Patrick Jones to visit Morenci 04.13.2011

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

How did author Patrick Jones ever come up with the idea of a vampire who needs tears to survive?

What will his next story be about?

How did he get into writing novels for young teens in the first place?

Those questions and any others that fans come up with will be answered Saturday morning at Morenci’s Stair Public Library when the popular young adult author visits at 11 a.m.

The event is sponsored by the library’s Teen Book Club.

The Morenci visit will mark the second for Jones, thanks to the efforts of middle school teacher Sally Kruger.

Mrs. Kruger began corresponding with Jones years ago on MySpace after she read one of his books and published an on-line review.

The Flint, Mich., native told her he would like to visit Morenci some time when he was back in the state and the arrangements were finally made in 2008.

Many of those who spoke with him then are now seniors in high school, Mrs. Kruger said, and a new group of fans will have their chance to meet him Saturday.

It’s the sort of experience Jones appreciates because he enjoys connecting with his audience to find out how his writing is being received.

Jones believes he knows the young adult genre well after reading those books by the dozens for more than two decades. He’s served on the committee that awards the “best books for reluctant readers” designation and he thinks he knows what it takes now that he’s writing his own novels.

“I think I have an understanding of what makes a book appealing to reluctant readers,” he said in an interview in 2008.

It starts with an intriguing opening. It’s written at a seventh grade reading level. It has short paragraphs. It needs to be relevant to the readers’ lives.

“There’s a stereotype that says a young adult book is simple,” Jones said. “In some ways, it is. But why are these teen characters behaving the way they do?”

That’s where some complexity arises.

When Jones visits schools, it’s mostly 10th and 11th grade students that he connects with. Seventh and eighth grade students tend to be the chief readers of his stories, but it’s the older kids who discuss the issues.

School visits are much more common than library talks, and libraries produce more unpredictable audiences that often include younger students as well as adults. His presentation is recommended for students in the eighth grade and older.

Jones’s novels are sometimes criticized for the language used, but he says it’s actually tame.

“If the dialogue was really like teens speak, no school would buy it,” he said. “There’s a vision of how parents want kids to be and there’s the actuality of how they are.”

He aims to use that reality to help teens work through their journey of growing up.

“How do you get through it? That’s the real journey,” he said.

He knows the trip isn’t always pleasant, but he knows that growth will occur.

• Drawings are planned for two autographed copies of Patrick Jones books. Borders will have books on sale Jones will sign autographs,

The event is recommended for students in grade eight and older, and adults are encouraged to join in.

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    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
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    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
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    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
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    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.
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    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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