Daniel Manus Pinkwater (born November 15, 1941) is an American author of children's books and young adult fiction. His 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 written an adult novel, The Afterlife Diet, and essay collections derived from his talks on National Public Radio.
|Born||November 15, 1941|
|Pen name||Daniel Pinkwater, Daniel M. Pinkwater, Daniel Manus Pinkwater, D. Manus Pinkwater|
|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|
Many elements of his fiction are based on real events and people he encountered in his youth.
Early life, family and educationEdit
Born Manus Pinkwater in Memphis, Tennessee, to Jewish immigrant parents from Poland. He describes his father, Philip Pinkwater, as a "ham-eating, iconoclastic Jew" who was expelled from Warsaw by the decent Jews. He and his family moved to Chicago, where he was raised.
He attended the Black-Foxe Military Institute in Hollywood, where he befriended Errol Flynn's son Sean, and wound up in high school back in Chicago. After graduating, he attended Bard College, in New York State. An art major, he found the experience of studying art in a college unsatisfactory, and served an apprenticeship with sculptor David Nyvall in Chicago. After three years, Nyvall told Pinkwater that he would never make a sculptor, and Nyvall had always thought he would be a writer. Pinkwater says he always regretted the unkind things he said to Nyvall on that occasion,
A moment of fame came when he posed as Inspector Fermez LaBouche for the fumetti strip that ran in the final issues of Help! (September 1965); he had been spotted at a party by Terry Gilliam. Pinkwater rode in a Volkswagen convertible to a photo shoot with Gilliam, Robert Crumb, and Help's creator Harvey Kurtzman--none of the men had any interest in the others. He met a children's book editor by chance at a party; he invited her to his studio to promote an African artist's cooperative, and she suggested that he illustrate a book. Pinkwater received a $1,500 advance for his first book, The Terrible Roar (1970), after replying that he would try to write the book himself.
With his wife Jill, Pinkwater published a dog training book and ran an obedience school while living in Hoboken, New Jersey. At the time, he was training to become an art therapist, but found he was unsuited to the work and dropped his studies. However, he attended a meeting of an unspecified cult with a therapy client, and later joined the cult. Pinkwater says "the quality of the [cult's] rip-off was so minor you could ignore it", although both he and Jill later left the cult.
Pinkwater is a trained artist and has illustrated many of his books, but for more recent works, that task has passed to his wife, Jill Pinkwater. His artistic technique 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 adopted the name Daniel in the 1970s after consulting his cult's guru, who said his true name should begin with a "D".
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 character names referencing Yiddish phrases (for example, Shane Ferguson from Lizard Music is named after the phrase shoyn fergessen) or the characters themselves incongruously speaking in Yiddish-influenced dialogue or participating in Borscht Belt culture. Characters sometimes have surnames that append the "-stein" element familiar in some Jewish names to names suggesting other ethnicities (e.g., "Wentworthstein").
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 radioEdit
Pinkwater authored the newspaper comic strip Norb, which was illustrated by Tony Auth. The strip, syndicated by King Features, launched in 70 papers, but received nothing but hate-mail from the readers. Auth and Pinkwater agreed to end the project after 52 weeks. The daily strips were released in a 78-page collection by MU Press in 1992.
Pinkwater was a longtime commentator on All Things Considered on National Public Radio. He regularly reviewed children's books on NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday. For several years, he had his own NPR show: Chinwag Theater. Pinkwater was 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.
Following an appearance by Pinkwater on the Public Radio International program This American Life, his book The Devil in the Drain ended up on challenged book lists at numerous children's libraries.
The Hare and the Pineapple used on examsEdit
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. The published version changed the racer from an eggplant to a pineapple, and changed the moral of the story. Of the six questions asked of the students, two stood out as the most perplexing: "The animals ate the pineapple most likely because they were ___?" and "Which animal spoke the wisest words?" These questions baffled students. City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott issued a statement saying improvements on the state exam will be made in the future. The New York Daily News staff sent the question to Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings, and he was stumped as well.
- 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)
- 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)
- Bad Bears and a Bunny: An Irving and Muktuk Story (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 novelsEdit
- Wingman (1975)
- Lizard Music (1976)
- The Hoboken Chicken Emergency (1977)
- The Last Guru (1978)
- Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars (1979)
- Yobgorgle: Mystery Monster of Lake Ontario (1979)
- The Worms of Kukumlima (1981)
- The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death (1982)
- Young Adult Novel (1982)
- The Snarkout Boys and the Baconburg Horror (1984)
- Borgel (1990) AKA The Time Tourists (1993) [UK]
- The Education of Robert Nifkin (1999)
- Looking for Bobowicz: A Hoboken Chicken Story (2006)
- The Artsy Smartsy Club (2006)
- The Neddiad: How Neddie Took the Train, Went to Hollywood, and Saved Civilization (2006)
- The Yggysey (2008)
- The Adventures of a Cat-Whiskered Girl (2010)
- Bushman Lives (October 2012)
- Escape to Dwerg Mountain/Adventures of a Dwergish Girl (forthcoming September 2020)
- 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
- The Afterlife Diet (1995)
- 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)
- Nathan-Kazis, Josh (October 5, 2014). "How Daniel Pinkwater Became My Own Personal Guru". The Jewish Daily Forward. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
- A year after cancelling, fan mail started to come in from readers who had liked it. Norb Don Markstein's Toonopedia, accessed on May 10, 2007.
- This American Life episode #43: Faustian Bargains, broadcast 22 November 1996. (transcript)
- "Fall 2004 SWAL Conference Information". Southwest Wisconsin Association of Libraries Conferences. Archived from the original on Jan 15, 2011. Retrieved 29 January 2011.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-07-09. Retrieved 2006-07-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Pinkwater, Daniel. "The Hare and the Pineapple" (PDF). New York State Education Department. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
- McGrath, Ben. "Daniel Pinkwater on "The Hare and the Pineapple"". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2012-06-05.
- Chapman, Ben; Monahan, Rachel (2012-04-19). "Talking pineapple question on state exam stumps ... everyone!". New York: NY Daily News. Retrieved 2012-06-05.
- Strauss, Valerie (2012-04-20). "'Talking pineapple' question on standardized test baffles students – The Answer Sheet". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-06-05.
- 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.
- "'Talking pineapple' questions confuse kids, teachers, world". Now.msn.com. Archived from the original on 2012-04-22. Retrieved 2012-06-05.
- "Bushman Lives – About the Book". Archived from the original on September 30, 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-14.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
- Pinkwater, Daniel (April 2018). mention of sequel on the last page of The Adventures of a Cat-Whiskered Girl. ISBN 9780547488219. Retrieved 2012-06-05 – via Books.google.com.
- "Daniel Manus Pinkwater". Entry in "Contemporary Authors Online", Thomson Gale, 2005. Accessed 2005-09-27.
- Hogan, Walter (2001). The Agony and the Eggplant: Daniel Pinkwater's Heroic Struggles in the Name of YA Literature. Lanham, Md [u.a.]: Scarecrow Press. ISBN 9780810839946.
- Nathan-Kazis, Josh (10 October 2014). "How Daniel Pinkwater Became My Own Personal Guru". The Jewish Daily Forward.
- McGinty, Alice B. (2003). Meet Daniel Pinkwater. New York: Powerkids Press. ISBN 9780823964062.
- Pinkwater, Daniel (1987-11-08). "The Revenge of Pinkwater". The Washington Post.
- Waldrop, Howard (1989-10-01). "Daniel Pinkwater Weighs In". The Washington Post.