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We interviewed bestselling author James Patterson

James Patterson with Kidsday reporters, from left: Adam

James Patterson with Kidsday reporters, from left: Adam Lee, Cassy Oswald-Pisarski, Leela Tickoo, Sirina Tickoo and Caitlin Fox. Photo Credit: Newsday / Pat Mullooly

As most everyone knows, James Patterson is a very successful author. He graduated from Manhattan College and then went to Vanderbilt University in Tennessee for his master’s degree.

He started writing short stories when he was in his teens, and in graduate school he started writing his first novel, which was published when he was 26. That novel, “The Thomas Berryman Number,” was published in 1976, and it won the Edgar Award for best first novel by an American author.

He started writing children’s books in 2009. We met James (also known as Jimmy) at his publisher’s offices in Manhattan last week. We waited for him in a conference room on Avenue of the Americas (with swivel chairs). When arrived, he was welcomed by eager and excited students. “The awkwardness has just begun” James laughingly said to us. Nervous energy caused much swiveling in the unusually comfortable chairs.

A first question was, “Do you prefer writing more adult- based novels or child-based novels? James said that he enjoys writing books for any age group. He told us that the key to writing good books was imagination. James said that he would constantly make up his own showtunes in his car. Growing up in a rural area of upstate Newburgh caused him to rely on his imagination and creativity for entertainment.

His latest book, “Pottymouth and Stoopid,” has just come out and is a wonderful novel about verbal bullying. James talked about the effects of this book, saying his intention was to make kids aware about what happens when you bully someone and call them names. He spoke about being verbally bullied himself; he wrote from firsthand experience. The rise of cyberbullying was a valid reason to write a book about the subject. Read it now!

Another question was a two-part question. We asked James what is his favorite song and favorite band or solo artist. Earlier, we had guessed he was going to say AC/DC, but he apparently enjoys listening to Lorde and Led Zeppelin (still a legendary band).

Of course, we wanted to know how he came up with the idea for the Jimmy Patterson book series, a project that promotes reading for kids through book donations and teacher scholarships. “I want kids to read a book and say, ‘give me another book,’ “ James said, “because as you know, a lot of your friends, they don’t want to read too much. In summer, it’s really important that kids read. Because if you don’t, you fall backward. So let’s say your reading level is here when you leave school. And if you don’t read over the summer, it goes down here. And if you do that, like six years in a row, you wind up maybe a couple of years below what your reading level should be. And that can affect how well you do in school and ultimately what your choices are in life. We want kids to, when they get through high school, we want them to have a lot of choices, could go to college, can do this, and can do that.”

After asking our questions, we took a picture with James and received autographs from him. That concluded our interview and we made it down to the lobby where our parents were waiting and excited to hear about our fun interview.

Here is Sirina’s review of his latest masterpiece, “Pottymouth and Stoopid” (Little, Brown) which James wrote with Chris Grabenstein, and which is illustrated by Stephen Gilpin:

“Pottymouth and Stoopid” is about two boys whose real names are Michael and David. They got these horrible nicknames in preschool and they stuck with them until middle school. Throughout the book Michael and David try a variety of ways to get rid of these nicknames and get others to stop this bullying.

I enjoyed this book because it was easy to read and understand the humor. I recommend this book to kids in grades 4 through 7 because the book takes place in a middle school setting. I would give this a 4.5 out of 5 because most of it is entertaining and funny.

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