Bio

A Little Bit About Me

I am the author of seven books for children and young adults, including Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie.  So if youʼre looking for info about some other guy named Jordan Sonnenblick, youʼve got the wrong website.

Anyway, I know a lot of people come to this site looking for stuff they can use in reports for school, so Iʼll just get this out of the way right up front:

  • My favorite color is blue.
  • I have a wife and two kids.
  • The best pet I ever had was a garter snake I caught when I was eight by a lake in Pennsylvania.  I named the snake Hector.  Then it gave birth to 20 baby snakes, so I changed its name to Hectoria.
  • My all-time favorite band is the Beatles, although I like a ton of different music.
  • My hobbies are playing the drums, guitar, and bass; riding my bicycle at least 50 miles a week; hanging out with my wife and kids; and reading.
  • Speaking of reading, I read a lot of different genres.  As a kid, though, I mostly read fantasy, science fiction, and comic books.  When I was in fourth grade, a fantasy novel called The Dark is Rising inspired me to become a novelist someday.
  • My favorite baseball team is the New York Yankees.  When I was a kid, my best friend and I  used to go to Yankees games and throw open ketchup packets off the upper deck.  Donʼt try that at home, kids!

OK, now on to the usual life stuff … I was born on July 4, 1969 on an Army base in Missouri.  My dad got out of the Army when I was a year old and my older sister was five.  I spent the rest of my childhood in Staten Island, NY.  If you get me really mad or really tired, my New York accent flares up, but most of the time, people canʼt pick out where Iʼm from just by listening.

My favorite school subject was always English, although I was pretty good at everything except sitting still and being quiet. I’m pretty sure my teachers didn’t know what to make of me, because I got straight A’s, but got in trouble constantly. This didn’t stop until I was in my first semester at Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan. The girl of my adolescent dreams was in my freshman English class, and one day when I was making jokes nonstop, she turned to me and hissed, “Why are you so immature?”

At that moment, I instantly became a model citizen.

At Stuyvesant, I met a creative writing teacher who completely changed my life. His name was Frank McCourt, and my senior year was his last year of teaching. He taught me a ton, mostly through one Yoda-like saying that he repeated to me all year. I would write the funniest piece I could, and the class would be cracking up as I read my work aloud. Then, as soon as the noise subsided, Mr. McCourt would say, “Jordan . . . Jordan. Someday you’ll head for the deep water.” Head for the deep water – great advice if you want to be a writer. Or a salmon.

Mr. McCourt gave me a big creative writing award at graduation, and then retired to work on what would eventually be his Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir, Angela’s Ashes. His parting words to me, recorded in my yearbook, were, “Yes, you’ve got the comic talent. But there’s deeper stuff waiting to come out. You’re a born writer.” Admittedly, he probably wrote the “born writer” part in hundreds of yearbooks. But the part about “deeper stuff waiting to come out” became the marching orders for my entire writing
career.

After high school, I went to the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where I majored in English, but also took a ton of courses in Russian, history, and anthropology. I joined every activity I could handle, too, playing drums in a theater group, writing and announcing for the marching band, and even dressing up as Santa Claus to entertain the young cancer patients at the Children!s Hospital of Philadelphia. The second-best thing I did in college was study abroad in London for my junior year. Studying Shakespeare, Wordsworth, and Charles Dickens in the actual places where they wrote some of their finest work was an amazing experience.

The best thing I did in college was meet my future wife.

After college, I joined an organization called Teach for America, which recruits people to teach in high-demand areas like rural Louisiana and the inner city. I was sent to teach 5th grade in Houston, Texas. I loved both the job and Houston, but a few years later, when I was ready to get married, my wife and I moved to Pennsylvania to settle down closer to our families.

Then I taught 8th grade English in New Jersey for 11 years. I would have been happy teaching middle school forever, but life took a strange turn. In 2002-03, I had a student named Emily, whose little brother was in treatment for cancer. Emily rarely talked about her brother’s illness, but of course it was very hard on her. One day I asked her mom whether it would be helpful if I found a book for Emily to read about a teen going through a similar situation. Emily’s mom said yes, but I couldn’t find a novel that I thought would be just right for Emily.

So I wrote Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie.

I have written a book per year since then, and as long as I still have someone who will publish the books and a few readers who aren’t my mom, I plan to keep writing.