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Jaime Adoff In his own words...

Names Will Never Hurt Me

IN THIS GRIPPING STORY, set on the one-year anniversary of the shooting death of a student; four very different teens reveal their deepest feelings and fears during a day in which the hurts and struggles of high school escalate dangerously...
YOUNG ADULT- Dutton Books 2004


Here are 4 kids you should get to know.


.. I'm a genius, the one they call Floater. That's because I move in and out on my own ocean. Waves I've created. I'm like the moon; I've got my own gravitational force, and there's not shit anyone can do about it.

TISHA . . .

.. Granny calls me a super combo. I don't know, I feel more like an unhappy meal. I just don't fit in; I just don't fit. Not in this school. It's mostly white, but all the black kids stick together. Both sides want me to choose, but both sides don't really want me.

RYAN . . .

.. I'm the best. That's the way it is, the way it will always be.
"On my mind, Susie Sunshine, as Mrs. Fields calls the roll:
" 'Ryan Duncan'?"
" Here.'" I say in my laid-back Varsity Voice. Third-row cool--me and Zak and Stew. We are the elite. We're going to Three-peat.
The BEARS. We are the champions!
" 'Kurt Reynolds.'" He's one of them. I don't even notice him. Why should I? I don't look back. They shouldn't be in class.
Don't even know their names. Don't care. They're not really there.
This is my school. My class. My town. Don't want 'them' around. They just bring us all down. Make us look bad. That's what the Colonel says, but it's true. They make 'us' look, at 'them', on purpose.
Now I'm all mad. They're killin' my Susie Sunshine buzz.

KURT . . .

.. Damn, I suck--always looking for someone to save me. I don't turn around, I'm pretending I'm writing something important. I wish I had my greatest hits notebook. Left it in my backpack in my locker. Mr. Tanner says it is good to write stuff down. Says it's a release. I guess it helps sometimes, but not now.

No, now is shit. I can't keep up with my pile; I can't keep up. As much as I try, more gets dumped on top of me. Bag after bag of trash poured over my head. How much garbage can a person live in? Does Mr. T really expect me to live my life this way? Forever? Always being dumped on? No, he can't expect me to keep taking this, can he? These morons have no idea. Nobody does, not even Mr. T. They have no idea who I really am, what I'm capable of. Yeah, I'll sit and take it, but my pile is almost to the top now. There's no more room. Do they know what that means? I don't think so. No one does, not even Mr T. They don't know that I have the power right here, right here in my hands. Well, maybe it's time for me to show my power. Maybe I should say something back, but when I talk, when I finally say something, it won't be with words...These fools will hear me alright; everyone will hear me. Then they'll wonder why they treated me this way.

They'll wish they had just tried to talk to me, talk to me like I was a person--treated me like a real person, not just a punching bag, not just a big garbage can to throw shit into, to piss on. They'll wish they could take it all back, but they won't be able to It'll be too late. Yeah, I've got something to say..You wanna hear it? Huh?

Do you 'really' want to?

The Song Shoots Out of My Mouth: A Celebration of Music

The Song Shoots Out of My Mouth:
A Celebration of Music
by Jaime Adoff
Martin French, Illustrator

Ages 10-14+


This rockin' collection of twenty-four dynamic, original poems vividly captures a variety of musical experiences from the teen perspective.

From playing in the school band to playing air guitar, from performing a favorite song to dreaming of stardom, the power of music is explored in passionate text and bold, energetic illustrations.

The rhythm and language of each poem reflect a different musical genre, including classical, hip-hop, jazz, Latin, and reggae. Whether hitting drums "with more force/ than a million recess bullies," rapping "no one can touch me, don't even try to front," or depicting the struggles of a garage band. These vibrant poems and bold, energetic illustrations are an ode to the soul-sustaining experience of music.

Backnotes on musicians and musical terms used are included.


The Song Shoots Out of My Mouth is a Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Honor Book for '03
International Reading Association(IRA) Notable Book for '03
NY Public Library book for the teenage '03
VOYA Poetry Pick '02
BWI Book Wholesalers Staff pick
CCBC Book of the week and a cool new book.

Jaime Adoff grew up in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and received a Bachelor of Music degree from Central State University in Ohio, where he studied drums and percussion. Moving to New York City in 1990, he attended the Manhattan School of Music and studied drums and voice.

Mr. Adoff then went on to pursue a career in songwriting and fronted his own rock band for eight years. He released two CD's of his own material(as Jaime Levi--his middle name) and performed extensively in New York City and throughout the Northeast.

In 1998 Adoff turned to writing children's and young-adult books.

He is the author of the award-winning Poetry collection The Song Shoots Out of My Mouth A Celebration of Music, which was his first publication.

Names Will Never Hurt Me is his first Young Adult novel. It will be published in the Spring of 2004, by Dutton Children's Books. Adoff has three more books under contract in various stages of production, all to be released in the coming years.

He is the son of the Children's book author Virginia Hamilton and the poet Arnold Adoff. Jaime Adoff lives in New York City with his wife Mary Ann.

Jaime Adoff

I think I was always a very creative person. I remember being a little kid, sitting at the piano before I even knew how to play. I would pretend I was the captain of a great space-ship. The piano keys my control panel. I would spend hours inside my imagination traveling to far off worlds, but always returning just in time for supper!

I grew up in a small town called Yellow Springs, located in Southwestern Ohio. Just an hour from Columbus and an hour and a half from Cincinnati. It was a great town to be a kid in. With just 4500 residents, the whole town seemed like an extended family. Well, actually there was a lot of my real family in the town as well. As most of my mother's relatives had lived in the town for generations. I was always surrounded by many Aunt's, Uncles, and Cousins. It was so wonderful to have my Grandmother (who I called "granny.") living just up the field from where I lived. As a matter of fact my Grandmother lived in the very same house that my mother was born in!

I don't think I realized the impact my parents (Virginia Hamilton and Arnold Adoff) had on my future career until I was much older. As writers, both of my parents worked at home, so I got to see what they did every day. I remember watching them go into their offices in the morning with nothing but a cup of coffee. Then emerge hours later with pages of writing. To a small kid, it was like magic. What was going on in there? How did they do it? I kept watching, and soaking it all in.

Sometimes there was a small price to pay for having them work at home.
Like lunch.

I remember when I was really young, I used to think it took three hours to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. See, my father usually made the lunches. I didn't know at the time that the reason it took three hours was that he was writing a lot in-between. He would come downstairs and take the bread out. Go back upstairs write a few more poems. Come back downstairs, get the peanut butter out. Go back upstairs, finish writing half a book. Come back downstairs, get the jelly out. Go back upstairs, finish writing the book. Come back downstairs . . . you get the picture! (I quickly learned how to make my own sandwiches!)

Our house was a sea of creativity, running on a fever-pitch current of energy. Everyone was always in motion and excelling at everything they did, so If you felt you weren't doing the same, then you needed to catch up. I have a vivid memory of the day when I made my most famous proclamation. We were all in the car driving somewhere, and all of a sudden I sat up in the back seat and said; "Okay, I have something to say." See, in my family, everybody talked a lot, usually at the same time, so you needed to get people's attention before you actually said something important. I continued; "I'm the only one in this family who can't read. I want to learn how to read!" So in keeping with the "grab the bull by the horns" mentality that was my family, I began to teach myself to read. Actually right after my now infamous announcement, I began to read street signs. STOP. I believe was first.
And the rest, as they say is h - i - s - t - o - r - y.

What I learned from just watching my parents was immeasurable. They were both tremendous role models. My mother was probably one of the most disciplined people on earth. She wrote everyday, without fail. Cranking out books at a staggering rate. That alone would have been quite an accomplishment. But the fact she did it with so much care, and genius, all the while being an awesome mom to me and my sister was incredible. I still don't know how she did it!

My sister and I really learned by example. We were raised to view the creative process as a normal, everyday sort of thing. In our house being creative was just a part of the daily routine. My parents fostered a feeling that you could truly be whatever you wanted to be, but the most important thing was to be happy. I saw up-close what it really was to be an individual. Doing your own thing. Creating characters, poems, worlds. . . all with words. Making the decisions for yourself. Having confidence in yourself, truly being your own person. These lessons followed me through adolescence, my teenage years and beyond. My parents showed me that often times the road less traveled can be the best. It may not be the easiest, but ultimately, it can be the most rewarding.

Now I'm an adult and I look back on my childhood with fond memories. I draw upon much from my childhood when I sit down to write. Even though I'm in my thirties, I still feel like I'm in high school.(Sometimes much younger than that.) I guess that's why I feel so close to the characters I create. There is no barrier between me and the kids in my books. When I sit down to write, the words and actions of my characters really feel like an extension of myself. I feel like the kids are in the room with me, or better yet, I'm with them. In the course of writing my first Young Adult Novel, Names Will Never Hurt Me(to be published Spring of 2004-Dutton) I got extremely close to my characters. Rooting for them, laughing with them, sometimes crying with them too. It is an amazing thing to transform letters and spaces into flesh and blood. Giving life to a page is probably the greatest feeling I've ever felt.

During my school visits I like to talk to kids about the importance of writing. Not just as a career, but as a way in which to survive in these crazy times we live in. Just putting your thoughts down on paper, or in a journal or diary can really make a big difference in a young person's life. Human beings are complex creatures, we have feelings and emotions we don't understand, and aren't able to control at times. Sometimes those feelings can be scary or depressing. Being able to put those strong emotions into words, I believe is half the battle in understanding them more. It is a great release to write what you feel. It is probably one our most basic instincts.

Writing what you feel really is how most writing starts. That's how it starts for me. I begin with a very basic emotion, a feeling. I put it down on paper. It's usually something that really needs to get out of me. Something that needs to get air. Something that needs to see the light of the page. Sometimes this basic feeling turns into something more. Maybe a poem or a collection of poems or a story or even a novel. To me, I am more concerned with getting that initial feeling down on paper. That first feeling is what is trapped inside of me, screaming to get out. Wherever it goes from there, it goes . . . I think this is a very healthy approach to writing, and I like to tell kids it can be a healthy approach to living too. . .

Harold We Walk Sideways

Copyright Jaime Adoff 2002. From: The Song Shoots Out of My Mouth: A Celebration of Music .
Published by Dutton Children’s Books 2002. Used by permission of the Author.