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  • Kindle Daily Post

    Meet Benji Franklin: Kid Zillionaire

    by Kindle Editors on 02/18/2014

    Benji-franklinIt’s not all about the benajmins for this tiny tycoon. Raymond Bean introduces us to Benji Franklin: Kid Zillionairea boy genius on a quest for discovery and invention.

    Being named after one of the most creative minds in history comes with a ton of pressure, but twelve-year-old Benji Franklin is up to the challenge. At six months old, he learned sign language. When he was three, he taught himself how to play the guitar. At five, he was able to read in six different languages, including dolphin.

    Benji comes from a long line of inventor types. His father even built a satellite out of spare parts lying around his workshop, but that’s top secret, or at least it was until the FBI got involved, but that’s another story entirely.

    At age twelve, Benji created an excuse generating app that went viral, and his life really got interesting. He became the world’s first, and, well, only ZILLIONAIRE. His reputation as a gifted problem solver quickly spread and before he knew it he was busy solving some of the world’s most complex problems like recapturing runaway, cloned dinosaurs and saving the planet from devastating meteors.

    Benji’s greatest talent, however, may lie in his ability to turn the most impossible situations into opportunities to help those in need. He’s determined to do good things with his new found fortune because as his mom likes to remind him, “It’s not all about the benjamins, Benjamin.”

    Benji Franklin: Kid Zillionaire was a ton of fun to write. He lives in a world where anything is possible and no challenge is too great. The sky is definitely NOT the limit for Benji. I’ve always been a huge cartoon fan because in cartoons the possibilities are endless and nothing is too extraordinary. Modern cartoons like Spongebob and Phineas and Ferb are so much fun because anything can happen and usually does. I tried to write Benji Franklin: Kid Zillionaire in a way that young readers would have as much fun reading the book as they do watching their favorite cartoons. That being said, I almost fell out of my seat the first time I viewed the Benji Franklin trailer because it had such a wonderful cartoon-like feel. Watching the trailer made me really long for a Benji Franklin Cartoon. I’m talking to you Nickelodeon.

    Matthew Vimislik’s illustrations give the book the perfect feel and help bring Benji to life. The wide-eyed wonder in Benji’s eyes and the awesome adventurer glasses hanging around his neck on the cover say it all. Benji Franklin is a boy genius on a quest for discovery, invention, and, of course, the greater good. I hope young readers enjoy Benji’s adventures and find themselves dreaming big.

     

  • Jeff Rivera Q & A

    It’s been a while since I posted an author Q & A.  I talked with Jefff Rivera a while back about his reading/writing experiences as a child.  Jeff is an author, blogger, and all around media marvel.  He’s one busy guy, but he took the time to share the interview below.  Have a look!

    1. Did you write when you were a kid? If so, what do you remember writing?
    Absolutely. In fact, when I was in the first grade, I used to write little stories about the kids in class and a girl once said, “You better watch out or he’ll write a story about you!”  I think I had a little crush on her back then and that’s why I wrote it.

    2. How old were you when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
    I think as soon as I could put pen to paper. It was natural. I had no idea what being a writer meant but I do remember when I was about in the third grade, hiding in the school library while my friends who were good at sports, played outside and I used to dream of being an author.

    3. What children’s book from your childhood stands out the most?
    There are so many but in particular, I loved when my fourth grade teacher Mrs. Wetzler read us “Where the Red Fern Grows”. I can still feel that emotion I felt as I looked forward to hearing what was going to happen next and the heartache when the dogs died.  I think in some ways that’s what I try to re-create for my readers when they read my books.

    4.  What genre of children’s book is your favorite to read?
    I absolutely love humor books for kids. One of my favorites of all time seriously is “Sweet Farts”.
    5. Do you remember the title of the first book you read on your own as a kid?
    I remember one of the first was the Amelia Bedelia books. I still love reading those.

    6. Did you ever meet an author in person or write to an author when you were a kid?
    I used to love Judy Blume too and I think I wrote her a letter but I don’t think I ever heard back. Bummer. I LOVED her books.

    7. What children’s book would you like to see made into a movie?
    There was a book that was about a stegosaurus that my teacher read us that I always wanted them to make a movie about but I don’t remember what it was called. Also there’s a great book I read, that I think was called The Cheese Stands Alone that was AMAZING.

    8. What was your favorite candy growing up?
    Johnny Appleseeds all the way, baby!

    9. What did you like best and least about school in elementary school?
    We used to have school plays that I was always a part of. I never got the lead but the kid that always got the lead ended up being a big star on the Disney Channel and I ended up being an author.  My least favorite was gym. I hated it. I had no confidence in my athletic ability and it showed.  Now, I love being active.
     
  • KDP Newsletter

    Kindle Direct Publishing included me in the April newsletter.  Have a look below.

    Your Voice

                KDP Author Raymond Bean

    <ember Spotlight

    Raymond Bean, author of the School Is A Nightmare series shares his experiences with KDP.

    November 2012 marked the four year anniversary of my leap into self-publishing. When I published my first title way back in 2008, I didn’t know what a Kindle was, no one read digital books yet, and self-publishing was about as cool as a canker sore.

    At the time, the only thing I had to show for my writing was a computer full of stories and a binder full of rejections. I taught during the day, worked for a catering company on the weekends, and wrote as often as possible. I did what writers were “supposed to do”:                   

    1. Send out query letters                   
    2. Wait for responses                   
    3. Cross fingers and toes                     

    Writing wasn’t paying the bills, and I had two young children to provide for. I’d read a bunch of Jim Cramer books on options trading after which I convinced myself I could figure it out.  I wasn’t terrible at it, but I wasn’t that good either. I’d managed to skim a bit of a profit trading stock on Marvel Studios when it announced it would create an Iron Man movie.

    One day my wife read an article in a local paper about a writer who’d self-published a book using a print on demand service.  She convinced me it was time to stop investing in stock options based on comic book character movie hunches and start investing in my writing. I took my Iron Man money and invested it in self-publishing.  As usual, my wife was right.

    When my book, Sweet Farts (don’t judge, kids love it), released in November 2008, my wife and I crossed our fingers and hoped we’d be lucky enough to make our money back some day. We never dreamed that Sweet Farts would hit the Amazon Humorous Bestsellers list by February 2009 and stay there for four years running! At the time, I couldn’t have imagined that in only four year’s time I’d have eight titles out in the U.S., half a dozen foreign deals, and film offers for my books.

    Last year, I launched my new series, School Is A Nightmare.  I wanted to write a fun series for kids and bring titles to market quickly.  Partnering with Createspace for the book creation services and KDP to reach my readers digitally has been the perfect combination. I’ve utilized free promotions, participated in the lending library and released an omnibus edition called Quadzilla to help expand the reader base for the series.  I’ll release several more titles in the series this fall.

    I’ve found that more and more kids are reading digitally on Kindle and Kindle apps. Self-publishing the series allows me to provide content to readers when I want and without delays. The ease of working with Createspace and KDP helps me experiment with new ideas and keep up with a rapidly changing market.

    Going forward, I see myself self-publishing some titles and traditionally publishing others. The next installment of my School Is A Nightmare series is in edits right now at Createspace, I just signed a deal for a fun new series with a traditional publisher, and I have several titles completed and ready to go. The most exciting thing about right now is that when I’m writing a book, I know it will be released. I no longer have the dread that the work may never see the light of day.

    The days of crossing my fingers and toes are over. I’ve also given up trading stock options. Self-publishing proved to be a better investment offering very low risk and extraordinarily high reward. I guess those Jim Cramer books paid off after all.

    -Raymond Bean

  • Nardini Sisters Q & A

                  The Nardini Sisters write fun and silly children’s books.  Their books are regulars on the best seller lists for humor on Amazon.  They were nice enough to take a little time out to answer a few questions.  Have a look!

     

    1. Did you write when you were a kid? If so, what
    do you remember writing?

    -Lisa- Yes, I did. I remember writing my first story in 2nd grade. It was called,
    The Case of the Missing Apple Pie. (the cat did it). I also kept diaries for
    most of my school years. I used writing as a way to handle emotions. I would
    write poems if I was sad, angry or unhappy.

    -Gina-The first story I remember writing was also in the 2nd grade, titled How the Zebra Got It’s Stripes. My all-white zebra was put in
    jail for some bogus crime and carelessly leaned up against the jail bars which
    had recently been painted black… It was a class assignment. I thought I did a
    poor job, but my teacher read mine as a good example. Lisa and I had the same 2nd
    grade teacher, Mrs. Brown. She obviously liked to teach kids to write!

    2. How old were you when you realized you wanted to be a writer?

    -Lisa- I think it was when I was in 8th or 9th grade. I took an aptitude
    test and I remember it said I should be a writer, journalist or a librarian. I
    was happy with the results. I was a librarian for a while in my 20’s.

    -Gina-I was 29. Iwanted to be an artist first. I studied Art in College. Although I did have a
    teacher in high school who encouraged me to write. I won the senior writing
    award in high school.

    3. What children’s book from your childhood stands out the most?

    -Lisa-I remember reading The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken when I was in 3rd
    grade. It was the first time I realized that a book could transport you to a
    different world. The book was about kids in England and I actually felt like I
    was there with them. I was living in the Ozarks and their world seemed so
    exotic and exciting to me. That was when I realized that books could open up
    the new worlds.

    -Gina-Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson
    Rawls. It is still one of my favorites. It was set in the Ozarks where we grew
    up. I loved how hard the main character worked just so he could buy two redbone
    coonhound puppies. I shared his love for dogs then and now. I enjoyed reading
    about how he took care of his puppies, Old Dan and Little Ann. Incidentally; I
    have owned hounds dogs for the last fourteen years. Currently I have two; Buck,
    a vizsla/beagle mix and Bunny the hopping beagle. Rawl’s book Summer of the Monkeys, was another favorite.
    It too, was set in the Ozarks, and centers around a poor boy who struggles to
    catch escaped circus monkeys for a handsome reward. It was an inspiration when
    writing Zoo’d, our book about monkeys escaping from their cages in the zoo.
    Gosh, they always say there are no new ideas, just new ways to write the old
    ones!

     4.  Do you remember the title of the first book
    you read on your own as a kid?

    -Lisa- I think it
    was the Beverly Cleary series about Henry and his dog Ribsy. I also enjoyed the
    Encyclopedia Brown books by Donald J. Sobol.

    -Gina-No, although, I also liked the Encyclopedia Brown series. I also liked Wilson
    Rawls, Jack London and Laura Ingalls Wilder.

    5.  Did you ever meet an author
    in person or write to an author when you were a kid?

    -Lisa- No, I didn’t. I wish I would have. The young adult books by Judy Blume were so
    relatable to me. I was tall, awkward and very skinny. I got made fun of a lot
    and reading those books with characters like me helped me through that
    uncomfortable stage.

    -Gina- No, but I visited the house where Laura Ingalls Wilder lived as an adult. It was not too far from where we grew up. It
    was a fieldtrip I took with my church. By the way, my school field trip for
    that year was to the water treatment plant (just like in our book)!

    6.  What children’s book would
    you like to see made into a movie?

    -Lisa & Gina-
    Sweet Farts!

    -Lisa- Aside from our book, I would love to see any of the Fudge books by Judy Blume or Hank Zipzer
    by Henry Winkler.

    -Gina-I think Tangerine, by Edward Bloor. Growing up, I would have said Lord of The Rings. I
    only had to wait 30+ years to finally see it on the screen.

    7.  What was your favorite candy
    growing up?

    -Lisa- Snickers bar. I love them so much that I named one of my play horses Snicker. He was the
    same color as a Snicker’s bar.

    -Gina-Milky Way. Yum. Still to this day. Yum.

    8.  What did you like best and
    least about school in elementary school?

    -Lisa & Gina-When our teachers would read a novel aloud to us. Where the Red Fern Grows, A Taste
    of Blackberries, Summer of The Monkeys, Charlotte’s Web, How To Eat Fried
    Worms.

    -Lisa- My favorite subject in school was Reading. We didn’t have a library at school so
    the Janitor’s closet was where the school kept books you could take home and
    read. I did not like anything to do with Math. I also didn’t like to sing in
    front of the class in Music but I did love learning the songs.

    -Gina-I loved music! I didn’t mind singing in front of the class at all. It was absolutely my
    favorite class. I think I would have liked art more, but we did not have it at
    our school. My least favorite thing was not a class, but a mean girl who was a
    bully!

    Thanks to the Nardini Sisters!  If you don’t know their books, check them out here.

  • Karen Mcquestion Q & A

    I’ve known Karen McQuestion for several years.  She writes fantastic books for kids and adults.  If you’re not familiar with her work, it’s time!  She was kind enough to answer a few questions for me.  Have a look.

    1.      Did you write when you were a kid? If so, what do you remember writing?

    I was always writing or thinking up stories. The first thing I remember writing as a kid was a short story about a boy who fell into an underground cave where he discovered something magical.

     

    2.      How old were you when you realized you wanted to be a writer?

    It happened in third grade after the teacher read a story I’d written aloud to the class and the other kids were  amazed that the shy, quiet girl had written this exciting story. That’s what hooked me—the fun of writing the story, and the compliments of the other students.

     

    3.      What children’s book from your childhood stands out the most?

    The Narnia books were, at one time, my number one favorite. I read them over and over again. I would have lived in those books if I could have.

     

    4.      Do you remember the title of the first book you read on your own as a kid?

    I believe it was Hop on Pop. A classic.

     

    5.      Did you ever meet an author in person or write to an author when you were a kid?

    Sadly, no.

     

    6.      What children’s book would you like to see made into a movie?

    Any of the Joey Pigza books by Jack Gantos.

     

    7.      What was your favorite candy growing up?

    Anything chocolate, except for Milk Duds which tasted like dirt to me.

     

    8.      What did you like best and least about school in elementary school?

    Best: Lunch time, seeing friends, spelling bees, and when the teacher read to us

    Least: Gym class and going out to recess when it was bitter cold

     

    Thanks to Karen for taking the time to answer a few questions! 

    visit her @ http://karenmcquestion.com/ 

    and http://mcquestionablemusings.blogspot.com/

  • Maria Murnane Q & A

    One of my favorite things about being an author is meeting and learning about other writers.  I’ve wanted to add author interviews to my website for a while now.  This month I asked my friend and fellow author, Maria Murnane, to answer a few questions.

    1. Did you write when you were a kid? If so, what do you remember writing?

    In fourth grade I kept a diary, but that was the only real writing I remember doing. I
    have no idea what happened to that little book…now you have me curious as to
    where it is! I should look on eBay..haha.

    2. How old were you when you realized you wanted to be a writer?

    I knew in high school that I loved writing, but it wasn’t until my early thirties that I
    realized I wanted to write novels for a living.

    3. What children’s book from your childhood stands out the most?

    A few stand out: Where the Wild Things Are and The Bears’ Picnic from
    when I was much younger, and A Wrinkle in Time and everything by Beverly
    Cleary toward the end of elementary school.

    4. If you wrote a children’s book, what genre do you think you’d like to explore?

    Probably something about a smart girl trying to fit in socially- I was one of the
    smartest kids in elementary school but remember not wanting anyone to know
    because they wouldn’t think I was cool.

    5. Do you remember the title of the first book you read on your own as a kid?

    I wish I did, but I have no idea!

    6. Did you ever meet an author in person or write to an author when you were a kid?

    It never occurred to me to write to an author back then, which is funny because now that
    I’m an author myself, I LOVE getting emails from readers. It’s my favorite part
    of the job! The other day got an email from a seventh grader who said she and
    her friends are obsessed with my books, and it made my day.

    7. What children’s book would you like to see made into a movie? (I didn’t prompt her response, but I agree)

    Sweet Farts, of course!

    8. What was your favorite candy growing up?

    Laffy Taffy in strawberry

    9. What did you like best and least about school in elementary school?

    I loved everything about elementary school except for a girl who used to bully me in
    third grade. Looking back, I wish I had stood up to her. Or told my parents. Or
    done something! If I ever run into that girl now, watch out.

    Thanks to Maria for taking the time to share.

    Check out her books here!

    Learn more about Maria and her work @ www.mariamurnane.com
  • Quadzilla Four Book Kindle Released

    For a while now I’ve had the idea to write a silly series that follows a reluctant fourth grader through an entire school year.  Each book in the series would focus on a different period of the year.  The School Is A Nightmare Series allows me to finally bring this idea to life.

    The main character in the series, Justin, thinks school is the worst!  He complains, avoids, and dreams of a life without school.  At home, his two older sisters drive him absolutely crazy, and he can never catch a break.

    I wrote the School Is A Nightmare books for reluctant readers.  The chapters are fast paced, silly, and fun.  Kids seem to like the first four books and more are on the way.

    This winter I decided to experiment with a four book collection.  We’ve put the first four books together in one Kindle download.  I’m curious to see what kids think of reading the series this way.  The collection is called Quadzilla and it’s out now.   Happy reading.

  • When Did You Know You Wanted To Be A Writer?

    I watched the movie Stand By Me recently. I’ve seen it countless times
    before when I was younger, but it’s been a while. When I was a kid we watched it
    all the time on HBO because it was on every other day.

          It was the story that made me want to write. Later in life I searched out the book
    Different Seasons and was amazed. The Body and Rita
    Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption
    blew me away.
    Stephen King Book Covers
          At one point in the movie something truly amazing happened. I realized that not only did I know
    the movie that made me want to become a writer. I realized the exact scene.
         When I was a kid I remember viewing this scene and thinking it was the coolest thing ever.
    Some kids wanted to be basketball players, others movie stars, I thought sitting
    at home in front of a computer and writing was the ultimate.  I still do.
         When did you know?
  • Get Your Child Reading This Fall!

    If you’re anything like me, you went through periods in your childhood when you didn’t like reading. My earliest memories of books are wonderful. The picture book period in my life was filled with Dr. Seuss, Disney characters, and Frog and Toad. But, as I learned to read on my own, I remember finding it harder and harder to find books that I liked. My parents and teachers expected me to read longer chapter books, and I wasn’t always onboard. It was about this time that I started playing a new gadget called Atari, discovered this channel called MTV, and my family got a brand new color TV with a newfangled remote control (with cord).

    Today, countless distractions, most of them digital, compete for our kids’ attention (and they’re much cooler than Atari). Kids have choices when it comes to their entertainment, lots of choices. Books have stiff competition and some parents are left feeling they’re fighting a battle of books vs. everything else. So how can you help your youngster learn to love reading in a world saturated by media and all things digital? You can’t…I’m kidding, of course you can, if you try some of the tips below.

    5. Read With Your Child: Many parents stop reading with their children around the time he/she can read chapter length books independently. Stop what you’re doing when they have reading time and join them. I don’t care how old they are, they’ll learn to love reading with you.

    4. Reduce Book Hopping: Many kids read bits and pieces of books. They read a few pages of one book on Monday and then a few pages of another book on Tuesday and so on. Encourage your child to read entire books. If he abandons a book make sure he understands why. Was it too hard, too boring, too “lovey”?

    3. Find Balance: Many kids watch tv or play video games for hours a day. Help your child find a balance between digital time and reading time. Sacrificing one or two episodes of Spongebob or iCarly a day can do wonders.

    2. Set Goals: Many kids languish in the same book for weeks on end, never really connecting to the book. Prior to reading a book, set a goal for the completion date. Instead of having time limits for daily reading, i.e.: thirty minutes a night. Try setting page goals, i.e.: twenty pages a night.

    1. Get Tech Savy: Young readers love digital devices! Get him his own digital reader. He’ll love the ability to buy books instantly and digital readers make finding new books easier than ever before.

    There’s no perfect plan for helping your child love reading. Be supportive, patient, present, and let the video games and tv cool off a bit.

  • Summer reading! She Scribes Guest Post

    Help encourage your child to read this summer – Great tips

    from author Raymond Bean

    As a parent to a non-reader (otherwise known as a “reluctant reader”) it can be VERY frustrating to encourage your child to read, most especially during the summer months. We have tried everything with our son, from reasoning with him to rewarding him for reading. So far nothing has truly worked.

    Raymond Bean, author of the popular book series Sweet Farts, and a new series called School is a Nightmare, has offered some great tips and ideas to help parents of “reluctant readers” encourage their child/children to read this summer. Even if your child is an occasional reader these tips can be very useful to you as well.

    A special thank you to Mr. Bean for writing this article for me. :-)

    Are You Ready for Summer Reading?

    By Raymond Bean

    If you asked 100 kids ages 8 – 12 to make a top ten list of all the activities they want to do this summer, I’d wager you wouldn’t find reading on many of them.  However, if you asked the parents of those 100 children to make a list of the top ten activities they feel are the most important for their children to do over the summer, reading would be at the top of every one.

    Of course, there are the lucky few whose children are more like the character Brick from the show The Middle.  If you’re not familiar with the Brick character, he lives to read, and his parents practically beg him to try any activity other than reading.  Most American parents live with the polar opposite of Brick.  Many parents find they’re on an endless quest to help their child learn to love reading, and summer is usually the most challenging time of all.

    The term reluctant reader is thrown around a lot these days.  Parents and teachers use it to describe a child who avoids or resists reading.  We all know there are countless factors that contribute to a child’s lack of interest in reading.  Every child is different, and the secret to success can be extremely elusive.  So what is the parent of a reluctant reader to do?

    I’ve taught elementary school for fourteen years and every year around this time parents begin to ask about summer reading.  I’ve provided a short list of strategies that I’ve found helpful over the years.  Before you know it your child will scamper off the bus with a backpack loaded to the zipper with notebooks, folders, and the expectations for the dreaded SUMMER READING assignment.  Regardless of your school’s summer reading expectations, you may have a challenge on your hands.  Hopefully one or more of the strategies below will help make your child’s summer reading experience a success.

    Write?

           Yes, write!  Some kids learn to love reading through writing.  If you’re going to turn your reluctant reader into a book lover this summer, writing just might be the answer. 

    • Start by challenging your child to decorate a notebook with stickers, cut outs, pictures, etc.
    • Get involved.  There’s a catch.  You must write too.  Simply directing him to write isn’t enough.  You’ll need to make a notebook of your own.
    • Partner up with him to complete the writing activity together, or write a piece of your own on the same topic.  Zooming in on small events from the day can help build a love of language and words that transfers to reading.  If you went to the beach, write about one small moment from the day. 
    • Write daily or at least on agreed upon days in the notebooks. 
    • Try to include external details, internal thoughts, and dialogue to make the reading come to life. 
    • Start small and try to expand the writing as the summer goes on.
    • Your writing will add up to a fun record of summer memories.  It will also keep writing skills sharp and maybe even improve them a bit.

     

    Read!

    1.  Be Flexible:  Don’t push a book on your child.  The more you push it, the more he’ll find reasons to dislike it.  You may not love the book he’s reading, but it’s not about you.  I bet he doesn’t want to read the book you’re reading.

    2.  Search Smart:  Try searching for new titles on sites like Amazon.  Start by having him type the title of a book he already read and liked.  For example, type in Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  Then scroll down to the “frequently bought together” category.  Books will naturally “pair” with similar titles.  If he likes book x there’s a good chance he’ll like book y.  Most books have a “Look Inside” feature.  Use this to your advantage to weed out clunkers and minimize the chances of him selecting a book he doesn’t like.  Read a few pages before making a decision, and make it together.

    3.  Set Goals:  I’m not a fan of time based reading goals.  Many kids simply wait out the clock and ask, “Am I done yet?”  Instead experiment with page based goals.  Consider the number of total pages in the book.  Work with your child to decide on a manageable number of pages to be read per day.  Don’t go nuts!  Help your child set reasonable and achievable daily goals.  Once daily goals are set, determine a completion date for the book.  This strategy will help your child read more, and also provide experience planning, setting, and meeting goals.

    4.  Read:  Practice what you preach!  Don’t tell your child it’s time to read and park yourself in front of the computer or text your friends.  Reading with your child when he’s making the transition to chapter length books is extremely valuable.  Join in on the fun, and share the book.  If he’d rather read alone, read near him.  Snuggle up on the couch or at least in the same room, and read something you like.  Have a reading goal of your own, and share it with your child.

    5.  e Reader:  Consider buying your child an entry level  e reader.  You can get a Kindle for under $100 and your child can search, download, and sample books instantly.  

    Full disclosure, last summer I struggled with my then nine-year-old son over his reading.  I was attempting to help him learn to appreciate and read chapter length books independently.  I had a long list of books I was sure he’d love because I love them.  It turned out that I had just that, a list of books that I love.  Without meaning to, my son taught me that my job wasn’t to help him love my favorites, but to help him find favorites of his own.

    Read, Write, Laugh,

    Raymond Bean

    For more information about Raymond Bean and his books please visit www.RaymondBean.com.

    Look for the Sweet Farts series and his new series, School is a Nightmare, where ever books are sold.

    Kimberly