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Uploaded:2016-08-02
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In which John talks about his big break way back in 2002, writing, reading, the extraordinary work of Amy Krouse Rosenthal, and her new project. Amy will be at the Bean on 8/9/16 from 8:09 AM to 8:09 PM; you'll know it's her because of the yellow umbrella. More info at the video invitation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lspdUvU5lnE&feature=youtu.be

Get Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal at indiebound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781101984543?aff=PenguinGroupUS or Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Textbook-Amy-Krouse-Rosenthal/dp/1101984546/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1470167131&sr=8-1&keywords=textbook+amy+krouse+rosenthal

Hank's big news is discussed in this week's episode of Dear Hank and John: https://soundcloud.com/dearhankandjohn/056-is-it-going-to-throw-up

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Good morning, Hank, it's Tuesday.  I've been thinking a lot about my friend Amy Krouse Rosenthal, who, Hank, has written a lot of amazing picture books that I'll be sending you in the coming months.  She also wrote the brilliant book Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, and as it happens, gave me one of my first big breaks.  By the way, Hank, this video is like Plato's theory of the soul, it comes to you in three parts.

Part 1: my big break.  So way, way back in 2002, I was working at Booklist Magazine and Amy e-mailed me in a professional capacity and then I replied in a mostly professional capacity, while also acknowledging that I was a massive fan of hers.  We struck up a correspondence and then one day, she asked me if I'd ever written anything about two minutes long that might work for WBEZ, Chicago's public radio station, and I didn't have anything two minutes long, but I went home that night, wrote a little essay, and then Amy invited me in to record it.  And over the next few years, I got to record dozens of essays for WBEZ, and a few for the national NPR show, All Things Considered, and that was definitely very helpful to me when I was trying to get my foot in the publishing door to sell Looking for Alaska.

But looking back, getting me on the radio wasn't actually the big break that Amy gave me.  The real break was that as both a writer and a person, Amy taught me that for stories to work, readers and writers must both be generous.  Like, when I read Persuasion as a 15 year old and declared it to be crap, the problem was not with Jane Austen.  I wasn't reading generously, I was looking for things to dislike, which meant that I was gonna find them, even when they weren't there.  And writing is the same way, like, I think what makes Amy's books so special is that she's not trying to wow or impress the reader, she's trying to make a gift for them.

Okay, part two, 08/08/08.  So, Hank, fast forward a few years to August 08, 2008.  That was a big day in our lives, Hank, we had our first huge Nerdfighter gathering, assisted by the fact it happened to coincide with a Harry Potter convention.  That was also the day I first met Rosianna, who at the time, was a high school student, but is now my production partner in movie stuff, and that evening, Amy hosted an event at the Bean in Chicago's Millennium Park called The Beckoning of Lovely.  It was a really special gathering, and a lot of that day has stuck with me, but I think what stuck with me the most was being in the dusk at Millennium Park with hundreds of other people and singing a song that English soldiers sang a hundred years ago to the tune of Auld Land Syne.  We're here because, we're here because, we're here...you're not watching this video to hear me sing.  The point being, The Beckoning of Lovely was amazing.

Okay, part three.  08/09/16.  So, it's now eight years later, and Amy has just finished a new book, Textbook, which is a companion to Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life.  She wrote, "It's not a prequel or sequel, hopefully it's an equal."  The book comes out next Tuesday, and she's hosting another gathering at the Bean on 08/09/16, and if you live near Chicago, you should really stop by.  You can find out more by watching this video or there is a link in the doobly-doo below, but it's gonna be special and fascinating and generous like everything Amy does.  Also, even if you don't live in Chicago, I hope you'll join me in reading Textbook, there are links to get it in the doobly-doo.

Hank, I think we all have people in our lives whose generosity has lifted us up or helped hold us together, and I guess I've just been thinking a lot about those people in the context of your big news, Hank.  Nerdfighters, I'd love to hear about who those people have been in your lives in comments.  I know it's easy to forget 'em in the torrent of bad news, that we are here for each other and lucky to have each other, but we are, so thank you.  Hank, I will actually see you tomorrow, because it will be Esther Day.  Speaking of which, I love you.