Talk to DP Forum


September 17, 2017

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,
I’ve been a fan ever since I was seven, when my dad picked up a Snarkout Boys book at the library on our family trip to the beach and started reading it to me (it should tell you pretty much all you need to know about my family that we were at a library on our trip to the beach to begin with). I wanted to tell you that I tried your ratatouille recipe last night and was immediately a convert to the Pinkwater-Ratatouille-Weight-Loss-Plan. I don’t think I’ll make it once a day, but once or twice a week sounds good to me. Also, your book Young Adult Novel has got me out of a few scrapes while taking modern art history exams (my professors will believe ANYTHING if you sound confident enough). I WON’T mention you in my graduation speech when they hand me my invariably useless Bachelor of Fine Arts diploma, but I might for a crazy second consider it. Thanks for everything,

Daniel replies:

I have a B.A. in Art.  My college did not offer a B.F.A., nor did they offer enough studio courses to justify giving one.  I think you should mention me in your graduation speech.  Specifically, you could convey some advice from me.  Beside going to college, I have spent around 50 years refining my understanding and knowledge about art, have worked with, and consorted with, artists, and even am married to one, so I know plenty.  Here is what you can tell your fellow Arts graduates from me: "It is all right.  Do not worry.  What you have just gone through, and successfully finished, will wear off.  In a very few years, if you work hard, and pursue a healthy lifestyle, it will be as though you never went to art school, and you will be happy again."

Herman A. Kensky,M.D.

September 17, 2017

Dear Sir,
I am an avid listener to NPR including WESAT. It was there that I became enamored by your conversations with Scott Simon.
Our daughter and son-in-law have recently published a book for children, due out April 2018.
It deals with the role of a service dog in their recovery from surviving the Boston Marathon Bombing.
Resurrecting your discussion with Mr. Simon in order to bring this work to the attention of those who might enjoy/ appreciate/ benefit from it would be a dream come true for me .
With best wishes.
Herman A. Kensky,M.A. , M.D.

Daniel replies:

Dear Dr. I regret that after 14 years of doing them, the deciders at NPR decided to stop running our enjoyable (for us) book discussions.  I then went and did something similar with news-great Bob Edwards on satellite radio for a couple of years, but the deciders at the satellite network decided they had accumulated enough of those discussions, and could just rerun them without making more.  Having broadcast on a network other than NPR, I am now cursed and shunned according to ancient folkways and tradition, so there can be no resurrecting. Sorry I cannot make your dream come true.  It sounds like a very fine book


September 16, 2017

Hello Mr. Pinkwater! I’m Hannah, long time fan. I read (read: my folks read to me, over and over) my first book of yours around age 4 at my Icelandic great grandmother’s home and I loved it. It was The Big Orange Splot and as I think back on it as an adult, I can probably attribute my very first “up the punks!” type feels to you and this book! Being a kid growing up in Kansas, any message that’s encouraging you to go your own way and also embrace others going their own way as well, is appreciated more than I can express.

Then my dad, a veterinarian, realized that he had you and your partner’s book, Super Puppy, in his office, and BOOM: the family was now a Pinkwater family. Over the years there were so many- my big brothers and I nerded out over the snarkout boys, I found a lot of solace in Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars, and I read Lizard Music more times than I can count.

There’s one very (very, very) special story, though. It’s the Wuggie Norple Story. This was the first thing to ever made me laugh so hard that I cried (I thiiink it started with Exploding Poptart, and ended never). I remember being around 5 or 6 years old, and so vomit-fever-lots more vomit-sick on a family vacation, ruining everyone’s time. My folks got this book for me and the three of us read it and laugh-cried together, making my favorite memories of the trip.

My best friend had a daughter named Lou about two years ago. This is the first kid I’ve ever held, interacted with, loved (I mean, she calls me Auntie Haha, c’monnn). I want to share everything special with her, and even more so now that their family is moving away from Brooklyn to Ohio, where it will be oh so much more difficult for me to be there with Lou through her milestones and journey into becoming a strong woman.

SO- here’s the thing: I’ve searched every thrift store for The Wuggie Norple Story to no avail. “New” copies of it are going for $400 on the web, used for $50 .

Do you have any insight into whether or not there’s a better option to purchase this book? Please let me know- I can’t let them leave town without giving Lou The Wuggie Norple Story from Aunty Haha, and I’ll spend $50 on a used copy if I must, but if there is a resource that you know of that I could look into, please let me know!


Daniel replies:

You know, Hannah, I see this a lot...some crummy book I wrote is offered for a ridiculous amount on like Amazon, and someone else gets it for a dollar-ninety-seven on Ebay.  There are books around, in different places, not necessarily the same places all the time.  No rhyme or reason.  A wonderful bookseller with fair prices is Cattermole 20th Century Children's books ask for their catalog, it is a pleasure in itself.  And thanks for appreciating my stuff! P.S.

Mrs. Propes' Class

September 10, 2017

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

We are in Mrs. Propes%u2019 class of 2nd graders at Greenbriar Elementary School in Northbrook, IL. You are an awesome author! Your books are the best! Please write 1000 more! And then 1000 more after that! Can you please write more Mrs. Noodlekugel books? Where did you get the ideas for your Mrs. Noodlekugel books? Maybe we will meet you someday! Could you also write a book about dogs, or about Lulu? Are you working on any books right now? Love, Mrs. Propes%u2019 Class

Daniel replies:

I have been in Northbrook, Illinois!  It is nice there.  I will explain about why there will probably not be more Mrs. Noodlekugel books...I intended to write many more, but you see, I do not just sit and write these things, and then some publisher prints copies, and distributes them and all that sort of thing.  Well, actually they do, but they have some say-so about what they will publish.  They got tired of Mrs. Noodlekugel, or the books were not making enough money, (although they do seem to sell quite a lot of them), anyway, the publisher told me, "We do not want any more Mrs. Noodlekugels, but we would like to have something just as good."  So that was that.  I could, of course, write more Mrs. Noodlekugels, but another publisher would not be interested in them because some other publisher had already published the first three.  It's business.  I am looking for another publisher.  There will be more books.  Not Mrs. Noodlekugel.  Something just as good.  Thanks for liking what I write.  I definitely plan to write about dogs.


September 4, 2017

Some decades ago, I was a chubby quiet kid with an overactive imagination. My school librarian, Mrs. Mathison, tried to ascertain what sort of books I might like to read, so she asked me what TV shows I watched. When I said Doctor Who, she did not grimace and say, "what's that?" as I was accustomed to witnessing as a reaction, but instead headed into the stacks and brought me a copy of "The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death." After reading this, I felt a little less alone in the world. I went along my merry way, reading Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, and other purveyors of oddball fiction and over time, I forgot all about this seminal event. Recently though, I think I was making guacamole and I asked myself, "what was that avocado book?" So after many fruitless (pun intended) web searches that mostly terminated when I repeatedly discovered Bill Maher's B-movie "Amazon Women and the Avocado Jungle of Death," I finally found you! Anyway, all this to say I'm glad you're still going strong and inspiring people young and old.

Daniel replies:

Those school librarians! Aren't they great? I was a chubby quiet kid with an overactive imagination myself. And why do you call it oddball fiction? To me, it's just fiction. Oh.

Candy Naddeo Brummer

September 4, 2017

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,
I just read the intro to your book Four Hoboken Stories and really perked up. My dad was the Judge who rented you the loft apt on Hudson St. in Hoboken, Judge Rudolph Naddeo. What a surprise it was to read of your experience. Did you give my parents a painting with lots of color? It is still hanging in their house, but they have both died.

If you answer this I will be thrilled. If you don't, I will still believe you have read it.


Daniel replies:

Judge Naddeo was such a nice man! When we first met, he said to me, "I like artists. I rent to several artists. They're all good boys." I imagine it was one of his other tenants who gave him the painting. He was like the paradigm of a small town magistrate--sort of as though Andy Hardy's father had been Italian-American. I tried to be a good boy too--it would have been unthinkable to disappoint the Judge.


September 3, 2017

Hello Mr. Pinkwater! I am a mama of 3 toddlers and we recently had a tea party with a little school friend of theirs. During story time, it became apparent that her *otherwise* lovely mother was unaware of the Pinkwater multiverse!! When questioned, she muttered something about being raised in a barn and subsequently dwelling under a rock for many years. We quickly remedied this by giving her daughter one of our many copies of "The Big Orange Splot." Her little girl's response: "I want to drink lemonade like in the book." Fortunately, we had some on hand. Glad she didn't ask for an alligator. Thank you for the countless hours of joy all of your books bring to our lives. It is so neat to get to share your stories that I loved as a kid and as an adult with these little ones. I just can't wait until they have enough attention span for "The Worms of Kukumlima!"

Daniel replies:

Used to be, people would bring back baby alligators from trips to Florida, and possibly they were sold in pet shops. A couple of kids I knew had them. I found them fairly interesting, but it never worked out well. Lemonade is a better idea. Thanks for the kind words about books of mine.


August 5, 2017

I just wanted to let you know how much my two boys and I enjoy The Neddiad. I think this is our third time listening to the audio version. We checked it out from the library last summer and my 11 year old wanted to listen to again this summer. The story is fantastic and listening to Mr. Pinkwater read the book is amazing. He has the perfect voice for the story.

Daniel replies:

This is cool. Apparently there's an audio edition of The Neddiad, and I was the reader. I'm glad you-all enjoyed it.

Jason Gay

August 2, 2017

dear Mr P,

My son and I are totally hooked on Irving and Muktuk. We love them even if they are recidivist criminals

The books are incredibly sly and droll and funny and we laugh out loud.

We had a question if you think Bad Bears should be read in order, and if so, what is the proper order?

Jason and Jesse

Daniel replies:

I guess IRVING AND MUKTUK, TWO BAD BEARS, then BAD BEARS IN THE BIG CITY, and after that the many are there, three? any order at all. I assume you know of the Larry books about a decent, more or less law-abiding polar bear, do you not? Irving and Muktuk make some appearances. Those go YOUNG LARRY; AT THE HOTEL LARRY, and the rest of the series is the usual chaos.

Paul Kleiner

July 24, 2017

Hello Mr. Pinkwater. I am writing to let you know that, after a long spiral, my aspiring writing career has come full circle. When I was about 11, I purchased Four Fantastic Novels at a Barnes and Noble because A: my dad liked your books and B: I thought you looked kind of funny in the sunglasses. I read the four novels back to back in a few days. Thereafter, I would read them every six months or so, until they really sunk into my mind. For the next several years, I would read sci fi and horror, mostly Philip K. Dick and Lovecraft. My brain was filled with horrible creatures and dangerous inventions. I read some history too. At 16 I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder during my second hospitalization. It is a mix of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. My world was darker. Fast forward five years. I'm now 21 and attending a summer program at Oxford in England, taking a creative writing course. For summer reading, I had to go through dozens of short stories about class consciousness, divorce, and so on, all very subtle and to me, very boring. I was given a one sentence prompt about a train pulling into a station, and the station having tomatoes stacked in crates. I had to write the first page of a story that follows that sentence. Rather than focus on the train, I focused on the tomatoes, and introduced the Tomato-Men, a secret international agency dedicated to concealing the existence of, fighting, and understanding evil tomatoes which control the minds of humans. They dispatch the tomatoes with a special syringe, causing them to shoot up into space, from whence they came. As I developed it, it occurred to me that this reads like my impression of a Daniel Pinkwater story. The next day my friend, who is an aspiring illustrator and creative collaborator, asked my if I wanted to write a collection of short stories for her to edit and illustrate. I said yes, and then I asked if they could be for young adults. My life has been dark enough. I've taken some serious knocks. My sister has too, and my mom, and my dad, and the few relatives I have left who are alive. I don't really know if the world needs more dark writing. But it does lighthearted, good natured, fun writing. It needs more stories like Borgel. What it doesn't need is an author trying to copy someone else. But for me, your work is a starting point, a rough base that I can venture off from. I apologize for any weak writing here – I have lots of work to do today, and after watching a dark movie for school and preparing to write an essay about the Holocaust, my mind drifted to Borgel for refuge. Thank you, Mr. Pinkwater, for writing young adult fiction so respectable and fun that five years down the road it is probably my biggest creative influence. (again, sorry if there are punctuation errors – I really ought to have gone back to my essay fifteen minutes ago!)

Daniel replies:

I don't really know what a creative writing program might be like, having never gone anywhere near one, but based on what others have described, and my own surmise, I think it might be fairly dangerous...and such a thing conducted at the World's Fanciest University would be very dangerous indeed. This is where having schizoaffective disorder might come in've seen worse. I'm not sure what you mean by the world possibly not needing more dark writing, or not needing an author trying to copy someone else. I suppose it's possible for a writer to be concerned with the world's needs, but certainly that writer is not me. In fact, when I get a letter like yours, someone telling me how my work has had meaning in his/her life, my first reaction is to think, "You do realize I didn't have you in mind at all, and if there's meaning in the work...and I'm not claiming there don't know what it may be, and the meaning you derived is meaning you supplied yourself. Bravo! You are a creative reader!" An essay on the Holocaust?! Good God, give me a break! Please tell the pipsqueak conducting this course, for me, that s/he is a pipsqueak.

You do not need to justify your inclination to write with a young reader in mind. It's nothing to do with whether the world needs more or less, lighter or darker--it's just what you need to write. The young reader is you, of course--same as with every writer. If you feel you have a tendency to imitate me it's probably because that young reader responded to my stuff a few years's unlikely yours will be much like mine, and the differences will increase as you refine and indulge the luxury of custom-crafting fiction for your very own self. Above all, enjoy yourself! There is not one single thing to recommend writing as an occupation other than it's just so much fun.