Dan Gutman, a rock-star in children’s lit, to speak at Toms River

Dan Gutman is a rock star to the early-reader set. Hilarious. Prolific. And he is always on all the local schools’ summer reading list.

The children’s book author will present his “Baseball Card Adventure” series and his “My Weird School” series at the Toms River library branch, 101 Washington St., 7 p.m. Thursday March 27.

The “My Weird School” series features second-, then third-grader A.J., a boy who doesn’t like school, and Andrea Young, a girl who loves school and everything else A. J. hates, and their misadventures at Ella Mendry School.

Gutman has written 11 books in his “Baseball Card Adventure” series, beginning with a chance discovery of the rarest of collectible baseball cards, the 1909 Honus Wagner T-206 card. In the series Stosh has adventures with Roberto Clemente, Jim Thorpe, Mickey Mantle and many more baseball heroes.

Though born in New York City, Dan Gutman is really a Jersey product. His family moved to Newark when he was one and grew up on its streets. He graduated from Rutgers in 1977.

He began his professional writing career in 1979, writing stories for national publications and editing a computer magazine.

He then began writing adult nonfiction with a book about baseball in 1987. He then turned to children’s nonfiction five years later.

It wasn’t until 1994 that he gave writing children’s fiction a try and realized he found his niche.

“It was fun to write,” he wrote on his webpage. “Kids loved it and I discovered how incredibly rewarding it is to take a blank page and turn it into a world.”

“Finally, after fifteen years, I figured out what my career should be – writing fiction for kids.  For the first time I felt I was doing something I was good at, something that was fun, creatively rewarding, and appreciated by an audience,” he said.

Gutman has written more than 100 books for children.

The family program is designed for children in the second grade and higher. The program is free but registration is required. To register telephone the operator 732-349-6200 or 609-971-0514 or visit the website www.theoceancountylibrary.org, click on the “Events and News” menu, then select “Calendar and Events.”

“This is our signature event of the season,” said Children’s Supervising Librarian Glynis Wray. “He is so popular with the elementary school set that I know registration will fill up quickly.”

Registration will begin March 13.

There will also be a surprise gift for the children who attend: author signed, baseball card, specially designed by the library for this event.

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