About the Co-Authors
J.J. Grabenstein has long been her husband's secret weapon—reading everything Chris has ever written (including a stack of rejected manuscripts) before anyone else and urging him to cut out all the boring stuff. But Shine! started with her. When J.J.’s father passed away a few years ago, she had an idea for a book she wished someone had written for her to read when she was a kid. A story that reminded readers that who you are is just as important as what you accomplish.
The Real Life Teacher
Yes, the character of Piper's teacher Mr. Van Deusen in Shine! was heavily influenced by the real Schaack Van Deusen, a teacher in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Everybody has one (or more) teachers that make an enormous impact in their lives—whether the teachers know it or not. Mr. Schaack Van Deusen was THAT teacher for Chris Grabenstein. In high school freshman English, Mr. Van Deusen introduced Chris to Shakespeare, Hemingway, and Twain. He also helped Chris realize that acting in plays or writing for the school newspaper were just as cool as playing sports. When Notre Dame High School in Chattanooga named Chris as a distinguished alumnus, he was able to publicly say thanks to the teacher who changed his life...
Chris talks with Van the puppet!
Chris talks to Van from the Austin Public Library about Shine! and writing. Van spelled Chris’s name incorrectly, but he’s a puppet. His hands are too furry to spell correctly.