RED BANK AUTHOR DEBUTS NEW RULEBOOK

j-granditsJohn Grandits and his new children’s book, which hits shelves next month. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

John Grandits, the accomplished children’s author and member of the Red Bank library board, is in an especially cheery mood these days.

That’s saying a lot for the ruddy and avuncular 61-year-old, who’s often fueled up on equal amounts of No Joe’s coffee and zest for speaking with schoolkids all over the country.

Earning a star in the Kirkus Book Review and an order for a second edition of your book, which hasn’t even hit bookstore shelves yet, can do that.

“I’m bullish on John Grandits this week,” he said.

After 10 years working on his second children’s book (he’s also published two children’s poetry books), Grandits is ready to hit the self-promotion circuit in advance of the July 4 release of Ten Rules You Absolutely Must Not Break If You Want To Survive The School Bus.

In the book, Grandits takes readers on the journey of Kyle, who’s yet to ride the school bus and has serious anxiety and fears about the whole enterprise — something most of us can relate to.

“His first day on the bus, he feels like a zebra in a lion party,” Grandits said.

Luckily for Kyle, though, he’s got a big kibitzing brother, a “school bus expert,” who lays out — you guessed it — 10 rules you absolutely must not break if you want to survive the school bus.

Which Kyle promptly breaks the very first day.

The bespectacled Kyle, surrounded by various people he imagines as mean, evil animals, is a nervous wreck, which causes him to quickly get flustered and somehow break all the rules his brother imparted.

For example, rule No. 7: Never talk to girls, because, “they were as mean as snakes, they never stopped talking and they hated sports.”

In breaking the rules, Kyle finds himself in just about every situation that uninitiated school-bus riders across the world lose sleep over: standing out, encountering a bully, being the last one on the bus and, of course, talking to a girl.

But somehow, Kyle makes it out in one piece, and at the end of the day, is holding his head high with pride, and makes a rule of his own (we’re not spoiling).

“I wanted to write a book about courage,” Grandits said. “It’s tough being a kid. Fear is with you constantly.”

For Grandits, seeing the book through to this point has been a test of patience. He started it a decade ago, and after dusting it off and finishing it for editing, dealt with pushed deadlines, rotating illustrators and other reasons for it to “languish in the publishing world.”

But kind of like certain nerve-wracking bus rides, Grandits is happy with the way it all turned out.

“This one happened to take a long time, but that’s OK,” he said. “On to the next one.”

The book goes on sale July 4, and will be available for purchase online and at River Road Books in Fair Haven.