Jody Jensen Shaffer's A CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK

By Jody Jensen Shaffer
illustrated by Daniel Miyares

      Sometime in 2013, I was brainstorming ideas for my next picture book. After reading about Kate DiCamillo’s inspiration for her mouse main character in Tale of Despereaux, I was inspired to write my own story of an unlikely hero. I decided a rock would fit that bill, so I began playing with ideas. That’s when the line "Rocky loved his rock star relatives" popped into my head. I loved the “rock star” pun and the idea that Rocky valued his family. I knew he was going to try to be a rock star in his own way; I just needed to write the story and find out how. That line has since changed, but it was the spark that started it all.
As I drafted my story, I knew I needed to place Rocky in different settings, so the illustrator would have something fun to do. So I sent Rocky on a quest to matter. He decides to become part of his famous relatives in different parts of the country, from California to Texas. The fictional story naturally led to several nonfiction connections: rock types, famous land formations, and map reading, to name a few. After several revisions and critiques by writing friends, my story was ready to submit to editors.
      I got an offer from Nancy Paulsen (Penguin) in March of 2014 to publish A CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK, then called ROCKY, and by January of 2015, the illustrator, Daniel Miyares, had signed on. I was excited to see what Daniel would do with my text. I was familiar with his work, and I thought it was fun that we lived close to one another. That rarely happens with authors and illustrators.
Over the next two years, Nancy and I revised the text while Daniel sent us thumbnail sketches, rounds of illustrations, and finally the cover art in June of 2017. What a thrill! A CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK released on February 20, 2018, and Daniel and I did our book launch together.
I’m pleased to say that my little story about a roaming rock with big dreams will be traveling even further over the next few months. A CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK will have a Chinese edition, too.

Jody Jensen Shaffer is an award-winning poet and the author of more than 30 books of fiction and nonfiction for children, including PRUDENCE THE PART-TIME COW, Missouri’s pick for the 2017 National Book Festival, A CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK, and IT’S YOUR FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, BUSY BUS! Jody’s poetry has been published in great magazines like Highlights, Ladybug, and Clubhouse Jr. Jody lives in Liberty, Missouri and is a member of SCBWI. When she's not writing, Jody can be found watching baseball or walking her rescue dog, Sophie. Visit Jody at or on Twitter @jodywrites4kids.

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