Never Abandon Imagination – Tony DiTerlizzi

This post finds itself onto my blog in a rather belated fashion. You see, the amazing Tony diTerlizzi visited my daughter’s elementary school at the beginning of May this year. He was on the national book tour for the third and final book in the “WondLa” trilogy, “The Battle for WondLa,” and ours was one of only two schools that he visited in Arizona. I’d like to think that blogging about this great event is better late than never, right?

In case you are not familiar with this icon of the children’s publishing world, Mr. DiTerlizzi, is a New York Times bestselling author and illustrator and is the creator of such kid favorites as The Spiderwick Chronicles, Jimmy Zangwow’s Out-of-this-World Moon Pie AdventureAdventure of Meno (with his wife, Angela) and The Spider & The Fly (which won a Caldecott Honor), and many more. You can read more about his and his incredible career at

I was so darn tickled when I was able to work with Changing Hands Bookstore and our school to have Tony present to our fourth graders. They had no idea what was in store for them. Having been an avid Tony diTerlizzi fan for as long as I can remember, I was probably more excited than the kids to have him visit. We were able to fit all fourth graders into our wonderful theater in the round. Take a look at how nice it is:

Tony’s mantra is “Never Abandon Imagination.” Throughout his life Tony has always been blessed with his immense imagination which has made him extremely successful when it comes to world building and creating endearing characters that stay with you. During his program Tony enthralled the students with his creative journey. He spoke about 10-year-old Tony and the challenges that he faced when he was in school. His struggles, reluctance to write and impersonation of his 10-year-old  self, really made an impression on the kids.

He shared the detailed creative process of bringing the “WondLa” trilogy to life and astounded everyone with the fact that this journey took well over ten years. Tony explained that his main character Eva Nine is the compilation of inspiration that he drew from Alice in Wonderland, Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz and Wendy from Peter Pan. The kids got a clear picture how important it is to familiarize themselves with literature and classic works, because these can serve as the building blocks for their own stories and creative journeys.

Being the nerd that I am, I was so tickled to get a photo of Tiny, My daughter Izzi and myself. For me the visit with Tony was just as rewarding as it was for the kids, because I have drawn inspiration from Tony’s work for a long time. It is beyond exciting to meet your hero.

Tony’s ability to engage the students with his storytelling and his passion for the art of writing was unparalleled.  His words and pictures inspired them and ignited their creative spirits which became so evident in the weeks after his visit. Kids that were reluctant readers were walking through the basketball court with their nose in a WondLa book. That is the magic that was Tony diTerlizzi’s visit. Plus he is an incredibly nice guy.

Thank you Tony