Ms. Michalak, who lives in town and has two boys who attend Barrington schools, said the Sept. 7 event will include face-painting, plenty of cupcakes and other treats, games and a raffle.
“It’s a book signing and a back-to-school celebration,” Ms. Michalak said. “It should be a lot of fun.”
Ms. Michalak said her recent creation — she has paired with illustrator Frank Remkiewicz on all three books — includes a number of references to Barrington schools, and Sowams School in particular.
Part of the story line includes Sparky earning a star sticker while at school. Ms. Michalak said the idea came directly from Sowams, where students are rewarded for outstanding behavior with stickers emblazoned with a star.
Actually, many of the ideas wrapped into the pages of “Joe and Sparky Go To School” came from the author’s sons and her own volunteer work in Barrington schools. For years, Ms. Michalak has been visiting classrooms around Barrington and beyond to read her books and share other insight into story-telling with students.
“I love the visits,” she said. “I get really nervous, but once I get going I love it.”
Ms. Michalak said she’s always enjoyed writing. When she was growing up in Springfield, Mass., she and a few of her friends wrote a neighborhood newspaper, The Biltmore Street News. (The paper “printed” three editions, which Ms. Michalak’s mother still has.) She said she thought she would be a journalist when she grew up, but questioned that idea after working at her college paper.
“All the other reporters were really aggressive. That just wasn’t me,” she said.
Instead she began working as an editor, but would spend her free time writing stories. She sent out dozens of manuscripts to publishers and was eventually printed. Her break-through story was the first Joe and Sparky book — “Joe and Sparky Get New Wheels.”
She said the characters in the book are based on herself and her sister.
Save the date
Barrington author Jamie Michalak will sign copies of her recently released book “Joe and Sparky Go To School” during an event at Barrington Books on Saturday, Sept. 7 from 1 to 3 p.m.