When I was a kid, I really loved books, and I really hated math.
Neither of those things have changed.
Another thing that hasn’t changed is my deep and abiding adoration of a picture book called Math Curse. It is a brilliant book that I loved as a kid and love more as an adult.1
So a couple weeks ago, when Milton asked me if I wanted to have coffee with her and the author of Math Curse, I said, “Is a Fibonacci Sequence created by adding the two previous numbers?”
The answer was yes. Yes I would like to have coffee with Jon Scieszka2.
On Saturday, Milton and I waited in the Sheraton Starbucks. We were both a little nervous. I had no idea what sort of person Mr. Scieszka would be. Did he, icon of children’s literature, really have the time to meet with us? The phrase “Never meet your heroes” kept running through my head.
But then Jon arrived. He sat down with us, and we talked for about an hour about children’s books, literacy, gender, and writing. This guy basically changed the face of picture books and here he was, sitting in a Starbucks with two grad students, telling us stories about Mo Willems and Jon Klassen and treating our opinions and ideas as though they were just as valid and intelligent as his.
Milton and I were both impressively articulate and kept our cool, but I think both of our internal monologues looked something like this:
It was an amazing conversation with an amazing guy, and one of those “aha!” moments that affirmed yet again I am in the right field. I don’t think I’m ever going to change children’s literature the way Jon Scieszka did, but someday I hope I can return this favor and sit down with an aspiring author in a hotel Starbucks and tell them everything they need to hear.
And then I will sign their book with a math equation. The same way Jon did for me.
- Also I’m pretty sure there were a few questions on the SAT that I got right specifically because of Math Curse.
- Mr. Scieszka is also the author of The Stinky Cheeseman and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, among other dark and hilarious books. His new book, Battle Bunny, is sort of brilliant. He’s one of the rare children’s authors who writes books kids actually want to read.