Mission Accomplished!

Kenny Brechner - November 11, 2014

The concept of the quest is intrinsic to both epic literature and to life. I speak from experience here. I’ve had a quest these last six years, and that was to get Chris van Dusen to come up to Farmington for Mallett School’s Prime Time Reading Night, also known as Jammie Night.
Jammie Night is my favorite annual local book event. Why? Because it is a flat-out great event. Here’s how it works. The Mallett community comes back to school at 6:00 p.m.: parents, kids, teachers, librarian, principal, all dressed in their pajamas for an evening of read-alouds. I produce a children’s book author. The evening starts with that author reading her book to the assembled throng in the gymnasium, which has been lavishly decorated around the book’s theme. Afterward, families can either go listen to one of five different community readers in five different classrooms, read together in the gym, or purchase a book and have the guest author sign it. The evening ends with the author reading a second book to the whole audience and then concludes with good-nights and more book signings.

Part of 2011’s failed scheme.

It’s a wonderful evening of shared reading as a community and we have had many lovely authors participate. There was only one dark cloud. Circus Ship is the Mallett School’s all-time favorite book, and getting Chris to the event has been a desperate goal since 2009. Once a year I made the attempt to sign him up, trying every ploy I could think of, all unsuccessfully. And yet, like George de Long, commander of the Jeannette Polar Expedition, I can say that I was “not yet daunted.” And thus I am here today to depict success, glorious success, last week.

The amazing ‘Circus Ship’ decorations are revealed. These incredible creations were the work of Mallett librarian Amanda Paradis-Roberts and a team of other helpers.

Chris thrills the crowd with his ‘Circus Ship’ presentation. That’s me running the ladybug, and librarian Amanda Paradis-Roberts doing giant book duty. I’m not sure who let the ostrich in the gym.

One of the highlights of the evening was the Q&A at the end. Mallett is a K-2 school. One of the kids asked if ‘Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit,’ which features a boy who builds a 100-foot robot to save the earth by hitting a giant flaming meteor back into space using a smokestack as a bat, was a true story. Another child followed up by declaring that she was great at building robots, had all the parts she would need, and just needed Chris to give her the robot-building instructions.

Chris was just terrific with the kids!

He brought in poster-sized prints of his original cover art to show kids while they were hanging out with him during the signing time.

The evil Circus Master, Mr. Paine, couldn’t spot any of the animals in the gym. Foiled again!

Several times during the evening Chris said, “Hey Kenny, this is a great event.” Well yeah, I’d been trying to get that across for six years. Mission accomplished.

4 thoughts on “Mission Accomplished!

  1. Melissa

    I am so pleased for you, and I cannot possibly express my jealousy. Chris has been my dream event since fall of 2005. At this point, my author event bucket list contains two names: Judy Blume, and Chris Van Dusen.

  2. Tracy Williams

    Yes, Carol, we are a lucky school to have this connection to Kenny and Booksellers! Chris is but one of a series of authors we’ve been able to host as a result of years of collaboration with Kenny. Some people will do anything to get out around town in p.j.s……..

  3. Donna Gephart

    Jammies. Books. A wildly imaginative librarian. An intrepid, determined bookseller. A beloved author. Kids. Kids. Kids. And their families. A gymnasium transformed by creativity. I LOVE THIS POST!!!!


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