Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Failure can lead to success, author tells students

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Jeff Kinney, best-selling author of the ‘‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” told students at Clarksburg Elementary school on Monday that his failed career as a newspaper cartoonist led to his success as a writer

‘‘I just wanted to give kids a laugh,” Kinney said. ‘‘There is nothing deep about it. I just wanted to write something fun.”

Most of the students raised their hands when he asked if they had ever read one of his books.

‘‘Diary of Wimpy Kid,” his first book, took him 10 years to write and was published by Amulet Books in April 2007. That book made the New York Times Best Seller List, along with his second book, ‘‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules,” which was published in January. The series focuses on adventures of the fictional character Greg Huffily, who is a middle school student.

Kinney talked about the writing process, the importance of having a well-designed spine for a book and the fact that books usually have to sell in five weeks or they are pulled off of the shelves.

He also showed the students how he drew the characters on a tablet computer that was projected on a large screen.

Kinney drew the characters and many of their trademark emotional expressions before asking the youngsters to try to identify the emotions.

Cassie Smith, 7, of Boyd’s said she was excited that the author came to her school.

‘‘I really liked seeing how he drew the characters,” Cassie said. ‘‘That was cool.”

Principal Wang Lee said it was great for Kinney to come because it promotes reading and gives the students a chance to understand what it takes to write a book. She also said it was a great opportunity for the students the meet the author.

‘‘The atmosphere was filled with enthusiasm and curiosity,” she said. ‘‘That is what is important.”

Kinney took questions as the students asked about his plans for the future of the book series. He received a rousing round of applause at the end of his presentation.

Kinney’s brother, Scott Kinney of Clarksburg, helped to organize the author’s visit to the school. Scott Kinney has a son in fifth grade at Clarksburg Elementary.

He was glad that his brother, who lives in Plainview, Mass., could fit the visit into his schedule

‘‘It is a personal triumph,” Scott Kinney said. ‘‘I’m proud of my brother. Jeff is so busy it was hard to get him here.”

Muhammad Jahanzeb, 11, of Clarksburg said he was happy Jeff Kinney came to his school because he is one of his favorite authors.

‘‘I was really happy,” Muhammad said. ‘‘I never met a real author.”

Be on the lookout

Scott Kinney of Clarksburg, whose brother, Jeff Kinney, is the author of the popular children’s book, ‘‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” is bringing the characters of the book ‘‘alive” in an effort to benefit local schools and businesses.

He has worked with Pat Darby of the Clarksburg Literary Society to sponsor a Wimpy Kid scavenger hunt, in which area residents can visit Clarksburg businesses looking for vinyl wall prints of the six book characters, which have been signed by the author. Wherever the prints are found, parents can purchase $5 raffle tickets for a chance to win them. The hunt will run through Saturday and the characters will move each day.

Money from the raffle ticket sales will be donated to the Clarksburg, Little Bennett and Daly elementary school libraries.