- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Why do you write children's books?
I started writing for fun when I was in fourth grade -- I wrote a crazy little verse about the new baby at our house and shared it with my sister who is only one year younger than I. She laughed, and when she did, I got a terrific sense of the power of words. Just jot a few words on paper and you can make people laugh! I was amazed. I continued to write over the years and have written everything from plays to poetry to government reports. But I have also worked in education for many years, and have always enjoyed reading to kids. I had extra practice when I had two sons of my own, but I continued to read in schools too because I feel it's important for children to see men reading and enjoying it. When my friend Bill and I first talked about writing this crazy story about a dog with a special problem, I knew we could do something that kids would enjoy, and that we could make it interesting in other ways too. Now, with Walter, I am able to combine my love of fun and reading with my interest in promoting early literacy -- making sure there are some extra books out there that kids will really WANT to read.
What made you decide to send Walter on a Cruise?
When I first saw news about the upcoming launch of the world's largest ocean liner, the Queen Mary II, I realized that it represented an entire world of its own, floating on the high seas. Swimming pools and golf courses and shopping malls -- all of it on one 23-story vessel. I began to discuss the possibilities with my co-authors, Bill and Elizabeth -- we began to play "What if?" Just imagine the sorts of antics Walter could get into on board such a ship! When we actually started writing, a parrot turned up unexpectedly and demanded to be considered as a major character. That's the sort of thing that happens sometimes when you're writing together and the story seems to develop a life of its own. So it was the launch of the QMII that really started the whole process. Now, I understand that an even larger ship is under construction in France.
What would you like young readers to learn from Walter?
I hope young readers learn something about dealing with problems, no matter how bleak the situation looks. Walter always faces adversity -- he is forever making the most of a bad situation, and turning his liabilities into assets. Usually, even though he is shunned, he doesn't lose hope. All he really wants is to be accepted and loved, just like the rest of us. He's not a bad dog -- he just happens to smell bad. I think we all have little problems we hope others will overlook, and treat us with respect in spite of those things. So I hope kids can understand that patience and tolerance are really important -- you have to give it to others if you want them to give it to you. And I hope they understand the importance of tenacity -- of hanging in there, and sticking with your beliefs, even when the situation doesn't look good. With Walter, this is his formula for success, and his way of always reaching a happy ending.
When you visit schools, what kinds of questions do you like to ask the kids? Have any of their questions to you surprised you?
I like to hear kids talk about what they find enjoyable about reading, and which stories make them want to read more. I usually also talk with kids about "power words" -- those special words in any language that attract extra attention, and how we have to think about when it may be appropriate (or not) to use those power words. The word "fart" of course falls into this category. It immediately hooks attention, which is what we wanted when we started writing about Walter, but then we find that there is much more than gas to each Walter story. It's interesting to discuss how some words find themselves labeled as impolite, or even taboo. It's interesting to consider that the great American writer, inventor, publisher, and the country's first librarian, Benjamin Franklin, wrote an essay called "Fart Proudly" more than 200 years ago, and yet the discomfort with the word still persists for some people to this day.
Sometimes kids ask surprising questions -- usually they surprise me because they are personal and catch me off guard. But that's OK. Once a six-year-old boy in Chicago asked me, "Why is there so much CRIME in your books?" This was just after "Trouble At The Yard Sale" appeared, and there was a robbery at the center of the story, as well as a home burglary in the first Walter book. I hadn't even considered it before he asked the question, because I already knew the content of other Walter stories that were yet to appear. Now that the fourth story about Walter going on a cruise has been released, readers can see that there is no particular emphasis on crime -- it's just the way it happened to unfold with the first two stories.
There are a few questions that I am most-often asked -- including whether or not I have a dog. The answer is NO -- just my imaginary farting dog, Walter. Dogs need a lot of love and care. Because I live alone and travel a lot, it is not possible to have a pet, or even a houseplant! Maybe someday, but not right now.
What books did you enjoy reading as a child?
I grew up in a small coal-mining town with no library, but my mother was a teacher who went to great lengths to ensure that we had plenty to read. My earliest memories involve fairy tales and traditional nursery rhymes, as well as poetry for children. I was enchanted by Wynken, Blynken and Nod, for instance, and by stories like Rip van Winkle and Alice in Wonderland. I remember enjoying Curious George, and much of Dr. Seuss, especially The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, and If I Ran the Zoo. Actually, The Cat In The Hat was published the year I started school. I have always been delighted by clever rhymes and writers who have fun with language.
What adjectives would you use to describe your latest book?
funny, colorful, adventurous, heart-warming, and (hopefully) satisfying
Are you planning to write more books featuring Walter?
Yes, absolutely. As long as people want to read about Walter, we want to continue to write about Walter. We love him, and I think he's glad we found him and gave him a home. In fact, a fifth Walter title is now being illustrated and prepared for release in 2007, and we have begun work on a very different sixth tale in the series. There seems to be no end to what you can do with an imaginary farting dog!
Posted January 17, 2014
My grandkids think these books are hilarious! Highly recommend them. My grandkids are 3 and 5. I think early elementary age kiddos would enjoy them as well!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 12, 2011
Posted February 20, 2010
Posted February 6, 2010
I Also Recommend:
Posted May 26, 2009
The entire Walter the Farting dog series is adorable. I have a small child and he enjoys it very much... I suggest these books for anyone who has a sense of humor about bodily functions. Our family is very open, every farts, even the dog!!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 9, 2009
Posted May 2, 2009
No text was provided for this review.
Posted December 7, 2009
No text was provided for this review.