Blog Tour: Children’s Book Week with Raina Telgemeier


We’re thrilled to help First Second Books once again celebrate Children’s Book Week (which ran from May 2-8 this year), with a blog tour celebrating both their amazing books and the effort to get more books into more kids’ hands.

This year, we celebrate how amazing books for kids and teenagers are! We’re delighted to be celebrating the awesomeness of kids comics this week by taking part in a blog tour that features a star-studded line-up of graphic novelists, including friends of the Roarbots Gene Luen Yang, Faith Erin Hicks, Mike Maihack, and Maris Wicks (see below for schedule and links).

In these interviews, they’re talking about the creative process, their inspiration, and the books they love. We’re thrilled to host John Patrick Green (author of Hippopotamister) chatting with the incomparable Raina Telgemeier.

JPG: While Smile and Sisters are memoirs, and Drama is inspired by events in your youth, Ghosts is clearly a fictional tale involving the supernatural. Where did the inspiration for this type of story come from?

RainaTelgemeierRT: I’ve been wanting to write and draw a story incorporating magical realism for years, ever since taking a course on Latin American literature in college, where I fell in love with Isabel Allende’s writing in particular. Ghosts delves into the supernatural, but it still has a lot of the trademarks my readers are familiar with from my other books: real-life kids dealing with real-life situations, relationships, and family.

JPG: Do you have a “brain trust” or writing group who you run ideas past, or do you work in secret until a project is ready to reveal to the world?

RT: I work very closely with my editors at Scholastic, plus a couple of trusted friends, whom I share my drafts with as I’m working out the story. Once it’s complete, I usually share the script with a few beta readers, just to make sure that outside eyes will be able to appreciate it as a whole (as opposed to a work in progress). I take everyone’s comments to heart, and the scripts tend to evolve further as I’m drawing and all of the design elements start to come together. A project isn’t complete until the last details are added and it’s off to the printer!

JPG: For some graphic novelists, making comics started as a hobby. Is being an artist still a hobby for you, or is it like a job? If drawing is your job, what then are your hobbies?

GHOSTS Front CoverRT: I love what I do as much as if it were still a hobby. But, after making comics for 40 hours a week, I also have hobbies that are just for fun, just for me. I love traveling, so I do that as much as possible. I also love hiking on cliffs near beaches, cooking creative vegetarian food, rocking art, science, or history museums, and sketch nights with my artist friends. I find that the things that interest me outside of work often inform my work in one way or another, and it’s a lovely balance that keeps me happy.

JPG: If you couldn’t be a cartoonist, what would you be? What advice do you have for kids who want to become cartoonists?

RT: I have a feeling I’d be in some sort of promotional job. Publicity, event coordinator, wedding planner, something like that. I love making lists and logistics and writing emails and organizing events, which is a great skill as a touring author, but it’s also fun to do that for other people and then disappear into the background while they have their moment.

For kids who want to be cartoonists: Don’t wait. Start now. Develop your skills. Do it because you love it, and because you have stories you want to tell. There’s never been a more welcoming time to get into reading or making comics, and I’m excited to hear from lots of new voices in this industry!

JPG: I know this is your favorite question: what’s your next book going to be about?

RT: It’s still a little early to go into too much detail (release date is September 13!), but the elevator pitch is that it’s about two sisters (one of whom has cystic fibrosis) who move to a damp, foggy seaside town and discover that it’s haunted. They meet some new friends and have some adventures. I can’t wait to share it with my readers!

JPG: What’s currently on your nightstand, and do you have any recommendations, new or old?

Now reading: Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities by Mike Jung; Compass South by Hope Larson and Rebecca Mock; and the first book in the Nameless City trilogy by Faith Erin Hicks!

Jamie is a publishing/book nerd who makes a living by wrangling words together into some sense of coherence. He's the founder and owner of The Roarbots and also a contributor to Syfy Wire,, and GeekDad. On top of that, he hosts The Great Big Beautiful Podcast, which celebrates creativity in popular culture, science, and technology by talking to a wide variety of people who contribute to it.

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