Jen Laffler is a children’s author and poet. Her children’s book, J is for JITTERBUG: A Fanciful Animal Alphabet, was published in 2016 (Just A Little Genius, Ink.). Her latest project, the children’s poetry collection Please Don't Pet The Cactus, is packed with poems about things like s’mores, Hair Fairies, and mosquitoes. Some of these have been more fun to research than others! Jen's poems have been published in journals (Mantis, Cotton Candy and Stuck!), presented on a podcast (Wipeout!), adapted into a short play (The Matzoh Ball Poem); and shared by Jen and others in schools around the world. Jen was especially proud to share her tribute to the Parkland student-activists, Bring on the Brainstorm, at the 2017 March for Our Lives rally in Encinitas, CA (that's me in the newspaper picture, standing on a picnic table with a megaphone; shaking a little in front of all those people, but confident in the words and our cause -- to keep kids safe!).
Inspired by those student-activists, Jen dreamed up the KidsWrite! San Diego Children’s Writing Contest, now in its 3rd year and partnered with the San Diego Writers Festival, Coronado Library, and San Diego Union-Tribune's Festival of Books. KidsWrite!'s mission is "to elevate and celebrate strong, diverse children's writing". Learn more about KidsWrite! and how you too can submit your own writing at www.KidsWriteSD.com
Jen believes that there is nothing quite like poetry — the right words at the right times — for creating deep and joyful connection between people; and that fresh young minds are naturally gifted at this kind of connection-making.
Jen is a mom of three girls and an adorable white Lab named Funston, an alumnus of Wellesley College, and a former Wall Street banker (a lousy one who filled spreadsheets with poetry-ideas for years and didn't even try to hide it). She is a proud Girl Scout Troop leader (7 years); speaks Spanish; and believes in magic — the magic of Pablo Neruda. Her favorite kids' poem just might be "Smart" by Shel Silverstein.
iFAQ's: Infrequently Asked Questions
Do you like ice cream? - Ryan B.
Hey, Ryan. Why yes, as a matter of fact, I do like ice cream! And my favorite flavors are Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, and Baskin Robbins' Chocolate Chip. Feel free to bring them to any reading (but you'd better plan on sharing!)
Hello There! I am Sydney! I liked your poems. You inspired me to write a poem. I have a question though, what is a Jitterbug? - Sydney D.
Hi Sydney! A Jitterbug is an entirely made-up creature which not only loves to dance, it has wings to help it do all kinds of amazing flips and tricks! I did not invent "the Jitterbug", though - it's a very energetic dance that was super-popular in the 1930's and '40's. Here is a video of dancers from Dancing With The Stars doing the Jitterbug. It's not an accident that dancing is an important part of J is for JITTERBUG - Tony Perrin, the illustrator, is a professional dancer as well as artist and jewelry designer. Look closely at the Jitterbugs on the cover, and you'll see one wears a cursive "J" for Jen, the other a T for Tony.