Wait, it’s kind of the same thing, but we just have to make it more fun, in just a little box.’ ”

Scieszka agrees, noting that “everything that makes a good school presentation live is the same thing that makes a good video presentation. You’ve got to be sharp, you have to be entertaining, and you have to be short!”

With that mindset, they riffed on all the ways to make their virtual visits pop. “The ridiculous uniforms, that was all before the pandemic,” Weinberg says. “We wanted to look different so we could walk into a classroom and immediately catch your eye. Because that’s the best part of being at an author visit, you’re their break from normal school.”

Scieszka credits his collaborator (who is also his son-in-law) with suggesting the idea of them being in deep space during their presentations. “We found these wonderfully ridiculous backgrounds online and kids would even call us out, saying, ‘You’re not really in space, there’s creases in that!’ ”

Weinberg was ready with a reply, though. “I would say, ‘That’s space time, and we can do a little energy wave.” Then he would tap the background, making it gently ripple.

Then, Scieszka adds, “True to form, we got that response we always love, when a second grader says something like, ‘Okay, that might be true, but how do you get Wi-Fi?’ ” There’s never a shortage of technical questions.

Scieszka and Weinberg marvel at how students have responded so far. “We feel so bad for what these kids are going through; it’s hard for everybody,” Weinberg says. “Not to be clichéd, but kids make do in adorably ingenious ways. You see it in the chat bars we’re watching. It’s the same thing as passing notes in class. The teachers maybe don’t know that if they chat to the host, we become the host, and only we are seeing it.”

When that dynamic of kids being kids in the chat feature first started playing out, Scieszka says, “we realized that this is every bit as good as those kid events where the adults are trying to keep in charge but then it just gets crazy and the kids are having so much fun. They’re excited about the story, or how we work, or that we might be in space, and it’s all in the chat bar. They make fun of each other and say things like, ‘Shut up, stop spamming!’ ”

Weinberg adds, “You really see a culture develop in real time.” He recalls one virtual event where they put up their presentation and started seeing kids drawing all over it. “I was like, ‘Jon, are you doing that?’ ” he says. “There are just these quirks of Zoom where you can annotate presentations. And the teachers were shocked.” He recounted elements of this example in a comic that ran on the last page of the New York Times Book Review on November 22, offering a snapshot of what virtual visits are like.

Though teachers are sometimes not in favor of such onscreen hijinks, Scieszka believes that “it’s our mission as authors to keep pushing them more toward ‘let this happen.’ As an elementary school teacher, I always believed that good educational theory is to have kids engaged. No one should be sitting and just listening for anything longer than like 10 minutes. We’re going for 45 minutes. Let them type something, let them goof around, or jump up and down or show their hands if there’s something they like.”

Scieszka is also grateful to have a partner in crime along the way. “Thank goodness there’s two of us!” he says. “Otherwise, you feel like an idiot in your basement jumping around.”

Weinberg enjoys the camaraderie of their collaboration, too. “The biggest perk has been doing this with Jon, where we can play off each other,” he says. “Sometimes you do events where there’s not even the little thing on the bottom of the screen telling you how many people are there. Sometimes it’s just you in a room talking to a green dot, which is weird.”

The duo has been gradually fanning out to schools with their virtual presentation after wrapping up some of the tour events that had been rescheduled from last spring, averaging about one per week. “Our baseline is to say yes to visit requests as much as possible,” Weinberg says. “You’re trying to do something good for somebody’s life right now.”

Scieszka recalls telling publicist Eva Zimmerman at Chronicle, “We don’t know what these things are going to be, so let’s try a bunch of them and see what works, what doesn’t. Originally, we were going to do more bookstores, but then realized, who’s going to want to go to a virtual event after a whole day of doing this for school?”

For virtual visits, Scieszka and Weinberg adopted a “wide-open model,” accommodating as many attendees as possible, Scieszka says.

“That’s a great thing about this tech,” Weinberg notes. “You can get more kids than ever at a school event, and that’s really fun for us. You supersede whatever means allow schools to get authors to come there in person.”

Among Scieszka and Weinberg’s favorite pointers for effective virtual visits is to “mix it up,” Scieszka says. “That’s something we stumbled on and found effective from very early on. Use show and tell. Steven has a notebook from when he was in first grade, filled with drawings.”

Scieszka points to other ways to connect. “If you spot that kid typing something in the chat bar, call them out on the chat bar,” he says. “E.g., ‘Dimitri, I’m glad your mom works for NASA. Don’t tell her about us.’ And sometimes kids will just hold up their drawing and not say anything. You can acknowledge them—‘Angela, I love it!’—and they really like being called out.”

Weinberg concurs. “This works. In a live event that couldn’t happen.” He adds another piece of advice: “Overall, be super flexible. You never know if the connection’s going to be horrible or your equipment might break.”

Another bonus of their creative partnership, Scieszka offers, is that “it’s really nice to be working with Steven who is much more tech-savvy. And because he’s done all of the artwork on the computer, he’ll share his screen, it’s blown up huge, and just walk the kids through how he did the artwork.”

The screenshare feature “works a lot better” than dealing with a projector and unpredictable room lighting during an in-person visit, Weinberg says. “Especially with the AstroNuts books. There’s so much collage in them and I want to show granularly how I do it. Kids like that. With screenshare, they’re literally in my Photoshop window. I can show them all the layers, and it’s crystal clear.”

Scieszka adds, “That’s maybe another mini silver lining of all this: the jump up in quality. Now we’ve seen how good it can be. A few years ago, it just didn’t seem worth the trouble. It saves incredible amounts of time.”

A publicist’s virtual visit road map

Faye Bi, director of children’s publicity at Bloomsbury, knew she needed a fresh blueprint for school visits in the pandemic era. “We were all relearning our jobs over the summer, and I went into fall knowing that we would be overwhelmed with uncertainty,” she says. “Authors would be anxious about what is actually possible, bookstores are obviously dealing with their own complications and struggles, and I know schools especially have gotten the worst of it.” She pondered how to present the idea of virtual school visits as a viable opportunity to authors and booksellers in a flexible way.

What helped Bi solidify her thinking on the subject was taking Messner’s August workshop for authors. (Messner is a Bloomsbury author and publishes with other houses as well.) “I asked her if I could attend,” Bi says. “She told me she had surveyed 1,000 educators for the presentation, and I thought, ‘I need this information!’ ”

Bi began testing the waters as she formulated plans for a fully virtual school-visit tour for author Renée Watson, who is promoting her April novel Ways to Make Sunshine and, like many other authors, saw her book tour canceled. “I asked her how busy she wanted to be and if she could let me know her ideal times and hours that she wants to be booked,” Bi says.

Watson opted for three afternoons per week, reserving her mornings for writing, so nothing was booked before noon. “That way I had a slate of times when she was available, and she would give me blackout dates too,” Bi notes.

Author and publicist worked through what a typical visit would look like in terms of format and length. “We agreed we would leave the platform up to the school because everyone is doing something different,” Bi says. “But we were pretty clear up front about the safety protocols: [I asked them to] make sure there is a staff facilitator, and I recommended that the kids prep questions or have a teacher preview them.”

The visits that Bi arranges in her role as a publicist are for book sales via a bookstore instead of for an honorarium. In Watson’s case, she asked for a modest book buy of 20 copies. “Because this is her time, I wanted to at least share some kind of goal, so the stores knew that if I booked Renée my aim is to sell 20 copies, whether the school buys some and the rest is made up of order forms or not,” Bi says. She was very flexible on this point, knowing that “the minimum buy would be lower or nonexistent for lower-income schools.”

With the ground rules in place, Bi prepared “a one-sheet with all of this information including teacher’s guides and excerpts and a couple of bios,” she says. “I wanted everything in one place. In the long run it was easier for me too, to have the document. I could hand it out and they knew what we were expecting. Then if they had any questions, we could start from stage three instead of stage one.”

Bi contacted all the bookstores that had expressed interest in booking Renée back in April, as well as those that had made requests through Bloomsbury’s sales team. “Renée was booked most every week from late September through November,” she reports. “That’s a mix of festivals and other events she booked herself, but on average she’s doing two to five virtual events per week.”

The logistics have been more time-consuming. “I’m certainly much more involved,” Bi says. She also tries to take some of the burden off bookstores. “A lot of times I’m the one scheduling with the teacher, and that’s not usually the case in a physical visit. But nowadays I’m like, ‘What do you need from me?’ ”

Bi’s efforts seem to be paying off. “I have only had okay and great events, not a single bad one,” she says. “I think part of that is due to preparation, but part of it is due to the honest-to-god amazingness of some of these educators and librarians. Everyone is going above and beyond. So many whom I’ve spoken to have been so grateful, saying that Renée’s visit was the highlight of their month, or their year so far. The feedback has been really good.”

Reality, equity, and more silver linings

Christie Hinrichs is agent/director at Authors Unbound, an author-event booking agency that represents such clients as Jarrett Krosoczka and Jason Reynolds. “It’s hard to overstate how dramatically the pandemic impacted our agency, and so many other businesses across the country,” she says. “One hundred percent of our scheduled events canceled within only a few weeks.” By May, the agency had started to transition toward online formats “but faced the challenge of educating hosts and attendees on how to engage virtually.”

In the school-visit arena, Hinrichs has seen the enormous pressure that school administrators and teachers were under last spring “slowly transition into fall uncertainty, and cautious optimism for 2021,” she says. “At first, the sheer chaos of developing new curricula and managing accessibility was all schools could handle. As we’ve all learned to function in the new normal, educators are starting to see how incorporating author events and reading programs can enrich online offerings and take some of the load off teachers. We’re seeing the slow and virtual return of authors to the classrooms, and students are responding with enthusiasm!”

As a result, Krosoczka is among the authors who is starting to see an uptick in the invitations he gets for school visits.

In the early days of the pandemic, “many authors were happy to donate online content and did a number of gratis online events as a way of giving back during the first weeks of the crisis,” Hinrichs recalls. “Things have changed now, as both agencies and authors get creative about new formats, thus the fees have steadily increased. Even so, there is almost always a reduction for virtual events, anywhere from 25%–50% off standard fees, and that depends somewhat on the scope of the event, the time commitment, book sales, etc.”

As a strategy for matching authors and events, Hinrich says, “what I typically do is get a sense of the host’s resources, any programming targets and the timeline, and then curate a list of suggestions within budget that I think might appeal.”

Just as every host’s situation is different, so too is every author’s. “It just doesn’t seem like the right thing to charge schools or libraries,” Scieszka says.

“And a virtual visit doesn’t take nearly as much time for us,” Weinberg adds.

According to Scieszka, “We can just forego that as a moneymaker and put our energy into making more books rather than spending time on planes.”

Krosoczka says, “I was lucky enough to get a small business loan and that has 100% saved me. And obviously honorariums for virtual visits are going to be much lower than in person. But on the flip side of that I wake up in my house every day. The commute now is, ‘Did I save enough time to shave and comb my hair?’ ”

Working within the virtual space, Scieszka and Weinberg are very aware of equity issues in terms of the digital divide. They see the “tech wizard types”—students who own and are well versed in computer drawing programs—and, Scieszka says, “the heartbreaking other end of the range is where the kids have to go to the library to get internet access, or they can’t get online at all. That’s maybe another silver lining, the hope that this virtual content will be what drives a more equitable system. We’ve got to get everybody access. Let’s make this happen, let’s make this an educational priority.”

Bi says, “Equity is important. Everyone’s muddling through. I try to operate with compassion for everyone, as plans change all the time.” She cites a few examples: “I’ve had scheduling changes at the last minute from schools and also from authors who accidentally double-booked themselves. A lot of the bookstores have canceled really large school visits, or large festivals with funding, and they really wanted to make Ways to Make Sunshine part of their program.”

On the flip side of those cancellations, Bi offers, “there were at least two bookstores that told me they had partnered with an organization to purchase books—and I’m talking several hundred, maybe 500 books—for the kids attending Renée’s virtual visit. I always think of those districts and people who have that funding as being able to offset some of the other visits where funding is not available.”

Messner illustrates one of the ways authors are working with schools that have funding constraints: “When it became clear that many schools are facing budget issues that make it difficult to fund virtual visits, some authors began offering lower-cost author-visit webinars, which allow many classes to attend a virtual event,” she says, noting that she teamed up with her friend and fellow author Traci Sorell to offer one titled “Rethinking Thanksgiving: History, Holidays, and Gratitude” in November. “It focused on my book History Smashers: The Mayflower, which unravels some of the lies and myths we sometimes hear about the Pilgrims and the so-called First Thanksgiving, and Traci’s book We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga, which is about Cherokee traditions of gratitude. We ended up with more than 700 classrooms and families participating, either live or via our video replay, and they were able to order signed books through my local bookseller, The Bookstore Plus in Lake Placid, N.Y.”

Bi believes that one of the most important things about getting through these times is “to protect everyone’s emotional reserves. I check in with Renée every few weeks to ask her how’s it going—do you still want to be doing these? Do you want fewer of them? It’s really important that authors know that they can say no.”

Bi doesn’t want authors “to feel so pressured to promote their books right now that they burn out when they could be writing or doing something else to fortify themselves,” she says. “It’s better to have fewer quality events and to understand the goal behind those events and the expectations for those than to just do a lot of them and hope that something sticks. Extending more grace to everyone is the key.”

Hinrichs concurs. “One of the real highlights for me [during the pivot to virtual visits],” she says, “was how almost everyone I worked with—authors, coordinators, other agents—remained calm, kind, and understanding in the face of an incredibly stressful and difficult situation. Although virtual author events will never truly replace the in-real-life experience, the increased accessibility, event reach, and patron development make a virtual component incredibly beneficial, and I think it’s here to stay.”

That’s the long game Krosoczka envisions as well. “I foresee that when all of this is behind us, there will be a higher demand for virtual events,” he says. “When schools go back in session, who knows what the various protocols will be for having an outsider visit, let alone somebody from a different state? There’s so much that’s unknown.”

Hope for the future

“I love how schools and bookstores are figuring this out and inviting authors and illustrators to engage in so many different ways,” Messner says. In a recent week, she “had three days of school visits that included a mix of presentations and writing workshops for different grade levels, a history-themed webinar that I cohosted with another author, and a virtual bedtime story, hosted by Wellesley Books [in Wellesley, Mass.]”

And Hinrichs says that, “despite a grim 2020 and future uncertainty,” she has hope. “In the aftermath of 2008, when so many believed that arts and literature would take a backseat as the economy recovered, I actually saw the opposite. When the world becomes unpredictable, many people turn to the comfort found in books, where talented authors can help them understand the world in a new way and help ease them into a new perspective. Now more than ever, we need to nurture and celebrate the diversity, flexibility, and resiliency of literacy both in the classroom and beyond.”

With an eye on brighter days ahead, Scieszka says, “We really have a new appreciation for teachers and librarians. Our hats are totally off to them; they’re doing so many different things.”

And Weinberg adds that he and Scieszka are on board to offer their own brand of entertaining help. “We’re going to fly in from space and do what we can.”