Daniel Pinkwater

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Daniel Pinkwater
Daniel Pinkwater 2011.jpg
Pinkwater in 2011
Born (1941-11-15) November 15, 1941 (age 73)
Memphis, Tennessee
Occupation Author, illustrator
Alma mater Bard College
Genre Children's literature, young adult fiction
Notable works The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death, The Big Orange Splot, Borgel
Spouse Jill Pinkwater
Website
pinkwater.com

Daniel Manus Pinkwater (born November 15, 1941) is an American author of children's books and "Young Adult" fiction. Well-known books include Lizard Music, The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death, Fat Men from Space, Borgel, and the picture book The Big Orange Splot. He has also published an adult novel, The Afterlife Diet, and essay collections derived from his talks on National Public Radio. He does not work in any set category. Rather, his work is intended for a wide variety of ages, with books ranging from picture books to adult fiction.

Many elements of his fiction are based on real events and people he encountered in his youth.

Pinkwater is a trained artist and has illustrated many of his books in the past, although, for more recent works, that task has passed to his wife Jill Pinkwater. His artistic style varies from work to work, with some books illustrated in computer drawings, others in woodcuts and others in Magic Marker.

Pinkwater varies his name slightly between books (for instance, "Daniel Pinkwater", "Daniel M. Pinkwater", "Daniel Manus Pinkwater", "D. Manus Pinkwater").

He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, to Jewish immigrant parents from Poland. He describes his father as a "ham-eating, iconoclastic Jew." His parents moved to Chicago, where he grew up. He attended Bard College.

Themes[edit]

Pinkwater tends to write about social misfits who find themselves in bizarre situations, such as searching for a floating island populated by human-sized intelligent lizards (Lizard Music), exploring other universes with an obscure relative (Borgel), or discovering that their teeth can function as interstellar radio antennae (Fat Men from Space). They are often, though not always, set in thinly—or not at all—disguised versions of Chicago and Hoboken, New Jersey. He often includes Chicago landmarks and folkloric figures from his childhood in 1950s Chicago, regardless of when the book is set. An example of this is the recurring character the Chicken Man, a mysterious but dignified black man who carries a performing chicken on his head. This character is based on a shadowy figure from 1950s Chicago; after Pinkwater made him a lead character in Lizard Music he received letters from Chicago residents who remembered the Chicken Man. Pinkwater also pays tribute to the Clark Theater (a repertory movie theatre on Clark Street in the Chicago Loop that changed features daily and stayed open all night), Bughouse Square, and Ed & Fred's Red Hots. Another common theme is Jewish culture, with characters incongruously speaking in Yiddish-influenced dialogue or participating in Borscht Belt culture.

In 1995, Pinkwater published his first adult novel, The Afterlife Diet, in which a mediocre editor, upon dying, finds himself in a tacky Catskills resort populated by "circumferentially challenged" deceased.

Comics and radio[edit]

Pinkwater authored the newspaper comic strip Norb, which was illustrated by Tony Auth. The strip, syndicated by King Features, was cancelled after 52 weeks.[1] The daily strips were released in a 78-page collection by MU Press in 1992.

Pinkwater is also a longtime commentator on National Public Radio. He regularly reviews children's books on NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday. For several years, he had his own NPR show: Chinwag Theater. Pinkwater is also known to avid fans of the NPR radio show Car Talk, where he has appeared as a (seemingly) random caller, commenting, for example, on the physics of the buttocks (giving rise to the proposed unit of measure of seat size: the Pinkwater), and giving practical advice as to the choice of automobiles. In the early 1990s Pinkwater voiced a series of humorous radio advertisements for the Ford Motor Company.

Challenged book[edit]

Following an appearance by Pinkwater on the Public Radio International program This American Life,[2] his book The Devil in the Drain ended up on challenged book lists at numerous children's libraries.[3]

The Hare and the Pineapple used on exams[edit]

In April 2012, a story attributed to Daniel Pinkwater, "The Hare and the Pineapple", was used on a standardized exam for 8th grade students in New York. The story was based on Pinkwater's short story, "The Story of the Rabbit and the Eggplant", which he had sold to the testing company.[4] The published version changed the racer from an eggplant to a pineapple, and changed the moral of the story.[5] Students were asked two perplexing questions: "Why did the animals eat the pineapple", and "which animal spoke the wisest words?"[6] These questions baffled students.[7] City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott issued a statement saying improvements on the state exam will be made in the future.[8] The New York Daily News staff sent the question to Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings, and he was stumped as well.[9]

Partial bibliography[edit]

Children's books[edit]

  • The Terrible Roar (1970)
  • Bear's Picture (1972)
  • Wizard Crystal (1973)
  • Fat Elliot and the Gorilla (1974)
  • Magic Camera (1974)
  • Blue Moose (1975)
  • Three Big Hogs (1975)
  • Around Fred's Bed (1976)
  • The Big Orange Splot (1977)
  • The Blue Thing (1977)
  • Fat Men From Space (1977)
  • The Hoboken Chicken Emergency (1977)
  • Pickle Creature (1979)
  • Return of the Moose (1979)
  • The Magic Moscow (1980)
  • The Wuggie Norple Story (1980)
  • Attila the Pun: A Magic Moscow Story (1981)
  • Roger's Umbrella (1981)
  • Tooth-Gnasher Superflash (1981)
  • Slaves of Spiegel: A Magic Moscow Story (1982)
  • I Was a Second Grade Werewolf (1983)
  • Devil in the Drain (1984)
  • Ducks! (1984)
  • Jolly Roger: A Dog of Hoboken (1985)
  • The Frankenbagel Monster (1986)
  • The Moosepire (1986)
  • The Muffin Fiend (1986)
  • Aunt Lulu (1988)
  • Guys from Space (1989)
  • Uncle Melvin (1989)
  • Doodle Flute (1991)
  • Wempires (1991)
  • The Phantom of the Lunch Wagon (1992)
  • Author's Day (1993)
  • Spaceburger: A Keven Spoon and Mason Mintz Story (1993)
  • Ned Feldman, Space Pirate (1994)
  • Mush, A Dog from Space (1995)
  • Goose Night (1996), later reprinted as The Magic Goose (1997)
  • Wallpaper from Space (1997)
  • At the Hotel Larry (1998)
  • Young Larry (1998)
  • Bongo Larry (1998)
  • Second Grade Ape (1998)
  • Wolf Christmas (1999)
  • Big Bob and the Halloween Potatoes (1999)
  • Big Bob and the Magic Valentine's Day Potato (1999)
  • Big Bob and the Holiday Potato (1999)
  • Rainy Morning (2000)
  • Ice Cream Larry (2000)
  • Sleepover Larry (2000)
  • Bad Bears Go Visiting: An Irving and Muktuk Story (2000)
  • Big Bob and the Thanksgiving Potatoes (2000)
  • The Werewolf Club #1: The Magic Pretzel (2001)
  • The Werewolf Club #2: The Lunchroom of Doom (2001)
  • Cone Kong: The Scary Ice Cream Giant (2001)
  • Fat Camp Commandos (2001)
  • Irving and Muktuk: Two Bad Bears (2002)
  • The Werewolf Club #3: The Werewolf Club Meets Dorkula (2002)
  • The Werewolf Club #4: The Werewolf Club Meets the Hound of the Basketballs (2002)
  • Fat Camp Commandos Go West (2003)
  • Mush's Jazz Adventure (2004)
  • The Werewolf Club #5: The Werewolf Club Meets Oliver Twit (2005)
  • Bad Bears in the Big City: An Irving and Muktuk Story (2005)
  • The Picture of Morty and Ray (2006)
  • Looking for Bobowicz: A Hoboken Chicken Story (2006)
  • Bad Bears and a Bunny: An Irving and Muktuk Story (2006)
  • The Artsy Smartsy Club (2006)
  • Bad Bear Detectives: An Irving and Muktuk Story (2007)
  • Dancing Larry (2007)
  • Yo-Yo Man (2007)
  • Beautiful Yetta: The Yiddish Chicken (2010)
  • I Am the Dog (2010)
  • Mrs. Noodlekugel (2012)
  • Beautiful Yetta's Hanukkah Kitten (2014)

Young adult/Teen novels[edit]

  • Escape to Dwerg Mountain[11] (TBA)

Collections[edit]

  • Young Adults (1991)
    • contains Young Adult Novel, the stories Dead End Dada and The Dada Boys in Collitch (not printed elsewhere), and some Kevin Shapiro stories sent in to the author by fans.
  • 5 Novels (1997)
    • collects Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars; Slaves of Spiegel; The Last Guru; Young Adult Novel; The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death
  • 4 : Fantastic Novels (2000)
    • collects Borgel, Yobgorgle, The Worms of Kukumlima, The Snarkout Boys & the Baconburg Horror
  • Once Upon a Blue Moose (2006)
    • collects Blue Moose, Return of the Moose, and The Moosepire

Adult fiction[edit]

  • The Afterlife Diet (1995)

Non-fiction[edit]

  • Hoboken Fish and Chicago Whistle (1999): a book of essays, combining essays from two previous books:
    • Chicago Days, Hoboken Nights (1991)
    • Fish Whistle (1989)
  • Superpuppy: How to Choose, Raise, and Train the Best Possible Dog for You (1977)
  • Uncle Boris in the Yukon and Other Shaggy Dog Stories (2001)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Norb Don Markstein's Toonpedia, accessed on May 10, 2007.
  2. ^ This American Life episode #43: Faustian Bargains, broadcast 22 November 1996. (transcript)
  3. ^ "Fall 2004 SWAL Conference Information". Southwest Wisconsin Association of Libraries Conferences. Archived from the original on Jan 15, 2011. Retrieved 29 January 2011. 
  4. ^ http://www.pinkwater.com/pzone/
  5. ^ McGrath, Ben. "Daniel Pinkwater on "The Hare and the Pineapple"". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2012-06-05. 
  6. ^ Chapman, Ben; Monahan, Rachel (2012-04-19). "Talking pineapple question on state exam stumps ... everyone!". New York: NY Daily News. Retrieved 2012-06-05. 
  7. ^ Strauss, Valerie (2012-04-20). "‘Talking pineapple’ question on standardized test baffles students - The Answer Sheet". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-06-05. 
  8. ^ Posted: 04/20/2012 1:47 pm Updated: 04/25/2012 3:26 pm (2012-04-20). "Talking Pineapple Question On 8th-Grade New York State Exam Confuses Everyone (UPDATE)". Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2012-06-05. 
  9. ^ "'Talking pineapple' questions confuse kids, teachers, world". Now.msn.com. Retrieved 2012-06-05. 
  10. ^ Bushman Lives -- About the Book at the Wayback Machine (archived September 30, 2011)
  11. ^ mention of sequel on the last page of ''The Adventures of a Cat-Whiskered Girl''. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2012-06-05. 
  • "Daniel Manus Pinkwater". Entry in "Contemporary Authors Online", Thomson Gale, 2005. Accessed 2005-09-27.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]