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Sawyer Harrington-Verb

Can I set your story to music?

July 6, 2020


My name Is Sawyer Harrington-Verb, and I am a young composer who recently graduated from the Hartt School in West Hartford this past spring. I am currently planning what kinds of projects I want to pursue during the summer, and me and several vocalist friends discussed doing a short-form opera recording project possibly based on a children’s story.

I was thinking back to stories that might be appropriate, and I immediately thought of your story “The Hare and the Pineapple”. I was actually one of the students who took the New York State test that the story was included in. I think it would be a wonderful short opera and absolutely wonderful to write and record both because of the personal connection I have with this story and its lighthearted and witty nature. I don’t intend to treat the opera as a parody of the story itself but as a genuine retelling of a truly funny story that has managed to stick with me throughout my life.

I’d love to hear back from you, and if you would be able to grant me permission to set your story and your words to music, I would be deeply appreciative!

Thank you and sincerely,

Sawyer Harrington-Verb



Daniel replies:

Sure, go ahead, only you are not allowed to sell copies, charge for admission, or profit in any way from the work, without first making formal arrangements with my representative.

Victor J. Ortiz

Questions from a Student Writing a Flattering Paper on You

June 26, 2020

Hello Mr. Pinkwater! I’m a student of Old and Rare Poulty Books writing a paper where I revisit a novel that influenced me as a kid. I, of course, picked Lizard Music.

If you don’t mind, here are a few questions that would help me out:

Following the references to M.C. Escher and Rene Daumal, was L.M. written with traditional surrealistic intent? (As far as surrealism can be traditional)

If so, what is your interpretation of the absurd, the nonsensical, the surreal, and how that fits with L.M.?

What are your thoughts on searching for meaning in texts, particularly in your texts? Following that line of thought, who could best interpret the text, the intended younger audience, or the adult who re-discovers it years later?

Thank you!



Daniel replies:

**In general, when writing novels, I insert references to whatever I happen to be thinking about, read at bedtime the night before, or possibly had for breakfast. This is just an exercise to keep the covers of the finished book apart, it has no particular meaning. I don't remember at all, but possibly I had read an article about surrealism, or maybe was thinking about my youth in Chicago, where everyone is a surrealist.** If so, what is your interpretation of the absurd, the nonsensical, the surreal, and how that fits with L.M.? **I do not interpret, I just write stuff down. I might have written that I tell a story, but as a discerning reader you will have noticed there is practically no story or plot in books of mine.** What are your thoughts on searching for meaning in texts, particularly in your texts? Following that line of thought, who could best interpret the text, the intended younger audience, or the adult who re-discovers it years later? **You can anticipate what I'm going to reply, can't you? Searching for meaning in texts, particularly texts that are not effectively labeled, "Contains Meaning, Search Here," and most particularly texts of mine, is apt to give rise to inventions arising in the searcher's mind. Better to write one's own text to begin with.** Thank you! **Thank YOU!**

Mrs. Galt


June 20, 2020

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

I believe some explanation is in order. You seemed concerned the last time you answered your questions that I would want to murder newspaper columnists working in South America. This is not the case. I’m fine with columnists as long as they aren’t flamboyant about it. What I’m not fine with is Comminists.

When I was young, I went on a trip to Peru, presumably as an exchange student helping with the avocado harvest. However, I was really sent by the CIA on a mission to assassinate those who they feared were planning a Comminist uprising to take over Peru and possibly Bolivia. This is where I met my future husband, Theobald.

Unfortunately, it turned out the CIA goofed, and the uprising occurred in Cuba instead. But what did I care? I was young and in love.

You have, however, still left the question of whether my boy Walter is palling about with zombies. This is an issue near and dear to my heart. You see, zombies are formed from otherwise sane citizens eating Japanese or Canadian tuna, which allows them to be controlled by the Comminists. Hopefully this is not the case.


Mrs. Galt.

Daniel replies:

Oh! I am so sorry! It's old age, and failing eyesight. So, I misread your post, and thought you were referring to columnists, when it was obviously commentators. I used to be a commentator myself, although I always thought I was an uncommon tator. Your old-fashioned preoccupation with assassination and government-sponsored evil-doings is charming and does you credit. I hear Walter is operating a popular bagel stand in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, entirely on the up-and-up and not a front for anything in an area where zombies are uncommon.


Russ and Daughters? :)

June 17, 2020

I seem to recall you mentioning Russ and Daughters. What did you like to order there?

Daniel replies:

Your seeming recollection must be about someone else. I have seen, and probably been inside Russ and Daughters once or twice, and I suppose I may have ordered lox or whatever it was they sold, but I didn't spend tons of time on the lower east side, and practically none after the mid-60s. There was a quite good bagel works and next to it an appetizing store, as such places dealing in smoked fish and the like were called, in Great Neck where my wife's parents lived, and we had many Sunday brunches.

Madison Trevino

A first edition Lizard Music?!

June 13, 2020


So when I was in middle school I read Lizard Music probably around 100 times. It was my absolute favourite book of all time. Recently, I remember the book and have been on the hunt for a first edition copy of it. The one with a pink cover and the lizards stacked on top of each other. I cannot seem to find a copy anywhere. Any suggestions?




Daniel replies:

Oh, there are copies around. You'll come across one at just the perfect time.

G. Lucertia

Zombie Possibilities

June 13, 2020

Dear Daniel,

I remembered some rumors that a third Snarkout book entitled I Snarked With A Zombie had been written, but, like so many other works of genius, not published. What would this book have entailed? Would Scott Feldman have been this titular zombie after establishing himself as a somewhat skeevy Zeppo to Rat’s Groucho, Winston’s Harpo, and Walter’s Chico? What befell poor Uncle Flipping?

Another query related to Baconburg Horror: Did Walter’s mother go to Peru not to pick avocados, but to kill some South American Comminists?

Daniel replies:

Why would anyone, even a fictional character, want to kill South American columnists?

Patrick Clark

Cigars and Beer… oh my.

June 10, 2020

Hi Mr Pinkwater,

I have been a huge fan of your books since my first purchase of The Snarkout Boys and the Avacado of Death at Hodge Podge books on Lark St in Albany in the 1980s.

Of course, as a kid, I found the scenes of cigar smoking and beer drinking to be delightful and funny. These days, however, it occurs to be that “helicopter parents” might see such scenes in a very different light.

So, my question(s): Have you found that your 70s/ 80s books have been interpreted differently by parents of millennials or so-called Gen-Z-ers? Have you gotten any pushback over Leonard and Alan’s smoking, or Walter, Winston and Rat’s underage drinking?

Thanks so much for your nerd-affirming books!!



Daniel replies:

I have never gotten pushback of any kind, and if I did I would pay no attention to it. Of more interest to me are places like Hodge Podge Books on Lark Street in Albany, which I visited a number pf times, and it's affable proprietor, Frank Hodge. At the time I thought how pleasant it must have been to have been a kid customer, which appears to have been your experience.

makayla morgan

Question not really a question

June 5, 2020

I recently (2 months ago) acquired Lizard Music again.

My first and only previous copy was in 1983.

I can not put into words how this story made absolute complete sense to me when I was younger.

I am now close to fifty years, and after reading this again since 1983, it makes even more sense.

You are truly an imaginarion….I’m sure you know what I mean.

Thank you Mr. Pinkwater for writing, this is truly my favorite YA book ever.

I hope you are well and safe.

Kindest regards,



Daniel replies:

Lizard Music was my favorite YA book ever too...anyway among ones I had written. It remained in first place while I wrote 98 more books of various lengths. At times it got on my nerves that I didn't seem able to write one quite as good as practically my first. Then I wrote The Neddiad, which I think stands comparison with Lizard Music. I mention this in case you might like to try it. It was nice of you to take the time to tell me you liked my first long piece of fiction, and I can take complete pleasure in hearing this, because I now believe I have written at least one other book that hits the mark.

David Gallahan

Bushman Lives?

June 5, 2020

Your books and the work of your neighbors up river (ZBS foundation, also
connected to NPR back in the day) were the core of our family
mythology when I was raising my children (1980s and 90s) and your
growing collection of books remain sources of inspiration and
delight. For Adventures of a Cat Whiskered Girl and Bushman
I discovered your online serial pre-release which were an added treat. But then came the devastating
news that the publisher wouldn’t do the sequel. That book really
demands a sequel more than any of the others: so many balls are in
the air!

Iwas just getting ready to ask for any information on where in your
mind this was all leading. Now, on this forum, I read that you are thinking of
working on that sequel and that has totally made my day!

Yes please, please do. I’m also really looking forward to Adventures
of a Dwergish Girl

deepest gratitude and lots of respect.


Daniel replies:

Sequels, prequels, metaquels, sometimes the author, like certain readers, feels like finding out what his/her characters are doing now, or what they were doing before they appeared in the book in which we met them. Sometimes it's a commercial attempt. I came into writing as a profession at the best possible time, before the stupid corporations took over most of the publishing houses, and I had fun and got used to making a reasonable living. Now I am getting used to being paid the exact prices I got when I first started out 50 years ago, so books may be appearing. I always try to write them so they can be enjoyed by a reader who has not seen the other related ones.

Kathleen Swift

The Big Orange Splot

May 31, 2020

Hello:  I am writing on behalf of First Unitarian
Universalist Church of San Diego where I serve as Director of Family
Ministries. Like most churches, we are holding services online via
live-stream.  Would you give permission
for us to read “The Big Orange Splot” in an upcoming service?  If yes, please reply to this email—and
thanks.  I hope you and your family are
safe and healthy.

Daniel replies:

Yes, sure, of course, as long as you do not make copies for sale, sell tickets, profit in any way, and all that usual stuff. I'd like you to consider another picture book of mine, Devil in the Drain, for another service. I have the feeling your church may not give the Devil a sufficient chance to participate. Be fair.


Lizard Music ❤

May 27, 2020



I Love Lizard Music, have been reading it since was little. The story was so fun! Did you ever make a sequel? What happened to the chicken man? Did the island ever come back? And omg is Fat Men from space inspired by the part in the book when it was a late night movie in the background?


You are so cool! 😁 your fan-


Daniel replies:

Zac, in fact I have been toying with a sort of sequel to Lizard Music. Maybe I'll get to writing it. Also, if you read Bushman Lives, a more recent novel of mine, you might find things you recognize.

David Doty

Not a Question

May 24, 2020

I am extremely please to learn of the forthcoming release of Adventures of a Dwergish Girl, which I have just ordered. I am also pleased to learn that you might be writing a follow-up to Bushman Lives. I greatly enjoyed the tetralogy that began with the Neddiad and look forward to any continuation of that series. I consider these books to be the equal of the best of your earlier work (Lizard Music, Borgel, Snarkout Boys, Mendelsohn), and I long for more. Thank you.


Daniel replies:

I like those books too, and there will be more vaguely related ones, I hope.


Writing Character and Story

May 22, 2020

Hello Mr. Pinkwater,

    I hope you and your family are well and that you are staying safe in the age of Covid-19. I was hoping to ask you for some advice. I would like to be respectful of your time, so I will be brief.

    My name is Matt, I am a filmmaker, and a fan of your books. My sister introduced them to me when I was in elementary school and I still enjoy them to this day. I am currently working on trying to write better stories.

    In your books the characters and the story feel like they naturally fit together. I’ve tried the methods recommended by the podcasts, courses, and other resources I have on the subject, but I still lose that natural feeling when I flesh out my characters to make them feel real. I was wondering if you have any advice about how to make characters and story naturally fit together?

   I would greatly appreciate any wisdom you’d be willing to share but if you are too busy, or for any reason would prefer not to answer, I completely understand.

Thank you so much in advance!



Daniel replies:

I prefer not to answer. Thanks for giving me the option. It is for your own good.

Diana Bren

husband is a huge fan

May 16, 2020



My husband is a huge fan (me of course as well), I just ordered a used The Wuggie Norple book as he used to have one as a kid. We want to share the story with our children now 4 and 6.

It would mean so much to have a letter sent to him from you? Is this something you do?


Thank you

Diana Bren

Daniel replies:

Something I do is autograph books, cards, beer coasters, stickers, bookplates, cash register receipts, bus transfers, airline tickets, bingo cards, and foreign currency, provided these things arrive with a self-addressed, postage-paid envelope. I don't usually write letters as such because in this case I don't know your husband, or know who he is. All I know about him is that he's huge, which might not be a suitable topic for a letter. The address to send self-addressed, postage-paid things is to be found somewhere on this very website.

Beverlee Jobrack

Chicken Saved Your Dog

May 15, 2020

Yesterday our beloved dog, Buddee, a bagle dog, was diagnosed with cancer of the spleen that has spread to his lungs. We are heartbroken.  Both of us remember listening to your tale on NPR years ago about feeding your dog boiled chicken and are wanting to hear that again.  Last night we bought a big package of chicken breast and boiled one up for him. He was very happy. Please send a link to your story.  Thanks, Beverlee

Daniel replies:

I don't think I can locate the story...there are between 600 and 700, and I don't even have a lot of them. You'll recall it was about giving chicken every night to our ailing dog. In fact we've done this for several pets. The theory is that the dog wakes up in the morning and thinks, "If I'm still here at six o'clock, chicken!" We don't believe in making any dog stick around if they've begun to suffer...but if chicken makes Buddee happy, go for it. We had a couple of cats who stuck around forever, seemed to feel fine, and the vet refused to test them any more...just said when he got sick he was going to come live at our house. Good luck to your good boy. Give him a skritch for us. Don't be sad when he leaves you...make it like a nice visit to the vet...and then start getting ready for the next dog, there's definitely one that needs you.

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