Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Blog Tour with Author and Illustrator of JOEY FLY

We feel lucky to be included in the blog tour that the author and illustrator team of Joey Fly, Private Eye are one. We are so happy they stopped at A Year of Reading. If you are like us, you are on the hunt for great new graphic novels to add to your classroom or school library. This new book--that will hopefully become a series--is one of the best new ones out this year. This book is a mystery--full of fun. The story, the language and the art are all quite fun. How could it not be fun when the characters are bugs? You get a good sense of the book and the type of humor when you watch the book trailer.

When my copy of JOEY FLY arrived, it was sitting on the island in the kitchen. My 10 year old daughter, Ana, immediately asked if she could read it. She couldn't stop talking to me about the book and I would hear her laughing aloud as she read. She loved it. So, we thought it would make sense for Ana to ask the interview questions for this blog tour. We were curious as to what a 10 year old would ask the author/illustrator team after reading the book. So, here is Ana's interview:-)

Ana: Where did you get the idea for this story?

Aaron: Originally, the book was called Joey Off, Private Fly (you know, Off…like bug spray?). That was all I had…a title, which is often how it works for me. I’ll get a title in my head that seems funny or inspires some cool ideas, and off I go. So, when I thought of the title, it seemed funny, a snarky insect mystery. It wasn’t until I sat down to write it that some of the details came along, like Sammy Stingtail and his tail of horror, and Delilah and her stolen pencil box. Most times, I don’t think out the story in advance…I sit down to write the idea, and the story comes along the way.

Ana: Why did you choose to make the characters bugs?

Aaron: I love bugs…they make great characters because there are so many different kinds and they’re all so freaky and unique looking. I have several other books that feature bugs, including Tiger Moth, Insect Ninja and The Tale of the Poisonous Yuck-Bugs. In real life, I don’t mind bugs, but I can’t stand spiders. Yechhhh…too many legs=gross.

Neil: And yet Aaron put a giant hairy tarantula in the second Joey Fly!

Ana: How did you decide when to switch colors for things going on in the story?

Aaron: That was totally Neil’s thing. Fill her in, Neil.

Neil: Yes! Well, originally, I thought it would be fun to try a different take on the whole black and white thing, you know, like old film noir movies. But since sometimes black and white can be boring, I changed it up to blue and white! The flashback scenes made sense as another color, because they take place in a different time frame, and at the last second, we decided to add reds for all the outdoor daytime scenes, just to spice things up a bit. It worked out even better than I thought, and is now part of the storytelling that makes Joey Fly unique.

Ana: How did you get the idea for Joey to talk to himself/the reader in the squares throughout the book?

Aaron: Well, turns out, all those language arts words they make you learn in school aren’t a waste of time. The book is written in first person point of view, which means that the main character talks directly to the read about themselves and their story. When I started writing, this is just how things came out. Joey had lots of running comments or sarcastic little opinions he wanted to throw into the mix, so I wanted to give him the chance to talk directly to the reader without the other characters hearing it or being part of it. In a graphic novel, the best way to do that is in caption boxes, which are those little squares that he talks to you in. These are different from speech balloons, which is the stuff he says to other characters.

Ana: Will there be more Joey Fly books?

Aaron: Definitely! The second book is done and Neil is already finishing the art for it. I’ve seen his sketches and they are AMAZING! It’s better than the first book. And I’m currently working on the third book and have cool ideas about a fourth. So, we’ll keep going as long as the publisher lets us and the ideas keep coming. That is, if Neil is okay with that…

Neil: Of course I’m ok with it! The second Joey Fly is the most fun I’ve ever had on a project! I can’t wait to read the third, the fourth, the fifth, the sixth, and the seventh!

Ana: Which other books, especially graphic novels, would you recommend to kids who like this book?

Aaron: I really a huge fan of graphic novels for kids…there’s a new one out called The Amulet by Kazi Kibuishi that I LOVE! The second one just came out. I also love the Artemis Fowl graphic novel…definitely worth checking out if you haven’t seen it. Also Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon Hale is AWESOME! I’m also a huge fan of an old European comic called Asterix. I used to buy them as a kid at flea markets and they are still SO FUNNY.

Neil: Old Mickey Mouse comics have great mystery and suspense, Tintin by Herge, Super Mario Adventures by Kentaro Takekuma and Charlie Nozawa, and if you like the wordplay in Joey Fly, check out The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster!

They have made several other stops on this tour. You may want to visit to learn as much as you can about this book and this great team. A few of their stops have included:

November 2--Writing For Kids (While Raising Them)

November 2--Book Nut

November 6--Abby the Librarian

Our 5th grade Graphic Novel Club in the library is well underway and a few of the kids have already read this title. I am thinking I might offer this as a book club title to 3rd and 4th graders this winter. It is a great new book with so many fun things to discuss. I think it is worth buying several copies.

More good news: You can follow Joey Fly on Twitter!


  1. Look at Ana! Blogger of the future!

  2. Great interview Ana!! I read this interview with Joey and he too thought it was great. He was thinking about all the smart questions you asked and got him excited for the next book! Thanks!!


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