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Jerrold Connors

Why Was That Seagull Carrying Orange Paint Anyway??

May 31, 2023

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

I’ve spent a good amount of time wondering why the seagull in The Big Orange Splot was carrying that can of paint. How could I not? It’s the most compelling mystery in all of children’s literature. I finally decided to address the question in a storytelling performance on YouTube two years ago. The recording has been up since then and always thought I might share it with you, but held off because doing so felt self-serving.

Tonight, though, I was enjoying some of your narrated stories for maybe the hundredth time and I thought I might finally (hopefully) return the favor. If you’d like to watch it, you can find it here:

The answer (as I imagine it) isn’t as grand as Mr. Plumbean’s awakening, but I enjoyed making it. Thank you for the inspiration and all the wonderful stories, narrated and otherwise.

Jerrold Connors

Daniel replies:

Dear Mr. Connors --

I am surprised that you, a creative person yourself, and responsible for many fine stories, do not know the important fact about writers, and what things they write may mean. Well, maybe you know about it, and just temporarily forgot. Or maybe you think there's a class of writers to which you do not belong, and the important fact applies to them and their work, but not you and yours. Anyway, I will now remind you of this fact, you and others who may be reading over your shoulder. Here is the fact: Writers do not necessarily know. That is it. That is the fact. About the book, THE BIG ORANGE SPLOT, I wrote the story while away on a trip. I didn't have my nearly-professional art materials with me, so I went to the drug store and bought cheap sketchbook meant for children, and a set of markers for dollar. I made sketches, and sent them, with the story to a publisher. They took the sketches for finished art, and wrote to me that they wanted to publish the whole thing, the story and the drawings made with cheap drugstore art supplies, and meant to be sketches. Not wishing to complicate things, I said yes, thank you, and go ahead. I didn't think the book was very good. With better art maybe it would be a little better, but not very much. (Through the years, it has sold a million copies.) Years later a high government official told me she required her subordinates to read that book when they came to work for her. I asked her why. So  she explained the book to me. "You know," I said. "That sounds like a pretty good book." And you ask me why the seagull had the can of orange paint?

R.T. Allan

What inspirations are left?

May 31, 2023

Dear Mr Pinkwater,

As a kid, my dad read me Lizard Music, which had been one of his favorites as a kid. It completely changed my outlook on things, and I read every book of yours that I could get my hands on, over and over. I want to thank you for that. It got me through so very much, and I still snark out pretty often. 

A bunch of the places which you drew inspiration from are long gone, like say, blueberry park. Are there any which are still there and can be enjoyed? Also, in your effort to confuse librarians, will the arrangements of your name ever become altogether incoherent, like “D. Manus P.”? 

With great appreciation, R.T.A. 

Daniel replies:

It is not the place that inspires, it is one's capacity to take inspiration from places, sites, views, things, bagels. And the capacity to take inspiration is just a matter of being willing. And I am pretty sure the park that inspired Blueberry Park still exists, doesn't it?

Jerrold Connors

Do you have any recollections from your collaboration with James Marshall on Roger’s Umbrella?

May 31, 2023

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

In 2017 I was the University of Connecticut’s James Marshall Fellow and was given the opportunity to browse their collection of original materials to study his works (my area of focus, figuring out who Harry Allard was, exactly). While there, I found two drafts of Roger’s Umbrella. Both were final, one appeared to be a second attempt after (maybe) an editor’s request to try again.

There was something in the art that felt labored to me. There was little difference between the two versions, except that the second one seemed to have an even greater air of impatience about it (this is the one that would make it into print).

I wondered if Marshall found the project frustrating, and if he did, why? I can easily imagine the managing editor selling the project as a collaboration between the two “zaniest” creators of their times and I know from research that Marshall would have had every last one of his hackles up at that description. Whether or not that affected his perception of the work, I’ll never know.

I’m wondering if you had any particular feelings about the project? Or any recollections in general. For what its worth, I think Roger’s Umbrella is perfectly charming but I must admit the cartoon tiger protagonist feels very out of place compared to your other books and their main characters.

Thank you very much in advance for your reply.

Jerrold Connors

Daniel replies:

I regret I never met, spoke with, or corresponded with James Marshall. It was all filtered through our mutual editor. I never knew if he chose not to communicate with me. I had no reason to wish not to communicate with him. Maybe it was the editor's way of holding power. Very few of the people I met in publishing behaved well.


The Neddiad

May 25, 2023

Dear Daniel Pinkwater,
I just finished reading The Neddiad and I must say, I loved it! However, I have a small question about the story. After Neddie’s adventure with Kkhkktonos and his transformation into the Great Turtle, he seemed to have run out of space in his notebook. I was wondering what he would have written about Bunyip, Seamus, Aaron Finn, Iggy, and Billy if he had a few more pages available.

Thank you so much for creating such an interesting story. I appreciate your time!

Best regards, Benjy Matyas

Daniel replies:

That would be another book.


Snark out advice

April 2, 2023

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

While an overgrown awkward fat Jewish precocious young boy, your works helped shape me into the overgrown awkward fat Jewish immature man I am today, and I cannot thank you enough for the privilege. One of my best memories is when my father, who loved reading me and my brother The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death, woke me up at 7 years old in the middle of the night to Snark Out, which turned out to be eating donuts at his favorite 24/7 grease establishment. I will never stop remembering feeling the love for him as I did then. 

My question is that due to the tides of life I have ended up a father of a fun and imaginative 5 year old girl in a terminally boring costal village in Israel where most things are closed by 8PM (I don’t get it either). Soon I’m going to want to read Snarkout Boys with her once she stops yelling at me for trying to read her books without pictures, and I want to try and bring her the joy my own dad did. What can I do that’s like Snarking Out when there’s nothing open at night?

With infinite gratitude,


P.S. my wife’s Hasidish family has a copy of Beautiful Yetta and love it. They were surprised when I told them not all of your books were in Yiddish- should I have not told them?

Daniel replies:

There must be cheap flights to cities like London, Paris, Budapest, possibly leaving in the middle of the night. That's one thought. Another is a club...they bristled at being called a fan club, they said they were a literary society, specializing in my works...the married couple, teachers, who were the club sponsors, would disguise themselves, kidnap a club member and make him read some book of mine before being given treats and returned to his home. But...this topic comes up from time to's not the world it was in the 1950s when I was quite the nocturnal explorer, nor even the 70s when snarking was not particularly dangerous in most places--today, maybe not such a good idea. 5 seems much too young to snark anyway, maybe conditions and opportunities will change by the time. Poultry farm before dawn?

Jay Kay

Thank you

April 1, 2023

Dear Mr. Pinkwater (if that is your real name),

I first read Lizard Music when I was about 6 years old, back when a hot dog and coke cost a quarter, vaseline was still a hair product, and kids were encouraged to play in graveyards. It’s hard to describe the impact that book had and still has on me. It completely opened my eyes to the absurd, to the possible, to the incredible. I was a very sheltered kid in a sheltered community, but I read a lot of books, and of all authors I have ever read, you still stand out as the most unique and impactful I’ve ever read.

I’d just like to let you know that you absolutely changed my life for the better — you expanded my mental threshold of what is possible, you challenged me to think beyond the thin veneer of society that we exist within, and most of all, you still generate chills down my spine when I flick through the channels and see something that is clearly static but *just might* be something more meaningful than that.

My therapist would also like to thank you for generating an intense sense of paranoia that, while I often find comforting, creates a lot of billable hours and is always backed by a sinking feeling that lizard people are controlling all of us. That’s not all on you, but clearly the groundwork was laid by someone going by the alias D. Manus Pinkwater or thereabouts. It’s hard to believe that all the works claimed by you came from one mind, but if that’s the case, just a monumental tip of the hat to who is clearly one of the most creative minds of this eon. (You, not my therapist.)

Thank you for changing my life, for which I’ll be forever in your debt. I greatly appreciate your work and the very subtle hand it had in shaping who I am. Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to need to get back to my job of feeding extremely large chickens!


Daniel replies:

 I won't say I get this all the time, but every now and then someone blames or credits me for starting them thinking a certain way. I will cop to having a part in someone's development, but please consider, other kids read the same book or books you found inspiring or affecting, and nothing happened to them. I submit if it hadn't been Lizard Music or some other book, by me or by some other writer, you were already on the way to a life of uncomfortable intellectual activity that you wouldn't have any other way. To put it another way, creative readers will read creatively.  To put it yet another way, this is why I chose to write for children and young people--they're just better and more rewarding readers. I am proud of you and impressed that you can afford a therapist.


Uncle Melvin

April 1, 2023

Hi Mr. Pinkwater,

In the tradition of my mother, who introduced me to your books when I was young (Blue Moose is one of the first books I remember reading on my own), I’ve been introducing my preschooler to your books. His favorites are the polar bears, but I also read him Adventures of a Cat-Whiskered Girl over the course of five months and he loved it, especially the parts about alternate planes of existence and getting to look like a cat. I confess I skipped over some parts I thought might scare him, but it’ll be a little surprise for him to discover when he’s older.

I was also recently delighted to find that both of my local public library systems, Oakland and Berkeley, have many of your out-of-print books still on the shelves. I immediately put all of them on hold. Uncle Melvin really struck me. I’ve been reading picture books regularly since long before becoming a parent and I’ve never found a book that treated mental health issues like this, the way I’ve experienced them in my own life: part of who I am, often a pain in the butt and definitely non-magical but not something I’d necessarily trade away, and a problem mostly because society finds ways to make it a problem. I read it with my kid several times before having to return it and we had some wonderful discussions about it. (And we compared Uncle Melvin with Molly Van Dwerg, who wants to be sane and who gets help to make it happen.) Thank you for making these wonderful conversations happen.

If it isn’t rude to ask: did you have an Uncle Melvin in your life growing up? Or maybe, can you say something about this character who shows up in so many of your books, who’s not sane and yet who has just as much or as little agency in the world as anyone else? 

Many, many thanks to you and Jill for the joy you’ve brought to our family over three generations and counting. 


Daniel replies:

Everybody has an Uncle Melvin, or a Brother Melvin, or a Sister Melvin, or a friend Melvin, or is a Melvin. I seem to recall there were some complaints when the book was published, about making light of mental illness. I discounted these negative comments, reasoning that people who made them were sick in the head.

Andy Sokatch

How did Roy get to Bayonne, New Jersey?

February 18, 2023

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

I write to you as a grateful reader and a huge fan. I first came across the Bad Bears books when my now 15-year-old son was quite young. And in subsequent years he and his 11 year old sister and four year old younger sister have all fallen in love with Irving, Muktuk,  Larry,  and Roy. Your books have brought us countless hours of enjoyment. And we have worked hard to find and read and own all of them. Talia, our four year-old, wants you to know that Bad Bears and a Bunny is her favorite of the books.

We were thrilled to learn about Irving and Muktuk’s travels from Yellowtooth to New Jersey, as well as Young Larry’s travels on his sheet of ice. The last book that we were able to track down, and that we found only last week, was At the Hotel Larry. We had wondered if that book would tell us how Roy got from the frozen north to the Bayonne New Jersey zoo, and were, I must admit, a bit disappointed when that story was not told. So at the urging of my four year old, who was, if truth be told, reduced to tears at the end of the book when that journey was not recounted, to ask, dear sir, how did Roy get from Baffin Bay to the Bayonne, New Jersey zoo? We eagerly await your response with great respect, affection, curiosity, and gratitude,

Andy, Jake, Sadie and Talia

Daniel replies:

Dear Andy, Jake, Sadie and Talia--

I never got around to writing Roy's story, including how he wound up in New Jersey. One day the publisher said, "What? Another book about those silly bears? We are not printing any more of those. Nobody likes them."
I explained that thousands and thousands of copies has been sold, so it was unlikely that nobody liked them.

"Well, nobody can understand them," the publisher said.

I reminded the publisher that the great majority of readers were children who were possibly just learning to read, or needed to have someone read the books to them, and I had not heard of any children who complained they couldn't understand the books.

"Well, we don't understand them," the publisher said. "Here is a tunafish sandwich on whole wheat bread. Take it with you, and eat it someplace else. Never come back to this publishing office again."

This is an accurate account of how things went during my whole career as an author, except no one ever actually gave me a tunafish sandwich. I like to add little details like that because I am a fiction writer

Jonah Schulz


January 29, 2023

I am sure that I am not the only person whose family had a cat named wuggie norple, but that text(and especially the names contained within) have been an endless resource for creating internet passwords, as they are more impervious to hackers than the Pentagon and less predictable than anything thunk up in the wildest dreams of the most creative robots.

Thank you Daniel for the lifetime of joy and digital security.

Daniel replies:

Strange you should say that, as all the names in that book were digitally generated via a professional authors' website, which I will not name lest someone use the very catchy name  as a password, and soon every government agency, foreign intelligence department, and eastern European  pirate and hacker will know it.

Audrey, Reed and Paul Livingston

fan mail – 2 generations of Pinkwater fans

January 16, 2023

This is a fan letter from two generations of Pinkwater fans in our family!  First, Reed, age 9 — who wants to say how much he enjoyed Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars! And now Audrey, age 12: I really liked the Neddiad and Lizard Music.  Especially the turtle in the Neddiad — since we live near Albuquerque and that was where he picked up the turtle.  

And now from their dad, Paul (age 46) — I first read Fat Men from Space when I was — I think — 6 and after that really grew up with your books throughout my childhood.  Reed adds that he read Fat Men From Space all in one night!  Somewhere I think I heard it said that your characters let kids know that they can have real thoughts and real lives and adventures and I think that is true.  It seemed like in childhood I was always reading one of your books and it’s been great to read them to my kids, and also to follow the newer ones with the adventures of Audrey’s namesake the Cat-Whiskered girl.

So that’s just to say thanks for all you have written and keep it up!

Daniel replies:

Very nice of you to take the time to let me know you and the kids have been enjoying my books. I think it may be true that what I write, although it's fictional and fantastical, has the effect of pointing out that actual everyday life can be entertaining and exciting...that's certainly how I've looked at mine, because it has been those things, and still is. I am not super-famous or rich, and most decent people have never heard of me, but the readers I have are the best readers there are.

Sean Jordan

What will we do without Papaya King? (And what else shouldn’t we miss out on?)

December 30, 2022

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

I grew up a devoted fans of your books (particularly Borgel, Fat Men From Space and The Snarkout Boys), and I have of course read many of them to my own children. They were amazed when they learned The Chicken Man from Lizard Music and some of your other books was based on a real person, and they were also so impressed with Molly’s glowing description of Papaya King in Adventures of a Dwergish Girl that we simply had to stop there on our Christmas vacation to New York City. 

(Here’s a picture of them posing outside today with their cousin!)

We all enjoyed the food and revitalizing-as-advertised papaya juice, which my wife said did a great job of chasing away her headache. But part of the reason we made sure we made this stop on our trip was because we learned that Papaya King is soon going to be forcibly closed so the property owner can demolish the lot and construct another corner high-rise. 

Our family will probably return to New York one day, but we’ll be sad to see this wonderful place gone. The world will surely be a worse place for its disappearance, and while there are other papaya and hot dog stands in New York, we know with the King out of business, they are also likely destined to vanish one day.  Short of finding a dwerg to buy us a secret patented juicing machine of our own, our days of pairing papaya juice and hot dogs are certain to be numbered.

So our question for you is this: what other places or restaurants have you visited that you would say are essential to go before they’re gone forever? We trust your palate and your advice. 

Thank you! (And our condolences for the passing of your dear wife Jill, whose absence in this time and place you described eloquently and hopefully.)

-The Jordan Family – Sean, Stacie, Harper and Benny

P.S. – Independent of your fans Amy and Tilda Jordan – no relation! – my own children made the passionate case that Osgood Siergerson is really Walter Galt’s father and now have me convinced. I never caught it as a young reader, but I’m fascinated by it today, being exactly the sort of father myself who’s likely to put on pancake makeup and a putty nose and help his children and their friends solve crazy crimes overnight while sampling tasty delights at diners.

Daniel replies:

I am desolate to learn that Papaya King will be no more. Is it just the original location, I wonder. I know there are or were a few more. Although I live only 90 miles away from NYC, I am old now, and making my way down and back is a big deal. I always plan to blow $400 on a limo ride, just for some papaya juice, but there's never an occasion, and now the store will be gone. Vandalism. End of civilization.

Ross Asselstine

Substitute Teacher

December 20, 2022

Mr Pinkwater, 

I heard you read a short story about being a substitute teacher for a children’s art class. It was about the wonder of watching children paint whatever they want and your joy of just enabling the discovery of expression in the young kids.

In what book would I find that story?

Thank you and a happy holidays to you!

Daniel replies:

It may be in Fish Whistle, a collection of short pieces, out of print, but copies are around.

Erin & Aidan Tyree

Does Mr. Plumbean Alligator Bite? (And other important questions.)

November 27, 2022

Dear Mr. Pinkwater-

One of the great joys of my son, Aidan, entering toddlerhood is that I can share with him my favorite books from MY childhood. Tonight we were reading The Big Orange Splot, and he asked if the alligator bites. Here was our conversation:

Me: I don’t know

Aidan: Ask.

Me: …

A: Ask.

Me: Ask who?

A: Ask Mr. Plumbean.

Me: Well, I can’t ask Mr. Plumbean because he’s pretend. But I guess I can ask Mr. Pinkwater. He’s real.

A: Ask Mr. Pink Wawa.

(…Then toward the end of the book, he asked if the neighbor’s house that was converted into a castle had SUVs driving inside. I don’t think SUVs existed when the book was first published, and the dimensions only looked large enough for a garage, but I had to concede I didn’t know for sure.)

Aidan: Ask Mr. Pink Wawa.

So. On behalf of Aidan, age 2.5, I’m writing to ask you:
(1) Does Mr. Plumbean’s pet alligator bit?
(2) Does the castle have SUVs driving inside? COULD it have SUVs driving inside today?

Erin Tyree

PS- About a year ago,  I wanted to spice up our bedtime stories so I brought out Guys From Space (probably my all-time favorite picture book), even though he didn’t even know what root beer was, let alone aliens. He did, however, know about cats, throw-up, and computer printers.
It took us twenty minutes to get past the dedication page.
…And then he wondered what happened to the cat. So we had to tell him the alien that drank root beer from his feet was a space kitty.

Daniel replies:

1. Of course the alligator bites, that is to say it can bite, it is capable of biting, but you have to ask why would the alligator bite? It seems to be a pet alligator, and happy to hang around with Mr. Plumbean. I think we can assume that Mr. Plumbean feeds the alligator, that is an important thing we do for our pets. Now I don't know exactly what Mr. Plumbean would feed his alligator, because that is not part of the story. However, by good luck I am the author of the story, so we can ask me what I would have shown Mr Plumbean feeding his alligator, if I had thought of it...and the answer is...frozen pizza, the kind you buy in the market, and heat up in the oven. So, the alligator gets all the pizza it can hold, and we can assume it will not bite anyone because it  is hungry. The other reason I can think of for an alligator to bite would be if it were angry about something. This alligator has a nice garden to live in, a nice Mr. Plumbean to keep it company, and all that pizza. I don't think it is likely to be angry. So the answer is, yes it could bite, if it had a reason.
2. Many castles, including very old ones built before there were SUVs, or any kind of transportation that went by its initials, have plenty of room for SUVs, trucks, buses, airplanes, and whales. Castles are big.

Pinkas May


November 20, 2022

Sir, please accept my  sincere condolences for your loss. I was looking at one of the books she illustrated today and felt compelled to look at your website. That’s how I found out. I have been married for half the time you were and can only imagine. I would hug you if I could. 

Daniel replies:

I wish to point out that I feel pleased that I got to be married to Jill, and for such a long time, and I am more than pleased, I am tickled, that she went, (quickly), before me, and I don't need to ever worry again that I might die first and leave her alone and me unable to help and take care of her. It's a big deal to be loved as I was for so many years, and you can't be very sad if something like that happens to you

Emmett Brown

What devilry is this?

September 13, 2022

 Thank you in advance for viewing my query. This will unundoubtedly seem as unhinged to you in the retelling as it was to me in the reality. But for the last 3 weeks I have been receiving a transmission on my television set that seems to only come in between one thirty and three in the morning, halfway through my shift as a night watchman. A strange high pitch static interruption is followed by a grainy black and white broadcast of a group of what appear to be juvenile lizards begin playing a stylized rockabilly concert in a tv studio located inside of a pyramid. In between the songs the lead singer, who his bandmates call Reynold, will often address the audience directly and say things like ‘we’re waiting for you’ and ‘we have all the borglenuskies you need Mr Pinkwater’. Which brought me here. The situation is ongoing, but suffice to say once I rent a boat and triangulate the source of the transmission we should have more answers. But for now, have you tried Mochi before? just in case no, its delicious. 

Daniel replies:

I'm surprised if this is an over-the-air transmission. Most people pick up those performances on their phones. Word to the wise, ignore those ads for fleegix and other products, they're not authentic.

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