Guest Column No. 2 by Pooja Makhijani
By the Sea, by the Sea...

Yay for Daniel Pinkwater

How have we been missing Daniel Pinkwater all these years? I've mentioned his NPR book selections, and yet my almost-second-grader and I did not get around to reading any of the author's own picture books until last week. Our loss, because they're wonderful!

In a way, though, I am glad. Like the late Bill Peet, Pinkwater is a prolific writer, and now we have so many books to look forward to.  Two of the titles that my son has liked the most so far concern polar bears with a taste for muffins: Irving and Muktuk and Bad Bears in the Big City. Irving and Muktuk can be more than a little sneaky in their quest for treats, even when they have day jobs. Written with a quirky sense of humor, the books are fun read-alouds. (Be prepared for reading them over and over.) We'll need to look for Bad Bear Detectives and Bad Bears and a Bunny to keep up with their other adventures.

Also splendid is an older book, The Big Orange Splot, illustrated like the above two in vivid colors by Jill Pinkwater, who is married to the author. A neighborhood begins to change when a seagull accidentally spills orange paint onto someone's roof. Change for the better? For the worse? You'll have to read and see, if you haven't already.

Visit for more information on the author and the illustrator. There you can read a work-in-progress, too. For Daniel Pinkwater's latest recommendation on NPR, go here.

There are some eighty Pinkwater books in all, so we've just begun this particular reading journey. What's your favorite Pinkwater tale?


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I still have a soft spot for the first book of his I ever read, "Author Day." So hilarious.

By the way, Pinkwater's new book, Neddiad, is being published on his website BEFORE the book is published. He's putting up one chapter a week. An interesting concept we might be seeing more of in the future, methinks.

Renee, thanks for stopping by! I'll look for "Author Day" on my next library visit. I think I'm going to have to add a number of Pinkwater titles to the permanent home picture book collection, too.

For me, it's Borgel, because Pinkwater uses a map of New Jersey to explain the principles of time and space to a 5th grader. It's even funnier than it sounds.

Hey, Walter. That one sounds good, too. I like the fact that Bayonne, NJ, plays such a prominent part in the loopy Irving & Muktuk books.

The Big Orange Splot is my all-time favorite. I was helping purge a nonprofit ECE's library for some new and more age-appropriate books, and that's one I had to sit down in the middle of the mess and read all over again. I LOVE that book.

Hi, TadMack. I wonder if The big Orange Splot is popular as a graduation gift (like Oh, The Places You'll Go). It would be a good one, I think. It's definitely one we should own.

I have read many of his books and The Big Orange Splot is my favorite. I wonder where the gull was going with the paint before it was dropped? To paint his own nest? I have a soft spot for unusual house colors. I painted my last house purple, red, green and gold but my neighbors left their drab dwellings beige, brown, and white. Daniel Pinkwater seems like he would be a fabulous dinner party guest. I'd love to meet him.

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