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Nick

Do the Normies become Weird?

July 17, 2019

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

Most of the adults in your books are kind of strange. Endearing but strange. All of the young people, or at least the main protagonists always seem fairly normal. Is this because they are unreliable narrators or is this because they are, in fact, fairly normal? Do they all stay normal as they grow up or do they become strange when they become adults? Were all of the adults seemingly normal as kids? Are adults just strange???? Am I STRANGE????????? The little boy who owned Henrietta became someone who I used to think was odd, owning a radio station and falling for a librarian. But now that I am older, I think he is living not only a normal, but in many ways, desirable life. So I am all confused. Are the adults weird or are the kids weird or are you weird or am I weird? Also, do you like sardines? I like them a lot, but when I tell people this, they usually stop talking to me.

Sincerely,

….Nick

Daniel replies:

If you are not doing so already, in the not-too-distant future, you will teach a course at a well-reputed college or university, and the course description in the college catalog will be the very post you have written and sent in to this website, word for word. It will be a popular course, and later you will write a book, receive tenure, make a brilliant marriage, and own a lovely house in a quiet neighborhood.

Cohen

Some questions

July 8, 2019

1) is it possible to find meaning in the high school experience? It seems to me that the ratio of enjoyable friends to unpleasant teachers and experiences is far too low to be worth much. Even in young adult novel they seem to find something in their friends. 

2) I’ve never been a creative writer. I write a mean five paragraph essay, a skill that has served me well, but once it comes to any story that means anything to me, I’m about as good as a fish in the Sahara. How do people do it? I think all the paintings and sculptures I make are self portraits in a way, and I don’t know how to write a story that doesn’t tell people about me. I admire the characters in your books for being aggressively themselves. How do you keep your characters separate from you?

3) I just read young adults. Is it a cautionary tale or the opposite? 

Daniel replies:

1) Obviously, it is possible to find meaning in what you choose to call the high school experience. You can find meaning in any kind of experience, and even lack of meaning can be meaningful. There are wonderful high schools where students prepare for even more magnificent education, and chart a course to lifelong happiness. If you do not attend such a high school you might want to ask your parents why they did not find out where one is, and why they did not prepare themselves to be eligible to live in that community and save their child from years of frustration and misery. My own observation and experience is that life improves markedly as soon as one leaves high school. Also, not to worry if you learned absolutely nothing in high school--that happens to a great many people, and they find it's easy to make up the deficit. 2) This seems to be an ambitious and difficult question, but actually it is easy for me to answer. I don't know how people do it. I do not know how I myself do it. I know the sort of thing I like to read, and since I am reading what I write as I write it, it tends to turn into something I like reading...and people not being so very different, if I like it, some other people will probably like it too. As to keeping art from being self referential, you don't have to, you can be as self-referential as you like, but if you feel the author or creator ought to be separate from that which is created, practice and experience, doing art, and just being, growing, and observing should take care of that. 3) It is a dada story. I think one of the characters says that.

Jenny Smith

An update and more thanks

June 28, 2019

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

I wrote to you not long ago to give my thanks and to tell you about our grand family adventure inspired by The Neddiad. I wanted to tell you that we had a truly memorable time that we will cherish. We saw beautiful sights as we traveled along and the boys got a thrill about the eating in the dining car every time. We listened to you narrate some of their favorite Neddiad moments. We read books and played games. Conversations and jokes were tossed around as we chugged along.

We absolutely loved Chicago. The boys had their first Chicago dogs at a Cubs game at Wrigley Field. We looked at each other with a shared grin when we rode the bus down Clark Street toward the Lincoln Park Zoo with our new Cubs hats on our heads, each reveling in our favorite Snarkout Boys moment. We had our very first taste of deep dish pizza which surpassed our expectations. My favorite moment was walking through the Art Institute with my eight year old son where we discovered a shared love for impressionists. We had an insightful and honest conversation about Monet versus Renoir and what we love about each painting. 

Back aboard the train, we settled back into a now familiar routine. The scenery changed and we were yearning for cowboys. We found them near the Grand Canyon and enjoyed a Wild West Show. The Grand Canyon is indescribable. We just stood, stared, breathed and experienced it. We all loved everything about it.

Now, we are in Los Angeles and almost home. We go home feeling full with the a sense of accomplishment. We are already talking about where we go next time. I’m already planning on introducing them to Uncle Borgel and Alan Mendelsohn. I feel a road trip with gardens and popsicles in our future. 

Thank you again for the laughs. But mostly for characters that we relate to and care about. Your writing inspires our spirit of adventure and encourages everyone to live in a world with limitless imagination. 

All the very best wishes,

Jenny

Daniel replies:

This illustrates what I have come to believe and always say, to the point of being completely boring....it's creative readers who make books important, writers tend do be dopes who sit and type, and the most you can hope for is that someone like me doesn't do anything to spoil the experience. Your family trip sounds like a masterpiece of living. If more people know how to do what you did this would be like a perfect world. I would like you to consider adopting me, especially if you are planning more travel.

Robert L Summers

Thank You!

June 26, 2019

I am a retiring teacher after thirty-six years in the intermediate classroom and one of the last things I read to the students were selections from the Uncle Boris dog book.  Thank you for all the years and years and years of joy, happiness, and inspiration.  RS

Daniel replies:

Ha! You, a teacher, thank _me_? I just write stuff in the comfort of my home, whereas you guys enable kids to read in the first place, then guide them to stuff including mine sometimes, look after their development and in general keep civilization from collapsing. I wish you a wonderful retirement and give you _my_ thanks.

Jenny Smith

A note of thanks

June 20, 2019

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

I have been a fan of your books for years. I have been eagerly waiting for my sons to finally be old enough to experience them. I have yearned to share with them my affection for Henrietta, the benefits of avocados, traveling in time and space and why I cherish my stone turtle. 

In November, my husband and I read The Neddiad aloud to my 8 and 10 year old boys. About half way through the book, my 8 year old announced that his greatest dream in the world is to ride across the country in a train like Neddie. Today, we boarded The California Zephyr in Northern California headed for Chicago where we will see the sights, including the Art Institute. Then, we will board the Southwest Chief headed to Los Angeles. We all call it the Super Chief even though Amtrak changed the name. We get off the train in Flagstaff, Arizona for a side trip to the Grand Canyon and end our trip when we fly home from Los Angeles. 

The boys have all already taken the jobs of looking out the windows, tasted their first ginger ale (they don’t have 7-up) and feeling the spirit of adventure. They are on the look out for Billy the phantom bellboy and have asked if we can get doughnuts in Los Angeles. I want to thank you for your wonderful stories with characters that we think of as good friends that my boys quote regularly. 

Sincerely,

Mrs. Smith

Daniel replies:

Wow! I do not deserve readers like you! What I deserve is readers who will take me along on that great trip. You will have a wonderful time, and I will be with you in spirit. Check in here, please, with your impressions and experiences.

Anna O'Connell

Thank You

June 15, 2019

Dear Mr. Pinkwater, 

I’m writing to express my thanks. In high school, a weird kid I knew recommended Five Novels, and recognizing that I, too was a weird kid with overlapping taste, I took his advice and purchased a copy for myself. Fifteen years have elapsed, and it’s still such a pleasure when that pale yellow spine calls to me from my bookshelf, and I dive back in. Such a beckoning occurred earlier this week, and I’ve been toting that big ol’ hunk o’ delight around in my bag to read on my commute. I’m a graphic designer and illustrator, and mow through podcasts and audiobooks ravenously. While at work today I wisely used an Audible credit to buy The Snarkout Boys and the Baconburg Horror and am happily listening to it as I work. Thank you for bringing deliciously rich stories into my life over the course of many years. Their sense of style, humor and creativity always knock my socks off and have brought me so much joy.

-Anna

Daniel replies:

Thank you for being an appreciative reader. I wonder if Audible will ever pay me one cent of royalties. You know, there's a ton of stuff you can download for free right here on this very website. If you feel moved to donate money, it will be applied to worthy causes like parakeet rehab or toupees for Republicans, if not, you are welcome just the same.

Ross Kutash

The Story of How I Read a Book to a Child and Was Rewarded With a Precious Giggle.

June 3, 2019

I’d like to share with you one thing I’ve learned as a parent: Someone around 6 or 7 years old, laughter changes. What was once a pure, unfiltered giggle, free from self-conscious dignity, turns into a stifled chuckle. You only get to hear so many pristine, belly busting giggles before you suddenly and belatedly realize that ship has sailed. While I have generated my fair share of unbridled giggling from my little humans, I have you and your books to thank for doubling the number of perfect peals of helpless, high pitched fits of precious laughter at our house before bedtime. For this I am eternally grateful. 

Daniel replies:

What? Are you suggesting that children LAUGH at books of mine? Laugh? Giggle? And these are books you have read to them? Do you not understand, and make clear to your audience, that I am a serious writer? I practiced and studied, I attended schools and colleges, I forewent a rewarding career in some lucrative business, all in order that you should read my stuff to children who then LAUGH at it? And then you are so cruel as to tell me about it? Shame on you, sir. Shame on you.

Robin Arsenault

Not a question, just a thank you.

June 2, 2019

I just wanted to say thank you.  For being a bright spot in my childhood, and for giving it back again so freely.

I admit, I’ve never read one of your children’s books, but I was listening to the audio tapes of “Fishwhistle” when I was 8, maybe 9. (I won’t say how long ago that was, but it wasn’t long after it’s release)

About 10 years ago, I started looking for copies of the tapes to buy, hoping to transfer them to digital files to listen to on my phone.  The few I could find were priced high enough to fund the next Death Star (well worth it, to my mind, but sadly beyond my means).  Nevertheless,  I kept looking through the years.

Eventually I decided to buy the kindle version for the memories.   I was reading it this evening,  periodically pausing to look up something you’d mentioned, and that’s how I found this page.

And there was Fishwhistle in all it’s wonderful absurdity,  read in a voice I’d found comfort in when comfort was rare, available free to download.

You are a wonderful human being.

Daniel replies:

Why, yes, I am a wonderful human being, and so are you. Let's meet and have corn muffins some time.

Stephen

A Song Inspired by Snark!

June 2, 2019

Hello!

Starting with my mother’s choice to read me the Big Orange Splot, on through my own reading of Borgel, Yobgorgle, and continuing into my 20s with my current fascination with Kevin Shaprio’s Fanatical Praetorians, I have felt the presence of your (Mr. Pinkwater’s) writing for my entire life.

I’ve felt this presence so strongly that recently, when I sat down to write a song (as part of my current quest to release one original piece of music a month until the end of days), I found myself thinking about one of my favorite places in the Pinkwater universe – The Deadly Nightshade Diner – We Never Close!

Thank you Daniel Pinkwater for providing such wonderful inspiration, and for creating some of the best movie theaters and restaurants in fiction for anyone, young or old, to visit in their minds.

If you or anyone else wants take a listen, you can find the song here: stevetunes.bandcamp.com/track/the-deadly-nightshade-diner-we-never-close

Daniel replies:

Well, that is some superior song! Not only is it a memorable tune, with clever lyrics, the performance reaches a high professional standard. My aged great toe was tapping inside my moccasin, and at one point I could not resist jumping up and executing a couple of fancy steps. It is my high honor that a work of mine should have inspired such a composition.

Jonah Flamm

How did you name Irving and Muktuk?

May 20, 2019

Dear Mr Pinkwater,

A year and a half ago, my family got two pet rats. We decided to name them Irving and Muktuk after the two bad bears, which my sister and I enjoyed reading as young children. We love them to death, and I’m wondering how did you decide on these names for the polar bears? I am curious to know the meaning behind the names that occupy such a large place in my heart.

Best wishes,

Jonah Flamm

Daniel replies:

Well, Muktuk is the name of a popular food, made from whale skin and blubber. Usually eaten raw, it is oily, with a nutty taste, and quite rubbery. And Irving is a fairly common name for polar bears.

Ivy Sheldon-Greene

Not a question

May 20, 2019

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

This is really just a fan letter….My daughter–a high school senior–has to bring a a favorite childhood picture book to her AP English Lit class. I suggested Bake Shop Ghost and started reminiscing about listening to your NPR reviews and running out to buy the books….which I have saved.

Thank you for your inspiring choices. My youngest child is going off to college and I am getting way too weepy and nostalgic but enjoying looking through these books that have been hiding for way too long.

Thank you,

Ivy Greene

Daniel replies:

Thank you very much! It was fun finding good books to talk about on NPR, and working with such talented people. NPR was like a family, a big, dysfunctional family. It's a delight to know that you were listening, and liked the books.

Mira Karabin

Artsy Smartsy Club

May 17, 2019

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

Eveliina (9) and I had a roaring good time reading about Arthur Bobowicz and Henrietta in Hoboken. 

We just started the Artsy Smartsy Club and she loves hearing and saying the name Bruno Ugg (“like Egg,” she giggles) and I delight in saying the name, Loretta Fischetti, out loud again and again.

And then last night – I wish you could have heard it – the wild guffawing, cluck cluck, gut-busting squeals that erupted from Eveliina when I reached the paragraph in the book when she learned that Nick Itch’s real name is Ivan Itch!!! Ten minutes of pure convulsive ecstatic hilarity!

Oh my goodness… what fun!!! 

Thanks for sharing your joy. Love all your books!!!

Cheers,

Mira (44) and Eveliina (9) 

Hartsdale, NY

Daniel replies:

Imagine how it feels when one is a writer and someone describes having all kinds of fun with something he wrote, specifically hoping people would have fun with it! Are you imagining? Well, it feels better than that. Imagine again. OK, now you're getting it. Are you smiling? I am.

Ronnie

Big Orange Splot

May 4, 2019

Mr. Pinkwater,

Just thought you would appreciate the impact that your book has had in my life.  I read your book when I was in grade school, bought the book and read it to my children.  I winded up giving that copy away to a friend, and then recently bought a few copies for work colleagues with newborns.  I bought 3 and winded up giving them away to other new parents, so I had to buy more.  Bought 3 more, gave them away.  3 more, now I just bought 4 and gave 2 away today.

Simple as it’s message was, I recall even in grade school the message that being yourself and expressing yourself isn’t a ‘bad’ thing, and authenticity is contagious.

Just thought you’d like to know. 🙂

Thanks,

Ronnie Battista

Daniel replies:

It is cool! You know, one doesn't think much about a book meaning something to someone, or being valuable to them...it's a lot to think about, just trying to get everything right in making it. So, it's a delightful surprise when I get a message like yours. Thanks for telling me!

Paul

The Big Orange Splot, why no audiobook?

May 3, 2019

Love that book and recommend it to others. Is there a reason there can be no audiobook for it? If not would you consider making one yourself or with someone else?

Thanks for your contribution to my childhood (and world view) and that of everyone I’ve recommended it to, including my kids. 

Daniel replies:

I dunno. There are about 20 free audiobooks on this very site, but The Big Orange Splot happens not to be one of them. There may be a reading of it on one of the podcasts, also available for download free, but I don't know which one, if there is one. My apologies for disappointing you.

Michael Sharon

What are you doing these days?

April 28, 2019

I hope that you and your family are happy and healthy.

I have always enjoyed your writing and commentary. I discovered your work as an adult, just in time to share it with our children, who also found humor and wisdom in your words.

I have not seen/heard much from you recently and wonder, what have you been up to?

Daniel replies:

I too, wonder what I have been up to. The family, meaning Jill and the pets, and also me, are indeed happy and healthy as per your inquiry. I am writing a book, perhaps 3/4 finished, and there is another, shorter book scheduled, (but I don't know precisely when.) My dog, Kee, knows all her commands in English, German, and Yiddish. We started learning them in Latin, but neither of us liked it as much. (She can read hand signals too, and certain words block-printed on flash cards). So that is what I've been up to.

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