Monday, August 15, 2016

Happy Birthday, Michael Buckley - August 16

Happy Birthday, Michael Buckley - August 16

My two boys would not be classified as daredevils. They wouldn't be classified as cowards either. I would probably describe them as cautious stuntmen. When they were younger they were eager to learn the monkey bars at the playground as long as I was within an arm's reach. This summer they wanted to ride the big water slides at the water park, but only after I went with them the first time. Now, they ride their bikes at top speed down the sidewalk in front of our house and will take both hands off their handlebars, but only for a millisecond. Courageous but careful. Daring but deliberate. Tough but tentative. I like them like this. I hope it continues into their teenage years!

This week, I planned a few activities for my little daredevils, (err...cautious stuntmen) to celebrate Michael Buckley's birthday. They didn't cringe or cower at the stunts I prepared. In fact, they performed them with amazing skill and ease. I hope you will read on. It will be quite a show!

Michael Buckley is the author many chapter books for middle grade readers and young adults including N.E.R.D.S.: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society series and the Undertow Trilogy. He was born in Akron, Ohio (not too far from our house!) and in school he was known as the "class clown". (Miss Literati). When Michael was in the fourth grade his school librarian encouraged him to read The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary. He loved it and credits this book with helping him become an avid reader and a writer. (Mazza Museum Keynote). Also, in the fourth grade, he decided to share some of his writing with his teacher, who supposedly didn't like him too much, and she told him, "You are never going to be a writer. You can't spell." Michael heard the words not as crushing criticism, but as a challenge.

At the age of 16, he won a joke writing contest sponsored by Mad Magazine. His prize was to spend the day at the mall with Eddie Murphy, who thought Michael was pretty funny and encouraged him to sneak into comedy clubs to do stand-up. Michael took Murphy's advice, "I told everyone I was 18 and started doing stand-up." This experience taught Michael about the how to write a "set-up and punchline." (Mazza Museum Keynote). He told This is My Show, "Writing your own jokes can teach you a lot about the rhythm of language and speech. That's when I started to really see the power of words."

He graduated from Ohio University in 1996.  One of his professors, Mel Helitzer, encouraged Michael to get an internship and said, "You need to send a resume to David Letterman." Michael took Helitzer's advice and landed an internship with the David Letterman Show in the research department creating the interviews with the goal of making the guests "seem hilarious." Michael went on to develop and create TV shows for Discovery Channel (The Mole People), MTV (Beavis and Butthead, Celebrity Deathmatch), VH1, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network (Robotomy). Eventually, Michael "got burnt out" and needed a break.

During his break from creating TV shows, he had an idea for another TV show. He told his then girlfriend, Alison Fargis, all about it. Alison, who was working in the book industry, said, "That is not a TV show. It's a book." Michael didn't think he could write the book, but once again took the advice. To make a long story short, he wrote the book and it turned into the nine book series, The Sisters Grimm: The Fairy Tale Detectives series. Later, he married Alison and she is now his agent.

Michael Buckley has written one picture book, Kel Gilligan's Daredevil Stunt Show, illustrated by Dan Santat. In this book, Kel Gilligan performs amazing stunts like eating his broccoli, going on the big boy potty, and getting dressed all by himself. He does all of his stunts while wearing a red, white, and blue helmet, a cape, and white gloves. He is successful at all of his stunts, but his last stunt is the most daring one yet! He will go to bed without checking for monsters. Has Kel Gilligan lost his mind? Or will he amaze us once again?

Kel Gilligan's Daredevil Stunt Show was the inspiration for our author birthday celebration for Michael Buckley. It inspired two craft ideas and some crazy fun in our driveway. For the first craft, I noticed a photograph of Kel Gilligan wearing an "I {heart} Danger" t-shirt on the second last page of the book. I thought this shirt would be perfect for my cautious stuntmen.

Kel Gilligan loves danger. Do my boys? Well, kinda...
I bought two blue t-shirts and cardboard letters we would use as stamps.
We covered the back of the letters with white screen printing ink and pressed them on the t-shirt. 
I found the cardboard letters on the clearance rack at a craft store. They were corrugated so they left lines after we stamped them.
My boys painted in the rest to make the letters solid.
I cut out a heart shape and stamped on red acrylic paint. We let the shirts dry for two days and then ironed them for about five minutes to set the ink.
We found a picture frame at a garage sale for 50 cents to recreate the illustration from the book.
Just like Kel Gilligan.
My youngest son is the "least cautious" of cautious stuntmen brothers.
Our second craft was to modify a white snowboarding helmet we had in our garage.
I taped off areas to make the stripes. They painted the middle stripe and let it dry over night.
The next day I taped off the areas for the red stripes.
After many coats of red paint, we let it dry over night too.
The next day we removed all the tape and it revealed this amazing helmet! I added a coat of clear acrylic spray to protect the paint too.
Do you follow Happy Birthday Author on Pinterest? Please pin!
It was time for our stunt show. 
My oldest son "laughed in the face of danger" as he rode his Razor Flash Rider 360 down the neighbor's driveway at top speed.
My youngest son "threw caution to the wind" and faced the hill himself.
Next up, was this guy! The craziest of them all!
He prepared for another run.
Off he goes!
I am lucky I didn't get hurt.
He was so happy.
His smile says it all.

Michael, thank you for sharing your birthday with us and thank you for signing my huge stack of books at Mazza. We hope you have a great birthday!

1. Michael Buckley's Blog
2. Michael Buckley Fan Page - Facebook
3. Follow Michael Buckley - Instagram, Twitter
4. Interviews - Yogi Times (2013), Miss Literati, Nerdy with Children, Author Turf (2014), Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf (2015), State Impact (2013)
5. Video Interview - TeacherTube, National Book Festival 2015
6. National Book Festival Presentation 2015 - Library of Congress on YouTube
7. National Book Festival Presentation 2011- Library of Congress on YouTube
8. National Book Festival Presentation 2010 - Library of Congress on YouTube

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