March 14, 2018

Did you receive a letter from me in ~1989?

Hello Mr. Pinkwater!

As a nerdy Midwestern tomboy in the late 1980s, I tried sending you a letter through your publisher. My mom opened my naive little world when one day, after I again was sharing how fantastic your books are, she said I could actually write you letter to share how much I was devoted to your work (people can do this?!).  Right then I took out the odd Huey, Duey, and Louie stationary I treasured and scribbled down my 11 year old thoughts of pure joy and appreciation.  Though I doubt you ever received it,  I’ll take a second shot at it. 

You are amazing! And one of the most formative figures in my young life. Lizard Music! The Snarkout Boys! Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars!  Your books presented weirdo/smart/sophisticated characters I identified with, and created a world where my awkward self felt like it was at home. Grown ups were boring! Breaking the rules and finding your own path was cool!  Rebellion was part of life (I attribute my activist streak in part to that). It’s hard to express how deeply refreshing and validating those messages were. I spent so many joyful hours reading and rereading your work.  Your books truly jumpstarted my love of reading.

Thank you again for your creativity, spunk, moxie, and wildly wonderful ideas. This little girl loved them.

Take care,


Daniel replies:

So, there was this distinguished writer who was a big fan of mine because he and his daughter bonded over books I wrote. Years later, I call the editorial department at a publishing house, and who answers the phone but the daughter! "What are you doing working in a publishing house? Weren't you raised better than that?" A year later, she calls me to say she is giving up the idea of working in publishing, and going back to teaching. "In all the time I've been here, I haven't heard anyone say a word about books as books, or the fact that we're producing them for use by children." It is not true of every single publisher, just the major ones. And, this is my way of telling you that if you didn't receive a reply to your letter, it's because it was never forwarded to me.

Something in your email was particularly gratifying... not that I am amazing, I know all about that. It is where you mention that rebellion is part of your life, and you have an activist streak. I have been aware all along that my readers are going to have to deal with some pretty bad stuff, and it's particularly bad just lately. There's a bit of temptation to address the bad stuff directly, which temptation I can usually resist. I try to comfort myself that in some way the stuff I've written contains nutrients which may contribute to one such as you taking claim to your own life. Thanks for writing to me, and suggesting that you may have gotten some vitamins to grow on from books of mine.

I hope you'll take a look at some of the more recent novels, like The Neddiad, and Bushman Lives. And thanks.