Sunday, August 1, 2010

How to Be a Spaceheadz: a Multimedia Thingy* Starring Jon Scieszka

Here's the sad truth about Jon Scieszka: Though he is a man, he doesn't actually smell like stinky cheese (usually). But it's OK. It really is, because there's no one who gives better, smarter, or funnier advice about writing for children.**

The full title of his talk was How to Be a Spaceheadz: The Ups and Downs and Sideways of Telling a Story Across Multiple Media. (The sign outside the room omitted the final Z, but people managed to find the room anyway. Even that Mac Barnett guy.)

OK. So multimedia is a huge opportunity for us, Jon says, because no one has any idea what it really means (which you can tell from looking at at some of the early stuff out there).

This medium is not built for adapting other things, he says. If you want to work in this medium, work in this medium. What would exist well on a phone or iPad? "Don't just take Where the Wild Things Are and crap it up."

Kids today know how to use technology, but they don't really understand the difference between story and advertising. Jon's new series, SPACEHEADZ, aims to help make these kids media literate. It imagines a trio of aliens who've learned everything they know about earth from watching television. They come to earth to recruit humans.

Jon is using Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr, music playlists, and Twitter (including one account entirely in hamsterese) to build the online dimension of the story.

Jon also told us the secret to writing books that will make kids laugh. We're still working on getting the translation from hamster, but here it is: Eeek. Eeek eek eek eek; eek eek. Eek? Eeek eek. Eeek! Eeek! (Eeek eek eeek eek eeek--eek.)

* Is it just me, or is it hard to think of words after last night's party?
** When Madonna has schedule conflicts, that is. Because that lady, she is a major hoot.

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