Talk to DP Forum


representations in ‘The Big Orange Splot’

November 28, 2019

Dear Mr Pinkwater,

I have decided to contact you directly as there are limited resources analysing “The Big Orange Splot”, I am researching this book as part of an advanced english task for senior year, particularly examining the books representation of the human experiences, the struggle of adversity and self discovery. After hours of research I can not seem to understand the symbolic nature of the crescent moon and its tendency to change from gold to black, the crocodile which eventually is positioned upside down, the women painted onto the house, Mr Plumbean’s manner of sitting when being confronted by his neighbour and the circular void surrounding the seagull, resembling van Gogh’s Starry Night. I know it is a lot to ask but could you please clarify the meaning of these elements. It would be an absolute honour to receive a response and I hope you consider my request.

Thank you,

Laura principato.  

Daniel replies:

It is a strange coincidence that you ask these questions. I am just now up to approximately page 500 of my work-in-progress provisionally titled A READER'S GUIDE TO THE BIG ORANGE SPLOT. I anticipate that it will take another year to finish, and will run to about 600 pages. In this book I explain the symbolism, give an account of influences beginning with ancient Egypt, the socio-political aspects, and most interestingly, events in world history and the book's influence upon them since 1973. Naturally, time and space do not permit an attempt to answer your excellent questions in this forum. I suggest you ask the authorities at whatever school you attend to postpone your senior year, excuse you from attendance, and allow you to come back in, say, two years, (allowing time for my book to be published, and for you to digest its contents and complete your own paper). If I may recommend a course of action, doing physical work outdoors, such as on a farm, might be a good way to spend the time. Thank you for your interest in my humble artistic production.

Michael D. Toman

Another “Happy Birthday!” From A Reader, Conveyed Through Cyberspace?

November 17, 2019

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

Just wanted to take a moment to add my voice to your Birthday Chorus today.

“Thank You!” for many hours of reading delight!

Hope that all is well with you and yours thereabouts.


Michael D. Toman

Retired Librarian and Long-Time Pinkwater Reader, Who as Far As He Knows hasn’t Turned into a Spambot Yet


Daniel replies:

I welcome good wishes from retired librarians and spambots both.

Richard Kirwin

A connection to my father

November 11, 2019

Good day,

A few month ago, my father lost his battle with cancer. Following his passing, my family (wife and children) took on the challenge of cleaning out his home.

One of the things we discovered were the Snarkout Boys books.

I didnt remember why, but i knew my dad and i had enjoyed these books. I remembered the covers. I remembered them being special.

They also made me think of a book that my son and i had stumbled upon and loved: The Hoboken Chicken Emergency.

Imagine my delight to discover that they were all written by the same person.

I have since read both Snarkouts to my kids, and we have begun to make or way through The Neddiad and its ghostly sequel.

Barely a day passes that i dont think how much i want to share this coincidence with my dad. Of course, i won’t have the chance to do that so instead i found your website so I could tell you.

Thank you for this unplanned, but remarkable little detail of my life. Thank you for these books and characters my children and i are discovering together. I see now, looking at your incredible body of work, that we have alot of reading to do.

Your friend,

Richard Kirwin on behalf of himself, his children and the fond memory of his father.

Daniel replies:

I've always been a talented writer, even when I was a kid in school. It came easy to me, and I've always enjoyed it, but I have to admit I never gave a lot of thought to the possibility that the stuff I was making might be important to some readers. I mean, I liked my readers, and wanted them to enjoy my work, but if I thought about it at all, I thought reading my books was light entertainment, a diversion, a way to kill a few hours. There's nothing wrong with that. But now, after some 50 years and more than 100 books, I have all this evidence that books of mine have been treasured, become family artifacts. I'm glad to know this now. Thank you. And I'm sort of glad I didn't know it years ago. 

Douglas Brown

Blue Moose

October 31, 2019

Dear Mr. Pinkwater:

One evening I hosted a dinner party for some colleagues of my husband from the law school where he teaches.  Upon hearing me explain the reasons why, after many years of operation, I had decided to sell my small restaurant in rural Pennsylvania, one guest looked at his wife, winked, and together they simultaneously said, “Blue Moose!”  I had no idea to what they were referring, but a couple of weeks later I received your book as a thank-you gift for the dinner. I must say, the similarities between my interactions with the rural townspeople and Mr. Breton’s exchanges with the villagers is uncanny! I was curious about your inspiration for the book, and I wondered if you had ever worked in a similar sort of eatery.


Douglas Brown

Daniel replies:

No one has ever asked this question. Let's see if I can answer it in a few words. My wife and I arrived at a rented cabin on Moosehead Lake for a vacation. We brought with us a bag of brown rice and some spices. We were going to live on local produce and fish we caught, never considering that we might not catch any. The only restaurant anywhere near was one of those quaint Ye Olde places, looking a little deserted. We stepped inside, and met....Mr.Breton! The real live one! His actual name was...Breton! And...he was a marvelous, magical chef. He had grown up in the town, and left to live in California, inherited the nice old Victorian house, and decided to move back and open his restaurant there. He hadn't counted on the local population who kept asking for french fries, and when winter came he remembered why he left in the first place. We ate all our meals at his restaurant, never saw another customer, and enjoyed Mr. Breton's company as much as the food. A year or two later, he was back in California, and I had written the book. 

James Lerch

Snarkout Boys helped direct my life!

October 31, 2019

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

As I sit here listening to you read Avacado of Death for what has to be the twentieth time feel I need to express to you my gratitude for your wonderful stories.

The Avacado of Death really did help drive much of my early adulthood and even contributes greatly to my life today as a 41 year old man. I first read this book in the mid 80’s when I checked it out of my elementary school library. Everything from sneaking out to have adventures at night to my fascination with the “cities under cities” come directly from this book.

I forgot the name of this book for years but had vivid memories of Avacado pie and underground cities. After lots of hunting a couple years ago I rediscovered this gem. I actually managed to purchase a first print new old stock copy of the book, which holds a place of prominence in my library.

I now have both Avacado of Death and Baconburg Horror from Audible and I have listened to both at least a few times… yes even at 41 years old I still enjoy these imaginative stories!

Sorry this was so long winded but I just had to fully thank you!

James Lerch

Daniel replies:

What an honor to have readers like you! Please don't buy anything from Audible...I've never received a single cent of royalties from them. You can download audio of many of my books for free, (or a voluntary contribution which will be passed along to some worthy cause), right here on this website. 



October 28, 2019

Mr. Pinkwater,

I started reading your books in 1977 with Lizard Music.  It planted in me a sense of adventure that has been with me all my life.  I owe much to Lizard Music, as well as Fat Men from Space, The Hoboken Chicken Emergency, The Last Guru, and Yobgorgle, Mystery Monster of Lake Ontario.  These works of yours helped shape me in positive ways as a child, and had no small part in influencing my adult life.  Through these wonderful books I found the joy of reading, and my life has been enriched ever since.

I’m truly thankful that your work exists in the world.  Your impact to my life, and I’m sure thousands of others, is immeasurable.  I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Best Regards,


Daniel replies:

I wasn't going for impacting anybody's life. All I thought I was doing was writing stories I would like to read. I think it's likely that you're a creative reader, and the works of some other genius would have had a similar effect, and helped you shape your taste and judgement...but I'm glad it was my stuff you chose.

Elissa Foresta

You are my favorite. I wish i could write like you. Love your words forever

October 20, 2019

Daniel replies:

Something better than writing like me would be writing like you. Yourself. Write the way you talk. People make a big deal about style, but really that's all it is. You are automatically my favorite.

Avey, Wilbur, and Oolie

A Beautiful Story

October 9, 2019

Us three oracles wrote a story inspired by the Wild Dada Ducks.


A Beautiful Story 

Or; ua hoʻokuʻu ka pāʻani

OR; “What’s the Coinfusion I Can’t Make Heads or Tails of It? Sum One Flipped! Now That Makes Cents”

OR; The Modern Ulysses

    At any normal school across the country, there is a group of rats and people who have fallen into gaping holes in the architecture living deep in the recesses of the structure. 

At Hindenburg High-school, the sewer rejects have formed a society. A society dedicated to chaos, and the spread of Karl Wiesman art. 

    It’s the socially ostracized- ostracized,,, ostrakons, ancient Greece, that’s where they live, that’s where the real humans were born with purple in their mouths- sewer rats- they all are running across the sidewalks and doing chalk art. They all use whale bones to draw shiny peonies in sync.

“He’s doing zombies!” they cry in the tawny hours of the waking dawn. This is called “zbeuling”.  Afterwards, they do the proper rituals of washing their fruit like the raccoons that used to be alive on the highway. It’s an honorary thing if you find that all your azaleas are missing, only to have them turn up days later- floating inside the sewer grate, with cholula sauce poured all over them. How delicious, my mind and mouth is numb! 

One of the rats has created a band- he turns an old carrot into a wonderfully gnawed trombone, and plays ferociously obscure banjo music. The other rats have gnawed on sweet potatoes, they sing like vuvuzelas. 

And the man in the vent fell down, so now when you slip your gum wrappers into the grate he knows, and he’ll haunt you. All above is Balderdash. Careful, herpes can be fatal to monkeys under one year old. A bump, a protruding lump, has taken my sight. Balderdash. 

    If a friend has gone missing, don’t worry. They’re simply in the deeper sewer cells, flourishing as a clump of warts flourishes, eating off gold-tilled tupperware (careful, mee-ma, that’s ceramic!), and listening to Dewey Rock’s #2 hit album song, “Orchestrated in Red; AKA my mother asked me”. If a friend has gone missing, don’t worry- they are so happy. Now, they can mind-control. 

And all the rats wear trojan- I know trojans,, they smell acidic and ironed- armor fashionably designed to ward-off the obby-oss riding bunyips that secretly slash away at the foundations of the school. The secret is kept in the boiler room. They gallop around and flamboyantly show off their shoulder pads. To who, though? The roaches! 

And all the little playgrounds,, that the children play on have hives of bees, a bee may chase your mate- and all the British have their figgy-pudding and tarts- into the street, and she’ll get hit by a car. Wood-carving bee’s sting the worse,, they grap you by the elbow and prick a hole- ship up or ship out- and wonder till the pain hits then you fall into gravel pits.

A little mouse scrambles around and disapproves of this type of lifestyle- why- how- no? You must pay me 25 cents for saying the word lifestyle, alright? I don’t like that. 50 cents for zest. And never, never, never. Wacky lizard beads- a clank and crock is a beautiful story to my tired ears.

‘What sort of food do they eat down there?’ You may ask,. ‘How do they survive with no clean water?’ and,  ‘Can it really be habitable down there?’ The answer to all these questions is simple: “Can a quart of milk translate to a two-pound glass full of feathers? And, if so, how come my wife has stayed away from me?” The answer to that, of course, is “No”.

And the face-monger puts up a sign, “two emotions- one half off if you give me used!” tell your local position if you feel the following- a new face is in store- panic, trembling, jumpiness, nerviness, butterflies, jitteriness, the jitters, a cold sweat, a blue funk, the heebie-jeebies, the willies, the shakes, the yips, the jim-jams, collywobbles, cold feet, the (screaming) abdabs/habdabs, Joe Blakes.

And I bought a shoe shine kit so my dog would always yap-yip. But the he locked me in a cabinet so now it’s all for nought. And with mind control I can own all the property deeds I want!

Zbeul? The zombies have survived- in his form, he is, is, of course, just doing this right? It’s just a joke? No! A real, real zbeul. Zbeuls are neon cowboys. Zbeuls reach and rob. 

Bones- they are scaffolding for our meat- Kurt Vonnegut: “you must thank your meat”- OR foundation, since you can’t possibly only have a ceiling, then it might as well be a sidewalk.

Can you be so comfortable as to properly even possibly say…, “Spoiling spoilers have cried over spilt milk before, hallelujah”? I doubt it. It’s a treacherously difficult and uncomfortable thing to fathom. Indeed. Yes. This is good. Yes.

Daniel replies:

I think this may be better than the Wild Dada Ducks story. Certainly it is deeper with important philosophical themes. I know this is so because I didn't understand a single word. You are destined for greatness.

Adam Thornton

“Arnold Comes Home” happens to me

October 2, 2019

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

Long-time listener, first-time caller (actually untrue.  We enjoyed–well, I enjoyed, anyway–a short email correspondence probably twenty-some years ago, in which you described me as a “closet Shapiroist,” which is as true now as it was then).

At any rate: “Arnold Comes Home” just happened to me.

I lost my dear old goofy dog Argus a little over a year ago.  Cancer sucks.  This past weekend, I met a dog at Pima Animal Care Center, a foundling, whose physical resemblance to a young Argus was somewhere between “striking” and “uncanny.”  He’s somewhere between a year and two years old.  No longer a puppy, but definitely still youthful.  He put his chin on my arm like Argus used to, and I was smitten.

I live with two other dogs; a neurotic (as if there were another kind) Border Collie named Naga, and a big red Hound Of Uncertain Origin named Spot.  Spot is amiable to everyone, human or canine, but Naga wants to sort all other nonhuman mammals into “sheep” or “wolf” and behave accordingly, so I was a bit worried.  I need not have been.

As with Juno and the housecats, my dogs’ reaction to the new tenant was…much less anxious than I thought it would be.  I find it tough to characterize it as anything other than “hey, Argus is back.  Cool.”

The surprising-to-me thing is how much I feel the same way.  He’s clearly not the same dog, but…the same dog if he had a big slobbery drink from the Lethe before turning around and coming back?  Quite possibly.  He snuggles like Argus, he bounce-plays like Argus, he wags his whole back half like Argus.

I think his name is Blink this time around.

Thanks for writing that piece.





Daniel replies:

This happens. It's happened to us, more than once, and it's happened to others. I suspect maybe the old departed dogs stick around in a form we can't see and show the new dogs the good places to lie in the sun or shade and where the good weeds to make you throw up live. Good luck to you and your weird hairy friends. Also your dogs.

Ronnie Battista

Big Orange Splot

September 27, 2019

Mr. Pinkwater,

I wrote a while back about the impact of your book.  Since then, I’ve been giving copies of the Big Orange Splot to friends and colleagues.  I went from ordering 3 at a time, to 4, to 8 and now I buy them in lots of 12 off of Amazon.  And I got a tattoo of the paint can dropped by the seagull on my arm.  I think I’m pretty much all-in on this book. 🙂

Thanks for writing it.


Daniel replies:

It is so weird, in a nice way, to have someone make such a connection with something I wrote. It's like I always say, the reader is the important and creative one, the writer is just...well, the writer.

Bob J. Owen

Just a quick personal thanks for Mister Pinkwater.

September 24, 2019

I just wanted to let you know that not only was The Afterlife Diet one of the neatest and most original stories I’ve ever read but also helped me out a lot. I’ve never been fat until I was. Now not only am I middling vain but my knees hurt and I had to take a deep breath in before I tied my shoes because I couldn’t breath when bending over like that. Well I knew I had to slim up a bit. And that particular book inspired me to taper off of fatty foods instead of going cold turkey and subsisting off health foods like cold turkey. The thing is it’s worked and I’ve been able to maintain a comfortably chubby physique. That’s a big deal.  Oh and seriously it’s a great book that I try and get every consumer of printed words that are laid out in some esoteric order to be translated into some kind of tale or fable, but it also changed my life in a really significant way. I am sure you get messages like this frequently, but I hope each time you feel the pride you should in full and without unnecessary neurosis!

Daniel replies:

Wait a minute! Do you mean there are people whose knees don't hurt, and don't have to take a deep breath before tying their shoes? Damn! Are you sure about this?

Susan Kuhn

The meaning of the punctuation in “The Big Orange Splot”

September 21, 2019

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

I was just introduced to “The Big Orange Splot” by my grandbaby, who is due this coming Sunday.  I was helping my daughter organize her home, when we realized that she had been given 2 copies of your book.  So I got a present also.  I absolutely;y love your book and wish that I’d know about it years ago when our three children were little.

I due have one question.  Why do you use correct punctuation throughout the book except when Mr. Plumbean says, “My house is me and I am it.  My house is where I like to be and it looks like all my dreams.”?  I was wondering if you didn’t use commas between the independent clauses because you wanted to emphasize that Mr. Plumbean and his house are one.  But then on p. 30, you do use a comma.  “Our street is us and we are it.  Our street is where we like to be, and it looks like all our dreams.”                                                                                                                                                                        Curiously and Most Sincerely, Susan

Daniel replies:

By punctuation you mean those little dots and dots with tails and squiggles and such am I correct I have always wondered what they were for and why the publisher puts them in

The Web Master

I Do Not Like It Here

September 10, 2019

Hello Pinkwater,

I miss the Hudson Valley and New York and the East Coast in general. I am in LA….or a little east of LA. I do not like it here. How do I change that? Is there anything I should look for? I am looking for beauty or something weird like that. How do you make the places sound so perfect in your books? I am somewhat young and trying to go to many places. What are the best places in your opinion?

Help is appreciated.



Daniel replies:

I don't know. Have you read my books set in LA? It was a cool place to be a kid. I don't know about now, but what I wrote described the place as I experienced it. On the other hand, if anyone were to move to Poughkeepsie prompted by reading what I wrote about it, they might be disappointed. It's not where you are, but how you are where you are.

Jim Knapp

Looking for an NPR piece you did

September 4, 2019

Hello Daniel, greetings from Seattle.  I’m writing to ask you where I may find your piece you did for NPR, probably in the 1990s, on your thoughts about the lights on your appliances at night.  How you saw and felt about these glowing sentinels in your home while walking in the dark.  I loved it and would like to read or listen to it once again.  I’ve searching endlessly but have come up empty.  If you could point me in the direction I would be forever grateful.  Peace. JK

Daniel replies:

I can't be sure...I did 600 or 700 of those little I may have done the one you mention, but I suspect it was some other commentator. Unless you remember it as being particularly good, and brilliantly written, in which case it was mine.

Vyxsin Fiala Savage

Thank you for being you!….Any chance of some new Compilations?

September 2, 2019

My little ones are growing up with your books just as I did…..YAY! I started collecting your books when they were just toddlers.  Did you know some of your older books are really hard to find? 🙂  Is there any chance of a compilation of some of the shorter older rarer books in the future?  The way that you put together 5 Novels, Four Hoboken Stories, and 4 Fantastic Novels? 

The stories/artwork on some of the shorter books are/is/were super beautiful (I agonized over how to phrase this and finally gave up…LOL)…Seriously though, it makes me sad that more people won’t have the chance to see them.  Last week we were working on the letter *B* so we read “The Blue Thing”…this week is *C* so we are reading “The Magic *C*amera” and, one of my favorite books of all time..”The Big Orange Splot”  (*C*olor)  Thank you for being so fun and insightful.  The world is a better place because of people like you. 

P.S….I WAS able to find a copy of “Wizard Crystal” but “Terrible Roar” is pretty tricky.  Of course, all of your newer stuff is super rad and I buy it right away so I don’t miss out!  We have a new rescue puppy, so we also enjoy your thoughts about dogs.  Again…thank you! All the best to you and your family.

Daniel replies:

Anything is possible. That is to say, it's possible some publisher will come up with a good idea. Not likely, but possible. Myself, I am just tired of trying to teach them right from wrong, so it would need to be an idea the publisher itself generated. In the past couple of years Dover came out with two bindups of four of my shorter books each...proof it's possible. Meanwhile, isn't it kind of fun to turn up rare copies of this and that? I'm glad you like my stuff, and your kids are reading it too.

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