With the release of his newest novel LUCKY CAP this past Tuesday, Patrick Jennings has now authored 16 books. 16 books! And how is it that I am just discovering this man?
On Monday morning our fifth graders had the opportunity to sit down with Patrick (Or Pato as we are now allowed to call him because we are friends) and listen to him speak about writing books, wanting a dog, and the deaths of many pets. He was wildly engaging and the students loved him!
While reading GUINEA DOG, I was marveled at Jennings' dialogue and the way he was able to create such an authentic, realistic first person narrative. As someone who aspires to write their own novel(s) for children someday, this was my burning question I wanted answered. Give me tips! How do you get inside the mind of a pubescent boy? I didn't take advantage of the opportunity to ask him because I didn't need to. Within minutes of meeting the man the answer was obvious. He's a big kid himself!
A former preschool teacher, Jennings loves children. He hosts writing groups of children in his own home (Pato's Cave) and he admitted to learning more from them than they probably learn from him. The presentation he gave us was totally centered around the kids. No PowerPoint presentation. No bulleted outline to follow. Just Patrick Jennings and an easel. We arrived at 9 o'clock for an hour long experience (his first of many throughout the week) and at 9:45 he glanced at his watch and asked "How long do I have you for?" It felt like we had only been listening to him for 15 minutes! (We didn't leave until 10:20, stretching out 20 more minutes than we should have). He was so personable and so engaging. He really made the kids feel like he was there for them. He even jotted down some of their names to possibly use in future books! We were the first group ever, to hear him read from his novel LUCKY CAP, as it was only a day away from being released. He even shared some information on an upcoming novel of his (which he finished writing in our local coffee shop Cup of Joe!) about a group of kids investigating the mysterious (and somewhat out-of-this-world) disappearance of dogs around their community. I will be pre-ordering from Amazon as soon as publication is announced!
The following day, Tuesday, I ran into Patrick at our post office and as I'm doing a double-take toward the door he's fast approaching me, hand extended. "You're a teacher here, right?" he asked, shaking my hand. I never introduced myself to him on Monday! How is it that this man picked me out of the crowd? We chatted for a bit and he is incredibly down-to-earth (he rented a bicycle and was seen pedaling throughout town all week!) He is so interested in other people and very approachable. I returned Thursday night for his free-to-the-public book talk and as I entered the room he waved from the opposite corner and greeted me "Hi Jordan!" Well Mr. Jennings, you've got yourself a new mega-fan!
We have hosted a lot of authors through Cedar Valley's Youth Read and entering this year, Patrick Jennings was probably the one I knew the least about. That being said, he is easily the one I have enjoyed the most.
Now I have some reading to catch up on . . . 15 books worth!