Recently My Little Man and I traveled to a nearby city to meet New York Times’ Best-selling author Chris Grabenstein. It was everything I ever thought meeting a famous author could be.
When I was a little girl I wanted to be a writer. I used to sit at my desk with stacks of paper and all the office supplies I could find gathered around me, trying to be the next Carolyn Keene. I’d still like to write an exciting book someday, but for now, lately, I’ve really wanted to meet my favorite authors.
We live near Raleigh, Greensboro, and Charlotte, and big names often come to those areas – but somehow it’s never worked for us, so I was super excited to head out to meet the author of the “Mr. Lemoncello” series and “The Island of Dr. Libris,” Chris Grabenstein.
The signing was held at Barnes and Noble, and while I knew that they were experts in this sort of thing, we weren’t. We didn’t want to miss out, so we headed over there several hours before it was slated to begin.
We found the signing spot and hunkered down to wait, hoping we would end up with good seats.
Since we were there for so long before hand, we took turns wandering the store and admiring the fun displays set up for the event.
Grabenstein has a series out for middle-grade readers that I really want to read, but alas, B & N didn’t have any copies that night. 🙁
One might worry that such a popular author would be stuck-up or snobby, but we found the exact opposite to be true with Chris Grabenstein. He arrived quite early and talked through set-up with the B & N employees, and promptly came over to greet My Little Man, talking with him even though it was hours before he was ‘on.’ While the B & N crew were obviously trying to make sure they had met his every need, escorting him around the store and offering him refreshments from their Starbucks Café, Grabenstein gravitated right back to the event scene and continued to talk with his readers. He repeatedly asked if it was time to start, continually engaging with fans, when he could have stayed out of sight and done his own thing. I was most impressed with his kindness and attention to the kids.
Finally it was time to begin. Grabenstein shared some exciting news about upcoming stories, recent releases, and awards that some of his books have gotten.
Then he read a selection from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics. He is an amazing actor! His voice, inflections, and eyebrow wiggles totally put new spins on the story – even though I’ve read it over and over again. He chose a hilarious scene to read and had everyone in stitches.
After playing a quiz game, passing out prizes, and answering myriads of questions about the life of a writer, upcoming projects, and Fred (his dog), his stage time ended.
We quickly lined up for autographs and pictures. Grabenstein was kind and talked to each person, posing for pictures when asked and generally making each person feel important.
Even My Little Man, who loves Mr. Grabenstein’s books but is extremely shy when meeting new adults, warmed up quickly. He hopped right up for this picture and talked more than he typically does about the whole encounter.
Chris Grabenstein’s books are hilarious and exciting for kids, but they’re also well-written and chock-full of opportunities for learning. I love when we can have a blast learning about something new. Because we think his books are so wonderful – and with Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library ranking on the NYT’s bestseller’s list for 88+ weeks, I’m not the only one – I’m writing unit studies to accompany each one. Two are currently available, and your kids will love designing their own car, making Mr. Lemoncello’s birthday cake, and much more. Click on the pictures below to purchase the books or my accompanying unit studies.
Have you ever met a big-name author? Who?