I tabled at ALA in Chicago to promote my new Toon book, Something’s Fishy. ALA is the American Library Association’s mega-convention. Over 10,000 librarians and hundreds of authors and illustrators roamed the aisles. Anchored to my table, I still managed to meet some superstar illustrators as they passed by. In front of my display, Greg Pizzoli bumped into his pal Tom Angleberger, creator of the mega-hit Origami Yoda series.
I asked Greg how he came up with the idea for his new book, The Quest for Z. Truth be told, I wish I had thought of it. It began in Greg’s studio while working on his prior nonfiction kid’s book, Tricky Vic. He listened to the audiobook of David Grann’s bestseller, The Lost City of Z: A tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon. He was enthralled. “Soon as it finished,” Greg said, “I started it over, I’d never done that before.”
Greg is a 2005 Millersville University of PA grad with an MFA from Philadelphia’s University of the Arts. He still lives in Philadelphia where he is part of the printmaking scene. His specialty is serigraphy- silkscreen. He taught for 8 years at the U of Arts before becoming a full-time author and illustrator. He did 8 books in this year ranging from board books to nonfiction picture books. I asked Greg about how he came to do the nonfiction works.
Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower started out as a self-published zine. “Self-published is an overstatement,” said Greg, “I printed 100 copies and sent them to friends.” Somebody clearly liked it! Tricky Vic, in the form published by Viking, went on to success, and was selected for The New York Times 10 Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2015.
On Sunday at the appointed hour I went to the Penguin Books for Young Readers aisle where Greg was signing books. His line of fans snaked through the aisles much like an image from his ‘Z’ book. I will have to get mine another day!
Chicago was great. I had a good ALA convention and so did Greg. His Good Night Owl won a Geisel Honor.
Hey, Philly! Greg Pizzoli is doing a series of Free Public presentations for the Free Library of Philadelphia’s neighborhood branches. Check your local library. Info:
He is also signing books at Princeton Children’s Book Festival in NJ on Sept 24, 2017. The event is a fundraiser for the Princeton Public Library. I will be there, too.
P.S. For Pizzoli nonfiction fans I asked Greg about the subject of his next book. I would never have guessed – John Wilkes Booth!