Talk to DP Forum


Mr. Plumbean, creativity, and constraints

November 29, 2023

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

As a creativity researcher and Psychology professor, I found inspiration in your writing — so much so that the Big Orange Splot story (a favorite of mine and my son’s) became a parable for my theory of creativity from constraints. The article that describes it is titled “The Mr. Plumbean Approach: How Focusing Constraints Anchor Creativity“. 

Warm regards,


Daniel replies:


Thanks for your interest in my book, THE BIG ORANGE SPLOT. I read most of your article, and am happy to report it is some of the highest quality gibberish I have experienced. A few notes from the author/illustrator: I was on a prolonged stay away from home when I wrote the script. I had none of my semi-professional art supplies with me, so I went to a drugstore and purchased a sketch book, meant for children, and a set of markers for a dollar. I did rough sketches, and sent the whole project, text and sketches, to a publisher. The publisher took the drawings to be finished art, and made me an offer for publication rights, which I accepted. I always felt the book was presented in an unfinished state, text needing possible attention, and art very rough. However, I needed the money, and assumed no harm had been done. I didn't think the book was very good. A high government official contacted me to say she required all her subordinates to read the book. I asked why. She then explained the book to me. "That sounds like a pretty good book," I told her. I later learned the book has sold more than a million copies. I never understood the book, and still may not understand it well, so there is no reason for you to feel bad if your thinking and mode of expression should change at some later date.

With best wishes,


Scott Hicks

Thank you

November 21, 2023

Mr Pinkwater,

I discovered “Lizard Music” on the PBS “Cover to Cover” show sometime around 4th grade. This was a magnificently difficult time for me – ostracized, uncomfortable in my skin, being raised In a fundamentalist home that I didn’t feel any connection with. This was probably my first introduction to the concept of being “different”, and I read It over and over again as a great source of comfort. 

Now a 50 year old musician and computer programmer with a great family, I still think of this book often and try to re-read It every couple of years. I just wanted to say thank you and let you know that you very much touched my life In a positive way. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

– Scott Hicks

Daniel replies:

First, thanks for all the kind words. I wish I could say that I had a thought about helping someone when I wrote the book, (or the 130-something others), but the truth is I was just having fun, the exact kind of fun someone gets putting together a model airplane, or repairing Aunt Sadie's table lamp. Naturally, I'm glad the book meant something to you, but I suspect you planted the meaning, and pretended to find it, and you had reasons, unconscious reasons, for doing it that way. Second, SO MANY of us grow up, or are forced to grow ourselves up, under difficult or impossible conditions...and we do it! We build lives, we become musicians or authors, have great relationships, and develop the grace to tell a second-rate writer his book accidentally played a part.

Aimee Smythe

Happy Birthday!

November 19, 2023

Daniel-Happy Birthday to you, an author who inspires the child in all of us!

Daniel replies:

and my readers inspire me, so it's a circular thing. Whee!

c/o Maria Steinhauser


November 2, 2023

Hello Daniel Pinkwater, I liked the book The Neddiad and the book was really fun and interesting in a sort of way. I like your author style and it is really fun, and I really like your ideas. How do you get your inspiration? Keep making books, they are great.

Sincerely, Reed 

Daniel replies:

Thank you! Inspiration is all over the place. All anyone has to do is be willing to be inspired.

Robert L Summers

The Wuggie Norple Story

September 21, 2023

“Wuggie Norple Story” eighty dollars on Amazon!  Well worth the price.

Daniel replies:

That's pretty much what I got paid for writing it! 

Aimee Smythe

A Big Thank You to You and Mr. Plumbean!

September 8, 2023

To Daniel Pinkwater:

Thank you for many years of reading pleasure! As an elementary art teacher, I read The Big Orange Splot to my students. As a parent, I read  The Big Orange Splot to my son. I continue to love reading your books, especially The Big Orange Splot ! We even bought a Big Orange Splot rug, so that our dog Murphy could enjoy it too! (see photo below)

Many virtual hugs to You!


Daniel replies:

Aw shucks. I have such nice readers.


What human band comes closest to making lizard music?

August 12, 2023

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

First, I’d like to say thank you! I’ve been reading your books since I was very young and it’s safe to say they’ve had a greater and more positive influence on how I see the world than those of any other author. My first book of yours was Lizard Music. In fact, I started a band a few years ago with the explicit goal of making the kind of music I’ve always imagined the lizard band playing in that book. Of all the human music you’re familiar with, is there a particular artist or group that you think comes the closest to making lizard music? Any additional hints or suggestions would be welcome.

thank you!


Daniel replies:

I regret, I am not sufficiently familiar with human music to come up with an answer. It may be for you to tell me.

Gabriel Bennett

The genius of Hassan’s Joke

July 9, 2023

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

My parents gifted me a copy of “Fish Whistle” for my birthday one year. It was a delight to read from cover to cover, but I especially enjoyed the “Hassan’s Joke” story. However, I feel like I didn’t get the joke fully, until I decided to read the story aloud to a friend. Seeing his bafflement in real time, turning into laughter as the story went on, brought the story to life. 

A few weeks later, he and I went on vacation with some friends. We decided that we would test this further. On the first day, before everyone had arrived, I told the joke to a few of our friends. Later that evening, when everyone WAS there, I told it again. Just like in the story, the first time, there was confusion and bafflement over the joke, but with each subsequent telling, those who had heard it found it funnier and funnier. This continued, with me telling the joke at every opportunity, to tour guides, people we met at dinner, and so on. And sure enough, my core group of friends had to hold in their laughter as I laid it out for a new, befuddled stranger.

Anyway, this is not so much a question, but I just wanted to share that a bunch of 20 somethings got a great kick out of that story. Thank you for all of your stories.

-Gabriel Bennett

Daniel replies:

Thanks for telling me, and for your information, that story is a detailed account of real-life events, with not a single thing invented, which will not come as news to you, since you duplicated the experience and prompted the same responses.

Robin Rowland

Plumbean the Dog

July 9, 2023

Mr. Pinkwater,

thought you might enjoy seeing my dog, Plumbean. The Big Orange Splot
struck a chord with me when I read it to my kids more than 20 years ago, and
I’ve been using “Plumbean” as a password since (with the requisite numbers and
special characters, of course).

I was providing
a dog with a temporary foster home for a rescue organization, until I suddenly
realized two things: first, he looks like a Plumbean, and second, he’s my dog!!!

fun introducing him to people on our walks. Some say, “whaaaat??” and others
just burst out laughing. I get lots of opportunities to share the wisdom of The
Big Orange Splot.
Maybe you’ll get some new readers!


Daniel replies:

I have to say, Plumbean is a truly outstanding-looking fellow! I am honored to have such a distinguished pup named after a character I wrote. If she had the opportunity of meeting him, The Peach, (picture attached), would be equally impressed.

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.

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