Talk to DP Forum

Michelle

Do you remember Stuart stern from day camp when you were 6 or 7

August 6, 2019

Mr Pinkwater

I just received a copy of your book Lizard Music and it was awesome. My dad sent it to me.

I asked how he knew you and he said you were his friend at daycsmp in Evanston IL. 

I just thought you’d like to know that he remembers you after all these years and you must’ve made a difference in his life because he kept that book all these years from the Evanston Library.

Thank you for your time 

Michelle Hawker (Stern)

Daniel replies:

Wait a minute! It's a library book? Stuart Stern from daycamp took out a library book from the Evanston Public Library and never returned it? Has it to this day, or did until he gave it to his daughter? I never thought when I was playing baseball in public parks, and drinking not-very-cold milk out of those little miniature cartons, with Stuart Stern that he would wind up keeping a library book. Obviously, I did not write the book when I was 6 or 7, so Stuart must have come across it later, when he was older, and knew better, and recognized my name, and then he kept it?!?!? I think someone owes the Evanston Public Library nine dollars and ninety-five cents.

Clint C. Holtz

Thank You!

August 6, 2019

Daniel,

Last night I was doing
the usual routine of reading 3-4 books to my son and he was having a hard time
picking out some to read. I expect this was more of a stalling tactic than
anything else, so being the bed time enforcer I am I told him I was picking books
tonight. As I was skimming the book shelf and came across The Big Orange Splot. This was the exact copy my mother had read to
me literally thousands of time. The pages ruffled from water marks left by a
glass of water I had spilled on it 30 years ago. The wear and miles that had been
put on this children’s book brought a smile to my face. It was a wonderful
moment having the opportunity to take my son on a walk down memory lane via Mr.
Plumbean’s “neat street”. After I finished the book and tucked in my 3 year old
I felt the need to look you up and if nothing more to say thank you. I plan to
send my weathered and memory filled copy to you to have signed by you soon.
Thanks again for the masterpiece that provided me with many memories with my
mother and now my son.


Clint 

Daniel replies:

I knew when I started making books that they were precious to me, at least for the time I worked on them...when they were finished they tended to get pushed aside by new projects...but it never really crossed my mind that some of the books would become precious to some people. It's very neat! Very! And it's very kind of you to share with me.

Greg Hainline

Perpetuating the Pinkwater Panoply

August 1, 2019

Mr. Pinkwater,


I was recently reflecting on the most formative people in my life, and I was tickled to realize how much of an impact your books had on me, both in childhood and now as an adult. As I reach a time in my life when I begin to see children of my in own on the horizon, I know I have to share your books with them. The question is- how? While I do a great deal of reading on my digital devices that is not how I want to introduce your books to children (though I suppose maybe that’s just how life goes). Do you see any new printings in your future? Or do I need to go out and snatch up every old Pinkwater tome I can lay my hands on? Now that I write it down, the prospect of doing so doesn’t seem so terrible.


Thank you so much for giving me such delightful problems to have. My personal problem aside, I hope your books are preserved so that many generations yet to come may enjoy them. Or be subjected to them in totalitarian classrooms of the future.

Daniel replies:

Yes, there are new printings in the future, and there are some books still in print that you can find, also there are a great many used copies available online at Ebay, Amazon, and specialist booksellers like Cattermole 21st Century Books. Having no social life, I've been able to write a lot of books, so many that practically nobody has them all. All through my career, I've encountered kids, mostly, who went around with lists in their pockets, tracking down titles that they wished to acquire. Makes sort of a nice hobby, don't you think?

Jonathan Wertheim

Taking Daniel Pinkwater to lunch

July 28, 2019

My two friends and I have been fans of yours for donkey’s years, as well as  human years. Having come into possession of a lunch’s worth of fortune, we were hoping to visit pay a debt of gratitude to you by spending that fortune in your company. We certainly don’t want to impose, but we’ll be in your neighborhood on 7/26 and 7/28. Would you do us the honor? (Unrelated  side note – I think you know Ethan Iverson? I had the pleasure of getting to know him slightly when I worked as a jazz critic several years ago. A small world…)

In any event, thank you for your amazing books. They got me through some hard years.

(Not for public consumption – this message, not the lunch.) 

Daniel replies:

Very kind of you indeed, but I can't engage in social activities this July. I'd have to decline an invitation from Ethan Iverson too, though you will agree he is a lovely fellow.

Sam

Are you a kabbalist?

July 28, 2019

I’ve noticed a lot of references to Kabbalah in your work and I was wondering if you practice Kabbala and if so in what ways?  I’m trying to learn about it, mainly because I keep seeing references to Yggdrasil in all my favorite works of fiction, but every source I find is very confusing…  if you do study Kabbala would you recommend any books or websites about it?  

Thanks much!  

Daniel replies:

I barely know what Kabbalah is. However, I tend to think Yggdrasil has no connection with it. I recommend learning woodworking or watercolor painting, something you can do with your hands.

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.

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