School Visits


What is the length and content of my program?
40 to 60 minutes. This is how I structure my program: I make opening remarks that last about 2 minutes. During my slide presentation (20-30 min.) I discuss my introduction to the field of children’s books, the variety of projects I have illustrated, the artistic influences on my work, where I work, how I do research, and the different stages of the children’s book process. I like to take questions for 10-15 minutes and end with a drawing demonstration that includes student participation.
The program usually lasts about 40 minutes for grades 1-2 and 45-60 minutes for grades 3-8. For kindergarten children I do not present slides. Instead, I prefer to do a 10-15 minute question/answer session and drawing demonstration for a small group.
To give my best to the students, three presentations a day is the limit. Detailed schedule must be sent to me at least two weeks prior to my visit. Please group students according to grade level for presentations.

No taping of any kind is permitted without my express, written consent.

Schools that are interested in having James and his wife Lesa (a children’s book writer) should indicate that on the submission form.

I now use Powerpoint for my presentations.

What do I need to have on hand the day of the presentation?

  • Projector for a Windows Laptop
  • Easel
  • Ten 27×34 sheets of paper per presentation (available from any office supply store in the presentation section)
  • Two (non-toxic) colored magic markers of different colors
  • Drinking water
  • A room that can be darkened for an effective slide presentation

Fun things many schools have arranged during my visit.

  • A pot-luck lunch with staff allows everyone to get to meet me and get to ask those questions they may have been too intimidated to ask on during my presentation.
  • Lunch with students who have an interest in art. Some schools have allowed art teachers to select individual students who are interested in pursuing their art education to meet me in a more relaxed setting. They can ask more questions and also share their aspirations with me. The schools usually order some “take-out” food that we all share.
  • I also enjoy touring the school to see artwork or writing projects that were inspired by my books.
  • It’s great to see the many young elementary students who wear their projects to my presentation: “Aunt Flossie’s Hats,” “Red Dancing Shoes,” animal masks or any other wearable art projects they’ve done with inspiration from my books.
  • I’m pleased to be interviewed for the school newspaper.
  • You’ll have to excuse me, but I enjoy being a card on the school’s morning TV news.
  • Plays and musical performances—it overwhelms me when I visit schools, and someone has taken one of my books and created a short dramatic performance or perhaps the music department has put together a program based on music from the period of one of my books. I love to be able to attend these events.

Airport Preferences:

  • First, Stewart Airport, Newburgh, NY. Allow 2 hours for travel to the airport
  • Albany Airport, Albany, NY. (May be less expensive.) Allow 2 hours for travel to the airport
  • LaGuardia Airport, New York City, NY (Car with driver must be provided for transportation to and from the airport. Allow 3 hours for travel to the airport)

Please Note: Sometimes it is less expensive and there are fewer connections when flying from La Guardia. Even including the cost of a driver is often less than the price of the plane ticket alone from Stewart Airport.

Flight preferences:

  • Window seat, non-smoking. Early morning flight (any time after 6:00 AM from Albany or Stewart) or next to the last flight the evening before.

Ordering books:

Click here for the Recommended List of Books.

To order single books, go to the New Books or Titles pages and order from If you are ordering books in bulk, you have two options. You can call each publisher and order the specific book you want, or you can call a book seller and have them do a complete order for you. Publishers will not want to work with orders of less than 10, but they will give you a 40% discount. It might be easier to work with one person at a bookstore, but the discount will only be in the range of 20%. The publisher is listed on the title page of each book.

To order books from the publisher, contact:

Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
Customer Service:

Holiday House
425 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10017
(Ask for Marketing)

Henry Holt
115 West 18th Street
New York, NY 10011
Amy Geduldig

Clarion Books
215 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003

Harper Collins
1350 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10019
Call Customer Service 1-800-242-7737 and give them James’ name as the illustrator appearing at your school/library and they will direct you to the correct person to order books.