Reading Rockets: Launching Young Readers
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Reading Rockets: Launching Young Readers

William Joyce
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Learn about the world of William Joyce, where normalcy is odd and oddness normal! You'll need the RealOne Player ( to see the four-minute video clip.
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George Shrinks
William Joyce's character George Shrinks is tiny but unflappable. As the star of George Shrinks, which airs on PBS as part of the Bookworm Bunch series, he handles every adventure with cool style and ingenious contraptions.
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Not everyone can say their literary career started in the fourth grade with a book called Billy's Booger. It was about, well… you know.

William Joyce has always been highly original, writing and drawing what he finds interesting at the time. "I don't ever sit down and go, 'I'm going to do a children's book,'" he said in an exclusive interview. "To me, it's just a book that's cool for short people and tall people. I'm just kind of doing what I like to do."

Joyce's books often put a fanciful twist on the ordinary. George Shrinks, which is also a PBS Kids show, is about everyday events that become magnified because George is only a few inches tall. With a sense of fun, George figures out smart and inventive ways to use his toys, pulleys, levers, and so on to get his bed made or to capture some bugs. Challenges become opportunities for adventure.

Selected Books by William Joyce

George Shrinks

George Shrinks
Taking care of a cat and baby brother turns into a series of comic adventures when George wakes up to find himself shrunk to the size of a mouse.

Dinosaur Bob

Dinosaur Bob
While on a trip to Africa, the Lazardos find a dinosaur and bring him home. Dinosaur Bob becomes part of the family and the town's best baseball player.

Rolie Polie Olie

Rolie Polie Olie
Olie is a member of the Rolie Polie family. All of the Rolie Polies are round and resemble robots in this funny, rhyming, original, and slightly wacky story.

In books like George Shrinks and Rolie Polie Olie, William Joyce shows how much he appreciates the "frisky intelligence" in kids. But he also respects their capacity for understanding the sorrowful side of life and doesn't shy from including it in books such as The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs.

"Children are a lot more honest about sorrow and death than grown-ups tend to be and they're more accepting of it," he explained. "I mean children are resilient beyond what we ever give them credit for and they learn to abide very quickly and to adapt. And so The Leaf Men is a very subtle attempt at bringing up some of those issues.

"If I hadn't had those teachers encouraging me I wouldn't be doing this. It makes all the difference in the world." - William Joyce

"I've had grown-ups tell me, 'I don't quite understand what this book is about,' but every kid that's ever read it sort of instinctually knows that this is about a grandmother growing old and maybe soon to die and how she's dealt with loss in her own life. And they get it and they're cool with it. But it's grown-ups who sometimes have a hard time getting the subtle things. One of the cool things about writing books that are perceived as being for children is that oftentimes the grown-up audience really ends up being less sophisticated about what I'm up to than the kids themselves."

William Joyce credits many of his teachers back home in Louisiana for launching his career. "I had some great, sweet, funny, happy, joyful, loving teachers that I still keep in contact with, dedicated books to them, stuff like that. If I hadn't had those teachers encouraging me I wouldn't be doing this. It makes all the difference in the world."

Click here to read about another children's book author and illustrator, Kate Duke>>

Symbol: The cat is black.
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