Talk to DP Forum


Literary Inquiry

October 13, 2018

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

I have read many of your books. I notice you are old and strange and that I am young and normal. I would like to be old and strange someday, too. Any advice for an aspiring human such as my myself or my kitty?



Daniel replies:

Actually, I am old and fairly normal. I have observed that people who regard themselves as young and normal are often less normal than they think. Kitties are uniformly strange, which would be normal for them. After a while, even as little a while as I've spent writing this reply, the words tend to lose all meaning.

Luke Zabriskie

Do you like my drawing from the Neddiad?

October 4, 2018

My son Luke drew a picture of the thrilling scene on the Ford TriMotor in The Neddiad and he want to share it with you.  

We really love the book and have been listening to it over and over in the car on an audiobook. Thanks for the fun!

Daniel replies:

Luke's drawing is sort of.....magnificent! He is a great artist. Add to that, his mother is named Kristi Zabriskie, which is cool in itself. Thanks for showing us.

kimberly pritchard

Tooth Gnasher Super Flash

September 30, 2018

Mr. Pinkwater,

I learned late in life about your fabulous book, Tooth Gnasher Super Flash.  I had never heard of it.  I am 58 yrs. old.  I wanted to buy it.  I can’t find any company that has it out there for less than $100!

Is there a way to buy this from you?

Kimberly Pritchard

Daniel replies:

Nope. Sorry. I'm not sure I even have a copy myself. If you wait around, and periodically check the various online sources, I bet a copy will turn up for way less than $100.

Nick Westervelt

What if Plumbean’s House were a real place?

September 14, 2018

Hello Daniel, Jill and Lulu!!  

I’m writing to you because I’m starting an arts and events space in Rockland, Maine and I’d like to name it Mister Plumbean’s House, after your loving, accepting, creativitity inspiring character.  

You see, my town is in a moment of confusion.  Long a tourist spot for the glitzy folk from further south, while also a place of respite for artists, sailors and builders, we’ve developed a number of crazy ordinances governing everything and anything, even though we’re trying to be the Arts Capital of the state?!?!  Hard to understand I know, but luckily I was gifted your book and it has all the answers, I am forever thankful.  I’ve purchased a 200 year old chapel, a place of meeting for my community that is no longer needed by it’s builders.  I’m ready to let people paint in the walls, steam shovels, alligators, whatever they like!

I realize it’s a bit late, but I’d like to introduce myself.  My name is Nick Westervelt, I’m 35, I live in a pop up camper inside a garage on a dairy farm on a hill in Union, Maine.  I grew up just south of here, the son of two lesbians in an activist town.  I’ve been involved in the arts since before I was born (my mother’s a violinist you see) and I just can’t seem to stop.  I’ve worked as a welder, a theatrical rigger, a montessori teacher, a farmer, a student, a son and a husband.  I’ve been a painter and a carpenter and a driver, a machinist, a cook and a camp counselor.  I’ve visited 36 of the 50 states and only one other country.  I’ve owned 18 different species of animals, and eaten 12.  

Here’s some pieces that others have written on me and my exploits at various times in my life, I often feel they do better justice than my own explanations.  

Salt Documentary School photos (1997)

Writing (I think this piece is pretty wonderful, captures my childhood well)

Jerry Springer (1992)

Clawhammer Farm Blog (2009-2014)

Planet Money (2010)

New Food Economy (2014)

Knox Free Press (Stupid Paywall, PDF available)

I’d like to invite you to visit me here in Rockland, to see my beautiful town and see my crazy building, it’s 200 years old, and it has a baptism tub.  I can come and pick you up, I can arrange a place for you to stay, just let me know what you need, I can arrange anything but a Blue Lobster (they’re illegal).  No commitments or guarantees asked, I’d simply like to have you over for dinner and hear about your life, and hopefully share some of mine.  Once you’ve seen it in the flesh, you’ll know if the name is right or not.  

Thank you,


Daniel replies:

Sure, you can name your arts and events space anything you like, although I don't think Mr. Plumbean's House is a terribly good name. Fellow around here got hold of a 200-year-old house, very visibly located, and painted it all crazy. The effect was sort of that he was inflicting cruelty on an old structure that hadn't done him any harm. He may have had some solid aesthetic reasons for what he did, but the impression I got was that he just wanted attention. Thanks for including the many links to material about you.

Kelly Maver

What inspired you to write The Big Orange Splot?

September 6, 2018

I have read, The Big Orange Splot, to all of my classes for over a decade. It is by visiting read-aloud for Parent visitation Day at my children’s school. I collect the stories behind the stories to share with others as both an  educational blogger and teacher. My kindergarteners are exploring the many ways writers are inspired and develop stories. It is one of their favorite parts of our day. I would love to share yours if that is possible. Thank you for  creating a story that inspires us to stand out, live our dreams and imagine.

Daniel replies:

This is what inspired me to write The Big Orange Splot. I lived it! Well, I did not paint my house in a very unusual way...just as well, since it was a rented house, and the owner might not have liked all the artwork...but I did live at one time on a "neat street," and by that I mean boring. I was standing and looking out the window at the houses, all the same, and I thought the thought that gives rise to all works of fiction..."What if?" I thought. "What if one of these houses had all kinds of crazy paintings on it?" So, instead of actually painting the house I lived in, and getting in trouble with the landlord, I wrote the story and drew the pictures. By the way, this is what art of all kinds does for allows us to experience things as they might be in addition to how they are.


Memoirs, remembrances

August 29, 2018

My wife and I have avidly read and enjoyed both Chicago Days / Hoboken Nights as well as Fish Whistle. I wonder if you have considered making any further forays into autobiography? I find that these books offer glimpses into a kind of 20th century bohemianism that is not often explored, or chronicled with such skill. It’s a real service to literature!

(For instance, the hints about the”zen cult” with which you were briefly associated are really fascinating.) Anyway, thanks for the good work.



Daniel replies:

Those two books contain whatever number of essays from among 600 to 700 pieces that were broadcast on NPR, and are mostly lost now. I'm not bored with my life, but I am a little bored with my own life story. I'm casting around now, trying to decide what book I want to write next. For the next couple of months, I'm engaged in a project having nothing directly to do with writing, after which I hope I will have decided. Stick around, I usually come up with something.

Bryan Wilson (no, not that one, despite what my e-mail address might suggest)

Trying to remember a title

August 18, 2018

Mr Pinkwater,

  First of all, thank you for the years (<<cough>> decades! <<cough>>) of reading enjoyment.  My first encounter with your books was Alan Mendelsohn in about 1981 or so, but thankfully my school had any number of your books available for me to read, and I read them I did!

  Therein lies my problem, and I will get straight to my question: is it Yobgorgle?

  You see, I read a book of yours during that time that I would love to read again, but I cannot remember which one it is.  I remember very little about it actually, except that it was funny (not much of a clue, I know).  I also remember this exchange between two characters on a fast-moving boat of some sort:

  Character 1:  “It’s a beach!”  (I think the character says ‘beach’, but it could be another word)

  Character 2:  “It’s a wall!”  (I know this character says ‘wall’)

  Character 1:  “It’s a beach AND a wall!”

  I thought perhaps this might be Lizard Music, but after purchasing and re-reading Lizard Music, I found I was wrong but had a great time doing it.  The only other title I think it could be is Yobgorgle, which I have yet to find (not that I’ve looked hard); is it indeed Yobgorgle?  I see from the Amazon blurb that a particular Great Lake is involved, and there is a pig on the cover, which seems familiar.

  I also feel like the book I am thinking of was somewhat like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, but again I can’t remember the title of the book, so what do I know?

  Anyway, to reminisce!  After a too-long hiatus away, I took my daughters to our local public library.  None of my beloved hellspawn have turned out to be readers, but I haven’t given up hope.  This has been a few years ago now, but while they looked about I walked the rows of shelves.  I came across the P’s, mopped them up, and took a look for your books.  I discovered among them the Neddiad and was as delighted by Ned as I was by Alan in 1981.

  Normally, this nearly middle aged fellow doesn’t need a reason to act with childish delight, but picking up your books again has given me one!

Thank you!  And thank you for any help you can provide about the mis-remembered book!

Bryan L Wilson, CMfgT, Esq.  🙂

Daniel replies:

Yes, it's YOBGORGLE, MYSTERY MONSTER OF LAKE ONTARIO, and your fragmented recollections are all correct. It's interesting to see how a book I apparently wrote turns into a specific kind of mental compost in the memory of one reader. You actually have a more detailed ready recollection than I do, although I can dredge up the whole thing by making an effort. It's out of print, like most of my stuff, but copies turn up. Possibly best bet is the collection FOUR FANTASTIC NOVELS in which it is included. Thanks for your kind words, and best of luck civilizing your children.

Morgan Elliot

Request in regards to the name Laughing Alligator

August 15, 2018

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

I am a an aspiring custom bike maker and huge fan of your writing. The time a few years ago in high school when I cut up my bmx bike and welded it back together to form a wacky-looking monstrosity happened to coincide with another read through of Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars.

There came a wave of inspiration that told me I wanted to make the wildest customs under the name Laughing Alligator. I want to make bikes that probably came from the 6th plane of Venus.

For my senior project in high school I made my first scratch-build custom bike, and after a brief hiatus while at college, I am getting back to creating – my next project hopefully to be done by next month. And so I ask if I may put the name Laughing Alligator on my customs in honor of your brilliant book and the ancient Order of the Laughing Alligator. If you like the idea I could even make an extra spicy bike to call Green Death.

With my customs I seek to convey a sense of surprise and wonder similar to that which your books have given me, and I hope to have your blessing to use the Laughing Alligator name. Maybe someday Clarence Yojimbo will borrow some money and buy from me a bike just crazy enough to bring back to Venus…


Morgan Tyler Elliot

Daniel replies:

How nice of you to ask! Obviously you don't need my permission to use the words, "Laughing Alligator," but I am honored, heartily endorse the idea, and wish you great success with your creative, artistic engineering endeavor. This goes for "Green Death" as well, and any other adaptations of phrases, concepts, and images that strike your fancy. I'm interested in seeing a picture of your work if you wish to share one.

Frank from Durham, NC

How to get Coaching

August 15, 2018

Hello Mr. Pinkwater.  

I have been reading a book by a friend of yours, Bailey White, Mama Makes Her Mind Up.  I am trying to get some ideas on exactly what my story is, and how to get some “more than armature” coaching.  I am writing about a childhood adventure, and, just like Ms. White, I want my southern existence to shine.  I believe my account may enter the realm of a narrative essay more than a short story.  It is some over three thousand words, and I take the liberty to digress from the theme to explain things.   Ms. White’s short stories are “crisp” reads to me, and it seems as though just as I am getting into the story, the story is over.  Can you please tell me what my story may be just from what I have told you?  And, do you have any suggestions about how I can get some good help looking at the story and critiquing?  I am born and raised southern, Piedmonth, NC.  I know what I want my story to say, and I know how I want it to sound.  I’m concerned about structure, moving away from and back to the theme, how to weed out unnecessary dead wood.   Many thanks in advance. 

Daniel replies:

You are asking the wrong person. I have always tried to approach writing as an amateur, even though I've made my living doing it. What I do, when possible, is write a story for myself, one I want to read. I don't think about theory. I don't know, but I assume Ms. White does something similar. You could ask her.

Alyssa Chandler

What type of books would you sugusest to little kids

August 7, 2018

 Do you have any books little kids?

Daniel replies:

Lots of them. Check your local public library, bookstore, or this website to see titles. Thanks for asking.

Jim Huffman

Chicken Man & Others Part 2

August 7, 2018

Mr Pinkwater

Man & Others Part 2


you for the nice accolades, now with this encouragement, I shall add
to my last overly long post.

2: This neighborhood was the epitome of racial & religious
harmony. I never knew what bigotry was until I went or visited or
read about other neighborhoods & places. I never heard any slurs
directed to or about others, I had no idea that there were any

grade school students were mostly Jewish 80%, 20% others. Nearly all
the teachers were Jewish. On Jewish holidays, non-Jewish sub teachers
were there with aprox 10-kids in each class. Our classes had aprox
50-kids each with one-teacher. Of everyone I knew in class afterwards
to this day, they were all successful. Lawyers, doctors, accountants,
professors, business, etc. One became the Concert Master of the Lyric
Opera’s Orchestra. Smaller classrooms?

Carmel was 90% Catholic & 10% others. Smaller than Nettlehorst,
about 50% the size.

were a few Blacks in Nettlehorst, we refered to them as Colored or
Negro, so as not to offend them. Never ever heard the word “nigger”
used. And Oriental people also lived in the neighborhood, as well as
Spanish speakers. Never heard kike, yid, dirty jew, spic, slant eyes
etc. Did sometimes hear goyim (or chicsa) used in a whisper, but
never in a bad way.

neighborhood was very cosmopolitan, mixed Jewish & Christian, and
was also considered a Swedish Lutheran neighborhood, but only aprox
10%, some of the Swede names I knew were Nelson, Larson, Swanson,
Hanson, Lindson. There were many churches as well as many Synagogs. A
Jewish yeshiva type school, where my jewish fiends went after school
to prepare for their Bar Mitzva, I was often invited inside &
sat with them while they studied, the Rabbi was very nice to me &
showed me what & why they were learning & answer my

also often invited to attend services in other churches which I did
as a social cause, my family never attended religeous services. I had
no idea that I was not Jewish or other. I just thought that people
just wandered into these places because they looked better than the
others? I tried to figure out if they all had differing looks, did
catholics have a different look than a protestant or a jew?

were other stores that I forgot to mention in my last rant. Duke The
Florist on the NW & then NE corner of Belmont & Broadway then
out of business. Walgreens SE corner, Sams barber shop on Belmont
various locations. Scotts Dime store Broadway. A small school &
notions store on south side of Aldine just west of the school. The
Library on Belmont next to the Nuns home. A Lutherine church across.

for now, write if you have questions & don’t hang by your thumbs.

Huffman, ex-goyim.

Daniel replies:

Sounds familiar and about right to me, although I never thought the Nettelhorst elementary school was mostly Jewish...I remember being fascinated by the Christian traditions I encountered there. But I completely agree about the tolerance in the neighborhood. Never heard an expression of hate, and I can add that when I went to Lake View high school in the 50s, the first openly gay person I ever met ran for student council, and I never heard a single remark at his expense. And for those reading this, we should make clear that this was a working/middle class neighborhood, we weren't the children of professors, or college graduates for the most part. I think the natural untampered-with tendency of people is to live in that kind of harmony.

Phil from Cincinnati

Sight Seeing advice

July 7, 2018

Hi! My family and I are huge fans of your books. My favorite is Alan Mendelsohn, my wife’s is Bad Bear Detectives, my daughter’s is Wuggie Norple, and my son’s is Irving and Muktuk: Two Bad Bears.

We will be passing through the Hudson Valley on the weekend of July 27th. Are there any monuments or museums dedicated to the Pinkwaters that we can view? Are the Pinkwaters greeting their public anywhere that weekend?

Thanks, Phil

Daniel replies:

One of the reasons we like living in this part of the Hudson Valley is that there are no monuments or museums dedicated to us, in fact 99.9% of locals deny having ever heard of us. We find this restful. However at the other end of the Hudson River you will find the quaint and charming village of Hoboken, long our spiritual home. There you will see many expressions of pride in us Pinkwaters, mostly executed in chalk on the pavement. We regret we will not be available for greeting on the weekend you cite. I have visited Cincinnati, and thought it was an excellent city.


My unconscious role model

July 7, 2018

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

As a child I read a lot of your books.  I read every one I could find, even the ones not marketed for kids.  I loved them and they helped my love who I was.  I was weird, and the books gave me this sense that, although being weird might not be appreciated by my peers, out in the wider world there were places where weirdness had currency.  Somewhere out there were “my people,”  and if I could make it through childhood I could find them.   

Well I did make it through childhood, and did all sorts of fun things as an adult, and now I lead a generally great and fun life.  Your stories, though, were forgotten, until just last year.  As I was getting ready to have a child, I started to remember the books of my youth, and I started to reread the Pinkwater oeuvre.  As I read more and more I was struck by a wonderful realization.   By making the choices I had made in life, I had become a Pinkwater character!

My life seems normal to me, but if I write down what I do, I seem like a crazy character from your books.  I live on a communal homestead in a hand built house that is dug into a hillside.  On this homestead I grew, and eat, unusual fruit from all over the world, as well as regular vegetables, chickens, etc….  To support my hobby of growing unusual fruit I work as a puppeteer, classical guitar player, and emcee for hire.  This is just the big picture stuff too.  There are lots of other little things I am passionate about.  To name just a few, I have a large collection of hippopotamus figurines, I have tried every flavor of ice cream (out of 50+) at my local stand, and I recently bought pasta with 5 foot long noodles for a slurping competition.

I don’t say these things to brag.  Well maybe I do. But they also illustrate a point.  Reading your books later in life gave me a wonderful  gift.  It validated the choices I have made thus far.  If I am becoming a Daniel Pinkwater character, I must be doing something right.  In my youth they set out the path for me, and now they have confirmed that I got there successfully.  Thank you for everything!


Daniel replies:

Thank you for telling us about your perfectly normal and conventional life. I know it seems unique and unusual to you, but that's how everyone feels about their life. You are a farmer who enjoys music and has some hobbies--I think that's very nice. Also you like to read, and you like my books, of course I am gratified and flattered. Of course you are not a Daniel Pinkwater character. Daniel Pinkwater characters are me!


can you make more books?

July 1, 2018

I am Chloe and I am eight. I love your books. Could you please make more? If you could, then please do. I just read Lizard Music. I liked the Chicken Man and Victor. I can imagine how cute the baby chick would be if I was there. 



Daniel replies:

Hello, Chloe! As a matter of fact, I was just thinking about what book I might write. I had forgotten all about the baby chick. Thanks for your suggestion. I will go back to thinking now.


Just Thank You

July 1, 2018

We recently signed out Bear and Bunny from the library.  I just want to say thank you.  I wish you could hear my 5 year old giggle and laugh through the ENTIRE book.  Such a sweet, funny, and memorable story.  I love that I can share the amusement with her.

Daniel replies:

What could be cooler than a message like this? I think it must be sort of interesting how an adult person, such as myself, has been able to write stories that a five-year-old will find funny, but people seldom bring up the subject, or ask a question. I'm going to assume that someone reading this is curious about how I do it, and I will try to explain it now. When I was small, my father and his brother were home-movie enthusiasts, so I inherited several reels of film showing me as a little kid, doing somersaults, jumping around in my footie pajamas, all the usual things people film their kids doing. But what I was able to notice, I can't explain how, was that I had a sense of humor when I was five. It was the same sense of humor I was going to have for the rest of my life. As a little kid I had a much narrower frame of reference, but what struck me funny then would strike me funny now. Knowing that, and believing it's probably true for everyone, is how I am able to write funny books for little kids. People who think kids will laugh at things adults wouldn't find funny usually miss the mark.

1 2 3 4 195
Submit a message