Authors and Illustrators Who Visit Schools
space space space space
space space space space
Email Me
John Steven Gurney

Directory of Authors and Illustrators Who Visit Schools

Contact Authors and Illustrators in our Directory

Get Added to the AIVS Directory and the Catalog

Back to AIVS Home Page

Learn More About Me
John Steven Gurney
  • Biography
  • Testimonials
  • References
  • Contact Info
  • space

    John Steven Gurney - Author Illustrator


    • Fuzzy Baseball 4: DiNO-Hitters (Papercutz) 2021
    • Fuzzy BaseBall 3: RBI Robots (Papercutz) 2020 Book Reviews, Book Trailer
    • Fuzzy Baseball 2: Ninja Baseball Blast (Papercutz) 2019 Book Trailer
    • The Bossy Pirate (Schiffer) 2018 Book Trailer
    • Fuzzy Baseball (Papercutz) 2016 Book Reviews, Book Trailer
    • Dinosaur Train (Harper Collins) 2002 Book Reviews, Book Trailer
    • The A to Z Mystery series, written by Ron Roy (Random House, 35 titles since 1997)
    • The Calendar Mysteries series, written by Ron Roy (Random House 13 titles since 2009) Book Reviews
    • Pet Hotel series, written by Kate Finch (Scholastic) 2013
    • Palace Puppies series, written by Laura Dower (Hyperion, 4 titles, starting 2013)
    • The Bailey School Kids series, written by Debbie Dadey and Marcia T. Jones (Scholastic, 61 titles since 1988)
    • The Meanest Hound Around, written by Bill Wallace and Carol Wallace (Simon and Schuster, 2004) Book Reviews
    • The Big Apple Barn series, written by Kristin Earhart (Scholastic, 7 titles since 2007)
    • Stubby and The Puppy Pack to the Rescue, written by Nikki Wallace (Simon and Schuster, 2003)
    • Bub, Snow, and the Burley Bear Scare, written by Bill Wallace and Carol Wallace (Simon and Schuster, 2003)
    • The Bailey City Monsters series, written by Debbie Dadey and Marcia T. Jones (Scholastic, 9 titles, 1997)
    • Bub Moose, written by Bill Wallace and Carol Wallace (Simon and Schuster, 2002)
    • The Night Before Christmas, written by Clement Clark Moore (Scholastic, 1989)
    • The Temptation of Wilfred Malachy, written by William F. Buckley, Jr. (Workman, 1985)
    • Also illustrated Milton Bradley's game Guess Who (1997) and frequent contributor to High Five Magazine
    Fuzzy Baseball - Ninja Baseball Blast - RBI Robots - DiNO Hitters


    • June Jam Calendar Mysteries #6, Bank Street Books Best Books List of 2012 List (for children 5-9).
    • Dinosaur Train, 2009 Oregon SMART Book Award Nominee.
    • The Meanest Hound Around, Iowa Children's Choice Award Master List, Young Hoosier Book Award Master List 2006-2007
    space space
    Dinosaur Train


    John's presentation is ideal for grades K through 8. He adjusts the content to suit the ages of the audience, focusing on Dinosaur Train and other picture book material with the younger grades and chapter books and his graphic novel with the middle grades and above. With the older students John talks about writing and illustrating as a career as well as the publishing process.


    • 45-75 minutes, depending on age and scheduling needs.


    For assembly presentations, any size that fits in the room. But in general, the preference is to see the youngest students in smaller, more intimate groups.


    Every illustration tells a story, but how? John's Power Point presentation relates both his technical process and, equally important, his thought process. He shares his experience as an author and an illustrator, and because John uses humor in his work, many of his slides are quite funny — but don't tell the kids that, let it be a surprise. John picks volunteers from the audience to demonstrate how kids pose as models for his illustrations. He always closes with some live drawing, either a cartoon face or a caricature of someone from the audience, and whenever possible he likes to get all the audience members drawing along with him. The students get such a sense of accomplishment when they walk away carrying their own drawings.


    space space

    John teaches a variety of fun cartoon workshops, suitable to ages K-8. A number of them are listed below, but what generally works best is to tell John the age and size of the group, the length of time available and he'll design the workshop around that. All the students need are basic pencil and paper. John needs an easel to draw on, and if possible (but not essential) a digital projector and a document camera.

    Large Group Draw Along: John has a number of "Draw-Along" cartooning activities that work well with large groups. These involve the students drawing what John is drawing in front of them, and there is always a humorous surprise at the completion of the cartoon. These activities are generally included as part of the large group assembly, but they can also be scheduled as a separate session. John will need an easel with paper, or an "Elmo" drawing projection device.

    The following workshops are for smaller groups, class size: 30 students or less. If you tell John the age of the audience and your time frame, he will suggest which sessions or combinations will work best.

    Character/Setting/Story!: The older kids create their own stories. They are randomly assigned characters and a setting, and invent a story concept that would explain why the characters are there and what they are doing. Then they draw the scene.

    Funny Faces: John teaches the fundamentals of drawing cartoon faces, and helps the kids make their cartoons more expressive.

    Match the Caption: The kids draw a cartoon to fit a randomly assigned caption. The objective is to communicate with their drawings.

    Pass the Caption: A kind of a cartooning version of the old "telephone game". Hard to explain in two sentences, but very fun.


    "My job as an illustrator is very solitary. I basically sit at my desk or my computer and draw pictures. I really enjoy the opportunity to get out in front of people and talk about what I do. When I visit a school I like to meet with all the students, youngest to oldest. I love reading Dinosaur Train on a carpet to the Pre-k class, I love talking about the sketch revising process with third graders, and I love talking about my oil painting and Photoshop technique with eighth graders. I like to be kept busy the whole day. I am very flexible, and I enjoy the challenge of adapting my program to each school's particular scheduling needs.

    space space
    John Gurney holding his books

    "I think it's important for students to understand that an illustration is all about communication. It is a picture designed to give information. Children in our society become visually literate at an early age. If an illustration is effective, kids respond to it, even if they don't know why. I like to tell them why."


    • $225 per Zoom/Google Meets session.
    • $850 for a full day (ask about how to receive a $100 discount).
    • $975 for a single full school day, if air travel is involved.
    • $1,600 for two days, $750 per day for 3 or more consecutive days. Team up with a neighboring school to save money and share expenses!
    • $650 for a full day if you are within 60 minutes of Kutztown, PA.
    • $150 for an evening session after the school day.

    Extra fees may apply for international visits.

    space space
    The Bossy Pirate

    Fees listed do not include travel expenses (mileage charge for driving, airfare for flying... contact me and I'll calculate).

    Lodging may be required if the drive is more than 90 minutes from Brattleboro, VT.


    John requires a digital projector, and an easel with large drawing paper for his assembly presentations. He needs a microphone if there is a large audience.

    For the workshops each student needs a couple sheets of standard copy paper, a pencil and an eraser. John needs an easel with paper. A digital projector is helpful, but not essential, as is an "elmo" drawing device. John may need to xerox some worksheets in advance, depending on the workshop.


    John is happy to autograph any of the books he's illustrated. You can order the books through him, if you wish.



    space space
    Box game cover: Guess Who?

    John Steven Gurney
    710 Western Avenue
    Brattleboro, VT 05301
    Telephone: 802-258-2654


    Inquiries about Authors and Illustrators Who Visit Schools