By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: December 18, 2009
“There is no one book that is right for all kids. But there are all kinds of crazy, interesting, and amazing books out there. It’s our job to help kids find that book that will inspire them to want to become readers.” ~ Jon Scieszka
Jon Scieszka is currently the reigning National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, the first person to ever hold this position. The selection was based on the following criteria:
• Author or illustrator of fiction or non-fiction books
• U.S. citizen, living in the U.S.
• Excellent and facile communicator
• Dynamic and engaging personality
• Known ability to relate to children; communicates well and regularly with them
• Someone who has made a substantial contribution to young people’s literature
• Stature; someone who is revered by children and who has earned the respect and admiration of his or her peers
For sure, Jon Scieszka is a match for all of the above—beyond expectation. He certainly has a dynamic and engaging personality: meeting him could be described as a *joyride*. However, each Ambassador term lasts two years and Scieszka’s term is coming to an end—the next Ambassador for Young People’s Literature is to be announced on January 5, 2010. So, before his departure (don’t worry, he’ll still be very visible in the world of young people’s literature), we had to ask him a couple of very important questions:
::Fanfare plays as the Ambassador enters::
TCBR: What has been the most rewarding part of being National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature?
Jon Scieszka: I feel like this position has made a difference. I found that people really do want to help kids become readers. And I have been absolutely thrilled and honored to have parents and educators and book people everywhere actually listen to my suggestions.
Robin Adelson and her team at the Children’s Book Council deserve huge credit for making this program an amazing success in its first two years. The Ambassador would not exist without them.
TCBR: What will you miss most about being National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature?
Jon Scieszka: I will really miss being able to take cuts in line wherever I go. A lot of people don’t know about that Ambassador Power. But it is for real . . . all you kids at Pino’s Pizza giving me the eye.
I will also miss wearing the sash and the medal.
But a great part of being a former ambassador is that my duties of promoting children’s books will be ongoing. I will be helping the new ambassador.
TCBR: Any hints as to who may be next in-line? And, are they shaking in their shoes to follow in your footsteps?
Jon Scieszka: A pipe, a carrot, and a couple of sticks are lying in a field. No, wait. That’s a hint to a different riddle.
But I can tell you that the new Ambassador is absolutely, unbelievably, incredibly amazing. And he/she is not shaking in his/her shoes because he/she is that amazing.
We have so many different kinds of great talents in the children’s book world. Any one of them would make a great Ambassador . . . but not a great melted snowman.
TCBR: Thank you for all of your Ambassador efforts. You made a great, first ever, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature!
::Fanfare plays as the Ambassador exits::
To learn more about Ambassador Scieszka’s experiences from the last two years and gain some insight to some of his favorite books from 2009, I urge you to read these two articles :
Los Angeles Times: Children’s books 2009: It’s all good! says Jon Scieszka
Huffington Post: National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Must Go!
More links of interest:
National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature
TCBR author interview: Jon Scieszka
Add some of Scieszka’s books to your collection!
Leave us a comment: Who do you think will be the next National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature?