100 Scope Notes
Inside 100 Scope Notes

Instagramming an Author Visit: 26 Story Treehouse Author Andy Griffiths

Bust out the giant plastic letters! Last week it was author visit time ’round my neck of the woods. 13 Story Treehouse author Andy Griffiths was in town. This visit was unique for a couple reasons:

1. Mr. Griffiths was coming all the way from his home country of Australia in support of his latest book, the 26 Story Treehouse (review to come), and was only stopping at a few schools while in the U.S.

2. He was also visiting the schools of two friends – The Jimmy Carter of Teaching Colby Sharp and The Bill Clinton of Children’s Literature John Schumacher. They both recapped their visits already: click here for Mr. Sharp’s recap, click here for Mr. Schu’s recap.

Prep was in order. Specifically, sparkly letter prep.

Have I mentioned lately that I love this window chalk stuff? I do. Notice how I subtly appealed to the Twitter generation with a random “#” thrown in.

In advance of the visit, the publisher was kind enough to send these posters that students could use to create their own tree houses. Kids had a good time with that.

So much so that we lined the halls with them.

Here’s a glimpse into my mind. Pre-visit checklist. I was clearly very concerned about water for Andy. For some reason, that’s the thing that fuels my nightmares:

Author: Do you have water?

Travis: *Blood-curtling scream* I don’t.

Author: It’s okay, man – I’ll use the drinking fountain.

But no author of mine shall drink from a mere fountain! They will be lavished with water from the isle of Fiji. If there’s anything I’ve learned from John Schumacher, it’s this – spring for the good stuff.

Ah yes, the big day. The best part. Andy took to the mic in front of an enthusiastic audience. To say that students were excited would be an understatement. To say they were going kinda nuts would be a justrightstatement.

Has anyone ever rented a fog machine for an author visit? The only thing missing here is the machine churning out some dramatic fog. If I pull one out for our next author visit, don’t be surprised.

Here are a couple things you need to know about Andy’s presentation:

It was funny. Very funny. Kids laughing their heads off funny.

Andy has hit upon a very entertaining way to talk about his process for creating stories. For him, comedy is all about playing on opposites, and he illustrated that nicely for the audience.

There were props. Effective props. He brought the house down by showing students all the different stories that could be created using a Godzilla toy and a baby doll.

I was able to get my hands on the Killer Koala after the presentation, captured below by my colleague @daydreamreader. This picture sort of makes it look like there were a bunch of people taking pictures and I wasn’t looking at this particular camera. Not the case. There was just one photographer and I felt the need to do the “stare off into the distance” move.

After the presentations, it was book signing time. This was a joy to watch, as Andy chatted with every student before, during, and after signing their book.

And with that, Andy had to head out to his next visit – anything else ? How about a picture?

Thank you Andy Griffiths, Mary Van Akin, and Macmillan Children’s Books for a wonderful day.

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. I teach reading interventions in Hopkins Middle School which is just down the road from Dorr Elementary. I follow your blog and twitter but never realized you were from West Michigan. Thanks for the great work.

    • Travis Jonker says:

      Hello! Thanks for the kind words – man, we really are just down the street from each other

  2. LOVE the sparkly letters! Top marks!!

    Andy Griffiths is great isn’t he? Have had the pleasure of meeting him a couple of times – always v generous with time for his younger readers.

    Looking forward to seeing what you think of the 26-Storey Treehouse – love that series of my books. Although I do not have a yearning for a marshmallow machine that just won’t disappear.

    • Travis Jonker says:

      Thanks, Emma – as you can tell, we had a great time with Andy. I’ll be talking about 26 Story in the next few days or so. Basically, I love it. And students will as well.

  3. Great post Travis. Andy is one of the most entertaining authors I have ever seen speak. Always very funny and engaging. Also nice to see Andy’s books doing well over there (especially another Aussie). He’s a good guy and a hard worker. Looks like you guys had a fun day!

    Best, Gus

  4. Colby Sharp says:

    Hooray for #team81!

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