I could talk at length about how funny and cute The HICCUPotamus is, or rave about the bright and humorous illustrations, or wax poetic about the clever and silly rhymes. I could do that, but honestly I couldn’t come close to the awesome descriptions given at Fuse#8 and 5 Minutes for Books on Tuesday and Wednesday of this Blog Tour. I can’t corner the adorable market when Aaron Zenz’s own kids have knocked it out of the park on the first day of the tour on his own blog, Bookie Woogie. (By the way, if you don’t know about this blog’s unique approach to children’s books, now is the time to correct that error by reading their post and commenting for the chance to win ten books. Yes, that’s ten books.) But what I can do is share some of the funniest responses ever to my MotherReader Five Ws Interview, with only slight trepidation that said interview reveals the author to be much funnier than... um, me. Enjoy.
When did you start writing?
I was born with pencils in hand. Although this made for a very uncomfortable delivery for more than one of us involved, it led to many early writing experiences. Here’s the cover from one of my first stories, called “The Great Crayon Escape,” which you can read in its multicolored entirety here.
Where do you do your best thinking?
Typically in my head.
I’ve considered getting one of those puffy thought bubbles, so I can think ABOVE my head. But have you priced those things? Outrageous. I’m going to have to stick with “inside my head” for the time being.
Who inspires you, personally or professionally?
I have to choose either or? Gosh. Well, Personally is an awfully nice fellow. And I really don’t want to hurt Professionally’s feelings. But if I have to choose between the two... Personally. Yep. I’d say Personally inspires me more.
(Man, I hope Professionally isn’t going to be reading this...)
Why did you want to write this particular book?
Hiccup. Plus. Potamus. It all started with a single awful pun in 1996.
The title came first: “The Hiccupotamus.”
Nanoseconds later, the first verse arrived perfectly intact: “There was a hippopotamus / Who hiccuped quite-a-lotamus / And every time he got’emus / He’d fall upon his bottomus.”
After that it took eight years of pounding and hammering and scraping and carving for the rest of the book to come together.
The funny thing is, I later discovered that the “hiccuping hippo” book is almost a genre unto itself. However I have NO idea why. I suspect it’s because they both start with “H.” But if that’s the case, where are all the hiccuping hamsters? Or hiccuping hedgehogs? Type Hippopotamus+Hiccup into Amazon sometime. (Mercer Mayer’s is the best, by the way.) It’s hard to believe that none of these others books were titled “Hiccupotamus” first. Seems like a no-brainer. What other good reason IS there for creating a hiccuping hippo than to use such a wonderfully horrid pun?
Hey I just took my advice — I typed Hippopotamus+Hiccup into Amazon, and I see that Mercer Mayer wrote his on Jan 1, 1976. That’s six days before I was born. That’s cool!
Wait a minute... what was the actual question? Oh yeah, why did I write The Hiccupotamus. I think that Mercer Mayer/birth connection explains everything pretty well.
What’s next for you?
I illustrated a book called Nugget on the Flight Deck (written by Patricia Newman) that comes out this month side by side with The Hiccupotamus. I also have a number of manuscripts that are in publishers’ hands right now. I’m waiting and praying for one of these projects to green-light. If it doesn’t happen soon, I’m going to have to abandon the world of kid lit and go work in a factory. Ha, ha, ha! Actually... that’s true. This is the only answer where I haven’t joked. Publishers? Yoo-hoo? Any green lights out there?
Admit it, you’re intrigued about the book this clever guy wrote. Well, you can win two signed copies of The Hiccupotamus — one for you and one for a friend — by leaving a comment on today’s post with the title of any of your other favorite funny picture books. (Contest open to U.S. mailing addresses only.)